12/24/15

From Mark Copeland... "LIFE AFTER DEATH" What Do We Know About The Resurrection? INTRODUCTION



                           "LIFE AFTER DEATH"

                 What Do We Know About The Resurrection?

INTRODUCTION

1. As noted in the previous study, the "Second Coming" of our Lord will
   usher in a series of wonderful events...
   a. The resurrection of the dead
   b. Deliverance of the kingdom to the Father     
   c. The day of judgment
   d. The new heavens and new earth

2. In this study, we shall concentrate our attention to just one of 
   these events:  "the resurrection of the dead"
   a. As with many other things pertaining to "Life After Death", there
      can be a great deal of speculation about the resurrection
   b. But what can we KNOW about the resurrection?
   c. I.e., what has been clearly revealed in the Scriptures about this
      subject, that can give the Christian assurance and hope for the
      future?

[First of all, we can know...]

I. THE "FACT" OF THE RESURRECTION

   A. JESUS TAUGHT THERE WILL BE A RESURRECTION...
      1. A time is coming in which both those good and evil will come 
         forth from the grave - Jn 5:28-29
      2. Jesus assures those who believe in Him will be raised at "the 
         last day" - Jn 6:39-40,44,54

   B. HIS APOSTLES PROCLAIMED A RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD...
      1. Peter and John "preached in Jesus the resurrection from the 
         dead" - Ac 4:1-2
      2. In his defenses before the Sanhedrin and Felix, Paul confessed 
         his hope in the resurrection - Ac 23:6; 24:15
      3. To the church at Corinth, Paul asserted the necessity of the 
         resurrection - 1Co 15:12-23
      4. To the church at Thessalonica, he taught the doctrine of the 
         resurrection as a source of comfort - 1Th 4:16-18

[Unless one questions the authority of Christ and His apostles, the 
"fact" of the resurrection is undeniable.

But how can such a thing happen?  It helps to remember...]

II. THE "AGENT" OF THE RESURRECTION

   A. CHRIST ATTRIBUTED IT TO "THE POWER OF GOD"...
      1. As He reminded the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection 
         - Mt 22:29
      2. And of course, "with God nothing will be impossible" 
         - cf. Lk 1:37

   B. PAUL ALSO EMPHASIZED "THE POWER OF GOD"...
      1. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead - 1Co 6:14
      2. He who can raise Jesus from the dead can certainly raise us up 
         at the last day - 2Co 4:14

[While it may be difficult for us to comprehend "how" the dead can be 
raised, it is not difficult for God to do it (unless "your" God is too 
small)!

Another question to be addressed concerning the resurrection pertains to
"who" will be raised.  Therefore we note...]

III. THE "UNIVERSALITY" OF THE RESURRECTION

   A. AS TAUGHT BY JESUS - Jn 5:28-29
      1. "ALL who are in the graves will...come forth"
      2. Both "those who have done good" and "those who have done evil"
         a. One to experience a "resurrection of life"
         b. The other a "resurrection of condemnation"

   B. PAUL TAUGHT ALL WOULD BE RAISED...
      1. "both of the just and the unjust" - Ac 24:15
      2. "for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made 
         alive" - 1Co 15:21-22

[While there may be a difference in the nature of the resurrected bodies
experienced (see later under the comments on "the body of the 
resurrection"), in some way EVERYONE will be raised from the dead!

What about the timing of the resurrection?]

IV. THE "TIME" OF THE RESURRECTION

   A. AT THE "LAST DAY", WHEN THE LORD COMES AGAIN...
      1. Jesus spoke again and again of raising the dead at "the last 
         day" - Jn 6:39-40,44,54
      2. Paul wrote of it occurring when Jesus comes again, to deliver 
         the kingdom to the Father, having destroyed the last enemy, 
         death itself - 1Co 15:22-26
      3. He later says that it will occur at "the last trumpet" 
         - 1Co 15:52

   B. WHAT ABOUT THE DOCTRINE OF SEPARATE RESURRECTIONS?
      1. The "premillennialists" (and perhaps others) teach that there 
         will be more than just one resurrection
         a. E.g., all premillennialists teach at least two 
            resurrections:
            1) The resurrection of believers at the BEGINNING of the 
               millennium
            2) The resurrection of unbelievers at the END of the 
               millennium
         b. Dispensational premillennialists add even two more:
            1) The resurrection of tribulation saints at the end of the 
               seven-year tribulation
            2) The resurrection of millennial saints at the end of the 
               millennium
      2. There are several reasons why the doctrine of several 
         resurrections is found wanting...
         a. The Bible presents the resurrection of believers and 
            unbelievers as occurring together - Dan 12:2; Jn 5:28-29; 
            Ac 24:14-15; Re 20:11-15
         b. The Bible teaches that believers will be raised at "the last
            day", not several times (and therefore several days, years,
            or a millennium) before "the last day"! - Jn 6:39-40,44,54
         c. Passages offered in support of several resurrections do not 
            necessarily teach what premillennialists say they do
            1) E.g., 1Th 4:13-16 concerns itself with the 
               resurrection of the righteous, but that does not demand 
               that the wicked are not being raised at the same time
            2) E.g., Re 20:4-6 describes a resurrection of "souls", 
               not bodies, and the reigning with Christ is likely to be 
               occurring in heaven, not on earth - cf. Re 2:26-27; 3:21

[One more subject to be considered in this study, and that pertains 
to...]

V. THE "BODY" OF THE RESURRECTION

   A. THE RESURRECTION BODY OF THE RIGHTEOUS...
      1. Will be our physical bodies, but gloriously changed and 
         different! - 1Co 15:35-55
         a. By the power of God (cf. Mt 22:29), our physical bodies 
            will serve as the "kernel" from which comes incorruptible 
            and immortal bodies in which to house our souls - 1Co 15:
            35-37
         b. Our physical bodies...
            1) Sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption! - 
               1Co 15:42
            2) Sown in dishonor, will be raised in glory! - 1Co 15:43a
            3) Sown in weakness, will be raised in power! - 1Co 15:43b
            4) Sown as natural bodies, will be raised as spiritual 
               bodies! - 1Co 15:44-49
         c. Even those who are alive at Christ's coming will undergo 
            this "change", in which that which is corruptible and mortal
            will "put on" incorruption and immortality - 1Co 15:50-55
      2. Will conformed to the glorious body of our Lord! - Php 3:20-21
         a. That which is "lowly" will be transformed to be like that 
            which "glorious"
         b. How?  "...according to the working by which He is able even
            to subdue all things to Himself"; i.e., by the power of God!

   B. THE RESURRECTION BODY OF THE WICKED...
      1. Very little is actually revealed, other than the wicked will 
         indeed be raised from the dead
      2. Though the Scriptures only apply the terms "incorruption" and 
         "immortality" to the resurrection bodies of the righteous, most
          interpreters hold that the resurrection body of the wicked...
         a. Is not subject again to death
         b. Is capable of experiencing eternal suffering 
      3. There are some, however, who understand that the "second death"
         will be literal...
         a. I.e., after the resurrection and judgment, the wicked will 
            "die" again (a separation of resurrected "body" and spirit)
         b. Not that the wicked will be annihilated, but that they will 
            spend eternity as "disembodied spirits" in the lake of fire
         c. This is not to be confused with those either don't believe 
            in a resurrection of the wicked, or who believe the wicked 
            will be annihilated
      4. Since the Bible is relatively silent on this subject perhaps 
         "...the best course seems to be simply leave the problem where 
         it was left by the writers of the New Testament." (Ray Summers,
         The Life Beyond, p. 93)

CONCLUSION

1. There is probably much more about the resurrection that we would like
   to know

2. But certainly enough is revealed to motivate those who desire 
   whatever God has prepared to love and obey Him!

Are you making it your aim to be ready for whatever God has prepared...?

   So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal
   has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying
   that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

   "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"

   The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

   But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord
   Jesus Christ.

   Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
   abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not
   in vain in the Lord.
                                             - 1Co 15:54-58

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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The Value of Biblical Sex Laws by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=832

The Value of Biblical Sex Laws

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In 1998, the Committee on Adolescence published an article in Pediatrics titled “Adolescent Pregnancy—Current Trends and Issues: 1998.” According to the statistics in the report, in 1998, 56 percent of the girls polled in the United States had had sexual intercourse before they were old enough to vote (at age 18). That same year, 73 percent of all boys were sexually active. The average age for the first intercourse experience was 17 for girls and 16 for boys. Even more troubling is the fact that 19 percent of sexually active high school students reported having four or more successive partners.
Television and movies portray sexual intercourse as a harmless, fun activity in which all “cool” people engage—regardless of their marital status. As a result, it sometimes is difficult to convince people of the negative effects of illicit sexual intercourse. After all, the debonair James Bond slept with as many women as he could in any given 007 movie. Yet he suffered no negative repercussions from his sexual promiscuity. The picture in real life is not quite as harmless, however. Here are a few statistics on the harmful effects of the promiscuous sex lives of many people today.
  • More than 10,000,000 children in Africa are orphans because their parents died of AIDS (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 115).
  • In America, up to 60 percent of the young adult population carries the incurable genital herpes virus (p. 120).
  • In America, about 30 percent of the young adult population carries the venereal wart virus (p. 122).
Amazingly, the Old and New Testament writers penned commandments—which derived ultimately from God—that would stop these terrible diseases from spreading. Proverbs 7:4-27 and Leviticus 19:29 are good examples of these laws as found in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the inspired apostle Paul explained that sexual immorality is a sin against the body (1 Corinthians 6:15-18). Throughout the pages of Scripture, God commanded that sexual intercourse be enjoyed only within the confines of a God-approved, monogamous, marital relationship. Jesus Himself stated:
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”? And said “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-5).
The biblical rules regarding intercourse help illustrate that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. How could the biblical writers have known the proper place for intercourse, when the nations around them engaged in various perverted practices? The simple fact is, God created humans, and He always has known how they should behave in every area of their lives. Just think how much heartache and physical pain people today could avoid—both for themselves and for those they love—simply by following biblical teaching concerning sexual intercourse. We would be wise indeed to abide by these rules—and to teach others to do the same.

REFERENCES

McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.

The Complexity of the Design Process by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2647

The Complexity of the Design Process

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Typically, in the first semester of engineering school, an introductory course presents broad concepts about engineering. Students may learn the basic differences in the engineering fields (e.g., civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical, structural, etc.). They may spend some time considering ethical dilemmas that engineers have often faced in their careers. First-year students also usually give some consideration to the design process. Even in its basic form, the design process proves to be very complex, even before considering the specialized scientific knowledge required to design a given item.
Many steps are necessary in order to get a product to the public. Consider one introductory engineering textbook’s template for the design process (see Introduction to Engineering..., 2004, pp. 10,32):
  1. Problem symptom or expression; definition of product need; marketing information
  2. Problem definition, including statement of desired outcome
  3. Conceptual design and evaluation; feasibility study
  4. Design analysis; codes/standards review; physical and analytical models
  5. Synthesis of alternative solutions (back to design analysis for iterations)
  6. Decision (selection of one alternative)
  7. Prototype production; testing and evaluation (back to design analysis for more iterations)
  8. Production drawings; instruction manuals
  9. Material specification; process and equipment selection; safety review
  10. Pilot production
  11. Production
  12. Inspection and quality assurance
  13. Packaging; marketing and sales literature
  14. Product
The design process is unquestionably lengthy, technical, complex, and calculated.
Now consider the Universe. Consider the perfect interaction between all entities in this Universe: between plants and animals; between animals and humans; between the Sun and Earth; between the Moon and Earth; between insects and plants; between the circulatory system and the respiratory system. The list could go on infinitely. The finely-tuned machine that we call the Universe is an engineering feat of amazing proportions. Consider the knowledge level and expertise that would be necessary for such perfect design—knowledge and expertise that humans lack. The created order implies an omniscient and eternal Designer, Who must be the Chief Engineer of all engineers, to have produced such a product.
Will a series of random accidents over millions of years result in sophisticated photographic equipment? And then, if given enough time, will that camera eventually spontaneously come to life? And then, given enough additional time, will that living camera grow legs and start walking around? The first step is impossible, much less the subsequent steps. The complexity and design inherent in the camera demands more than mere happenstance. However, turning to the design that the camera emulates, the human eye, scientists assert that the eye could have just happened on its own by accident. But that viewpoint is incorrect. Both products required design in order to get them to the “consumer”—and one took much more knowledge and insight than the other.
If someone were to throw a rock into space, would it eventually spontaneously explode? And from that explosion, is it logical to conclude that that rock would come to life, grow wings, and have babies that evolve into other creatures? To ask is to answer.
Scientists recognize the complexity of the design process. However, when they peer into the amazing Universe, many of these scientists abandon logic and reason, and assert that it all just happened by accident. Many of the engineering feats of the creation are unparalleled by human designs and always will be, even if we spent countless hours, millions of dollars, and used a multitude of engineers. Evolutionists believe that this Universe, which is infinitely more complex and sophisticated than anything humans could ever design, especially without engaging in biomimicry, just happened on its own? Go figure.

REFERENCE

Introduction to Engineering at Auburn University: Manufacturing—Industrial and Systems Engineering(2004), (Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing).


Evolution's "New" Argument—Suboptimality by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=456

Evolution's "New" Argument—Suboptimality

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

INTRODUCTION

In setting forth the case for creation, and establishing the existence of a Creator, creationists often employ what is commonly called the “design” argument. Put into logical form, the argument looks like this:
Premise #1If the Universe evinces purposeful design, there must have been a designer.
Premise #2The Universe does evince purposeful design.
ConclusionThus, the Universe must have had a Designer.
Even atheists and agnostics admit that the form of argumentation is correct. Paul Ricci, an atheistic philosopher, has admitted in his book, Fundamentals of Critical Thinking, “...it’s true that everything designed has a designer.... ‘Everything designed has a designer’ is an analytically true statement” (1986, p. 190). Their disagreement, however, has been with the second premise, which affirms that the Universe does evince purposeful design. In the past, evolutionists simply denied the existence ofany purposeful design in the Universe, and busied themselves in attempting to prove that point. For example, in 1986 Richard Dawkins, lecturer in animal science at Oxford University, wrote The Blind Watchmaker, in which he attempted to establish the case for no design in the Universe. Were such design to exist, evolutionists would be driven to admit, as Ricci concedes, that “everything designed has a designer.” And that, to them, is unthinkable.
At least that is the way it used to be. But, evolutionists apparently are beginning to recognize that they simply cannot explain away what the “man on the street” can so easily see as evidence of design in the Universe. Now, as unbelievable as it may seem, even evolutionists are finally admitting that design does, in fact, exist. Douglas Futuyma, for example, admits: “We look at the design of organisms, then, for evidence of the Creator’s intelligence, and what do we see? A multitude of exquisite adaptations to be sure; the bones of a swallow beautifully adapted for flight; the eyes of a cat magnificently shaped for seeing in the twilight” (1983, p. 198).
Does this mean, then, that evolutionists like Dr. Futuyma are admitting defeat, and becoming committed creationists in light of these new revelations? Hardly. Rather than abandon their sacrosanct theory of evolution, they have decided to “put their heads together” in an effort to explain all of this. The resulting argument is, admittedly, unique. It goes something like this.

THE ARGUMENT FROM SUBOPTIMALITY

If design in the Universe proves the existence of a Designer, says the evolutionist, then “non-design”disproves the existence of that same Designer. Put into logical form, here is the argument.
Premise #1If the Universe evinces traits of non-design, there is no Designer.
Premise #2The Universe does evince non-design.
ConclusionThus, the Universe had no Designer.
In recent years, this argument has grown in popularity. Dr. Futuyma, in Science On Trial, devoted almost an entire chapter to examples of “non-design” in nature. Other evolutionists are joining in the fracas. For example, Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard has written extensively about examples of non-design in nature.
As a result of all this attention to the matter of design versus non-design, a new term has even been coined to express the evolutionary argument. It is called the argument from suboptimality. That is to say, if all design were considered perfect, everything would be optimal. However, since there are items in nature that (allegedly) are imperfect, there is suboptimality in nature. [NOTE: The argument sometimes is known as the argument from dysteleology.] It is my contention that the argument is flawed for several reasons.
First, in arguing the case for design, creationists are not obligated to show obvious design in every single feature of the Universe. It is necessary to produce only a reasonable number of sufficient evidences in order to establish design. For the evolutionist to produce an example of something which, to him, evinces either non-design, or poor design, does not somehow magically negate all the other evidences of obvious design!
Second, it is possible that an object possesses purposeful design, but that it is not recognized by the observer. Consider the following two cases. Percival Davis, in the book he co-authored with Wayne Frair, A Case for Creation, gives the following story.
My daughter was playing with her pet rat one day when a question occurred to her. “Daddy,” she said, “why does a rat have scales on its tail?”
“You know perfectly well,” I replied. “The reptiles that were ancestral to rats and all other mammals had scales on their tails as well as on the rest of their bodies. Because there was no particular disadvantage to having them, they persisted in rats to this day.”
“Quit putting me on, Daddy. I know you don’t believe that!”
You cannot win, it seems. But it is true that one is hard put to discern the reason for the manifold adaptations that organisms possess. What I should have said to my daughter (and eventually did say) was that God had put the scales there for reasons He knew to be perfectly good ones but which may take us a lot of research to discover, since He has not told us what they are. Still, the fact was that I could not explain the presence of those scales... (1983, pp. 30-31).
Dr. Davis has raised two very important points with this simple story. First, we may not presentlyknow why an organism is designed the way it is. To us, the design is either not yet recognizable, or not well understood. Second, with further research, the heretofore unrecognizable design eventually may be discovered. And, in the case that follows below, that is exactly what happened.
In his 1980 book, The Panda’s Thumb, Dr. Gould (one of suboptimality’s most vocal supporters) presented what he believed to be perhaps the finest known example of non-design ever to be found in nature—the panda’s thumb. After providing an exhaustive explanation of how the panda has 5 other digits in each “hand,” which function quite well in the panda’s everyday life, Dr. Gould then provided an equally exhaustive explanation of the panda’s “thumb.” It is, he says, “a somewhat clumsy, but quite workable” appendage which “wins no prize in an engineer’s derby.” His whole essay was intended to portray this as good evidence of suboptimality—non-design in nature. In fact, lest the reader miss his point, Gould says that “odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread, but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce” (pp 20-21).
Interestingly, while Dr. Gould was writing about the non-design that he felt was so evident, research (the same kind of research Dr. Davis said would be needed to elucidate the purpose of design in certain structures) was ongoing in regard to the panda’s thumb. And what did that research show? The panda’s thumb now has been found to exhibit design for very special functions, as the following information attests.
First, the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Zoobook states: “In fact, the giant panda is one of the few large animals that can grab things as tightly as a human can” (n.d., p. 6). Second, in 1985 Schaller et al. authored The Giant Pandas of Wolong, in which they state: “The panda can handle bamboo stems with great precision by holding them as if with forceps in the hairless groove connecting the pad of the first digit and pseudothumb” (p. 4).
Do these kinds of statements seem to describe the panda’s thumb as a “jury-rigged” device? Does being able to grasp something tightly, with great precision, using a “pseudothumb” that is compared to surgical forceps seem to convey non-design? Such statements remind us of the point originally being made: an object may possess purposeful design, but that design may not be immediately evident to the observer. Dr. Gould could not see (for whatever reasons) the design in the panda’s thumb. Nevertheless, such design now is known to be present.
The panda’s “thumb” is an enlarged and extended wrist bone covered by a thick pad. It is separated from the pads of the five digits by a furrow that the panda uses to hold bamboo stalks.
There are other flaws with the suboptimality argument as well. One of the most serious is this: those who claim that something is “suboptimal” must, by definition, set themselves up as the sole judge of what is, and what is not, “optimal.” In other words, those who would claim non-design in nature must somehow “know” two things: (1) they must know that the item under discussion positively evinces no design; and (2) they must know what the absolute standard is in the first place (i.e., “the optimal”) in order to claim that something has become “suboptimal.”
These points have not escaped the evolutionists. For example, S.R. Scadding of Guelph University in Canada has commented that the suboptimality “argument is a theological rather than a scientific argument, since it is based on the supposed nature of the Creator” (1981, p. 174, emp. added). That is to say, the evolutionist sets himself up as the Creator, presupposes to know the mind of the Creator, and then presumes to say what the Creator did, or did not, do. Observe how one evolutionist does just that:
The case for evolution then has two sides; positive evidence—that evolution has occurred; and negative evidence—that the natural world does not conform to our expectation of what an omnipotent, omniscient, truthful Creator would have created (Futuyma, 1983, p. 198, emp. added).
Notice the phrase, “that the natural world does not conform to our expectation of what an omnipotent, omniscient, truthful Creator would have created.” The evolutionist looks at the creation, sees that it does not fit what he would do if he were the Creator, and then suggests on that basis that evolution is true. And all of this is from someone who does not even believe in a Creator in the first place! Such thinking makes for an extremely weak argument. As Frair and Davis have remarked: “It could be considered arrogant to assume knowledge of a design feature’s purpose in an organism, even if it had a purpose” (1983, p. 31). But such arrogance does not stand in the way of the evolutionists.
There is yet another flaw in this “suboptimality” argument. And, like the one just discussed, it has to do with theology, not science. First, the evolutionist sets himself up as the Creator and proceeds to note that since things weren’t done as he would do them, there must not be a Creator. Second, when thereal Creator does try to explain the evidences of “non-design” in the world (as the evolutionist sees them), the evolutionist refuses to listen. Consider the following as an explanation of this point.
It is at least possible that an object once clearly reflected purposeful design, but as a result of a process of degeneration, the design has been clouded or erased. Consider the following analogy:
Suppose a gardener, digging in a pile of rubbish, discovers an ancient book. Its cover is weathered, its pages are mostly stuck together, the type has faded, etc. It is, for all practical purposes, completely illegible. Does the current condition of the book mean that it never had a message—that it never evidenced design? Of course not. Though the book is in a degenerative condition, and the message has faded with time, there is no denying that the book was at one point quite communicative (Jackson, 1989, p. 2, emp. added).
The evolutionist surveys the Earth and finds examples of what he believes are evidences of “suboptimality.” Yet in many cases he may be witnessing simply degeneration instead. In fact, that is exactly what the Creator has stated. When man sinned, and evil was introduced to this planet, a state of progressive degeneration commenced. The whole creation suffered as a result of man’s sin (Romans 8:20-22). The Hebrew writer, quoting the psalmist, observed that “the earth, like a garment, is wearing out” (Hebrews 1:10-11).
Also consider this important point: the fact that the product of an orderly mechanism is flawed does not necessarily reflect upon either the initial design or the designer.
For example, if a machine which manufactures tin cans begins to turn out irregular cans, does this somehow prove the machine had no designer? Must one postulate that the machine’s inventor intended for mutilated cans to be produced, or that the machine was imperfectly designed? Surely we can conceive that the failure could be on the part of those who failed to follow the correct procedures for maintaining the machine, or who abused it in some fashion. When man rebelled against his Maker, the Lord allowed, as a consequence of that disobedience, degenerative processes to begin, which eventually result in death (Romans 5:12). But the fact that we have eye problems, heart failure, diseases, etc., does not negate the impact as a whole that the human body is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We will not assume, therefore, that because our critic’s reasoning ability is flawed, this proves his brain was not designed. The “design” argument remains unscathed! (Jackson, 1989, p. 3, emp. in orig.).
Evolutionists, of course, ignore all of this. After all, they already have set themselves up as the Creator, and have determined that none of this is the way they would do it. When the real Creator speaks, they are too busy playing the Creator to hear Him. Here is a good example. Futuyma says:
The creationists admit that species can undergo limited adaptive changes by the mechanism of mutation plus natural selection. But surely an omniscient and omnipotent Creator could devise a more foolproof method than random mutation to enable his creatures to adapt. Yet mutations do occur, and we have experimental demonstration that they are not oriented in the direction of better adaptedness. How could a wise Creator, in fact, allow mutations to happen at all, since they are so often degenerative instead of uplifting? According to the creationists, there is “a basic principle of disintegration now at work in nature” that we must suppose includes mutation. But why should the Creator have established such a principle? Didn’t He like the perfection of His original creation (1983, p. 200)?
Dr. Futuyma acknowledges that creationists have tried to get him to see that there is “a basic principle of disintegration now at work in nature.” Then he asks, “But why should the Creator have established such a principle? Didn’t He like the perfection of His original creation?” This is why we say that the problem is rooted in theology, not science. Dr. Futuyma questions why the Creator enacted this “principle of degeneration,” then makes it clear that he has no intention whatsoever of accepting the answer provided by the very Creator he questions. If Dr. Futuyma had studied what the Creator didsay, he would have the answer to his question. Yes, the Creator liked His original creation, so much so He pronounced it “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
It was not God’s fault that the principle of degeneration became a reality. It was man’s fault because the first man wanted, like evolutionists today, to be the Creator. Is there a “principle of degeneration” at work? Indeed there is. Might it cause some organisms or structures to have their original message (i.e., design) diminished, or to lose it altogether? Certainly. But does that mean that there never wasany design? Or, does it reflect poorly on the Designer, proving somehow that He does not exist? In the eyes of the evolutionists, the only possible answer to these questions is a resounding “yes.” As Scadding says:
Haeckel makes clear why this line of argument was of such importance to early evolutionary biologists.... It seemed difficult to explain functionless structures on the basis of special creation without imputing some lack of skill in design to the Creator (1981, p. 174).
So, God gets the blame for man’s mistakes. And, the evolutionists get another argument for their arsenal. Here, in a nutshell, is that argument, as stated by British evolutionist Jeremy Cherfas:
In fact, as Darwin recognized, a perfect Creator could manufacture perfect adaptations. Everything would fit because everything was designed to fit. It is in the imperfect adaptations that natural selection is revealed, because it is those imperfections that show us that structure has a history. If there were no imperfections, there would be no evidence of history, and therefore nothing to favor evolution by natural selection over creation (1984, p. 29).
Henry Morris, speaking specifically about the comments made by Cherfas, made an interesting observation:
This is an amazing admission. The main evidence against creation and for evolution is that natural selection doesn’t work! If there were no “imperfect” structures in nature, the evidence would all favor creation. No wonder evolution has to be imposed by authority and bombast, rather than reason, if this is its only real evidence! (1985, p. 177).
Yet this is exactly what Gould has suggested: “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution...” (1980, p. 20, emp. added).
The creationist, however, is not willing to usurp the Creator’s prerogative and, like the evolutionist, tell Him what He can (and cannot) do, or what is (and what is not) acceptable. As Frair and Davis noted:
Yet the creationist lacks the option (open to the evolutionist) of assuming purposelessness. Human curiosity being what it is, the creationist will be motivated to inquire concerning the purpose of the universe and all its features. The purpose for most things will not be found. What we do find may, nonetheless, be sufficient justification for the endeavor (1983, pp. 31-32).

CONCLUSION

It is clear that evolutionists are “grasping at straws” when the “new” argument from suboptimality is the best they can offer. Actually, this argument is not new at all. Darwin, in his Origin of Species, addressed this very argument in 1859. Modern evolutionists—desperate to find something they can use as evidence against design in the Universe (and thus against the Designer)—have resurrected it from the relic heaps of history, given it a different name, and attempted to foist it upon the public as a legitimate response to the creationists’ argument from design. Once again they have had to set themselves up as the Creator in order to try to convince people that no Creator exists. And once again, they have failed.

REFERENCES

Cherfas, Jeremy (1984), “The Difficulties of Darwinism,” New Scientist, 102:28-30, May 17.
Davis, Percival, and Dean H. Kenyon (1989), Of Pandas and People (Dallas, TX: Haughton Publishing).
Dawkins, Richard (1986), The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton).
Frair, Wayne A. and Percival Davis (1983), A Case for Creation (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Futuyma, Douglas (1983), Science on Trial (New York: Pantheon).
Giant Panda Zoobook (undated), (San Diego, CA: San Diego Zoo).
Gould, Stephen Jay (1980), The Panda’s Thumb (New York: W.W. Norton).
Jackson, Wayne (1989), “Some Atheistic Arguments Answered,” Reason & Revelation, 9:1-3, January.
Morris, Henry M. (1985), Creation and the Modern Christian (El Cajon, CA: Master Books).
Ricci, Paul (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, ME: Ginn Press).
Scadding, S.R. (1981), Evolutionary Theory, May.
Schaller, George B., Hu Jinchu, Pan Wenshi, and Zhu Jing (1985), The Giant Pandas of Wolong(Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).

Personal Responsibility by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1176

Personal Responsibility
by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

As the moral and spiritual fabric of American culture continues to unravel, one time-honored norm after another is being jettisoned from daily living. One of those traditional values has been the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own decisions and actions. This cultural trait was once embodied in the widely circulated quip pertaining to an incident in the life of the father of our country. George Washington was alleged as a boy to have taken it upon himself to cut down a cherry tree. When questioned about the incident, he is reported to have remarked: “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree.” Regardless of whether this little ditty is fictional or historical, it illustrates the point that honesty, integrity, and owning up to one’s own actions were once cherished societal norms.
For several decades now, however, this approach to life has suffered serious erosion. A prominent feature of current culture is to look for someone else to blame for those unpleasant things that happen in one’s life. Coupled with this evasion of personal responsibility is the desire to get rich quick by suing anyone and everyone who might be even remotely connected to the circumstance. Consequently, a driver can spill coffee on herself after passing through a fast food drive-up window, sue the restaurant—and win! One can choose to smoke cigarettes for years, sue the cigarette manufacturers, and extract large sums of money. One even can eat hamburgers and French fries from fast food chains—and then turn around and blame the restaurant for gained weight and high cholesterol levels.
Don’t misunderstand. Genuine negligence takes place in our society in which those who promote services to the public fail to give adequate attention to genuinely dangerous aspects of their products. However, much litigation in America today is unjust, outrageous, and deplorable. Frivolous law suits have led to millions of dollars spent on superfluous warning labels that cheapen the significance of truly necessary ones. Since “accidents happen” through the ordinary circumstances of human existence without anyone really to blame, innocent people are being victimized, singled out to bear the brunt of reckless vengeance, undeserved retaliation, and greed.
One of the prominent teachings of the Bible is the fact that God holds all accountable human beings responsible for their own actions. The attempt to shift blame to others has been a perennial propensity on the part of many people (1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 27:24), but God consistently has insisted upon the necessity of a person accepting responsibility for his or her own thoughts, decisions, and actions. This insistence is seen, for example, in the oft’-repeated phrases, “his blood shall be upon him” (Leviticus 20:9,13,27; Deuteronomy 19:10; Ezekiel 18:13; 33:5), and “his blood be on his own head” (Joshua 2:19; 2 Samuel 1:16; Ezekiel 33:4; Acts 18:6). It also is seen in the declarations that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4,20), and “the son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20; cf. Deuteronomy 24:16).
We humans may try to “pass the buck” and evade responsibility for our own actions. It’s like we tell small children: “If you put your hand in the fire, you’re going to get burned.” Yet, when we ourselves get burned for our own behavior, we become resentful and angry and want someone else “to pay.” But there are consequences to our actions. God is keeping a record, and one day will call all of us to account (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12). He assigns responsibility for our own actions to us, no one else. When we make choices that bring hardship or hurt into our lives, we must be willing to humble ourselves and bear the consequences. If we do not want to endure that pain, we should not commit the acts that elicit such a result. If we do commit such acts, we have earned the resultant suffering, and we deserve to get what we have earned. We need to be adult enough to “take our licks.” Even when hardship comes due to the nature of human existence and the world around us, with no particular individual responsible, we should humbly bow and commit ourselves to “Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
America would be a much better place in which to live if we returned to an observance of the simple precepts of Scripture: “Repay no one evil for evil…. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath” (Romans 12:17,19); “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).

Camels and the Composition of Genesis by Eric Lyons, M.Min. A.P. Staff


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=858&b=Genesis

Camels and the Composition of Genesis
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
A.P. Staff


Arguably, the most widely alleged anachronisms used in support of the idea that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible (a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis) are the accounts of the early patriarchs possessing camels. The word “camel(s)” appears 23 times in 21 verses in the book of Genesis. The first book of the Bible declares that camels existed in Egypt during the time of Abraham (12:14-17), in Palestine in the days Isaac (24:63), in Padan Aram while Jacob was working for Laban (30:43), and were owned by the Midianites during the time Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery (37:25,36). Make no mistake about it, the book of beginnings clearly teaches that camels were domesticated since at least the time of Abraham.
According to skeptics (and a growing number of liberal scholars), however, the idea that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham directly contradicts archaeological evidence. Over one hundred years ago, T.K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 1:634). In his oft’-quoted book on the various animals of the Bible, George Cansdale stated:
The Bible first mentions the camel in Gen. 12:16, where the presents are listed which the pharaoh gave to Abram. This is generally reckoned to be a later scribe’s addition, for it seems unlikely that there were any camels in Egypt then (1970, p. 66, emp. added).
More recently, Finkelstein and Silberman confidently asserted:
We now know through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE (2001, p. 37, emp. added).
By way of summary, what the Bible believer has been told is: “[T]ame camels were simply unknown during Abraham’s time” (Tobin, 2000).
While these claims have been made repeatedly over the last century, the truth of the matter is that skeptics and liberal theologians are unable to cite a single piece of solid archaeological evidence in support of their claims. As Randall Younker of Andrews University stated in March 2000 while delivering a speech in the Dominican Republic: “Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium B.C. have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture” (2000). The burden of proof actually should be upon skeptics to show that camels were not domesticated until after the time of the patriarchs. Instead, they assure their listeners of the camel’s absence in Abraham’s day—without one shred of archaeological evidence. [Remember, for many years they also argued that writing was unknown during the time of Moses—a conclusion based entirely on “silence.” Now, however, they have recanted that idea, because evidence has been found to the contrary. One might think that such “scholars” would learn not to speak with such assurance when arguing from silence.]
What makes their claims even more disturbing is that several pieces of evidence do exist (and have existed for some time) that prove camels were domesticated during (and even before) the time of Abraham (roughly 2,000 B.C.). In an article that appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies a half-century ago, professor Joseph Free listed several instances of Egyptian archaeological finds supporting the domestication of camels [NOTE: The dates given for the Egyptian dynasties are from Clayton, 2001, pp.14-68]. The earliest evidence comes from a pottery camel’s head and a terra cotta tablet with men riding on and leading camels. According to Free, these are both from predynastic Egypt (1944, pp. 189-190), which according to Clayton is roughly before 3150B.C. Free also listed three clay camel heads and a limestone vessel in the form of camel lying down—all dated at the First Dynasty of Egypt (3050-2890 B.C.). He then mentioned several models of camels from the Fourth Dynasty (2613-2498 B.C.), and a petroglyph depicting a camel and a man dated at the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2184 B.C.). Such evidence has led one respected Egyptologist to conclude that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt—EL] by 3,000B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (Kitchen, 1980, 1:228).
Perhaps the most convincing find in support of the early domestication of camels in Egypt is a rope made of camel’s hair found in the Fayum (an oasis area southwest of modern-day Cairo). The two-strand twist of hair, measuring a little over three feet long, was found in the late 1920s, and was sent to the Natural History Museum where it was analyzed and compared to the hair of several different animals. After considerable testing, it was determined to be camel hair, dated (by analyzing the layer in which it was found) to the Third or Fourth Egyptian Dynasty (2686-2498 B.C.). In his article, Free also listed several other discoveries from around 2,000 B.C. and later, which showed camels as domestic animals (pp. 189-190).
While prolific in Egypt, finds relating to the domestication of camels are not isolated to the African continent. In his book, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament, professor Kenneth Kitchen (retired) of the University of Liverpool reported several discoveries made outside of Egypt proving ancient camel domestication around 2,000 B.C. Lexical lists from Mesopotamia have been uncovered that show a knowledge of domesticated camels as far back as this time. Camel bones have been found in household ruins at Mari in present-day Syria that fossilologists believe are also at least 4,000 years old. Furthermore, a Sumerian text from the time of Abraham has been discovered in the ancient city of Nippur (located in what is now southeastern Iraq) that clearly implies the domestication of camels by its allusions to camels’ milk (Kitchen, 1966, p. 79).
All of these documented finds support the domestication of camels in Egypt many years before the time of Abraham. Yet, as Younker rightly observed, skeptics refuse to acknowledge any of this evidence.
It is interesting to note how, once an idea gets into the literature, it can become entrenched in conventional scholarly thinking. I remember doing research on the ancient site of Hama in Syria. As I was reading through the excavation reports (published in French), I came across a reference to a figurine from the 2nd millennium which the excavator thought must be a horse, but the strange hump in the middle of its back made one think of a camel. I looked at the photograph and the figurine was obviously that of a camel! The scholar was so influenced by the idea that camels were not used until the 1st millennium, that when he found a figurine of one in the second millennium, he felt compelled to call it a horse! This is a classic example of circular reasoning (2000, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Finds relating to the domestication of camels are not as prevalent in the second millennium B.C. as they are in the first millennium. This does not make the skeptics’ case any stronger, however. Just because camels were not as widely used during Abraham’s time as they were later, does not mean that they were entirely undomesticated. As Free commented:
Many who have rejected this reference to Abraham’s camels seem to have assumed something which the text does not state. It should be carefully noted that the biblical reference does not necessarily indicate that the camel was common in Egypt at that time, nor does it evidence that the Egyptians had made any great progress in the breeding and domestication of camels. It merely says that Abraham had camels (1944, p. 191, emp. added).
Similarly, Younker noted:
This is not to say that domesticated camels were abundant and widely used everywhere in the ancient Near East in the early second millennium. However, the patriarchal narratives do not necessarily require large numbers of camels…. The smaller amount of evidence for domestic camels in the late third and early second millennium B.C., especially in Palestine, is in accordance with this more restricted use (1997, 42:52).
Even without the above-mentioned archaeological finds (which to the unbiased examiner prove that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham), it only seems reasonable to conclude that since wild camels have been known since the Creation, “there is no credible reason why such an indispensable animal in desert and semi-arid lands should not have been sporadically domesticated in patriarchal times and even earlier” (“Animal Kingdom,” 1988). The truth is, all of the available evidence points to one conclusion—the limited use of domesticated camels during and before the time of Abraham did occur. The supposed “anachronism” of domesticated camels during the time of the patriarchs is, in fact, an actual historical reference to the use of these animals at that time. Those who reject this conclusion cannot give one piece of solid archaeological evidence on their behalf. They simply argue from the “silence” of archaeology…which is silent no more!

REFERENCES

“Animal Kingdom” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Cheyne, T.K. (1899), Encyclopedia Biblica (London: A. & C. Black).
Clayton, Peter A. (2001), Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: Thames & Hudson).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York: Free Press).
Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 3:187-193, July.
Kitchen, K.A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Chicago, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Kitchen, K.A. (1980), The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale).
Tobin, Paul N. (2000), “Mythological Element in the Story of Abraham and the Patriachal Narratives,” The Refection of Pascal’s Wager [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html.
Younker, Randall W. (1997), “Late Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai,” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, 42:47-54.
Younker, Randall W. (2000), “The Bible and Archaeology,” The Symposium on the Bible and Adventist Scholarship [On-line], URL: http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_26B/26Bcc_457-477.htm.

From Jim McGuiggan... ANN JOHNSTON DIED

ANN JOHNSTON DIED

I've known him a very long time and recall many lovely shared experiences. Went by to visit him for a while. I was a little reluctant due to the circumstances. Hadn't seen him in years and these were agony-filled days for him and his close-knit family.
Fifty years they'd been married. Fifty years they loved each other and fifty years they were the dearest friends.
The entire family had just got back from a marvellous holiday in Galway [another one--it was what they did together, traveling here and there]. She loved him, he loved her, the kids loved the parents and the parents loved the children.
She went out into the back garden to potter around with the flowers, doing what she enjoyed, fell down and was gone!
No warning! Out of the blue! No visits to the doctor! No scary moments that suggested something was wrong! Nothing! No thing!
Gone!
He'd had some health set-backs and she cared for him as she cared for her children and their children. Blessed woman!
Didn't know if he could take a visit; didn't know if he could be bothered but couldn't keep from what might have been intrusion. He was gracious and as soon as he saw who it was he knew why I was there and the pain filled up in his eyes and finally spilled over. "I'm just having a bad day," he managed to finally blurt out, chest heaving and in a tone almost as if apologizing.
It's the price lovers pay for knowing one another so well and for so long. A price they're glad to pay! The agony exists because the love relationship existed, expressed in moments alone, times when they couldn't stop laughing, the happy lunacy, the fights that often meant they took one another seriously, arguments that said they held one another accountable and then the making up, the pleasure of knowing that nothing was an insurmountable difficulty, the times of fear they shared and saw conquered.
I watched his daughter Irene watching him, her daddy, flawed, like all the rest of us, watched her with love and tenderness shining out of her tear-filled eyes as he sobbed and she kept filling in the sentences he couldn't finish.
Though love had been handed heartbreak with Ann's leaving it hadn't died. There it was written all over people who go on.
It's so wonderful to be loved. I'm not sure, but maybe it's even more wonderful to love.
I know Someone from whom all human loves come and if he is anything like what he showed himself to be in Jesus Christ he must hurt with the hurt of his children, whoever or wherever they are.