"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Wisdom Regarding Work INTRODUCTION 1. The responsibilities of being a Christian are many, one of which is providing a proper example... a. We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth - Mt5:13-16 b. This requires outstanding and honorable conduct on our part - 1 Pe2:12 c. This is especially true as we go about the business of making a living - cf. 2Th 3:11-12 2. But how can we be sure that we behave properly toward outsiders in our business affairs...? a. We've seen that Proverbs has much wisdom to offer in regards to friends and family b. It also has much to say regarding every day work and business! [As one who was employed in secular work before devoting my full energies to preaching the gospel, I found Proverbs to be especially helpful in this area. For example, from Proverbs I learned...] I. TO KEEP WORK IN ITS PROPER PLACE A. REMEMBER WHAT SHOULD TAKE PRIORITY... 1. It is a fact of life that we must work to live and provide forf our families a. If we aren't willing to work, the church is under no obligation to help us - 2Th 3:6 b. If we don't provide for our families, we are worse than unbelievers - 1Ti 5:8 2. But misplaced priorities can be very harmful to our well-being! a. Righteousness, not riches, is what is truly profitable - Pro 11:4 b. One should therefore seek to be righteous, not rich - Pro 11:28 3. It is better to have a little with righteousness, than to be rich and wicked - Pr 16:8 B. INVOLVE GOD IN OUR BUSINESS AFFAIRS... 1. For then our efforts are more likely to succeed - Pr 16:3 (cf. how the Lord blessed Joseph - Gen 39:2-5) 2. We are more likely to be able to enjoy what we receive - Pro 10:22; cf. Ec 5:18-6:2 C. REMEMBER THAT BUSINESS HAS A MAJOR SHORTCOMING... 1. We never know what might happen tomorrow - Pr 27:1; cf. Jm 4: 13-16 2. Wealth is a fleeting commodity not worth killing yourself in order to obtain - Pr 23:4-5 [Many people come to learn these truths only after a lifetime, when they realize they wasted their years on things not truly important, but the value of Proverbs is that even the young can know them early and apply them to their lives! From Proverbs I also learned...] II. TO BE SUCCESSFUL LABORER A. WHAT "NOT" TO DO... 1. Be lazy, for it will greatly irritate your boss! - Pr 10:26 2. Be slothful in your work, for it will ruin your company as quick as a competing company (and how long will your job last if your company can't compete?) - cf. Pr 18:9 B. WHAT ONE "SHOULD" DO... 1. Develop skill in your work (it will not go unnoticed) - Pro 22:29 2. Be diligent in your work to ensure your promotion - Pr 12:24 3. Impress people with the quality of your work, not the quantity of your words - Pr 14:23 [In today's competitive job market, among the best "skills" one can have are such things as "diligence" and "honesty". The wisdom from Proverbs can help one become a valuable commodity! Proverbs also provide wisdom on how...] III. TO BE A SUCCESSFUL MANAGER A. BE A WISE MANAGER... 1. Be diligent in your planning, and not too hasty in getting things done - Pr 21:5 2. Nurture and utilize counsel from others - Pr 15:22 3. Stay on top of your job! - cf. Pr 27:23-27 B. BE A GOOD LEADER... 1. Don't be oppressive - Pr 28:16 2. Be concerned for the rights of your employees - Pr 29:7 3. Provide good treatment, and you will gain loyalty and love - Pr 29:21 4. Help the employee see how his work benefits himself as well as the company, so he will be diligent in his efforts - Pr 16:26 CONCLUSION 1. My experience as both a laborer and a manager gave me opportunity to test the wisdom found in Proverbs... 2. I found that if one... a. Keeps the need to work in proper perspective b. Applies the principles found in Proverbs and other Scriptures 3. That in His providence God... a. Not only provides you with the necessities of life b. But more often than not a good degree of material abundance! The important thing to keep in mind is that throughout our business dealings, we must always heed the words of Jesus: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!" (Mt 6:33)
"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Wisdom Regarding Family INTRODUCTION 1. As we continue our study of the Proverbs, we should keep in mind two things: a. Life is short b. Our eternal existence is greatly influenced by how we live during this short life 2. It is imperative, then, that we not waste our time through rash and foolish decisions... a. Which not only jeopardize our eternal destiny b. But can also make this life miserable 3. The value of wisdom is especially seen in family relationships... a. "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind..." - Pro 11:29 b. Life is too short and families grow too fast for us to raise a family through "trial and error" 4. We must seek advice in this all-important task... a. But where shall we go? b. To so-called "experts" who authoritatively give advice, but then all too often change their views later on after the damage has been done? (e.g., Dr. Spock and his earlier views on child- raising) [Fortunately, in His grace God has preserved in His all-sufficient book the wisdom needed to provide for and raise a family. Much of this wisdom in found in The Book Of Proverbs! To illustrate, let's first consider some wisdom in...] I. PROVIDING FOR A FAMILY A. WHAT MANY THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT... 1. Many would say it is the "necessities" of life a. Such as food and clothing b. And a place of shelter 2. Most would feel that other things are also necessary... a. Such as the "finer things" (luxuries) for the children, which parents never had as children b. A good "education" for the children, so they too can be affluent [While there is some merit in these things, inspired wisdom from The Book Of Proverbs teaches us not to place emphasis upon such material things...] B. WHERE THE EMPHASIS SHOULD BE... 1. Instilling a fear of the Lord - Pr 15:16 a. More important than riches is providing for your family through your own example a deep and abiding respect for the Lord b. For the fear of the Lord provides: a. The beginning of knowledge - Pr 1:7 b. A means to prolong life - Pr 10:27 c. The key to avoiding sin - Pr 16:6 d. The key to true wealth - Pr 22:4 c. The fear of the Lord, then, is perhaps the most important "provision" that one can give to his or her family 2. Giving them love - Pr 15:17 a. Providing an environment where love reigns is more important than providing material abundance b. Troubled children come from homes where "love" is lacking, not money! 3. Providing a peaceful family life - Pr 17:1 a. Where there is peace and tranquility in a family, material affluence matters little b. But what value is there in wealth, if we are always fighting over the things it provides? 4. A wise father (or mother) realizes that spiritual provisions are more important than material ones a. They will see that the family receives what is truly important b. Even it means cutting back on less important things [But when God's wisdom is truly followed, it won't be necessary to go without material necessities! To see why, consider what can be done...] C. TO ENSURE ADEQUATE MATERIAL PROVISIONS... 1. Be righteous - Pr 20:7 a. Today that means putting the kingdom of God first in your life - Mt 6:33 b. Then God will watch out for you and providentially see that your needs are adequately met! c. Children of righteous parents are truly blessed! d. But parents who fail to put God first go through life without God's providential help, and their children may suffer as a result! 2. Concentrate on acquiring wisdom and knowledge, not wealth - Pro 24:3-4 a. This would involve a careful study and application of God's Word, especially a book like Proverbs b. But it also involves living a dedicated life as a disciple (learner) of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge - cf. Col 2:2-3 [From the Proverbs, then, we learn that the best and wisest thing parents can do for their family is to provide themselves as obedient servants of God, and to instill such faith in their children. If this is done, God will see that their material needs are met! But what about the matter of raising children...?] II. RAISING CHILDREN A. THE PROPER USE OF CORPOREAL PUNISHMENT... 1. Used properly, it is a demonstration of true love - Pr 13:24 2. Proper discipline has proper objectives... a. To remove foolishness from the child - Pr 22:15 b. To save the soul of the child - Pr 23:13-14 c. To impart wisdom and to avoid shame - Pr 29:15 3. Proper discipline has its rewards - Pr 29:17 a. Such as "rest" and "delight" b. A child who will love you and live in such a way as to bring you delight 4. Of course, there must be the proper application of corporeal punishment - Pr 19:18 a. To be applied before the situation gets of out hand ("while there is hope") b. To be applied under controlled circumstances ("do not set your heart on his destruction") 1) I.e., do not put it off until you strike in anger 2) There is a difference between proper "spanking" and "child abuse"! c. Corporeal punishment should never be a vent for letting off steam... 1) Rather, a controlled use of one method to discourage bad behavior 2) To be accompanied with love! - cf. Ep 6:4 (as implied by the word "nurture") B. MORE WISDOM FROM A FAMILIAR VERSE - Pr 22:6 1. As commonly translated: "train up a child in the way he should go" a. This allows for the common interpretation in which a child's outcome is virtually dependent upon his training, especially in spiritual matters 1) I.e., if the child is brought up right by godly parents, the child must turn out all right 2) So if a child is not a faithful Christian, it must always be a failing of the parents b. But this view suggests "environmental predestination", or "behavioral determinism" (shades of B. F. Skinner, cf. his book "Walden II") 2. Literally, the verse can be translated: "train up a child according to his way" a. That is, train up a child according to his or her inclinations b. For example, don't try to force a child who is mechanically inclined to be a doctor or a lawyer c. Rather, bring up a child according to his or her aptitude, and they will likely continue what they start out in life doing (i.e., no "mid-life" crisis or career changes) d. Therefore, this verse, like so many in Proverbs, is simply giving us practical advice in raising our children (without necessarily any spiritual implications) 3. However, I might add that trying to force a child to go against their "aptitude" may encourage a child to rebel in all areas of parental influence (including spiritual) CONCLUSION 1. My purpose has not been to provide an exhaustive treatment of this subject covered in Proverbs 2. Rather, to illustrate its value to Christians in all areas of our lives... a. That it does speak to such matters as providing for a family, raising children b. So that we will study and meditate on it more often Since so much of our happiness or lack of it is affected by our family life, we should want to take advantage of the wisdom offered in this area by the book of Proverbs...!
The Quran and the Person of Jesus
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Christianity and Islam are in hopeless contradiction with each other regarding several significant concepts and core doctrines—contradictions that strike at the very heart of their respective approaches to religion, life, spirituality, and human existence. The most crucial contention—the greatest tension between the two religions—pertains to the person of Christ. On this solitary point, Islam and Christianity, the Bible and the Quran, can never agree. This disagreement is of such momentous import, and of such great magnitude, as to make the inexorable incompatibility permanent.
Observe a few of the Quran’s declarations concerning the person of Jesus (taken from the translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall [n.d.]):
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah (Surah 3:64).These references, and others (e.g., 2:116; 6:101; 17:111; 19:35; 39:3-6; 43:14,59,81; 72:3-4), demonstrate that the Quran depicts Jesus as a mere man—a prophet like Muhammad—who was created by God like all other created beings: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him” (Surah 5:75; cf. 42:9,13,21). Indeed, when Jesus is compared to any of the prophets (listed as Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob), Allah is represented as stating: “We make no distinction between any of them” (Surah 2:136; 3:84). Though the Quran seems to accept the notion of the virgin conception (Surah 21:91), to attribute divinity to Jesus, or to assign to Jesus equal rank with God, is to utter a “dreadful” and “disastrous” thing—to formulate “nothing but a lie”!
And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. Lo! Thou, only Thou art the Knower of Things Hidden. I spake unto them only that which Thou commandedst me, (saying): Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when Thou tookest me Thou wast the Watcher over them. Thou art Witness over all things (Surah 5:116-117).
Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave…to give warning of stern punishment from Him…and to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son, (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers. Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie (Surah 18:1-5).
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, that ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficient as a slave (Surah 19:88-93).
Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him; else would each God have assuredly championed that which he created, and some of them would assuredly have overcome others. Glorified be Allah above all that they allege (Surah 23:91).
He unto Whom belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He hath chosen no son nor hath He any partner in the sovereignty. He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure (Surah 25:2).
Here, indeed, is the number one conflict between Islam and Christianity—–the deity, person, and redemptive role of Christ. If Christ is Who the Bible represents Him to be, then Islam and the Quran are completely fictitious. If Jesus Christ is Who the Quran represents Him to be, then Christianity is baseless and blasphemous. On this point alone, these two religions can never achieve harmony. But the New Testament is very, very clear: the heart, core, and soul of the Christian religion is allegiance to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, and Savior.
To exhaust what the New Testament has to say on this subject would require volumes (cf. John 21:25). However, it takes only a few verses to establish the clarity with which the New Testament affirms the divine nature of Jesus. The entire book of John is devoted to defending the divine identity of Christ, articulated in its thematic statement: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31, emp. added). The book of John pinpoints seven “signs,” i.e., miraculous acts, performed by Jesus while He was on Earth that proved His divine person—beginning with the very first verse that forthrightly affirms: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:1-4). The “Word” is Jesus (1:14). This thesis reaches its climactic pinnacle when Thomas was forced to arrive at the only possible conclusion regarding the person of Jesus, when he exclaimed: “My Lord and My God!” (20:28). To the Muslim and the Quran, such a declaration is preposterous, horrifying, blasphemous, and absolutely unacceptable. But it is the clear teaching of the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, when Moses encountered God at the burning bush, he asked God to clarify His name so that Moses would be able to respond appropriately to the Israelites when he went to them in Egypt on God’s mission. God answered: “ ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you’ ” (Exodus 3:14). “I AM” is a reference to the eternality of God. Being God, He is eternal with no beginning and no end. He is self-existent and has always existed. Yet in the book of John, Jesus repeatedly identifies His own person with this same appellation (4:26; 8:24,28,58; 13:19). For example, when Jesus explained to the hostile Jews that Abraham had rejoiced to see His day, they responded, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus retorted: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (8:58). The Jews unquestionably understood Jesus’ remark to be a claim to divinity, and promptly took up stones to kill Him (vs. 59).
Another Bible text where the deity of Jesus is set forth in unmistakable terms is the book of Colossians. Paul forcefully affirmed regarding Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (1:15-17). “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9).
Such depictions of Jesus are frequent in the New Testament. Jesus was certainly a prophet, as the Quran itself affirms (Surah 4:163); but Jesus was not just a prophet. He was God in the flesh. In fact, oral confession of the deity of Christ is prerequisite to becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9-10). This singular point makes Christianity and Islam forever incompatible. One must be a Christian to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and yet one cannot be a Christian without believing in, and verbally confessing, the deity of Christ. The Bible declares that Jesus was the final revelation of God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). There have been no others.
REFERENCESPickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In our scientifically advanced age of cloning, biomimetics, Pentium processors, and the Internet, Americans’ skepticism of biblical inerrancy appears to have reached an all time high (see Gallup and Lindsay, 1999, p. 36), especially in regard to matters of the Bible and science. How can a book, parts of which were written 3,500 years ago, have relevant scientific data? How could the Bible writers have made accurate statements about the heavens long before the invention of telescopes and satellites? How could they have correctly classified animals before the development of Linnaean taxonomy? How could their references to zoology, botany, astronomy, and human anatomy be trustworthy?
Although the purpose of the Bible is not to provide a commentary on the physical Universe, Christians rightly conclude that, if the Bible was truly given “by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16-17; see Butt, 2007), then it should be free from the kinds of errors that books written by uninspired men contain (see Lyons, 2005, 2:5-25). The Bible may not be a textbook of biology, geology, or chemistry (the Bible is about God and redemption through Jesus Christ), but “wherever it deals with these fields, its statements are true and dependable” (MacRae, 1953, 110:134). At least common sense demands such, if the writers really were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, NIV).
According to many outspoken skeptics, the Bible writers made several scientific slip-ups. In a 1991 article titled “Scientific Boo-Boos in the Bible,” Christian-turned-skeptic Farrell Till alleged: “One thing the Bible definitely is not is inerrant in matters of science.... [T]he Bible is riddled with mistakes” (1991a). Elsewhere Till challenged Christians to explain
why a divinely inspired, inerrant book has so many obvious scientific errors in it. And if the Bible is riddled with scientific errors, they should wonder too about the truth of that often parroted claim that the Bible is inerrant in all details of history, geography, chronology, etc., as well as in matters of faith and practice. It just ain’t so! (1991b).After criticizing the sacred writers for making various “mathematical miscalculations,” Dennis McKinsey, author of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy, began a section titled “False Science” in which he stated: “A second major area in which the Bible fails miserably concerns the large number of statements that are patently erroneous from a scientific perspective. On numerous occasions the Bible makes statements that have little or nothing to do with scientific accuracy” (1995, p. 213). According to McKinsey,
Few topics activate biblical critics more than that of biblically based scientific contradictions and inaccuracies. That is readily understandable, in view of the fact that the book is a veritable miasma of poor science, bad math, and inaccurate geography, all with a heavy overlay of mythology and folklore.... Scripture is a veritable cornucopia of scientific inaccuracies, falsehoods, and blunders (1995, pp. 209,230).After listing 21 alleged scientific blunders in the Bible, McKinsey declared: “So that is biblical ‘science.’ Can you conceive of a more discordant deluge of deceptive delusion! Saddest of all is that most of Christianity’s most prominent spokesmen are fully cognizant of these biblical inanities, but have spared no effort to avoid them or minimize their importance” (1995, p. 216, emp. added).
The truth is, faithful, Christian apologists have no reason to avoid the questions posed by McKinsey or anyone else regarding the reliability of the Bible. We may find many of the alleged discrepancies quite trifling (e.g., “Judas died twice;” “Jesus was a thief;” cf. McKinsey, 2000, p. 236), and wonder why such allegations would even be made, but we will not avoid questions about the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy out of fear that the Bible may not be the Word of God. In fact, this issue of R&R addresses McKinsey’s first four scientific slip-ups supposedly found in Scripture—four alleged mistakes that McKinsey believes are some of the very best proofs of the Bible’s errancy. We think you will be both disturbed and impressed by the answers—disturbed by the arrogance of skeptics’ allegations, yet impressed with how easily the truth can be discovered and error refuted.
ARE BATS BIRDS?
Bats are specifically mentioned only three times in Scripture. Isaiah warned Israel of the time when their idols would be cast away “into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth...to the moles and bats” (2:19-20). The other two occurrences are found in the Pentateuch amidst laws regarding clean and unclean animals. In the book of Leviticus, Moses wrote:
“[T]hese you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat” (11:13-19, emp. added).Deuteronomy 14:11-18 also lists the bat among “birds.” But bats aren’t birds; they are mammals.
According to skeptics, the Bible’s classification of bats as birds represents one of the “scientific difficulties in the Bible” (Petrich, 1990). Such categorization is supposedly “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science” (Khalil, 2007). Since “the bat, is, of course, a mammal, not a bird,” McKinsey listed Leviticus 11:19 as a “superb verse to use...to take enlightenment to the biblically benighted” (1995, pp. 744,14, emp. added; see also McKinsey, 2000, p. 213).
Was Moses, who “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22), so uninformed that he could not tell the difference between bats and birds? Was the God, Whom the Bible claims created bats and birds, unable to classify them properly? How is this not “an obvious contradiction between the Bible and Science,” as Ibrahim Khalil asserted?
The elementary answer to these questions is simply that God did not classify animals 3,500 years ago according to our modern classification system. As far back as Creation, God has divided animals into very basic, natural groups. He made aquatic and aerial creatures on day five and terrestrial animals on day six (Genesis 1:20-23,24-25). Similarly, in the first 23 verses of Leviticus 11, God divided the creatures into land animals (11:2-8), animals “that are in the water” (11:9-12), “birds” (11:13-19), and flying insects (11:20-23). He did not divide animals into mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. In fact, the group of “creeping things” mentioned later in Leviticus 11 (vss. 29-30; cf. Genesis 1:24-25) includes both mammals (e.g., mice) and reptiles (e.g., lizards). Clearly then, God divided animals according to their locomotion and environment rather than whether or not they have hair, lay eggs, and nurse their young.
Still, some may question why the English word “bird” is used for the category in which bats are listed. Why not simply call this group of animals “the flying creatures”? Actually, the term “bird” in Leviticus 11:13 (as well as Genesis 1:20-30) is translated from the Hebrew word ‘ôp, which literally means “flying creatures” (Harris, et al., 1980, p. 654; cf. Brown, et al., 1993). It is derived from ‘ûp, meaning to “fly, fly about, fly away” (Harris, et al., pp. 654-655). That this word is not used solely for “birds” is evident from Leviticus 11:20-23, where it is used with sherets in reference to “winged creeping things” (ASV), i.e., flying insects.
Admittedly, bats and birds have many differences, but one major commonality—the ability to fly—is the very characteristic God used to group them together. Why are no other mammals included in this list? Because “bats are the only mammals capable of true flight” (Jones, n.d.)—another reason why Bible translators have chosen to use the term “birds” in these passages, instead of the more general terms “flying creatures.” The rationale among translators seems to be, “if 99.9% of all ‘flying creatures’ are birds, then we will use the term ‘birds’ to translate the word (‘ôp).” Since Bible students should be very familiar with the figure of speech known as synecdoche (“by which a part is put for the whole”—“Synecdoche,” 2009; see Dungan, 1888, pp. 300-309; cf. Genesis 8:4; 21:7), they should have little trouble understanding why translators continue to use the term “birds” to categorize all the flying creatures, including bats. After all, bats make up a very small percentage of all of the animals that fly.
What’s more, notice that bats are placed at the end of the list of birds and just before the list of flying insects. This placement is entirely proper for the only living “flying creature” that is neither a true bird nor an insect.
To accuse God or the Bible writers of categorizing animals incorrectly based upon Linnaeus’ taxonomy in Systema Naturae (1735), or any other modern method of classifying animals, is tantamount to criticizing people for not organizing their wardrobe or cataloging their books according to your own methods. Whether a person chooses to organize books alphabetically, sequentially, or topically, according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System or the Library of Congress Classification System, is a matter of judgment. Likewise, it is extremely unfair to judge ancient classification systems according to modern man’s arbitrary standards. Skeptics are wrong for imposing their preconceived standards back onto an ancient text. Frankly, placing bats in the category of “flying creatures,” rather than with the land animals, “all that are in the water,” or the “creeping things,” makes perfectly good sense. Bats are, after all, “the world’s most expert fliers” (Cansdale, 1970, p. 135, emp. added), not walkers, crawlers, or swimmers. For Moses’ allusion to bats to be a true error, he would have had to say something to the effect of, “bats are not flying animals.”
Sadly, one significant question often left unexplored in a discussion of the Bible’s treatment of bats and birds is why God classified bats as “unclean.” Was this simply due to many bats’ eerie outward appearance, or that they are nocturnal cave dwellers? Could there be something more? Kyle Butt addressed the wisdom of God’s instruction about bats in his book, Behold! The Word of God (2007). The fact is,
...bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MD, MPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD, reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies...,” 2002, emp. in orig.). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament (p. 124).
ARE RABBITS REALLY RUMINANTS?
In an article titled “Bible Biology,” Farrell Till alleged: “The Leviticus writer made a serious biological error in describing them [rabbits and shaphan, which he contends are coneys—EL] as cud chewers.... [T]hey have no cuds to chew” (1991b). Elsewhere Till addressed this issue while simultaneously commenting on the scientific foreknowledge argument that Christians sometimes use as one of the proofs for the Bible’s inspiration:
Something that has long perplexed me is the way that inerrancy proponents can so easily find “scientific foreknowledge” in obscurely worded Bible passages but seem completely unable to see scientific error in statements that were rather plainly written. There are too many to discuss, but Leviticus 11:5-6 can serve as an example....They [rabbits and coneys—EL] do not have compartmentalized stomachs that ruminants must have in order to be cud-chewers. Inerrancy champions have stumbled over these passages with various attempts to explain them....Yet after all has been said on the matter, the fact remains that hares and conies are not cud-chewers. But “Moses” said that they were.
One would think that if God were going to arm his inspired writers with scientific foreknowledge...he could have easily programmed them to know the simple fact that hares and conies aren’t cud-chewers” (1990; cf. Butt, 2007, pp. 103-130).Once again, we are told the Bible is wrong. And, if the Bible is wrong about something as basic as whether or not rabbits “chew the cud,” how could anyone really believe that it was “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16)?
First of all, critics must acknowledge the fact that we frequently describe things as they appear to take place and not necessarily as they actually happen. Meteorologists talk about the sun rising and setting, even though they know very well that actually the Earth is moving around the Sun, rather than vice versa. Doctors refer to a pregnant woman’s “water” breaking, when actually the liquid is amniotic fluid, and not merely H2O. Furthermore, the amniotic fluid does not break, rather the sac containing the fluid bursts. The Bible writers also referred to things as they appeared. Paul, for example, in his discussion of Jesus’ resurrection, described some of the Christians who had died as having “fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6). Did Paul know that these Christians had died, and not merely “fallen asleep”? Most certainly. Did the Bible writers know that the bat is not a blue bird? Of course. But what about the rabbit? Why is it listed among the cud chewers? It may be simply because rabbits “appear to chew their food very thoroughly like true ruminants, and this is what the law is insisting on” (Wenham, 1979, p. 172, emp. added). Rabbits move their jaws and wiggle their noses in a way which looks like they are ruminating (Harris, 1990, 2:571). In fact, so convincing is this appearance that, according to Walter Kaiser, “Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), to whom we owe the modern system of biological classification, at first classified the coney and the hare as ruminants” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158; cf. Keil and Delitzsch, 1996). In short, it may be that rabbits were listed as “cud chewers” based on simple observation.
Interestingly, though the rabbit (or hare) does not have a three- or four-chambered stomach from which it directly regurgitates previously swallowed food for a second chewing, it does practice what modern scientists call “refection.” In his classic work titled All of the Animals of the Bible Lands, George Cansdale addressed this process:
[A]t certain times of the day, when the hare is resting in its “form,” it passes droppings of different texture and appearance which it at once eats again, swallowing them after little or no chewing. It thus seems to be eating without taking any green stuff into its mouth. This is not, of course, the same thing as chewing the cud, but it has a similar effect. Like the ruminants, hares feed on bulky vegetable matter of which only a part can be digested, and the yield is largely the result of bacterial action inside the gut; the process of breaking down in to assimilable substances is started on the first passage through and taken a stage further on the second (1970, pp. 131-132).According to biologist Leonard Brand, “Lagomorphs [hares and rabbits—EL] produce two kinds of fecal pellets which are produced at different times during the day. When the animals are active and feeding they produce the familiar hard pellets. When they cease their activity and retire to their burrows or resting areas, they begin producing soft pellets which they eat as soon as they are passed” (1977). So although rabbits do not regurgitate previously swallowed food, they do swallow their partly digested food a second time. In fact, rabbits reingest more than half of their feces (Brand, 1977).
Still, the skeptic contends that the refection of rabbits is not rumination. To compare the two supposedly represents a
complete failure to explain away the biological error of the Leviticus writer. After all has been said about what hares appear to be doing and how their reingesting of caecotrophic materials [caecal feces—EL] achieves the same purpose as cud-chewing, the fact still remains that hares do not chew the cud.... [T]he Leviticus writer was wrong when he said that hares and coneys “chew the cud” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).But what did Moses mean when he used the phrase “chew the cud”? The word “cud” (Hebrew gerah) appears only 11 times in all of Scripture: seven times in Leviticus 11 and four times in Deuteronomy 14—every occurrence is in the two passages that give lists of clean and unclean animals. The rabbit is mentioned in each list as one that “chews the cud” (Leviticus 11:6; Deuteronomy 14:7). Therefore, if the only sections in Scripture where specific animals are mentioned that “chew the cud” include rabbits, then it is entirely proper to conclude that Moses simply defined “cud chewers” more broadly than modern scientists. Today, “cud chewers” (called ruminants) may be strictly defined as animals that “swallow their food without chewing it very much, store it temporarily in one of their stomach compartments, then later regurgitate it and rechew it thoroughly, and then swallow and digest it” (Wenham, 1979, pp. 171-172). It would be completely unjust, however, to force present-day definitions on a 3,500-year-old document. “As with Moses’ classification of bats as ‘birds,’ the modern definition of terms does not take away from Moses’ ability, or even his right, to use words as he sees fit to use them” (Kaiser, et al., 1996, p. 158). Moreover, Jonathan Sarfati concluded: “It is inconceivable that someone familiar with Middle-Eastern animal life would make an easily corrected mistake about rabbits, and also inconceivable that the Israelites would have accepted a book as Scripture if it were contrary to observation” (1998, 20:56), especially when the Book has so many negative things to say about the Israelites.
ARE FOUR-LEGGED FOWL FOR REAL?
The problem in Leviticus 11:20 is not with God or His inspired writer, but with the King James Version’s translation of the verse. Moses was not referring to “birds,” but to “flying insects.” The Hebrew sherets ‘ôp is more accurately translated “winged creeping things” (ASV), “winged insects” (NASB, ESV, RSV), or “flying insects” (>NKJV, NIV). Interestingly, when these same creatures are discussed in Deuteronomy 14:19, the King James translators used the phrase “creeping thing that flieth” to translate the same Hebrew words (sherets ‘ôp) used in Leviticus 11:20. That this alleged contradiction is merely a translation issue has even been admitted by certain skeptics, including Farrell Till. Although Till chides the Bible writers elsewhere in his writings, he freely admits in this instance that “[f]our-legged fowls...would be a biological blunder indeed, but since the context clearly indicated insects in this passage, we won’t hold bibliolaters responsible for a translation flaw” (Till, 1991b, emp. added).
[NOTE: Although four-legged “fowls” are only found among mutated birds, we must not dismiss all “four-legged” flying creatures as biological impossibilities. Bats, mentioned one verse earlier (Leviticus 11:19), “crawl on all fours, with their long arms and flexible legs splayed out to the sides” (Zimmer, 1994, emp. added). What’s more, both history and the fossil record reveal that extinct flying reptiles also had arms and claws attached to membranous wings (cf. Lyons and Butt, 2008, pp. 13-46). Though scientists believe these flying reptiles mainly walked upright, at the very least their “hands” would have been used for climbing trees and handling food (Zimmer)—they would have used “all fours.” While we certainly believe that the “four-footed-fowl” difficulty surrounding Leviticus 11:20 is merely a translation problem, and not a mistake by the inspired writer, some flying mammals and reptiles currently have (or had in the past) four limbs.]
GRASSHOPPERS DON’T WALK “ON ALL FOURS,” DO THEY?
All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have fourfeet shall be an abomination to you (Leviticus 11:20-23, emp. added).Skeptics admit that Leviticus 11:20 is not referring to four-legged fowl, but to “flying insects.” However, as critics have repeatedly noted, insects have sixlegs, not four. About these verses, Dennis McKinsey asked: “Whoever heard of four-legged insects? In fact, whoever heard of any four-legged creeping things that fly?” (1995, p. 213). He then listed this alleged discrepancy as another “superb verse to use” when talking with Christians about the blunders in the Bible (pp. 749,14). Steve Wells, author of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, wrote mockingly: “You’d think that since God made the insects, and so many of them (at least several million species), that he would know how many legs they have” (2009). In her article titled “Scientific Errors in the Bible,” Loren Petrich declared: “There are...scientific difficulties in the Bible.... In the part of Leviticus which lists proscribed animals, we find that...grasshoppers have four legs.... [B]ut the number of legs possessed by grasshoppers should have been easy to find, since several people in the Bible reportedly ate grasshoppers, and one can always count the number of legs a grasshopper has before eating one” (1990). Farrell Till had much to say about the wording of Leviticus 11:20-23 in his article about “Bible Biology”:
Many of the biological mistakes in the Bible were anatomical in nature. The Leviticus writer...was so unobservant, for example, that he apparently thought insects were four-legged creatures....
An immensely greater problem than linguistic and translation flaws in this passage is the fact that whoever wrote it consistently referred to winged insects as four-legged creatures, a mistake that practically any modern-day elementary student would know better than to make. What educated person today doesn’t know that insects have six legs? We have to wonder why God, who so routinely gave scientific insights to his inspired writers, couldn’t at least have opened the eyes of his earthly messenger in this case and had him count the legs on a grasshopper....
What is there about insects that would warrant writing a description (like the one in the Leviticus passage) that mentions only four of their six legs?...[T]hese insects don’t “go on all fours”; they go on all sixes. That’s a strange oversight from an author writing under the direction of an omniscient deity who routinely gave marvelous scientific insights to his inspiredAs one can see, critics of the Bible’s inerrancy are not at a loss for words when they discuss the Bible’s references to insects that “creep on all fours.” But are the critics right?
Yes and no. The skeptic is right to conclude that insects such as locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets have three pairs of legs, not two pairs. But the skeptic is not correct in assuming that God or the Bible writers were unaware of this fact. The very idea that the Israelites, who during various plagues saw untold millions of insects at a time (e.g., locusts; cf. Exodus 10:1-20; Joel 1:4; Amos 4:9), were clueless about how many legs these creatures had, is outlandish—“people in biblical times could count legs just as easily as people today” (Hutchinson, 2007, p. 57). As Petrich mentioned, the Israelites not only saw insects, but they ate them (cf. Mark 1:6; Leviticus 11:22), which means they would have seen them “up close and personal.” Are we to believe that when the Israelites caught, cleaned, and put locusts up to their mouths, they never realized how many legs these insects had? The writer of Leviticus would have known this as surely as Americans know that beef comes from cows which walk on four legs.
So why did Moses use the term “four” to describe creatures with six legs? Likely for the same reason we refer to certain arthropods as having 100 or 1,000, legs—Moses was using a colloquial expression like one might hear on a farm; he was not writing a technical, scientific paper on the anatomy of insects. Idiomatic expressions were as prevalent in ancient times as they are in modern times. Today, we identify certain creatures as centipedes (meaning “hundred feet”), yet the “total number of legs in most species is closer to 30 than to 100” (“Millipedes and Centipedes,” 2008). We refer to other arthropods as millipedes (meaning “thousand feet”), but no millipede has ever been reported as having anywhere near the number of feet suggested by its name. The “most leggy” millipede discovered in modern times had only 750 legs (see “Most Leggy...,” 2006), while the vast majority of millipedes have fewer than 400 legs (“Millipede,” 2009). Yet, we still call these creatures millipedes. Why? Because numbers are often used as more of a designation than a literal number. (Have you ever purchased a “2 x 4” only to find that it was more like a “1½ x 3½”?) Just as the terms “centipede” and “millipede” signify “no more than that such insects have a great number of feet” (Clarke, 1996), the phrase “creep on all fours,” could reasonably refer to something other than insects that have literally only four legs.
Consider another example of the flexibility of names and numbers. In George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (1946), the pigs gave the farm animals “Seven Commandments.” The first two commandments were as follows: (1) Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy; (2) Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.” Later, as the story goes, when the pigs realized that the “slower” animals (e.g., sheep) were unable to learn the Seven Commandments, they summed up the commandments of the farm with a single maxim: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” Did the pigs suddenly mean to exclude the birds from the good, four-legged animals? No. The pigs explained that by “two legs,” they meant “man,” and by “four legs,” they meant “animal” (regardless of whether the animals had four legs, or two legs and two wings).
The skeptic must admit the fact that numbers often represent something more than a literal number. But if this is the explanation to Moses’ use of the term “four” in Leviticus 11:20-23, then what did he mean? Why did he use the expression “winged creeping things that go upon all fours” (Leviticus 11:20, ASV, emp. added)? The fact is, he did not define the expression for us (though his contemporaries surely knew its meaning). The phrase likely means that, in contrast to birds (listed just previously—Leviticus 11:13-19), which walk upright, “winged creeping things” walk horizontally—they “go upon all fours.” Skeptics cannot argue with the fact that we often use similar language. If Farrell Till, Steve Wells, or other Bible critics have ever referred to centipedes and millipedes, one wonders why they would have a problem with Moses referring to the flying things that walk horizontally as “winged creeping things that go upon all fours.”
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:3-5).
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light (John 3:20-21).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles B. Briggs (1993), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Day, Alfred Ely (1996), “Coney,” International Standard Bible Encyclopae-
dia (Electronic Database Biblesoft).
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light, reprint).
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S. Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Harris, R. Laird (1990), Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
“Human Rabies Often Caused by Undetected, Tiny Bat Bites” (2002), Science Daily, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020506074445.htm.
Hutchinson, Robert (2007), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible (Washington, D.C.: Regnery).
Jones, Edwin (no date), “Bats,” Stewardship Forest, [On-line], URL: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/forestry/pdf/www/www21.pdf.
Kaiser, Walter C. Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch (1996), Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft), new updated edition.
Khalil, Ibrahim (2007), “The Bat in Bible and Quran,” [On-line], URL: http://www.articlesbase.com/science-articles/the-bat-in-bible-and-quran-113198.html.
Linnaeus, Carolus (1735), Systema Naturae.
Lyons, Eric (2005), The Anvil Rings: Answers to Alleged Bible Discrepancies (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion: Dismantling Evolution’s Most Cherished Icon (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
MacRae, Allen A. (1953), “The Scientific Approach to the Old Testament—Part 2,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 110:130-139, April.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
“Millipede” (2009), [On-line], URL: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/invertebrates/arthropod/Millipede.shtml.
“Millipedes and Centipedes” (2008), University of California Integrated Pest Management, [On-line], URL: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7472.html.
Morgan, Donald (2009), “Bible Absurdities,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/absurd.html.
“Most Leggy Millipede Rediscovered” (2006), BBC News, June 8, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5052966.stm.
Orwell, George (1946), Animal Farm, [On-line], URL: http://www.george-orwell.org/Animal_Farm/index.html.
Petrich, Loren (1990), “Scientific Errors in the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticfiles.org/atheist/genesisd.htm.
“Ruminant” (2009), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
Sarfati, Jonathan (1998), “Do Rabbits Chew their Cud?” Creation, 20:56, September.
“Synecdoche” (2009), Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
Till, Farrell (1990), “What about Scientific Foreknowledge in the Bible?” The Skeptical Review, July-August, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/4scien90.html.
Till, Farrell (1991a), “Scientific Boo-Boos in the Bible,” The Skeptical Review, January-February, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/1boobo91.html.
Till, Farrell (1991b), “Bible Biology,” The Skeptical Review, March-April, [On-line], URL: http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/2biolo91.html.
Wells, Steve (2009), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/.
Wenham, Gordon (1979), The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
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Can Quantum Mechanics Produce a Universe from Nothing?
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, nothing in the Universe (i.e., matter or energy) can pop into existence from nothing (see Miller, 2013). All of the scientific evidence points to that conclusion. So, the Universe could not have popped into existence before the alleged “big bang” (an event which we do not endorse). Therefore, God must have created the Universe.
One of the popular rebuttals by the atheistic community is that quantum mechanics could have created the Universe. In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed the idea of mass-energy equivalence, resulting in the famous equation, E = mc2 (1905). We now know that matter can be converted to energy, and vice versa. However, energy and mass are conserved, in keeping with the First Law. In the words of the famous evolutionary astronomer, Robert Jastrow, “[T]he principle of the conservation of matter and energy…states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Matter can be converted into energy, and vice versa, but the total amount of all matter and energy in the Universe must remain unchanged forever” (1977, p. 32). The idea of matter-energy conversion led one physicist to postulate, in essence, that the cosmic egg that exploded billions of years ago in the alleged “big bang”—commencing the “creation” of the Universe—could have come into existence as an energy-to-matter conversion.
In 1973, physicist Edward Tryon of the Hunter College of the City University of New York published a paper in the British science journal Nature titled, “Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?” He proposed the idea that the Universe could be a large scale vacuum energy fluctuation. He said, “In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time” (246:397, emp. added). Does it really? Cosmologist and theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, said:
Now, what Tryon was suggesting was that our entire universe, with its vast amount of matter, was a huge quantum fluctuation, which somehow failed to disappear for more than 10 billion years. Everybody thought that was a very funny joke. But Tryon was not joking. He was devastated by the reaction of his colleagues… (2006, p. 184).Though he was originally scoffed at, Tryon’s theory has gained traction among many prominent evolutionary scientists. After all, if true, according to Vilenkin, “such a creation event would not require a cause” for the Universe (pp. 184-185).
Speculation vs. ObservationThe fact is, the idea that such an event could happen is pure speculation and conjecture. No such phenomenon—the conversion from energy to matter of an entire Universe—has ever been remotely observed. It is a desperate attempt to hold to naturalistic presuppositions, in spite of the evidence, when a supernatural option that is in keeping with the evidence is staring us in the face. Evolutionary physicist Victor Stenger said,
[T]he universe is probably the result of a random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void.... So what had to happen to start the universe was the formation of an empty bubble of highly curved space-time. How did this bubble form? What caused it? Not everything requires a cause. It could have just happened spontaneously as one of the many linear combinations of universes that has the quantum numbers of the void.... Much is still in the speculative stage, and I must admit that there are yetno empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea of an accidental origin (1987, 7:26-30, italics in orig., emp. added.).No evidence. No scientific observation. Just speculation.
Writing in the Skeptical Inquirer in 1994, Ralph Estling voiced strong disapproval of the idea that the Universe could create itself out of nothing. He wrote:
I do not think that what these cosmologists, these quantum theorists, these universe-makers, are doing is science. I can’t help feeling that universes are notoriously disinclined to spring into being, ready-made, out of nothing, even if Edward Tryon (ah, a name at last!) has written that “our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time....” Perhaps, although we have the word of many famous scientists for it, our universe is not simply one of those things that happen from time to time (18:430, parenthetical item in orig., emp. added).Estling’s comments initiated a wave of controversy and letters to the Skeptical Inquirer, eliciting a response by Estling to his critics. Among other observations, he said, “All things begin with speculation, science not excluded. But if no empirical evidence is eventually forthcoming, or can be forthcoming, all speculation is barren.... There is no evidence, so far, that the entire universe, observable and unobservable, emerged from a state of absolute Nothingness” (1995, 19:69-70, emp. added). Therefore, by naturalists’ own definition of science, such an idea is unscientific. There is no evidence that could prove such a thing. The creationist platform is in keeping with observational science and has positive evidence of a divine Being (e.g., the presence of intelligent design in nature, the existence of objective morality, the existence of a Universe which demands a cause, and the existence of a Book that contains supernatural characteristics). However, unlike the creationist platform, those who believe in Tryon’s theory are holding to a blind faith.
Whence Came Energy?Second, even if such a thing were possible—that energy could be converted to matter in the way that Tryon has suggested—one must ask, “Where did the energy come from?” Alan Guth, professor of physics at M.I.T., wrote in response to Tryon: “In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from” (1997, p. 273, emp. added).
Energy could not have popped into existence without violating the First Law of Thermodynamics. So in reality, when scientists argue that quantum mechanics creates something from nothing, they do not really mean “nothing.” The problem of how everything got here is still present. The matter generated in quantum theory is from a vacuum that is not void. Philip Yam of Scientific American wrote, “Energy in the vacuum, though, is very much real. According to modern physics, a vacuum isn’t a pocket of nothingness. It churns with unseen activity even at absolute zero, the temperature defined as the point at which all molecular motion ceases” (1997, p. 82, emp. added). Prominent humanist mathematician and science writer, Martin Gardner, wrote: “It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing” (2000, p. 303, emp. added). Amanda Gefter, writing in New Scientist, said, “Quantum mechanics tells us that the vacuum of space is not empty; instead, it crackles with energy” (2010, p. 29, emp. added). Physicist Richard Morris wrote:
In modern physics, there is no such thing as “nothing.” Even in a perfect vacuum, pairs of virtual particles are constantly being created [i.e., by briefly “borrowing” energy already in existence—JM] and destroyed. The existence of these particles is no mathematical fiction. Though they cannot be directly observed, the effects they create are quite real. The assumption that they exist leads to predictions that have been confirmed by experiment to a high degree of accuracy (Morris, 1990, p. 25, emp. added).Astrophysicist Rocky Kolb, chairman of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, wrote: “[A] region of seemingly empty space is not really empty, but is a seething froth in which every sort of fundamental particle pops in and out of empty space before annihilating with its antiparticle and disappearing” (1998, 26:43, emp. added). Estling continued his extensive observations in response to his critics (mentioned above), saying:
Quantum cosmologists insist both on this absolute Nothingness and on endowing it with various qualities and characteristics: this particular Nothingness possesses virtual quanta seething in a false vacuum. Quanta, virtual or actual, false or true, are not Nothing, they are definitely Something, although we may argue over what exactly. For one thing, quanta are entities having energy, a vacuum has energy and moreover, extension, i.e., it is something into which other things, such as universes, can be put, i.e., we cannot have our absolute Nothingness and eat it too. If we have quanta and a vacuum as given, we in fact have a pre-existent state of existence that either pre-existed timelessly or brought itself into existence from absolute Nothingness (no quanta, no vacuum, no pre-existing initial conditions) at some precise moment in time; it creates this time, along with the space, matter, and energy, which we call the universe.... I’ve had correspondence with Paul Davies [eminent atheistic theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, who advocates the supposition that the Universe created itself from nothing—JM] on cosmological theory, in the course of which, I asked him what he meant by “Nothing.” He wrote back that he had asked Alexander Vilenkin what he meant by it and that Vilenkin had replied, “By Nothing I mean Nothing,” which seemed pretty straightforward at the time, but these quantum cosmologists go on from there to tell us what their particular breed of Nothing consists of. I pointed this out to Davies, who replied that these things are very complicated. I’m willing to admit the truth of that statement, but I think it does not solve the problem (1995, 19:69-70, emp. added).No wonder Jonathan Sarfati said:
Some physicists assert that quantum mechanics…can produce something from nothing…. But this is a gross misapplication of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics never produces something out of nothing…. Theories that the Universe is a quantum fluctuation must presuppose that there was something to fluctuate—their “quantum vacuum” is a lot of matter-antimatter potential—not “nothing” (1998, 12:21, emp. added).Vilenkin, while explaining the problems inherent in Tryon’s work, said:
A more fundamental problem is that Tryon’s scenario does not really explain the origin of the universe. A quantum fluctuation of the vacuum assumes that there was a vacuum of some pre-existing space. And we now know that “vacuum” is very different from “nothing.” Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend and warp, so it is unquestionably something (2006, p. 185, ital. in orig., emp. added).He went on to propose that quantum tunneling could be the answer to the creation of the Universe out of nothing. However, quantum tunneling starts with something and ends with something as well. Particles that can jump or tunnel through barriers still must initially exist to do so. Bottom line: according to renowned atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, in order to create a Universe, “you need just three ingredients”: matter, energy, and space (“Curiosity…,” 2011). These three ingredients must exist in order to create a Universe, according to Hawking. So, the problem remains. Where did the ingredients for the Universe soup come from? There must be an ultimate Cause of the Universe.
Non-Existent Quantum Law-Maker?Third, even if one were to irrationally accept the premise that quantum theory allows for the possibility that Universes could pop into existence, in the words of astrophysicist Marcus Chown:
If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe. So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? “We do not know,” admits Vilenkin. “I consider that an entirely different question.” When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways we’re still at the beginning (2012, p. 35, emp. added).Martin Gardner said,
Imagine that physicists finally discover all the basic waves and their particles, and all the basic laws, and unite everything in one equation. We can then ask, “Why that equation?” It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing. There had to be quantum laws to fluctuate. And why are there quantum laws?... There is no escape from the superultimate questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, and why is the something structured the way it is? (2000, p. 303, emp. added).In “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” Stephen Hawking boldly claimed that everything in the Universe can be accounted for through atheistic evolution without the need of God. This is untrue, as we have discussed elsewhere (e.g., Miller, 2011), but it seems that Hawking does not even believe that assertion himself. He asked the question, “Did God create the quantum laws that allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang?” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). He then proceeded to offer no answer to the question. In his critique of Hawking, Paul Davies highlighted this very fact, saying, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws” (“The Creation Question…,” 2011). Quantum mechanics, with its governing laws, simply do not leave room for the spontaneous generation of Universes.
ResponsesBut what if quantum theory could allow for spontaneous generation at the quantum level? What if the First Law of Thermodynamics does not apply at the unobservable molecular world of quantum mechanics but only to the macroscopic world that we can actually see? Even if that were the case (and there is no conclusive evidence to support the contention that there are any exceptions whatsoever to the First Law of Thermodynamics—see Miller, 2010a), according to the Big Bang model, the quantum level cosmic egg eventually became macroscopic through expansion or inflation. Such an event would have been the equivalent of a breach of the First Law, even under such a speculative definition.
But isn’t it true that “one usually assumes that the current laws of physics did not apply” at the beginning (Linde, 1994)? Assumptions must be reasonable. What evidence could be used to back such a grandiose assumption? And again, who would have written the laws at the moment they became viable? And further, if the laws of physics broke down at the beginning, one cannot use quantum law to bring about matter, which is precisely what the quantum fluctuation theory attempts to do. [NOTE: See Miller, 2010b for more on this contention.]
ConclusionCan quantum mechanics create Universes from nothing? No. Quantum particle generation requires pre-existing energy—a far cry from nothing. Could quantum mechanics spontaneously create Universes from pre-existing (i.e., created by God) energy? There is no scientific evidence to support such a proposition. So it is speculation and conjecture—wishful thinking on par with postulating that aliens brought life to Earth (which some irrationally believe). Tiny quantum particles fluctuating—bouncing around—is one thing. The creation of the entire Universe through a quantum fluctuation? That’s another.
One who wishes to avoid acknowledging the existence of God should be expected to do almost anything to deny it. Reason will be thrown aside, and acceptance of far-fetched theories—theories that are so speculative that they belong in the fiction section of the library along with the The Wizard of Oz—will be latched onto as fact. The Bible gives the rationale for this irrational behavior by explaining that such a person has “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3). Such a person will “heap up…teachers” who will tell him what he wants to hear, who sound smart, and therefore, will make him feel good about the blatantly irrational position that he holds (vs. 3). He will turn his “ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (vs. 4). Thus, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). The quantum fluctuation idea is simply another example of this same mentality, and the admonition to Christians is the same as it was in the first century: “But you be watchful in all things” (vs. 5). “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).
REFERENCESChown, Marcus (2012), “In the Beginning,” New Scientist, 216:33-35, December 1.
“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Einstein, Albert (1905), “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy-Content?” Annals of Physics, 18:639-643, September.
Estling, Ralph (1994), “The Scalp-Tinglin’, Mind-Blowin’, Eye-Poppin’, Heart-Wrenchin’, Stomach-Churnin’, Foot-Stumpin’, Great Big Doodley Science Show!!!,” Skeptical Inquirer, 18:428-430, Summer.
Estling, Ralph (1995), “Letter to the Editor,” Skeptical Inquirer, 19:69-70, January/February.
Gardner, Martin (2000), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (New York: W.W. Norton).
Gefter, Amanda (2010), “Touching the Multiverse,” New Scientist, 205:28-31, March 6.
Guth, Alan (1997), The Inflationary Universe (New York: Perseus Books).
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).
Kolb, Rocky (1998), “Planting Primordial Seeds,” Astronomy, 26:42-43.
Linde, Andrei (1994), “The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe,” Scientific American, 271:48, November.
Miller, Jeff (2010a), “Couldn’t There Have Been Exceptions to the Laws of Science?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3713.
Miller, Jeff (2010b), “Did the Laws of Science Apply in the Beginning?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3710.
Miller, Jeff (2011), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’” Reason & Revelation, 31:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.
Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article= 2786.
Morris, Richard (1990), The Edges of Science (New York: Prentice Hall).
Sarfati, Jonathan D. (1998), “If God Created the Universe, Then Who Created God?,” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, 12:21.
Stenger, Victor J. (1987), “Was the Universe Created?,” Free Inquiry, 7:26-30, Summer.
Tryon, Edward P. (1973), “Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?,” Nature, 246:396-397, December 14.
Vilenkin, Alex (2006), Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (New York: Hill and Wang).
Yam, Philip (1997), “Exploiting Zero-Point Energy,” Scientific American, 277:82-85.
Cats and Dogs Reigning at Communion
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Animals can be a great addition to a person’s life. They can serve as an unpaid, ever-dependable, and quite invaluable work force as they help the farmer plow a rough field or the blind person cross a busy city street. They can provide joy and companionship for young and old alike. They can be a boon to mental health, especially for sick children and the infirm elderly. Surely none among us would doubt the many benefits that accrue as a result of the presence of animals in our midst.
Some religious groups within Christendom, however, have crossed the line in accommodating the love that people have for their pets. In an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal on March 10, 2004, Elizabeth Bernstein documented how a growing number of denominations are beginning to include pets as participants in their worship. “Churches such as Manhattan’s Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine have long held annual services to bless everything from rabbits to elephants,” said Bernstein. “All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has doubled attendance at its Sunday evening service since it began last summer to invite pets once a month.” This past January, however, the St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut, went even farther to include animals in worship when it began a new monthly program called “Holy Communion for pets.” In this “service,” cats and dogs actually “receive the host” and have “a special benediction” performed for them.
Unbelievable! I have long believed that the services of various groups claiming to be New Testament Christians were more of a circus than a legitimate, Christian worship service. Now, what little doubt I (or others) may have had, has been completely removed. The “sacred” has indeed become a “circus.” Soon, little children will be bringing their pet frogs, mice, lizards, and snakes to “eat the bread and drink the cup.” Blasphemy! The sacred memorial feast has been demoted to a snack session for Tom and Jerry.
A first-century church once trivialized the Lord’s Supper and was sternly rebuked by the apostle Paul. He warned:
Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).Jesus gave His life to save mankind, not animals. He saves the immortal souls of penitent sinners who have the capability to know Him and obey Him (cf. John 3:16; Acts 2:38; Hebrews 5:8-9). Animals have no souls (see Thompson and Estabrook), nor do they have the cognizance to know Who Jesus is. Why, then, have certain religious groups within Christendom deviated so far that they will now even offer animals the sacred communion instituted by our Lord the night before His crucifixion? Obviously, it is all about numbers. As Bernstein reported, they want to “attract people.” Instead of preaching the true Gospel of Christ, which has the power to change sinners into saints (Romans 1:16), they have chosen to manipulate God’s Word and His sacred service “to their own destruction” (cf. 2 Peter 3:16).
REFERENCESBernstein, Elizabeth (2004), “Houses of Worship Reach Out to a Flock of Pets,” The Wall Street Journal, [On-line], URL: http://www.dowjonesnews.com/sample/samplestory.asp?StoryID=2004031004010005&Take=1.
Thompson, Bert and Sam Estabrook (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls,” Reason & Revelation, 19:89-92, December.
Reasons to Believe in Jesus
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Because of His influence, the life and teachings of Jesus have been more closely scrutinized than any life in human history. This scrutiny has resulted in a number of different reactions. Some have concluded that Jesus was a liar who deceived countless thousands of people in the time in which He lived, and billions since. Some have approached a study of His life with an attitude of skepticism, only to arrive on the other side of their spiritual and intellectual journey as firm believers in the deity of Christ. A number of people have chosen the middle ground, in which they acknowledge that Jesus was an amazing teacher and a good man, but they deny that He was the Son of God.
Though Jesus has been the most analyzed Person ever to walk the Earth, still the most common response to the life of Jesus is simply apathy. It seems the majority of the billions of people who have lived since the early first century have approached the Person of Jesus neither intently nor earnestly. They have given little attention to the details of His life. Sadly, if most people who have lived since the death of Jesus Christ were asked what they thought about Him, they would have to respond, “I don’t know. I’ve never really given Him much thought.”
What about you? Have you given the Person of Jesus serious thought? If not, we humbly ask you to look carefully at the evidence for Jesus’ divine nature. If you are a follower of Jesus and call yourself a Christian, do you know why? What do you say to others when they ask you why you call yourself after Jesus Christ and live according to His will? What proof can you offer that demonstrates Jesus was God incarnate?
Two Primary Reasons for unbelief in JesusPeople have rejected Jesus as the Heaven-sent, virgin-born, prophesied Messiah ever since He walked the Earth. Recall, for example, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry how He entered the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth and read publicly from the Old Testament book of Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; Hehas sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19, emp. added).Following this reading, Jesus closed the book, sat down, and “began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (4:21). Though the Jews initially marveled and questioned how the promised Messiah could actually be the son of a carpenter in Nazareth, upon further hearing, they “rose up and thrust Him out of the city…that they might throw Him down over the cliff” (4:28). This encounter was only the beginning of instances in which countless individuals rejected Jesus. Though some would come to believe in Him, most did not.
The majority of people in the world today reject Jesus as Lord and God for two primary reasons. First, millions refuse to accept Jesus as God-incarnate because they reject the notion of God altogether. If God does not exist then Jesus never existed as “the Word…God” Who stepped out of eternity and “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14). It makes no sense to contend that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16, emp. added), if God is dead. If a supernatural, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, living spirit Being is merely a figment of the imagination of man, the first-century Jesus of Nazareth was delusional at best and a liar at worst. In considering this fundamental reason for the rejection of Jesus, Christians must prepare themselves to defend the primary proposition that “We believe Jesus is God-Incarnate, which is possible because we know God exists.” We are not suggesting using circular reasoning to defend the deity of Christ; rather we are acknowledging the basic fact that Christ could not be God, if God does not exist. Therefore, a person can ultimately come to the conclusion that Jesus is “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28) only if he first knows that God, indeed, exists. [NOTE: See our article titled “7 Reasons to Believe in God” (2014) for a discussion of why mankind can (and should) come to the logical conclusion that God exists. See also the “Existence of God” category at apologeticspress.org.]
Second, it would be futile to defend the supernatural nature of Jesus as depicted in the Bible without first recognizing the fact that many reject the Bible altogether as a supernatural revelation from God to man. Billions of non-Christians around the world may believe in some sort of god, but they still discount the Bible as being inspired by the Creator. Most unbelievers admit that Jesus of Nazareth lived, but they reject Jesus, the Christ, as He is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. The fact is, however, if an all-knowing, all-powerful God exists (and there is ample proof that He does; cf. Romans 1:20), then such a God could easily inspire a book that would help mankind come to know “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31), “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). So what is the proof that the Bible is of supernatural origin? Why should an honest truth-seeker come to the conclusion that the Bible is the special revelation from the God of the Universe? In short, the main, overarching reason that the Bible can be demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the Bible writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and even the future—which is humanly impossible. [For more information on the inspiration of the Bible, see our article titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (2015). See also the “Inspiration of the Bible” category at apologeticspress.org.]
The two primary reasons for the rejection of Jesus as the Son of God are thus shown to be false. By taking these criticisms and turning them on their heads, they actually provide the first two foundational pillars for belief in Christ—(1) God exists and (2) the Bible is His Word. The next sensible question to ask is, “What evidence does the Bible give for the deity of Jesus?”
Jesus Fulfilled the Old Testament Messianic PropheciesWhile it is true that most people’s lives can only be chronicled after they have lived them, the life of Jesus was miraculously chronicled (by divine inspiration) long before He arrived on Earth. Such Messianic prophecies are proof of both the divine inspiration of the Bible as well as the divine nature of Jesus. The reason that Jesus, the apostles, and the New Testament prophets spent so much of their time teaching and preaching from the Old Testament Messianic prophecies is because Jesus was proven to be the Christ by His fulfillment of these prophecies (cf. Luke 24:25-26,44; Acts 8:30-39).
Jesus fulfilled in minute detail over 300 prophecies that relate to the coming of the Messiah. Space prohibits a listing of all of these prophecies, but a representative sampling is appropriate. The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem in Judea (Micah 5:2) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; cf. Genesis 3:15—“her Seed”). He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 49:10; Numbers 24:17). He was to be a regal monarch (Psalm 89:3-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 110:1) and at the same time a suffering servant (Isaiah 53). He was to be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9) for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:13). The Lord’s Ruler would come into Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). During His suffering, His clothes would be distributed to those who cast lots for them (Psalm 22:18). His attackers would pierce Him (Zechariah 12:10). Even though His physical suffering would be severe, His bones would not be broken (Psalm 34:20). And in spite of His death, His physical body would not experience decay (Psalm 16:10). This small sampling of precise prophetic details is only a fraction of the many Old Testament prophecies that exist. The prophecies were specifically designed to be an efficient mechanism by which the Jewish community could recognize the Messiah when He arrived.
When all of the pieces of the Messianic puzzle are put together, one individual stands out as the only person who fulfilled every single prophecy in minute detail—Jesus Christ. The life and activities of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament documents brilliantly blend the theme of a regal monarch and a suffering servant into one magnificent portrait of the triumphant Jesus Who was the sacrificial Lamb at His death on the cross, and Who became the triumphant Lion of Judah in His resurrection from the grave. The lineage of Jesus Christ is meticulously traced in order to show that He qualified as the Seed of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Judah, and of David (Matthew 1; Luke 3:23-38). The narrative detailing His birth verifies that He was indeed born in Bethlehem of Judea, from which city the Messiah would arise (Luke 2:1-7). The birth narrative also intricately portrays the pre-existence of Jesus before time began, fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah existed before King David (Matthew 1:18-25; cf. 22:41-46; John 1:1-5,14). Furthermore, Jesus did, in fact, enter Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).
The New Testament narratives depicting the death of Jesus Christ verify that Jesus was betrayed by His friend and sold for exactly 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 24:14-16). At His death His bones were not broken, soldiers cast lots for His garments, and His side was pierced with a spear (John 19:33-37; Matthew 27:35). During His suffering, He was numbered with the transgressors as Isaiah 53 predicted by being crucified between two thieves, and at His death He was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man as was also foretold (Matthew 27:57). This type of verification could continue for many pages. The life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, as depicted in the New Testament documents, was designed to fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
Due to this overwhelming congruence of the life of Jesus Christ with the predictive Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament, some have suggested that Jesus was an imposter who was able, by masterful manipulation, to so artificially organize His life as to make it look like He was the Messiah. Such a contention cannot be reasonably maintained in light of the fact that many of the prophecies were far beyond His control. Obviously, it would be impossible for a person to arrange who his ancestors were or where he would be born. Furthermore, it would be near impossible to coordinate events so that He could make sure that He was crucified among thieves, while also buried in the tomb of a rich man. How could the betrayal price of Judas be manipulated by Jesus? And how, pray tell, would Jesus have managed to arrange it so that soldiers cast lots for His clothing? The idea that Jesus manipulated all of these events to make it appear as if He was the Messiah not only is indefensible, but it also speaks to the fact that Jesus obviously was the fulfillment of the Old Testament, Messianic prophecies.
Others have objected to Jesus as the Messiah based on the idea that the New Testament documents are not reliable, and were artificially concocted to describe things that Jesus never really did. This objection also falls flat in light of the actual evidence. It cannot be denied that the New Testament has proven itself to be the most reliable book in ancient history (along with the books of the Old Testament). When it records people, places, and events that are checkable using archaeological means, those people, places, and events invariably prove to be factual and historic. Again, the abundant evidence verifies that the New Testament is accurate and factual. Many of the Messianic prophecies documented in the New Testament do not describe anything inherently miraculous. There was nothing miraculous about Jesus being buried in a rich man’s tomb. Nor was there anything miraculous about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, or being betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver. These events are, if not ordinary, at least very plausible, everyday events that theoretically could have happened to anybody. And yet, due to the fact that such everyday events had been predicted about the Messiah hundreds of years before the arrivalof Jesus, the fulfillment of the events becomes one of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible. It is no wonder that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church used fulfilled Messianic prophecy as one of their foundational pillars of proof for the deity of Christ.
Jesus Worked MiraclesIn view of the fact that miracles have served as a confirmation of God’s revelation since time began (Exodus 4:1-9; 1 Kings 18:36-39; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4), it should be no surprise that “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4), and the promised Messiah, the Son of God, came to Earth for the purpose of saving the world from sin (Luke 19:10), that He would confirm His identity and message by performing miracles. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretold of a time when “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…. [T]he lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (35:5-6). Although this language has a figurative element to it, it literally is true of the coming of the Messiah. When John the Baptizer heard about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus asking if He was “the Coming One” of Whom the prophets spoke. Jesus responded to John’s disciples by pointing to the people whom He had miraculously healed (thus fulfilling Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy), saying, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:4-5; cf. Mark 7:37). Jesus wanted them to know that He was doing exactly what “the Coming One” was supposed to do (cf. Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17), and what the Jews expected Him to do—perform miracles (John 7:31; cf. John 4:48; 1 Corinthians 1:22).
In a sense, Jesus’ miracles served a different purpose than those wrought by Moses, Elijah, or one of the New Testament apostles or prophets. Unlike all other miracle workers recorded in Scripture, Jesus actually claimed to be the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, and His miracles were performed to prove both the truthfulness of His message and His divine nature. Whereas the apostles and prophets of the New Testament worked miracles to confirm their message that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus performed miracles to bear witness that He was, in fact, the Son of God. In response to a group of Jews who inquired about whether or not He was the Christ, Jesus replied,
I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me…. I and My Father are one.… If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him (John 10:25,30,37-38).Similarly, on another occasion Jesus defended His deity, saying, “[T]he works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). While on Earth, Jesus was “attested by God…with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him” (Acts 2:22, NASB). And, according to the apostle John, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31, emp. added). As would be expected from the One Who claimed to be God incarnate (cf. John 1:1-3,14; 10:30), Scripture records that Jesus performed miracles throughout His ministry in an effort to provide sufficient proof of His divine message andnature.
Jesus’ Signs Were Many and VariedMankind is expected to believe that Jesus is the Son of God not because He performed one or two marvelous deeds during His lifetime. To the contrary, the Gospel accounts are saturated with a variety of miracles that Christ performed, not for wealth or political power, but that the world may be convinced that He was sent by the Father to bring salvation to mankind. As Isaiah prophesied, Jesus performed miracles of healing (Matthew 8:16-17). He cleansed a leper with the touch of His hand (Matthew 8:1-4) and healed all manner of sickness and disease with the word of His mouth (cf. John 4:46-54). One woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years was healed immediately simply by touching the fringe of His garment (Luke 8:43-48). Similarly, on one occasion after Jesus came into the land of Gennesaret, all who were sick in all of the surrounding region came to Him, “and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well” (Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 3:10). Generally speaking, “great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them” (Matthew 15:30, emp. added). “He cured many of infirmities, afflictions...and to many blind He gave sight” (Luke 7:21, emp. added). Even Jesus’ enemies confessed to His “many signs” (John 11:48).
Jesus not only exhibited power over the sick and afflicted, He also showed His superiority over nature more than once. Whereas God’s prophet Moses turned water into blood by striking water with his rod (Exodus 7:20), Jesus simply willed water into wine/grape juice (oinos) at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). He further exercised His power over the natural world by calming the Sea of Galilee during a turbulent storm (Matthew 8:23-27), by walking on water for a considerable distance to reach His disciples (Matthew 14:25-43), and by causing a fig tree to wither away at His command. Jesus’ supernatural superiority over the physical world (which He created—Colossians 1:16) is exactly what we would expect from One Who claimed to be the Son of God.
Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His power even over death. Recall that when John the Baptizer’s disciples came to Jesus inquiring about His identity, Jesus instructed them to tell John that “the dead are raised” (Matthew 11:5). The widow of Nain’s son had already been declared dead and placed in a casket when Jesus touched the open coffin and told him to “arise.” Immediately, “he who was dead sat up and began to speak” (Luke 7:14-15). Lazarus had already been dead and buried for four days by the time Jesus raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). Such a great demonstration of power over death caused “many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did” to believe in Him (John 11:45).
Jesus Rose from the Dead!Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead was the climax of all of His miracles, and serves as perhaps the most convincing miracle of all. Indeed,Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4, emp. added). The New Testament book of Acts stresses the fact of Jesus’ resurrection almost to the point of redundancy. Acts 1:22, as one example, finds Peter and the other apostles choosing an apostle who was to “become a witness” of the resurrection of Christ. Then, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter insisted in his sermon to the multitude that had assembled to hear him that “God raised up” Jesus and thus loosed Him from the pangs of death (Acts 2:24). And to make sure that his audience understood that it was a physical resurrection, Peter stated specifically that Jesus’ “flesh did not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). His point was clear: Jesus had been physically raised from the dead and the apostles had witnessed the resurrected Christ. [Other passages in Acts which document that the central theme of the apostles’ preaching was the bodily resurrection of Christ include Acts 3:15; 3:26; 4:2,10,33; 5:30; 10:40-43; 13:30-37; 17:3,31-32.] Furthermore, the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 (especially verse 14) verifies that the preaching of the apostle Paul centered on the resurrection of Christ.
Jesus Worked Wonders that are Not Being Duplicated TodayWhat’s more, neither the modern alleged “faith healer” nor the 21st-century scientist is duplicating the miracles that Jesus worked while on Earth 2,000 years ago. Pseudo-wonder workers today stage seemingly endless events where willing participants with supposed sicknesses appear and act as if they are being healed of their diseases by the laying on of hands. Nebulous aches and pains and dubious illnesses that defy medical substantiation are supposedly cured by prominent “faith healers” who simultaneously are building financial empires with the funds they receive from gullible followers. Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, and a host of others have made many millions of dollars off of viewers who naively send them money without stopping to consider the real differences between the miracles that Jesus worked and what they observe these men do today.
Jesus went about “healing every sickness and every disease” (Matthew 9:35). His miraculous wonders knew no limitations. He could cure anything. Luke, the learned physician (Colossians 4:14), recorded how He could restore a shriveled hand in the midst of His enemies (Luke 6:6-10) and heal a severed ear with the touch of His hand (Luke 22:51). He healed “many” of their blindness (Luke 7:21), including one man who had been born blind (John 9:1-7). He even raised the dead simply by calling out to them (John 11:43). What modern-day “spiritualist,” magician, or scientist has come close to doing these sorts of things that defy natural explanations? Who is going into schools for the blind and giving children their sight? Who is going to funerals or graveyards to raise the dead? These are the kinds of miracles that Jesus worked—supernatural feats that testify to His identity as the Heaven-sent Savior of the world.
Other Proofs of Jesus’ Deity
Jesus Never SinnedWhen God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice the Passover Lamb, He explained that the animal must be without spot or blemish. The lamb could not be lame, have a disease, or be too old. Only a “perfect” sacrifice would be acceptable. As our Passover Lamb, Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7). His perfection was not outward in His flesh, but was the inward perfection of a sinless life. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, wrote that Christians have not been redeemed “with corruptible things, like silver and gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). The Hebrews writer explains that Jesus was tempted in every point just as we are, yet Jesus remained “without sin” (4:15).
Though many of Jesus’ enemies who attacked Him while He was on Earth, and many who attack Him still today, have accused Jesus of sinning, they have failed miserably to give a single instance of wrong doing. Jesus’ bold and unanswered challenge continues to ring across the centuries: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46). The answer to that question for almost 2,000 years has been a resounding, “No one.” Every honest-hearted person who looks at the personality of Jesus, and compares it to his or her own, must admit that the Christ possesses a confidence in His own sinlessness that is beyond that of any mere human. While it may be true that cult leaders or other arrogant humans claim to be sinless, having never made a moral misstep, it is rather easy to show actions in their lives that prove them to be wrong. In fact, is it not the moral leaders who admit their own weaknesses who are the most admired? Yet, Jesus could not admit any moral failings, because He had none. He explained to His enemies, “Yet you have not known Him [God], but I know Him. And if I say ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word” (John 8:55). Jesus’ moral perfection speaks volumes about His divinity.
Jesus Forgave SinsSuppose a man who murdered his neighbor had lived a guilt-ridden life for years. Finally, he decided to tell one of his friends what he had done so many years before. The friend listened carefully and said, “You are a murderer, but I forgive you, don’t worry any more about it.” What good would it do for the man’s friend to forgive him? For a person who was unrelated to the crime, and has no official authority to forgive the crime, means nothing. We understand that forgiveness can only be offered by a person who has been wronged, or who has the official authority to forgive others. That is why the fact that Jesus presumed to forgive sins is so amazing.
In Mark 2, we find the story of a paralyzed man who was lowered into a room in front of Jesus. Jesus looked at the man and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven you” (Mark 2:5). Many of those within earshot of Jesus’ statement were appalled at His pronouncement. They demanded (byway of rhetorical question): “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7, emp. added). And they were right: no one but God can forgive sins, which was Jesus’ point. If He had the power to cause the paralyzed man to walk, He also had the power to forgive his sins. And if He had the power to forgive his sins, and no one can forgive sins but God, then Jesus must be God. The fact that Jesus demanded (and demonstrated) that He had the power personally to forgive any person of all sins, sets Him apart from any other character in human history.
Jesus Accepted WorshipThe Bible reveals time and again that God alone is to be worshiped (Exodus 20:3-5; 2 Kings 17:34-36; Acts 14:8-18). The Bible also reveals that man must refrain from worshipping angels. When the apostle John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had revealed to him the message of Revelation, the angel responded, saying, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9, emp. added; cf. Revelation 19:10). Angels, idols, and humans are all unworthy of the reverent worship that is due only to God. As Jesus reminded Satan: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:10, emp. added).
Unlike good men and good angels who have always rejected worship from humanity, Jesus accepted worship. If worship is to be reserved only for God, and Jesus, the One “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), accepted worship, then the logical conclusion is that Jesus believed that He was Deity. Numerous times the Bible mentions that Jesus accepted worship from mankind. Matthew 14:33 indicates that those who saw Jesus walk on water “worshiped Him.” John 9:38 reveals that the blind man whom Jesus had healed, later confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of God and “worshiped him.” After Mary Magdalene and the other women visited the empty tomb of Jesus, and the risen Christ appeared to them, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9). When Thomas first witnessed the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Later, when Jesus appeared to the apostles in Galilee, “they worshiped Him” on a mountain (Matthew 28:17). A few days after that, his disciples “worshiped Him” in Bethany (Luke 24:52). Time and again Jesus accepted the kind of praise from men that is due only to God. He never sought to correct His followers and redirect the worship away from Himself, as did the angel in Revelation or the apostle Paul in Acts 14. Nor did God strike Jesus with deadly worms for not redirecting the praise He received from men as He did Herod, who, when being hailed as a god, “did not give praise to God” (Acts 12:23).
Jesus once stated during His earthly ministry, “[A]ll should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; cf. 5:18; 10:19-39). While on Earth, Jesus was honored on several occasions. His followers worshiped Him. They even worshiped Him after His ascension into heaven (Luke 24:52). Unlike good men and angels in Bible times who rejected worship, Jesus unhesitatingly received glory, honor, and praise from His creation. Truly, such worship is one of the powerful proofs of Jesus’ deity (cf. Revelation 5).
Did Jesus Deny He Was God?In spite of all the evidence presented thus far, some have suggested that Jesus did not claim to be divine. They contend that He simply believed He was a prophet, but not the Messiah who was the Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6). They rest their case on passages that, simply put, they have misinterpreted. Briefly notice the following two examples.
On one occasion, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:17). According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher,” and there is only one Who is “good” and that is God, then Jesus must be God.
On another occasion, Jesus prayed to the Father: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Supposedly, by calling the Father, “the only true God,” Jesus excluded Himself from being Deity. There are at least two main problems with this interpretation of Jesus’ statement. First, it would contradict numerous other passages in the Gospel of John. In fact, the primary point of the book is to testify to Jesus’ deity. Second, the verse can be better understood in light of the fact that Jesus was not contrasting Himself with the Father; He was contrasting the many false, pagan gods with Jehovah, the only true God. Furthermore, if Jesus’ reference to the Father being “the only true God” somehow excludes Jesus from being Deity, then (to be consistent) Jesus also must be disqualified from being man’s Savior. Jehovah said: “Besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11; cf. Hosea 13:4; Jude 25). Yet, Paul and Peter referred to Jesus as our “Savior” several times in their inspired writings (Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1,11; 2:20; etc.). Also, if Jesus is excluded from Godhood (based on a misinterpretation of John 17:3), then, pray tell, must God the Father be excluded from being man’s Lord? To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that there is “one Lord” (4:4), and, according to Jude 4 “our only Owner and Lord” is “Jesus Christ.” Yet, in addition to Jesus being called Lord throughout the New Testament, so is God the Father (Matthew 11:25; Luke 1:32; Acts 1:25) and the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). Obviously, when the Bible reveals that there is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, one Creator (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3), etc., reason and revelation demand that we understand the inspired writers to be excluding everyone and everything—other than the members of the Godhead.
ConclusionAlmost 2,000 years ago, a zealous Jew by the name of Saul fought against Christianity with all his might. He believed Jesus Christ to be a fraud and His followers to be deluded. He chased them from city to city, imprisoning them, and participating in their deaths. Then Saul saw “the light.” Jesus appeared to Him and Saul realized the horrible mistake He had made. Saul’s honest heart was so impressed by the evidence available to him that he converted to Christianity and became a powerful force in spreading the Gospel.
And so today, those who come to the person of Jesus Christ with open and honest hearts find powerful evidence to believe He is God. He fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. He performed many different kinds of miracles to validate His message. He predicted His own death and resurrection. He accepted worship. He lived a morally perfect, sinless life. And he boldly demanded that He had the power on Earth to forgive sins. When a person follows all of this evidence to its correct conclusion, he or she will bow before Jesus the Christ and proclaim, just as the apostle Thomas did, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28).
[NOTE: For more information about the nature of Christ, see our book Behold! The Lamb of God or visit the “Deity of Christ” section of our Web site www.apologeticspress.org. Also, to learn what the Bible teaches regarding how to receive the free, gracious gift of salvation that Jesus made possible, see our free e-book Receiving the Gift of Salvation at apologeticspress.org/PDF-books.aspx.]
REFERENCESButt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35(1):1-5,8-11, January, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5089&topic=102.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Reason & Revelation, 34:110-113,116-119, October, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175.