From Mark Copeland... "MORAL ISSUES CONFRONTING CHRISTIANS" Authority In Morality


                         Authority In Morality


1. Christians today are confronted with many conflicting views of morality...
   a. People have different opinions concerning what is right and wrong
   b. What once was generally accepted as good and true is now challenged
   c. Governments are redefining the concept of marriage
   d. Businesses often operate with ethics that sanction lying, stealing

2. How does one know what is right and wrong in areas of morality...?
   a. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong
   b. But the standard of right and wrong often differs

[The answer for the Christian is simple.  But before we consider it,
let's first review...]


      1. "If it feels good, it must be right"
      2. The Bible warns against trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is
            the way of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23
      -- Many people have destroyed themselves by following their

      1. "Let your conscience be your guide"
      2. But one's conscience is not always reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! 
            - cf. Ac 26:9-11
      -- Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly only if
         set properly

      1. "Everyone else is doing it"
      2. But consider the words of Jesus, in describing the end of the
         majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you followed the majority...
         a. In Noah's day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua's day, you would have perished in the wilderness
      -- Following the majority can be like lemmings running over a

      1. "The preacher (priest, rabbi, etc.) says it is okay"
      2. They reason that surely these "men of God" could not lead them
      3. Yet notice the warnings given by Jesus, Paul and Peter
         a. Religious leaders can be "blind leaders of the blind" 
            - Mt 15:12-14
         b. They can be "ministers of Satan" - 2Co 11:13-15
         c. There will be false teachers with destructive ways 
            - 2Pe 3:1-3
      -- Following the wrong minister can lead to corruption

[It is clear that what many people accept as authority in morality
should not be a guide for Christians.  So let's now consider what should


      1. In heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18
      2. In all areas, including sexual mores and behavior - Ep 4:17-24
      3. He will one day judge all mankind - Ac 17:30-31
      4. And the standard of judgment will be His words - Jn 12:48
      -- Jesus is the ultimate standard of authority in morality

      1. To receive them is to receive Him - Mt 10:40; Jn 13:20
      2. They were sent as "ambassadors" for Christ - 2Co 5:20
      3. To ensure reliability, Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit 
         - Jn 14:26
      4. The Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth 
         - Jn 16:12-13
      5. Thus the apostles proclaimed "the whole counsel of God" 
         - Ac 20:27
      6. Christians were to accept the apostles' words as truth - cf.
         1Co 14:37
      -- The apostles' doctrine is the Christians' standard of authority
         (Ac 2:42)

      1. As Paul solemnly charged the church in Thessalonica - 1Th 4:1-8
         a. Addressing sexual immorality
         b. And marital faithfulness
      2. As he likewise wrote to the church in Ephesus - Ep 4:17-32
         a. Addressing lewdness, greediness, and deceitful lusts
         b. And lying, anger, stealing, foul language
      -- Morality is an integral part of "the truth" that is in Jesus


1. Many people go through life confused about morality...
   a. They constantly wonder:  "Is this right or wrong for me?"
   b. They stumble their way through life, making wrong choices with
      terrible consequences

2. The Christian need not be confused about morality...
   a. The truth is in Jesus - cf. Ep 4:21
   b. God has given us "all things that pertain to live and godliness"
      - 2Pe 1:3

If you are looking for truth as it pertains to morality, then let Jesus
and His apostles be your guide.  As Jesus said...

          "I am the way, the truth, and the life." - Jn 14:6

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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What Did You Expect? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


What Did You Expect?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In contrasting the God of Israel with the pagan idols of old, the prophet Isaiah issued a challenge to those who believed in the potency of their pagan deities. Isaiah said this about the idols: “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them…. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods” (41:22-23). According to Isaiah, any deity that could consistently forecast the future would be recognized as a true God, while any unable to tell the future should be relegated to the rubbish pile of false religions. In order to prove that the God of Israel was the true God, Isaiah quoted this from the mouth of God: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times thins that are not yet done” (46:9-10). Truly, Isaiah’s God could tell the future. The fall of Babylon, the reign of Cyrus, and the coming Messiah are but a few of the more prominent examples found within the book of Isaiah itself. In fact, the writers of the New Testament quoted the book of Isaiah more often than any other book of the Old Testament. The first-century Jewish community respected the book of Isaiah as inspired and infallible. Yet, the majority of first century Jews missed one of the main points of the book—that the coming Messiah would be not only a conquering king, but also a suffering servant.
Much of the time, people find what they want to find. During the time that Isaiah wrote his prophecy, the children of Israel suffered persecution from the surrounding nations. Years after Isaiah wrote, the nation of Israel fell into even greater troubles, even being led away into captivity by the Babylonians and being scattered throughout many different nations. During their various persecutions, they began to formulate a picture of the promised Messiah. The Coming One was He of whom it was spoken:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
From this prophecy, what else could one expect but a mighty, conquering Savior Who would carry the burden of the government on His own two shoulders; a sovereign Ruler the likes of David, Who would sit on the throne of a united, far-reaching kingdom? How Israel longed for such a Ruler Who would cast the burden of foreign bondage from their backs and lead them into a physical kingdom, victorious and everlasting!
However, Isaiah did not paint a one-sided picture of the Messiah. In fact, the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 details a suffering servant who would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” This suffering Messiah would be oppressed, afflicted, bruised, and stricken. At His death He would be counted among the wicked, led as a lamb to the slaughter. This picture of the Messiah was not of a conquering warrior, but rather of a beaten servant, carrying the sins of the world.
Of course, the pictures painted by the prophets were not mutually exclusive. The conquering power of the Messiah would result from His ability to bear the sins of the world through suffering and shame. But for most of the first-century Jews, a suffering Messiah was too much to bear. When Christ came from the despised Nazareth as a lowly carpenter’s son, He just wasn’t what they expected. They taunted Him to prove His power when they said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” (Matthew 27:42). They failed to recognize the “time of their visitation” because they kept in mind only the prophecies that they liked—only those pictures that suited their fancy.
Let us learn a valuable lesson from those first-century Jews. What we expect from Christ is not always what we find. Christ’s Gospel was not one of health and wealth on this Earth. It was not one of moral laxity, or a half-hearted call to devotion. The Christ of the New Testament turned over moneychangers’ tables, set fathers against sons, cried out against divorce, and demanded undivided adoration. When we see something in the character of Christ that we did not expect to find, let us not join the majority of first-century Judaism in rejecting Christ and His Word based on a one-sided acceptance of the evidence. Instead, let us probe deeper for the full portrait of our Savior, based onall the evidence. Let us have the courage to go where that evidence takes us so that we can join the apostle Andrew in saying, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

The Immutability of God by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


The Immutability of God

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

[NOTE: During the February 12, 2009 Darwin Day debate with Kyle Butt, Dan Barker listed 14 alleged Bible discrepancies as evidence against God’s existence. His first claim (six minutes and 25 seconds into his opening speech) was that the Bible gives contradictory descriptions of God because it says that God changes and does not change. His allegation is refuted in the following article written by Caleb Colley in 2004.]
The Bible plainly asserts that the qualities of God have never changed, and will never change. Consider a sampling of what the inspired writers penned concerning God’s immutability:
  • Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the Earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
  • Psalm 102:25-27: “Of old You laid the foundation of the Earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.”
  • Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”
  • Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
  • James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Some assert that the concept of an unchanging God is ridiculous. As one critic put it,
Christians believe that [a] their God is “unchanging.” They also believe that [b] their God is jealous, as mentioned explicitly in Exodus 20:5, and that [c] their God is also full of wrath and anger (numerous citations can be found in the Bible which support this). If the Christian believes [a], [b], and [c] above, then according to them their God must always be jealous, angry and wrathful (i.e., God must be pretty miserable) [Thorn, 2000, parenthetical item in orig.].
Of course, the fact that our unchanging God has emotions such as anger and wrath (and emotions that are antithetical to anger and wrath, such as happiness and gladness, which Thorn ignored completely), based on His perfectly righteous nature, does not detract from His deity. After all, if God’s nature did not cause sin to anger Him, and righteousness did not please Him, His nature, as revealed in the Bible, would be both false and irrelevant. God would be incapable of making decisions based on His objective standards, and would be unqualified to be our God.
God, in His relations with humans, is unchanging in that He opposes all sin and unrighteousness, while approving and appreciating righteous living, and giving all men the opportunity to be saved. God certainly is capable of changing His mind without changing His nature. For example, God tested Moses by telling him to get out of the way, so that God could destroy the “stiff-necked” nation of Israel, and make of Moses a great nation (Exodus 32:9-10). Moses, however, pleaded with God, and He “relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people” (verse 14). God knew ahead of time what Moses’ answer would be, just as He knew that Abraham would do His will when He tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his special son, Isaac (see Genesis 22; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 94:9-10; John 2:25). In this instance, God simply presented Moses (later labeled the meekest man in the entire world—Numbers 12:3) with the opportunity to become the ancestor of the divinely chosen people, but Moses refused, choosing to appeal to God’s mercy. God considered Moses’ humble appeal when He decided to preserve Israel; it was the unchanging nature of God that caused Him, in this particular instance, to act as He did (cf. Genesis 6:6; Jonah 3:10).
God had not promised a particular punishment to the people of Israel for their disobedience—God did not break a promise to Israel. God cannot lie, and He certainly did not do so in this case (see Colley, 2004a). God had merely told Moses what He intended to do, and reciprocated Moses’ “repentance,” on the behalf of the entire nation, with His own.
Inherent in the fact that God cannot lie (see Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Romans 3:4; Hebrews 6:18) is the fact that His characteristics do not change. If they did, the righteous attributes of humans that please Him one day might not please Him on the next day, and humans would never know what to do in order to satisfy Him. Worse still, we might approach the judgment seat of Christ in the Day of Judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10), only to discover that God had created different rules, of which we were unaware.
To twist Exodus 32:9-14 into an attack on God’s reliability, then, is blasphemous. Instead, we should understand the clear implications of the passage: (1) the fervent prayers of righteous people really do “avail much” (James 5:16); (2) it is unpleasant for God to destroy His creatures (2 Peter 3:9; see Keil, 1996, 1:468); and (3) God allows Himself to change His purpose when the actions of humans justify it (Jonah 3:10; see Coffman, 1985, p. 444).
Some assert that the Bible is not reliable because it makes evident that God changed the requirements for serving Him when He nailed the Old Law to the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:16). They assert that when God put away the Old Law and brought the New Law into effect, God evinced that He can change, so, even if He does exist, He cannot be trusted. Indeed, if it were true that God’s changing of some requirements rendered His divine nature altered, then the biblical concept of God would be shattered, because, in that case, God frequently would have stood in complete contradiction of Himself. And so would Jesus when He spoke certain teachings while in human form. As one skeptic, writing for Agnostic Review of Christianity, commented: “If Jesus has always existed, has always been the same, and is also God, then this deity is psychotic. He issues laws that he ignores, commands people to obey these laws, rebukes them for trying to follow the laws, and practices situational ethics” (“Sticks and Stones…,” n.d., emp. added). First-century gnostic Christians, in attempting to reconcile perceived differences between the character of the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, asserted that two distinct gods were responsible for the two testaments. They believed that the Old Testament god, Jehovah, was bumbling and inept, while the god revealed in the New Testament was the true god (see Layton, 1987, p. 134).
However, God did not change His nature in order to bring the New Testament into effect. The New Testament church, in which men can be saved from damnation, was in the mind of God from before the Earth was established; it was His eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:10-11). In fact, the Old Testament contains many prophecies concerning the church (e.g., Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 2:2-3; Daniel 2:44; see Silcox, n.d.), helping us to see that one purpose of the Old Law was to prepare humanity (in several different aspects, not the least of which was the establishment of Christ’s lineage) for the coming of Christ and His Law (Luke 24:44; Galatians 3:24). When the Old Law was nailed to Christ’s cross, the rules for obedience were changed in order to allow men to appropriate the blood of Christ to their souls (to wash away sin; see Acts 22:16). The blood of bulls and goats no longer was necessary in order to appease God’s anger, because the perfect Lamb had been sacrificed once and for all (Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 3:18).
Finally, observe that the fact that God is not opposed to all change does not impose upon His immutability. He instituted the changing seasons (Genesis 1:14), and Psalm 102:25-26 illustrates that the Earth can be changed by an unchanging God, a fact that also was illustrated quite graphically by the Noahic Flood (Genesis 6-8). And, when we leave this life to slip into the timeless side of eternity, we will be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
God is not going to budge in His firm stand against sin. Ultimately, unforgiven sin will be punished (Romans 6:23; see Colley, 2004b). However, just as sin always has demanded strict punishment in every dispensation, God always has freely offered salvation to those willing to obey His message. God will pardon, through Christ’s sacrifice, those who repent and obey Him.
Coffman, James Burton (1985), Commentary on Exodus (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Colley, Caleb (2004a), “God Cannot Lie,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2561.
Colley, Caleb (2004b), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Keil, C.F. (1996 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament—The Pentateuch (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Layton, Bentley (1987), The Gnostic Scriptures (Canterbury: SCM Press).
Silcox, Preston (no date), “The Church Promised and Prophesied,” [On-line], URL: http://www.gospelpreceptor.com/SilcoxP5.htm.
“Sticks and Stones, or, Jesus the Son of God Thumbs His Nose at God the Father” (no date),Agnostic Review of Christianity, [On-Line], URL: http://members.fortunecity.com/brad1/stick_stone.html.
Thorn, Anton (2000), “An Unchanging God?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/Unchanging_God.htm.

Footprints of NONSentient Design Inside the Human Genome by Will Brooks, Ph.D.


Footprints of NONSentient Design Inside the Human Genome

by Will Brooks, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by A.P. staff scientist Will Brooks, who holds a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.]
In the May 11, 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), John Avise authored a paper titled “Footprints of Nonsentient Design Inside the Human Genome” (Avise, 2010). In this article, Avise highlighted several alleged evidences from the human genome which, according to him, prove it could not have been created by intelligent design, but rather must be a product of natural selection over countless years of time. The author calls his evidence an “argument from imperfection.” The thesis for his argument in favor of evolution is that the human genome, while undeniably complex, is riddled with errors and imperfections. Avise contends that the simple presence of these alleged fallibilities argues against an omnipotent Creator and, instead, is evidence for a nonsentient process (natural selection). This article addresses each of the major arguments posed by Avise.


The first argument posed by Avise is little more than an offshoot of a widespread argument questioning the existence of God: the problem of evil, pain, and suffering. In his paper, Avise describes the large compendium of known human diseases and disorders caused by genetic mutations and chromosomal abnormalities. His point: if the human genome were created by intelligent design, why would a designer intentionally infuse error into his creation, which would lead to human disease? The author contends that the flaw in this design is evidence that it was, in fact, not designed.

It is well known—even to those far removed from science and medicine—that numerous human diseases and disorders trace their causality back to DNA and genetic mutation (e.g., sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, phenylketouria, and brittle bone disease, to name a few). The question then becomes, if the human genome were designed by an intelligent designer (God), why would He infuse error, which leads to human disease? There are several answers to this question. The first was posed by Avise himself: “An apologist for the intelligent designer might be tempted to claim that such deleterious mutations are merely unavoidable glitches or secondary departures from a prototypical human genome that otherwise was designed and engineered to near perfection” (Avise, p. 8972).

In other words, God created Adam and Eve with no errors (mutations). However, spontaneous mutations arose by natural forces in successive generations, which have led to the disease-causing mutations that we see today. There is probably some truth and some fault in this line of thinking. God undoubtedly created the first man and woman with genetic perfection (cf. Genesis 1:31—“very good”). However, God in His infinite wisdom would never create perfection, only to allow it to become imperfect, without knowing that outcome from the beginning. When Adam and Eve sinned, they opened the floodgates to innumerable complications and distortions of the originally perfect creation. While God did not cause the perversion of perfection, His foreknowledge of it allowed Him to order human existence in a way that He could use the calamity to bring about His ultimate, good will.

Second, imagine a world where there is no disease—a health-utopia if you will. Without disease, there is no suffering. Without disease, there is no death. A world devoid of suffering and death due to health problems seems quite enticing. However, what would happen to our natural resources and space constraints if human longevity and fertility were extended? The Earth of six billion people present today would, instead, contain untold numbers. Extending this to all organisms, a disease-free pool of animals and plants would very quickly overpopulate the planet. Disease, while having terrible consequences that we all must face, serves in part to control the population of humans as well as that of all species.

Third, throughout Scripture we can see God using disease and the healing of disease to illustrate His own power and prove His existence. How many times in the Old Testament did God work through prophets to heal the sick? How many ailments were cured by Jesus to prove that He was the Messiah? God has used the healing of disease throughout time to serve as a sign, to bring attention to one individual and what he had to say, and for His own glorification. Disease is not just a plague on mankind, but rather a tool used by God.


The second argument brought forth by Avise to contend with creationism is one that, traditionally, creationists have championed over the years: biological complexity. Stemming in part from Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996), the immense nature of biological complexity has been used widely to dispute evolution. Here the author asserts:
[G]ratuitous or unnecessary, biological complexity—as opposed to an economy of design—would seem to be the antithesis of thoughtful organic engineering. Yet, by objective scientific evidence, gratuitous and often-dysfunctional complexities (both in molecular structure and molecular operations) are so nearly ubiquitous as to warrant the status of hallmarks of the human genome (Avise, p. 8972).
Two major areas of complexity are addressed by Avise as being “gratuitous”: gene splicing and gene regulation.

Gene splicing still puzzles scientists today, more than 30 years after its initial discovery. Most eukaryote genes (DNA sequences that code for proteins) exist in their respective genomes as fragmented DNA sequences separated into these pieces by other non-coding DNA. The intervening non-coding sequences are known as introns, while the fragments of functional coding DNA are known as exons. When genes are transcribed into mRNA prior to protein production, the introns must be cut away and the fragmented exons spliced together to generate a functional mRNA molecule ready to be read into protein. See Figure 1.
Figure 1: Exons are the coding sequences of human genes that are transcribed, along with intervening sequences known as introns into a pre-mRNA molecule. The splicing process allows the pre-mRNA to be cut, the introns to be removed, and the remaining exons to be spliced together to form a functional mRNA molecule. The resulting mRNA is then used as a template to generate a functional protein.
As described in this article, a vast amount of genome space, cellular energy, time, and other resources are devoted to this splicing process. The author makes the claim that this rigmarole (to get a functional mRNA) is overly complex and thus evidence against a Creator. The problem with his logic is twofold.

First, there are known advantages attained by the human cell because we splice our mRNAs. The human genome encodes an estimated 24,000 different genes. But, through a process known as alternative splicing, our cells have the capacity to make much greater numbers of distinct proteins. Most genes whose exons are spliced may be spliced together in different ways using different combinations of exons. This allows for one gene in the human genome actually to manufacture multiple, distinct protein products, extending what we refer to as the proteome into a size much larger than that of the genome. Furthermore, alternative splicing allows a single uniform human genome to encode countless different protein combinations, making our differing cell types unique. For example, a neuron is a neuron because it produces one set of protein products, while a muscle cell has its own unique properties because it produces a distinct compliment of proteins. Likewise, red blood cells and liver cells each have their own specific repertoire of proteins that make them specialized and unique.

The second problem with this logic is that if we assume gene splicing is gratuitously complex, then why would natural selection have favored its inception and maintenance over millions to billions of years? Bacteria do not splice their genes and even lack the machinery for the splicing processes. So, if splicing arose by evolutionary mechanisms and is found in higher organisms, then according to evolutionary theory, it must present some fitness advantage. Avise argues that splicing is too complex and that the fitness costs outweigh the benefits. This simply does not conform to the paradigm of natural selection. The truth is that splicing is an advantage to eukaryotic species, including humans, and is one of many reasons why we are more complex than bacteria. Therefore, this advantageous process is not a mistake of creation, but rather a highlight of creation.

Gene regulation is one of the most complex issues in molecular biology and genetics. In a nutshell, gene regulation is the immense set of control mechanisms that determine when genes are expressed into protein, in what cell types genes are expressed, in what quantity genes are expressed, and once expressed as a protein, when that protein will become active. Without a detailed understanding of gene regulation, it is hard to grasp the full amount of complexity. The fact is: it is staggering. However, the greater the complexity a system contains, the more opportunity exists for errors and mistakes. In his paper, Avise states,
Why an intelligent and loving designer would have infused the human genome with so many potential (and often realized) regulatory flaws is open to theological debate. Any such philosophical discussion should probably include the issue of whether the designer was fallible (and if so, why?). It should also address whether the designer might have recognized his own engineering fallibility, as perhaps evidenced, for example, by the DNA and RNAsurveillance mechanisms that catch some (but not all) of the numerous molecular mistakes (p. 8974).
He goes on to write that “the complexity of genomic architecture would seem to be a surer signature of tinkered evolution by natural processes than of direct invention by an omnipotent intelligent agent” (p. 8974).

The sheer arrogance of statements such as those above is astounding. Molecular biologists, such as myself, are quick to explain that we understand only a tiny fraction of the complexities of gene regulation. Science is in no position to begin discussing the problems of gene regulation on a philosophical level, because there is so much that we do not know. New layers of gene regulation are discovered on a regular basis. One of the most recent, major discoveries is micro RNAs (miRNA), first identified 17 years ago, whose full scope for regulation was not realized until this decade (He, 2004). The complexities of gene regulation are what drive every aspect of cell and organismal physiology. To put it simply, they are what make us tick. Do “mistakes” occur? Sure. But, who can know the potential advantages of these alleged mistakes in the big picture? Certainly not Dr. Avise.


The diploid human genome is roughly six billion base pairs in length. But, it is estimated that less than 2% of the genome is composed of functional, protein-coding DNA sequences. The vast majority of theDNA sequence consists of non-coding introns, regulatory sequences, repetitive DNA elements, and other uncharacterized sequences. DNA is the basic genetic material because it codes for the proteins and RNAs needed for all biological processes. So, as Avise notes, why is there so much non-protein coding DNA sequence that some have called “junk DNA”? He makes the argument that if the human genome were truly designed, it is a flawed, wasteful design.

On the surface, the huge quantity of allegedly useless DNA does seem quite wasteful. Every cell that divides must duplicate all of its extra DNA and carry these “extra pounds” along each generation. If this DNA truly is useless, then it is a time, energy, and resource burden on the cell. But our cells seem to function just fine with the extra DNA. If the human genome arose by evolutionary means, natural selection has not favored discarding this DNA over the alleged billions of evolutionary years. So, the repetitive DNA elements would not seem to be an evolutionary fitness disadvantage.

Furthermore, as we learn more about genomics, scientists are finding new properties and new functions for much of this “extra” DNA. We have already discussed the usefulness of introns to allow alternative splicing. Additionally, the aforementioned miRNAs are encoded by intronic and other non-coding DNA elements. Another recent discovery is that of the long noncoding RNAs (Petherick, 2008). These RNAs have undefined function, but are found within non-coding DNA elements. Whether much of the human genome truly is “junk DNA”—or if its true function is yet-to-be-defined—is still unresolved. What we do know is that we are still learning about the structure of the human genome and, thus, it is too early to tell, from a scientific standpoint, whether all of that extra DNA can be defined as “wasteful.”


The human genome is an immense, complex set of nucleotides that carries all of the information needed to properly form a human being and to sustain his or her life. Since its sequencing in 2003 and even well before, there has been an explosion of scientific inquiry into the inner workings of this amazing genetic material. We know, through our scientific explorations, that the human genome across the human population does contain mutations, structural abnormalities, and other anomalies. Many of these are inert, causing no disease or harm to their bearers, while others cause a variety of human diseases and disorders. The truth is that the so-called imperfections in the human genome are neither evidence against a Designer, nor are they evidence in favor of natural selection and evolution.

A commentary to Avise’s article was published in PNAS in the July 27 issue calling into question the overall thesis of his work. Philosophy professor Michael Murray and biologist Jeffrey Schloss wrote: “Arguing that the presence of ‘genetic evil’ undercuts appeals to divine agency is superfluous and detracts from rather than advances scientific discussion…the line of argument made against ID[intelligent design—WB] is, in addition to being superfluous, actually unsound” (Murray and Schloss, 2010, p. E121).

Countless highly structured characteristics of the human genome provide evidence for intelligent design. These range from the four simple nitrogenous bases (A, T, G, and C) that make up the vast expanse of the genome, to the incredibly ordered packaging of DNA into the cell nucleus. God has clearly demonstrated His hand in the design of the human genome. The “imperfections” that Avise brings forth pale in comparison to the overwhelming functionality of this genetic marvel.


Avise, John C. (2010), “Footprints of Nonsentient Design Inside the Human Genome,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 107:8969-76.

Behe, Michael J. (1996), Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press).

He, Lin and Gregory J. Hannon (2004), “MicroRNAs: Small RNAs with a Big Role in Gene Regulation,” Nature Reviews Genetics, 5:522-31.

Murray, Michael J. and Jeffrey P. Schloss (2010), “Evolution, Design, and Genomic Suboptimality: Does Science ‘Save Theology’?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 107:E121.

Petherick, Anna (2008), “Genetics: The Production Line,” Nature, 454:1043-45.

Questions and Answers: Is "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade Still Proabortion? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Questions and Answers: Is "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade Still Proabortion?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Is “Jane Roe,” the woman involved in the renowned Roe v. Wade abortion case before the Supreme Court, still pro-abortion?


Although she recanted her views about abortion seven years ago, relatively few people know that “Jane Roe,” the pseudonym that Norma McCorvey assumed as the lead plaintiff in the infamous Roe v. Wade case, no longer supports abortion. In fact, she now adamantly opposes the slaughtering of innocent babies. Not long ago, just twenty minutes from our offices at Apologetics Press, Ms. McCorvey discussed her “conversion” before a crowd of 350 people. McCorvey informed her listeners that after more than twenty years of supporting the pro-abortion platform, she finally saw the error of her ways. What did it take? McCorvey indicated the “straw that broke the camel’s back” came as she was working in an abortion clinic and was told to enter the room where aborted fetuses were kept. Her assignment was to count the various body parts of an infant who had just been “aborted,” to make sure the doctor had retrieved the entire baby from the mother’s womb. McCorvey, who had worked in at least four abortion clinics, stated, “I went back to the ‘parts room,’ and I looked at this tiny little infant, and I freaked” (as quoted in McGrew, 2002).
The one female who symbolized a woman’s right to have an abortion now sees abortion as the heinous sin that it really is—the shedding of innocent blood (see Proverbs 6:17). She now understands how barbaric it is to tear an infant from his (or her) mother’s womb, literally shredding the child into “parts.” McCorvey not only has seen the error of her ways, but currently spends much of her time helping women save babies, rather than encouraging them to murder them (“Who is Jane?...,” 1998). If more pro-abortionists saw what Norma McCorvey witnessed, perhaps they, too, would “swap sides.”
If “Jane Roe,” the onetime leading spokeswoman for abortion, can change the error of her ways, then undoubtedly our elected representatives and Supreme Court justices can, too. Let us pray to the Almighty regarding this matter, and encourage our government officials to uphold the value of human life by one day reversing the ungodly 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.


McGrew, Jannel (2002), “‘Jane Roe’ Tells Story of Change at Fund-raiser,” Prattville Progress, May 1.
“Who is ‘Jane Roe’?” (1998), [On-line], URL: http: //www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1998/roe.wade/stories/roe.profile.

Does God Tempt People? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does God Tempt People?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In his February 12, 2009 debate with Kyle Butt, Dan Barker alleged that he “knows” the God of the Bible cannot exist because “there are mutually incompatible properties/characteristics of the God that’s in this book [the Bible—EL] that rule out the possibility of His existence.” Seven minutes and 54 seconds into his first speech, Barker cited James 1:13 and Genesis 22:1 as proof that the God of the Bible cannot exist. Since James 1:13 says: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (KJV), and Genesis 22:1 affirms that “God did tempt Abraham” (KJV) to sacrifice his son, Barker asserted that God is like a married bachelor or a square circle—He cannot logically exist.
If Genesis 22:1 actually taught that God really tempted Abraham to commit evil and sin, then the God of the Bible might be a “square circle,” i.e., a logical contradiction. But, the fact of the matter is, God did not tempt Abraham to commit evil. Barker formulated his argument based upon the King James Version and only one meaning of the Hebrew word (nissâ) found in Genesis 22:1. Although the word can mean “to tempt,” the first two meanings that Brown, Driver, and Briggs give for nissâ in their Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament is “to test, to try” (1993). Likewise, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (1997) defines the word simply “to test” (Jenni and Westermann, 1997, 2:741-742). The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testamentagrees that nissâ is best translated, whether in secular or theological contexts, as “testing” (Botterweck, et al., 1998, 9:443-455). For this reason, virtually all major translations in recent times, including the NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, and RSV, translate Genesis 22:1 using the term “tested,” not tempted.
When David put on the armor of King Saul prior to battling Goliath, the shepherd realized: “I cannot walk with these, for I have nottested (nissâ) them” (1 Samuel 17:39, emp. added). Obviously, this testing had nothing to do with David “tempting” his armor; he simply had not tested or tried on Saul’s armor previously. God led Israel during 40 years of desert wanderings “to humble...andtest” them (Deuteronomy 8:2, emp. added), not to tempt them to sin. Notice also the contrast in Exodus 20:20 between (1) God testing man and (2) trying to cause man to sin. After giving Israel the Ten Commandments, Moses said: “Do not fear; for God has come to test (nissâyou, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20, emp. added). If one were to use Barker’s reasoning that nissâ must mean “to tempt,” regardless of the context, then he would have to interpret Exodus 20:20 to mean that God tempted Israel to sin, so that they will not sin.
When a person interprets the Bible, or any other book, without recognizing that words have a variety of meanings and can be used in various senses, a rational interpretation is impossible. Many alleged Bible contradictions, including several of those that Dan Barker mentioned in the Butt/Barker Debate, are easily explained simply by acknowledging that words are used in a variety of ways. Is a word to be taken literally or figuratively? Must the term in one place mean the exact same thing when in another context, or may it have different meanings? If English-speaking Americans can intelligibly converse about running to the store in the 21st century by driving a car, or if we can easily communicate about parking on driveways, and driving on parkways, why do some people have such a difficult time understanding the various ways in which words were used in Bible times? Could it be that some Bible critics like Barker are simply predisposed to interpret Scripture unfairly? The evidence reveals that is exactly what is happening.
Rather then contradicting James 1:13, Genesis 22:1 actually corresponds perfectly with what James wrote near the beginning of his epistle: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (1:2-4, emp. added). By instructing Abraham to sacrifice his promised son (cf. Hebrews 11:17), God gave Abraham another opportunity to prove his loyalty to Him, while Abraham simultaneously used this trial to continue developing a more complete, mature faith.


Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry (1998), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles B. Briggs (1993), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Jenni, Ernst and Claus Westerman (1997), Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

From Jim McGuiggan... Can Faith Take It?

Can Faith Take It?

In a world this bad can faith take it? There's no doubt that this is a wild and wicked world though there is much good in it. Paul painted the Gentile world in the most sombre colours (Romans 1:18-32) and made it sound like there was no uprightness in it at all. Yet in chapter 2 he speaks of Gentiles whose good lives made it clear that the truth was written on their hearts. So it's all right to say the world's "filled with wickedness" as long as we know it isn't "filled" with wickedness. God is at work in it.
Still, it's an awful place and as a single human family we can descend to abysmal depths. We shouldn't pretend this doesn't matter. We shouldn't even try to act like it doesn't matter. It's all right to weep or rage or both over the awful darkness in us but there's a limit to which we can go with gospel approval. It isn't for the church to fall into despair because of the entrenched evil and the various powers that undergird it.
Colossians 2:15 says that the church's Lord and Master met all those powers at the hanging tree we know as Calvary. There, where evil, cruelty, fear, ingratitude and blind indifference raged the Christ triumphed and made a spectacle of them all. So here he comes striding through the centuries, picking up the things that worry us so and the losses that devastate us and the besetting sins that dismay us and he assures us that he knows all about them. He picks them up, each one of them, takes them seriously and without glibness assures us, "Yes, they look invincible and indestructible don't they? But take heart, I've dealt with them all. Big and small, obvious and sly, stubborn and spasmodic--there's none of them I haven't dealt with. Trust me, nothing can stop us."
If we didn't have truths like Colossians 2:15 we'd live a nightmare. Having truths like Colossians 2:15 our faith doesn't know how to quit. Can faith take it? Whyof course it can. "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4)

From Roy Davison... “Love one another as I have loved you” John 15:12


“Love one another as I have loved you”
John 15:12
Christ is the source of love among Christians.
Jesus told His followers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).
This command was new because it tapped a source of love far superior to any love the world had known before. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
Love among Christians is exceptional because it is the very love of Christ Himself. How can I not love a brother for whom Christ died, as He also died for me? Together we are engulfed by the love of Christ. Our hearts are “knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).
This bond of love exists only among faithful followers of Christ. “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). At baptism we receive the gift of the Spirit: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This depth of love is found only among those who have been born again, born by water and the Spirit (John 3:5, 7).
God’s love is in our hearts by the power of the Spirit. This enables us to love others in a way that would be impossible otherwise. Christians are able to love even their enemies! (Luke 6:27, 35).
We must cultivate this love to bring it to fruition. “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected [τετελείωται] in him” (1 John 2:5). The banner of God’s love must be unfurled in our hearts by obedience.

Christians learn to love by following Christ.

Only by following Him can we love one another as He loved us. We follow Christ by obeying Him and abiding in His love. “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17). “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9, 10). 
His commands define love and teach us how to love: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments” (1 John 5:2).
“Speaking the truth in love,” we are to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15, 16).
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14).

Christians radiate the love of Christ.

When we love one another as Christ loves us, others can see His love in us and recognize its Source. When we extend His love to others, they can feel the love of Christ. His love spreads forth through us to them.
Jesus tells His followers: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “He who loves his brother abides in the light” (1 John 2:10).
One purpose of the assembly is to “stir up love” (Hebrews 10:24). In the church of Christ there is a chain reaction of love. Activated by Christ, Christians love each other and radiate His love to all the world.

Christian love is self-sacrificing.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14).
Of Himself Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Christian love is abundant.

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
“But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10).
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Learning to love as Christ loves us is a life-long assignment. His love is so immense that our love for one another never measures up to His love for us. Thus we are admonished toincrease our love, to become more like Christ.

Christian love is genuine and benevolent.

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17, 18).

Christian love is fervent and pure.

“And above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

Christian love is humble and affectionate.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:9, 10).

Christian love is patient and compassionate.

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). 
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).

Love is the greatest good on earth.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Paul gives an overview of love’s greatness by listing various attributes: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
The love of Christ has transforming power.

The love of Christ transformed James and John.

James and John were called “sons of thunder” when they first came to Jesus (Mark 3:17). They wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village that refused to provide lodging for Jesus (Luke 9:54). Jesus chided them: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55, 56).
James and John wanted to be exalted above the other apostles: “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:37). “And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John” (Mark 10:41).
But James and John learned to love their fellow disciples as Jesus loved them.
James was the first of the twelve to give his life for Christ. Herod “killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:2).
When John wrote his Gospel he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He had learned that Christ’s love for us is the example to be followed.
In his letters he emphasizes love among Christians. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

The love of Christ transformed Peter.

Before Peter learned the lesson of love, he thought he was more faithful than anyone else: “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mark 14:29). Before morning light, he denied Jesus three times.
After the resurrection, however, when Jesus asked Peter: “Do you love Me more than these?” he no longer exalted himself, but said simply: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” (John 21:15).
Peter emphasizes love among Christians in his letters. “Love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17). “Love as brothers” (1 Peter 3:8). “Above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). Add “to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:7).
Through the centuries countless people have been transformed by the love of Christ.

The love of Christ transformed Murray and Joe.

In Toronto, Canada, two boys were skipping stones through the front door and down the aisle of the meeting place of a church of Christ during services. The door was open because of the summer heat. An older brother went out the back, circled around behind the boys and gave them a choice: “Do you want to come in and sit quietly beside me for the rest of the service, or do you want me to call the police?” They decided to go in and sit beside him! After services he told them they were always welcome.
On a subsequent Sunday, before services, one of the boys was standing shyly up the street. The same brother motioned for him to come and he came. The two boys started attending Sunday school. Although they were unruly and disruptive because of their background, Christians patiently showed them the love of Christ. They also attended Omagh Bible Camp (and almost burned the main building down).
Touched by the love of Christ, both became gospel preachers and dedicated their lives to sharing God’s love with others. Murray Hammond preached in Ontario. Joe Cannon became a missionary to Japan and Papua New Guinea, and in later years (before his passing in 2012) to Ukraine.

Let us cherish and nourish this blessing of love we share in Christ.

Christ is the source of love among Christians. We learn to love by following His example and obeying His commands. He enables us to radiate His love. Christian love is self-sacrificing, abundant, genuine, benevolent, fervent, pure, humble, affectionate, patient and compassionate.
Let us obey the words of Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Amen.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive