1/19/16

From Mark Copeland... "MORAL ISSUES CONFRONTING CHRISTIANS" Euthanasia



                 "MORAL ISSUES CONFRONTING CHRISTIANS"

                               Euthanasia

INTRODUCTION

1. A moral issue that is increasingly confronting Christians today is
   euthanasia...
   a. The word "euthanasia" comes straight out of the Greek
   b. "eu", goodly or well + "thanatos", death = the good death
   c. For 18th-century writers in England that was what euthanasia
      meant, a "good" death, a welcome way to depart quietly and well
      from life
   -- MedicineNet.com

2. Today, euthanasia is understood as more than simply dying a good and
   easy death...
   a. It commonly refers to a doctor inducing death with a lethal
      injection, requested by a patient suffering terrible pain
   b. Also called "assisted suicide"; other terms include "aid in
      dying", "death with dignity", even "mercy killing"
   c. Not to be confused with refusing artificial life support and
      allowing the natural death process

3. Some forms of voluntary euthanasia or "assisted suicide" are legal
   in...
   a. Countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Thailand
   b. The U.S. states of Oregon and Washington
   -- Wikipedia

[What should the Christian think concern this issue?  First, let's
consider...]

I. THE ARGUMENTS REGARDING EUTHANASIA

   A. ARGUMENTS FOR...
      1. Choice - Proponents emphasize that choice is a fundamental
         principle for liberal democracies and free market systems
      2. Quality of Life
         a. The pain and suffering a person feels during a disease, even
            with pain relievers, can be incomprehensible to a person who
            has not gone through it
         b. Even without considering the physical pain, it is often
            difficult for patients to overcome the emotional pain of
            losing their independence
      3. Economic costs and human resources
         a. Today in many countries there is a shortage of hospital
            space
         b. The energy of doctors and hospital beds could be used for
            people whose lives could be saved instead of continuing the
            life of those who want to die which increases the general
            quality of care and shortens hospital waiting lists
         c. It is a burden to keep people alive past the point they can
            contribute to society, especially if the resources used
            could be spent on a curable ailment
      -- Wikipedia, ibid.

   B. ARGUMENTS AGAINST...
      1. Professional
         a. Critics argue that it could unduly compromise the role of
            health care workers
         b. Ministers of health and life would also become ministers of
            death
         c. They would violate the Hippocratic oath:  "I will not give a
            lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such
            a plan" (though it has fallen out of use since the 1970s)
      2. Moral and theological
         a. Euthanasia is viewed as murder, and voluntary euthanasia as
            suicide
         b. A violation of the sanctity of human life, that human life
            belongs to God
         c. That humans should not be the ones to make the choice to end
            life
      3. Feasibility of implementation
         a. To be voluntary, a patient must be mentally competent to
            make the decision
         b. Competence can be difficult to determine or even define
      4. Necessity
         a. Where there is life, there is hope:  for a cure, remission,
            or even answer to prayer
         b. The correct action is to attempt to bring about a cure or
            engage in palliative care
      5. Wishes of family
         a. Family members often desire to spend as much time with their
            loved ones as possible before they die
         b. Their wishes ought to be considered
      6. Consent under pressure
         a. Once euthanasia becomes an acceptable health procedure, it
            will be subject to economic considerations
         b. Hospital and insurance personnel will have an economic
            incentive to advise or pressure people toward euthanasia
            consent
      -- Wikipedia, ibid.

[Such are the arguments offered by both sides of the debate.  As
Christians, our primary concern should be the moral and theological
issues...]

II. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

   A. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS...
      1. The Bible does not specifically forbid or condone euthanasia
      2. It does refer to several instances of suicide
      3. It also reveals several principles which we may apply to this
         issue
      -- We must let the Bible aid us to "discern both good and evil"
         - He 5:14

   B. SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS...
      1. Life comes from God, to take it is murder
         a. As such He has the sole right to dispose of it - Ac 17:25,28
         b. Human life is sacred because we are made in His image 
            - Gen 9:5-6
         c. Suicide, in general, is an act of murder which is immoral
            - Exo 20:13
      2. Our bodies belong to God, not us
         a. This is especially true of Christians - 1Co 6:19-20
         b. We no longer live for ourselves, but for God - Ro 14:7-8;
            2Co 5:15
         c. We might prefer death, but the Lord may have a different
            plan - Php 1:21-24
      3. Every example of suicide in the Bible was by a sinful man
         a. Abimelech, assisted by armor bearer - Judg 9:50-54
         b. Saul, who gravely wounded fell on his own sword - 1Sa 31:3-4
         c. Ahithophel, who hanged himself - 2Sa 17:23
         d. Zimri, who burned himself alive - 1Ki 16:18-19
         e. Judas, who hanged himself - Mt 27:5
      4. Men of God chose to endure pain rather than end life
         prematurely
         a. Job
            1) Who suffered not for sin - Job 2:7-10
            2) Who longed for death, but would not kill himself 
               - Job 6:8-9
         b. Jeremiah
            1) Who suffered with those who had sinned - Lam 3:38-41
            2) Who could have fled to Babylon, but chose not to 
               - Jer 40:4
         c. Jesus
            1) Who suffered for all who sinned - 1Pe 3:18
            2) Who endured the cross - He 12:2
      5. The early Christians saw value in suffering
         a. For the character and hope it produced - Ro 5:3-4
         b. For the maturity and patience it produced - Ja 1:2-4
         c. For the opportunity to honor and glorify Christ - 1Pe 1:6-7;
            Php 1:20
      6. Paul was willing to endure suffering for the benefit of others
         a. He preferred death, but considered the needs of others - Ph
            1:21-24
         b. He endured suffering to demonstrate the power of Christ in
            him - 2Co 4:8-12
         c. He viewed affliction as an opportunity to provide an example
            - 2Co 1:6-11
      -- How we die may be our last opportunity to magnify the Lord and
         help others

CONCLUSION

1. Voluntary euthanasia (suicide), even when one is suffering, can be
   viewed as...
   a. An act of ingratitude toward God who gives us both life and
      suffering for our good
   b. A violation of our duty to serve God all the days of our lives
   c. A misguided effort to escape an aspect of life that God intends
      for us to experience
   d. A selfish act that hurts those closest to us, depriving them of
      our example and influence

2. How can we hasten our death, just to avoid suffering...?
   a. When we do not know what the future holds (a cure, remission,
      answer to prayer)?
   b. When our suffering may be allowed for our benefit and those around
      us?

This is not to say we cannot try to alleviate suffering via pain killers
short of taking a life.  But our lives belong to God, and we must trust
in Him and His promises...

   No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;
   but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond
   what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the
   way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
                                                        - 1Co 10:13

   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father
   of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our
   tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
   trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by
   God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our
   consolation also abounds through Christ.
                                                         - 2Co 1:3-5


Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Afterlife and the Quran by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=1375

Afterlife and the Quran

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The Quran’s portrayal of afterlife and the spirit realm is a confused hodge-podge of borrowed ideas from a variety of sources, as well as the author’s own misconceptions. While the Bible does not clarify every aspect of life beyond the grave, nor answer every question that one might have about that realm, it nevertheless affords a consistent, cohesive, definitive treatment of the subject that contrasts sharply with the Quran. Consider, for example, the Quran’s handling of the concepts of heaven and paradise [NOTE: Quranic references are taken from the Muslim translations by Pickthall (n.d.) and Ali (1934).]

SEVEN HEAVENS?

The Quran makes repeated reference to the existence of seven heavens. Consider the following allusions: “He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is Knower of all things” (Surah 2:29, emp. added); “Say: Who is Lord of the seven heavens, and Lord of the Tremendous Throne? They will say: Unto Allah (all that belongeth). Say: Will ye not then keep duty (unto Him)?” (Surah 23:86-87, emp. added); “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him” (Surah 17:44, emp. added). Speaking of the creation of the Universe, the Quran states: “Then He ordained them seven heavens in two Days and inspired in each heaven its mandate; and we decked the nether heaven with lamps, and rendered it inviolable” (Surah 41:12, emp. added). Noah’s admonitions to his contemporaries included reminders of Allah’s creative activities: “See ye not how Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony, and hath made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a lamp? (Surah 71:15-16, emp. added; see also 23:17; 65:12; 67:3; 78:12).
In sharp contrast to the Quran’s “seven” heavens, the Bible speaks of only three. The “first heaven” is the Earth’s atmosphere—the “sky”—where the birds fly (Genesis 1:20; 8:2; Isaiah 55:10; Luke 13:19). The “second heaven” is “outer space”—where the Sun, Moon, and stars are situated (Genesis 15:5; 22:17; Deuteronomy 4:19; Nahum 3:16). These two heavens together are referred to in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural—DM) and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emp. added). The “third heaven” in biblical thought is the spirit realm beyond the physical realm where God and other celestial beings reside (Deuteronomy 10:14; 26:15; 1 Kings 8:27,30). It often is referred to as the “heaven of heavens”—a Semitism wherein the genitive is used for the superlative degree—meaning the highest or ultimate heaven (cf. “Song of songs,” “King of kings,” “Lord of lords”). While the Bible uses the number seven frequently, it never mentions anything about any so-called “seven heavens”—even in the apocalyptic book of Revelation where the number seven is used figuratively and prominently (54 times). The Quran’s allusions cannot be rationalized as poetic or figurative, since none of the Quranic citations gives any indication of a figurative use.
Where did the Quran get its notion of seven heavens? Uninspired sources clarify the circumstance. Jewish rabbis frequently spoke of seven heavens (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:9; 1910, 2:260,313; 1911, 3:96; 1925, 5:9-11,23,30). They also spoke of seven gates to hell (Ginzberg, 5:19,267; 1928, 6:438), another feature copied into the Quran that is in conflict with the Bible: “And lo! for all such, hell will be the promised place. It hath seven gates, and each gate hath an appointed portion” (Surah 15:43-44). Additionally, the Quran’s use of the phrase “the seven paths” (Surah 23:17) is a Talmudic expression (Rodwell, 1950, p. 145).

PARADISE

The term “paradise” is of Persian derivation, and referred to “a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting-ground, park, shady and well-watered” (Thayer, 1901, p. 480). The Jews used the term as “a garden, pleasure-ground, grove, park,” and came to apply it to that portion of hades that was thought “to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection” (p. 480). With this linguistic background, the word is used in three different senses in the Bible: (1) it is used in the Septuagint (Genesis 2:8,9,10,15,16; 3:2,3,4,9,11,24,25), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to refer to the literal Garden of Eden on Earth where Adam and Eve lived (Septuagint, 1970, pp. 3-5). It normally is translated “garden” in English versions; (2) it is used one time, in a highly figurative New Testament book, to refer to the final abode of the saved, i.e., heaven (Revelation 2:7); and (3) it is used in connection with the hadean realm. The Hebrew Old Testament term for this waiting place is sheol, and the New Testament term is hades. The Quran shows no awareness of these biblical distinctions. Instead, it advocates the existence of seven heavens (as noted), paradise (which apparently is among the seven heavens), and hell (an evident reflection of the uninspired influence of both Jewish and Persian sources of the sixth and seventh centuries).
According to the Bible, hades is a broad term that designates the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all humans who die await the Lord’s return (Luke 23:43; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Corinthians 12:4) prior to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:35-54), the Judgment, and the final disposition of all humans to one of two ultimate eternal realms, i.e., heaven or hell. This realm encompasses two “compartments”: one for the deceased righteous, and one for the deceased wicked. The area inhabited by the righteous is “paradise,” while the area for the wicked is “tartarus.” Very little information is actually given in the Bible in the way of description regarding hades. In fact, the onlydescriptive detail provided (Luke 16:19-31) indicates that within hades, (1) paradise is described as a place where one is “comforted” (vs. 25), and (2) it is separated from tartarus by “a great gulf ” (vs. 26). That’s it! Absolutely no additional elaboration is given regarding paradise—no couches, no maidens, no rivers of water, no gold goblets. Hades, within which are paradise and tartarus, is, in fact, atemporary realm that will be terminated at the Judgment (Revelation 20:13-14). From that point forward, only two eternal realms will exist: heaven and hell.
The only detailed description given of heaven in the Bible is in the book of Revelation—a self-declaredapocalypse (apocalupsis—“revelation”—1:1), i.e., a symbolic, figurative depiction that is not to be understood literally (see Swete, 1911, pp. xxii-xxxii; Gasque, 1975, 1:200-204; Thomson, 1939, 1:162-163). Hence, the “street of gold” (21:21), “pure river of water of life” (22:1), “tree of life” (22:2), and cube-shaped, walled city situated on twelve foundations of precious stones with pearl gates (21:19-21) are explicitly stated to be strictly figurative (“signified”—1:1). The Bible seems to go out of its way to avoid attempting to describe a nonphysical, spiritual, eternal realm to humans who live in a physical, finite realm. It says just enough to “whet the appetite” of an honest seeker of truth, without succumbing to the mistake of overwhelming the reader with a wholly carnal impression of heaven. The Quran commits precisely this blunder. Paradise is repeatedly represented in literal, materialistic terms:
Therefore Allah hath warded off from them the evil of that day, and hath made them find brightness and joy; And hath awarded them for all that they endured, a Garden and silk attire; Reclining therein upon couches, they will find there neither (heat of) a sun nor bitter cold. The shade thereof is close upon them and the clustered fruits thereof bow down.Goblets of silver are brought round for them, and beakers (as) of glass (bright as) glass but (made) of silver, which they (themselves) have measured to the measure (of their deeds). There are they watered with a cup whereof the mixture is of Zanjabil, the water of a spring therein, named Salsabil. There serve them youths of everlasting youth, whom, when thou seest, thou wouldst take for scattered pearls. When thou seest, thou wilt see there bliss and high estate. Their raiment will be fine green silk and gold embroideryBracelets of silver will they wear. Their Lord will slake their thirst with a pure drink. (And it will be said unto them): Lo! this is a reward for you. Your endeavour (upon earth) hath found acceptance (Surah 76:11-22, emp. added).
But for him who feareth the standing before his Lord there are two gardens. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Of spreading branches, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two fountains flowing. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is every kind of fruit in pairs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining upon couches lined with silk brocade, thefruit of both gardens near to hand. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Therein are those of modest gaze, whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? (In beauty) like the jacynth and the coral—stone. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord that ye deny? Is the reward of goodness aught save goodness? Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? And beside them are two other gardens, Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?Dark green with foliage. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein are two abundant springs. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein is fruit, the date—palm and pomegranate. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Wherein (are found) the good and beautiful—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny?—Fair ones, close—guarded in pavilions—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them—Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Reclining on green cushions and fair carpets. Which is it, of the favours of your Lord, that ye deny? Blessed be the name of thy Lord, Mighty and Glorious! (Surah 55:46-78, emp. added).
In addition to the multiple gardens or paradises (55:46,62; cf. 83:18-19; Lings, pp. 95,202) with couches, green cushions, carpets, silk attire, silver bracelets, goblets and beakers of silver, shade, branches and foliage, fountains and springs, dates and pomegranates, youthful servants of everlasting youth and fair virgins, paradise also will include golden trays or dishes (43:71), flowering meadows (42:22), a pure wine (non-intoxicating—56:19) sealed with musk and mixed with water from the heavenly spring of Tasnim (83:25-28), multiple storied halls or mansions (29:58; 34:37; 39:20), fowl flesh (56:21), thornless lote-trees (56:28), and clustered plantains (56:29). The references to paradise in such materialistic terms go on and on in the Quran (cf. 15:45-47; 18:32; 22:23; 35:33; 37:41-49; 38:51-53; 44:51-55; 47:15; 52:17-28; 88:8-16; et al.). The contexts in which they occur discount the standard Muslim explanation that they are “figurative.” In fact, one verse even equates the fruit on Earth with the fruit in paradise: “And give glad tidings (O Muhammad) unto those who believe and do good works; that theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow; as often as they are regaled with food of the fruit thereof, they say: This is what was given us aforetime; and it is given to them in resemblance” (Surah 2:25, emp. added).
One would think that Muslim women would feel short-changed in the afterlife. Paradise for men will include access to maidens: “pure companions” (2:25; 3:15; 4:57), “fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54; 52:20—or “beautiful, big and lustrous eyes”—Ali; cf. 55:72) like “hidden eggs (of the ostrich)” and “hidden pearls” (37:49; 56:23), “those of modest gaze” (37:48; 38:53—or “chaste women restraining their glances, [companions] of equal age”—Ali; cf. 55:56; 78:33), who are “good and beautiful” (55:70), “virgins” (56:36), “whom neither man nor jinni will have touched before them” (55:56,74). Such lascivious, lustful appeals to sensual and sexual passions are transparent—and typical of male authors unguided by a higher power.
Additionally, the Quran and the Bible conflict with one another on the matter of marriage in the afterlife. The Quran unquestionably indicates that marriage will persist in paradise (Surah 13:23; 36:55; 40:8; 43:70). In fact, God Himself will perform the ceremonies: “Lo! those who kept their duty will be in a place secure amid gardens and water-springs, attired in silk and silk embroidery, facing one another. Even so (it will be). And We shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes” (44:54, emp. added; cf. 52:20). But Jesus soundly refuted this notion in His interchange with the Sadducees: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
The emphasis on food, drink, and physical pleasures in the Quranic depictions of afterlife reflect a perspective that one would anticipate from a desert-bound Arab Bedouin. This preoccupation with carnal things and material comforts exposes the description as uninspired, and stands in stark contrast with the Bible’s handling of the subject. So also with the redundancy of repetitious phrases: “gardens underneath which rivers flow” (used 32 times in Pickthall—see Al-nasir). The Quran’s treatment of the afterlife verifies its human origin.

REFERENCES

Al-nasir, Jamal (2000-2003), Holy Quran Viewer (London: Divineislam.com), [On-line]: URL: http://www.divineislam.com.
Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Gasque, W.W. (1975), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Ginzberg, Louis (1909-1939), The Legends of the Jews, trans. Henrietta Szold (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America), [On-line], URL: http://answering-islam.org/Books/Legends/v1_3.htm.
Lings, Martin (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (1970 reprint), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Thomson, J.E.H. (1939), “Apocalyptic Literature,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).

“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True” by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=3518

“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True”

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

What did atheistic author Mike Davis allege was the “smoking gun” that proved to him once and for all that “Christianity could not possibly be true”? What “sealed the issue” and led him to believe “Jesus was wrong...and no more deserving of our belief than any other guy”? When did the case against the Bible and Christianity become “closed”? In chapter one of his book, The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity, Davis explained that Matthew 24:34 was the deciding factor.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus stated: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” According to Davis, since “Jesus tells his listeners that the judgment day will come before the generation he’s speaking to passes away,” and since that generation passed away 1,900 years ago, Jesus “could not have been divine” and the Bible is “untrustworthy” (2008, pp. 1-2). In actuality, what Davis confesses ultimately “proved” to him that the Bible and Jesus are unreliable is nothing more than a misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus was not mistaken in His comments in Matthew 24:34—Jesus’ generation did not pass away prior to witnessing the things Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:4-34. But, Jesus did not foretell in those verses what Davis assumes He foretold. Davis and many others believe that, prior to verse 34, Jesus was describing events that would take place shortly before Judgment Day at the end of time. The fact of the matter is, however, Jesus was prophesying about the coming destruction upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not the final Judgment.
When the disciples went to show Jesus the temple buildings (Matthew 24:1), Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Him three questions, beginning with “when will these things be?” (24:3). In verses 4-34, Jesus revealed several signs that would indicate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem, including the temple, was near. [NOTE: “The fall of the Hebrew system is set forth in the sort of apocalyptic nomenclature that is characteristic of Old Testament literature, e.g., when the prophets pictorially portray the overthrow of Jehovah’s enemies (cf. Isaiah 13:10-11; 34:2ff; Ezekiel 32:7-8)” (Jackson, n.d.); cf. Matthew 24:29-31; see Miller, 2003.] In verses 35-51 (and all of chapter 25), Jesus answered the disciples’ last two questions: “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). To summarize, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while in 24:35-25:46 He commented on His future return and final Judgment of the world.
How sad it is that so many atheists and skeptics believe they have disproven the Bible and Christianity, when, in reality, they have simply twisted the biblical text to mean something God never intended (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The fact that Mike Davis highlights Matthew 24:34 as the verse that once and for all proved to him the Bible is unreliable should tell us something about the extreme weakness of the skeptic’s case against Christianity.

REFERENCES

Davis, Mike (2008), The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament (Outskirts Press: Denver, CO).
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of Matthew 24,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/19-a-study-of-matthew-24.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1838.

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



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1396

The Omnipotence of God

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

God is the only being Who possesses omnipotence. In the Oxford English Dictionary, “omnipotence” is defined as “all-powerfulness,” or “almightiness.” In other words, when God wants something to be done, it is done. God has all power in heaven and on Earth (Matthew 28:18), so unlike the limited power of humans, which is constrained by time, space, and force, God’s capabilities are limited only by His own character (see Miller, 2003). Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence in the sense that He is “above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:6). God is preeminent for many reasons, not the least of which is His great power.
God has complete power over the Earth. The very first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1) is full of references to God’s power. The words of His mouth brought the Universe into existence; He spoke the Cosmos into existence with only a word (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). In order to create the Universe, God needed no pre-existing matter with which to work; rather, He Himself spoke the very first matter into existence (see Thompson, et al., 2003a2003b). After He created “the heavens and the Earth,” He spoke “light” into existence on Earth (Genesis 1:3). After creating light, He created the firmament, and much more, all by the power of His word.
God has complete power over the spiritual realm. Just as the first chapter in the Bible reveals that God created light on Earth, the last chapter in the Bible reminds us that God’s power will be responsible for the eternal light in heaven (Revelation 22:5). Christ repeatedly cast out devils during His earthly ministry (Matthew 8:16; 9:32-33; 12:22), and James revealed that the demons believe in the one God of the Bible, and that because they are aware of God’s omnipotence, they tremble (Luke 8:31; James 2:19). God now limits Satan himself, keeping him from directly inhabiting people or causing people physical pain (Zechariah 13:1-2).
Only God can perform “wonders,” and only God can furnish that capability to others (Job 5:9; Psalm 72:18; John 3:2). Christ again revealed His power over the spiritual realm when He brought Lazarus’ soul back from the realm of departed spirits, and returned it to Lazarus’ body (John 11:43). Similarly, God will resurrect all the dead one day, having already determined the fate of their souls (Mark 12:26-27; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:15,32; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
God has complete power over the affairs of men. John Waddey observed: “God was known to the patriarchs as El-Shaddai, God Almighty (Exodus 6:2-3). The term Shaddai, when connected with the Hebrew word El (God) means, ‘the mighty One to nourish, satisfy and supply.’ Thus we see His power to send forth blessings for He is the all-bountiful One” (1987, p. 1). It makes sense, then, that when Moses spoke to the entire assembly of the children of Israel the lyrics of a lengthy song, he included this line: “Nor is there any that can deliver out of My [God’s] hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Of course, just as God has the power to bless us and deliver the righteous from spiritual harm, He also has the uncontainable power to destroy the wicked, as can be seen in His utter destruction of the world through the global Flood of Noah’s time (except eight souls; see Thompson, 1999a).
The plural form of ElElohim, brings to light the fullness of God’s power, in that it highlights the Trinity (Psalm 38:75). Still another Old Testament expression used to denote omnipotence is Abhir, or “strong One” (Genesis 49:24; see Vos, 1994, 3:2188-2190). Jesus said that God is Spirit, emphasizing that God is not limited by impotence of flesh, as are humans (Isaiah 2:22; 31:3; John 4:24).
God’s power over the nations of the Earth is evident. Though God used the children of Israel as His means for bringing Christ to Earth, God’s power over large groups of people has never been limited to Israel. God has authority over all nations, and frequently has used them to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 10:5; Jeremiah 25:9; Amos 1). Job said: “He makes nations great and destroys them” (Job 12:23). Kings have their dominion only because God allows it (see Custance, 1977, p. 134). Vos observed: “The prophets ascribe to Jehovah not merely relatively greater power than to the gods of the nations, but His power extends into the sphere of the nations, and the heathen gods are ignored in the estimate put upon His might (Isaiah 31:3)” [1994, 3:2189]. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was warned:
This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men…. This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses (Daniel 4:17,24-25, emp. added).
God has complete power over the devil, whom He created (though the devil was not evil at the time of his creation; see Colley, 2004). While the devil has certain powers that humans do not possess (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 11-12), Satan is not omnipotent. During his temptation of Christ, Satan admitted that whatever power he possessed had been “delivered to him” (Luke 4:6). Satan had to ask for God’s permission to harm Job (Job 1:7-12). Jesus said that Satan had desired to sift Peter as wheat; that is, Satan sought the express permission of God. Without it, Satan would be powerless to tempt Peter. While God never had a beginning, Satan was created (Colossians 1:16). For this, and other reasons, Satan is not omnipotent, and his power is far less potent than the power of God. John wrote: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
If we were to try to imagine someone whose power approached God’s might, we might think of Satan. Yet, the Bible reveals that nothing is too hard for the Lord—even defeating Satan (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17). In fact, Christ already conquered the devil, and eventually will punish him everlastingly in hell (Matthew 25:41; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 12-13). Hebrews 2:14 reads: “He [Christ] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote of Satan: “Him the Almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky…Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms” (1.49).
God’s complete power is unending. Because God would not be God if He were not omnipotent, and because we know that God will never end, we can know that God’s power will never cease or diminish (see Colley, 2004). Furthermore, Isaiah plainly stated: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (40:28).

CONCLUSION

God’s omnipotence reassures us, because it is through the Divine power that His servants know that “nothing will be impossible” to those who faithfully serve Him (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:23; Philippians 4:13). Those who are not faithful to the Lord should be terror-stricken by God’s omnipotence, because, in the Day of Judgment, the very force that created the Universe will condemn them to an everlasting punishment. Vos commented that omnipotence
evokes a specific religious response. This is true, not only of the Old Testament, where the element of the fear of God stands comparatively in the foreground, but remains true also in the New Testament. Even in our Lord’s teaching the prominence given to the fatherhood and love of God does not preclude that the transcendent majesty of the Divine nature, including omnipotence, is kept in full view and made a potent factor in the cultivation of the religious mind (Matthew 6:9). The beauty of Jesus’ teaching on the nature of God consists in this, that He keeps the exaltation of God above every creature and His loving condescension toward the creature in perfect equilibrium and makes them mutually fructified by each other. Religion is more than the inclusion of God in the general altruistic movement of the human mind; it is a devotion at every point colored by the consciousness of that Divine uniqueness in which God’s omnipotence occupies a foremost place (1994, 3:2190).
Little wonder that the multitude of Revelation 19:6 cried: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” The fact that God so willingly uses His omnipotent capacity for the ultimate benefit of His servants should motivate everyone to obey the Gospel (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). We will not escape the vengeance of God if we neglect the great salvation offered us (Hebrews 2:3).

REFERENCES

Colley, Caleb (2004), “The Eternality of God,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2565.
Custance, Arthur C. (1977), Time and Eternity and Other Biblical Studies (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.
Lockyer, Herbert (1997), All the 3s of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Thompson, Bert (1999a), The Global Flood of Noah (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), second edition.
Thompson, Bert (1999b), Satan—His Origin and Mission (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2001 reprint).
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003a), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part I],” [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/22.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003b), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part II],” [On-line], URLhttp://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/26.
Vos, Geerhardus (1994), “Omnipotence,” The International Bible Encyclopaedia, ed. James Orr, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Waddey, John (1987), “The Omnipotence of God,” Firm Foundation, 104[18]:1,4, September 22.

"Not Under Bondage" by Dave Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1081

"Not Under Bondage"

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

“But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).
A current misconception with regard to divorce and remarriage is the notion that 1 Corinthians 7:15 is a “later revelation” that “modifies” or “clarifies” Matthew 19:9. It is argued that 1 Corinthians 7:15 permits the Christian, who is deserted by a non-Christian mate, to remarry on the sole ground of that desertion. On the other hand, it is suggested, Matthew 19:9 (which permits remarriage only on the ground of fornication) applies strictly to a Christian married to a Christian, and therefore is not to be considered applicable to the Christian who is married to a non-Christian. Several factors make this position untenable.
First, the context of Matthew 19 is divorce (Matthew 19:3), while the context of 1 Corinthians 7 is notdivorce but the propriety of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1ff.). Jesus applied God’s original marriage law (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6) to the question of divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9). But Paulapplied God’s marriage law to several different questions that related to celibacy and the legitimacy of marriage for widows/widowers, Christians/non-Christians, and singles.
Second, it is incorrect to hold that if 1 Corinthians 7:15 pertains to a Christian married to a non-Christian, then Matthew 19:9 must refer exclusively to a Christian married to a Christian. Matthew 19:9 was uttered in context to a group of Jews seeking an answer to their question concerning Jewish divorce (Matthew 19:3). Jesus gave them an answer that was intended for them, as well as for those who would live during the Christian age. He appealed to Genesis 2, which resides in a pre-Jewish context and clearly applies to all people—i.e., the totality of humanity. Genesis 2 is a human race context. It reveals God’s ideal will for human marriage for all of human history—pre-Mosaic, Mosaic, and Christian.
Though divorce and remarriage for reasons other than fornication was “permitted” (epetrepsen—Matthew 19:8, though not endorsed) during the Mosaic period, Jesus made clear that the Jews had strayed from the original ideal because of their hard hearts. He further emphasized (notice the use ofde—“but” in Matthew 19:9) that the original marriage law, which permitted divorce and remarriage for fornication alone, would be reinstated and would be applicable to all persons during the Christian age. Prior to the cross, ignorance may have been “unattended to” (huperidon—Acts 17:30), that is, God did not have a universal law, like the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16), but with the ratification of the New Testament, all men everywhere are responsible and liable for conforming themselves to God’s universal laws of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. God’s original marriage law was, and is, addressed to all people (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6). Christ’s application to the question of divorce was implied in the original law, and is addressed to all people (Matthew 19:9). Paul’s application to questions of sex, celibacy, and non-Christian mates is addressed to all people (1 Corinthians 7). Scripture harmonizes beautifully, and God treats all impartially. Thus the phrase “to the rest” (1 Corinthians 7:12) cannot be referring uniquely or solely to non-Christian marriage relationships, since Jesus already referred to all marriages (whether Jew or non-Jew, Christian or non-Christian).
Third, 1 Corinthians 7 does not address different “classes” of marriagesThe Corinthian letter was written in response to correspondence previously sent to Paul by the Corinthians (cf. 1:11; 5:1; 7:1; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1). Thus, 1 Corinthians amounts to a point-by-point response to matters previously raised by the Corinthians themselves. When Paul referred to the general question of sexual activity/celibacy (7:1), he was alluding to the method by which he organized his remarks in direct response to questions asked by the Corinthians. Thus, “to the rest” (7:12) refers to the rest of the matters or questions about which the Corinthians specifically inquired (and to which Jesus did not make specific application while on Earth). These matters (not marriages) are easily discernible from what follows. The “rest” of the questions would have included the following:
  • Should a Christian male who has a non-Christian wife sever the relationship (vs. 12)?
  • Should a Christian female who has a non-Christian husband sever the relationship (vs. 13)?
  • Are Christians somehow ceremonially defiled or rendered unclean by such relationships (vs. 14)?
  • Are children born to such relationships ceremonially unclean (vs. 14)?
  • Is a Christian guilty of sin if their non-Christian mate severs the relationship (vs. 15-16)?
  • Does becoming a Christian mean that one should dissolve all conditions and relationships that were entered into before becoming a Christian (vss. 17-24)?
  • What should be the sexual and/or marital status of virgins and widows in light of the current period of distress (vss. 25-40)?
All of these questions may be answered in light of, and in harmony with, Jesus’ own remarks in Matthew 19. Jesus did not specifically make application to these unique instances (vs. 12—“to the rest speak I, not the Lord”). He did not address Himself to the application of God’s general marriage law to every specific situation (specifically to the spiritual status of a Christian married to a non-Christian). Yet, His teaching applies to every case of marriage on the question of divorce.
Fourth, the specific context of 1 Corinthians 7:15 relates to the person who becomes a Christian, but whose mate does not. The unbeliever now finds himself married to a different person (in the sense that his mate underwent a total change and began to live a completely different lifestyle). The unbeliever demands that his mate make a choice: “either give up Christ or I’m leaving!” Yet to live in marriage with an unbeliever, who threatens departure if the believer does not capitulate to the unbeliever (i.e., compromise Christian responsibility or neglect divinely ordained duty), is to be involved in slavery (i.e., “bondage”). But neither at the time the marriage was contracted, nor at the present time (the force of the perfect indicative passive in Greek), has the Christian been under that kind of bondage. God never intended nor approved a view that regards marriage as slavery. Christians are slaves only to God—never to men or mates (Matthew 23:10; Romans 6:22; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:24; Philemon 16; 1 Corinthians 7:15). So Paul was saying that although a believer is married to an unbeliever (and continues to be so), the believer is not to compromise his or her discipleship. To do so, at the insistence of the unbelieving mate, would constitute slavery that was never God’s intention for marriage.
To suggest that dedoulotai (“bondage”) refers to the marriage bond is to maintain that in some sense (or in some cases) the marriage bond is to be viewed as a state of slaveryBut God does not want us to view our marital unions as slave relationships in which we are “under bondage.” We may be “bound” (1 Corinthians 7:27,39; Romans 7:2), but we are not “enslaved” (1 Corinthians 7:15). So Paul was not commenting on the status of a believer’s marital relationship (i.e., whether bound or loosed). Rather, he was commenting on the status of a believer’s spiritual relationship as a Christian in the context of marital discord that is initiated by the non-Christian mate. Paul was answering the question: “How does being married to a non-Christian affect my status as a Christian if he or she threatens to leave?” He was not answering the question: “How does being married to a non-Christian affect my status as a husband/wife (and the potential for remarriage) when the non-Christian departs?” Jesus already answered that question in Matthew 19:9—divorce and remarriage is permitted only upon the basis of sexual unfaithfulness. Paul, too, spoke more directly to this question earlier in the chapter when he ruled out remarriage: “Let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband” (vss. 10-11).
To summarize: although God’s marriage law is stringent (for everybody), and although God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), nevertheless, there are times when an unbelieving mate actually will force the believer to make a choice between Christ and the unbelieving mate. To choose the mate over Christ would be slavery (i.e., “bondage”). Yet, the believer is not now, and never has been, in such enslavement. Thus, the believer must let the unbeliever exit the relationship in peace. The believer must “let him depart”—in the sense that the believer must not seek to prevent his departure by compromising his loyalty to Christ. Of course, the Christian would continue to hold out hope that the marriage could be saved. If, however, the non-Christian forms a sexual union outside of marriage with another, the Christian is permitted the right to exercise the injunction of Matthew 19:9 by putting away the non-Christian on the sole grounds of fornication, and may then marry another eligible person.
One final factor needs to be addressed. Verses 17-24 cannot be requiring an individual to remain in whatever marital state that person is in at the time of conversion. Paul used the examples of slavery and circumcision to show that merely because a person becomes a Christian, he or she is not absolved of pre-Christian circumstances. If a person is a slave prior to baptism, that person will continue to be a slave after baptism, and should not think that becoming a Christian gives one the right to shirk legal status as a slave. This is why Paul instructed Onesimus to return to his position of servitude (Philemon 12). Thus Paul was encouraging the person who becomes a Christian, but whose mate does not become a Christian, to remain in that marriage rather than think that becoming a Christian somehow gives him or her the right to sever the relationship with the non-Christian mate. Being married to a non-Christian mate is not sinful in and of itself (see Miller, 2002).
Paul was not placing his stamp of approval upon relationships, practices, and conditions that weresinful prior to baptism; nor was he encouraging Christians to remain in those relationships. Such would contradict what he later told the Corinthians concerning unequal yokes (2 Corinthians 6:17) and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Rather, he was referring to relationships and conditions that werenot sinful prior to baptism, and was telling Christians that they still had the same obligation to conduct themselves appropriately (i.e., according to God’s laws) within those situations, now that they were Christians. Such instructions apply to any relationship, practice, or condition that was not sinful (i.e., in violation of Christ’s laws) prior to baptism. But it does not apply to any practice or relationship that was sinful prior to baptism (i.e., adultery, homosexuality, evil business practices, etc.; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
May God grant us the humility and determination to conform our lives to His will concerning marriage—no matter how narrow it may seem (Matthew 7:14). May the church of our day be spared any further harm that comes from the promotion of false theories and doctrines that are calculated to re-define God’s will as “wide” and “broad” (Matthew 7:13). May we truly seek to please, not men, but God (Galatians 1:10).
REFERENCES
Miller, Dave (2002), “Be Not Unequally Yoked,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1802.

“The Church of God” and the Deity of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=2034

“The Church of God” and the Deity of Christ

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

The church of which all Christians are to be a part is God’s church. Although many so-called Christians claim to be members of the church that God established nearly 2,000 years ago, they often wear names that indicate ownership by, or allegiance to, men (or offices of men). Some call themselves the “Lutheran Church” (after Martin Luther). Others call themselves after the designated local leaders of the church, e.g., Episcopalians (from the Greek word for bishop) and Presbyterians (from the Greek word for elder). The Scriptures, however, make clear that the church to which all of God’s children are to belong is not a church begun by man, owned by man, or called after man (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Christians must accept the fact that the church of the New Testament is God’s church, not man’s.
Several times in the New Testament, the term “church” (Greek ekklesia) is linked together with the Greek term theos (God), and thus one easily can ascertain the fact that the church to which obedient believers belong is the church begun and owned by God. Paul wrote “to the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1, emp. added), and later commanded the Corinthians to “[g]ive no offense...to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, emp. added). He confessed to the churches of Galatia that he had “persecuted the church of God” before becoming a Christian (Galatians 1:13, emp. added). Paul also wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, reminding them how they “became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea” (1 Thessalonians 2:14, emp. added), and even boasted of them “among the churches of God” for their endurance through persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, emp. added). One must not miss the point that the church of the New Testament is God’s church. It is of divine origin and established according to Deity’s “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11).
Interestingly, Bible writers often refer to the “church of God” as the body or church of Christ. Near the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul wrote: “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16, NASB, emp. added). He taught the Corinthian Christians how they were “members individually” of “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27, emp. added). Since Paul informed the churches at Ephesus and Colosse that “the church” is Christ’s “body” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24), the body of Christ is equivalent to the church of Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). Simply put, it is Jesus’ church. He promised to build it (saying, “I will build My church”—Matthew 16:18, emp. added), and later purchased it “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; cf. Ephesians 1:7,14; Hebrews 9:14).
These verses not only inform Christians of the names by which they should identify themselves, they also indicate something significant about the nature of Christ. Although some alleged Bible believers (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that Jesus is not divine, the very fact that Bible writers equated “the church of God” with “the body/church of Christ” is one of the many proofs that Jesus is Divine. Paul consistently used these phrases interchangeably throughout his epistles. Thus, to say the church is Christ’s is to say the church is God’s, because Christ is God (John 1:1-3; 20:28). He is the head, Savior, redeemer, and owner of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). May we thus put ourselves under the subjection of Christ as God (Ephesians 5:24), and wear only scriptural names such as “church of God” or “church of Christ.” In the words of the apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, emp. added).

God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.



http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2106

God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by A.P.’s staff scientist. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and Auburn University, respectively, with emphases in Thermal Science and Navigation and Control of Biological Systems.]
“[T]he principles of thermodynamics have been in existence since the creation of the universe” (Cengel and Boles, 2002, p. 2, emp. added). So states a prominent textbook used in schools of engineering across America. Indeed, these principles prove themselves to be absolutely critical in today’s engineering applications. Much of the engineering technology available today is based on the foundational truths embodied in the Laws of Thermodynamics. As the writers of one engineering thermodynamics textbook stated: “Energy is a fundamental concept of thermodynamics and one of the most significant aspects of engineering analysis” (Moran and Shapiro, 2000, p. 35). Do these laws have application to the creation/evolution debate as creationists suggest? What do they actually say and mean? How are they applied today in the scientific world? Let us explore these questions.
The word “thermodynamics” originally was used in a publication by Lord Kelvin (formerly William Thomson), the man often called the Father of Thermodynamics because of his articulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in 1849 (Cengel and Boles, p. 2). The term comes from two Greek words: therme, meaning “heat,” and dunamis, meaning “force” or “power” (American Heritage..., 2000, pp. 558,1795). Thermodynamics can be summarized essentially as the science of energy, including heat, work (defined as the energy required to move a force a certain distance), potential energy, internal energy, and kinetic energy. The basic principles and laws of thermodynamics are understood thoroughly today by the scientific community. Thus, the majority of the work with the principles of thermodynamics is done by engineers who simply utilize the already understood principles in their designs. A thorough understanding of the principles of thermodynamics which govern our Universe can help an engineer to learn effectively to control the impact of heat in his/her designs.

THE FIRST AND SECOND LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS

Though there are many important thermodynamic principles that govern the behavior of energy, perhaps the most critical principles of significance in the creation/evolution controversy are the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. What are these laws that not only are vital to the work of an engineer, but central to this debate?

The First Law

The First Law of Thermodynamics was formulated originally by Robert Mayer (1814-1878). He stated: “I therefore hope that I may reckon on the reader’s assent when I lay down as an axiomatic truth that, just as in the case of matter, so also in the case of force [the term used at that time for energy—JM], only a transformation but never a creation takes place” (as quoted in King, 1962, p. 5). That is, given a certain amount of energy in a closed system, that energy will remain constant, though it will change form (see Figure 1). As evolutionist Willard Young says in defining the First Law, “Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can only be converted from one form to another” (1985, p. 8).
figurea
Figure 1
This principle, also known as the “conservation of energy principle” (Cengel and Boles, p. 2), can be demonstrated by the burning of a piece of wood. When the wood is burned, it is transformed into a different state. The original amount of energy present before the burning is still present. However, much of that energy was transformed into a different state, namely, heat. No energy disappeared from the Universe, and no energy was brought into the Universe through burning the wood. Concerning the First Law, Young further explains that
the principle of the conservation of energy is considered to be the single most important and fundamental ‘law of nature’ presently known to science, and is one of the most firmly established. Endless studies and experiments have confirmed its validity over and over again under a multitude of different conditions (p. 165, emp. added).
This principle is known to be a fact about nature—without exception.

The Second Law

In the nineteenth century, Lord Kelvin and Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888) separately made findings that became known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Suplee, 2000, p. 156). The Second Law builds on the first, stating that though there is a constant amount of energy in a given system that is merely transforming into different states, that energy is becoming less usable. Extending our wood burning illustration above, after the wood is burned, the total amount of energy is still the same, but transformed into other energy states. Those energy states (e.g., ash and dissipated heat to the environment) are less retrievable and less accessible (see Figure 2).
figure2
Figure 2
This process is irreversible. The implication, to be discussed below, is that the Universe is running out of usable energy. Lord Kelvin stated that energy is “irrevocably lost to man and therefore ‘wasted,’ though not annihilated” (as quoted in Thompson, 1910, p. 288). This principle is known as entropy. Simply put, entropy states that nature is tending towards disorder and chaos. Will the paint job on your house maintain its fresh appearance over time? Will your son’s room actually become cleaner on its own, or will it tend toward disorder? Even without your son’s assistance, dust and decay take their toll. Although work can slow the entropy, it cannot stop it. Renowned evolutionary science writer Isaac Asimov explained:
Another way of stating the Second Law then is “The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!” Viewed that way we can see the Second Law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our own bodies in perfect working order: how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself—and that is what the Second Law is all about (1970, p. 6).
Entropy is simply a fact of nature. Entropy can be minimized in this Universe, but it cannot be eradicated. That is where engineers come in. We must figure out ways of minimizing energy loss and maximizing useful energy before it is forever lost. Thousands of engineering jobs are dedicated to addressing this fundamental fact of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Your energy bill is affected directly by it. If the Second Law was not fixed, engineers could not develop the technology necessary to maximize usable energy, thereby lowering your energy costs.
This concept is analyzed and quantified by engineers using what thermodynamics textbooks call “efficiencies.” Efficiencies reduce to “energy out” (desired output) divided by “energy in” (required input) (Cengel and Boles, 2002, p. 249). For instance, a turbine is the “device that drives an electric generator” in steam, gas, or hydroelectric power plants (p. 188). By taking the actual work done by the turbine and dividing it by the work required to operate the turbine, an engineer can calculate the turbine’s efficiency. Discovering or designing ways to maximize that ratio can be lucrative business for an engineer.
Another type of efficiency is called “isentropic efficiency.” For a turbine, isentropic efficiency is essentially the ratio of the amount of work that is done by the turbine to the amount of work that could be done by the turbine if it were “isentropic,” or without entropy. Again, the closer an engineer can approach 100% efficiency, the better. However, engineers know they cannot reach 100% efficiency because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Energy loss is inevitable. As the engineering textbook Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach states: “Well-designed, large turbines have isentropic efficiencies above 90 percent. For small turbines, however, it may drop even below 70%” (Cengel and Boles, p. 341).
Some engineers devote their entire careers to minimizing entropy in the generation of power from energy. All this effort is based on the principles established by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. These principles are established as fact in the scientific community. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “law” as “a statement describing a relationship observed to beinvariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met” (2000, p. 993, emp. added). Since laws are invariable, i.e., unchanging and constant, they have no exceptions. Otherwise, they would not be classified as laws. Tracy Walters, a mechanical engineer working in thermal engineering, observed:
It has been my experience that many people do not appreciate how uncompromising the Laws of Thermodynamics actually are. It is felt, perhaps, that the Laws are merely general tendencies or possibly only theoretical considerations. In reality, though, the Laws of Thermodynamics are hard as nails, and...the more one works with these Laws, the deeper respect one gains for them (1986, 9[2]:8, emp. added).
Evolutionist Jeremy Rifkin stated that “the Entropy Law will preside as the ruling paradigm over the next period of history. Albert Einstein said that it is the premier law of all science; Sir Arthur Eddington referred to it as the ‘supreme metaphysical law of the entire universe’” (1980, p. 6). God designed it. Creationists believe it. Engineers use it. Evolutionists, as will be shown, cannot harmonize it with their theory.

ENGINEERING EXAMPLES EXHIBITING THERMODYNAMIC PRINCIPLES

Some evolutionists argue that creationists take the Laws out of context when applying them to the creation/evolution debate. Mark Isaak, the editor of the Index to Creationist Claims, for instance, alleges that creationists “misinterpret” the Second Law of Thermodynamics in their application of the law to the creation/evolution controversy (Isaak, 2003). So what is the proper context for the Laws of Thermodynamics? Do these principles apply to the debate or not? Are creationists “misinterpreting” the laws?
A host of examples could, of course, demonstrate how mechanical engineers use the Laws of Thermodynamics in design today. Without these laws being fixed and well-understood by the scientific community, such designs would be impossible. As explained earlier, the vast majority of the work engineers do with the laws today is in their application to nature, rather than the study of the laws themselves. The laws already are thoroughly understood. To determine if creationists are “misinterpreting” the Laws of Thermodynamics or inaccurately applying them to the creation/evolution debate, consider three engineering examples that demonstrate the Laws in action.
Example #1. Perhaps one of the most celebrated—and appreciated—engineering designs of the 20th century pertaining to thermodynamics is the air-conditioning system. Briefly explained, an air-conditioning unit is a machine that was designed to acquire a large quantity of air from a system (e.g., a home or the interior of a car), remove heat from that air, and then release the cooled air back into the system, while disposing of the heat into a “heat sink” (e.g., the outdoors). Simply stated, this process occurs through what many engineers call a vapor-compression refrigeration cycle (Moran and Shapiro, 2000, p. 517)—a cycle heavily rooted in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In this cycle, a fluid (called a “refrigerant”) in “super-heated” vapor form flows through a pipe and into a compressor where it is compressed into a hotter gas with a higher pressure. From the compressor, the gas moves into the next phase of the cycle, composed of a set of coils (a condenser). As the refrigerant flows through the condenser, some of the heat is removed, and the refrigerant condenses into a liquid. Moving through an expansion valve, the refrigerant is “throttled” into a colder, lower-pressure mixture of liquid and vapor.
One principle of thermodynamics, as noted originally in 1824 by the French physicist Sadi Carnot (Suplee, 2000, p. 156), indicates that in a system, heat will move from higher temperature sources to lower temperature sources until an equilibrium temperature is reached (Incropera and DeWitt, 2002, p. 2). This principle is directly utilized in the final step of the cycle. In this step, the low temperature refrigerant exiting the expansion valve moves through a set of coils called the evaporator that absorbs heat from the refrigerated area. At this point, the refrigerant has absorbed enough heat to return to its initial vapor state, and is ready to repeat the cycle.
In what way did the thermodynamic laws come into play in this process? One of the major responsibilities of the engineer is to take the principles stated by the laws of science and understand them enough to be able to apply them in new designs. In order to apply scientific laws, engineers must formulate ways to quantify the concepts articulated by those laws. In the case of the above example, engineers must take the principles stated in the Laws of Thermodynamics in particular and quantify them. To apply the First Law of Thermodynamics to design, engineers must first quantify the energy that is or will be present in a system (work, potential energy, kinetic energy, heat, internal energy, etc.). As the First Law states, the amount of energy present in the system remains constant during a closed system process—a system that “consists of a fixed amount of mass, and no mass can cross its boundary” (Cengel and Boles, 2002, p. 9). The engineer must calculate the amount of energy utilized within a system before a process and set it equal to the amount of energy present in the system after the process. The energy may change forms (i.e., work is partially transformed into heat), but the total amount of energy in the system remains constant.
Considering the above example again, engineers would quantify the energy that is being inserted into the system (such as the electrical energy required to run the compressor) and the energy that results from the processes in the system (such as the heat released into the “heat sink”). The energy would then be equalized, with a primary concern being to achieve the optimum usable energy as an output, understanding that there will be a certain amount of wasted energy due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics (see Figure 3). The more usable energy achieved in the system processes, the more financially desirable the process, and the less energy wasted.
figure6
Figure 3
In order to facilitate this endeavor, a quantification of the principles inherent in the Second Law of Thermodynamics is essential. As noted earlier, efficiencies are essentially a measure of the usable energy achieved during a process. Achieving optimum energy efficiencies in the design of different machines helps to reduce the inevitable entropy implied by the Second Law.
Again, in the above example, in order to accomplish the refrigeration cycle, a compressor is used. To run the compressor, work (energy) must be used to compress the refrigerant to the right pressure to go through the condenser. Engineers must design these compressors to yield optimum efficiency, taking the Second Law into account, since the refrigeration/air conditioning process is not an isentropic one (i.e., a process with no entropy). The amount of energy required to operate the compressor to pressurize the refrigerant is more than the heat transfer that will occur from the hot room to the hotter outdoors due to the presence of the Second Law. In other words, usable energy is lost along the way (see Figure 4). This unalterable principle, which governs and permeates all of nature, will be shown to contradict the theory of evolution. Available energy is gradually being consumed. Engineers can slow the process, making the loss as efficient as possible, and maximizing energy usage. However, energy loss cannot be stopped due to the existence of the exceptionless Second Law of Thermodynamics.
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Figure 4
Example #2. A second thermodynamic engineering example is seen in much of today’s electronic equipment. For example, a computer has many microchips (see Figure 5). Due to an understanding of the First Law of Thermodynamics, when work is done within a computer by a microchip, an extremely high amount of heat is released to its surroundings. As noted earlier, the Laws stipulate that the amount of energy that goes into a process must equal the amount of energy that results after the process. As computers get more powerful, the heat energy output becomes a more serious problem, especially considering that the computer components are moving closer to each other as computers become more compact. The intense heat that radiates from chips must be transferred away from the computer, or melting will occur among the system components. Faced with this significant problem, engineers are called upon for solutions. How can we continue to decrease the size of computers, increase their power, and still have the ability to transfer enough heat out of them to preserve their components? By adjusting the amount of power input and the rate at which heat is released in the First Law equation, engineers can ensure that the system will not be overloaded with heat.
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Figure 5
Example #3. A third example of how engineers use thermodynamic principles in design is demonstrated by the examination of a vapor power plant that produces electrical power (see Figure 6). Similar to the air conditioning system, the vapor power plant cycle also often is composed of four components. According to Moran and Shapiro, in this cycle liquid water is passed through a boiler which has a heat input. The water then changes phase to a vapor and enters a turbine, where it expands and develops a work output from the turbine (electrical power). The temperature of the vapor drops in the turbine and then goes through a condenser where heat is passed from the vapor into a “cold reservoir.” Some of the vapor condenses to a liquid phase. The water then passes into a pump (compressor) where the water is returned to its initial state before repeating the cycle (2000, p. 229). Again, engineers recognize the limitations imposed by the Second Law, and must minimize entropy as much as possible when designing the turbine and pump (recognizing entropy cannot be eliminated). The more efficient the cycle components are designed, the more power the world gets and the less wasted energy there will be.
figure6
Figure 6
To recap, the engineering community utilizes the simple concepts inherent in the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics—laws which govern nature in a very straightforward manner. The First Law: Energy in any closed system is constant. The amount of energy in a system before a process must equal the amount of energy that is in the system after the process (though it will change form). The Second Law: The energy in a given system is becoming less usable. Some of the usable energy inevitably will be lost, no matter what measures are taken. It would be beneficial if entropy were zero for an automobile’s fuel system. We could buy one tank of gas and simply reuse all of its energy indefinitely! The fuel would not transform into wasted, less usable forms (heat, exhaust, etc.).

IMPLICATIONS OF THE LAWS

When understood properly, the Laws of Thermodynamics apply directly to the creation/evolution controversy in precisely the same way they apply in the above examples to the work of engineers. In fact, these foundational truths utilized daily by the engineering world, have eternally significant, spiritual implications in that they prove that God exists. How so?
If there is no God, the existence of the Universe must be explained without Him. The Big Bang theory claims that all matter in the Universe initially was condensed in a sphere the size of a period at the end of this sentence (see Thompson, et al., 2003, 23[5]:32-34,36-47). However, this theory offers no explanation for the origin of that sphere. The only logical possibilities for its existence are that it popped into existence out of nothing (spontaneous generation), it always existed, or it was created (see Figure 7).
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Figure 7

Possibility 1: Spontaneous Generation of the Universe

Consider the entire physical Universe as a system consisting of all mass/matter/energy that exists in the Universe. Without a God, this Universe would have to be a closed system. Since our system encompasses the entire Universe, there is no more mass that can cross the system’s boundary, which necessitates our system being closed—without the existence of God. If mass, matter, and energy could enter and/or exit the system, the system would be an open system—which is the contention of a creationist. However, without a God, the entire physical Universe as a system logically would haveto be a closed system. Atheists must so believe in order to explain the Universe without God.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed system, the amount of energy present in that system is constant, though it transforms into other forms of energy, as in the case of the above compressor. So, if the Universe as a whole initially contained no mass/matter/energy (energy input is equal to zero), and then it spontaneously generated all of the mass/matter/energy in the Universe (energy output is unequal to zero), the First Law would be violated. Applying the earlier example of the compressor, this circumstance would be equivalent to saying that the sum total heat loss and compressor work is greater than the electrical input—which is impossible. Without intervention from an outside force, the amount of mass/matter/energy in the Universe would have remained constant (unchanged) at zero. As was mentioned earlier, there are no exceptions to laws, or else they would not be laws. The First Law of Thermodynamics has no known exceptions. As previously explained, the Law is accepted as fact by all scientists in general and utilized by engineers in particular. Therefore, the Universe, composed of all mass/matter/energy, could not have spontaneously generated (popped into existence on its own) without violating the exceptionless and highly respected First Law of Thermodynamics. The energy level of the Universe would not have been constant. Spontaneous generation would be the equivalent of a zero energy input to a system and a non-zero output (see Figure 8). The Universe could not have come into existence without the presence and intervention of a Force outside of the closed system of the entire physical Universe. The Universe therefore must be an open system that was created by a non-physical force (not composed of mass/matter/energy) outside of the physical boundary of this Universe (above nature, or supernatural) with the capability of bringing it into existence out of nothing. That Force can be none other than the supernatural God of the Bible. Scientifically speaking, the Universe could not and did not spontaneously generate.
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Figure 8
Unfortunately, though this truth is so glaringly obvious, there has been a recent surge of sentiment in the impossible notion that this Universe could have created itself—that something could come from nothing. British evolutionist Anthony Kenny (1980), physics professor from City University in New York, Edward Tryon (1984), and physicists Alan Guth from MIT and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton (1984) are just a few who are open proponents of this notion. However, the truth still stands. Until the First Law of Thermodynamics ceases to be a fundamental law explaining this Universe, the spontaneous generation of this Universe from nothing is impossible.

Possibility 2: Eternal Existence of the Universe

Again, considering the entire Universe as a system necessitates that it be a closed system. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that though energy in a closed system is constant (First Law of Thermodynamics), that energy is transforming into less usable forms of energy (i.e., the Universe is “running down”). This process is irreversible. There is a finite amount of usable energy in the Universe (which explains the widespread interest in conserving energy). That usable energy is depleting according to the Second Law, as illustrated by the less usable heat output in the examples cited earlier. Engineers strive to slow this inevitable depletion of energy, but it cannot be stopped. If the Universe has always existed (i.e., it is eternal), but there is a finite amount of usable energy, then all usable energy already should be expended (see Figure 9). Yet, usable energy still exists. So, the Universe cannot have existed forever. It had to have a beginning. The eternality of matter would be the equivalent of a system with an energy input and 100% usable energy output (see Figure 10).
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Figure 9
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Figure 10
No wonder the evolutionists, themselves, sometimes concede this truth. In his book, Until the Sun Dies, renowned evolutionary astronomer Robert Jastrow stated:
The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence of the Universe, either in the past or in the future (1977, p. 30, emp. added).
In his book, God and the Astronomers, Dr. Jastrow reiterated this truth: “Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (p. 111).

Possibility 3: The Inevitable Implication

To repeat, there are only three possible explanations for the existence of matter in the Universe. Either it spontaneously generated, it is eternal, or it was created. Atheists use the theory of evolution in an attempt to explain the existence and state of the Universe today. In order for the theory of evolution to be true, thereby accounting for the existence of mankind, either all of the mass/matter/energy of the Universe spontaneously generated (i.e., it popped into existence out of nothing), or it has always existed (i.e., it is eternal.). Without an outside force (a transcendent, omnipotent, eternal, superior Being), no other options for the existence of the Universe are available. However, as the Laws of Thermodynamics prove, the spontaneous generation and the eternality of matter are logically and scientifically impossible. One possible option remains: the Universe wascreated by the Creator.

CONCLUSION

Evolutionists claim that science and the idea of God are irreconcilable. “Only one of them can be the truth,” they say, “and you cannot prove there is a God.” However, the Laws of Thermodynamics, which science itself recognizes in its explanations of the phenomena in the Universe, were designed by the Chief Engineer. As expected, they prove to be in complete harmony with His existence, contrary to the claims of evolutionists. God, Himself, articulated these laws centuries ago. At the very beginning of the Bible, the First Law of Thermodynamics was expressed when Moses penned, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, Godended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:1-2, emp. added). After the six days of Creation, the mass/matter/energy creation process was terminated. As evolutionist Willard Young said regarding the First Law: “Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can only be converted from one form to another” (Young, 1985, p. 8). Through the hand of the Hebrews writer, God also articulated centuries ago what scientists call the Second Law of Thermodynamics: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment” (1:10-11, emp. added).
The inspired writer wrote in Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Paul declared in Acts 14:17, “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” The psalmist affirmed, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (19:1). Paul assured the Romans, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they arewithout excuse” (1:20, emp. added).
In closing, we return to Lord Kelvin, the Father of Thermodynamics, for fitting final thoughts.
I cannot admit that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. Science positively affirms Creative Power. It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being [Acts 17:28—JM], but in the creating and directing Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief.... There is nothing between absolute scientific belief in a Creative Power, and the acceptance of the theory of a fortuitous concourse of atoms.... Forty years ago I asked Liebig, walking somewhere in the country if he believed that the grass and flowers that we saw around us grew by mere chemical forces. He answered, “No, no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical forces”.... Do not be afraid of being free thinkers! If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to the belief in God, which is the foundation of all religion. You will find science not antagonistic but helpful to religion (as quoted in Smith, 1981, pp. 307-308, emp. added).
So, according to the Father of Thermodynamics, evolutionists are failing to “think strongly enough.” No wonder the psalmist asserted: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (14:1).

REFERENCES

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