"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Seven OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To be impressed with basic principles governing marriage and the single life 2) To see the importance of studying scripture in its proper context SUMMARY At this point in Paul's letter, he begins to address those things about which the Corinthians had written to him (7:1). In this chapter he discusses matters relating to marriage and the single life. The first half deals with issues involving those married (1-24), and the last half covers those who are single (25-40). It is important to notice that some of what Paul says is in light of the "present distress" being experienced by the Corinthians; also that much of what he says is clearly identified as his personal judgment, not necessarily the commandments of the Lord. In such cases, it is not a matter of right versus wrong, but good versus better. OUTLINE I. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THOSE MARRIED (1-24) A. IN GENERAL (1-9) 1. It is good to marry to avoid sexual immorality (1-2) 2. Proper attitudes to govern the marriage relationship (3-4) 3. Abstinence appropriate for short times devoted to fasting and prayer (5-6) 4. Living the single life with self-control a gift from God, so unmarried and widows should marry if they cannot exercise self-control (7-9) B. IN REGARDS TO DIVORCE (10-16) 1. As commanded by the Lord (10-11) a. A wife is not to depart from her husband; if she does, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled (10-11a) b. A husband is not to divorce his wife (11b) 2. As instructed by Paul (12-16) a. Christians are not to divorce their unbelieving spouses (12-13) b. Because of the "sanctifying influence" the believer can have on the family (14) c. If the unbeliever departs, the believer is not under bondage, let the unbeliever depart (15) d. These instructions given in view of the possibility of the believer being able to save the unbelieving spouse (16) C. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING PAUL'S INSTRUCTIONS (17-24) 1. As the Lord has called each one, so let him walk (17) 2. The example of circumcision versus uncircumcision, where keeping the commandments of God is what is important (18-20) 3. The example of being a slave versus being free, where one might improve their condition if it is possible and profitable (19-24) II. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THOSE SINGLE (25-40) A. FOR THOSE WHO ARE VIRGINS (25-38) 1. Paul gives his personal judgment in light of the "present distress": remain as you are (25-26) 2. Of course if you are married, remain so; but those who are single would be spared much trouble in the flesh in light of what is to come (27-31) 3. Remaining unmarried enables them to serve the Lord without distraction, and be totally devoted to Him (32-35) 4. If it is necessary, the single may marry (36) 5. The choice is not between good and bad, but between good and better (37-38) B. FOR THOSE WHO ARE WIDOWS (39-40) 1. They are free to marry, but only "in the Lord" (39) 2. Though Paul's personal judgment is that such a one will be happier to remain single, which is also the advice (though not demanded) of the Spirit of God (40) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - Instructions Concerning Those Married (1-24) - Instructions Concerning Those Single (25-40) 2) What are Paul's instructions to married Christians? (3-5,10-11) - Render affection that is due to one another - Do not deprive one another, except for short periods of fasting and prayer - Do not leave or divorce your spouse 3) What does he advise those who are unmarried and widows? (8-9,25-40) - It is better to remain as they are - But if they marry, that is alright 4) What does he tell Christians married to unbelievers? (12-16) - If the unbelievers are willing to live with them, do not divorce them - If the unbelievers depart, the Christians are not under bondage, let the unbelievers go 5) What underlying principle is governing Paul's instructions in this chapter? (17-24) - For people to remain in whatever position they find themselves when they are called by God - Though where change is possible and profitable, such is permitted 6) What advantage do the single have over the married? (32-35) - They are better able to serve the Lord without distraction 7) What restriction does Paul place on widows who desire to remarry? (39) - They are to marry "only in the Lord"
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Six OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To see how brethren in Christ should settle their differences 2) To be impressed with the power of the gospel to transform the lives of people 3) To appreciate the proper use of our bodies in service to God SUMMARY Having seen that the brethren at Corinth were often filled with strife, envy and divisions (3:3), and that Paul frequently describes them as being "puffed up" (4:6,18), it is not surprising that they were also guilty of the fault Paul deals with in this chapter: taking brethren to court before unbelievers. With an expression of shock and disbelief, he instructs them through a series of questions designed to help them see how absurd and wrong such a thing was (1-11). The latter half of the chapter deals with what must have been a major problem in a city like Corinth: immorality. What might have been acceptable behavior with their bodies prior to becoming Christians is no longer acceptable, for even their bodies belong to the Lord, whose Spirit indwells them, and who will one day raise them from the dead by His own power. Therefore they should glorify God with their bodies (12-20). OUTLINE I. TAKING BRETHREN TO COURT (1-11) A. PAUL'S REBUKE OF THIS PRACTICE (1-6) 1. Dare they take their personal problems to be decided upon by the unrighteous? (1) a. When the saints will one day judge the world? (2) b. When the saints will one day judge angels? (3a) c. How much more should they be able to judge matters of this life! (3b) 2. More rebuke in the form of questions (4-5) a. Do they seek the advice of those least esteemed by the church to judge? (4) b. Don't they have even one wise man among them who could serve as judge? (5) 3. The shame of it all: brethren suing each other before unbelievers! (6) B. FURTHER COMMENTS CONCERNING LAWSUITS BETWEEN BRETHREN (7-11) 1. It is bad enough that they had lawsuits to begin with! (7-8) a. It would be better to accept wrong and be defrauded (7) b. But no, they found themselves doing wrong and defrauding their own brethren! (8) 2. A warning and a reminder (9-11) a. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (9-10) b. They had been such, but had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God (11) II. GLORIFYING GOD WITH YOUR BODY (12-20) A. THE BODY IS FOR THE LORD (12-14) 1. What may be lawful may not be helpful, and should not overpower us (12) 2. The stomach may need food, but that need is only temporary (13a) 3. The body, which is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, will be raised up by the power of God (13b-14) B. OUR BODIES ARE TO BE MEMBERS OF CHRIST, NOT A HARLOT! (15-18) 1. Shall we take the members of Christ and make them one with a harlot? (15-16) 2. No, for we are to be one in spirit with the Lord (17) 3. Therefore flee immorality which is a sin against your own bodies (18) C. THE BODY IS THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (19-20) 1. The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is from God, and is in it (19a) 2. You are not your own, you were bought at a price (19b-20a) 3. Therefore glory God in your body (20b) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - Taking Brethren To Court (1-11) - Glorifying God With Your Body (12-20) 2) What was the nature of the problem being discussed in the first part of this chapter? (6) - Brethren taking each other to court, before unbelievers 3) What is Paul's solution to such a problem? (5) - Find a wise man among brethren to decide the issues 4) What would have been better than displaying their differences before the eyes of the world? (7) - For the one in the right to accept wrong, to be defrauded 5) What were some of the Corinthians before they became Christians? (9-11) - Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners 6) Though something may be lawful, what two other criteria does Paul mention which should govern our use of it? (12) - Is it helpful? - Does it overpower us? 7) To whom does our bodies belong? (15) - Christ 8) What is the body of one who is a Christian? (19) - A temple of the Holy Spirit who is in them 9) What then should we do with our bodies? Why? (20) - Glorify God - We were bought at a price
"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" Chapter Five OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To understand the need for proper church discipline 2) To understand the nature of church discipline SUMMARY Having dealt with the problem of division in the first four chapters, Paul now addresses the problem of immorality in the church at Corinth. He describes the particular case at hand, one which even pagan Gentiles would find shameful (1). Rebuking them for being "puffed up" instead of mourning (2), Paul then instructs them to "deliver such a one to Satan", giving them reasons why this action is necessary (3-8). Clarifying what may have been written in an unknown earlier epistle, Paul concludes by limiting towards whom such action is to be taken, and describing how it is to be carried out in practice (9-13). OUTLINE I. THE PROBLEM OF IMMORALITY IN THE CHURCH AT CORINTH (1-2) A. THE PARTICULAR CASE AT HAND (1) 1. Something not even the Gentiles would approve! (1a) 2. A man was living with his father's wife (1b) B. HOW THE CORINTHIANS WERE HANDLING IT (2) 1. They were "puffed up" (2a) 2. Rather than mourning that such conduct might result in the removal of the offender (2b) II. INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEALING WITH THIS PROBLEM (3-13) A. HOW TO ADMINISTER CHURCH DISCIPLINE (3-5a) 1. Must exercise judgment, as Paul though present has already done (3) 2. When assembled together in the name of Jesus, deliver such a one to Satan (4-5a) B. WHY CHURCH DISCIPLINE IS NEEDED (5b-8) 1. To save the sinner (5b) a. By destroying the flesh (its pride and works) b. That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord 2. To save the church (6-8) a. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (6) b. Christ, our "passover", should be kept with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (7-8) C. CLARIFICATIONS CONCERNING CHURCH DISCIPLINE (9-13) 1. Not to be exercised toward those who are of the world (9-10) 2. But towards brethren in Christ who remain in sin, with such don't even eat (11) 3. For God judges those outside the church, while we must judge those inside (12-13a) 4. The nature of church discipline: "put away from yourselves that wicked person" (13b) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THIS CHAPTER 1) List the main points of this chapter - The Problem Of Immorality In The Church At Corinth (1-2) - Instructions For Dealing With This Problem (3-13) 2) What was the nature of the immorality that existed in the church at Corinth? (1) - A man had his father's wife 3) What was the attitude of the church in this regard? (2) - They were "puffed up" 4) Why does a church "deliver such a one to Satan"? (5) - For the destruction of the flesh - That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord 5) Why should a church be diligent in exercising church discipline? (6) - A little leaven leavens a whole lump 6) Who is the "passover" for Christians? (7) - Christ 7) How should we observe our "passover"? (8) - With sincerity and truth 8) Towards whom is church discipline to be administered? (9-11) - Those in the church who do not repent; not those in the world 9) Who has the responsibility of judging whom? (12-13) - God judges those outside the church; the church is to judge its own 10) What expressions may help explain what it means to "deliver such a one to Satan"? (11,13) - "not to keep company" - "not even to each with such a person" - "put away from yourselves that wicked person"
The Quran and the Muslim Bomb Blast In Pakistan
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
At least 72 people were killed and hundreds more were injured when a Muslim suicide bomber detonated the explosives he was wearing in a park where Christians were celebrating Easter by picnicking in a park.1According to the spokesman representing the terrorist group that claimed responsibility, Ehsanullah Ehsan, “It was our people who attacked the Christians in Lahore, celebrating Easter. It’s our message to the government that we will carry out such attacks again until sharia is imposed in the country.”2
Perhaps at some point, the politically correct crowd reconsider their flawed notion that “Islam is a religion of peace, and such behavior does not represent true Islam.” This naïve, inaccurate depiction is inexcusable and unbelievably bizarre in view of the 1,400-year-long history of Islam throughout the world. It is fashionable to refer to the terrorists as “extremists” and “radicalized”—implying that they do not represent true Islam and the Quran. They are characterized as being guilty of embracing a “literalist” interpretation of the Quran. But this allegation fails to face the fact that the Quranic texts that advocate violence and killing to advance Islam are clearly literal and have been so taken by the vast majority of Islamic scholars for the last 1,400 years.3 Setting aside the Hadith which forthrightly promote violence, the Quran itself is riddled with admonitions for Muslims to commit precisely the violent actions and bloodshed being committed by the Islamic terrorists.
Read Surah 47:4 from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall:
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. Andthose who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain (Surah 47:4, emp. added).4
No one should be perplexed or surprised by the incessant practice of beheadings by ISIS and all terrorists, who are in a perpetual war with Christendom. The admonition to behead others comes straight from the Quran (cf. Surah 8:12). Abdullah Yusuf Ali makes the following comment on this passage in his widely reputable Muslim translation:
When once the fight (Jihad) is entered upon, carry it out with the utmost vigour, and strike home your blows at the most vital points (smite at their necks), both literally and figuratively. You cannot wage war with kid gloves (italics and parenthetical items in orig.).5
Many other verses in the Quran forthrightly endorse armed conflict and war to advance Islam (e.g., Surah 2:190ff.; 8:39ff.; 9:1-5,29; 22:39; 61:4; 4:101-104). Muslim historical sources themselves report the background details of those armed conflicts that have characterized Islam from its inception—including Muhammad’s own warring tendencies involving personal participation in and endorsement of military campaigns.6 Muslim scholar Pickthall’s own summary of Muhammad’s war record is an eye-opener: “The number of the campaigns which he led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting. The number of the expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight.”7
Islam stands in stark contrast to the religion of Jesus—Who never once took up the sword or encouraged anyone else to do so. The one time that one of His close followers took it upon himself to do so, the disciple was soundly reprimanded and ordered to put the sword away, with the added warning: “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Indeed, when Pilate quizzed Jesus regarding His intentions, He responded: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36)—the very opposite of Islamic teaching and practice. Whereas the Quran boldly declares, “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you” (Surah 2:194; cf. 22:60), Jesus counters, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:39,44). Indeed, New Testament Christianity enjoins love for enemies (Matthew 5:44-46; Luke 6:27-36), returning good for evil, and overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:14,17-21).
So why does the politically correct crowd seem intent on ignoring 1,400 years of historical reality and unmistakable declarations within the Quran itself? It would appear that such blatant disregard is rooted in a single reason: an irrational regard for pluralism and bitter disdain for Christianity’s moral principles.
1 Annie Gowen, Shaiq Hussain, and Erin Cunningham (2016), “Death Toll in Pakistan Bombing Climbs Past 70,” The Washington Post, March 28,https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/death-toll-in-pakistan-easter-suicide-attack-rises-to-72-authorities-vow-to-hunt-down-perpetrators/2016/03/28/037a2e18-f46a-11e5-958d-d038dac6e718_story.html.
3 Nabeel Qureshi (2016), “The Quran’s Deadly Role in Inspiring Belgian Slaughter: Column,” USA Today, March 22,http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/03/22/radicalization-isil-islam-sacred-texts-literal-interpretation-column/81808560/.
4 Mohammed Pickthall (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
5 Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1934), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications), 2002 reprint, p. 1315.
6 cf. Martin Lings (1983), Muhammad (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International), pp. 86,111.
7 p. xxvi.
Did Shakespeare Slip His Name in Psalm 46?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! William Shakespeare left his mark on the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. At least that is the rumor going around. According to a host of Websites and books, William Shakespeare was called upon to add his artistic touch to the English translation of the Bible done at the behest of King James, which was finished in 1611. As proof for this idea, proponents point to Psalm 46, and allege that Shakespeare slipped his name into the text. Here is how the story goes. Since Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, then he would have been 46 years old during 1610 when the finishing touches were being put on the KJV. In the King James Version, if you count down 46 words from the top (not counting the title) you read the word “shake,” then, if you omit the word “selah” and count 46 words from the bottom you find the word “spear.” Voilà! Shakespeare must have tinkered with the text and subtly added his signature. How else could one account for all of these 46s to work out so well? To top it all off, William Shakespeare is an anagram of “Here was I, like a psalm.”
First, it should be noted that, although Shakespeare did live at the same time the King James Version was being translated, there is no evidence that he had anything to do with the translation. The events and dates in the life of Shakespeare are fairly well known, and in all of the established facts about his life, not a single piece of paper or document puts him anywhere near the translation process of the King James Version.
Second, in order to get the “perfect” 46s out of Psalm 46, the word “selah” must be omitted from the text. Since the word “selah” seems to be used in many of the psalms as a type of musical punctuation, then the proponents of the Shakespeare rumor think that it would be acceptable not to count the word in order to obtain the desired result. However, the word is in the original text of the psalm. If Shakespeare were involved in translating Psalm 46, he mostly likely would have had the manuscripts before him that contained the word “selah,” since it is in the text. Why, then, would he have arbitrarily decided not to count the word? And, if the word “spear” had come one word later in the text, would the propagators of this rumor simply say that Shakespeare did count the word “selah.” Needless to say, you can make numbers do anything you want them to do if you conveniently omit anything that you do not want to count.
Third, Shakespeare could not have subjectively inserted the words into the text in order to get his name in, since the Hebrew words for “shake” and “spear” had been there for thousands of years prior to 1611. Also, the word “shake” is a commonly used word in theKJV (as is the word “spear”). Finding the two words together in one psalm is unremarkable.
Finally, numbers like these 46s, and coincidences of this kind, are a dime a dozen. A person can pull numerical shenanigans all day long. My wife’s name is Bethany, and at this writing, she is 26 years old. In the New King James Version in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew in verse 6, the name Bethany appears. It happens to be the sixth word from the beginning of the verse, which is the exact age my wife would have been for the majority of the year 1982, which was the year the New King James Version hit the market. That must mean that she helped translate that particular section of scripture. Or maybe it just means that numbers can be made to say just about anything.
Let’s stop trying to discover “secret” codes and names in the Bible, and let’s start reading it to see what God really is saying to us. When we do, we will not find secret codes and mysterious names, but instead, we will see God’s straightforward plan for righteous living.
[For additional reading on this topic, see:http://www.kjvonly.org/aisi/2002/aisi_5_2_02.htm]
Atheism’s Contradictory Supernatural “Natural” Explanations
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Atheism contends that a supernatural Creator does not exist. Allegedly, a supernatural Being is unnecessary in our material Universe. Everything can be explained purely naturally through a study of the natural world. In short, nature exists “naturally,” not supernaturally.
If such is the case, however, then how did nature get here to begin with? In nature, matter and energy do not appear from nothing (so says the First Law of Thermodynamics).1 In nature, nothing always comes from nothing and something always comes from something. So from whence came the first “something”? That is, where did nature itself come from? According to some of the world’s foremost atheistic evolutionists, something came from nothing. Atheistic cosmologist Stephen Hawking stated on national television in 2011, “Nothing caused the Big Bang.”2 In the book The Grand Design that Dr. Hawking co-authored, he and Leonard Mlodinow asserted: “Bodies such as stars and black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can.”3 So, although it is not natural for something to come from nothing, many atheists assume that it did “in the beginning.”
And what about the first life form? From whence did it arrive? According to atheistic evolution, life was not created supernaturally by a supernatural Creator, rather life came from non-life; it spontaneously generated “naturally.” But does life ever come from non-life naturally? Never. As evolutionist Martin Moe observed, “[A] century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life.”4 It would take a miracle for life to come from non-life, yet atheists contend that no God exists to work in such a supernatural manner. So how did the first life get here? Atheists (who have “refused to have God in their knowledge”—Romans 1:28, ASV), contend that it must have arisen naturally, yet it did so in a way that breaks the natural Law of Biogenesis.5
Atheism can continue to deny the existence of a supernatural Creator, but it does so in the only way possible—illogically and self-contradictorily. Rather than irrationally endowing nature with the ability to act supernaturally while alleging nothing supernatural exists, the reasonable person should conclude that what happenedsupernaturally must be the effect of a supernatural Being at work.
In truth, both Heaven and Earth reveal that “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Rather, the supernatural “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
1 See Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.
2 See “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7, emp. added.
3 2010, New York: Bantam Books, p. 180.
4 “Genes on Ice” (1981), Science Digest, 89:36, emp. added.
5 For more information on the Law of Biogenesis, see Jeff Miller (2013), “The Law of Biogenesis—Parts 1 & 2,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4165&topic=93.
Can the Book of Mormon Pass the Test?
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
Is the Book of Mormon from God? The four million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints (Mormons) claim that it is. They believe that Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844) was a prophet commissioned by God to translate the book from golden plates delivered to him by an angel. As such, the Book of Mormon is one of a relatively few number of books in the world that are considered Holy Scripture. The Bible teaches us to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Book of Mormon claims to be inspired; when tested on this claim, does it pass or fail?
Since God is by definition all-knowing and all-powerful, we would expect a book from Him to be free from mistakes. Humans often err; God does not. When tested on this point, the Book of Mormon faces serious difficulties. It contains numerous errors that may be discussed under two categories.
First, when it was issued from the press in 1830, the book was riddled with thousands of grammatical mistakes. An occasional error of this kind might be attributed to the typesetter, but the grammar problems of the first edition were systematic in nature, indicating that its author simply lacked education. Note these few examples:
“And he beheld that they did contain the five Books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, which was our first parents...” (p. 15).“And thus ended the record of Alma, which was wrote upon the plates of Nephi” (p. 347; see also pp. 49,66,195, et al.).“but behold, the Lamanites were exceeding fraid, insomuch that they would not hearken to the words of those dissenters” (p. 415; see also pp. 354,392).“yea, if my days could have been in them days...” (p. 427).“and behold, we have took of their wine, and brought with us” (p. 379).“And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people,waving the rent of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had wrote upon the rent, and crying with a loud voice...” (p. 351).
[NOTE: The above quotations from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon are from the 1958 reprint issued by Mormon historian Wilford C. Wood under the title Joseph Smith Begins his Work: Volume 1. All emphases added.]
This challenge to the Book of Mormon might be met with the response that it was God’s will to employ the vocabulary of Joseph Smith since his lack of education is proof that he could not have composed the book without divine guidance. This response is problematic, since Mormon writers like historian Brigham H. Roberts have argued that the “plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them is correct...” (1930, 1:54-55). Besides, the Mormon Church has carefully removed most of these imperfections in subsequent editions. If it was the will of God to employ Smith’s vocabulary in the original translation, by what authority was it changed? Did God make a mistake that men had to correct?
Second, the Book of Mormon contains many blunders of content. Some are merely oddities. For example, the Nephites are said to have used a compass about 550 B.C. (1 Nephi 18:12); but the instrument was not invented until ca. A.D. 1100. Another anomaly of this nature is the appearance of the French word adieu in Jacob 7:27. It strains credulity to believe that this is the correct English translation of a “reformed Egyptian” word written upon metal plates by a Hebrew living on American soil in 421 B.C. (which is the claim being made by Mormonism).
Other errors are more serious since they contradict the Bible. Notice these few examples:
Alma predicted in about 83 B.C. that Jesus would be born in Jerusalem (Alma 7:10). However, in keeping with Micah’s prophecy, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4).
Nephi called the Savior “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” almost 600 years before His birth (2 Nephi 25:19). This is curious since the angel told Mary: You “shall call his name Jesus” and he “shall be called the son of God” (Luke 1:31,35). Further, “Christ” is not a name; it is the Greek word that means “anointed”—corresponding to the Hebrew word “messiah.” Joseph Smith is asking us to believe that the correct English translation of a reformed Egyptian word is the Anglicized Greek word Christ. This is asking too much.
A century before the resurrection of Christ, some Nephites were praised for being “firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end” (Alma 27:27). They even were called Christians (Alma 46:13-16). Related to this is the contention that the religion of Alma was called the “church of Christ” almost 200 years before Jesus built His church (Mosiah 18:17; cf. Matthew 16:18)! These teachings contradict the Bible which says, “the disciples were divinely called ‘Christians’ first at Antioch” (Acts 11:26, McCord). Besides, how could people living during the Mosaic Covenant be Christians and in the church of Christ (which implies their part in the New Covenant)? It was necessary for Christ to die before His Covenant could come into effect (Hebrews 9:11-17).
In about 600 B.C. the prophet Nephi is shown a vision of the virgin Mary. According to the 1830 edition she is called “the mother of God,” and her Son is called “the Eternal Father.” However, in the modern editions these statements read: “the mother of the Son of God” and “the Son of the Eternal Father” (1 Nephi 11:18,21). These “corrections” convey a different meaning from the original. Changes of this nature strongly contradict Mormon inspiration claims.
Any book that purports to be from God should be able to pass a test for accuracy. Since God does not make mistakes, no book from His hand will contain factual or doctrinal errors. Like all humans, Joseph Smith erred. Unfortunately, his assertion that the Book of Mormon was divinely translated implies that God is the author of its mistakes. That claim is self-contradictory.
Roberts, Brigham H. (1930) A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News).
FOR FURTHER READING
Brodie, Fawn M. (1976), No Man Knows My History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
Bromling, Brad T. (1992) “The Book of Ether—A Mormon Myth Examined,” Reasoning from Revelation, 4:21, November.
Crouch, Brodie (1968), The Myth of Mormon Inspiration (Shreveport, LA: Lambert).
Fraser, Gordon H. (1978), Joseph and the Golden Plates (Eugene OR: Industrial Litho).
Ropp, Harry L. (1977), The Mormon Papers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity).
Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1972), Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? (Salt Lake City, UT: Modern Microfilm Company).
Jesus—Rose of Sharon
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The song leader stands before the congregation and announces the number of the next hymn he wants the audience to sing. As you turn the pages, you quickly realize that the song is a familiar old favorite—“Jesus, Rose of Sharon.” But if you are anything like most of the people who sing this song, you probably do not know what the term “rose of Sharon” means. So, what does it mean?
This may come as something of a shock, but the term is used only once in the entire Bible, and in that instance it does not refer to Jesus. In Song of Solomon 2:1, Solomon’s beloved Shulamite bride referred to herself as the “rose of Sharon.” From her description, we can conclude that it is a complimentary term intended to express a certain beauty that the people of Solomon’s day would have recognized.
The word “Sharon” (sometimes spelled Saron) means a level place or plain. The Bible uses the term to describe one of the largest valley plains in all of Palestine. The term is found in numerous verses, including Acts 9:35, 1 Chronicles 5:16, and 1 Chronicles 27:29. If you were to examine a map of Palestine (the maps in the backs of most Bibles should suffice), you could locate this valley by finding the city of Joppa on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Joppa, and the Aijalon section to its southwest, were the approximate southern borders of the valley. It extended west from the Mediterranean Sea for about 10-15 miles, and north for about 30 miles. Topographical maps distinctly show this region to be a low valley bordered by higher mountains.
From all indications, the Sharon valley was a wild, fertile plain that was the home to a host of beautiful flowers. Isaiah 35:2 lists Sharon in a context discussing blooming vegetation, and describes the valley as “excellent” (NKJV). Sharon was renowned for its majesty and beauty. But what about its “rose”?
A true rose, like the one sweethearts exchange on Valentine’s Day, probably is not a good candidate for the flower described as the “rose of Sharon,” the primary reason being that these flowers are uncommon in Palestine. In fact, although no one can say for certain which flower is the actual “rose of Sharon,” many scholars think the best guess is the cistus or rock-rose. The cistus blooms in various parts of Palestine, and is well known for its soothing aroma and pain-relieving qualities.
When and why the title “Rose of Sharon” was given to Jesus is rather vague. But at least two reasons as to why it might have been assigned to our Lord seem fairly clear. First, Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of beauty and splendor. Of course, His earthly body could not boast of such attributes (Isaiah 53:2), but His spiritual beauty and majesty remain unsurpassed by any created being in Heaven or on Earth (2 Peter 1:16). Second, Christ’s healing powers and pain-relieving actions find a definite point of comparison with those of the rock-rose. Is it any wonder that the “Great Physician,” Who came to heal those who were physically ill as well as those who were spiritually sick, should be given the name of a flower known for its sweet aroma and soothing medicinal qualities?
Although the Holy Spirit never chose to inspire the Bible writers to refer to Jesus as the “Rose of Sharon,” it nevertheless is a name we can employ to speak of the majesty, beauty, and healing power of our Lord.
A Review of the PBS NOVA Television Documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial by Jerry Fausz, Ph.D. Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.
A Review of the PBS NOVA Television Documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial
|by||Jerry Fausz, Ph.D.|
Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by two A.P. staff scientists: Dr. Houts holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and serves as the Nuclear Research Manager for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; Dr. Fausz holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech and serves as Engineering Project Manager in the Space Systems Development Division of a subsidiary of SAIC.]
On September 26, 2005, a trial began in the federal court of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in which 11 parents charged the Dover Area School District with violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, thus infringing on their civil rights. Partly at issue was a resolution, passed by the Dover Area School board by a 6-3 vote, that stated:
Students will be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwin’s theory and of other theories of evolution including, but not limited to, intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught (Jones, 2005, p. 1).
The board passed this resolution on October 18, 2004. Also mentioned in the suit was the board’s vote on November 19, 2004, to require that the following statement be read to all 9th-grade students in the Dover Area School District, beginning in January, 2005:
The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments (Jones, 2005, pp. 1-2).
On December 20, 2005, United States District Judge John E. Jones III delivered a 139-page ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. Not only did the judge give the plaintiffs the declarative relief (stating that the establishment clause of the First Amendment was violated) and injunctive relief (forbidding the Dover Area School District from maintaining their ID [Intelligent Design] policy) that they asked for, he also stated in his ruling the monumental conclusion that Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.
Almost two years after the conclusion of these federal proceedings, the PBS science series NOVA devoted an episode to a discussion of this landmark case, originally broadcast on November 13, 2007. The program may occasionally be re-run on PBS and other networks, but is also viewable in its entirety on the NOVA Web site (NOVA, 2007b). This article will examine the reasons given by the NOVA executive producer as to why she saw fit to draw attention to this anecdote in U.S. history, discuss the impact of the Dover decision on society and education, as related in the NOVA episode, and critique the substance of the program, which NOVA has titled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial.
PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM
On the same Web site where Judgment Day can be viewed (in 12 parts), there is a “Q&A” mock interview with Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer of NOVA. This Q&A provides a fortuitous opportunity, before viewing the program, to understand what motivated its production. The first question to which Ms. Apsell responded was, “This program tackles a contentious issue for many people, particularly for many devout Christians. Why did NOVA and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions, your coproducer, take it on?” Ms. Apsell stated:
I think the real reason that we made that decision is because evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences. As Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the great biologists of the 20th century, once said, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (NOVA, 2007a).
Ms. Apsell also responded to the question, “Why is this topic—and the teaching of evolution—so important?” Her full response to this question was:
Recent polls tells us that 48 percent—almost half of all Americans—still question evolution and still believe that some kind of alternative should be taught in the public schools. What happens when half of the population doesn’t accept one of the most fundamental underpinnings of the sciences? Evolution is the absolute bedrock of the biological sciences. It’s essential to medical science, agriculture, biotechnology. And it’s critical to understanding the natural world around us.We’re a country built on our command of the sciences and technology. But we now face a crisis in science literacy that could threaten our progress in these areas and ultimately threaten our quality of life. So, at NOVA and at Vulcan, we feel that understanding the importance of evolution, and enhancing science literacy in general, are more crucial than ever (2007a).
Understanding what motivates someone to exercise their creative energy can be very useful in deciphering elements of their product that may be otherwise difficult to analyze. This is especially true when considering a controversial subject like ID. Ms. Apsell’s comments indicate a strong bias towards evolution (i.e., against ID), which will prompt us to look for that bias in the program content. Correspondingly, this review will be equally blatant in responding to both the motivation and content of the NOVA program.
For example, Ms. Apsell quotes one of Theodore Dobzhansky’s statements, which is actually the title of one of his papers (Dobzhansky, 1973). The quote does faithfully represent Dobzhansky’s view, as evidenced by the following excerpt from that paper:
The organic diversity becomes, however, reasonable and understandable if the Creator has created the living world not by caprice but by evolution propelled by natural selection. It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God’s, or Nature’s method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way (3:127).
In the first place, the idea that creation was either by “caprice” or by evolution is a textbook example of the logical fallacy of a “bifurcation” or “binary argument.” By creating the image of a capricious God as the only alternative to evolution, Dobzhansky thereby makes the godless theory of evolution appear more attractive. The idea that God would have created the Universe impulsively and without purpose (as implied by “caprice”) is completely foreign to the minds of most creationists, who believe that He created deliberately and with full design intent (purpose)—a third option Dobzhansky ignored. In addition, Dobzhansky does not appear to be sure whether evolution is God’s method, or “Nature’s.” Should we conclude from his statement that nature is, in fact, Dobzhansky’s god? One paragraph prior to this quote, he also states: “Only a creative but blind process could produce...the tremendous biologic success that is the human species....” On the one hand, he infers purpose and direction, calling evolution a “method” of God (or nature?); then, on the other hand, he states that it could only be a “blind” process. These statements suggest that Dobzhansky may have been highly confused, indeed.
Dobzhansky’s mental confusion notwithstanding, there are many who we believe would take great issue with Dobzhansky’s philosophy, as well as Ms. Apsell’s proclamation that “evolution is the foundation of the biological sciences.” For one, Louis Pasteur would certainly disagree. Pasteur formulated and thoroughly tested the germ theory of disease, invented inoculations, as well as the cure for rabies, and developed the process of pasteurization. Did Pasteur give credit to “the light of evolution” for his overwhelming scientific contributions to the welfare of mankind, as Dobzhansky implies that he must? On the contrary, Pasteur stated, “The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator” (as quoted in Tiner, 1990, p. 75).
Pasteur also empirically established, to the dismay of naturalists, the Law of Biogenesis, which states that life in the natural world only comes from life. With regard to this accomplishment, Pasteur stated: “Never again shall the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow that this one simple experiment has dealt it” (1864), and it has not “recovered” to this day. Pasteur further confounded the spontaneous generation crowd, now called chemical evolutionists, with a discovery involving the phenomenon of chirality. This is the observation that certain organic molecules exhibit asymmetry, dubbed right- and left-handedness, and are mirror images of each other. With respect to this asymmetry, Pasteur discovered that all molecules associated with living things are single-handed, instead of a 50/50 mix of both types, as with most substances. Pasteur identified this as a defining characteristic of life, a characteristic that remains an enigma to scientists (evolutionary scientists, anyway). This discovery rendered the idea of life emerging from non-life, as hypothesized by the chemical evolutionists, statistically impossible.
It is also interesting that Ms. Apsell equates a lack of belief in evolution with “a crisis in science literacy that could threaten our progress in these areas and ultimately threaten our quality of life.” We have already mentioned Louis Pasteur, a “science illiterate” by Ms. Apsell’s definition, who has contributed overwhelmingly to “our quality of life.” Other “science illiterates” (a.k.a. creationists) who have significantly benefited mankind in their work include Francis Bacon, who first postulated the scientific method utilized by all scientists today, Carolus Linnaeus, developer of the classification system used by all biologists today, Johannes Kepler, who formulated the laws of planetary motion and confirmed the heliocentrism of our solar system, James Clerk Maxwell, father of the modern science of electrodynamics, and Isaac Newton, who formulated the law of universal gravity and formalized the field of dynamics with his laws of motion. The list of “science illiterates” who have contributed substantially to “our quality of life” is neither short, nor cloaked in obscurity. Thus, the motivation behind this NOVA production reveals either the naiveté or deceitfulness of those who blindly accept the philosophical premises of evolution, and eagerly embrace the movement to establish Darwinian evolution as the dogma of science education.
AN EPIC BATTLE
With their agenda firmly set, the makers of Judgment Day proceeded to cast the judicial proceedings that culminated in Judge Jones’ December 2005 decision as a conflict between the gallant forces of (scientific) truth and the wily imposter of creationism, deceitfully clothed in the disguise of “Intelligent Design.”
Chapter 1 of the on-line version of Judgment Day begins with the narrator stating: “In October 2004, a war broke out in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania” (NOVA, 2007d). Following a few innocuous statements by ID proponents, the narrator further states:
But many Dover residents and an overwhelming number of scientists throughout the country were outraged. They say intelligent design is nothing but religion in disguise, the latest front in the war on evolution (2007d).
Shortly thereafter, Judge Jones appears, stating, “It was like a civil war within the community, there’s no question.” The word “war” is used three times within the first 10 minutes of the program. In addition, the word “battle” is used four times in this same segment.
Not unexpectedly, the producers of the program do not leave us in the dark as to who they think the “good guys” are in this “war.” Consider the following sequence of statements from the program transcript, also posted on the NOVA Web site:
BILL BUCKINGHAM (Dover School Board Member): To just talk about Darwin to the exclusion of anything else perpetrates a fraud.NARRATOR: But many say intelligent design is the fraud.KENNETH R. MILLER (Brown University): Intelligent design is a science stopper.KEVIN PADIAN (University of California, Berkeley): It makes people stupid.NARRATOR: Eleven Dover residents sued their school board to keep intelligent design out of the classroom. And almost overnight, Dover was catapulted to the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and the front lines in the war on evolution (NOVA, 2007c).
Note that the statement of Bill Buckingham, one of the Dover School Board members in favor of ID, is countered by three statements, including one by the narrator himself, while the outrageous statement, “It [ID] makes people stupid,” is not even challenged. In fact, every statement by an ID proponent in the introductory segment is countered, while statements by evolutionists are more numerous and simply left to stand at face value. Though in her Q&A, Ms. Apsell insists that “it [ID] gets a fair shake in this program,” the introductory segment alone casts significant doubt on the veracity of this claim.
The characterization of ID as an enemy in the “war on evolution” worsens, however. Chapter 3 of the on-line version of the program, titled “Introduction to Intelligent Design,” begins with the story of Lauri Lebo, a journalist covering the trial:
NARRATOR: Lebo began reporting on the controversy. But her interest in the issue was not just professional, it was also personal. Lauri’s father had been the owner of a local radio station, but the oldies format wasn’t paying the bills, and the electric company was about to put him off the air.LAURI LEBO: The next day a gentleman came in who belonged to a local church...wanted to lease programming on the radio station and offered to pay a decent sum of money. And overnight the radio station became a Christian radio station. My father became born again (NOVA, 2007f).
Later in the program, this story is revisited with the following:
NARRATOR: As the legal teams battled it out in court, the clash between intelligent design and evolution was taking a toll on Dover.Local newspaper reporter Lauri Lebo sat through every day of testimony, and the conflict began to drive a wedge between Lauri and her father.LAURI LEBO: He believed that God really should be in science class. He did not believe in science, and he was all worried about me and...because I believed in evolution. And he said, you know, “Well, do you really believe that we came from monkeys?” At that point, I was pretty burned out from the trial, and I didn’t really have the patience that I probably should have had with him, and I just said yeah, I mean, you know? “Yeah, I do believe in evolution, Dad,” you know? And so we’d fight every morning.If you believe in heaven and hell, and you believe you have to be saved, nothing else could possibly matter. Not the First Amendment, not science, not rational debate. All that matters is that you’re going to be rejoined with the people you love most on this Earth (NOVA, 2007i).
The narrator’s leading statement that the “clash” was “taking its toll on Dover” makes the reason for including this anecdote more than clear. Not only ID, but Christianity as well, was portrayed as a subversive element—a plague spreading through Dover, driving “a wedge” in Lauri Lebo’s family and in the Dover School Board. According to the program producers, the enemy in the “war on evolution” is apparently not just ID, but also the Christian faith that drives it. It should come as no surprise that one of the final comments in the program, made by ACLU lawyer Witold “Vic” Walczak, is: “The issue is certainly not over. One of the things that we’ve learned is that the opponents of evolution are persistent and resilient. And they’re still out there” (NOVA, 2007j). Ominous words, indeed!
SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION?
A core issue in this conflict, as well as in the trial itself, is the question of what constitutes “science.” Clearly, evolution is portrayed as being scientific, while ID is not, according to the program producers and Judge Jones’ decision. The judge’s ruling explicitly stated thatID is not a scientific theory; but is that really the issue? Since Darwinian evolution holds a monopoly with regard to the study of the origins of life within most of our classrooms, perhaps the more relevant question is whether evolution is truly science, or, as Judge Jones described ID, religion in disguise.
For example, a fundamental premise of evolution is that life spontaneously arose from non-life. This premise goes against every related fact we know about biology, especially the Law of Biogenesis, empirically and brilliantly established by Louis Pasteur. This point and others demonstrate that evolution, far from being “one of the fundamental underpinnings of the sciences,”is, in fact, a complete affront to science. Unfortunately, our society has become so willing to sacrifice anything (including science) on the altar of atheism that we now teach as scientific “fact” an atheistic theory that we know does not fit the facts.
The simplest life is far more complex than anything man has ever created. Would we allow our schools to teach as scientific “fact” that space shuttles randomly assemble and launch themselves? As absurd as that may sound, it would be more logical than teaching as scientific “fact” that life spontaneously arose from non-life. With great effort and expense, people assemble and launch space shuttles. However, with even greater effort and expense people have been unable to create anything close to what is considered “simple” life.
Ironically, NOVA and other pro-evolution organizations that claim to be “scientific” typically do not even mention this obvious problem. This fact is glaring when Judgment Day features three different segments designed to overwhelm us with the alleged evidence in favor of Darwinism: Chapter 2, “What is Evolution?” (2007e), Chapter 5, “The Fossil Record” (2007g), and Chapter 6, “A Very Successful Theory” (2007h). Yet, not one of these chapters mentions the fact that Darwinism requires spontaneous generation, nor discusses how it could have happened in spite of infinitely impossible odds. Evolutionists’ strong desire to suppress evidence and discussion, evident in their vigorous opposition to the decisions of the Dover School Board, is yet another indicator that their belief system has little to do with science, and is merely another false religion.
When dealing with evolutionists, it may be more useful to point out that the theory of evolution is not scientific, rather than trying to convince them that biblical Creationism is scientific. No theory of origins is observable, testable, and repeatable, which places the theories outside the realm of operational science, as the NOVA program and Judge Jones claim regarding Intelligent Design. Even though the evidence strongly favors biblical Creationism, as defined, we cannot claim that it is operational science.
It is also interesting to note that most of the arguments currently put forth by evolutionists and the media are completely irrelevant to the debate. The most prevalent example is the use of natural selection as supposed evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. Both biblical Creationists and evolutionists rely on natural selection, so the process is not a discriminator between the two worldviews.
CHURCH AND STATE
The crux of the legal case in the Dover trial was the accusation that the Dover School Board had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S.Constitution—at least, the recent “separation of church and state” interpretation of that clause. It is outside the scope of this review to delve deeply into questions of constitutional interpretation (see Miller, 2006; Miller, 2008). Nevertheless, the Framers of our Constitution never intended for this amendment to impact the decisions of popular government at the Dover, PA (state or city) level. In any case, we will consider the issue of violation of the establishment clause within the context of the liberal First Amendment interpretation that is prevalent today.
The most remarkable statement in the NOVA program was in Judge Jones’ ruling:
Both defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general (NOVA, 2007j).
It may be within the scope of the judge’s authority to make a determination that ID is not science, and that the Dover School Board members who introduced the issue were motivated by religious purpose, but to make a statement regarding fundamental religious and theistic belief goes far beyond any semblance of judicial prudence. It is crucial for every American to understand the full implications of this statement. According to the judge’s statement, now law, the idea that evolution could be considered antithetical (an opposing theory) to religion “in general” is “a bedrock assumption which is utterly false.” This is absolutely stunning—and frightening.
The Founders of our nation believed that religion is essential to the survival of popular government (see Miller, 2008). The recent liberal interpretation of the First Amendment seeks to remove this influence from government—to the detriment of our society. Judge Jones takes this one step further, however, asserting that the authority of judicial review (government) should have influence over religious thought in telling literal Genesis creationists, who reject evolution, that the bedrock foundation of their religious belief is false. Realizing that religion has been made impotent to challenge liberal constitutional interpretation, the legal ramifications of the ruling are positively alarming, as the ruling turns the intent of the Founders regarding freedom of religion on its head. It is no wonder that Judge Jones predicted that he would probably be labeled an activist judge because of the ruling.
Shortly after reading the statement above, Judge Jones made another statement in the program:
In an era where we’re trying to cure cancer, where we’re trying to prevent pandemics, where were [sic] trying to keep science and math education on the cutting edge in the United States, to introduce and teach bad science to ninth-grade students makes very little sense to me. You know, garbage in garbage out. And it doesn’t benefit any of us who benefit daily from scientific discoveries (NOVA, 2007j).
Clearly, Judge Jones has strong feelings that impacted the scope and language of his ruling, and may have even influenced the decision itself. Richard Thompson, a Thomas Moore Law Center attorney and representative of the Dover School Board in the case, commented:
I think, first of all, you have to say we had a fair trial. I’m just disturbed about the extent of his opinion, that it went way beyond what, what [sic] he should have gone into deciding matters of science (NOVA, 2007j).
This observation is an understatement. And we should not be less concerned about the extent of the ruling regarding matters of science, than we are about its precedent for judicial interference in matters of religion. Judge Jones stated in his ruling, “Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge” (2005, p. 137). We mark it as such because the facts presented above justify that claim.
THE WAGES OF COMPROMISE
Judge Jones not only believes that evolutionary theory is consistent with belief in God and “religion in general,” but also sees no problem with establishing his belief via the federal judiciary. How did we get so turned around in our society that religion is not allowed to have any influence on government, or public life for that matter, but a judge can dictate what creationists should believe (or not believe)? Consider the following statement from the Q&A with Ms. Apsell (NOVA, 2007a):
Q: Is evolution inherently anti-religious?Apsell: Not at all. The view that evolution is inherently anti-religious is simply false. Evolution tells us that the diversity of life on this planet could have arisen by natural processes. But for many people of various faiths, this is perfectly compatible with their belief in God as the creator of all nature. I personally believe that the beauty of evolution can enhance your belief in a creator and God.By definition science cannot address the realm of the divine or supernatural. This doesn’t mean that science is anti-religious.And our program, Judgment Day, doesn’t promote either a religious or an anti-religious viewpoint. It accurately covers a trial. And the trial itself did not have an anti-religious viewpoint. I think it’s worth noting that both the judge and the majority of witnesses—including scientists on the plaintiff side—are people of faith (NOVA, 2007a).
Notice that Ms. Apsell does not claim any personal religious belief. In fact, when she says, “this is perfectly compatible with their belief in God,” and “I personally believe that the beauty of evolution can enhance your belief in a creator and God” (emp. added), she leaves the impression that she shares neither of those beliefs. Notwithstanding, she feels perfectly justified in prescribing religious belief to others: “The view that evolution is inherently anti-religious is simply false.” And with respect to the program not promoting “an anti-religious viewpoint,” significant evidence to the contrary has been given above.
Now consider the following excerpt from the first chapter of the on-line version of the program:
ALAN BONSELL: I personally don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. I’m a creationist. I make no bones about that.NARRATOR: Creationists like Bonsell reject much of modern science in favor [of] a literal reading of the Bible. They believe the Earth is less than 10,000 years old, and that God created everything fully-formed, including humans, in just six days.Although most mainstream religions made peace with evolution decades ago, many creationists still see evolution as incompatible with their faith (NOVA, 2007d).
Notice how the narrator claims that “Creationists...reject much of modern science” (emp. added) and “most mainstream religions made peace with evolution decades ago.” Unjustifiable, unsubstantiated generalizations such as these are often used to marginalize specific groups—in this instance, Bible-believing creationists. We are told that we are outside the “mainstream” and that we reject “much of modern science.”
No doubt, some religious evolutionists truly believe that there is no conflict between creationism and evolution. Perhaps though, there are some who hold no religious views, yet see no conflict between evolution and creation, because they desire a non-confrontational, subtle method of subjugating religious belief to modern scientific thought. Judgment Day wraps this viewpoint in a blanket of anti-Christian sentiment.
Those who first compromised biblical creationism with evolution have, without a doubt, opened a Pandora’s box of anti-religious abuse. Indeed, they have catalyzed the very process that has flipped our society on its head, giving place to scientists, judges, TVproducers, and even atheists, who desire to dictate to devout people what their view of creation ought to be. We are paying a severe price for their compromise of the simple truths of God’s Word. And what we have witnessed until now is certainly only the beginning.
The conflict between evolution and creation is a very real clash of worldviews that has highly tangible implications for society, the church, and the very survival of our form of government. The NOVA program Judgment Day explores this conflict from the perspective of an evolutionist worldview. This fact is clear from the statements of Paula Apsell in the Q&A segment on the NOVA Web site. In light of her bias, we should not expect the program to be fair to Intelligent Design, much less to a creationist worldview, even though it alleges objectivity. The program’s lack of fairness to ID, creationism, and even Christianity, has been documented in this article by examples from the program’s own transcripts.
This leads to the conclusion that the purpose behind the making of Judgment Day was to build on the momentum of the Dover Trial to gain further ground in promoting Darwinian evolution in opposition to biblical creationism. This intent is evident in Ms. Apsell’s lament that so many people still reject Darwinian evolution in spite of its domination of public education for decades. In the spirit of true Orwellian doublespeak, she refers to this rejection of evolution as “scientific illiteracy.”
In support of its purpose, Judgment Day goes to great lengths to marginalize those who dare to question Darwinian evolution and those who choose to believe in biblical creation. Momentum for this purpose is derived from the presiding judge of the Dover Trial, Judge Jones, who stated that the creationist views of the Dover School Board members who supported ID were “utterly false” because those beliefs are based on the “assumption” that evolution is “antithetical” to a belief in a supreme being, or religion itself. By establishing a judicial view of “religion” as defined by that which is not antithetical to evolution (“establishment” in First-Amendment verbiage), NOVA is empowered in their pursuit to further marginalize those who disagree with them by the full authority of theU.S. government.
It cannot be overstated that a major contributing factor in the ability of evolutionists to marginalize creationists is that many creationists have marginalized themselves by accepting evolutionist views, in spite of empirical and biblical evidence to the contrary.NOVA capitalizes on these compromises as primary means to promote its agenda through the Judgment Day program. The most important thing Christian creationists can do, while engaged in this clash of worldviews, is accept God at His word, and esteem His Word above “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20)—and to encourage others to do the same.
Dobzhansky, Theodore (1973), “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” The American Biology Teacher, 3:125-129, March.
Jones, III, John E. (2005), “Tammy Kitzmiller, et al., v. Dover Area School District: Memorandum Opinion,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf.
Miller, Dave (2006), “America, Christianity, and the Culture War (Part I),” Reason & Revelation, 2641-47, June, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2942.
Miller, Dave (2008), “Christianity is in the Constitution,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3800..
NOVA (2007a), “Intelligent Design on Trial/Senior Executive Producer’s Story,” [On-line],URL: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/ID/apsell.html.
NOVA (2007b), “Intelligent Design on Trial/Watch the Program,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/ID/program.html.
NOVA (2007c), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID.html.
NOVA (2007d), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 1,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_01.html.
NOVA (2007e), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 2,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_02.html.
NOVA (2007f), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 3,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_03.html.
NOVA (2007g), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 5,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_05.html.
NOVA (2007h), “Transcripts/Intelligent Design on Trial Chapter 6,” [On-line], URL:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/NOVA/transcripts/3416_ID_06.html.
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