"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (6:1-7:20) INTRODUCTION 1. This is the third of three lessons in our survey of the book of Micah... a. Micah was a prophet of God, a contemporary of Isaiah (ca. 735-700 B.C.) b. His prophecies were directed to both Israel and Judah, though mostly to the latter c. His general theme: "Present Judgment, Future Blessings" 2. In his first message... a. He proclaimed "The Coming Judgment And Promised Restoration" b. In which he described: 1) The judgment pronounced upon Israel and Judah - Mic 1:2-16 2) The reasons for the coming judgment - Mic 2:1-11 3) The promise of the restoration of a remnant - Mic 2:12-13 3. In his second message... a. He proclaimed "God's Condemnation of Israel, And The Future Hope" b. In which he described: 1) God's condemnation of Israel's civil and religious leaders - Mic 3:1-12 2) The future exaltation of Zion and Messianic hope - Mic 4:1-5:15 4. In his third and final message, Micah's message is "God's Indictment of Israel, With A Promise Of Forgiveness And Restoration" - Mic 6:1-7:20 [Similar to what we saw in Hosea, the prophet Micah presents the Lord's complaint as though He were taking Israel to court...] I. THE LORD'S CONTROVERSY WITH ISRAEL A. GOD'S COMPLAINT... 1. The people called to present their case against God, as He has a complaint against them - Mic 6:1-2 2. How has the Lord wearied them? Testify against Him! - Mic 6:3 3. Did He not redeem them from Egyptian bondage with the aid of His servants Moses, Aaron, and Miriam? - Mic 6:4 4. Remember how He even had Balaam counter the counsel of Balak - Mic 6:5 B. WHAT THE LORD REQUIRED OF THEM... 1. What must they offer for their sins? - Mic 6:6-7 2. What God wanted was for them to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him - Mic 6:8 C. THE PUNISHMENT FOR ISRAEL'S INJUSTICE... 1. Justified, for they were full of dishonesty and violence - Mic 6:9-12 2. Judgment is coming in the form of desolation, for they hold on to the idolatry of Omri and works of Ahab - Mic 6:13-16 [Once again, for the third time, Micah has foretold of the judgment to come. As before, he does not close without offering a hope for blessings in the future...] II. A LAMENT FOLLOWED BY A PROMISE OF RESTORATION A. PERHAPS SPEAKING FOR THE FAITHFUL REMNANT, MICAH LAMENTS... 1. His sorrow because the faithful man had perished - Mic 7:1-4 2. Things are so bad, only the Lord can be trusted - Mic 7:5-7 B. A CONFESSION OF SIN, WITH COMFORT IN WHAT THE LORD WILL BRING... 1. His enemy is not to rejoice over him - Mic 7:8-10a a. For though he may fall, he will arise; the Lord will be a light to him b. He is willing to bear the indignation of the Lord, for he has sinned; he knows also that the Lord will eventually plead his case and execute justice for him 2. He takes comfort in the future restoration of Zion - Mic 7: 10b-13 a. Though first to be trampled down like mire in the streets b. When restored, all will come to her (a messianic reference akin to Mic 4:1-2?) c. But first there will be desolation (cf. the destruction of the city by Babylon) C. A CLOSING PRAYER, WITH PRAISE TO GOD... 1. A prayer for God's protection, to shepherd them as in days gone by - Mic 7:14 2. God answer: "I will show them marvelous things" - Mic 7:15 3. Micah's song of praise - Mic 7:16-20 a. The nations shall be made afraid when they see what the Lord has done b. Who is a God like Jehovah? 1) Who pardons iniquity 2) Who passes over the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage 3) Who does not retain anger forever, for He delights in mercy 4) Who will again have compassion, subdue their sins, and cast their sins away 5) Who will give truth and mercy to Jacob and Abraham (i.e., their descendants) as He has sworn from days of old (cf. Gen 12:2-3) CONCLUSION 1. Thus Micah ends his book like he ended each of his three messages: offering hope concerning the future for the people of Israel 2. In our previous lesson we noted how these promises concerning a glorious future to a great extent were fulfilled "in the latter days", beginning with the coming of our Lord a. Certainly the restoration and rebuilding of temple following Babylonian captivity was a partial fulfillment b. But even that was just a glimpse of what Jesus Christ would offer in His spiritual kingdom, which we now enjoy by being in Him 3. From Micah, we can learn a lot about... a. The nature of God - cf. Mic 7:18-20 b. How God would have us live - cf. Mic 6:6-8 4. We also can have our faith strengthened by observing those prophecies which have been fulfilled... a. Such as the birthplace of the Messiah - Mic 5:2 b. Such as the establishment of the Lord's house - Mic 4:1-2 So while Micah may have been sent first to the nation of Israel, let's not forget what Peter said concerning the Old Testament prophets... "To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into." (1Pe 1:12) Yes, when the prophets like Micah foretold of the "the glories that would follow", they were serving us who would be later be in the kingdom of God. Do we appreciate how blessed we are? If so, then let's also do what God requires of us, as expressed in Micah's own words: "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God" (Mic 6:8)
"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (3:1-5:15) INTRODUCTION 1. In our previous lesson on the book of Micah... a. We briefly considered some background material 1) Concerning Micah, the man a) His name means "Who is like Jehovah?" b) He was from Moresheth-Gath, 20-25 miles SW of Jerusalem c) A contemporary of Isaiah d) A prophet of the poor and downtrodden 2) Concerning Micah, the book a) The prophecies occurred around 735-700 B.C. b) They were directed toward both Israel and Judah c) The general theme appears to be "Present Judgment, Future Blessings" b. We briefly considered the first of three messages in the book 1) Each message begins with "Hear..." - Mic 1:2; 3:1; 6:1 2) The first message proclaimed "The Coming Judgment And Promised Restoration", as it described: a) The judgment pronounced upon Israel and Judah - Mic 1:2-16 b) The reasons for the coming judgment - Mic 2:1-11 c) The promise of the restoration of a remnant - Mic 2:12-13 2. In this lesson, we shall consider Micah's second message... a. As presented in Mic 3:1-5:15 b. Which follows a similar theme as in the previous message: 1) God's condemnation of Israel 2) With a glimpse of the future hope [This second message has much more to say about the future hope, especially regarding the Messiah. But it begins with...] I. GOD'S CONDEMNATION OF ISRAEL'S LEADERS A. INDICTMENT OF ISRAEL'S CIVIL LEADERS... 1. The outrageous conduct of the rulers - Mic 3:1-3 a. They hate good and love evil b. They consume the people (i.e., oppress them) 2. The judgment to come upon them - Mic 3:4 a. They will cry to the Lord, but He will not hear them b. He will hide His face from them B. INDICTMENT OF ISRAEL'S RELIGIOUS LEADERS... 1. The judgment to come upon the false prophets - Mic 3:5-7 a. Because they lead God's people astray b. They shall have no vision, they shall be made ashamed 2. Micah's own ministry, in contrast to that of the false prophets - Mic 3:8 a. He is full of the power of the Spirit, and of justice and might b. He declares the transgression and sin of Israel C. INDICTMENT OF ISRAEL'S LEADERS RENEWED... 1. Addressing once again the rulers of Israel, their sins are categorized - Mic 3:9-11 a. They abhor justice and pervert equity (fairness) b. They build up Jerusalem with bloodshed and iniquity c. Whether judges, priests, or prophets, they do it only for the money, belying their claim to trust in the Lord 2. The judgment to come upon Israel because of them - Mic 3:12 a. Zion shall be plowed like a field b. Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins [This prophecy of Micah was fulfilled when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B. C. (cf. 2Ch 36:17-21). But his message is not finished; as ominous as it was in proclaiming the coming judgment, he now continues with a glimpse into the future...] II. THE FUTURE EXALTATION OF ZION AND MESSIANIC HOPE A. THE GLORY TO COME IN "THE LATTER DAYS"... 1. What will happen "in the latter days" a. The "mountain of the Lord's house" will be established, and many people will want to go it - Mic 4:1-2 b. They will want to learn of God's ways, and the word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem - Mic 4:2 c. The Lord will judge the nations, and there will be peace - Mic 4:3 d. Everyone will be content, walking in the name of the Lord forever - Mic 4:4-5 -- Isaiah had a similar prophecy - Isa 2:1-4 2. What is the fulfillment of this prophecy? a. Some believe it is all yet to come (e.g., premillenialists) b. Some believe it is all past (e.g., some amillenialists) c. I am inclined to believe there are past, present, and future elements 1) It began in Jerusalem with the preaching of the gospel on Pentecost a) For Peter identifies the events of that day as beginning the fulfillment of what would occur in the "last days" - cf. Joel 2:28-32; Ac 2:16-17 b) For Jesus said the gospel would go forth from Jerusalem as prophesied - Lk 24:46-47; cf. Mic 4:2; Isa 2:3 2) It continues as people respond to the gospel that originated from Jerusalem a) Such people "have come to Mount Zion" - He 12:22-24; cf. Mic 4:2 b) They learn the ways of the Lord - Ep 4:20-24; cf. Mic 4:2 3) The "judging among many people" may be both present and future a) The book of Revelation reveals the Lord as judging both in the present and in the future - cf. Re 1:5; 2:26-27; 17:14; 20:11-15 b) Peter viewed some of Isaiah's prophecies as yet to be fulfilled - 2Pe 3:13; cf. Isa 65:17-19; 66:22 c) Therefore Mic 4:3-5 may find some of its fulfillment in the eternal destiny of the redeemed, as part of the "New Jerusalem" of the "new heaven and new earth" described in Re 21-22 3. As Micah continues, he describes what will occur "in that day" - Mic 4:6-8 a. The Lord will assemble a remnant of those whom He afflicted - cf. Ro 11:5 b. He will reign over them forever - cf. Lk 1:30-33 -- I understand that the fulfillment of this prophecy began with the first coming of Christ, and that the church is a spiritual kingdom in which the "former dominion" of Israel has been restored and given to Jesus who reigns from heaven - cf. Mt 28:18; Ac 1:6-8; 2:30-36; Re 1:5; 2:26-27; 3:21 B. THE DISTRESS AND CAPTIVITY BEFORE RESTORATION... 1. The "Now" of Mic 4:9 suggests that Micah has returned from his glimpse of the future hope to what will occur in the immediate present 2. Their judgment will involve distress like a woman in labor, as they will be delivered to Babylon, from which they will also be redeemed - Mic 4:9-10 3. Even "now", many nations (e.g., Assyria) have come up against them - Mic 4:11-5:1 a. Who seek to defile Zion, whom God will use to break them into many pieces b. Yet the daughter of Zion (Israel) shall be humbled also - cf. Mic 5:1 C. THE COMING MESSIAH... 1. Here we find the prophecy of the Messiah's birthplace-Mic 5:2;
cf. Mt 2:1-6 a. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah b. He would become the ruler of Israel - cf. Isa 9:6-7; Lk 1:30-33 c. His "goings forth have been from old, from everlasting" - cf. Jn 1:1-3 2. The Messiah will lead His people in peace - Mic 5:3-5a a. Though first they must be given up for a short time (Babylonian captivity) b. Then a remnant shall return, whom the Ruler shall feed in the strength of the Lord D. FURTHER JUDGMENT ON ISRAEL AND HER ENEMIES... 1. Some take this section to be Messianic 2. I tend to take it as pertaining to Micah's day and those that followed shortly after... a. The Assyrian threat would prove to be no real threat (for Judah - Mic 5:5b-6; cf. Isa 36-37 b. When the remnant is dispersed (as a result of Babylonian captivity), they shall be a lion among flocks of sheep - Mic 5:7-9 (e.g., Daniel, Esther?) c. God would cut off her false strengths (such as horses and chariots, cf. Isa 31:1) and her idolatry - Mic 5:10-15 CONCLUSION 1. With the recurrent theme in his messages ("Present Judgment, Future Blessings"), Micah's purpose appears to be two-fold... a. To warn the people, that they may repent as necessary b. To encourage the people, that their hope for the future might help them to endure the hard times to come 2. A similar two-fold message is found in the New Testament as well... a. Warnings to persevere, lest we fall away - e.g., He 4:1,11 b. Promises to encourage us for whatever lies ahead - e.g., 2Pe 3: 13-14 3. Today, we have an advantage over the Israelites of Micah's day... a. We have already seen much of his prophecy fulfilled with the first coming of the Messiah b. As Peter wrote, "we also have the prophetic word made more sure" - 2Pe 1:19 c. Made more sure by virtue of its fulfillment, it can serve to comfort us and strengthen our hope regarding any future promise of God - cf. Ro 15:4 -- If God kept His promise concerning the first coming of His Messiah, we can have confidence He will keep His promise concerning His return! Perhaps that is why Peter went on to say concerning "the prophetic word" (e.g., The Minor Prophets)... "which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2Pe 1:19) By careful study and consideration of the prophets, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, our hope for the future is strengthened!
"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Micah - Judgment Now, Blessings Later (1:1-2:13) INTRODUCTION 1. The eighth century (800-700 B.C.) was filled with prophetic activity... a. Starting with Jonah, who prophesied to the city of Nineveh (790 B.C.) b. Continuing with prophets sent primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel 1) Amos (755 B.C.) 2) Hosea (750-725 B.C.) c. The southern kingdom of Judah was also the recipient of God's prophets 1) Isaiah (740-700 B.C.) 2) Micah (735-700 B.C.) 2. In our study of "The Minor Prophets"... a. We have looked at the works of Jonah, Amos, and Hosea b. We now come to the works of Micah, the last prophet of the eighth century B.C. [Before we take a look at the messages of Micah as recorded in his book, it may be helpful to first look at some...] I. BACKGROUND MATERIAL A. MICAH - THE MAN... 1. His name means "Who is like Jehovah?" - cf. Mic 7:18 2. His home was Moresheth-Gath - Mic 1:1,14 a. In the lowlands of Judah, near Philistia b. About 20-25 miles southwest of Jerusalem 3. Nothing is known of his occupation prior to becoming God's prophet 4. Characterization a. "He was the prophet of the poor and downtrodden." (Homer Hailey) b. "He had Amos' passion for justice and Hosea's heart for love." (J.M.P. Smith) c. Comparing Micah to his contemporary Isaiah (as suggested by Hailey) 1) Micah was a man of the fields, Isaiah was of the city 2) Micah took little interest in politics, giving himself to the concern over spiritual and moral problems; Isaiah was in close contact with world affairs, the associate of kings and princes 3) Both Micah and Isaiah... a) Saw God as the infinite Ruler of nations and men b) Recognized the absolute holiness and majesty of God c) Stressed that violating principles of God's divine sovereignty and holiness would bring judgment and doom B. MICAH - THE BOOK... 1. The date: 735-700 B.C. a. During the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah - Mic 1:1 b. Just as the northern kingdom of Israel was falling under Assyria's attack 2. The message: "Present Judgment, Future Blessings" a. Judgment is coming because of Israel's unfaithfulness to God b. Blessings will come because of God's faithfulness to Israel 1) Cf. the promise God made to Abraham - Gen 22:18 2) God would fulfill in the person of Jesus Christ - cf. Ac 3:24-26 3. A brief outline: The book appears to contain three messages or oracles, all beginning with the word "Hear"; therefore the book can be divided as follows: a. The coming judgment, with a promise of restoration - Mic 1: 1-2:13 b. God's condemnation of Israel, with a glimpse of the future hope - Mic 3:1-5:15 c. God's indictment of Israel, with a plea for repentance and promise of forgiveness - Mic 6:1-7:20 [In the remaining part of this lesson, let's take look at Micah's first message...] II. THE COMING JUDGMENT AND PROMISED RESTORATION (1:1-2:13) A. JUDGMENT PRONOUNCED ON ISRAEL AND JUDAH... 1. Micah's message is for both Samaria (Israel) and Jerusalem (Judah) - Mic 1:1 2. The Lord announces His coming judgment - Mic 1:2-5 3. The destruction of Samaria (representing the northern kingdom of Israel) - Mic 1:6-7 4. Micah's mourning - Mic 1:8-16 a. For the judgment has reached even Judah and Jerusalem b. His lament involves making a play on words involving the names of cities; for example... 1) "Tell it not in Gath" (Gath is similar to the Hebrew word for "tell") 2) "Weep not at all in Beth Aphrah, Roll yourself in the dust" (Beth Aphrah means "house of dust") 3) "Pass by in naked shame, you inhabitant of Shaphir" (Shaphir means "fair, beautiful, pleasant") 4) "The inhabitant of Zaanan does not go out" (Zaanan means "come out") 5) "Beth Ezel mourns; its place to stand is taken away from you" (Beth Ezel can be paraphrased as "nearby house") c. As revealed in verse 16, their judgment will involve captivity B. REASONS FOR THE INEVITABLE JUDGMENT... 1. The arrogance and violence of the nobles - Mic 2:1-5 a. For coveting fields and taking them by violence b. So it will happen to them 2. For rejecting true prophets, and accepting false ones - Mic 2:6-11 a. They tell the prophets of God not to speak of God's words b. They abuse the people of God c. Destruction is coming, because they are defiled and accept false prophets C. RESTORATION PROMISED... 1. It will involve God assembling a remnant - Mic 2:12 2. God will lead them like a flock of sheep, with a king at their head - Mic 2:12-13 CONCLUSION 1. Later, Micah will tell us more about the ultimate fulfillment of that restoration, and from where that "king" shall arise who shall lead God's flock! - cf. Mic 5:2-5 2. But for now we have seen that Micah certainly follows the pattern of God's prophets at that time... a. Proclaiming the coming judgment, which would involve captivity b. Providing the basis for such judgment, describing the nature of their sins and departure from God c. Promising that God would one day restore the good fortunes of Israel, but requiring repentance and involving a "remnant" 3. How sad that many in Israel and Judah did not heed the words of such men like Micah, Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah... a. But are we heeding God's spokesmen for today? b. Such as His apostles Peter and Paul, and of course, His Son Jesus Christ? We would do well to remember the preaching of Micah as we read in the New Testament... "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. (He 2:1-4) Israel as a nation failed to heed the message sent to them; are we heeding the message for us today?
God, Prophecy, and Miraculous Knowledge
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
The honest-hearted person who comes to recognize God’s existence and contemplates His marvelous nature cannot help but stand in awe of His omniscience. As the psalmist professed,
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether…. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [sheol], behold, You are there (139:1-4,6-8).The Bible declares that God “knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21), that His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3), and that “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). Simply put, God “knows all things” (1 John 3:20). He has perfect knowledge of the past, the present, and even the future. Job was right to ask the rhetorical question, “Can anyone teach God knowledge?” (21:22).
God’s Omniscience and the Divine Inspiration of the BibleGod’s omniscience and proof that the Bible is the Word of God is inextricably woven together. The main, overarching reason that the Bible can be demonstrated to be of divine origin is because the writers were correct in everything they wrote—about the past, the present, and the future. Such a feat is humanly impossible. “With God,” however, “all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). An omniscient, omnipotent God could produce written revelation for His human creation that was flawless in its original production. He could guide uneducated men to write about events that occurred thousands of years before their time with complete accuracy. He could “move” (otherwise) ordinary men (2 Peter 1:20-21) to write flawlessly about any number of contemporary people, places, and things. He could even guide men to write about future events with perfect accuracy. He could—and He did.
Mankind can reasonably come to the conclusion that mere human beings did not pen Scripture because human beings are not omniscient. An uninspired person cannot, for example, foretell the future. Yet the inspired Bible writers did just that—time and again (e.g., Ezekiel 26:1-14,19-21; see www.apologeticspress.org for more information). Is it not logical, then, to conclude that the omniscient Ruler of the Universe gave us the Bible? Interestingly, though the atheist does not accept the Bible as “God-breathed,” even he understands that if the Bible writers predicted the future accurately, then a supernatural agent must be responsible for the production of Scripture (see Butt and Barker, 2009, pp. 50-51).
Is There Another Possibility?Some might surmise that a Bible writer practicing pagan divination could also have accurately recorded what would happen in the distant future (in Tyre, Babylon, Jerusalem, etc.) because Satan or some wicked spirit-being revealed the information to him. Such a conclusion, however, is unjustifiable for a number of reasons:
- First, the prophets condemned all sorts of witchcraft, including divination and soothsaying (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Jeremiah 27:9-29:9). Thus, they would be condemning themselves if they were actually diviners and soothsayers.
- Second, since God, by His very definition, is the only omniscient, omnipotent Being (cf. 1 John 4:4), neither the created and fallen devil nor any other non-eternal spirit-being (Colossians 1:16; 2 Peter 2:4) can choose to know whatever he wants. He may be able to acquire knowledge quickly from other beings or from personal experience, but ultimately, wicked spirit-beings can only have knowledge of what the Creator allows them to know (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11). If, for example, a wicked spirit-being knew of future events, it would be due to the omniscient Ruler of the heaven and Earth granting him such knowledge for His own purposes. “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). Simply put, no one accurately foretells the future unless God informs him of it. [NOTE: Diviners may occasionally and vaguely predict something that comes to pass, but such guesswork or weathermen-like predictions are far from the revealed, supernatural foreknowledge of God, which was revealed during Bible times to His true spokesmen.]
- Third, God revealed throughout Scripture that those who accurately foretell the future are genuine prophets of God. Jeremiah wrote: “When the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the Lord has truly sent” (28:9). On the other hand, those who prophesy things that do not come to pass, “the Lord has not sent;” “they prophesy falsely” (Jeremiah 28:15; 29:8-9). “‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). If non-God-inspired diviners could actually have foretold the future by the power of some wicked spirit-being, then how could the honest-hearted person ever know for sure what and who to believe and obey? Concluding that pagan diviners have been given power by wicked spirit-beings to flawlessly foretell the future contradicts what the true, inspired prophets of God taught, and prevents truth-seekers from being able to know truth.
ConclusionGod Almighty is the only omniscient, omnipotent Being. Only He knows everything. Ultimately, He alone knows the future—the revelation of such Divine thoughts being one of the chief ways man has logically concluded that a particular message was actually God-inspired. It seems quite dangerous to conclude that fallen spirit-beings know the future and have revealed such miraculous information to wicked diviners. Yes, uninspired fortunetellers have doubtlessly been tempted and influenced throughout the ages by powerful forces of darkness, but such beings are non-omniscient “deceiving spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1), who take after their “father, the devil,” “a liar” in whom “there is no truth” (John 8:44).
*Originally published in Gospel Advocate, March 2015, 157:27-28.
ReferenceButt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Dragonfly Flight and the Designer
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
More proof of the existence of the Master Designer comes from research conducted by Z. Jane Wang, professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University (Gold, 2006). Centering on flying systems and fluid dynamics, Dr. Wang notes that the best way to learn about flight is by first looking at what happens naturally. Interesting. In order for the complex human mind to comprehend the principles of flight, that mind must focus on the natural order—the Creation. So mind must learn from that which, according to evolutionists, came into being and developed without any mind. Intelligence is dependent on non-intelligence. Who can believe it?
Reporting her findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Wang observed that her research calls into question the conventional wisdom that ascribes to airplanes (human inventions) more flight efficiency than the flying creatures of the natural realm. Dragonflies, for example, are “a marvel of engineering” (Gold, 2006). “Marvel of engineering”—without an Engineer? So claims the evolutionist—despite the irrationality of such a conclusion.
Indeed, the dragonfly possesses four wings, instead of the standard two, enabling it to dash forward at speeds approaching 60 kph. Its unusual pitching stroke allows this amazing insect to hover and even shift into reverse. According to Wang: “Dragonflies have a very odd stroke. It’s an up-and-down stroke instead of a back-and-forth stroke.... Dragonflies are one of the most maneuverable insects, so if they’re doing that they’re probably doing it for a reason” (Gold, 2006, emp. added). “For a reason”? But doesn’t “a reason” imply a reasonable mind behind the reason that thinks and assigns a logical rationale to specific phenomena?
The more scientists study dragonflies the more they are impressed with these “marvels of flight engineering” (“How Do Things...,” n.d.). They appear to twist their wings on the downward stroke, creating a whirlwind of air that flows across the wings, facilitating the lift that keeps them flying. Even more amazing, one Australian scientist, Akiko Mizutani, of the Centre for Visual Science at the Australian National University, has studied dragonflies at length in the past few years. She observes that, while chasing its prey, dragonflies “shadow their enemies in complex manoeuvres that military fighter pilots can only dream of. Their tricks create the visual illusion that they’re not moving” (as quoted in “How Stealthy...,” 2003, 2398:26, emp. added). In fact, according to Dr. Javaan Chahl, the quick aerial movements allow the dragonfly to disguise itself as a motionless object (“Military Looks to Mimic...,” 2003, emp. added). These insights are not lost on the military establishment. They recognize the incredible implications for technological development—from the ability of fighter aircraft to approach the enemy undetected, to greater maneuverability, to enhanced helicopter logistics. Indeed, “scientists believe the insect’s flight control could have applications in new planes and helicopters” (2003). Is it any wonder that one of the very first helicopters produced was named “Dragonfly” (“Sikorsky...,” 2003)? If no one considers the helicopter as the product of time and chance, why would any reasonable person believe that the insect to which scientists are looking for an understanding of principles of flight evolved from mindless, mechanistic forces of nature?
If the human mind, with all of its complexity and ingenious design, is necessary to engineer flight capability (e.g., airplanes), what must be said for the Mind behind the human mind? If scores of intelligent scientists must expend vast amounts of time, energy, intention, deliberation, knowledge, and thought in order to discover the secrets of the “efficient motions” of the dragonfly, what must have been required to create that dragonfly in the first place? Mindless, non-intelligent, unconscious, non-purposive “evolutionary forces”? Ridiculous! Time and chance do not and cannot account for the amazing design found in insects like the dragonfly. The only logical, plausible explanation is that dragonflies were designed by the God of the Bible, and they testify to His wisdom: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
Gold, Lauren (2006), “On the Wings of Dragonflies: Flapping Insect Uses Drag to Carry its Weight, Offering Insight into Intricacies of Flight,” Cornell University Chronicle, February 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb06/AAAS.dragonflies.lg.html.
“How Do Things Fly?” (no date), Boeing, [On-line], URL: http://www.boeing.com/compan yoffices/aboutus/wonder_of_flight/dragon.html.
“Military Looks to Mimic Dragonflies” (2003), ABC News, June 5, [On-line], URL: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200306/s872489.htm.
“How Stealthy Insects Outsmart Their Foe” (2003), New Scientist, 2398:26, June 7.
“Sikorsky HO2S-1/HO3S-1G ‘Dragonfly’” (2003), USCG Homepage, [On-line], URL: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-cp/history/WEBAIRCRAFT/AC_Sikorsky_HO3S.html.
Did Jesus Command Infant Baptism?
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
Some suggest that because Jesus welcomed children (Luke 18:15 indicates they were infants), and said of them, “of such is the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17), infants should be baptized just as adults are baptized.
Christ told the disciples not to shun children, because children possess a deep humility that followers of Christ should develop (see Deaver, 1985, p. 9). Adults must receive the Gospel with the same humility and trust that characterize little children (Mark 10:15; see Hendriksen, 1975, p. 383), and there are important things we should learn from the young (see 1 Timothy 4:12). In this instance, Jesus certainly expressed appreciation and affection for infants. But what about baptism?
Jesus did not command His disciples to baptize the children—whoever brought the children did not bring them for the purpose of having them baptized (Matthew 19:13). Furthermore, while we have record of Christ’s disciples baptizing adults (John 3:22; 4:1-2; see Lyons, 2003), we have no record of them baptizing children. In fact, the disciples shunned the children at first, possibly because the disciples thought that the children “interfered” with one of the main objectives of Christ’s ministry: to baptize penitent adults. If those who brought the children did not intend for the children to be baptized, why did they bring them?
First, it is possible that those who brought the children sought a medical benefit for their children, though the text does not so imply. Many people brought their children to Jesus to have them healed of diseases. Some parents incorporate Christianity into the rearing of their children only when their children are afflicted with terrible illness (of course, parents should at all times encourage their children to learn about Christ and to live according to His precepts [see Proverbs 22:6; Henry, 1706, 1:271]).
Second, it is possible that those who brought the children perceived some religious, spiritual, or supernatural benefit available only in the presence of Jesus. However, people who benefited from Christ’s personal presence did so by hearing and applying His message, or by being healed of diseases. By taking the children into His arms, Jesus did not promote or endorse the idea that anything “mystical” happened to people who simply entered His presence.
Before baptism, one must know God (2 Thessalonians 1:8; see Coffman, 1975, p. 186). If one is baptized as an infant, he is baptized without believing that Christ is the Son of God, without repentance, and without confession. There is no New Testament record of the administration of baptism without belief, repentance, and confession (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:10; see Coffman, 1984, p. 296). Baptism is for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Infants have no sins, so they do not need to have sins remitted. Also, each account of baptism in the New Testament shows that people who were baptized had the option of refusing baptism, but infants do not have that capability.
On December 18, 1964, the New York Times reported that some Anglican Church officials were renouncing infant baptism because, according to Richard A. Vick, preacher for the St. Paul’s Westcliff-on-Sea church, performing infant baptism is “denying adults the privilege of believer’s baptism. We are denying something essential to salvation. [Infant baptism] isn’t agreeable to the word of God” (“More of Clergy...,” 1964).
Young children should be “brought to Christ” today, i.e., reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), though they cannot be scripturally baptized. The responsibility of bringing children to Christ rests on the shoulders of mature Christians.
REFERENCESCoffman, James Burton (1975), Commentary on Mark (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Coffman, James Burton (1984), Commentary on Matthew (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
Deaver, Roy C. (1985), “Questions/Bible Answers,” Firm Foundation, 102:9, August.
Hendriksen, William (1975), Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Henry, Matthew (1706), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (McLean, VA: MacDonald).
Lyons, Eric (2003), “The Bible’s Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complimentary?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/617.
“More of Clergy Balk at Infant Baptism in Anglican Church” (1964), The New York Times, page 16, December 18.
What Does it Mean to Say Jesus is the "Son of God"?
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
What does it mean to say that Jesus is the “Son of God”?
A.The New Testament employs a variety of terms in its effort to define the personal identity of Jesus. Strictly speaking, His name simply is Jesus (meaning “Yahweh is salvation”). Recognition of His messiahship quickly led His followers to call Him Christ (christos is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word Messiah), Christ Jesus, and the more common Jesus Christ. In addition, He also is called:
- Lord—an Old Testament designation for God, as well as a term of respect like “Sir”;
- Son of Man—the designation Jesus most often applied to Himself that can indicate “a human,” or point to a mysterious heavenly figure (Daniel 7:13);
- Son of David—an indicator of messianic lineage; and
- “I AM”—an apparent echo of the unutterable divine name (Exodus 3:14).
The earliest Christians were Jews who were familiar with at least two distinct applications of the term “son of God.” In the first place, the term had a general application to all Israelites. When their ancestors were held in Egyptian bondage, Moses was sent to Pharaoh with these words: “Thus says the Lord: Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me” (Exodus 4:22-23; see also Hosea 11:1). Through the years, Yahweh loved, protected, comforted, and chastened Israel, just as a loving parent would nurture and discipline children (Malachi 2:10; Isaiah 66:13; et al.).
The second usage was more specific. Historically, the term had a royal connotation for many nations of the Ancient Near East. It was commonplace for Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, and Roman rulers to be called “son of God” (Fossum, 1992, pp. 128-137). These kings even were deified and surrounded by legends about their miraculous births—often including stories of gods copulating with humans (Sanders, 1993, pp. 243-245). This royal connotation also was known in Israel, although they did not deify their kings (O’Collins, 1995, p. 117).
When the New Testament writers referred to Jesus as “Son of God,” they sometimes employed the term in ways that echoed these two common uses. After those who threatened the life of the child Jesus died, Joseph was given instructions in a dream to return from Egypt to his homeland. When Matthew reported this event, he said it fulfilled Hosea 11:1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (see Matthew 2:15). In other words, Jesus was God’s Son as an Israelite, and in a real sense, the True Israelite.
In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ ministry began with a pronouncement from heaven: “This is my beloved Son...” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11). The same is heard at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). In the Gospel of John, the baptizer testified that Jesus “ranks ahead of ” him, and by virtue of the Spirit’s descending upon Jesus, he testified that Jesus is the “Son of God” (John 1:30, NRSV). These references are reminiscent of the decree of royal sonship (Psalm 2:6-7; see also Luke 1:32-33). When the Jewish leaders put Jesus on trial, they asked: “Are you the Son of God, then?” Satisfied with His answer, they told Pilate Jesus was claiming to be “a king” (Luke 22:70; 23:2). As Jesus died on the cross, the only accusation assigned to Him was, “This is the king of the Jews” (Luke 23:38). According to Paul and the writer of Hebrews, this regal distinction was especially manifest after Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 13:33; Romans 1:4; Hebrews 1:5).
While Jesus’ identity certainly included these then-prevailing ideas of sonship, it is obvious they do not exhaust the significance of the term for Him. Over and again, Jesus referred to God as His Father (Matthew 7:21; 10:32; 11:27, et al.). Since the Jews also saw themselves as sons and daughters of God, this should not have bothered them. But it did bother them, precisely because they perceived Jesus to be making a unique—and seemingly blasphemous—claim of sonship.
This uniqueness reached its zenith when Jesus addressed God as “Abba, Father” in prayer (Mark 14:36). “Abba” was the word a Jewish child used to refer to his or her “original person of reference” (i.e., mother or father). This bespoke an “unheard-of closeness” between Jesus and God (Moltmann, 1993, p. 142). Jesus demonstrated this closeness throughout His life. And it was in this intimacy that Jesus’ sonship is best defined. Gerald O’Collins has observed:
[Jesus] not only spoke like “the Son” but he also acted like “the Son” in knowing and revealing truth about God, in changing the divine law, in forgiving sins, in being the one through whom others could become children of God, and in acting with total obedience as the agent of God’s final kingdom (1995, p. 126).To see through the eyes of faith that Jesus is the Son of God is to see that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself ” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Finally, in the Gospel of John, Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son” Who was “sent” from the Father (John 3:16-17; 5:23; 6:40; 10:36). Clearly, this is a special claim. On one of those occasions, Jesus based His authority to heal on the Sabbath on the fact that His Father was working. This infuriated some of the Jews. John explained: “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
In summary, to identify Jesus as the Son of God is to acknowledge His genealogical connection to Israel, His right to the throne of David, and His unparalleled nearness to God. To confess that Jesus is the Son of God is to declare as true Jesus’ claim: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Moltmann, Jürgen (1993), The Way of Jesus Christ (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress).
O’Collins, Gerald (1995), Christology (New York: Oxford University Press).
Sanders, E.P. (1993), The Historical Figure of Jesus (New York: Penguin).
Assumptions and the Age of the Earth
|by||Michael G. Houts, Ph.D.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by A.P. staff scientist Dr. Houts who holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from MIT and serves as the Nuclear Research Manager for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.]Scientific advances continue to confirm the Bible in all areas where science can be applied. Advances in life science have shown that even the simplest life is vastly more complicated than anything humans have ever made, and believing life could somehow “make itself” is more absurd than believing a space shuttle could do the same (Miller, 2013). Research related to the human genome has uncovered the incredible complexity of DNA, and the idea that random mutations followed by natural selection could somehow turn a single cell into all of the different forms of life we see around us is being further discredited each day (Sanford, 2008). In these areas (and others) it is obvious that true science is the Christian’s friend, and the enemy of religions that use evolution as their foundation.
Because true science continues to discredit the Theory of Evolution, atheists have been forced to focus discussion on topics where conclusions are drawn primarily based on the assumptions that are made, and not on actual science. If an unsuspecting individual can be convinced to accept atheistic assumptions, they can then often be convinced that atheism may be true or, at least, that portions of the Bible may be false.
One example is the subject of “age.” When one examines the subject, it becomes clear that all dating methods rely on assumptions that may or may not be correct. Because all dating methods ultimately rely on assumptions that cannot be empirically proven, the battle is no longer a scientific one (where the atheist or agnostic would lose), but a battle to convince individuals (and society) to accept atheistic assumptions without question. Within groups already dedicated to finding an atheistic explanation for the Universe and everything in it, the atheist has the upper hand.
Assumptions Related to Carbon DatingAn excellent example of the importance of assumptions is Carbon-14 dating. In a nutshell, if a person assumes the Bible is false, Carbon-14 dating can be used to “show” the Bible is false. If a person assumes the Bible is true, then Carbon-14 dating is shown to be consistent with the biblical account.
More specifically, an atheist will usually assume that the Earth is billions of years old, and that uniformitarianism has generally prevailed. Although minor adjustments are allowed, an atheist would also typically assume that there have been no large scale changes in the atmospheric ratio of Carbon-14 to carbon (14C/C; currently about one part per trillion) for at least the past several hundred thousand years.
From a Christian perspective, the Bible makes it clear that the Earth was created a few thousand years ago. In addition, a global flood occurred within the past 5,000 years. Uncertainties in the distribution and concentration of Carbon-14 at the end of Creation week, coupled with the potential for significant (two orders of magnitude) changes in Carbon-14 concentration caused by removal of carbon from the biosphere during the Flood, make it impossible to estimate Carbon-14 concentrations in the atmosphere much before a few centuries after the Flood. Additional uncertainties are added due to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, the Sun’s magnetic field, the cosmic ray flux reaching the Earth’s atmosphere, and other factors which can dramatically affect Carbon-14 production rates.
To estimate the age of a carbon containing sample, the standard equation C = Co (e-λt) is used, where C is the currently measured Carbon-14 (14C) concentration; Co is the 14C concentration at the time of an organism’s death (assumed); e is the base of natural logarithms (2.71828); λ is 0.6931 divided by the half-life of 14C; and t is time. Solving the equation for time (given the current 14C half-life of 5,730 years), one obtains t = ln(C/Co)/-0.000121, where “t” is the time in years since the source of the carbon in the sample died.
The importance of the assumptions that are used to date a specimen can be demonstrated as follows. Suppose a carbon containing sample is found with a Carbon-14 concentration 2% that of today. Using the typical atheistic assumptions stated above, the age would be calculated as t = ln(0.02)/-.000121 = 32,330 years. However, if biblically consistent assumptions are made, a significantly different age would be estimated. For example, if a reasonable assumption was made concerning potential effects of the Flood (for instance, that near the time of the Flood Co was 1/30th that of today), then the same measured data would yield an age of t = ln(0.02/0.0333)/-.000121 = 4,210 years.
From the same measured 14C/C ratio, one could either make atheistic assumptions and obtain a biblically inconsistent date, or make biblically consistent assumptions and obtain a biblically consistent date. The same measured data yields a non-biblical date (32,330 years) if the Bible is presupposed to be wrong (i.e., no Flood and no recent Creation) and a biblically consistent date (4,210 years) if potential effects from even a single biblical event are taken into account.
In addition to the Flood, there are numerous other factors that could affect Co in artifacts created near the time of the Flood. For example, the total energy in the Earth’s magnetic field has been measured to be decreasing with time (Humphreys, 1984). The Earth’s magnetic field shields the Earth from cosmic rays that form Carbon-14 in the Earth’s atmosphere. The stronger the magnetic field, the fewer cosmic rays enter the Earth’s atmosphere, and the lower the amount of Carbon-14 produced. The stronger magnetic field of the past could thus cause carbon-dated objects (using atheistic assumptions) to have a calculated age older than reality. It is also impossible to determine how much (if any) Carbon-14 was present in the original Creation, and if Carbon-14 was present, how it was initially distributed.
From a biblical perspective, the Flood was the most recent physical event that would have had a significant effect on the ratio of 14C/C. Consequently, the effect of assumptions on samples created more than a few centuries after the Flood are greatly reduced. Once the 14C/C ratio had time to stabilize following the Flood, both biblical models and atheistic models would use the same assumption for the initial condition, i.e., that the 14C/C ratio was about the same when the sample was formed as it is today.
Biblical and secular written records generally agree, and when there are disagreements, an assumption is made as to which source to believe. For very old objects, some archeological dating methods (including pottery styles, burial layer, etc.) give biblically inconsistent dates. However, most of these methods are ultimately calibrated to Carbon-14 dating. If the Carbon-14 dates are wrong (due to incorrect assumptions applied to the initial 14C/C ratio), then the dating methods calibrated to those dates will also be wrong. Attempts have also been made to use tree ring patterns for calibration, but those are also influenced by assumptions, especially if the potential for sub-annual tree ring growth following the Flood is taken into account (Miller, 2014).
Assumptions Related to other Radiometric Dating MethodsAssumptions dominate other radiometric dating methods as well. For example, secular radiometric dating methods assume that radioactive decay rates have always been constant. In addition, assumptions are made about the initial concentration of all of the isotopes that are involved in the dating method, and assumptions are made about the addition or removal of isotopes throughout the life of the sample. If any of these assumptions is incorrect, significant errors can be introduced into the estimated age.
Major anomalies associated with radiometric dating methods can be resolved by biblically consistent models. For example, Carbon-14 is found in diamonds and coal purported to be hundreds of millions of years old. However, Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, meaning ½ of the atoms decay (in this case beta-decay to Nitrogen-14) every 5,730 years. It was noted by the RATE group that the detectable presence of Carbon-14 in any sample indicates that its age is less (possibly much less) than approximately 100,000 years; otherwise, the Carbon-14 would have decayed below detectable levels (DeYoung, 2005, p. 175; NOTE: RATE [Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth] refers to an eight year research project conducted by the Institute for Creation Research). The presence of Carbon-14 in coal and diamonds strongly contradicts evolutionary theory, which claims that both coal and diamonds formed millions of years ago. The “problem” (from an evolutionist’s standpoint) of Carbon-14 in coal has also been reported by Lowe (1989, 31:117-120), Giem (2001, 51:6-30), and others. Additional information related to Carbon-14 dating and anomalies is given in Batten, 2002.
Attempts to resolve the contradiction between measured Carbon-14 concentration and assumed age include postulating potential contamination of samples, errors with the equipment used to detect Carbon-14, and in-situ production of Carbon-14 from the decay of uranium or thorium mixed with the sample. Contamination and equipment error have been ruled out, and current decay rates are orders of magnitude lower than those required to make in-situ production a viable explanation (Jull, 1985, 20:676). However, if radioactive decay rates were greatly accelerated (by a factor of a billion or more) during Creation week or the Flood, then additional investigation could be warranted to determine if in-situ production of Carbon-14 could be a potential explanation for at least some of the Carbon-14 in coal and diamonds.
Other observations made by the RATE group are also consistent with periods of greatly accelerated radioactive decay during Creation week or the Flood. One of the findings of the RATE group was excess helium retention in zircons. This finding indicates that based on measured helium diffusion rates, the observed radioactive decay in zircons must have occurred within the past several thousand years. If it had taken longer, the helium generated via alpha decay would have diffused out of the zircons. The group’s observation is that significant radioactive decay has occurred, and it has occurred recently (DeYoung, p. 176).
An additional finding of the RATE group is that ages estimated using parent isotopes that undergo beta decay tend to be significantly different (younger) than ages estimated using parent isotopes that undergo alpha decay. This could suggest that whatever mechanism God used to change decay rates during Creation week and around the time of the Flood had a different effect on alpha emitters than it did on beta emitters (DeYoung, p. 121). The RATE group has also performed research related to radiohalos, fission tracks in zircons, and potential mechanisms for alleviating issues (such as high heating rates) introduced by accelerated radioactive decay (pp. 174-183). Among other implications, the observations of the RATE group indicate that assumptions used in radiometric dating may be false, and that ages estimated through use of radiometric dating may be incorrect by several orders of magnitude.
In addition to recent research performed by both Christian and secular scientists alike, other lines of evidence have been known for years that are consistent with a relatively recent Creation (Humphreys, 2000). These include the rate at which galaxies “wind up” (too fast for long ages), the amount of mud on the seafloor (too little), the amount of sodium in the sea (too little), the rate at which the Earth’s magnetic field is decaying (too fast), the number of stone age skeletons (too few), the development of agriculture (too recent), and numerous others. Biblically based theories also exist for interpreting what we observe in the Universe, given a relatively recent Creation (e.g., Humphreys, 1994; Thompson, 2004; Faulkner, 2013). Other biblically consistent interpretations have also been proposed (Williams and Hartnett, 2005, p. 180).
Assumptions Related to the Origin of the UniverseAssumptions related to “age” are not limited to radiometric dating methods. Perhaps some of the most egregious assumptions are associated with the “Big Bang” theory, the current attempt to develop an atheistic explanation for the origin of the Universe.
Serious contradictions between the predictions of the Big Bang theory and actual astronomical observations have been known for decades. By the mid-1970s, the evidence against the theory had become so overwhelming that “explanations” were required. “Dark matter” and “dark energy” were contrived, and initially said to make up 50% of the Universe. That number has since grown and, at present, a total of 96% of the Universe needs to be made of dark matter and dark energy in order to preserve the Big Bang theory.
Christians and non-Christians alike readily acknowledge that dark matter and dark energy are merely hypothetical entities that, by definition, cannot be directly observed. For example, former NASA administrator Mike Griffin once asked the value of “discovering that literally 95% of the Universe consists of dark energy or dark matter, terms for things that we as yet know nothing about? But they make up 95% of our Universe” (Griffin, 2007). He went on to write that someday we may learn to harness these “new things.” When asked about dark energy, physicist Michael Turner of the University of Chicago quipped: “The only thing we know about dark energy is its name” (Griffin, 2007).
While dark matter and dark energy have been given specific properties, those properties were specifically chosen to help resolve serious problems with the Big Bang. Additionally, dark matter and dark energy can be distributed throughout the Universe in any fashion desired. When observations are still contradicted, concepts such as “dark flow” and “dark light” can be invoked. Other contradictions are resolved by concepts such as “inflation,” which in themselves are merely conjectures aimed at resolving other serious problems with the Big Bang.
With this approach, any set of data can be claimed to support any theory desired. All that is required is the judicious use of “fudge factors.” Consider this mathematical analogy: one could predecide that 100 must be the answer to the question, “what does X + Y equal?” Values for “X” could then be sought, and no matter what values for “X” were found, a value for “Y” could be chosen to obtain the desired answer. In the analogy, “X” is actual astronomical observations, “100” would be the desired answer (support for the Big Bang theory), and “Y” is the fudge factors (dark matter, dark energy, inflation, etc.) needed to make the equation true. The actual astronomical observations (“X”) become somewhat irrelevant, because no matter what data is taken, “Y” (the fudge factors) can be chosen to claim the observations support the Big Bang theory.
Circular reasoning is then invoked to pretend the approach is valid. For example, in the case of the Big Bang theory, maps showing the location of dark matter have been developed. In reality, all these maps show is the specific ways dark matter must be invoked to avoid contradictions between actual observations and the Big Bang theory.
Christians are not the only ones who have noticed the non-scientific nature of the Big Bang theory. For example, in the May 22, 2004 issue of New Scientist, an open letter to the scientific community appeared written primarily by secular scientists (cosmologystatement.org). The letter was subsequently signed by hundreds of other scientists and professors at various institutions. Two representative paragraphs from the letter are as follows.
The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory.
What is more, the big bang theory can boast of no quantitative predictions that have subsequently been validated by observation. The successes claimed by the theory’s supporters consist of its ability to retrospectively fit observations with a steadily increasing array of adjustable parameters, just as the old Earth-centered cosmology of Ptolemy needed layer upon layer of epicycles (Lisle, 2008, p. 103, emp. added).Although the signers of the letter were not necessarily endorsing biblically based theories, unlike atheistic theories, biblically based theories are very consistent with astronomical observations (Faulkner, 2013; Humphreys, 1994).
Adherence to Faulty Assumptions Hinders True ScienceTremendous spiritual damage is done by the promotion of atheism through the pretense of atheistic theories being scientific. Ironically, though, the strict adherence to atheistic theories (regardless of countering evidence) also does tremendous damage to the advancement of science.
For example, for a secular theory of cosmology to be considered, it must adhere to atheistic (and non-scientific) tenets such as the “Copernican Principle,” which essentially states that Earth cannot be at a special location within the Universe. That principle drives not only fundamental assumptions behind the Big Bang theory, but the means by which alternative theories can be seriously pursued.
Consider the August 2009 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science and quoted in the popular press, including USA Today (Vergano, 2009):
Mathematicians have come up with an answer Monday for the mystery of “dark energy” tearing the universe apart at an accelerating rate. It ain’t there. Blake Temple and Joel Smoller suggest that “expanding waves” from the Big Bang “are propelling the trillions of galaxies filling the universe apart…. Dark energy is an illusion if their equations are right.” However, “the only problem is that for the equations to work, we must be ‘literally at the center of the universe’...” says physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University in Tempe. I think this is plausible mathematics, but it doesn’t seem physically relevant.Science News publicized an analogous article from Physical Review Letters in 2008, stating:
If Earth and its environs are centered in a vast, billion-light-year-long bubble, relatively free of matter, in turn surrounded by a massive, dense shell of material, then gravity’s tug would cause galaxies inside the void to hurtle toward the spherical concentration of mass, say theorists Robert Caldwell of Dartmouth College and Albert Stebbins of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. That process would mimic the action of dark energy—a local observer would be tricked into thinking that the universe’s expansion is accelerating (Cowen, 2008).The article further notes: “But that scenario violates the Copernican principle, a notion near and dear to the hearts of physicists and cosmologists, including Caldwell and Stebbins” (Cowen, 2008).
Both models eliminate the need for “Dark Energy,” the fudge factor that accounts for 73% of the Universe according to the traditional Big Bang theory. However, neither model has been seriously pursued because both violate the arbitrary assumption that the Earth cannot be in a special location (i.e., the “Copernican principle”). Many cosmologists feel a special location would imply the existence of God.
But what if the Earth is in a special location? The secular models described in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science and Physical Review Letters actually correspond quite well with the biblically consistent models proposed by Russ Humphreys and others, especially when the potential effects of gravitational time dilation are taken into account (Humphreys, 1994; Thompson, 2004). These models explain how stars that are billions of light years distant can be seen from an Earth that is less than 10,000 years old, all based on a straightforward reading of the Bible.
The assumption that radioactive decay rates have always been constant may also be hindering scientific progress. For example, scientists have discovered that changes in radioactive decay rates can be induced. The June 8, 2009 CERN Courier noted:
It is a common belief that radioactive decay rates are unchanged by external conditions, despite many examples of small shifts (particularly involving external pressure and K-capture decays) being well documented and understood. However, Fabio Cardone of the Institute per lo Studio dei Materiali Nanostrutturati in Rome and colleagues have shown a dramatic increase—by a factor of 10,000—in the decay rate of thorium-228 in water as a result of ultrasonic cavitation. Exactly what the physics is and whether or not this sort of effect can be scaled up into a technology for nuclear waste treatment remain open issues (Reucroft and Swain, 2009).Recent observations also suggest that radioactive decay rates (typically assumed to be constant) can change due to causes that are not yet fully understood. For example, in August 2010, a team of scientists from Purdue and Stanford universities announced that the decay of radioactive isotopes fluctuates in sync with the rotation of the Sun’s core. The team has published a series of articles in Astroparticle Physics, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, and Space Science Reviews. Although the measured change in decay rate is small (~0.1%), the fact that change occurs at all is extremely significant. Team member Jere Jenkins noted: “[W]hat we’re suggesting is that something that can’t interact with anything is changing something that can’t be changed” (Gardner, 2010).
When considering the effects of assumptions on the estimated age of the Earth and Universe, it can also be instructive to look at the effects of assumptions in other areas related to the debate between atheism and the Bible. For example, in 2009 Richard Dawkins wrote: “What pseudogenes are useful for is embarrassing creationists. It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make up a reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene…unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us” (Dawkins, 2009, p. 332). What if scientists had believed Dawkins, and had given up researching “pseudogenes” because those scientists decided to assume pseudogenes were simply useless evolutionary leftovers? Fortunately most scientists did not, and by 2012 extensive evidence had been uncovered that pseudogenes have functions related to encoding proteins and gene expression. There is also sequence conservation in pseudogenes. In 2012, the ongoing ENCODE project (which includes 32 laboratories from around the world) simultaneously published 30 scientific papers detailing new discoveries. Among their conclusions were that “vast parts of the human genome thought to be ‘junk DNA’ are really filled with millions of cellular ‘switches’ helping choreograph the roles genes play in human life and disease,” and that nearly all DNA “has some function in cellular creation and growth” (Roop, 2012). With advancements in true science, the evolutionist’s argument for assuming “junk DNA” is rapidly fading away, much as their assumption of “vestigial organs” did in the late 20th century.
Biblically consistent assumptions have been shown superior in other areas as well. Models based on those assumptions have successfully predicted the strength and behavior of planetary magnetic fields, where secular models have failed (Humphreys, 1984). Models that take into account effects from the global Flood are not only consistent with the geologic record, but do an excellent job predicting the observed extent and effects of the ice age including the ice sheets that remain today (Oard, 2005). The biblical claim that all humans are descendants of one man and one woman, and that “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26, NASB) is fully supported by modern genetics (Purdom, 2014). The argument that “science” somehow supports racism (directly or indirectly made by Darwin, Haeckl, Hitler, et al.) has been thoroughly rebuffed (Houts, 2007).
ConclusionIt is difficult to imagine how the Bible could make it any clearer that God created the Universe in six literal days a few thousand years ago. While apparently well meaning attempts have been made to devise compromise positions, the technical and theological problems with these attempts are well documented in the literature (e.g., Lyons, 2014; Thompson, 2000; Sarfati, 2004; Miller, 2012; Mortenson, 2005).
First Peter 3:14-15 states: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness andreverence” (NASB, emp. added). Christians must not allow themselves to be intimidated by contemporary human wisdom. While on the surface that “wisdom” can appear convincing, closer examination has always supported the Bible.
The Bible also warns us not to distort Scripture in order to accommodate contemporary human wisdom. Second Peter 3:16 states: “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (NASB).
For some it can be hard to understand how the Earth can be a few thousand years old when they have been told “science” says it is a few billion years old. Individuals in that situation must resist the temptation to distort Scripture in order to pretend the Bible is consistent with that prevailing worldview. Although the distortion may be done with the best of intentions, its end can be disastrous. Proverbs 14:12 tells us: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Throughout history, Christianity has been attacked in a variety of ways. While the attack based on “age” is currently en vogue, it is becoming easier to rebut given advances in true science. Romans 3:4 remains as true today as it was in the first century: “[L]et God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, ‘that you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged’” (NASB).
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