12/30/17

My 2018 Bible Reading Plan by Gary Rose


As of the new year, I will be using a slightly modified version of my "researcher" reading plan. If you are interested, just click on the link below or paste the web address into your browser.
Link

Web Address

Feel free to print out the whole 12 months and a brief explanation (page 13) or just one month to see if you like it. 

I recommend choosing one category to start with. That way you are reading one chapter from the old testament and one from the new.

Gary

ps. Please note that the daily readings I post on my blog are determined by my Easy Read Bible Plan and not my own personal reading plan. The Easy Read Plan starts out with a smaller read each day and then gradually increases over time!

G.

12/29/17

"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Blessings Involving The Holy Spirit (1:13-14) by Mark Copeland


                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"

              Blessings Involving The Holy Spirit (1:13-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. In studying verses 4-12 in which Paul is praising God for the
   "spiritual riches" in Christ, we have seen blessings which involve
   both the Father and the Son...
   a. Blessings involving the Father include our being:
      1) "Chosen by God", to be holy and without blame before Him in 
         love (1:4)
      2) "Predestined by God", to receive the adoption as sons of God 
         (1:5-6a)
      3) "Accepted by God", that is, to be highly favored by Him (1:6b)
   b. Blessings involving the Son also include the following:
      1) "God has redeemed us" through the precious blood of His Son 
         (1:7a)
      2) "God has forgiven us" of our sins by virtue of His grace 
         (1:7b-8)
      3) "God has revealed His Will to us" pertaining to His plan to 
         gather into one all things in Christ (1:9-10)
      4) "God has given us an inheritance" as part of His predetermined 
         plan (1:11-12)

2. Verses 13-14 close out this "doxology", by pointing out blessings 
   we have in Christ that relate in particular to the work of the Holy 
   Spirit

[What are these "Blessings Involving The Holy Spirit"?  The first one 
is...]

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR "SEAL" (13)

   A. DEFINING "SEAL"...
      1. The word is sphragizo {sfrag-id'-zo}, which means "to set a 
         seal upon, mark with a seal, to seal"
      2. A "seal" was used for various reasons, including:
         a. To guarantee the genuine character of a document 
            (Esther 3:12), or, figuratively, of a person (1Co 9:2)
         b. To mark ownership (So 8:6)
         c. To protect against tampering or harm (Mt 27:66; Re 5:1)

   B. HOW IS THE HOLY SPIRIT OUR "SEAL"?
      1. It could be in every sense of the word...
         a. In Ro 8:16, the Spirit Himself "bears witness" that we are
            children of God (i.e., guarantees our genuine character)
         b. In Ro 8:9, the indwelling Holy Spirit is considered 
            evidence that we are truly Christ's (i.e., a mark of 
            ownership, cf. also 1Co 6:19-20)
         c. In Ro 8:13-14, it is by the Spirit of God that we "put to 
            death the deeds of the body" so we can live (i.e., to some 
            degree helping to protect against tampering or harm, cf. 
            also Ep 3:16)
      2. However, the context of Ephesians makes me think that "proof of
         ownership" is what Paul had in mind...
         a. He goes on to speak of the Holy Spirit as a "guarantee...until
            the redemption of the purchased possession" - Ep 1:14
         b. He later says that we were sealed by the Spirit "for the day
            of redemption" - Ep 4:30
         -- So until that "day of redemption", the Holy Spirit is given 
            to the Christian as evidence that we truly belong to God

   C. WHEN ARE WE "SEALED" WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT?
      1. It is AFTER (not before)...
         a. One hears the word of truth, the gospel - Ep 1:13
         b. One believes the gospel - Ep 1:13; cf. Jn 7:37-39
         c. One becomes a son of God - Ga 4:6-7 (which occurs when a 
            believer is baptized into Christ - cf. Ga 3:26-27)
      2. Thus it is only when we obey the gospel of Jesus Christ that we
         are "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise"...
         a. As Peter told the crowd on the Day of Pentecost - Ac 2:
            38-39
         b. And as he told the Sanhedrin Council - Ac 5:32

[This "seal" as a "mark of ownership" is something that might be of more
significance to God (and to Satan, who would try to steal what belongs 
to God) than it does to us, but we can take comfort in knowing that God 
considers us His property, and that the work of the Holy Spirit in our 
lives is to be evidence of such ownership.

Paul describes the Spirit in this passage as "the Holy Spirit OF 
PROMISE", which could be understood in two ways:

   1) the promised Holy Spirit (cf. Ac 1:4-5; 2:33,38-39); or 
   2) the Holy Spirit which gives promise of what else lies ahead.  

In view of what we learn next about the Holy Spirit, I suspect Paul refers
to the latter, for...]

II. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR "GUARANTEE" (14)

   A. DEFINING "GUARANTEE" ("EARNEST", KJV)...
      1. The word is arrabon {ar-hrab-ohn'}
      2. It is used to refer to "money which in purchases is given as a
         pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently be
         paid"
      3. In the LXX (Septuagint Version of the OT), the word is
         translated "pledge" three times in Gen 38:17-20

   B. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A "GUARANTEE OF OUR INHERITANCE"...
      1. God has given the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a "deposit"
         ("earnest", KJV, and is the same Greek word) - 2Co 1:22
      2. He is a guarantee of what God has prepared for us - 2Co 5:1-5
      3. The blessing of the Holy Spirit working in our lives is only a
         foretaste of the glory that will one day be ours
      4. And yet, as an example of what the Holy Spirit can do for us 
         now, consider these passages: Ro 15:13; Ep 3:16; Ga 5:22-23

   C. HE SERVES AS SUCH "UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED
      POSSESSION"...
      1. While in one sense we have been redeemed (Ep 1:7) through the
         blood of Christ, in another sense God has yet to redeem those 
         who are truly His (Ep 4:30)
      2. Until that day, the Holy Spirit serves as a guarantee that the 
         FINAL redemption will one day take place
      3. Hendriksen comments:  "At the moment when believers receive 
         THEIR full inheritance, which includes a glorious resurrection 
         body (4:30), the redemption of GOD'S own possession takes 
         place, that is, the full release to him of that which is his
         by virtue of the fact that he both made it and bought it."

CONCLUSION

1. So we have the Holy Spirit as a "seal" and a "guarantee".  What 
   should our reaction be?

2. For the third time (1:6,12,14), Paul says these blessings are "to 
   the praise of His glory"!

3. Thus our reaction should be the same as Paul as stated at the
   beginning of this section...
   a. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
      blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
      in Christ" - 1:3
   b. I.e., to praise God!

Are you praising God for His wonderful grace and mercy?  Later on, Paul
will tell us how we can "walk worthy of the calling with which you were
called" (Ep 4:1), but he sums it up very nicely in Ro 12:1-2...

   "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that
   ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
   God, [which is] your reasonable service.  And be not conformed
   to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
   mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and
   perfect, will of God."

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker 

Does Inspiration Imply Dictation? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=565


Does Inspiration Imply Dictation?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Sometimes honest and sincere people apparently believe that God dictated every jot, every tittle, and ever word in the Scriptures, thus making the Bible writers little more than mechanical robots that dutifully copied down the Scriptures—verse by verse, as it were. If God had dictated the Bible, however, the style and vocabulary of each book of the Bible would be the same throughout. Yet, a simple reading of the Scriptures proves that the mechanical dictation viewpoint is incorrect. The fact is, the personality and style of each author are evident in every book of the Bible. Paul’s writings are different from Peter’s, and John’s are different from Luke’s. At times, Bible writers even used different words to teach the same story or to give the same commands.
Take, for example, one of the differences between Mark’s gospel and Luke’s gospel. When writing about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter heaven, Mark said it is “easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye” (Mark 10:25). Mark uses the Greek word rhaphis (needle), which means a sewing needle. On the other hand, when Luke used the same analogy (Luke 18:25), he employed the Greek word belone, which frequently was used when speaking of a surgeon’s needle. The same principle is taught in both texts, yet different words are used. Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14), and so he used the kind of needle with which he was most familiar. Likewise, Mark used the term for a seamstress’s needle, most likely because that was the kind of needle he was most accustomed to seeing. Is this a contradiction? No. Two different personalities are reflected in the words, but the idea is the same. Although the concept may be somewhat difficult to understand, inspiration involves the selection of the exact words, yet allows room for the personality of the individual to be reflected in the writing. And while inspiration extends to every word of Scripture, it does not rule out either human personality or human personal interest. Simply put, when the Bible writers claimed inspiration (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17), they did not have mechanical dictation in mind.
The correct view is to understand that the Bible’s inspiration is verbal and plenary. This means that the Bible writers penned exactly what God wanted them to write, without errors or mistakes, yet with their own personalities evident in their writings. By “verbal,” we mean that every word in the Bible exists because God permitted it (via the direction of the Holy Spirit). King David clearly recognized the validity of this kind of inspiration when he said: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2, emp. added). By “plenary,” we mean that each and every part of the Bible is inspired, without anything being omitted. (“Plenary” means full).
By employing the verbal and plenary view of inspiration, God ensured that the independent Bible writers penned only that which was correct and consistent with His will.

God’s Love by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1438


God’s Love

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself have founded empires, but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love: and to this very day millions would die for Him” (as quoted in Ankerberg and Weldon, 1997, p. 29). If every one of God’s characteristics was to be summarized in a single English word, only one word could suffice: love. Of course, the idea of love does not encompass all of God’s characteristics, but it is a fitting summation of God’s personality. In fact, John wrote simply that “God is love” (1 John 4:8-9,16)—perhaps the most powerful statement ever made about God’s love (we do not, as some do, charge that God’s justice is inconsistent with his love and mercy [see Colley, 2004a]).
When Paul listed the fruits of the Spirit—characteristics that appear in the lives of Christ's followers (Galatians 5:22-23)—the first fruit he mentioned was love. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang upon love (Matthew 22:40; Mark 12:28). God is not merely a loving God, but God is love, and love defines His very essence. Every action of God has been carried out, ultimately, because of His magnificent love.
God loves His Son. The relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ is one of great love. God’s eternal love has an eternal object, and that eternal object is Christ. Consider a sampling of the passages that bear the special relationship the Father and Son share:
  • Isaiah 42:1: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice.”
  • Matthew 3:17: “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ ” (cf. Matthew 17:5).
  • John 1:18: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
  • John 5:20: “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does” (cf. John 3:30).
  • John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.”
God loves His Son’s followers. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). The Greek verb translated “poured out” in Romans 5:5, ekcheo, is the same verb used to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17ff.). This suggests that, through Christ, God has blessed His spiritual children with an abundant amount of love. The tense of the verb is perfect, indicating a settled state or a completed action. The idea, then, is that the love of God has filled our hearts, and, like a valley remains full of flood water, our hearts remain full of Christ’s love (see Packer, 1975, pp. 129-130). Those who are in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27) are in a covenant relationship with God, a relationship in which both God and the Christian are pledged to each other.
Again, Paul wrote: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Although Christians can (and, sadly, sometimes do) cease to love Christ (Acts 8:12-13; Galatians 5:4; James 5:19-20; see Jackson, 2003), Christ will never cease to love them, for God is unchanging (James 1:17; see Colley, 2004b). Packer wrote concerning the unchanging quality of God’s love:
…[T]his does not mean that He is unfeeling (impassive), or that there is nothing in Him that corresponds to emotions and affections in us, but that whereas human passions—specifically the painful ones, fear, grief, regret, despair—are in a sense passive and involuntary, being called forth and constrained by circumstances not under our control, the corresponding attitudes in God have the nature of deliberate voluntary choices, and therefore are not of the same order as human passions at all. So the love of the God who is spirit is no fitful, fluctuating thing, as the love of man is, nor is it a mere impotent longing for things that may never be…. There are no inconstancies or vicissitudes in the love of the almighty God who is spirit (1975, pp. 133-134, parenthetical item in orig.).
God loves the world. That is, God cares even for people who disregard Him. Paul wrote: “But God demonstrates His own love toward use, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emp. added). The Greek word translated love in Romans 5:8 is agape, which appears abundantly (82 times) in the Greek New Testament. Agape is a selfless love that motivates one to sacrifice on the behalf of others, so it has come to be known by many as “Christian” love. This purest form of love is the agape under consideration when Paul wrote: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It was that love that made Christ willing to “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
God despises sin, but loves sinners. He does not approve or overlook sin; rather, He wants each sinner to repent of his wrongdoing and change his life (Acts 17:30). Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emp. added). God delays the Second Coming of Christ, not because He is undependable or incapable of fulfilling the promise of judgment (1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 3:7-9; 1 John 4:17; Jude 6,15; Revelation 14:7), but because His love motivates Him to give sinners more opportunities to repent. Instead of admiring or imitating the wrong actions of sinners, we should abhor sin (Romans 12:9), and share God’s concern for lost souls—a concern that should motivate us to share the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16; John 14:6).
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34, emp. added). In stating that the commandment was new, Jesus obviously intended to draw a distinction between His commandment and everything else that would have been familiar to His disciples concerning the topic they were discussing. Though the command to love one’s neighbor was not new (Leviticus 19:18), Christ’s command was new in that it demanded that we love, not as we love ourselves, but as God loves us. This would be the sign to non-Christians that the first-century disciples really were followers of Christ (John 13:35; see Pack, 1977, 5:54-55), and it serves the same purpose today.
William Evans wrote: “As love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be the highest expression of man’s relation to his Maker and to his fellow-man” (1994, 3:1932). God’s love should motivate us to express our love for Him by obeying His commands. Jesus could not have put it any clearer than He did when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Let us pray that as we obey Christ, we will be able to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of His love, which “passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

REFERENCES

Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon (1997), Ready With an Answer (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).
Colley, Caleb (2004a), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Colley, Caleb (2004b), “The Immutability of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2567.
Evans, William (1994), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Jackson, Wayne (2003), “Galatians 5:4—Fallen from Grace,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/notes/fallenFromGrace.htm.
Pack, Frank (1977), The Living Word Commentary, ed. Everett Ferguson (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Packer, J.I. (1975), Knowing God (London: Hodder and Stoughton), second edition.

When Did Job Live? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2516


When Did Job Live?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Q.

When Did Job Live?

A.

Neither the book of Job nor any other book of the Bible indicates forthrightly when God’s servant Job lived upon the Earth. Furthermore, no biblical genealogies with chronological information, such as that found in Genesis 5 and 11, help in approximating the century in which Job lived. Nevertheless, various clues within the book of Job seem to indicate Job lived sometime after the Flood, but long before the time of Moses.
First, Job’s postdiluvian status seems apparent from a question Eliphaz raised in his final speech. While accusing Job of wickedness, Eliphaz asked: “Will you keep to the old way which wicked menhave trod, who were cut down before their time, whose foundations were swept away by a flood?” (Job 22:16, emp. added). As Wayne Jackson noted: “That this is a reference to the Flood of Noah’s day is almost universally conceded by scholars” (1983, p. 58).
Second, that Job was a patriarch who lived prior to the time of Moses, and probably closer to the time of Abraham, seems evident from the following facts:
  • Like other patriarchs of old (Genesis 8:20; 12:7-8; 31:54), Job, as the head of his family, offered up sacrifices to God (Job 1:5; cf. 42:8). In the book of Job, there is no mention of the Levitical priesthood, the tabernacle, the temple, the Law of Moses, etc.
  • Unlike Israelite law, where the family inheritance was passed on to daughters only in the absence of sons (Numbers 27:1-11; 36:1-13), Job gave his daughters “an inheritance among their brothers” (Job 42:15).
  • Job’s material wealth was measured, not in money, but in the amount of livestock he owned (Job 1:3; 42:12), which is more characteristic of patriarchal times.
  • Finally, that Job lived long before the time of Moses seems evident by the fact that the longevity of his life is more comparable to the long lives of the patriarchs who lived around 2200 B.C. The book of Job reveals that Job lived long enough to marry, become “the greatest of all the men of the east” (1:3), and then witness his first 10 children reach at least the age of accountability (1:5), and probably much greater ages (cf. 1:13,18). Then, after suffering greatly, losing all of his children and his material wealth, God blessed Job with 10 more children and twice as much wealth (42:10-13). The book of Job then concludes: “After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days” (42:10-17, emp. added). Thus, it would appear that Job lived well into his 200s or beyond. Interestingly, the Septuagint testifies that Job died at the age of 240—an age more comparable to the ancestors of Abraham (e.g., Serug, Abraham’s great-grandfather lived to be 230—Genesis 11:22-23).

REFERENCES

Jackson, Wayne (1983), The Book of Job (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications).

Christ Emptied…Himself! by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=432

Christ Emptied…Himself!
by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Through the years, some theologians have used Philippians 2:6-7 to defend the idea that the second Person of the Godhead, at the time of the incarnation (when “the Word became flesh”—John 1:14), “emptied Himself” of deity. It has been alleged that whereas Christ existed in the “form of God” prior to the incarnation, He “emptied” himself of that status while on Earth.
Despite the popularity of such ideas in some religious circles, they cannot be proven by citing Philippians 2:6-7 or any other passage in the Bible. In Philippians 2:7, Paul wrote that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” Exactly what did the apostle mean by the phrase, “emptied himself”? Because it is assumed that the verb “emptied” (Greek ekenōsen) requires an object (a genitive qualifier), then Christ must have “emptied himself” of something. However, as Gordon Fee has mentioned in his commentary on Philippians, “Christ did not empty Himself of anything, the text simply says that He emptied himself, He poured Himself out” (1995, p. 210, emp. added). The NIV seems to have captured this sense by stating that He “made himself nothing” (emp. added). The Greek word kenόōliterally means “to empty; to make empty; or to make vain or void.” This word is rendered “made void” in Romans 4:14, where Paul stated that “faith is made void.” Faith did not empty itself ofanything, rather faith emptied itself. Similarly, commenting on Jesus death as if it had already occurred, Isaiah wrote: “He [Jesus—EL] poured out his soul unto death” (Isaiah 53:12). What did Christ pour out? Himself.
But how does Philippians 2:7 say Christ emptied Himself? “Grammatically, Paul explains the ‘emptying’ of Jesus in the next phrase: ‘Taking the form of a servant and coming in the likeness of men’” (Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Unlike Adam and Eve, who made an attempt to seize equality with God (Genesis 3:5), Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), humbled Himself and obediently accepted the role of the bondservant. As N.T. Wright stated: “The real humiliation of the incarnation and the cross is that the one who was himself God, and who never during the whole process stopped being God, could embrace such a vocation” (1986, p. 346).
Although this text does not instruct us regarding of what Christ emptied Himself, we can be assured that there was no change in His divine nature. While Jesus was on Earth, He claimed equality with God the Father (John 10:28) and allowed others to call him “God” (John 20:30; Matthew 16:16). He also accepted worship, even though He plainly taught that only God is worthy of worship (Matthew 8:2; Matthew 4:10). If one contends that Jesus was not divine while upon the Earth, then they make Him either a fraud or a madman.
Philippians 2:7 does not teach that Christ emptied himself of His deity. Rather, to His divinity He added humanity (i.e., He was “made in the likeness of men”). For the first time, He was subject to such things as hunger, thirst, pain, disease, and temptation (cf. John 19:28; Hebrews 4:15). In short, He came to Earth as a God-man.

REFERENCES

Barnes’ Notes (1997), Electronic Database, Biblesoft.
Fee, Gordon D. (1995), Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (1986), Electronic Database, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Biblesoft.
Wright, N.T. (1986), “αρπαγμός and the Meaning of Philippians 2:5-11,” Journal of Theological Studies, 37:321-52, April.

Can Quantum Mechanics Produce a Universe from Nothing? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4584


Can Quantum Mechanics Produce a Universe from Nothing?
by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, nothing in the Universe (i.e., matter or energy) can pop into existence from nothing (see Miller, 2013). All of the scientific evidence points to that conclusion. So, the Universe could not have popped into existence before the alleged “big bang” (an event which we do not endorse). Therefore, God must have created the Universe.
One of the popular rebuttals by the atheistic community is that quantum mechanics could have created the Universe. In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed the idea of mass-energy equivalence, resulting in the famous equation, E = mc2 (1905). We now know that matter can be converted to energy, and vice versa. However, energy and mass are conserved, in keeping with the First Law. In the words of the famous evolutionary astronomer, Robert Jastrow, “[T]he principle of the conservation of matter and energy…states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Matter can be converted into energy, and vice versa, but the total amount of all matter and energy in the Universe must remain unchanged forever” (1977, p. 32). The idea of matter-energy conversion led one physicist to postulate, in essence, that the cosmic egg that exploded billions of years ago in the alleged “big bang”—commencing the “creation” of the Universe—could have come into existence as an energy-to-matter conversion.
In 1973, physicist Edward Tryon of the Hunter College of the City University of New York published a paper in the British science journal Nature titled, “Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?” He proposed the idea that the Universe could be a large scale vacuum energy fluctuation. He said, “In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time” (246:397, emp. added). Does it really? Cosmologist and theoretical physicist Alexander Vilenkin, Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, said:
Now, what Tryon was suggesting was that our entire universe, with its vast amount of matter, was a huge quantum fluctuation, which somehow failed to disappear for more than 10 billion years. Everybody thought that was a very funny joke. But Tryon was not joking. He was devastated by the reaction of his colleagues… (2006, p. 184).
Though he was originally scoffed at, Tryon’s theory has gained traction among many prominent evolutionary scientists. After all, if true, according to Vilenkin, “such a creation event would not require a cause” for the Universe (pp. 184-185).

SPECULATION VS. OBSERVATION

The fact is, the idea that such an event could happen is pure speculation and conjecture. No such phenomenon—the conversion from energy to matter of an entire Universe—has ever been remotely observed. It is a desperate attempt to hold to naturalistic presuppositions, in spite of the evidence, when a supernatural option that is in keeping with the evidence is staring us in the face. Evolutionary physicist Victor Stenger said,
[T]he universe is probably the result of a random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void.... So what had to happen to start the universe was the formation of an empty bubble of highly curved space-time. How did this bubble form? What caused it? Not everything requires a cause. It could have just happened spontaneously as one of the many linear combinations of universes that has the quantum numbers of the void.... Much is still in the speculative stage, and I must admit that there are yetno empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea of an accidental origin (1987, 7[3]:26-30, italics in orig., emp. added.).
No evidence. No scientific observation. Just speculation.
Writing in the Skeptical Inquirer in 1994, Ralph Estling voiced strong disapproval of the idea that the Universe could create itself out of nothing. He wrote:
I do not think that what these cosmologists, these quantum theorists, these universe-makers, are doing is science. I can’t help feeling that universes are notoriously disinclined to spring into being, ready-made, out of nothing, even if Edward Tryon (ah, a name at last!) has written that “our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time....” Perhaps, although we have the word of many famous scientists for it, our universe is not simply one of those things that happen from time to time (18[4]:430, parenthetical item in orig., emp. added).
Estling’s comments initiated a wave of controversy and letters to the Skeptical Inquirer, eliciting a response by Estling to his critics. Among other observations, he said, “All things begin with speculation, science not excluded. But if no empirical evidence is eventually forthcoming, or can be forthcoming, all speculation is barren.... There is no evidence, so far, that the entire universe, observable and unobservable, emerged from a state of absolute Nothingness” (1995, 19[1]:69-70, emp. added). Therefore, by naturalists’ own definition of science, such an idea is unscientific. There is no evidence that could prove such a thing. The creationist platform is in keeping with observational science and has positive evidence of a divine Being (e.g., the presence of intelligent design in nature, the existence of objective morality, the existence of a Universe which demands a cause, and the existence of a Book that contains supernatural characteristics). However, unlike the creationist platform, those who believe in Tryon’s theory are holding to a blind faith.

WHENCE CAME ENERGY?

Second, even if such a thing were possible—that energy could be converted to matter in the way that Tryon has suggested—one must ask, “Where did the energy come from?” Alan Guth, professor of physics at M.I.T., wrote in response to Tryon: “In this context, a proposal that the universe was created from empty space is no more fundamental than a proposal that the universe was spawned by a piece of rubber. It might be true, but one would still want to ask where the piece of rubber came from” (1997, p. 273, emp. added).
Energy could not have popped into existence without violating the First Law of Thermodynamics. So in reality, when scientists argue that quantum mechanics creates something from nothing, they do not really mean “nothing.” The problem of how everything got here is still present. The matter generated in quantum theory is from a vacuum that is not void. Philip Yam of Scientific American wrote, “Energy in the vacuum, though, is very much real. According to modern physics, a vacuum isn’t a pocket of nothingness. It churns with unseen activity even at absolute zero, the temperature defined as the point at which all molecular motion ceases” (1997, p. 82, emp. added). Prominent humanist mathematician and science writer, Martin Gardner, wrote: “It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing” (2000, p. 303, emp. added). Amanda Gefter, writing in New Scientist, said, “Quantum mechanics tells us that the vacuum of space is not empty; instead, it crackles with energy” (2010, p. 29, emp. added). Physicist Richard Morris wrote:
In modern physics, there is no such thing as “nothing.” Even in a perfect vacuum, pairs of virtual particles are constantly being created [i.e., by briefly “borrowing” energy already in existence—JM] and destroyed. The existence of these particles is no mathematical fiction. Though they cannot be directly observed, the effects they create are quite real. The assumption that they exist leads to predictions that have been confirmed by experiment to a high degree of accuracy (Morris, 1990, p. 25, emp. added).
Astrophysicist Rocky Kolb, chairman of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, wrote: “[A] region of seemingly empty space is not really empty, but is a seething froth in which every sort of fundamental particle pops in and out of empty space before annihilating with its antiparticle and disappearing” (1998, 26[2]:43, emp. added). Estling continued his extensive observations in response to his critics (mentioned above), saying:
Quantum cosmologists insist both on this absolute Nothingness and on endowing it with various qualities and characteristics: this particular Nothingness possesses virtual quanta seething in a false vacuum. Quanta, virtual or actual, false or true, are not Nothing, they are definitely Something, although we may argue over what exactly. For one thing, quanta are entities having energy, a vacuum has energy and moreover, extension, i.e., it is something into which other things, such as universes, can be put, i.e., we cannot have our absolute Nothingness and eat it too. If we have quanta and a vacuum as given, we in fact have a pre-existent state of existence that either pre-existed timelessly or brought itself into existence from absolute Nothingness (no quanta, no vacuum, no pre-existing initial conditions) at some precise moment in time; it creates this time, along with the space, matter, and energy, which we call the universe.... I’ve had correspondence with Paul Davies [eminent atheistic theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, who advocates the supposition that the Universe created itself from nothing—JM] on cosmological theory, in the course of which, I asked him what he meant by “Nothing.” He wrote back that he had asked Alexander Vilenkin what he meant by it and that Vilenkin had replied, “By Nothing I mean Nothing,” which seemed pretty straightforward at the time, but these quantum cosmologists go on from there to tell us what their particular breed of Nothing consists of. I pointed this out to Davies, who replied that these things are very complicated. I’m willing to admit the truth of that statement, but I think it does not solve the problem (1995, 19[1]:69-70, emp. added).
No wonder Jonathan Sarfati said:
Some physicists assert that quantum mechanics…can produce something from nothing…. But this is a gross misapplication of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics never produces something out of nothing…. Theories that the Universe is a quantum fluctuation must presuppose that there was something to fluctuate—their “quantum vacuum” is a lot of matter-antimatter potential—not “nothing” (1998, 12[1]:21, emp. added).
Vilenkin, while explaining the problems inherent in Tryon’s work, said:
A more fundamental problem is that Tryon’s scenario does not really explain the origin of the universe. A quantum fluctuation of the vacuum assumes that there was a vacuum of some pre-existing space. And we now know that “vacuum” is very different from “nothing.” Vacuum, or empty space, has energy and tension, it can bend and warp, so it is unquestionably something (2006, p. 185, ital. in orig., emp. added).
He went on to propose that quantum tunneling could be the answer to the creation of the Universe out of nothing. However, quantum tunneling starts with something and ends with something as well. Particles that can jump or tunnel through barriers still must initially exist to do so. Bottom line: according to renowned atheist, theoretical physicist, and cosmologist of Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, in order to create a Universe, “you need just three ingredients”: matter, energy, and space (“Curiosity…,” 2011). These three ingredients must exist in order to create a Universe, according to Hawking. So, the problem remains. Where did the ingredients for the Universe soup come from? There must be an ultimate Cause of the Universe.

NON-EXISTENT QUANTUM LAW-MAKER?

Third, even if one were to irrationally accept the premise that quantum theory allows for the possibility that Universes could pop into existence, in the words of astrophysicist Marcus Chown:
If the universe owes its origins to quantum theory, then quantum theory must have existed before the universe. So the next question is surely: where did the laws of quantum theory come from? “We do not know,” admits Vilenkin. “I consider that an entirely different question.” When it comes to the beginning of the universe, in many ways we’re still at the beginning (2012, p. 35, emp. added).
Martin Gardner said,
Imagine that physicists finally discover all the basic waves and their particles, and all the basic laws, and unite everything in one equation. We can then ask, “Why that equation?” It is fashionable now to conjecture that the big bang was caused by a random quantum fluctuation in a vacuum devoid of space and time. But of course such a vacuum is a far cry from nothing. There had to be quantum laws to fluctuate. And why are there quantum laws?... There is no escape from the superultimate questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, and why is the something structured the way it is? (2000, p. 303, emp. added).
In “Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” Stephen Hawking boldly claimed that everything in the Universe can be accounted for through atheistic evolution without the need of God. This is untrue, as we have discussed elsewhere (e.g., Miller, 2011), but it seems that Hawking does not even believe that assertion himself. He asked the question, “Did God create the quantum lawsthat allowed the Big Bang to occur? In a nutshell, did we need a god to set it all up so that the Big Bang could bang?” (“Curiosity…,” emp. added). He then proceeded to offer no answer to the question. In his critique of Hawking, Paul Davies highlighted this very fact, saying, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws” (“The Creation Question…,” 2011). Quantum mechanics, with its governing laws, simply do not leave room for the spontaneous generation of Universes.

RESPONSES

But what if quantum theory could allow for spontaneous generation at the quantum level? What if the First Law of Thermodynamics does not apply at the unobservable molecular world of quantum mechanics but only to the macroscopic world that we can actually see? Even if that were the case (and there is no conclusive evidence to support the contention that there are any exceptions whatsoever to the First Law of Thermodynamics—see Miller, 2010a), according to the Big Bang model, the quantum level cosmic egg eventually became macroscopic through expansion or inflation. Such an event would have been the equivalent of a breach of the First Law, even under such a speculative definition.
But isn’t it true that “one usually assumes that the current laws of physics did not apply” at the beginning (Linde, 1994)? Assumptions must be reasonable. What evidence could be used to back such a grandiose assumption? And again, who would have written the laws at the moment they became viable? And further, if the laws of physics broke down at the beginning, one cannot use quantum law to bring about matter, which is precisely what the quantum fluctuation theory attempts to do. [NOTE: See Miller, 2010b for more on this contention.]

CONCLUSION

Can quantum mechanics create Universes from nothing? No. Quantum particle generation requires pre-existing energy—a far cry from nothing. Could quantum mechanics spontaneously create Universes from pre-existing (i.e., created by God) energy? There is no scientific evidence to support such a proposition. So it is speculation and conjecture—wishful thinking on par with postulating that aliens brought life to Earth (which some irrationally believe). Tiny quantum particles fluctuating—bouncing around—is one thing. The creation of the entire Universe through a quantum fluctuation? That’s another.
One who wishes to avoid acknowledging the existence of God should be expected to do almost anything to deny it. Reason will be thrown aside, and acceptance of far-fetched theories—theories that are so speculative that they belong in the fiction section of the library along with the The Wizard of Oz—will be latched onto as fact. The Bible gives the rationale for this irrational behavior by explaining that such a person has “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3). Such a person will “heap up…teachers” who will tell him what he wants to hear, who sound smart, and therefore, will make him feel good about the blatantly irrational position that he holds (vs. 3). He will turn his “ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (vs. 4). Thus, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). The quantum fluctuation idea is simply another example of this same mentality, and the admonition to Christians is the same as it was in the first century: “But you be watchful in all things” (vs. 5). “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20).

REFERENCES

Chown, Marcus (2012), “In the Beginning,” New Scientist, 216[2893]:33-35, December 1.
“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
“Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
Einstein, Albert (1905), “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy-Content?” Annals of Physics, 18:639-643, September.
Estling, Ralph (1994), “The Scalp-Tinglin’, Mind-Blowin’, Eye-Poppin’, Heart-Wrenchin’, Stomach-Churnin’, Foot-Stumpin’, Great Big Doodley Science Show!!!,” Skeptical Inquirer, 18[4]:428-430, Summer.
Estling, Ralph (1995), “Letter to the Editor,” Skeptical Inquirer, 19[1]:69-70, January/February.
Gardner, Martin (2000), Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? (New York: W.W. Norton).
Gefter, Amanda (2010), “Touching the Multiverse,” New Scientist, 205[2750]:28-31, March 6.
Guth, Alan (1997), The Inflationary Universe (New York: Perseus Books).
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).
Kolb, Rocky (1998), “Planting Primordial Seeds,” Astronomy, 26[2]:42-43.
Linde, Andrei (1994), “The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe,” Scientific American, 271[5]:48, November.
Miller, Jeff (2010a), “Couldn’t There Have Been Exceptions to the Laws of Science?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3713.
Miller, Jeff (2010b), “Did the Laws of Science Apply in the Beginning?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3710.
Miller, Jeff  (2011), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’” Reason & Revelation, 31[10]:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.
Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,”  Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article= 2786.
Morris, Richard (1990), The Edges of Science (New York: Prentice Hall).
Sarfati, Jonathan D. (1998), “If God Created the Universe, Then Who Created God?,” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, 12[1]:21.
Stenger, Victor J. (1987), “Was the Universe Created?,” Free Inquiry, 7[3]:26-30, Summer.
Tryon, Edward P. (1973), “Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?,” Nature, 246:396-397, December 14.
Vilenkin, Alex (2006), Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (New York: Hill and Wang).
Yam, Philip (1997), “Exploiting Zero-Point Energy,” Scientific American, 277[6]:82-85.

Freedom Without Religion? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=3824


Freedom Without Religion?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Even in the midst of ominous economic woes, the level of prosperity enjoyed by Americans is unparalleled and unsurpassed in the history of the world. So also is the freedom that Americans enjoy—unsurpassed in the annals of human existence. To what do we owe these tremendous blessings? Are these circumstances coincidental, or merely the result of happenchance? A sizable segment of the American population has come to believe that the religious complexion of the nation has little or nothing to do with America’s freedom and prosperity. But what was the viewpoint of those who orchestrated the American Republic? As they arranged the inner workings of their grand political experiment, and established the framework from which the nation was to function, did they have anything to say about the role of religion as it relates to freedom and prosperity? Indeed, they did.
Declaration signer and physician, Dr. Benjamin Rush, explained the mode of education to be adopted “so as to secure to the state all the advantages to be derived from the proper instruction of youth”:
“[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments” (1804, p. 8). The “religion” to which Dr. Rush alluded was the Christian religion. Observe: without Christian virtue/morality, there can be no liberty.
On October 20, 1779, the Continental Congress—an entity that represents a host of the Founders of America—issued a proclamation to the entire nation that contains the quintessential answer to the question: “On what does American freedom depend?” Please read it closely:
Whereas it becomes us humbly to approach the throne of Almighty God, with gratitude and praise for the wonders which his goodness has wrought in conducting our forefathers to this western world; for his protection to them and to their posterity amid difficulties and dangers; for raising us, their children, from deep distress to be numbered among the nations of the earth; ...and above all, that he hath diffused the glorious light of the gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of his eternal glory: therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to the several states, to appoint Thursday, the 9th of December next, to be a day of public and solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for his mercies, and of prayer for the continuance of his favor and protection to these United States; ...that he would grant to his church the plentiful effusions of divine grace, and pour out his holy spirit on all ministers of the gospel; that he would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; ...that he would in mercy look down upon us, pardon our sins and receive us into his favor, and finally, that he would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and safety as long as the sun and moon shall endure, until time shall be no more. Done in Congress, the 20th day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine, and in the 4th year of the independence of the United States of America.
Samuel Huntington, President.
Attest, Charles Thomson, Secretary (Journals of..., 1904-1937, 15:1191-1193, emp. added).
There you have it—if you can accept it. The Founders of America—the very ones who initiated the incredible freedom that characterizes our country and for which she is renowned—maintained that that freedom depends on citizen commitment to the Christian religion. So does spiritual freedom. As Jesus Himself explained: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31-32,36).

REFERENCES

Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Rush, Benjamin (1804), Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical (Philadelphia, PA: Thomas and William Bradford), http://books.google.com/books?id=xtUKAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=benjamin+rush&cd=2#v=onepage&q&f=false.