"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" The Preaching Of John The Baptist (1:1-8) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

               The Preaching Of John The Baptist (1:1-8)


1. The Gospel Of Mark begins with the work of John the Baptist...
   a. Which was foretold by Old Testament prophets - Mk 1:2-3
   b. Which proved to be very successful - Mk 1:5
   c. Which was cut short by his imprisonment - Mk 1:14

2. Though John's work was short-lived, it was clearly important...
   a. Each of the four gospels preface Jesus' ministry with that of
   b. Mark described it as "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus
      Christ..." - Mk 1:1

[To understand the message and ministry of Jesus Christ, we must start
with the one sent to "prepare the way of the Lord".  In this study we
shall begin by observing what we can regarding...]


      1. To fulfill the prophecy of Malachi - Mk 1:2
         a. As the Lord's messenger to prepare His way - Mal 3:1a
         b. Also concerning the sending of Elijah 
            - cf. Mal 4:5-6; Mt 17:10-13
      2. To fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah - Mk 1:3
         a. Which was to "prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths
            straight" - Isa 40:3
         b. I.e., to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah
      -- John's purpose was to "make ready a people prepared for the

      1. He came baptizing in the wilderness - Mk 1:4
         a. The wilderness of Judea - Mt 3:1
         b. Baptizing in the Jordan River - Mt 3:6
         c. In Bethabara (Bethany) on the east side of the Jordan - Jn1:28
         d. Later, in Aenon near Salim (west side of Jordan), where
            there was much water - Jn 3:23
      2. He preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins
         - Mk 1:4
         a. A baptism of repentance, literally "a change of mind"
            1) Prompted by godly sorrow - 2 Co 7:10
            2) Followed by a zealous desire to do right - cf. 2 Co 7:11
         b. A baptism for the remission of sins
            1) That sins might be forgiven (ultimately through Christ's
               death - He 9:15)
            2) Similar to what Christ and His apostles taught - Mk 16:
               15-16; Ac 2:38; 22:16
      -- John's message called for repentance and baptism for the
         remission of sins

      1. All of Judea, Jerusalem, etc., went to him - Mk 1:5a
      2. They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins
         - Mk 1:5b
      -- John's success may have also included the thief on the cross
         - cf. Lk 23:39-43

      1. Clothed with camel's hair and a leather belt - Mk 1:6a
      2. Diet of locusts and wild honey - Mk 1:6b
      3. John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah" - cf. 2 Kin 1:8;
         Lk 1:17
      -- John's lifestyle reflected the seriousness and sternness of his
         message (Erdman)

      1. One mightier than he is coming - Mk 1:7
         a. Whose sandal strap he was not worthy to stoop down and loose
         b. Note John's humility and attitude of servitude
      2. Who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit - Mk 1:8
         a. Yes, John did indeed baptize with water with repentance
         b. But one (Jesus) was coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit!
      3. This refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
         a. Promised also by Jesus; fulfilled at Pentecost - cf. Ac 1:
            4-5; 2:1-4,16-17,33
         b. With lasting effects for all who come to Christ - cf. Ti 3:
            4-6; 1 Co 12:13
      -- John's promise bespoke of greater blessings to come!

[The preaching of John the Baptist was well received by those in Judea
and Jerusalem.  Those who received his message were well prepared for
the coming of the Lord.  But I have often wondered...]


      1. Required people to go into the wilderness to hear him? - Mk 1:
      2. Dressed and ate like an eccentric hermit ("he has a demon!")?
         - Mk 1:6; cf. Mt 11:18
      3.  Called religious people coming to be baptized a "brood of
          vipers"? - cf. Mt 3:7
      -- Would we have given heed to such a "harsh hermit"?

      1. We balk at traveling some distance to study God's Word!
         a. As when we live far from the church building
         b. Or making the effort to attend both services on Sunday, plus
            the midweek study
         c. Or going to gospel meetings at other congregations
         d. What will the Queen of Sheba say of us? - cf. Mt 12:42
      2. We tend to judge people by the clothes they wear!
         a. Both young and old are quick to judge by one's appearance
         b. We need to remember God's perspective - 1 Sa 16:7
         c. Partiality based on appearance makes one a judge with evil
            thoughts - Ja 2:1-4
      3. We get upset or offended when a preacher points out our faults!
         a. Some would have preachers to never preach negative sermons
         b. But Jesus demonstrated that occasions sometimes call it
            - cf. Mt 23:13-15
      -- If these things are true of us today, would we have heeded John


1. The preaching of John the Baptist had an important purpose...
   a. To "prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight"
   b. This he did by emphasizing repentance and baptism

2. Because of John, people were more likely to heed the call of Jesus...
   a. To repent of their sins - cf. Mk 1:15
   b. To believe the gospel and be baptized - cf. Mk 16:15-16

3. John's manner of life and style of preaching should not be
   a. For many turn the message of Jesus Christ into a form of
   b. John reminds us of the need to bear fruits in keeping with true

As Jesus would say later, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do
not do the things which I say?" (Lk 6:46).   Are we showing true
acceptance of Jesus as Lord by doing the things He says...?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Introduction by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"



1. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"...
   a. So begins the Gospel according to Mark - Mk 1:1
   b. The shortest of the four gospels, likely the first one written
   c. Often overlooked because of the gospels of Matthew and Luke

2. Yet the Believer's Bible Commentary notes that because of its
   a. Mark's gospel is an ideal introduction to the Christian faith
   b. In mission fields it is often the first book translated into a new

[Who was Mark?  What makes his gospel unique?  Let's start with...]


   A. JOHN MARK...
      1. Who apparently came from a wealthy family
         a. His mother was Mary, who had a large house in Jerusalem 
            - Ac 12:12
            1) Some speculate the Last Supper took place in her home
            2) Also that Mark may have been the young man who fled naked
               - Mk 14:51-52
         b. His cousin was Barnabas, a Levite from Cyprus - Ac 4:36-37;
            Col 4:10
      2. Who traveled with Paul and Barnabas
         a. Starting out on their first missionary journey, but turned
            back - Ac 13:5,13
         b. Which caused trouble between Paul and Barnabas - Ac 15:36-41
         c. He later became a fellow laborer and comfort to Paul - Phe
            1:24; Col 4:10-11
         d. In Paul's final words, Mark proved "useful to me for
            ministry" - 2Ti 4:11
      3. Who also accompanied Peter
         a. Who called him "his son" (his convert?) - 1Pe 5:13
         b. Who was in "Babylon" (possibly Rome) at the time
      4. Traditions outside the Bible state:
         a. Mark was an interpreter for Peter - Papias, 130 A.D.
         b. Mark composed his gospel mostly from Peter's memoirs
            - Justin Martyr, 150 A.D.
         c. Mark went to Alexandria in Egypt where he died in 64 A.D.
      -- The early and unanimous opinion is that John Mark wrote this

   B. BEFORE 64 A.D....
      1. Certainly so, if written by one who died in 64 A.D.
      2. Barnes suggests between 56 and 63 A.D.
      3. Some scholars date the book in the early 50's
      -- A plausible date would 57-59 A.D. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

[Now for some information about Mark's gospel in particular...]


      1. Written to Gentiles, perhaps Christians in Rome (BKC); note the
         a. Jewish customs are explained - e.g., Mk 7:3-4
         b. Aramaic expresses are translated into Greek - e.g., Mk 3:17;
            5:41; 7:11
         c. Roman reckoning of time is used - e.g., Mk 6:48; 13:35
         d. Only Mark identifies Simon of Cyrene as the father of Rufus
            - cf. Mk 15:21; Ro 16:13
         e. Few OT quotations are used
      2. The focus appears to be on Jesus as the Perfect Servant (BBC)
         a. Mark emphasizes the deeds of the Lord more than His words
         b. He records nineteen miracles, but only four parables
         c. The deeds of one who "did not come to be served, but to
            serve" - Mk 10:45
      -- Thus one could say that the theme is:  "Jesus, Servant of Man"

      1. The preparation for Jesus' ministry - Mk 1:2-13
      2. His ministry in Galilee - Mk 1:14-9:50
      3. His journey to Jerusalem - Mk 10:1-52
      4. His ministry in Jerusalem - Mk 11:1-13:37
      5. His suffering and death in Jerusalem - Mk 14:1-15:47
      6. His resurrection and appearances - Mk 16:1-13
      7. His great commission and continued work from heaven - Mk 16:
      -- Jesus came from heaven to serve, and returned to heaven to

[Perhaps of further interest are some...]


      1. Probably the first one written
      2. All but 31 verses are quoted in the other gospels
      3. Leading many to conclude that Matthew and Luke based their
         gospels on Mark

      1. The shortest of the four gospels
      2. Luke has 1151 verses, Matthew 1071, John 879, Mark 661
      3. Mark's entire gospel can be read aloud in 1.5 hours

      1. Over 40 times he uses a word translated "straightway" or
      2. Two-thirds of the verses begin with "and"
      3. The present tense is used frequently (e.g., they come...He
         says...He sends...)

      1. Mark presents "lively little touches" not found in the other
         gospels - Hendriksen
      2. "...he wrote with all the graphic distinctiveness and vividness
         of an eyewitness - Erdman
      3. It may have been Peter's reminiscences, or perhaps his own,
         that account for such details

      1. It opens with "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ..."
         - Mk 1:1
      2. It closes with "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to
         every creature" - Mk 16:15


1. What Mark accomplished with his gospel in the first century was
   a. He left a record of the gospel preached by Peter
   b. Which emphasized the things that Jesus did - cf. Ac 10:36-39
   c. That stressed the servitude of Jesus as the Son of Man - cf. Mk 10:45

2. It can serve an important purpose for us today, reminding us...
   a. That Jesus came to serve, and continues to serve - cf. He 7:25
   b. That Christian discipleship likewise involves service - cf. Ga 5:13

3. Mark's own life was one of early failure, redeemed by later devotion
   a. He got off to a rocky start in his service for the gospel of
   b. But he persevered and proved to Paul that he was "useful...for

May his gospel of Jesus Christ, who came to serve, inspire us to become
servants who are also:

   "useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" - 2Ti 2:21
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Mythology and the Bible by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Mythology and the Bible

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Over the last several centuries, many have attempted to mythologize the inspired Word of God. Atheists vigorously attack the Genesis account of creation, calling it nothing more than a fictitious story that should be placed alongside (or even “behind”) myths like the Babylonian creation account. Liberal theologians similarly labor to make Scripture conform to secular sources, claiming that the Israelite religion is a mere “Yahwization” of pagan religions (i.e., attributing to Yahweh what pagan religions attributed to their gods). Such attempts to mythologize Scripture represent a blatant attack upon God’s Word and should be refuted with every ounce of energy we possess. In defending the Bible against such attacks, however, Christians must realize that even though the Bible is not based on pagan mythology, on occasion it does contain allusions to it.
Sometimes Bible believers go the extreme and claim that the Bible never would contain such highly imaginative and creative language. But consider Isaiah 27:1. In this passage, Isaiah wrote: “In that day Jehovah with his hard and great and strong sword will punish leviathan the swift serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent; and he will slay the monster that is in the sea.” Here, the inspired writer makes reference to leviathan in a prophetic passage depicting the future victory of God over His foes. From his book, we can be assured that Isaiah was a strict monotheist. But he did “draw upon the common stock of poetic imagery known to his people just as contemporary writers allude to mythology to illustrate a point without thereby expressing or encouraging faith in the story so used” (Pfeiffer, 1960, 32:209). In explaining the language of Isaiah and other Bible writers who may have alluded to mythology from time to time, John Day commented: “Canaanite mythic imagery was the most impressive means in that ancient cultural milieu whereby to display the sovereignty and transcendence of Yahweh, along with His superiority over Baal and all other earthly contenders. Although the Hebrews did not borrow the theology of Canaan, they did borrow its imagery—here the imagery of Baal’s enemy…Leviathan” (1998, 155:436).
A mythological element also can be seen in the poetic language of Job 3:8: “Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to rouse up leviathan.” [The KJV rendering “who are ready to raise up their mourning” misses the reference to leviathan, which is obvious in the original language.] In this verse, leviathan can be identified properly with a mythological creature described in Ugaritic myths called Lotan. According to such mythology, a marine monster named Lotan was capable of altering the entire world order by eclipsing the Sun or Moon with its body. Does this mean that Job was a believer in mythology, or that the book of Job is a mythological production? Certainly not! Throughout the book that bears his name, Job is presented as a devout monotheist who rejected then-popular mythological concepts (cf. 31:26-28). Within the context of chapter 3, Job, who is “cursing” the day of his birth, employs the most vibrant, potent, and proverbial language available to call for the elimination of that day. Job was “probably doing nothing more than utilizing for poetic purposes a common notion that his hearers would understand. This would have been similar to modern adults referring to Santa Claus. Mentioning his name does not mean that one believes such a person exists” (Zuck, 1978, p. 24).
Even though the Bible may make allusions to mythology, “neither the book of Job nor any of the Old Testament has the slightest hint of belief in any such mythology” (Smick, 1970, p. 229). To suggest that the godly men and writers of the Bible believed in these mythological creatures is to make an abrasive and completely unwarranted assumption that should be avoided at all costs.


Day, John N. (1998), “God and Leviathan in Isaiah 27:1,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 155:423-436, October-December.
Pfeiffer, Charles F. (1960), “Lotan and Leviathan,” Evangelical Quarterly, 32:208-211.>
Smick, Elmer (1970), “Mythology and the Book of Job,” Sitting with Job, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Zuck, Roy (1978), Job (Chicago, IL: Moody).

How Big Is God? by Branyon May, Ph.D.


How Big Is God?

by  Branyon May, Ph.D.

[Editor’s Note: The following article was written by A.P. scientist Dr. May, who holds a B.S. degree in Physics from Angelo State University, as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Astrophysics from the University of Alabama.]
As curious beings, we spend much time investigating the world around us and asking a multitude of questions. What role does man play on this incredible planet Earth? How are we to relate to our fellow man? Where can we explore that is deeper or higher? These questions and many others lead our thoughts to consider mankind’s place in the Universe. Humanity now numbers over seven billion living souls, and we exist together on a vast and diverse planet. The overwhelming immensity of the Universe leads to the question, “How big is God?”
This question really involves the relationship between two subjects: God and us. First, the concept of "big" enters the question from our amazement with how large His Creation really is, especially when compared to the scale of everyday items around us. As the focal point of God’s Creation, humanity physically occupies only a tiny enclave of space. Our planet orbits 93 million miles away from a single star, the Sun, which is so large that more than one million Earths could fit inside it. Yet our Sun is, at most, a medium sized star. The largest stars can fit over three billion of our Suns or 4 quadrillion Earths (that is a 4 followed by 15 zeros) inside their volumes (Levesque, et al., 2005). If our Sun was replaced by such a star, its size would encompass all the planetary orbits as far as Saturn.
Each year the Earth travels roughly 584 million miles as it orbits around the Sun at the incredible speed of 66,500 mph (“Earth Fact Sheet,” 2013). Our entire Solar System (Sun, Earth, planets and every other smaller object) is traveling together in an enormous orbit around the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Full of stars, gas, and dust, the Milky Way alone contains an estimated 100 billion stars, some smaller and some larger than our Sun but each one constituting a unique object with its own temperature, composition, and nature. Despite containing so many billions of stars, the Milky Way consists of far more empty space between objects. For instance, from our Sun to the very nearest star is a distance of 4.3 light years or 25.3 trillion miles (Tam, 1996). Even more incredible is the fact that despite our Milky Way galaxy being 100,000 light years in diameter or nearly 600 quadrillion miles (that is a 6 followed by 17 zeros), it is only a single, moderately sized galaxy in a Universe that contains, potentially, 100 billion other galaxies that are spaced so far apart that each one seems to be an island of stars in a vast sea of blackness.
When the question “How big is God?” is asked, we use the word “big” because we understand that all of these mind-boggling numbers, sizes, and distances must logically be the result of an even greater, more astounding Creator. The Bible tells us the following about His creative power:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name” (Psalm 147:4).
“He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion” (Jeremiah 10:12).
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome” (Psalm 66:5).
Concerning God’s very nature, though, the Bible tells us “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and that He is the “King eternal, immortal, invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). These verses clearly tell us that God’s nature is spirit, and therefore He is not a star, nebula, galaxy, or physical person that we can see. God does not have a boundary, size, or extent (e.g., “big” or “small”). As such, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
Even further there are no physical objects or spatial sizes that can describe God in an accurate fashion. Despite their magnitude and beauty, no nebula or galaxy can compare to God. Even the Universe in its immensity does not define God’s nature. The Bible conveys this exact thought when it states, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” (Isaiah 40:18). Being spirit, God is not contained within the Universe’s dimensions or measured by physical units. Instead He resides in eternity and exists in infinity. He fills “heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 23:24). Even though God is omnipresent (cf. 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 139:7-10), filling the Universe and overseeing such an enormous Creation, He still inhabits the smallest and quietest of places. God is always present in our lives and will live in our hearts every day if we acknowledge Him and obey His will.


Levesque, Emily M. et al. (2005), “The Effective Temperature Scale of Galactic Red Supergiants: Cool, but Not As Cool As We Thought,” The Astrophysical Journal 628[2]:973–985.
“Earth Fact Sheet” (2013), NASA, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/earthfact.html.
Tam, Kathryn (1996), “Distance to the Nearest Star,” http://hypertextbook.com/facts/KathrynTam.shtml.

Genesis 1:1 by Robert C. Redden, M.A.


Genesis 1:1

by  Robert C. Redden, M.A.


I have heard it said that Genesis 1:1 allows lengthy time periods to be inserted into the biblical text, thus accommodating an ancient Earth. Is this true?


The first verse of the Bible is so dear to every believer that it can be recited from memory by almost all. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This simple rendition of the Hebrew tells us about the beginning of all things by the creative act of Almighty God. But what appears so simple on the surface often hides a complexity of difficulties underneath. Such is no exception in the case of Genesis 1:1. A comparison of several translations, or alternate translations in the margins of some Bibles, will reveal a disagreement hotly debated in scholarly circles.
One particular translation is mentioned simply because of the serious doctrinal error promoted by it. Ferrar Fenton’s, The Holy Bible in Modern English, radically departs from the standard translations. Notice the rendering of Genesis 1:1 in that version: “By periods God created that which produced the Solar Systems; then that which produced the Earth.” We are not left wilthout explanation for his novel translation. He writes in a footnote: “Literally, ‘By headships.’ It is curious that all translations of the Septuagint have rendered this word B’RESHITH, into the singular, although it is plural in the Hebrew. So I rendered it accurately.” So says Fenton!
Actually, this is a glaring mistake. A Hebrew concordance lists five occurrences where “in the beginning” appears in the Old Testament: Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 26:1; 27:1; 28:1; 49:34. When these are read in any standard translation, nothing but the singular is intended. The Hebrew expression has a prefixed preposition that does not alter the number of the word. It occurs without the preposition in Genesis 10:10, and is translated in the singular “the beginning.” Although occurring with a different preposition in Isaiah (46:10), the use is decisive. God, says the prophet, declares the end from “the beginning.” Certainly the prophet teaches only one beginning, but Fenton’s grammatical analysis would assume otherwise. Add to this passage, Psalms 111:10—“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The singular meaning is obvious.
It must be the ending of the Hebrew word that suggested to Fenton the number [i.e., the plurality] of the word. I know of no other possibility. A comparison of words with similar endings with singular meanings might be helpful.

Beginning—resh-ith, Genesis 1:1; 10:10
Greatness—marb-ith, 1 Chronicles 12:29
Captivity—sheb-ith, 2 Chronicles 28:11
Spear—hen-ith, 1 Samuel 20:33
Terror—hit-ith, Ezekiel 32:23 
These words are classified as feminine singular nouns according to Davidson’s Analytical Hebrew Lexicon. According to Samuel Green, feminine nouns ending in “ith” form their plurals by the ending “yyuth” (1901, p. 48). An example of the plural is found in Exodus 1:16 where the Hebrew is translated “the Hebrew women.” According to Even-Shoshan’s Hebrew concordance, no plural form for “beginning” occurs in the Old Testament. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures) translators obviously knew the Hebrew better than Mr. Fenton! Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek would allow, much less demand, Fenton’s [mis]translation.
Another erroneous rendition in verse one is the statement that God created “that which produced the Solar Systems; then that which produced the Earth.” According to this view, “the heavens and the earth” were made out of pre-existing materials. This suggests that the verse has nothing to say about the actual beginning of all things!
In response, one must note that the Hebrew bara and its English equivalent “create” are transitive verbs. They both, therefore, require direct objects to complete their meaning. The Hebrew, along with the standard translations, give two direct objects—“the heavens and the earth.” Since the direct objects modify the verb “create,” and the act of creation took place at the beginning, then no pre-existing materials were present when the creation took place. While the word “create” in Hebrew does not necessarily prove “creation-out-of-nothing,” it certainly does not exclude the idea either.
Actually, according to Bernhardt, the use of “created” with the phrase “in the beginning” clearly teaches a creation without pre-existing materials. “As a special theological term, BARA is used to express the incomparability of the creative work of God in contrast to all the secondary products and likenesses made from already existing material by man.” He continues: “This verb does not denote an act that somehow can be described, but simply states that, unconditionally, without further intervention, through God’s command something comes into being that had not existed before. ‘He commanded and they were created’ (Psalms 148:5)” (n.d., 2:246-247). It should be no surprise, therefore, to discover that God is always the subject of this verb. God, Who exists eternally, brings into existence the things that previously had no existence!
Various translations, however, suggest that Genesis 1:1 has nothing to say about the original creation. Notice the rendering given by The Bible—An American Translation(the Old Testament companion to Goodspeed): “When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was a desolate waste, with darkness covering the abyss and a tempestuous wind raging over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light!’ ” Peacock is accurate when he explains the meaning of this rendering: “...verses 1 and 2 describe the chaotic situation that existed before God acted in creation. If this interpretation is accepted, one would translate When God began to create the universe, as in the TEV [Today’s English Version] note” (Peacock, 1982, p. 4).
The obvious assumption of these translators is that Genesis 1:1 is a relative clause and states only the condition of things when God said, “Let there be light.” Such a rendition rules out the idea of an original creation—creatio ex nihilo. Scholars are in disagreement as to whether or not the grammatical evidence demanded an abandonment of the traditional wording (cf. KJV, ASV, RSV, NIV, NASB, JB). Add to this the fact that all of the ancient versions, without exception, render the verse in the usual manner.
What often is overlooked by many today is the simplicity of the creation account. The sentences are very short. By changing the translation into dependent clauses, the sentence structure is affected, and thus, the effect intended by Moses. Notice the difference between the two renderings:

Standard Translation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth And the earth was waste and void;And darkness was upon the face of the deep; And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.And God said, Let there be light; And there was light.

Alternate Translation

When God began creating the heavens and the earth, when the earth was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, then God said, Let there be light; and there was light.
A reading of the literal translation (such as the ASV) of the remaining chapter will convince one that such a complicated sentence structure is totally out of place in the first few verses of the chapter. Unfortunately, the popular style of subordination in English composition may mask not only the real emphasis of the original, but also may promote a false view of its teaching!
The Septuagint was made by translators who believed that the Hebrew taught the beginning of all things. They translated the verse in an absolute sense, independent of the following verses. Aalders summed up the issue rather well: “In making our decision on this issue, let it be stated without any equivocation that the words ‘in the beginning’ must be taken in their absolute sense. First of all, this is the most natural and obvious interpretation. Furthermore, this is the rendition that is found in every ancient translation without any exception. Finally, although the alternative interpretation is linguistically possible, it does not reflect common Hebrew usage” (Genesis, 1:51).
Genesis 1:1 is a profound revelation of God’s creative work. Before that beginning, matter did not exist. In the beginning, God created (not refashioned, per the Gap Theory) things having no previous existence. One wonders if the dissatisfaction with the standard translation of this verse arose from a corresponding disagreement with the doctrine taught by it, or was this a mere coincidence? Yes, one wonders!


Green, Samuel G. (1901), A Handbook To Old Testament Hebrew (New York: Revell).
Bernhardt (no date), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 2:246-247.
Peacock, Heber F. (1982), A Translator’s Guide to Selections from the First Five Books of the Old Testament (New York: United Bible Societies).

Creation—Will It Stand the "Test of Science"? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Creation—Will It Stand the "Test of Science"?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


There are two fundamentally different, and diametrically opposed, explanations for the origin of the Universe, the origin of life in that Universe, and the origin of new types of varying life forms. Each of these explanations is a cosmogony—an entire world view, or philosophy, of origins and destinies, of life and meaning. According to the theory of evolution, or as it may more properly be called, the evolution model, the Universe is self-contained. Everything in our Universe has come into being through mechanistic processes without any kind of supernatural intervention. This view asserts that the origin and development of the Universe and all of its complex systems (the Universe itself, living non-human organisms, man, etc.) can be explained solely on the basis of time, chance, and continuing natural processes, innate in the very structure of matter and energy. The famous Harvard zoologist, P.D. Darlington, made this very point in his book, Evolution for Naturalists: “The outstanding evolutionary mystery now is how matter has originated and evolved, why it has taken its present form in the universe and on the earth, and why it is capable of forming itself into complex living sets of molecules. This capability is inherent in matter as we know it, in its organization and energy” (1980, p. 15, emp. added). More than 200 pages later, and after having spent considerable time and effort examining the alleged evidences for evolution, Darlington commented:
It is a fundamental evolutionary generalization that no external agent imposes life on matter. Matter takes the forms it does because it has the inherent capacity to do so. This is one of the most remarkable and mysterious facts about our universe: that matter exists that has the capacity to form itself into the most complex patterns of life (p. 234, emp. added).
The second alternative and opposing world view is the concept of creation. According to the theory of creation, or as it may more properly be called, the creation model, the Universe is not self-contained. Everything in the Universe, and in fact, the Universe itself, came into being through the design, purpose, and deliberate acts of a supernatural Creator Who, using processes that are not continuing as natural processes in the present, created the Universe, the Earth, and all life on that Earth, including all basic types of plants and animals, as well as humans. As both evolutionists (see Wald, 1972, p. 187) and creationists (see Wysong, 1976, p. 5) have correctly pointed out, there are two and only two possibilities regarding origins. One or the other of these two philosophies (or models) must be true. That is to say, all things either can, or cannot, be explained in terms of a self-contained Universe by ongoing natural processes. If they can, then evolution is true. If they cannot, then they must be explained, at least in part, by extranatural processes that can account for a Universe which itself was created. Even evolutionists acknowledge this point. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University (a devout evolutionist) has noted: “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer” (1982, 94:130). Dawkins then explained why he believes no Designer exists—all the while admitting the inherent complexity of living systems and the tremendous improbability of evolution!


The function of the Universe has to do with regular laws or principles of science that are experimentally reproducible and that therefore can be studied and observed (either directly or indirectly). This we call operation science. On the other hand, an understanding of the Universe includes some singular events, such as origins. Unlike the recurrent operation of the Universe, origins cannot be repeated for experimental testing. In the customary language of science, theories of origins (origin science) cannot be falsified by empirical test (if they are false) as can theories of operation science. How, then, can origins be investigated? Simply put, the best we can ever hope to achieve, scientifically speaking, is to render any idea regarding origins either plausible or implausible. By the very nature of the case, true falsification is not possible.
How, then, does one determine whether an origin science scenario is plausible? Very simply, the principles of causality and uniformity are used. By cause we mean the necessary and sufficient condition that alone can explain the occurrence of a given event. By principle of uniformity we mean that the kinds of causes which we observe producing certain effects today can be counted on to have produced similar effects in the past. In other words, what we see as an adequate cause in the present, we assume to have been an adequate cause in the past; what we see as an inadequate cause in the present, we assume to have been an inadequate cause in the past. Evolutionists have relied heavily on the principles of causality and uniformity in attempts to work out evolutionary scenarios of the alleged past. Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen have addressed these points.
Consider, for example, the matter of accounting for the informational molecule, DNA. We have observational evidence in the present that intelligent investigators can (and do) build contrivances to channel energy down nonrandom chemical pathways to bring about some complex chemical synthesis, even gene building. May not the principle of uniformity then be used in a broader frame of consideration to suggest that DNA had an intelligent cause at the beginning? Usually the answer given is no. But theoretically, at least, it would seem the answer should be yes in order to avoid the charge that the deck is stacked in favor of naturalism.
We know that in numerous cases certain effects always have intelligent causes, such as dictionaries, sculptures, machines and paintings. We reason by analogy that similar effects have intelligent causes. For example, after looking up to see “BUY FORD” spelled out in smoke across the sky we infer the presence of a skywriter even if we heard or saw no airplane. We would similarly conclude the presence of intelligent activity were we to come upon an elephant-shaped topiary in a cedar forest.
In like manner an intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence....
We believe that if this question is considered, it will be seen that most often it is answered in the negative simply because it is thought to be inappropriate to bring a Creator into science (1984, pp. 211-212, emp. in orig.).
Use of the principles of uniformity and causality enhance the creation model, for these are cherished concepts of scientific thinking. Albert Einstein once said that scientists are “possessed by the sense of universal causation.” Causality confirms that every material effect has an adequate antecedent cause. The basic question, then, is this: Can the origin of the Universe, the origin of life, and the origin of new life forms best be accounted for on the basis of nonintelligent, random, chance, accidental processes? Are these adequate causes? Or, are these phenomena best accounted for on the basis of a Creator (i.e., an adequate cause) capable of producing the complex, ordered, information-relating processes we see around us? Which of these two is more plausible?
Both evolution and creation may be referred to properly as scientific models, since both may be used to explain and predict scientific facts. Obviously the one that does the better job of explaining/predicting is the better scientific model. However, by the very nature of how science works, simply because one model fits the facts better does not prove it true. Rather, the model that better fits the available scientific data is said to be the one that has the highest degree of probability of being true. Knowledgeable scientists understand this, of course, and readily accept it, recognizing the limitations of the scientific method (due to its heavy dependence upon inductive, rather than strictly deductive, reasoning).
In order to examine properly the two models, they must be defined in broad, general terms, and then each must be compared to the available data in order to examine its effectiveness in explaining and predicting various scientific facts. What, then, by way of summary, do the two different models predict and/or include? The evolution model includes the evidence from various fields of science for a gradual emergence of present life kinds over eons of time, with emergence of complex and diversified kinds of life from “simpler” kinds, and ultimately from nonliving matter. The creation model includes the evidence from various fields of science for a sudden creation of complex and diversified kinds of life, with gaps persisting between different kinds, and with genetic variation occurring within each kind. The creation model denies “vertical” evolution (also called “macroevolution”?the emergence of complex from simple, and change between kinds), but does not challenge “horizontal” evolution (also called “microevolution”?the formation of species or subspecies within created kinds, or genetic variation). In defining the concepts of creation and evolution, an examination of several different aspects of each of the models demonstrates the dichotomy between the two. Placed into chart form, such a comparison would then appear as seen in Table 1.
Creation Evolution
The creation model includes the scientific evidence and the related inferences suggesting that: The evolution model includes the scientific evidence and the related inferences suggesting that:
I. The Universe and the solar system were created suddenly. I. The Universe and the solar system emerged by naturalistic processes.
II. Life was created suddenly. II. Life emerged from nonlife via naturalistic processes.
III. All present living kinds of animals and plants have remained fixed since creation, other than extinctions, and genetic variation in originally created kinds has occurred only within narrow limits. III. All present kinds emerged from simpler earlier kinds, so that single celled organisms evolved into invertebrates, then vertebrates, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals, then primates (including man).
IV. Mutation and natural selection are insufficient to have brought about any emergence of present living kinds from a simple primordial organism. IV. Mutation and natural selection have brought about the emergence of present complex kinds from a simple primordial organism.
V. Man and apes have a separate ancestry. V. Man and apes emerged from a common ancestor.
VI. The Earth's geologic features appear to have been fashioned largely by rapid, catastrophic processes that affected the Earth on a global and regional scale (catastrophism). VI. The Earth's geologic lectures were fashioned largely by slow, gradual processes, with infrequent catastrophic events restricted to a local scale (uniformitarianism).
VII. The inception of both the Earth and living kinds may have been relatively recent. VII. The inception of both the Earth and of life must have occurred several billion years ago.
Table 1. The two models of origins (after Gish, et al., 1981)


Throughout human history, one of the most effective arguments for the existence of God has been the cosmological argument, which addresses the fact that the Universe (Cosmos) is here and therefore must be explained in some fashion. In his book, Not A Chance, R.C. Sproul observed:
Traditional philosophy argued for the existence of God on the foundation of the law of causality. The cosmological argument went from the presence of a cosmos back to a creator of the cosmos. It sought a rational answer to the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” It sought a sufficient reason for a real world (1994, p. 169, emp. in orig.).
The Universe exists and is real. Atheists and agnostics not only acknowledge its existence, but admit that it is a grand effect (e.g., see Jastrow, 1977, pp. 19-21). If an entity cannot account for its own being (i.e., it is not sufficient to have caused itself), then it is said to be “contingent” because it is dependent upon something outside of itself to explain its existence. The Universe is a contingent entity since it is inadequate to cause, or explain, its own existence. Sproul has noted: “Logic requires that if something exists contingently, it must have a cause. That is merely to say, if it is an effect it must have an antecedent cause” (1994, p. 172). Thus, since the Universe is a contingent effect, the obvious question becomes, “What caused the Universe?”
It is here that the Law of Cause and Effect (also known as the Law of Causality) is tied firmly to the cosmological argument. Scientists, and philosophers of science, recognize laws as “reflecting actual regularities in nature” (Hull, 1974, p. 3). So far as scientific knowledge can attest, laws know no exceptions. This certainly is true of the Law of Cause and Effect. It is, indisputably, the most universal, and most certain, of all scientific laws. Simply put, the Law of Causality states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause. Just as the Law of the Excluded Middle is true analytically, so the Law of Cause and Effect is true analytically as well. Sproul addressed this when he wrote:
The statement “Every effect has an antecedent cause” is analytically true. To say that it is analytically or formally true is to say that it is true by definition or analysis. There is nothing in the predicate that is not already contained by resistless logic in the subject. It is like the statement, “A bachelor is an unmarried man” or “A triangle has three sides” or “Two plus two are four....” Cause and effect, though distinct ideas, are inseparably bound together in rational discourse. It is meaningless to say that something is a cause if it yields no effect. It is likewise meaningless to say that something is an effect if it has no cause. A cause, by definition, must have an effect, or it is not a cause. An effect, by definition, must have a cause, or it is not an effect (1994, pp. 172,171 emp. in orig.).
Effects without adequate causes are unknown. Further, causes never occur subsequent to the effect. It is meaningless to speak of a cause following an effect, or an effect preceding a cause. In addition, the effect never is qualitatively superior to, or quantitatively greater than, the cause. This knowledge is responsible for our formulation of the Law of Causality in these words: Every material effect must have an adequate antecedent cause. The river did not turn muddy because the frog jumped in; the book did not fall from the table because the fly lighted on it. These are not adequate causes. For whatever effects we observe, we must postulate adequate antecedent causes—which brings us back to the original question: What caused the Universe?
There are but three possible answers to this question: (1) the Universe is eternal; it always has existed and always will exist; (2) the Universe is not eternal; rather, it created itself out of nothing; (3) the Universe is not eternal, and did not create itself out of nothing; rather, it was created by something (or Someone) anterior, and superior, to itself. These three options merit serious consideration.
Is the Universe Eternal?
The most comfortable position for the person who does not believe in God is the idea that the Universe is eternal, because it avoids the problem of a beginning or ending and thus the need for any “first cause” such as God. In fact, it was to avoid just such a problem that evolutionists Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi, and Sir Fred Hoyle developed the Steady State Theory. Information had come to light that indicated the Universe was expanding. Dr. Hoyle suggested that the best way to try to explain both an expanding and eternal Universe was to suggest that at points in space called “irtrons” hydrogen was coming into existence from nothing. As hydrogen atoms arrived, they had to “go” somewhere, and as they did, they displaced matter already in existence, causing the Universe to expand. Hoyle suggested that the atoms of gaseous hydrogen gradually condensed into clouds of virgin matter, that within these clouds new stars and galaxies formed, etc.
In his book, Until the Sun Dies, astronomer Robert Jastrow noted that “the proposal for the creation of matter out of nothing possesses a strong appeal to the scientist, since it permits him to contemplate a Universe without beginning and without end” (1977, p. 32). Even after evidence began to appear that showed the Steady State theory to be incorrect, Jastrow suggested that “some astronomers still favored it because the notion of a world with a beginning and an end made them feel so uncomfortable” (1977, p. 33). Dr. Jastrow went on to say:
The Universe is the totality of all matter, animate and inanimate, throughout space and time. If there was a beginning, what came before? If there is an end, what will come after? On both scientific and philosophical grounds, the concept of an eternal Universe seems more acceptable than the concept of a transient Universe that springs into being suddenly, and then fades slowly into darkness.
Astronomers try not to be influenced by philosophical considerations. However, the idea of a Universe that has both a beginning and an end is distasteful to the scientific mind. In a desperate effort to avoid it, some astronomers have searched for another interpretation of the measurements that indicate the retreating motion of the galaxies, an interpretation that would not require the Universe to expand. If the evidence for the expanding Universe could be explained away, the need for a moment of creation would be eliminated, and the concept of time without end would return to science. But these attempts have not succeeded, and most astronomers have come to the conclusion that they live in an exploding world (1977, p. 31).
What does Jastrow mean when he says that “these attempts have not succeeded”? In a comment that was an obvious reference to the fact that Hoyle’s “creation of hydrogen out of nothing in irtrons” violates the First Law of Thermodynamics, Jastrow noted:
But the creation of matter out of nothing would violate a cherished concept in science—the principle of the conservation of matter and energy—which 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. It is difficult to accept a theory that violates such a firmly established scientific fact (1977, p. 32).
In his book, God and the Astronomers, Dr. Jastrow explained why attempts to prove an eternal Universe failed. “Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (1978, p. 111). Jastrow—who is considered by many to be one of the greatest science writers of our time—certainly is no creationist. But as a scientist who is an astrophysicist, he has written often on the inescapable conclusion that the Universe had a beginning. Consider, for example, these statements from his pen:
Now both theory and observation pointed to an expanding Universe and a beginning in time.... About thirty years ago science solved the mystery of the birth and death of stars, and acquired new evidence that the Universe had a beginning (1978, pp. 47,105).
And concurrently there was a great deal of discussion about the fact that the second law of thermodynamics, applied to the Cosmos, indicates the Universe is running down like a clock. If it is running down, there must have been a time when it was fully wound up. Arthur Eddington, the most distinguished British astronomer of his day, wrote, “If our views are right, somewhere between the beginning of time and the present day we must place the winding up of the universe.” When that occurred, and Who or what wound up the Universe, were questions that bemused theologians, physicists and astronomers, particularly in the 1920’s and 1930’s (1978, pp. 48-49).
Most remarkable of all is the fact that in science, as in the Bible, the World begins with an act of creation. That view has not always been held by scientists. Only as a result of the most recent discoveries can we say with a fair degree of confidence that the world has not existed forever; that it began abruptly, without apparent cause, in a blinding event that defies scientific explanation (1977, p. 19).
The conclusion to be drawn from the scientific data was inescapable, as Dr. Jastrow himself remarked:
The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future (1977, p. 30, emp. added).
The evidence states that the Universe had a beginning. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, as Jastrow has indicated, shows this to be true. Henry Morris correctly commented: “The Second Law requires the universe to have had a beginning” (1974b, p. 26). Indeed, it does. The Universe is not eternal.
Did the Universe Create Itself Out of Nothing?
In the past, it would have been practically impossible to find any reputable scientist who would be willing to advocate a self-created Universe. George Davis, a prominent physicist of the past generation, explained why when he wrote: “No material thing can create itself.” Further, Dr. Davis affirmed that this statement “cannot be logically attacked on the basis of any knowledge available to us” (1958, p. 71). The Universe is the created, not the creator. And until very recently, it seemed there could be no disagreement about that fact.
However, so strong is the evidence that the Universe had a beginning, and therefore a cause anterior and superior to itself, some evolutionists are suggesting, in order to avoid the implications, that something came from nothing—that is, the Universe literally created itself from nothing! Anthony Kenny, a British evolutionist, suggested in his book, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence, that something actually came from nothing (1980). Edward P. Tryon, professor of physics at the City University of New York, agreed when he wrote: “In 1973, I proposed that our Universe had been created spontaneously from nothing, as a result of established principles of physics. This proposal variously struck people as preposterous, enchanting, or both” (1984, 101:14). This is the same Edward P. Tryon who is on record as stating that “Our universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time” (as quoted in Trefil, 1984, 92[6]:100).
In the May 1984 issue of Scientific American, evolutionists Alan Guth and Paul Steinhardt authored an article on “The Inflationary Universe” in which they suggested:
From a historical point of view probably the most revolutionary aspect of the inflationary model is the notion that all the matter and energy in the observable universe may have emerged from almost nothing.... The inflationary model of the universe provides a possible mechanism by which the observed universe could have evolved from an infinitesimal region. It is then tempting to go one step further and speculate that the entire universe evolved from literally nothing (1984, 250:128, emp. added).
Therefore, even though principles of physics that “cannot be logically attacked on the basis of any knowledge available to us” preclude the creation of something out of nothing, suddenly, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the implications of the Universe having a cause, it is being suggested that indeed, the Universe simply “created itself out of nothing.”
Naturally, such a proposal would seem—to use Dr. Tryon’s words—“preposterous.” Be that as it may, some in the evolutionary camp have been willing to defend it. One such scientist is Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics at the University of Hawaii. In 1987, Dr. Stenger authored an article titled, “Was the Universe Created?,” in which he said:
...the 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 yet no empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea of an accidental origin (1987, 7[3]:26-30, first emp. in orig., second emp. added).
Such a concept, however, has met with serious opposition from within the scientific establishment. For example, in the summer 1994 edition of the Skeptical Inquirer, Ralph Estling wrote a stinging rebuke of the idea that the Universe created itself out of nothing. In his article, curiously titled “The Scalp-Tinglin’, Mind-Blowin’, Eye-Poppin’, Heart-Wrenchin’, Stomach-Churnin’, Foot-Stumpin’, Great Big Doodley Science Show!!!,” Estling wrote:
The problem emerges in science when scientists leave the realm of science and enter that of philosophy and metaphysics, too often grandiose names for mere personal opinion, untrammeled by empirical evidence or logical analysis, and wearing the mask of deep wisdom.
And so they conjure us an entire Cosmos, or myriads of cosmoses, suddenly, inexplicably, causelessly leaping into being out of—out of Nothing Whatsoever, for no reason at all, and thereafter expanding faster than light into more Nothing Whatsoever. And so cosmologists have given us Creation ex nihilo.... And at the instant of this Creation, they inform us, almost parenthetically, the universe possessed the interesting attributes of Infinite Temperature, Infinite Density, and Infinitesimal Volume, a rather gripping state of affairs, as well as something of a sudden and dramatic change from Nothing Whatsoever. They then intone equations and other ritual mathematical formulae and look upon it and pronounce it good.
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 (1994, 18[4]:430, emp. added, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Estling’s statements set off a wave of controversy, as was evident from subsequent letters to the Skeptical Inquirer. In the January/February 1995 edition of that journal, numerous letters were published, discussing Estling’s article. Estling’s response to his critics was published as well, and included the following observations:
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. 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 [a British astronomer who has championed the idea that the Universe created itself from nothing—BT] 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).
This is an interesting turn of events. Evolutionists like Tryon, Stenger, Guth, and Steinhardt insist that this marvelously intricate Universe is “simply one of those things which happen from time to time” as the result of a “random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void” that caused matter to evolve from “literally nothing.” This suggestion, of course, is in clear violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that neither matter nor energy may be created or destroyed in nature. Further, science is based on observation, reproducibility, and empirical data. But when pressed for the empirical data that document the claim that the Universe created itself from nothing, evolutionists are forced to admit, as Dr. Stenger did, that “there are yet no empirical or observational tests that can be used to test the idea....” Estling summarized the problem quite well when he stated: “There is no evidence, so far, that the entire universe, observable and unobservable, emerged from a state of absolute Nothingness.”
Ultimately, the Guth/Steinhardt inflationary model was shown to be incorrect, and a newer version was suggested. Working independently, Russian physicist Andrei Linde, and American physicists Andreas Albrecht and Paul Steinhardt, developed the “new inflationary model” (see Hawking, 1988, pp. 131-132). However, this model also was shown to be incorrect and was discarded. Renowned British astrophysicist Stephen W. Hawking put the matter in proper perspective when he wrote:
The new inflationary model was a good attempt to explain why the universe is the way it is.... In my personal opinion, the new inflationary model is now dead as a scientific theory, although a lot of people do not seem to have heard of its demise and are still writing papers on it as if it were viable (1988, p. 132, emp. added).
Later, Linde himself suggested numerous modifications and is credited with producing what now is known as the “chaotic inflationary model” (see Hawking, 1988, pp. 132ff.). Dr. Hawking performed additional work on this particular model. But in an interview on June 8, 1994 dealing specifically with inflationary models, Alan Guth conceded:
First of all, I will say that at the purely technical level, inflation itself does not explain how the universe arose from nothing.... Inflation itself takes a very small universe and produces from it a very big universe. But inflation by itself does not explain where that very small universe came from (as quoted in Heeren, 1995, p. 148).
Science is based on observation and reproducibility. But when pressed for the reproducible, empirical data that document their claim of a self-created Universe, scientists and philosophers are at a loss to produce those data. Perhaps this is why Alan Guth lamented: “In the end, I must admit that questions of plausibility are not logically determinable and depend somewhat on intuition” (1988, 11[2]:76)—which is little more than a fancy way of saying, “I certainly wish this were true, but I could not prove it to you if my life depended on it.” To suggest that the Universe created itself is to posit a self-contradictory position. Sproul addressed this when he wrote that what an atheist or agnostic
...deems possible for the world to do—come into being without a cause—is something no judicious philosopher would grant that even God could do. It is as formally and rationally impossible for God to come into being without a cause as it is for the world to do so.... For something to bring itself into being it must have the power of being within itself. It must at least have enough causal power to cause its own being. If it derives its being from some other source, then it clearly would not be either self-existent or self-created. It would be, plainly and simply, an effect. Of course, the problem is complicated by the other necessity we’ve labored so painstakingly to establish: It would have to have the causal power of being before it was. It would have to have the power of being before it had any being with which to exercise that power (1994, pp. 179,180).
The Universe did not create itself. Such an idea is absurd, both philosophically and scientifically.
Was the Universe Created?
Either the Universe had a beginning, or it did not. But all available evidence indicates that the Universe did, in fact, have a beginning. If the Universe had a beginning, it either had a cause or it did not. One thing we know assuredly, however: it is correct—logically and scientifically—to acknowledge that the Universe had a cause, because the Universe is an effect and requires an adequate antecedent cause. Henry Morris was correct when he suggested that the Law of Cause and Effect is “universally accepted and followed in every field of science” (1974b, p. 19). The cause/effect principle states that wherever there is a material effect, there must be an adequate antecedent cause. Further indicated, however, is the fact that no effect can be qualitatively superior to, or quantitatively greater than, its cause.
Since it is apparent that the Universe it not eternal, and since likewise it is apparent that the Universe could not have created itself, the only remaining alternative is that the Universe was created by something, or Someone, that: (a) existed before it, i.e., some eternal, uncaused First Cause; (b) is superior to it—since the created cannot be superior to the creator; and (c) is of a different nature, since the finite, contingent Universe of matter is unable to explain itself (see Jackson and Carroll, n.d., 2:98-154). As Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have observed: “To be consistent logically, we have to say that the intelligence which assembled the enzymes did not itself contain them” (1981, p. 139).
In connection with this, another fact should be considered. If there ever had been a time when absolutely nothing existed, then there would be nothing now. It is a self-evident truth that nothing produces nothing. In view of this, since something does exist, it must follow logically that something has existed forever! As Sproul observed:
Indeed, reason demands that if something exists, either the world or God (or anything else), then something must be self-existent.... There must be a self-existent being of some sort somewhere, or nothing would or could exist (1994, pp. 179,185 emp. in orig.).
Everything that humans know to exist can be classified as either matter or mind. There is no third alternative. The argument then, is this:
1. Everything that exists is either matter or mind.
2. Something exists now, so something eternal exists.
3. Therefore, either matter or mind is eternal. A. Either matter or mind is eternal.
B. Matter is not eternal, per the evidence cited above.
C. Thus, it is mind that is eternal.
Or, to reason somewhat differently:
1. Everything that is, is either dependent (i.e., contingent) or independent (non-contingent).
2. If the Universe is not eternal, it is dependent (contingent).
3. The Universe is not eternal.
4. Therefore, the Universe is dependent (contingent). A. If the Universe is dependent, it must have been caused by something that is independent.
B. But the Universe is dependent (contingent).
C. Therefore, the Universe was produced by some eternal, independent (non-contingent) force.
In the past, atheistic evolutionists suggested that the mind is nothing more than a function of the brain, which is matter; thus the mind and the brain are the same, and matter is all that exists. As the late evolutionist of Cornell University, Carl Sagan, said in the opening sentence of his television extravaganza (and book by the same name), Cosmos, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be” (1980, p. 4). However, that viewpoint no longer is credible scientifically, due in large part to the experiments of Australian physiologist Sir John Eccles. Dr. Eccles, who won the Nobel Prize for his discoveries relating to the neural synapses within the brain, documented that the mind is more than merely physical. He showed that the supplementary motor area of the brain may be fired by mere intention to do something, without the motor cortex (which controls muscle movements) operating. In effect, the mind is to the brain what a librarian is to a library. The former is not reducible to the latter. Eccles explained his methodology and conclusions in The Self and Its Brain, co-authored with the renowned philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper (see Popper and Eccles, 1977).
In an article—“scientists in Search of the Soul”—that examined the groundbreaking work of Dr. Eccles (and other scientists like him who have been studying the mind/brain relationship), science writer John Gliedman wrote:
At age 79, Sir John Eccles is not going “gentle into the night.” Still trim and vigorous, the great physiologist has declared war on the past 300 years of scientific speculation about man’s nature.
Winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering research on the synapse—the point at which nerve cells communicate with the brain—Eccles strongly defends the ancient religious belief that human beings consist of a mysterious compound of physical and intangible spirit.
Each of us embodies a nonmaterial thinking and perceiving self that “entered” our physical brain sometime during embryological development or very early childhood, says the man who helped lay the cornerstones of modern neurophysiology. This “ghost in the machine” is responsible for everything that makes us distinctly human: conscious self-awareness, free will, personal identity, creativity and even emotions such as love, fear, and hate. Our nonmaterial self controls its “liaison brain” the way a driver steers a car or a programmer directs a computer. Man’s ghostly spiritual presence, says Eccles, exerts just the whisper of a physical influence on the computerlike brain, enough to encourage some neurons to fire and others to remain silent. Boldly advancing what for most scientists is the greatest heresy of all, Eccles also asserts that our nonmaterial self survives the death of the physical brain (1982, p. 77).
While discussing the same type of conclusions reached by Dr. Eccles, philosopher Norman Geisler explored the concept of an eternal, all-knowing Mind.
Further, this infinite cause of all that is must be all-knowing. It must be knowing because knowing beings exist. I am a knowing being, and I know it. I cannot meaningfully deny that I can know without engaging in an act of knowledge.... But a cause can communicate to its effect only what it has to communicate. If the effect actually possesses some characteristic, then this characteristic is properly attributed to its cause. The cause cannot give what it does not have to give. If my mind or ability to know is received, then there must be Mind or Knower who gave it to me. The intellectual does not arise from the nonintellectual; something cannot arise from nothing. The cause of knowing, however, is infinite. Therefore it must know infinitely. It is also simple, eternal, and unchanging. Hence, whatever it knows—and it knows anything it is possible to know—it must know simply, eternally, and in an unchanging way (1976, p. 247).
From such evidence, Robert Jastrow concluded: “That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact...” (1982, p. 18). Apparently Dr. Jastrow is not alone. As Gliedman put it:
Eccles is not the only world-famous scientist taking a controversial new look at the ancient mind-body conundrum. From Berkeley to Paris and from London to Princeton, prominent scientists from fields as diverse as neurophysiology and quantum physics are coming out of the closet and admitting they believe in the possibility, at least, of such unscientific entities as the immortal human spirit and divine creation (1982, p. 77).
In an article titled “Modern Biology and the Turn to Belief in God” that he wrote for the book, The Intellectuals Speak Out About God (for which former United States President Ronald Reagan wrote the preface), Dr. Eccles concluded:
Science and religion are very much alike. Both are imaginative and creative aspects of the human mind. The appearance of a conflict is a result of ignorance. We come to exist through a divine act. That divine guidance is a theme throughout our life; at our death the brain goes, but that divine guidance and love continues. Each of us is a unique, conscious being, a divine creation. It is the religious view. It is the only view consistent with all the evidence (1984, p. 50, emp. added).


Scientifically, the choice is between matter only and more than matter as the fundamental explanation for the existence and orderliness of the Universe. The difference, therefore, between the evolution model and the creation model is the difference between: (a) time, chance, and the inherent properties of matter; or (b) design, creation, and the irreducible properties of organization. In fact, when it comes to any particular case, there are again only two scientific explanations for the origin of the order that characterizes the Universe and life in the Universe: either the order was imposed on matter, or it resides within matter. However, if it is suggested that the order resides within matter, we respond by saying that we certainly have not seen the evidence of such. The creation model not only is plausible, but also is the only one that postulates an adequate cause for the Universe and life in that Universe. The evolution model cannot, and does not. The evidence speaks clearly to the existence of a non-contingent, eternal, self-existent Mind that created this Universe and everything within it.


Darlington, P.D. (1980), Evolution for Naturalists (New York: John Wiley & Sons).
Davis, George F. (1958), The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, ed. John Monsma (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons).
Dawkins, Richard (1982), “The Necessity of Darwinism,” New Scientist, 94:130-132, April 15.
Eccles, John (1984), “Modern Biology and the Turn to Belief in God,” The Intellectuals Speak Out About God, ed. R.A. Varghese (Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway).
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.
Geisler, Norman L. (1976), Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Gish, Duane T., Richard B. Bliss, and Wendell R. Bird (1981), Summary of Scientific Evidence for Creation [Part I], Impact #95 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research).
Gliedman, John (1982), “Scientists in Search of the Soul,” Science Digest, 90[7]:77-79,105, July.
Guth, Alan (1988), Interview in Omni, 11[2]:75-76,78-79,94,96-99, November.
Guth, Alan and Paul Steinhardt (1984), “The Inflationary Universe,” Scientific American, 250:116-128, May.
Hawking, Stephen W. (1988), A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam).
Heeren, Fred (1995), Show Me God (Wheeling, IL: Searchlight Publications).
Hoyle, Fred and Chandra Wickramasinghe (1981), Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons).
Hull, David (1974), Philosophy of Biological Science (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall).
Jackson, Wayne and Tom Carroll (no date), “The Jackson-Carroll Debate on Atheism and Ethics,” Thrust, ed. Jerry Moffitt, 2:98-154.
Jastrow, Robert (1977), Until the Sun Dies (New York: W.W. Norton).
Jastrow, Robert (1978), God and the Astronomers (New York: W.W. Norton).
Jastrow, Robert (1982), “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths,” interview with Bill Durbin in Christianity Today, August 6.
Kenny, Anthony (1980), The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press).
Morris, Henry M. (1974), Scientific Creationism (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
Popper, Karl R. and John C. Eccles (1977), The Self and Its Brain (New York: Springer International).
Sagan, Carl (1980), Cosmos (New York: Random House).
Sproul, R.C. (1994), Not A Chance (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Stenger, Victor J. (1987), “Was the Universe Created?,” Free Inquiry, 7[3]:26-30, Summer.
Thaxton, Charles B., Walter L. Bradley, and Roger L. Olsen (1984), The Mystery of Life’s Origin (New York: Philosophical Library).
Tryon, Edward P. (1984), “What Made the World?,” New Scientist, 101:14-16, March 8.
Wald, George (1972), in Frontiers of Modern Biology (New York: Houghton-Mifflin).
Wysong, R.L. (1976), The Creation-Evolution Controversy (East Lansing, MI: Inquiry Press).

Homosexuality and “Strange Flesh” by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Homosexuality and “Strange Flesh”

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Some defenders of homosexuality maintain that Jude condemned the men of Sodom—not for their homosexuality—but because they sought to have sexual relations with angels. They base this claim on the use of the expression “strange flesh”: “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7, emp. added). The reasoning is that the men of Sodom were guilty of desiring sexual relations with the angelic visitors (Genesis 19:1-5). However, several problems are inherent in this interpretation.


In the first place, the English word “strange” (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB) creates a different meaning in the mind of the English reader than what is intended by the Greek word heteros. The term simply means “other, another” (Beyer, 1964, 2:702-704). Moulton and Milligan note “how readily heteros from meaning ‘the other class (of two)’ came to imply ‘different’ in quality or kind” (1930, p. 257; cf. Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 315). Thayer even defined the word as “one not of the same nature, form, class, kind,” giving Jude 7 as an instance of this use (1977, p. 254). However, he did not intend by this definition to imply that the difference extended to angelic flesh, as is evident from his treatment of the verse in his section dealing with sarx (flesh): “to follow after the flesh, is used of those who are on the search for persons with whom they can gratify their lust, Jude 7” (p. 570; cf. p. 449). In their handling of either “strange” or “flesh,” none of these lexicographers offers any support for the connotation of nonhuman or extraterrestrial, i.e., angelic.
It so happens that eminent Greek scholar A.T. Robertson disputes even the idea that the meaning of heteros extends to the notion of “different.” In his massive and monumental A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Robertson made the following comment on this term:
The sense of “different” grows naturally out of the notion of duality. The two things happen just to be different…. The word itself does not mean “different,” but merely “one other,” a second of two. It does not necessarily involve “the secondary idea of difference of kind” (Thayer). That is only true where the context demands it (1934, p. 748, emp. added).
So the notion of a different nature, form, or kind does not inhere in the word itself. Only contextual indicators can indicate, quite coincidentally, that the “other” being referred to also is different in some additional quality.
Many English translations of Jude 7 more accurately reflect the meaning of heteros by avoiding the use of the term “strange.” For example, the RSV renders the phrase in question as “indulged in unnatural lust.” The NIV and TEV read: “sexual immorality and perversion.” Moffatt’s translation reads: “vice and sensual perversity.” Goodspeed, Beck, Weymouth, and the Twentieth Century New Testament all have “unnatural vice.” The Simplified New Testament has “homosexuality.” The Jerusalem Bible reads: “The fornication of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other nearby towns was equally unnatural.” Even the Living Bible Paraphrased suitably pinpoints the import of the original in the words, “And don’t forget the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, all full of lust of every kind, including lust of men for other men.”
Considering the meaning of “strange” in its only occurrences (in English) in the KJV (11 times), NKJV (7 times), ASV (10 times), RSV (6 times), and NIV (5 times), one finds that it never is used to refer to angels, but instead refers to: “strange things” (Luke 5:26—i.e., a miracle); “strange land” (Acts 7:6—i.e., Egypt); “strange gods” (Acts 17:18); “strange things” (Acts 17:20—i.e., ideas); “strange cities” (Acts 26:11—i.e., Gentile or outside Palestine); “strange tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:21—i.e., foreign languages); “strange country” (Hebrews 11:9—i.e., Canaan); “strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9); “think it strange” (1 Peter 4:4—i.e., odd); “some strange thing” (1 Peter 4:12—i.e., unusual); and “strange flesh” (Jude 7—i.e., male with male). All the other occurrences of the underlying Greek term in the New Testament further undergird the nonapplication of the term to “angelic flesh” (Moulton, et al., 1978, pp. 392-393).
Most commentators and language scholars recognize this feature of Jude’s remark, as evinced by their treatment of Jude 7. For example, the New Analytical Greek Lexicon defines heteros in Jude 7 as “illicit” (Perschbacher, 1990, p. 177). Williams identified “strange flesh” as “unnatural vice” (1960, p. 1023). Barclay wrote: “What the men of Sodom were bent on was unnatural sexual intercourse, homosexual intercourse, with Lot’s two visitors. They were bent on sodomy, the word in which their sin is dreadfully commemorated” (1958, p. 218). Alford correctly translated the Greek as “other flesh,” and defined the phrase as “[other] than that appointed by God for the fulfillment of natural desire” (1875, 4:533). Jamieson, et al., defined “going after strange flesh” as “departing from the course of nature, and going after that which is unnatural” (n.d., p. 544). Schneider said the expression “denotes licentious living” (1964, 2:676; cf. Hauck, 1967, 4:646; Seesemann, 1967, 5:292). Macknight said: “They committed the unnatural crime which hath taken its name from them” (n.d., p. 693). Mayor explained, “the forbidden flesh (literally ‘other than that appointed by God’) refers…in the case of Sodom to the departure from the natural use” (n.d., 5:260). Barnes stated: “the word strange, or other, refers to that which is contrary to nature” (1978, p. 392, italics in orig.), and Salmond adds, “a departure from the laws of nature in the impurities practiced” (1958, p. 7).
The frequent allusion to “nature” and “unnatural” by scholars must not be taken to mean “beyond nature” in the sense of beyond human, and thereby somehow a reference to angels. The same scholars frequently clarify their meaning in unmistakable terms. For example, after defining “strange flesh” as unnatural, Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown add: “In later times the most enlightened heathen nations indulged in the sin of Sodom without compunction or shame” (n.d., p. 544). Alford, likewise, added: “The sin of Sodom was afterwards common in the most enlightened nations of antiquity” (4:533). It is neither without significance nor coincidental that these Bible scholars focus on forms of the word “natural,” in view of the fact that Scripture elsewhere links same-sex relations with that which is “against nature” (Romans 1:26-27) or unnatural—i.e., out of harmony with the original arrangement of nature by God at the Creation (e.g., Genesis 1:27; 2:22; Matthew 19:4-6).


In the second place, beyond the technical meanings and definitions of the words in Jude 7, contextual indicators also exclude the interpretation that the sin of the men of Sodom was not homosexuality but their desire for angelic flesh. Look again at the wording of the verse: “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these….” To what cities does Jude refer? The Bible actually indicates that Sodom and Gomorrah were only two out of five wicked cities situated on the plain, the other three being Zoar, Admah, and Zeboim (Deuteronomy 29:23; Hosea 11:8). Zoar was actually spared destruction as a result of Lot’s plea for a place to which he might flee (Genesis 19:18-22).
Do the advocates of homosexuality wish to hold the position that the populations of the four cities that were destroyed were all guilty of desiring sexual relations with angels? Perhaps the latest sexual fad that swept over all the cities in the vicinity was “angel sex”? And are we to believe that the great warning down through the ages regarding the infamous behavior of the inhabitants of Sodom—a warning that is repeated over and over again down through the ages to people in many places and periods of history (Deuteronomy 29:23; 32:32; Isaiah 1:9; 3:9; 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14; 49:18; 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46,49,53,55; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9; Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Luke 10:12; 17:29; Romans 9:29; 2 Peter 2:6; Revelation 11:8)—is: “Do not have sex with angels!”? How many times have you been tempted to violate that warning? The opportunity presents itself on a regular basis, right? The country is full of “single angel” bars! No, what Barclay labeled as “the glare of Sodom and Gomorrah,” which is “flung down the whole length of Scripture history” (p. 218), is not angel sex! It is same-sex relations—men with men. And, unbelievably, now the very warning that has been given down through the ages needs to be issued to America!
Additionally, the men of Sodom were already guilty of practicing homosexuality before the angels showed up to pronounce judgment on their behavior. That is precisely why the angels were sent to Sodom—to survey the moral landscape (Genesis 18:21) and urge Lot and his family to flee the city (Genesis 18:23; 19:12-13,15-16). The men of Sodom were pronounced by God as “exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord” back at the time Lot made the decision to move to Sodom (Genesis 13:13). Lenski called attention to the Aorist participles used in Jude 7 (i.e., “having given themselves over” and “going after”) as further proof of this fact: “An appeal to Gen. 19:4, etc., will not answer this question, for this occurred [i.e., the Sodomites descending on Lot’s house—DM] when the cup of fornications was already full, when Jude’s two aorist participles had already become facts, on the day before God’s doom descended” (1966, p. 624).
One final point likewise discounts the claim that the men of Sodom were lusting after angel flesh. The men of Sodom did not know that the two individuals visiting Lot were angels. They had the appearance of “men” (Genesis 18:2,16,22; 19:1,5,8,10,12,16), whose feet could be washed (Genesis 19:2) and who could consume food (Genesis 19:3). The men of Sodom could not have been guilty of desiring to have sexual relations with angels, since they could not have known the men were angels. Even if the men of Sodom somehow knew that the visitors were angels, the impropriety of same-sex relations remains intact—since the angels appeared in the form of males—not females.
An honest and objective appraisal of Jude 7 provides no support for the homosexual cause. The Bible consistently treats homosexual behavior as sinful.


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Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
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Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (no date), A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
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