"THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER" Introduction AUTHOR The apostle Peter, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The writer claims to have had special revelation from the Lord concerning his demise (1:14; cf. Jn 21:18-19), and to have been present when the Lord was transfigured on the mountain (1:16-18; cf. Mt 17:1-9). He also alludes to the first epistle (3:1), and acknowledges acquaintance with the apostle Paul (3:15). Ether Peter wrote it, or it is a blatant forgery. The external evidence reveals that this epistle was slow to be accepted by many in the church. Eusebius (300 A.D.) considered it among doubtful books, but Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.) accepted it, and Robertson's Word Pictures notes that those who alluded to it in their writings include Justin Martyr (165 A.D.), Irenaeus (185 A.D.), Ignatius (107 A.D.), and Clement of Rome (96 A.D.). RECIPIENTS The letter is addressed to those "who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (1:1). The author notes this is the second epistle he has written to them (3:1). If it is indeed the second epistle written to the same audience as First Peter, then the recipients were those Christian "pilgrims" (cf. 1Pe 1:1; 2:11) who were living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, provinces in what is now Turkey. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING Peter makes reference to his imminent death (1:14). It is generally accepted that Peter died during the reign of Nero. Since Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D., the epistle must be dated before then. The epistle was therefore probably written sometime during 67 A.D. The place of writing is uncertain, though if written while imprisoned shortly before his death, it would have been from Rome. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE Peter states His purpose very clearly in writing this epistle: * To stir up his brethren by way of reminder (1:12-15; 3:1) Knowing his death is imminent (1:13-14), Peter wanted to ensure that his readers remain established in the truth (1:12), and be mindful of both the words spoken before by the prophets and the commandments given by the apostles, especially in regards to the promise of the Lord's return (3:1-4). THEME OF THE EPISTLE The theme of 2nd Peter can be gleaned from its last two verses (3:17-18), and stated as: "BEWARE, BUT GROW" He warns Christians to beware lest they fall from their steadfastness, being led away by error. At the same time, he exhorts them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. After the opening salutation, virtually every verse of the epistle is either an encouragement to grow or a warning against false teachers (including those who scoff at the idea of the Lord returning). KEY VERSES: 2 Peter 3:17-18 "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." OUTLINE INTRODUCTION (1:1-2) 1. From Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1a) 2. To those who have obtained like precious faith (1:1b) 3. Grace and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and Jesus (1:2) I. GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE (1:3-21) A. WITH PRECIOUS GIFTS FROM GOD (1:3-4) 1. All things that pertain to life and godliness (1:3) 2. Exceedingly great and precious promises (1:4) B. ABOUNDING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (1:5-11) 1. Supplying our faith with Christ-like graces (1:5-7) 2. Making our call and election sure (1:8-11) C. STIRRED UP BY CAREFUL REMINDER (1:12-21) 1. By one who knows his death is imminent (1:12-15) 2. Whose eyewitness testimony along with the prophetic Word we should heed (1:16-21) II. BEWARE OF FALSE TEACHERS (2:1-22) A. THEIR DESTRUCTIVENESS (2:1-3) 1. Their destructive heresies (2:1-2) 2. Their destructive methods (2:1,3) 3. Their destructive end (2:1,3) B. THEIR DOOM (2:4-9) 1. The example of the angels who sinned (2:4) 2. The example of the flood (2:5) 3. The example of Sodom and Gomorrah (2:6-8) 4. God will deliver the godly, and punish the unjust (2:9) C. THEIR DEPRAVITY (2:10-17) 1. Reviling against authority (2:10-12) 2. Reveling with great pleasure (2:13-14) 3. Revolting against the right way (2:15-17) D. THEIR DECEPTIONS (2:18-22) 1. Deceptive in their methods (2:18) 2. Deceptive in their promises (2:19) 3. Whose latter end is worse than the beginning (2:20-22) III. LOOK FOR THE LORD'S RETURN (3:1-18) A. THOUGH SCOFFERS WILL COME (3:1-9) 1. Who forget the world was destroyed by water (3:1-7) 2. Do not forget that the Lord is not bound by time, and is longsuffering (3:8-9) B. FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME (3:10-18) 1. As a thief in the night, with cataclysmic destruction (3:10,12) 2. For which we should be ready, with holy conduct, looking for the promise of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (3:11,13-14) 3. Remembering that the Lord's longsuffering is salvation, as Paul wrote (3:15-16) 4. So beware lest you fall, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (3:17-18) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) To whom was this second epistle of Peter written? (1:1; 3:1) - To those who had obtained a like precious faith - To those who had received the first epistle 2) What region of the world did they live in? - Modern day Turkey 3) When was this epistle possibly written? - 67 A.D. 4) Where was Peter when he wrote this epistle? - In Rome 5) What purpose did Peter have in writing this epistle? (1:12-15; 3:1) - To stir up his brethren by way reminder 6) What is suggested as the theme of this epistle? - Beware, but grow 7) What is suggested as the key verses in this epistle? - 1Pe 3:17-18 8) According to the outline above, what are main divisions of this epistle? - Grow in grace and knowledge - Beware of false teachers - Look for the Lord's return
Don't Muslims and Christians Both Believe in Jesus?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
“In a Muslim seminar, an Imam stated that both Christians and Muslims believe in Jesus, but of different faiths. What say you?”
Muslims are quick to emphasize that they, too, believe in Jesus. Their claim is correct. After all, the Quran alludes to Jesus in a favorable light several times (e.g., Surah 3:45-51; 5:110; 21:91; et al.). But this claim is misleading, since it fails to own up to the fact that Christianity and Islam are in hopeless contradiction with each other regarding the most crucial contention of New Testament Christianity: the divinity of Christ. On this solitary point, Islam and Christianity, the Bible and the Quran, can never agree. This disagreement is of such momentous import and great magnitude as to make the inexorable incompatibility permanent.
You see, while the Quran speaks favorably of Jesus as a prophet of God, it vehemently denounces the deity of Christ. For example, consider Surah 18:1-5 (as translated by Muslim scholar Mohammed Pickthall)—
Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave…to give warning of stern punishment from Him…and to warn those who say: Allah hath chosen a son, (A thing) whereof they have no knowledge, nor (had) their fathers. Dreadful is the word that cometh out of their mouths. They speak naught but a lie.
And read Surah 19:88-93—
And they say: The Beneficent hath taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly ye utter a disastrous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins, that ye ascribe unto the Beneficent a son, when it is not meet for (the Majesty of) the Beneficent that He should choose a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficient as a slave.
Or Surah 23:91—
Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any God along with Him (also 25:2; et al.).
These references demonstrate that the Quran depicts Jesus as a mere man—a prophet like Muhammad—who was created by God like all other created beings (Surah 5:75; cf. 42:9,13,21). Indeed, when Jesus is compared to any of the prophets (listed as Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob), Allah is represented as stating: “We make no distinction between any of them” (Surah2:136; 3:84). Though the Quran seems to accept the notion of the virgin conception (Surah21:91), to attribute divinity to Jesus, or to assign to Jesus equal rank with God, is to utter a “dreadful” and “disastrous” thing—to formulate “nothing but a lie”!
Here, indeed, is the number one conflict between Islam and Christianity—the deity, person, and redemptive role of Christ. If Christ is Who the Bible represents Him to be, then Islam and the Quran are completely fictitious. If Jesus Christ is Who the Quran represents Him to be, then Christianity is baseless and blasphemous. On this point alone, these two religions can neverachieve harmony. But the New Testament is very, very clear: the heart, core, and soul of the Christian religion is allegiance to Jesus Christ as God, Lord, and Savior. Jesus identified Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament (John 8:58; cf. 20:28-31). In Colossians, Paul forcefully affirmed regarding Jesus—
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (1:15-17). For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (2:9).
Such depictions of Jesus are frequent in the New Testament. Jesus was certainly a prophet, as the Quran affirms (Surah 4:163); but Jesus was not just a prophet. He was God in the flesh. In fact, oral confession of the deity of Christ is prerequisite to becoming a Christian (Romans 10:9-10). This singular point makes Christianity and Islam forever incompatible. One must be a Christian to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and yet one cannot be a Christian without believing in, and verbally confessing, the deity of Christ, and then being immersed into Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27). The Bible declares that Jesus was the final revelation of God to man (Hebrews 1:1-3). There have been no others.
Babylon the Great Has Fallen
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Babylon was one of the richest cities in the world during the years 740 B.C. to 680 B.C.During these “glory days,” the city prospered like it had the Midas touch; everything it touched seemed to turn to gold. It was located between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers—a strip of land so agriculturally productive that today it is known as the “fertile crescent.”
But its agriculture and well-watered plains were not the reason it was famous. Babylon gained its reputation because of its high, massive walls and its strong defensive battlements. In fact, ancient writers described walls that were 14 miles long on all four sides of the city and that reached heights of over 300 feet—taller than most building today. Not only were the walls long and high, but in some places they also were 75-feet thick. But the wall was not the only form of defense. The Euphrates River surrounded the city, making a perfect moat that ranged anywhere from 65 to 250 feet across. This wall/moat combination appeared to make the city unconquerable.
Yet in spite of the strong military and defensive strength of the city, God’s prophets foretold its destruction. In Jeremiah 50:9, the prophet declared that God would “raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country.” This prediction probably seemed unfounded at the time it was made, because none of the countries in the north came close to having enough strength to defeat Babylon. But years after the prophecy, Cyrus, king of the Medo-Persian Empire, mounted a huge force of many different nations and marched southward against Babylon.
The details of the fulfillment are amazing. Jeremiah recorded that God had declared: “I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry” (51:36). Again the prophet foretold: “A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is a land of carved images” (50:38). Also, the prophet promised that the Lord had spoken: “I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake” (51:39).
Now listen to the story as history unfolds. The Euphrates River ran underneath the great walls of Babylon. After a siege of two full years, Cyrus was able to divert the river to make it flow into a huge marsh on the western side of the city. By doing this, he “dried up the rivers” of Babylon and provided an easy way for his soldiers to enter under the city walls where the water used to flow. But the Babylonians inside the city had no idea what was taking place. They could have defended the city, but instead they were feasting and getting drunk. Cyrus ordered his men to act like drunken revilers, and by the time the Babylonians knew what had hit them, the city was filled with enemy troops and who ultimately conquered it.
Even though the above circumstances would be enough to prove the accuracy of the prophecy of Jeremiah (and thus the Bible), the prophet’s predictions do not stop there. Chapters 50-51 of Jeremiah’s book are filled with more futuristic condemnations of Babylon, all of which were fulfilled in the smallest detail. Truly, the words spoken by the prophet did come to pass.
Time after time, the Bible has been “dead on” when it has predicted the future. Secular records document the facts about Babylon. So what does this prove? It proves one simple thing—that God Himself inspired the words written between the covers of the Bible. And because that is the case, every human being should welcome the Bible “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
According to Atheist Sam Harris, Atheism is a Preposterous Belief
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Sam Harris wrote a caustic book against all religious faith that he titled, The End of Faith. As with most of the modern atheistic writers, Harris related numerous atrocities committed in the name of religion as evidence that religious faith is inherently flawed. To press his point, he stated:
Whenever you hear that people have begun killing noncombatants intentionally and indiscriminately, ask yourself what dogma stands at their backs. What do these freshly minted killers believe. You will find that it is always—always—preposterous (2004, p. 106, ital. in orig.).
While Harris is wrong to categorize New Testament Christianity with other faiths (see Butt, 2007), he is right to conclude that people today who indiscriminately kill noncombatants are deluded by some type of preposterous belief. Unfortunately, Harris fails to see that by making this statement, he has condemned atheism as a preposterous belief.
The term “noncombatant” is not difficult to understand. It simply means any person who is not actively engaged in a war, riot, or combat situation. Generally speaking, this term describes innocent women and children. For instance, Harris listed several examples of situations in which men, women, and children were killed simply because they belonged to a certain ethnic group. If we were to ask what category of human beings could best be described as “noncombatants,” we would be forced to conclude that babies necessarily fit the category. Thus, any modern belief system that advocates the killing of innocent babies must be backed by a preposterous belief—according to Harris.
When we look into Harris’ writings, we discover that his atheistic philosophy completely justifies the indiscriminant killing of unborn humans. Harris, like his atheistic cohorts, supports abortion. How could Harris miss the connection between his pro-abortion stance and the indiscriminant killing about which he rages? The answer is clear from his own writings, because he posed a very similar question:
How is it, after all, that a Nazi guard could return each day from his labors at the crematoria and be a loving father to his children? The answer is surprisingly straightforward; the Jews he spent the day torturing and killing were not objects of his moral concern. Not only were they outside his moral community; they were antithetical to it. His beliefs about Jews inured him to the natural human sympathies that might have other wise prevented such behavior (2004, p. 176).
Harris correctly concluded that the Nazi soldiers justified their villainous deeds by claiming that Jews were less than human and not worthy to be in the same moral community as the Nazis. Of course, Harris does not believe the Nazis had the right to hold this belief. And he believes that they were guilty of real moral wrong. Yet, shockingly, only one page later he implies that his brand of atheism is in the same position as the Nazi soldier’s belief. He states:
Incidentally, here is where a rational answer to the abortion debate is lurking. Many of us consider human fetuses in the first trimester to be more or less like rabbits: having imputed to them a range of happiness and suffering that does not grant them full status in our moral community. At present, this seems rather reasonable. Only future scientific insights could refute this intuition (p. 177, emp. added).
The Nazi soldier killed Jews all day and justified it by saying they were outside his moral community. The atheistic popularizers like Sam Harris support the indiscriminant slaughter of innocent, unborn children, and justify their belief by concluding that unborn babies do not have “full status in our moral community.”
According to Harris, we must look to see what preposterous dogma undergirds the atheistic community’s support for abortion. When we do, we find the irrational idea that humans are natural organisms that have evolved from lower life forms over billions of years. This outrageous belief strips humanity of the dignity that comes only with belief in a divine Creator. Furthermore, the atheistic assertion establishes humans as the final authority that determines which people should be granted full status in our moral community.
If atheism is true, it would be morally acceptable to redefine humanity’s moral community to include animals, or exclude certain categories of humans. Furthermore, it would be morally justifiable to indiscriminately kill noncombatants based on arbitrarily chosen criteria like age, mental capacity, or physical ability. But Harris has correctly stated that any belief system that allows such actions “is always—always—preposterous.” According to Harris, then, we must conclude that atheism is preposterous.
Butt, Kyle (2007), “All Religion is Bad Because Some Is?” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3546.
Harris, Sam (2004), The End of Faith (New York: W.W. Norton).
Afterlife and the Bible
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
We human beings find it very easy to live life as if we will be here forever. On occasion, we come face to face with death when a loved one or friend passes away. But the essence of daily living is such that it is easy to ignore the reality of death and the certainty of existence beyond the grave. Numerous ideas exist in the world regarding life after death—from annihilation to reincarnation. Islam speaks of “paradise” while Catholicism speaks of “purgatory.” While it does not answer all of our questions, the Bible nevertheless speaks definitively and decisively regarding afterlife.
The Bible teaches that human beings are composite creatures. Humans possess a fleshly body that is composed of physical elements made from “the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Unlike animals, humans also possess a spiritual dimension—made in God’s own image—that transcends the body and physical life on Earth (Genesis 1:26-27). God places within each prenatal person at conception a spirit that makes each individual a unique personality that will survive physical death, living on immortally throughout eternity (Zechariah 12:1). At death, the spirit separates from the body and exists in a conscious condition in the spirit realm (Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21-22). Thus the Bible defines “death” as “separation”—not “extinction” or “annihilation” (Thayer, 1901, p. 282; Vine, 1940, p. 276). Since “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26), the separation of one’s spirit from one’s body results in the physical death of the body. But what about the spirit?
The clearest depiction of existence beyond physical death is seen in Luke 16:19-31. In this account, both men are said to have died. Wherever Lazarus went, angels transported him there. The rich man’s body was buried—but his person was in Hades where he was tormented in flames. The rich man could see and recognize Lazarus and Abraham. Abraham referred to the rich man’s former existence as “your lifetime.” Abraham made clear that their respective locations were irreversible. The rich man’s brothers still occupied their father’s house on Earth. The rich man’s plea to send Lazarus to his living relatives would require Lazarus to “rise from the dead” (vs. 31).
The term translated “hell” in verse 23 (KJV) is the Greek word hades, and is not to be confused with the term gehenna. “Gehenna” (found twelve times in the New Testament) refers to the place of eternal, everlasting punishment—the “lake of fire” where Satan, his angels, and all wicked people will be consigned after the Second Coming of Jesus and the Judgment. Gehenna is hell. On the other hand, “hades” (occurring ten times in the New Testament and paralleling the Hebrew Old Testament term sheol) always refers to the unseen realm of the dead—the receptacle of disembodied spirits where dead people await the return of the Lord (Revelation 1:18). Hades isnot hell.
Observe further that Luke 16 depicts Hades as including two regions: one for the deceased righteous, and a second for the deceased wicked. The former is referred to as the “bosom of Abraham” (meaning “near” or “in the presence of ” Abraham—cf. John 1:18). Jesus referred to this location as “paradise” (Luke 23:43; cf. Acts 2:25-34). The term “paradise” is of Persian derivation, and referred to “a grand enclosure or preserve, hunting-ground, park, shady and well-watered” (Thayer, 1901, p. 480). The Jews used the term as “a garden, pleasure-ground, grove, park,” and came to apply it to that portion of Hades that was thought “to be the abode of the souls of the pious until the resurrection” (p. 480). The word is used in three senses in the Bible: (1) In the Septuagint (Genesis 2:8,9,10,15,16; 3:2,3,4,9,11,24,25), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it refers to the literal Garden of Eden on Earth where Adam and Eve lived (Septuagint, 1970, pp. 3-5). It normally is translated “garden” in English versions; (2) It is used one time, in a highly figurative New Testament book, to refer to the final abode of the saved, i.e., heaven (Revelation 2:7); and (3) It is used in connection with the Hadean realm.
While Jesus, the thief, and Lazarus went to the paradise portion of Hades, the rich man went to the unpleasant area that entailed torment and flame—tartarosas, or Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). The occupants there await “the judgment of the great day.” Thus, Hades is a temporaryrealm that will be terminated at the Judgment (Revelation 20:13-14).
God gives people only their earthly life to prepare their spirits for their eternal abode (Hebrews 9:27). When a person dies, his or her body goes into the grave, while the spirit enters the Hadean realm to await the final Judgment. At the Second Coming of Christ, all spirits will come forth from Hades and be resurrected in immortal bodies (John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:35-54). All will then face God in judgment, receive the pronouncement of eternal sentence, and be consigned to heaven or hell for eternity.
[NOTE: For an audio sermon on this topic, click here.]
Septuagint Version of the Old Testament (1970 reprint), (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Thayer, J.H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Vine, W.E. (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).
Did Jesus Lie to His Brothers?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Scripture repeatedly testifies that Jesus never sinned. The prophet Isaiah, speaking as if Jesus had already lived and died, said that the Savior “had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth” (53:9). The apostle Peter quoted from Isaiah in his first epistle (2:22), and added that Jesus was “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). Paul wrote to the Corinthians how Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). What’s more, according to Hebrews 4:15, Jesus “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He was “pure” and “righteous” in the supreme sense (1 John 3:3; 2:1). Simply put, Jesus was perfect; He never transgressed God’s law.
If Jesus never sinned, and specifically never lied, some wonder why Jesus told his brothers, “I donot go up to this feast [the Feast of Tabernacles]” (John 7:8, NASB), if later, “when His brothers had gone...He Himself also went” (7:10, NASB)? Some allege that, in this instance, Jesus “broke his word” and “lied” (McKinsey, 2000, p. 787), and thus was not the Son of God as He claimed. What is the truth of the matter?
First of all, several early manuscripts of the gospel of John, including p66 and p75 (believed to be from as early as the late second and early third centuries), have Jesus saying, “I am not yet[oupo] going up to this feast,” rather than “I do not [ouk] go up to this feast.” Thus, it may be that the correct rendering is found in the KJV, NKJV, and NIV, rather than the ASV, NASB, and RSV.
Second, even if Jesus did say at one point to His brothers, “I do not go up to this feast,” but later He went, that still does not mean that He lied. Suppose a co-worker saw me leaving the office at 2:00 p.m. and asked me, “Are you going home?” and I said, “No,” but later went home that day at 5:00 p.m. Have I lied? Not at all. When I left the office at 2:00 p.m., I went to run a quick errand—I did not go home. When I departed the office at 5:00 p.m., however, I went home. “No” is often truthfully used in a time-sensitive manner. Simply because at 2:00 p.m. I said I was not going home, does not mean I could not go home at 5:00 p.m. My “no” meant “I’m not going homeat the present.” Similarly, if Jesus used the term “not” [ouk] rather than “not yet” [oupo], He could just as easily been implying the same thing: “I am not going to the feast at the present.”
At the proper time, after Jesus “remained in Galilee” for a while (7:9), He did go to the feast. The proper time was not when his unbelieving brothers told Him to “depart” (John 7:5), but when the Son of God said it was time—a God-appointed time. Furthermore, His attendance at the feast was not for the purpose that His brothers envisioned (to show Himself to the world—7:3-4), rather Jesus went to the feast “not openly, but as it were in secret” (7:10, emp. added).
Just as we often say, “I am not going,” but mean “I am not going yet,” Jesus had every right to use that same kind of language. Although Jesus embodied truth (John 14:6) and always told the truth (1 Peter 2:22), He still used figures of speech and language men commonly understood—some even today.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
"You Creationists are Not Qualified to Discuss Such Matters!"
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
A common quibble laid at the feet of the creationist is that he/she is not qualified to speak about scientific matters relating to the creation/evolution controversy. For instance, Mark Isaak, the editor of The Index to Creationist Claims, stated that “for every creationist who claims one thing, there are dozens of scientists (probably more), all with far greater professional qualifications, who say the opposite” (2005, emp. added). Others assert that creationists make “the elementary mistake of trying to discuss a highly specialized field…in which they have little or no training” (Holloway, 2010). Do these assertions have any merit?
First, such assertions are ironic in light of other statements by some in the evolutionary community. For example, in the “General Tips” section of the article, “How to Debate a Creationist,” the Creationism versus Science Web site tells its followers,
you don’t need to become a qualified expert [in relevant evolutionary subject matters—JM]…but you should endeavour to know as much or more about these subjects than your opponent does (which is often a surprisingly easy task, since most creationists learn only the barest superficialities of any given scientific principle before feeling confident enough to pontificate on it) (2007, parenthetical item in orig., emp. added).
It seems that some do not wish to hold all participants to the same standards. It is clear that the author wished for his audience to be able to win a debate, rather than consider the validity of the arguments being posed by creationists.
It is important to realize that when a person wishes to discuss a certain matter, it is not always necessary for the individual to have the relevant experience or credentials (as deemed necessary by the atheistic evolutionary community) in that area. Consider: Are certain qualifications needed before an individual can quote or paraphrase others who are considered “experts” on a certain matter, as do many creationists and evolutionists (especially in the media)? Does one need a B.A. degree in English before he would be considered qualified enough to be able to cite references? And would that degree be enough to prove qualification? Perhaps a graduate leveldegree in English would be necessary? Such a proposition would be preposterous. Even if a person had such qualifications, it would not guarantee that the person is credible, and it certainly would not prove that the person is infallible. The key, of course, is to determine whether or not the quotations and/or paraphrases are done correctly, regardless of whom the commentator is. Creationists and evolutionists, as well as individuals in every professional field, often cite others who are considered “experts.” This is a reasonable and acceptable practice.
Follow this line of reasoning even further. How far are the evolutionists willing to go in their demand for credentials? Should scientists have direct experience in every field in which they make an assertion? If not, why not? If a biology professor’s doctoral research dealt primarily with the characteristics of St. Augustine grass, is he/she qualified to speak about the evolution of apes and humans? If an atheist only received a B.A. degree in religion, would such a person be qualified to speak on the most notable, alleged, atheistic mechanism for the origin of man—namely the General Theory of Evolution? If not, then atheistic debater Dan Barker has no business speaking out about it and should be silenced (see Butt and Barker, 2009). Even Charles Darwin, the “father” of the General Theory of Evolution, only had a degree in theology, having dropped out of the only other fields of formal education he at one time pursued—the medical and law professions (Thompson, 1981, p. 104). Based on the standards being imposed by some in the evolutionary community, he had no business speaking out about matters pertaining to biology and should not have been taken seriously. And yet his free-lance work as a naturalist was considered substantial enough to gain him credibility upon writing The Origin of Species. We would argue that his qualifications were irrelevant. His ideas should be scrutinized to determine their worth, rather than castigating him for his lack of a science degree. However, in order to be consistent, the evolutionary community must deem him unqualified to discuss evolution, and his theory should be rejected. Consider further: should an atheist be required to have credentials in theology in order to be able to speak against God? Should an atheist have credentials in Bible matters to be able to speak against the Bible? A lack of “qualifications” in religious matters does not seem to stop rabid atheists from attacking Christianity. Clearly, a double-standard in the atheistic evolutionary community is at work.
And how much experience is required before a person can be considered qualified? Who defines where the imaginary line is that distinguishes between the “qualified” and the “unqualified”—whose thoughts and research should be considered and whose should be ignored? Who will be the qualifications policemen? Who determines what qualifications the qualifications policemen must have to be able to deem others qualified? And what credentials do those who ordain qualifications policemen have to have? If scientists were held to such standards, progress into new realms could never be made, since by definition, there are no experts in such areas! Thomas Edison received no higher education (“The Life of…,” 1999), and yet he invented the light bulb, founded General Electric Company, and filed 1,093 successful U.S. patent applications for his inventions (“Edison’s Patents,” 2010). In 1997, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers saw fit to establish the “Thomas A. Edison Patent Award” in his honor, again, in spite of his lack of higher learning (McKivor, 2010). Sir Isaac Newton received a bachelor’s degree, but without honors or distinction (Hatch, 2002). Should his work be disregarded? Consider also that his area of study was mathematics. How was he qualified to discuss physics, mechanics, dynamics, and other mechanical engineering concepts that are taught in engineering schools today? The Wright brothers did not even receive high school diplomas, much less receive a college education (Kelly, 1989, p. 37). The Encyclopedia of World Biography notes that Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, “was a poor student. He never learned to spell or to read well. Ford would write using only the simplest of sentences” (“Henry Ford,” 2010). However, that did not stop people from buying his Model T. Nearly 15,500,000 were sold in the United States alone (“Henry Ford [1863-1947],” 2010). Jesus Christ, Himself, would not have had the credentials deemed necessary by the religious elites of His day to speak on theological matters. And yet, Jesus emphasized that truth is truth, regardless of one’s credentials, and the truth will set men free (John 8:32).
Another relevant point should be considered in this discussion as well. Creationists often speak about various fundamental, non-technical problems with evolution, such as the fact that life cannot come from non-life, the Universe must have a cause, nothing lasts forever or pops into existence, and macroevolution does not happen. These, the creationist rightly contends, disprove atheistic evolution. The evolutionist often attempts to dodge these arguments by claiming that “creationists aren’t qualified” to discuss these matters. But there is a fundamental problem with that assertion. Since no one has ever witnessed, much less been able to study, abiogenesis; or witnessed an effect without a cause; or witnessed kinds of creatures giving rise to other kinds of creatures (e.g., apes giving rise to humans); there is no such thing as being “qualified” in such areas. How can one be qualified to discuss things that do not happen? One person is just as qualified as the next person to discuss such things. If someone has spent his entire life trying to find evidence that fairies fly around inside of children’s eyeballs, all to no avail, does that mean that he is more qualified to discuss that matter than someone else? Of course not. All he has done is waste his time coming to the same conclusion everyone else already intuitively knew. Everyone on Earth has the same amount of experience witnessing the fact that such things as abiogenesis and macroevolution do not happen. So any person is just as qualified as the next person to discuss them. Darwinian evolution is founded on principles for which there is no such thing as “being qualified” enough to discuss them. Conjecture and speculation—not proof—characterize evolutionary theory.
Bottom line: Anyone is eligible to take part in a discussion as long as he or she is not speaking error. That is the critical issue. Consider: does one have to be qualified to speak the truth? Of course not. Truth is truth! It does not matter who speaks it. Unfortunately, many critics of creationists fail to address the creationist’s argument, but instead attack the speaker (e.g., the speaker’s credentials). This sidesteps the argument and attempts to distract hearers from analyzing the argument’s validity, which is a classic example of the ad hominem logical fallacy (“Fallacies,” 2007). Anyone who is able to speak correctly concerning a scientific matter due to personal work or experience, direct study, or through research into the work of others is eligible to take part in scientific discourse on the subject, given that the person is handling the matter accurately. As long as the laws of science are used correctly, anyone can teach their truths and should not be restricted from doing so through the silencing techniques being attempted by the evolutionary community.
As was mentioned above, some evolutionists assert that “there are dozens of scientists (probably more), all with far greater professional qualifications” than creationists (Isaak, 2005)—quite a bold statement, to say the least. It may be true that most scientists have bought into the hoax of evolution, as was the case when scientists believed in geocentricity, or that blood-letting was an appropriate prescription for curing ailments, but appealing to numbers proves nothing, and using such an argument causes one to fall victim to yet another logical fallacy—the ad populum fallacy (i.e., appeal to the majority) (“Fallacies,” 2007).
Although numbers ultimately mean nothing in regard to truth, creationists can certainly come up with an impressive list of “qualified” scientists who have examined the scientific evidence and concluded that the atheistic evolutionary model falls short in explaining our existence. Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy and modern optics, was a firm Bible believer. Robert Boyle, the father of chemistry, was a Bible believer. Samuel F.B. Morse, who invented Morse Code, was a believer. Wernher Von Braun, the father of the space program at NASA, was a strong believer in God and creation, as well as Louis Pasteur, the father of biology, Lord Kelvin, the father of thermodynamics, Sir Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics, and Faraday, the father of electromagnetism. Dozens of other well-known scientists from history could be cited (see Morris, 1990). Creation Ministries International posted a list of some 187 scientists alive today (or recently deceased) who believe in the biblical account of creation (“Creation Scientists…,” 2010). The scientists who are listed all possess a doctorate in a science-related field. Over 90 different scientific fields are represented in the list, including several types of engineers, chemists, geneticists, physicists, and biologists. Astronomers and astrophysicists; geologists and geophysicists; physicians and surgeons; micro-, molecular, and neurobiologists; paleontologists and zoologists are represented, and the list goes on. Jerry Bergman amassed a list of more than 3,000 individuals. Most have a Ph.D. in science, and many more could be added, according to Bergman.
On my list I have well over 3,000 names including Nobel Prize winners, but, unfortunately, a large number of persons that could be added to the public list, including many college professors, did not want their name listed because of real concerns over possible retaliation or harm to their careers (2006).
For over 30 years, we at Apologetics Press have conducted numerous seminars and published hundreds of articles by “qualified,” credentialed scientists who speak out in support of the biblical account of creation as well—scientists with graduate degrees in geology, astrophysics, microbiology, neurobiology, cell biology, medicine, biochemistry, aerospace engineering, nuclear engineering, and biomechanical engineering. Creationists can certainly speak with credibility in scientific matters. However, again, the ultimate question is not how many scientists are standing on either side of the battle line. Majority or “consensus” is not the deciding factor (cf. Miller, 2012). The question is who is speaking the truth? Who is taking the scientific evidence and drawing reasonable, accurate conclusions from the facts? The answer is clear to the unbiased observer. Science supports creation—not evolution.
There is certainly something to be said about the value of having credentials and experience in the area in which one is speaking, because that person will often have a broader perspective about a subject than the next person. But it is also true that that person should not be blindly accepted without critical thinking. Regardless of one’s credentials, the audience must still consider the validity of the argument being offered. When all is said and done, the theory—not the person discussing it—should be where the emphasis lies. As always, we challenge the audience to disprove our contentions. Truth will always win. It will set us free.
Bergman, Jerry (2006), “Darwin Skeptics,” http://www.rae.org/darwinskeptics.html.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Creation Scientists and Other Specialists of Interest” (2010), Creation Ministries International,http://creation.com/creation-scientists.
“Edison’s Patents” (2010), The Thomas Edison Papers, Rutgers University,http://edison.rutgers.edu/patents.htm.
“Fallacies” (2007), Handouts and Links,http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html.
Hatch, Robert (2002), “Sir Isaac Newton,” Professor Robert A. Hatch: The Scientific Revolution Homepage, http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/ufhatch/pages/01-courses/current-courses/08sr-newton.htm.
“Henry Ford” (2010), Encyclopedia of World Biography, http://www.notablebiographies.com/Fi-Gi/Ford-Henry.html.
“Henry Ford (1863-1947)” (2010), About.com, Inventors,http://inventors.about.com/od/fstartinventors/a/HenryFord.htm.
Holloway, Robert (2010), “Experts on Thermodynamics Refute Creationist Claims,”http://www.ntanet.net/Thermo-Internet.htm.
“How to Debate a Creationist” (2007), Creationism versus Science, Arguments,http://www.creationtheory.org/Arguments/DebatingTips.xhtml.
Isaak, Mark (2005), “Claim CA118,” The TalkOrigins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy, http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA118.html.
Kelly, Fred C. (1989), The Wright Brothers: A Biography (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company).
“The Life of Thomas A. Edison” (1999), Library of Congress,http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/edhtml/edbio.html.
McKivor, Fran (2010), “Thomas A. Edison Patent Award,” ASME: Setting the Standard,http://www.webcitation.org/5umTifXDW.
Miller, Jeff (2012), “Evolution is the Scientific Consensus—So You Should Believe It!” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4518.
Morris, Henry M. (1990), Men of Science Men of God: Great Scientists Who Believed in the Bible (El Cajon, CA: Master Books), third printing.
Thompson, Bert (1981), The History of Evolutionary Thought (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
A&E, “Duck Dynasty,” GQ, & Homosexuality
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
No doubt you’ve heard the brouhaha over the remarks of a member of the Duck Dynasty cast concerning homosexuality and gay marriage. Phil Robertson told his interviewer that homosexuality is “sin,” “not logical,” and “not right” (Magary, 2013). Leading homosexual organizations and other “politically correct” advocates have been quick to condemn and spew hate speech against him (e.g., Sacks, 2013; “‘Duck Dynasty’ Family…,” 2013). The incident merely highlights the full-blown culture war that has been raging for a number of years in the United States.
Apart from the issues of “free speech,” the self-contradiction and utter inconsistency of the left, and the determination of anti-Christian forces to bully, intimidate, and silence those who oppose their agenda, the entire matter actually distils into a single, all-encompassing issue: Does the God of the Bible exist and is the Bible His inspired, decipherable Word to which all human beings are amenable and for which they will be held accountable? For those who still believe the Bible, the issue is clear and decisive.
Homosexual intercourse is condemned as immoral sexual behavior in every period of Bible history. It was condemned implicitly at the beginning of human history in the creation of a man and a woman to form the marriage and the home (Genesis 2:24). It was condemned as “wicked and sinful” and “very grievous” in Sodom and Gomorrah during the pre-Mosaic age (Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:1-11; cf. 2 Peter 2:7-8; Jude 7). It was condemned under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:22-30; 20:13), even to the point of being described as “wickedness,” “outrage,” “vileness,” “lewdness,” and “evil” (Judges 19:23-24; 20:3,6,10,12,13). With the arrival of Christ and Christianity on the planet, the New Testament is equally definitive in its uncompromising and unquestioned condemnation of same-sex activity (Matthew 19:9). Paul summarized the “unrighteous” and “ungodly” behavior of the Gentile nations, and declared:
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;...who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:26-32, emp. added; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-10).
So the Bible is clear.
What’s more, science is equally definitive. For all the touting a genetic link to homosexuality, the fact of the matter is that no scientific evidence has been discovered that establishes the existence of the alleged “gay gene.” The Human Genome project found no proof for a genetic connection, and the studies conducted many years ago, that are largely responsible for perpetrating the myth of a genetic origin for homosexuality in the minds of most Americans (LeVay, 1991; Bailey and Pillard, 1991, Hamer, et al., 1993) have been discredited (see Miller, et al., 2004).
It is more than hard to believe that a sizable segment of the population of the United States of America has come to believe that homosexuality—recognized by the bulk of Western civilization as sexually aberrant behavior—should be tolerated and even encouraged. The Father of our country expressed the sentiment of the vast majority of Americans which prevailed for most of American history when he expressed his “abhorrence and detestation” for homosexuality (“George…,” 1778). The Creator of the Universe, Who also created human sexuality, was equally vehement in his condemnation of same-sex behavior. America would do well to consider soberly the divine declaration regarding the eventual outcome for the nation that sanctions it: “For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:25).
Bailey, Michael J., and Richard C. Pillard (1991), “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation,”Archives of General Psychiatry, 48:1089-1096, December.
“‘Duck Dynasty’ Family, Conservatives Defend Phil Robertson” (2013), Chicago Tribune, December 20, http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-20131220,0,1685719.story.
“George Washington, March 14, 1778, General Orders” (1778), The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799, from ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mgw:@field(DOCID+@lit (gw110081)).
Hamer, Dean H., Stella Hu, Victoria L. Magnuson, Nan Hu, and Angela M.L. Pattatucci (1993), “A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation,”Science, 261:321-327, July 16.
“Human Genome Report Press Release” (2003), International Consortium Completes Human Genome Project, http://www.ornl.gov/TechResources/Human_Genome/project/50yr.html.
LeVay, Simon (1991), “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science, 253:1034-1037, August 30.
Magary, Drew (2013, “What the Duck?” GQ, January,http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson?currentPage=3.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “‘This is the Way God Made Me’—A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the ‘Gay Gene,’” Reason & Revelation, 24, September,http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1388&topic=36.
Sacks, Ethan and Don Kaplan (2013), “‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Phil Robertson Suspended From Show After Equating Homosexuality With Bestiality,” New York Daily News, December 19,http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson-equates-homosexuality-bestiality-article-1.1551556.