God’s Eternal Power And Deity Are Understood Through The Things That Are Made by Roy Davison


God’s Eternal Power And Deity
Are Understood Through The Things That Are Made
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).

Charles Robert Darwin -- born in Shrewsbury, England on February 12, 1809 -- stated his purpose in writing ‘Origin of Species’ thus: “I had two distinct objects in view, firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change” (Descent of Man, first edition, page 152).

Genesis explains the origin of life-forms in this way: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind” (Genesis 1:20, 21). “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind” (Genesis 1:24, 25).

A species is a taxonomic group whose members can interbreed. Thus, the various species reproduce after their kind, as indicated in Genesis. This fact does not easily fit the evolution model.

Charles Darwin’s purpose was to contradict the Biblical account of the origin of separate life-forms through creation.

Darwin’s skills as a scholar and writer enhanced his influence. His ideas also catered to the atheists’ desire for some new explanation for their discredited belief in the spontaneous generation of life.

In primary school I learned about those naïve alchemists in the middle ages who believed in the spontaneous generation of life because worms appeared, seemingly from nowhere, in rotten meat. But we were not told that for the most part, only atheists made this mistake.

People who accepted the Bible knew that life comes from life. Scientific methods were also used to prove it. In 1668 the Italian physician, Francesco Redi had shown that maggots did not develop in jars covered with fine gauze to prevent flies from landing on the meat. He also showed that when dead flies were put in the gauze-covered jars, no maggots appeared, but that when live flies were put in the jars, maggots did appear. Other experiments in the 18th and 19th centuries showed that the apparent ‘spontaneous generation’ of the atheists was caused by unseen life-forms.

Scientific proofs fell on deaf ears among many atheists, however. Without a Creator they had to believe in spontaneous generation. Contrary evidence was rejected. They continued to maintain that spontaneous generation did occur at the microscopic level.

Finally, however, Louis Pasteur’s proofs were so thorough and persuasive that even atheists had to admit that scientifically, life comes from life, omne vivum e vivo.

Yet spontaneous generation is essential for the atheistic model. Darwin’s theory pushed the supposed spontaneous generation back in time into the realm of speculation beyond the reach of scientific investigation. Atheists had a new pseudo-scientific basis for their faith in spontaneous generation.

Another factual objection to evolution is that only distinct life-forms are found in the fossil remains and on earth today, without a chain of intermediate stages of evolution. Darwin admitted this: “Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record” (Origins, Ch. 10, pg 280, first edition). Thus, the theory of evolution is based on missing data.

The existing data are precisely what would be expected if distinct life-forms were created in the beginning, with fossils preserved in rock layers resulting from various catastrophes such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and meteoric impacts.

Not Darwin, but Louis Pasteur is the ‘father of biology’, since scientific biology is based on biogenesis, the principle that life comes from life. Pasteur’s work saved countless lives through great advances in immunology and the preservation of food.

Darwin’s influence resulted in millions of deaths since his speculative work “On The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection, Or The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life” formed the theoretical foundation for dialectical materialism (communism) and Nazism.

Marx and Engels both corresponded with Darwin. Marx wrote to Ferdinand Lassalle on January 16, 1861: “Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a natural historical foundation of our outlook.” (Fetched from http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1861/letters/61_01_16-abs.htm on Feb. 23, 2009).

Their outlook included the idea that the proletariat is a superior class that must destroy the property-owning classes. Stalin (an assumed name meaning ‘man of steel’) ‘purged’ his country of more than 20 million people.

Nazism viewed the ‘Aryan race’ as a ‘master race’ with a right and obligation to rid the world of inferior races. In his ‘Final Solution’ Hitler killed five million Jews and many people of other ethnic groups based on Darwin’s claim that evolutionary progress occurs mainly through the elimination of the weak in the struggle for survival.

How many people did Mao Tse-tung kill? Because access to documents is still restricted, estimates vary widely, but he probably killed more than Stalin and Hitler combined, somewhere between 30 and 50 million.

Pol Pot, a disciple of Mao, was responsible for the death of two million Cambodians.

Darwin would not have condoned these applications of his theory. The theory itself, however, is ideally suited to such applications since it reduces man to an animal, rejects the moral authority of God, and claims that progress comes through the mass extermination of ‘inferior’ life-forms.

A more appropriate title for the scientific content of Darwin’s book would have been “On the adaptability of species,” since that is what is demonstrated by the facts and experiments he discusses. He shows that species have an amazing ability to adapt by means of natural selection, and that this results in great diversity.

Yet, a dove remains a dove and a dog remains a dog. Darwin only speculates that such adaptations could lead to the development of new life-forms with entirely different characteristics.

The fatal flaw of Darwin’s speculation is that natural selection only works for something that functions. Natural selection might result in the adaptation of a functional eye to changed circumstances, but natural selection cannot operate during the supposed millions of years when an eye was ‘evolving’ before it became functional! The Biblical explanation is: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).

The fossil record indicates that thousands of species have become extinct, which is exactly what would be expected from the creation of many distinct life-forms in the beginning.

Because of his bias, Darwin ignored something very obvious, namely, the difference between raw materials and ‘things that are made’.

Can you recognize something that has been made?

Paul says, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).

Can you recognize something that is man-made? I will show you an object. Please raise your hand if it is man-made: a stone, a toy airplane.

We can recognize something man-made because it is a ‘product’, an ‘artifact’, something that has been devised and produced by someone through the processing of raw materials.

If I showed you a live dog, or an eagle, or an elephant and asked you if it had been man-made, you would not raise your hand. Why? Because men are not capable of making such complicated things!

Yet a dog, an eagle and an elephant have the identifying marks of things that have been made. They are not raw materials. They are extremely complex ‘highly-specialized functional systems,’ which according to all scientific observation can only result from intelligent design and an amazing production capability.

Modern airplanes are crude contraptions compared to birds.

Canada geese fly from 50 to 90 km/hr and as far as 1000 km in one day. They can fly during the day or at night. They fly in a V pattern because aerodynamically that takes less energy. The strongest geese fly lead and change off periodically as one gets tired. The honking coordinates the movement of the formation. They find environmentally-friendly fuel along the way and replace themselves before they wear out.

No man can make something like that! Only Someone with awe-inspiring intelligence and creative power could make an eagle, or a dog or a mammoth or a dinosaur. These things show evidence of being God-made. “The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

And what about life? Among the remarkable things man can make, is there anything that is alive? No, man can only make lifeless things.

And what about man himself and the spirit of man? What does the Bible say? “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Materially, man is composed of compounds found in the biosphere on earth, raw materials. The complexity of the physical and genetic structure of the human body is beyond our comprehension. Yet, even after God formed this marvelous construction, it was just a cadaver until He made man a living being.

But man is more than just a living being. God had already made chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans before He made Eve, yet for some reason, Adam did not find them sufficient as a life companion!

In 2003, researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan claimed that 99.4% of the most critical DNA sites are identical in humans and chimpanzees. Researcher, Morris Goodman, suggested that chimps should be reclassified as human (genus homo).

More recent studies indicate that the similarity is less than 95%. But what Goodman failed to mention is that it is not the similarities in DNA that are significant, but the differences! Recent sequencing of the bovine genome indicates that cows share about 80 per cent of their genes with humans. And it is claimed that we share about 60% of our DNA with a banana! There are many similarities in DNA because life-forms have many functions in common.

Maybe we should ask Dr. Goodman if he would be willing for his daughter to marry a chimpanzee or if he has ever taken a chimpanzee out for dinner at an expensive restaurant! 1

Again, what does the Bible say? “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26, 27).

The LORD “stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him” (Zechariah 12:1). Of death we read: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

The tremendous difference between man and all other life-forms is evident. No explanation for the amazing intellect and creativity of man is more reasonable than what is said in Genesis, namely, that man was made in the image of his Creator. God asked Job, “Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38:36).

It is easy to see the difference between raw materials and things that have been made, and the things that are made, declare the glory of God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:20-22).

Roy Davison

1 Although many assume that various unearthed remains of genus homo are of different species, this cannot be proven since all surviving representatives form one species even though individuals have extremely divergent physical characteristics.

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive

Can Anyone Actually Do “Good”? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Can Anyone Actually Do “Good”?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Most people will read the title of this article and immediately think, “Of course a person can do good.” After all, Jesus said, “A good (agathos) man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things” (Matthew 12:35). Paul instructed Christians to (simply) “do good to all” (Galatians 6:10). He later reminded the disciples in Corinth that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). And John wrote: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).
So why such an elementary question? This question is occasionally asked by skeptics who want to know why the Bible repeatedly teaches that God’s people are to “do good,” if, as other biblical passages teach, “there is none who does good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3; 53:3; Romans 3:12; cf. Mark 10:18). “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; cf. Isaiah 64:6). Thus, Bible critics ask, “How can the Bible teach that Christians are to do good, if no one can actually be good?”
The question is a fair question. Admittedly, the Bible’s different uses of the term “good” may be confusing to some initially. As with the solution to so many alleged Bible contradictions, however, the answer actually is very simple: words are used in different senses. The term “good” can be used in different ways and in varying degrees. We can talk of a good pizza, a good day, a good dog, a good boy, and our good God, and mean somewhat (or perhaps very) different things.
In the purest and highest meaning of the word, only God is “good.” Jesus referred to this supreme goodness when He said to the rich young ruler, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). In truth, as Caleb Colley concluded in his article “Why is Good Good?,” “God is good, but not in virtue of a standard of goodness that exists separate from Him.… Good is defined by God’s goodness, which is inseparable from His nature” (2010).
On the other hand, human beings can only know goodness and be good on a dependent and finite level. In the beginning, everything God made, including the first human beings, “was very good” (Genesis 1:31)—but not “good” in precisely the same way our perfectly good God is good. God is innately good. He cannot do evil (cf. Titus 1:2); He cannot even be tempted by evil (James 1:13). But a man can be tempted to sin, and he can choose to sin (James 1:14-15). In fact, every person of an accountable mind and age who has ever lived (save God Incarnate, the Lord Jesus) has chosen to do that which is not good (Romans 3:23). Such a decision on man’s part, even one such decision, makes him “no good” in the sense that, apart from God’s amazingly good, saving grace, he is a lawfully condemned, unholy sinner (Romans 3:24). What’s more, on our own, apart from God, we can do absolutely nothing about our sinfulness. There is nothing that we could do on our own to become “good.”
Sinful man can only become good and just by choosing to accept God’s perfectly good and gracious gift of salvation through Christ (Romans 5:8,15-21; see Lyons and Butt, 2004). Subsequently, God-saved, newly made good people (i.e., Christians) will “put to death” their rebelliously sinful selves (repenting of sins—Acts 2:38; 3:19) and “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:5,10; cf. Romans 12:1-2).
Indeed, Christians can be good and do good. We are not good in and of ourselves. Rather, by the grace of our innately and supremely good God, we can be justified and “become followers of what is good” (1 Peter 3:13). We can walk in the light of God, knowing that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). And, during moments of weakness, when we choose that which is not good, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Thus, our good God even provided a way for Christians to remain “good” and to continue doing good works, in spite of our imperfections and struggles with sin.


Colley, Caleb (2010), “Why is Good Good?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=95&article=3601.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2004), “Taking Possession of What God Gives: A Case Study in Salvation,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1381&topic=86.

Homosexuality—Sin, or a Cultural Bad Habit? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Homosexuality—Sin, or a Cultural Bad Habit?

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

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 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 (Romans 1:26-27).
Against the backdrop of a thoroughly pagan Roman society, Paul presented one of the most outstanding summations ever written of God’s plan for the salvation of man—the epistle to the Romans. In order to set the stage for the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17), Paul used the major portion of the first three chapters to convince his readers that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As evidence of the ubiquitous nature of sin, Paul listed specific sins of the pagan Gentile world (Romans 1:18-32), and of the hypocritical Jewish world (Romans 2:1-29).
One of the specific sins of the Gentile world listed by Paul was the abandonment of proper sexual relationships between men and women. The women began to lust for other women, and the men “burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” (Romans 1:27). The contrast in verse 26 is between the “natural” and the “unnatural.” These heathens “left aside and thus discarded” the natural form of intercourse between a man and his wife (Lenski, 1951, p. 113). The fact that this exchange involved sexual intercourse is well established (see Bauer, 1979, p. 886; Cranfield, 1975, p. 125).
Does Paul’s reference to homosexuality in this chapter serve as a condemnation of the practice in general, or is Paul discussing a practice that was confined to the culture of the first century and that cannot be cited to condemn the type of so-called “loving homosexual relationships” that exist today? Many have chosen to relegate Paul’s condemnation to cultural status, and argue that it does not condemn all homosexual behavior. For example, Rowland Croucher wrote:
The homosexual practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1. Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from loving, responsible lesbian and gay relationships seen today (2002).
The argument set forth by Croucher and others basically hinges on the phrase “against nature.” What does the Bible mean when it says that the practices of this pagan society were “against nature?” And, is everything that is done “against nature” sinful? Does the Bible condemn all activities that “go against nature”? First Corinthians 12:9-10,29-30 describes miracles that go against nature. Also, Paul described God as acting contrary to nature by grafting the wild olive branch (Gentiles) into the good olive tree (see Davies, 1995, 324). Obviously, the Bible declares some things to be good, even though they go against nature.
What type of “nature” is being discussed? Is Paul discussing the Gentiles’ nature, the nature of humanity in general, the natural order of things, God’s nature, or some other nature? Davies claims that Paul’s idea of nature entails solely cultural situations (1995, p. 323). Boswell claims that nature always involves possession (1980, p. 108), which means if a thing is against someone’s nature, it is a thing he or she would not normally do. Thus, the Jews should not act against their nature, the Gentiles should not act against their nature, and God will not act against His nature—all three natures being different. Boswell and Davies definitely confine the condemnation of verses 26 and 27 to first-century culture.
DeYoung, however, presents the accurate assessment of the text. He refers back to the creation model, citing that homosexual practices go against the natural pattern set by God when He created man and woman (1988, pp. 429-441). Thus, Cranfield says that such practices are “contrary to the intention of the Creator” (1975, p. 123). Homosexuality, therefore, goes against the natural order of marriage, not of ethnicity or the culture of Jews or Gentiles, but the marriage bed that should be undefiled among all nationalities and cultures.
Is Romans 1:26-27 a cultural or a universal condemnation? One should consider the fact that Romans 1:18-3:20 pronounces all humans in every culture, race, and organization under sin. No person will be justified by the law (3:20). No person will receive forgiveness if he does not obey God from the heart (2:29). No person will attain salvation if he despises the riches of God’s goodness (2:4). No person will see the kingdom of God if he is a murderer (2:29). Neither will a person inherit salvation if he or she practices homosexuality, whether he or she is a Gentile in Rome or a banker in New York City (1:26-27).
Verses 29-32 of Romans chapter one are simply a continuation of the sin list introduced in verse 24. No scholar would remotely contend that “unloving,” “unforgiving,” and “unmerciful” were cultural traits that do not transcend the passage of earthly time and culture. Yet some would try to separate homosexuality from this list, thus separating it from Paul’s list of timeless truths; transforming it into a culturally bad habit. Such does violence to the text of Romans.
Another device used by pro-homosexual scholars to defend their position is a plea of ignorance. They do not submit a plea of their own ignorance, of course, but a plea of Paul’s ignorance. It is affirmed that Paul was not aware of the true love that can exist between homosexual couples. They say Paul did not deal with gay people; rather, he dealt with homosexual acts (Boswell, 1980, p. 109). Therefore, the type of homosexual “love” that exists today is supposedly much higher and nobler than anything Paul had seen among the Romans and Greeks during his lifetime.
Ukleja strongly opposes the above claim. He declares that Paul was one of the most educated men of his day. He was raised in Tarsus, the third most intellectual city in the world, ranking only behind Athens and Alexandria. In Athens they spent their time in nothing else but to tell or hear some new thing. Tarsus was much the same. Paul knew the Stoic poets, and he studied Greek literature and culture. One would be naïve to think that Paul was not cognizant of the fact that certain Greeks regarded homosexuality as the highest form of love (1983, p. 354).
Every past, present, or future society wants to think that it has arrived at the pinnacle of some new form of thought or practice. Societies want to claim inventive prerogative in industry, civility, scholarship, and even sexuality. Arrogance is epitomized in the idea that Paul and his contemporaries knew nothing of the “exalted homosexual love” of the present day. Let wisdom’s voice be heard ringing loudly throughout the halls of time: “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The twenty-first century may well be the most inventive, “progressive” time period the world has ever seen, but it must be understood that this generation did not invent a form of exalted homosexual love that is pure and right in the sight of God.
Another argument draws itself into battle array against the idea that Romans 1:26-27 describes all homosexual behavior. This argument, commonly known as the “abuse argument,” states that God does not condemn all homosexual activity, only the abuse of such activity. The “supporting evidence” is this: God never condemns eating, but he does condemn gluttony, which is the abuse of eating. Further, God never condemns heterosexual intercourse, but he does declare that the abuse of such intercourse in the form of fornication and adultery is sinful. Therefore, some have concluded that Paul did not condemn all homosexual activity in Romans 1, but only inappropriate, abusive homosexual activity.
This argument is very tenuous indeed. If fornication and adultery are abuses of the sexual relationship, in what way do they abuse it? They are abuses to the marriage relationship that was established with the first man and the first woman. Genesis 2:24 records: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” God—in all of Holy Writ—never declared that the act of sex outside of His marriage parameters is acceptable. Sex is permitted only within holy matrimony. The only type of holy matrimony instituted by God is between a man and a woman. This is confirmed by every biblical text that deals specifically with the subject. For example, 1 Corinthians 7:2 states: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (emp. added). Even Jesus, in Matthew 5:32 and 19:1-9, identified marriage between a male and a female as the only place in which sexual intercourse is sanctioned. If one must plead that the homosexual activity described in Romans is an abuse of something, let him plead that it is the heinous abuse of the God-instituted marriage relationship.
Homosexuality has been against the will of God since the beginning of Creation when He made humans male and female. Romans 1:26-27 deals specifically with homosexuality, and condemns it as a practice that is wrong in every culture, during every time period. There never will be a day when the text of Romans 1:26-27 can accurately be twisted to permit any type of same-sex intercourse. Nor will there be a day when a practicing homosexual who refuses to repent will be saved from his or her sins. God wants all men and women everywhere to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but He demands that they repent of and turn away from their sins, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30-31).


Bauer, Walter (1979), “use,” A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Trans., rev., and ed. William F. Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition.
Boswell, John (1980), Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Cranfield, C. E. B. (1975), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: Clark).
Croucher, Rowland (2002), “Homosexuality: A Liberal Approach,” [On-line], URL: http://www.pastornet.net.au/jmm/aasi/aasi0669.htm.
Davies, Margaret (1995), “New Testament Ethics and Ours: Homosexuality and Sexuality in Romans 1:26-27,” Biblical Interpretation, 3: 315-31.
Deyoung, James B. (1988), “The Meaning of ‘Nature’ in Romans and Its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 31: 429-41.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1951), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Columbus, OH: Wartburg).
Ukleja, P. Michael (1983), “The Bible and Homosexuality: Part 2, Homosexuality in the New Testament,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 140: 350-58.

Dating in Archaeology: Radiocarbon & Tree-Ring Dating by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Dating in Archaeology: Radiocarbon & Tree-Ring Dating

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series on “Dating in Archaeology.” Part II is titled “Dating in Archaeology: Challenges to Biblical Credibility.”]
Over the last few decades, archaeology has come into its own as a scientific endeavor. Gone are the romantic images of gentlemen in pith helmets carting off treasures to the museums and estates of Europe. Gone, too, is the idea that archaeologists are always on the side of the Bible believer. Modern interpretations frequently challenge biblical accounts. Further, dates generated by new techniques are often at odds with the timing of events given by Scripture.
The purpose of this first article is to discuss problems with radiocarbon and tree-ring dating (or dendrochronology), which are the two most common direct dating techniques in archaeology. Problems with relative dating by interpretation of material culture—arrowheads, pottery, tools—will be the subject of the next article.


In the 1940s, researchers began to study the effect of cosmic radiation on the upper atmosphere. They found that it could transform common nitrogen-14 (14N) into a radioactive isotope of carbon called carbon-14 (14C), or radiocarbon. Both radioactive and nonradioactive (12C,13C) forms of carbon can react with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, which becomes part of the atmosphere. From here it can enter plants by respiration, animals by feeding, and the oceans by exchange with the atmosphere (Figure 1).
The part of radiocarbon in the carbon cycle
Figure 1. The part of radiocarbon in the carbon cycle
Early in these studies, Willard F. Libby and his coworkers realized that they could use this process as a tool for dating objects containing carbon. Take, for instance, a piece of charcoal from an ancient campsite. While the wood was alive and growing, it was taking in carbon dioxide. Its ratio of common carbon-12 to radioactive carbon-14 closely matched the ratio in the surrounding air. But after that ancient camper cut it for firewood, it no longer took in carbon dioxide. The carbon-14 slowly decayed, while the amount of carbon-12 stayed the same. Theoretically, if we know the ratio of these two isotopes, and the decay rate, we can calculate the radiocarbon age of the charcoal. The decay rate for carbon-14, expressed as a half-life, is 5730 years (e.g., if our sample contains 1 gram of carbon-14 now, 5730 years ago it contained 2 grams).
Libby’s initial results seemed very successful, and in 1960 he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his development of this important new technique.

Measurement Limits

Until the last few years, laboratories measured carbon-14 content indirectly by extracting all the carbon from a sample and then counting its radioactive emissions. Unfortunately, many of these systems required relatively large samples to obtain accurate results. Archaeologists faced the dilemma of either preserving or dating their precious finds. The application of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to carbon isotope analysis has changed this picture dramatically. An AMS system has the advantage of counting individual carbon-14 atoms.
Laboratories using the decay-measuring method claim they can analyze several grams of carbon with a typical accuracy of ±40-150 years, and a maximum range of 30-40,000 years. AMS labs claim they can measure several milligrams of carbon with a typical accuracy of ±80-400 years, and a maximum range of 40,000 years (Taylor, 1987, Table 4.1; see also Aitken, 1990, Table 4.1). However, being able to measure tiny amounts of carbon-14 is not the same as proving that objects are thousands-of-years old.

Radiocarbon Assumptions and Problems

Like other radiometric methods, radiocarbon dating faces technical problems and operates under some questionable assumptions.
  1. Perhaps the most critical assumption of radiocarbon dating is that the rates of carbon-14 production and decay are in a state of balance or equilibrium, and have been so for millions of years. If this were true, the carbon-12/carbon-14 ratio in living organisms will be the same as the ratio in an organism that lived thousands of years ago. However, we have reason to think that this is not true, as we will see in a later section.
  2. Radiocarbon dating assumes a constant decay rate for the breakdown of carbon-14. At present, we have no firm evidence for any systematic change in this rate.
  3. Contamination by groundwater, soil, or foreign matter is always a potential problem. However, people working with radiocarbon dating feel confident that good sample collection can overcome this problem.
  4. Some organisms may exclude the heavier carbon-14 isotopes preferentially, making them look too old (e.g., living shellfish that have a radiocarbon “age” of several hundred years). Comparison of carbon-12 and carbon-14 with the stable isotope carbon-13 is supposed to correct this problem (see Aitken, 1990, pp. 62-64). Environmental factors, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions, which increase the local concentrations of carbon dioxide, may also have an effect on the carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio.
  5. Looming over all these assumptions is the idea that cross-checking with other archaeological information will confirm whether the radiocarbon date is “reasonable.” This introduces the specter of subjectivity.


The radiocarbon method has a less convenient, but senior partner in the form of tree-ring dating. This venerable science began in the early part of the twentieth century when A.E. Douglass was looking for a way to investigate the historical relationship between solar activity and climate. He noticed variations in the width of annual growth rings in yellow pine trees growing around Flagstaff, Arizona. The year-to-year variations were the result of changes in rainfall, while the larger patterns were perhaps the result of some longer-term trend. Douglass used a cross-identification system to match patterns in trees of the same age. He later extended his work to the giant redwoods of California. Eventually he had a chronology going back more than three thousand years.
In the mid-1920s, Douglass began to apply tree rings to dating in archaeology. His idea was to match ring patterns in the timbers of Native American structures, with the ring patterns in yellow pines. This is a relatively simple matter if the ruins are only a few hundred years old. But if they predate the living trees, then it is necessary to use indirect methods. Douglass bridged the gap by overlapping patterns of successively older timbers. This classic technique is called cross dating.
Researchers have since applied Douglass’ pioneering techniques to other species, including living and dead specimens of the bristlecone pine. From this longest-living of all trees, they have constructed a chronology going back almost ten thousand years.
Supposedly, tree rings produce “real” dates. For example, say we wanted to date a piece of German oak furniture. We could try to match a pattern of rings on the furniture, with a pattern of rings in living oaks from a forest near to where it was made. Using our tree-ring chronology for German oaks, we might get a date of A.D. 1651. This represents the year when the tree was cut and, presumably, gives a good estimate of the furniture’s age. In contrast, if we applied radiocarbon dating, all we could say is that the piece dates to sometime in the seventeenth century.

Problems with Tree-Ring Dating

The most questionable assumption in dendrochronology is the rate of ring formation. General principles of biology and climate suggest that trees add only one ring each year. Individual bristlecone pines, which grow very slowly in arid, high altitude areas of western North America, will sometimes skip a year of growth. This might make a tree appear younger than it really is, but dendrochronologists fill in the missing information by comparing rings from other trees.
However, trees would appear too old if they grew more than one ring per year. Most dendrochronologists, drawing on an influential study by LaMarche and Harlan (1973), believe that bristlecone pines do indeed add only one ring per year. Yet not all scientists accept this study. According to Harold Gladwin (1978), the growth patterns of the bristlecone trees are too erratic for dating. Lammerts (1983) found extra rings after studying the development of bristlecone saplings. He suggested that the existing chronology should be compressed from 7,100 to 5,600 years.
Other problems relate to the analysis of growth-ring patterns. Baillie warns:
As with conventional jig-saws, some people are better at pattern recognition than others and, if the analogy is not too brutal, there are those who recognise the problems, and those who might try to force the pieces together. It has to be remembered that there is only one correct pattern: each tree has grown only once and ultimately its ring pattern can only fit at one place in time. Simply because two pieces look alike does not necessarily mean that they fit together (1982, p. 23).
Computers can provide an important tool for some of this analysis. But researchers must still judge the statistical significance of an apparent match. Also, they must consider variables like local climate and aging, which affect the width of the rings.


The stories of these two dating methods converged when researchers realized that they did not always give the same answer. Despite Libby’s hopes, radiocarbon dating never could provide an independent measure of age because it contains a critical flaw.
To calculate the radiocarbon age of a specimen, we need to compare the carbon-12/carbon-14 ratio now, with the carbon-12/carbon-14 ratio at the time of death. However, we do not know the ratio at the time of death, which means we have to make an assumption. Modern radiocarbon dating assumes that the carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio in living organisms is the same now as it was in ancient organisms before they died. In other words, the system of carbon-14 production and decay is said to be in a state of balance or equilibrium. Yet this assumption is questionable, even for an old Earth.
The problem is akin to a burning candle (cf. Chittick, 1970, p. 66). Without stretching the analogy too far, let us imagine that the wax represents carbon-14. We could take a ruler and measure the length of the remaining candle. We could even measure the rate at which the candle is burning down. But how can we know when the candle was lit? We simply cannot answer this question without knowing the original length of candle. Perhaps we could make a guess from a nearby unlit candle, but it would only ever be a guess.
In the old-Earth model, the process of making carbon-14 began billions of years ago. The evolving atmosphere filled rapidly with carbon-14, but this rate slowed as carbon-14 found its way into the oceans and the biosphere. Eventually, the carbon-14 would break down into nitrogen-14, thus completing the cycle. Geologists freely admit that this process has not always been in equilibrium, but they maintain that this will not affect the radiocarbon method in any practical way.
The first signs of trouble with this assumption surfaced in Libby’s early work. He settled on a specific decay rate (SDR) of 15.3 atoms per minute per gram of total carbon in the specimen, and a specific production rate (SPR) of 18.8 atoms per minute per gram of carbon in the Earth’s active carbon inventory. Libby never seriously questioned the discrepancy between these two numbers. He felt that his method was accurate, and that the numbers were close enough. But during the 1950s, researchers started to notice a regular disagreement between radiocarbon and “well-established” archaeological dates. As Aitken comments: “In retrospect it seems to have been unduly optimistic to assume that the modern values were the true starting values for all time past” (1990, p. 66).
These problems encouraged a systematic study in which researchers used the radiocarbon method to date tree rings. Two levels of error emerged. One was a small-scale, short-term variation that can make a given radiocarbon date appear up to four hundred years older or younger than expected (Taylor, 1987, Figure 2.11). Much of this error may be the result of sunspot activity, which in turn affects solar radiation and the production of carbon-14.
A second error comes from an S-shaped, long-term trend (Figure 2). One bend of the curve peaks in the middle of the first millennium A.D. Radiocarbon ages during this period overestimate dendrochronological ages by up to a hundred years. The curve switches direction around 500 B.C., when radiocarbon ages begin to underestimate supposed dendrochronological ages. The discrepancy grows as we go back in time, so that by the fifth millennium B.C., radiocarbon dates are too recent by 800 years.
Major trend in the plot of dendrochronology vs. radiocarbon dates
Figure 2. Major trend in the plot of dendrochronology vs. radiocarbon dates. Dates above dashed zero line overestimate tree-ring ages; dates below underestimate tree-ring ages (after Taylor, 1987, Figure 2.8).
No one can explain this major trend adequately on the assumptions of an old Earth or an equilibrium system. Common suggestions include changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, or climatic changes following the last ice age, or a combination of both (Aitken, 1990, p. 67). Despite the unknowns, researchers continue to “calibrate” their radiocarbon dates by dendrochronology.


Several creationists believe that the radiocarbon method may still be of some use, but only if we recognize that the Bible and nature record an instantaneous Creation and a cataclysmic Flood. Not only are these the most significant events to have ever affected the physical world, but they occurred over a relatively short time span of only a few thousand years.
In a world with such a history we would expect nonequilibrium conditions. Production of carbon-14 began only 6,000 years ago—the approximate time of Creation. Roughly 1,500 years later, the Flood upset the entire carbon cycle. As the discrepancy between SPR and SDR shows, the Earth is still in the process of attaining equilibrium. Further, we know from the radiocarbon dating of tree rings that as we go back in time, we find less and less carbon-14. If there was less carbon-14 in the past, then there has been less decay in our samples than the equilibrium model assumes. And if there has been less decay, then the samples are not as old as they may seem.
The nonequlibrium approach attempts to apply this information to radiocarbon dating. But like the equilibrium method, it must still rely on certain assumptions. Robert Whitelaw’s (1970) version, for example, assumes that cosmic radiation and atomic decay have remained constant since the Creation. He proposes that the SDR has risen steadily since the Creation, and that the burial of almost all plants and animals in the Flood brought an initially high SPR down to current levels. Whitelaw also sets the Creation at roughly 7,000 years ago, and the Flood at roughly 5,000 years ago. Table 1 shows the effect of his corrections on equilibrium ages.

Problems with Nonequilibrium Dating

According to equilibrium radiocarbon dating, the Egyptian “Old Kingdom” period began approximately 4,100 years ago (Finegan, 1979, p. 404). Whitelaw’s scheme lowers this age by 600 years (to c. 1550 B.C.), which puts Moses and the Exodus at the time of the great pyramid builders such as Djoser and Cheops. Clearly, this upsets the established Egyptian chronology. It means, for instance, that Thutmose III cannot be the pharaoh of the Exodus. However, we need more than a few corrected radiocarbon dates to embark on an overdue reorganization of early Egyptian dynasties. Our most reliable account of the oppression and departure of the Israelites is the Bible, and it mentions neither pyramids, nor the names of Egyptian kings.
The difficulties do not end here. Occasionally we find a radiocarbon date that confirms biblical history. For example, Bryant G. Wood cites a radiocarbon date of 1410 B.C. ±40 years to support a biblically consistent account of Jericho’s fall (1990, 16[2]:53; see also Jackson, 1990). Using Whitelaw’s method, this date adjusts to sometime in the late eighth to early ninth century B.C. This leaves us with an unsavory choice: either we can accept the date, but debate its archaeological context; or we can reject the date outright, suggesting the sample was contaminated or the measurement flawed.
Finally, Whitelaw’s model puts any published age greater than 6,000 years into the pre-Flood era (Table 1). However, this may not work in every case. For instance, a baby mammoth named Dima was recovered from the frozen tundra of Siberia, and seems to belong to the post-Flood era. Conventional radiocarbon dating gives it an age of 27,000 years, which by Whitelaw’s model adjusts to the first few hundred years after the Creation. Yet it is hard to imagine how a baby mammoth from the time of Adam could find its way into the post-Flood world.
Whitelaw's Nonequilibrium Age Published Equilibrium Age
1,000 1,115
1,500 1,730
2,000 2,310
2,500 2,900
3,000 3,500
3,500 4,110
4,000 4,725
4,500 5,350
(Flood) 5,000 5,990
5,500 8,860
6,000 12,530
6,500 19,100
7,000 Infinite
Table 1: Relationships between corrected and published ages of specimens in years since death (Whitelaw, 1970, p. 65)


Radiocarbon dating assumes that the carbon-12/carbon-14 ratio has stayed the same for at least the last hundred thousand years or so. However, the difference between production and decay rates, and the systematic discrepancy between radiocarbon and tree-ring dates, refute this assumption. Instead, the evidence for change is entirely consistent with a recent Creation and catastrophic Flood.
Some creationists have used this information to model a biblically consistent version of the radiocarbon method. While commending them for their effort, we should not be surprised at their lack of success, for this reason: they must still presume to know the starting conditions. This is the critical assumption on which all “absolute” dating methods must fail, whether they are used by evolutionists or creationists.
Similarly, we should not accept the claims for dendrochronology at face value. Bristlecones may add more than one growth ring per year, and the “art” of cross dating living and dead trees may be a considerable source of error.
Both radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology face technical problems, and are loaded with uniformitarian and old Earth ideas. They assume that nature works today the same as it has worked for millions of years, yet the facts do not support this contention. Neither method should give us cause to abandon the facts of biblical history.


Aitken, M.J. (1990), Science-Based Dating in Archaeology (New York: Longman).
Baillie, M.G.L. (1982), Tree-Ring Dating and Archaeology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
Chittick, Donald E. (1970), “Dating the Earth and Fossils,” Symposium on Creation II, ed. Donald W. Patten, et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), pp. 57-74.
Finegan, Jack (1979), Archaeological History of the Ancient Middle East (Boulder, CO: Westview Press).
Gladwin, Harold S. (1978), “Dendrochronology, Radiocarbon, and Bristlecones,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 15:24-26, June.
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “The Saga of Ancient Jericho,” Reason & Revelation, 10:17-19, April.
LaMarche, V.C., Jr. and T.P. Harlan (1973), “Accuracy of Tree Ring Dating of Bristlecone Pine For Calibration of the Radiocarbon Time Scale,” Journal of Geophysical Research, 78:8849-8858.
Lammerts, Walter E. (1983), “Are the Bristlecone Pine Trees Really So Old?,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 20:108-115, September.
Taylor, R.E. (1987), Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective (Orlando, FL: Academic Press).
Whitelaw, Robert L. (1970), “Time, Life, and History in the Light of 15,000 Radiocarbon Dates,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 7:56-71.
Wood, Bryant G. (1990), “Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho?—A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 16[2]:44-58, March/April.

God Hardens Whom He Wills? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God Hardens Whom He Wills?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Over the centuries, people have rejected Christianity for many reasons. Tragically, some have done so as the result of misconceptions regarding what the Bible actually teaches. They have heard individuals who claim to be Christians expound what they claim are Christ’s teachings. The hearers assumed that Christ’s teaching was being represented accurately, but recognizing the self-evident flaws in the presentation they heard, falsely concluded that Christ’s teaching was contradictory, when, in reality, the problem was in the one who purported to present correct Bible teaching.
One major cause of unbelief among those who have concluded that Christianity is false has been the advocacy of Calvinism. The rational, logical mind recognizes that a perfect, infinite God would not create beings in His own image (Genesis 1:27) that are not free moral agents responsible for their own decisions. Nor would He allow them to be subjected, through no fault of their own, to a condition of depravity, inherited from their parents, that makes them incapable of exercising their free moral agency to choose to accept or reject Him. Since a substantial segment of Christendom has promulgated Calvinism for over five centuries, multitudes of people unfortunately have assumed that the New Testament endorses Calvinistic tenets.
One passage that has been alleged to teach that God’s sovereignty means that He is free to override human will or do whatever He pleases (see Miller, 2003), though His actions interfere with human choice, is found in the New Testament book of Romans:
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated” (Romans 9:6-13, emp. added).
The parenthetical material is typically interpreted to mean that God decided to save Jacob and reject Esau before either was born, and without regard to any action of good or evil on their part. Of course, such an interpretation rips the verse from its context and places God in an unfavorable light.
In stark contrast, the context of the statement demonstrates that the apostle was referring to God’s plan to bring Christ into the world by means of the genetic line of Abraham and his descendants. Even though the bulk of the Jewish nation ended up rejecting Christ and the Gospel, God’s word concerning Abraham’s descendants was still fulfilled. How? “They are not all [spiritual—DM] Israel who are of [physical—DM] Israel.” In other words, Paul insisted unequivocally that the original promise to Abraham to bless the world was fulfilled in Christ, the Gospel, and the church of Christ—not in the fleshly, physical nation of Israel. To be physically descended from Abraham does not make one a spiritual child of Abraham. As John asserted: “And do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew 3:9). Genetic offspring are “a dime a dozen.” Only spiritual descendants—i.e., those who trust and obey God, are genuine children of Abraham.
Consequently, no person has a right to maintain that simply because he descended physically from Abraham, he shares in the promise of salvation in Christ. After all, Abraham had other sons who could claim the same genetic connection to Abraham (Genesis 16:15; 25:1-2). But it was through Isaac that God chose to bring the Christ. Abraham’s other fleshly sons were not “children of the promise,” i.e., through whom God promised to bring Christ. When a person today obeys the Gospel in order to become a Christian, that person becomes a child of the promise, and then is counted as the seed of Abraham, regardless of physical nationality (Romans 4:11-12; Galatians 3:29).
Further, a person might argue that God chose Isaac over Ishmael because Hagar was not Abraham’s real wife. But what about Isaac’s sons? They were full brothers, in fact, twins, and Esau was the firstborn. Yet God selected Jacob through whom to work out His redemptive plan—a selection that did not determine Jacob’s salvation status. Two quotations from the Old Testament prove Paul’s point—the first from Genesis 25:23, and the second from Malachi 1:2-3. In both, the focus is on the two nations that eventually descended from Jacob and Esau, i.e., Israel and Edom. God was not unjust when He made the selections He made to carry out His plans to bring Christ. The Jew might tend to feel that since God chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through whom to work, then every physical descendant should be spiritually acceptable to God. Here, indeed, is the number one misconception of the nation of Israel throughout Bible history, as well as a major point of confusion for the Calvinistic misrepresentation of the sovereignty of God. When it comes to personal, individual salvation, everyone is treated impartially, as an individual. Genetic descendants of Abraham have no spiritual advantage over anyone else. Paul continued:
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? (Romans 9:14-21, emp. added).
The words that God spoke to Moses, found in Exodus 33:19, were designed to encourage him not to give up on his leadership role. God had brought the nation out of Egypt, despite Pharaoh’s opposition. No one could keep God from doing what He deemed necessary to achieve His plan to bring Christ into the world. God showed the Israelites great compassion and mercy in His physical treatment of them through the centuries. But He shows spiritual compassion (i.e., He imparts salvation) to everyone equally on the same gospel terms, i.e., on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross.
The Jews were constantly in a dither (“willing” and “running”—vs. 16) as they asserted their favored status to the exclusion of Gentiles. But God never intended to show gospel mercy on the basis of ethnic linkage to Abraham. His exclusive selection of Abraham was for the singular purpose of bringing Christ into the world that the entire human race might have access to forgiveness of sin. The Jewish nation misinterpreted the coincidental racial aspect of God’s dealings through them. To bring Christ, God had to make choices of people to use. But His choices had nothing to do with each individual’s own personal salvation.
Pharaoh provides a good illustration of how God worked in this regard. God purposed to show mercy to the people of Israel that they might leave Egypt, go to the Promised Land, and further advance God’s plan to bring Christ into the world. So God sent Moses to present God’s words to Pharaoh. The demand to release the people, however, only served to “raise up,” i.e., arouse, incite, or stir up Pharaoh (see Thayer, 1901, p. 222; Alford, 1877, 2:409; Vincent, 1890, 3:105; cf. Psalm 80:2). On his own volition, Pharaoh opposed God’s plan. His defiance created conditions under which God’s name was publicized to the world, alluded to in the quotation of Exodus 9:16.
Still, God gave Pharaoh opportunity after opportunity to change his mind—ten separate plagues and multiple visits from Moses (who repeatedly articulated God’s word to him). But this prolonged engagement (the longsuffering of God) resulted in giving Pharaoh more opportunities to be hardened in his rebellion—contrary to God’s will for him. Because God was the initiator and instigator of the circumstance, it may properly be said that He did the hardening. God confronts all people through circumstances and His Word, but each person is responsible for his or her own separate, individual reactions. [For a discussion of the sense in which God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, see Butt and Miller, 2003.]
But if God showed mercy to the Israelites by allowing them to escape Egyptian slavery, and if God destroyed Pharaoh for resisting His will, why then did God find fault with the Jews of Paul’s day? Why would God find fault with anyone whose heart is hardened by His demands? The answer lies in the fact that God has the divine right to use His own methods to bring about salvation for the world without interfering with our choices. Here is a marvelous feature of the sovereignty of God—His ability to work out His own purposes while simultaneously allowing the human agents involved to exercise their own free will and make their own choices. God can incorporate human beings into His overarching redemptive plans regardless of the personal choices humans make. Consequently, no one can rightfully accuse God of mistreating him or her. In fact, truth be told, human heartaches are often self-generated (cf. 1 Peter 4:15).
Thus throughout the context of Romans 9-11, Paul was not discussing personal salvation. Each individual decides salvation by the choices he or she makes. Paul was writing about how God can, and has, made use of people and nations in history to bring to fruition His grand plan of salvation. One Old Testament passage clarifies the concept:
“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ” And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:6-12, emp. added).
This passage demonstrates that people make their own choices to do evil or good, to obey or disobey God. But God can work over, under, around, or through people—depending upon their personal choices. Either way, God achieves His will while simultaneously allowing each individual to make his or her own decisions and cinch his or her own fate. In that sense, and only in that sense, He is a potter with putty in His hands (cf. Isaiah 29:16; 45:9). Each individual decides their own conduct, and God then uses them accordingly.
God must show His wrath against sin and punish sin by His power (Romans 1:18). But He is longsuffering in that He does not want anyone to perish, as illustrated by how long He put up with Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance. Similarly, He tolerated Noah’s generation for many years before bringing the Flood, and He bore with the Israelites throughout their defiant history. They were “prepared for destruction”—in the sense that they chose to so fit themselves, and did everything possible to achieve it. But such was not God’s desire for them:
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds (Romans 2:4-6).
Nor is it God’s desire for anyone today:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.... Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation (2 Peter 3:9,14-16; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4).
The nation of Israel had a long history of preparing itself for destruction—which finally came in A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. In the meantime, God endured them with much longsuffering. Why? “That He might make known the riches of His glory.” That is, He was working out His scheme of redemption. He put up with the unbelieving Jews, allowing them to proceed down the pathway of their own self-appointed destruction (Matthew 23:32), until He could bring Christ, and then get the Gospel disseminated to the Gentiles (Acts 18:5-6; Colossians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). The church of Christ was launched in A.D. 30 in the city of Jerusalem, the heart of Israel, and consisted only of Jews for several years. God could not instigate due punishment upon the Jewish nation at that point without endangering the infant church of Christ. He waited until the Gospel went forth from Jerusalem to “the end of the earth” Acts 1:8), enabling the Gentiles to be introduced to the Gospel (Acts 10). This accounts for the “lag time” between A.D. 30 and A.D. 70.
The book of Romans cannot be used successfully nor legitimately to maintain the doctrine that God can do anything He chooses without regard to human decision-making and free moral agency. Unlike the imaginary deities conjured up in the minds of misguided men, the God of the Bible is shown to be perfect, possessing attributes of excellence to a perfect degree. He is the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.


Alford, Henry (1877), The Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).
Butt, Kyle and Dave Miller (2003), “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2259.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Vincent, M.R. (1890), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint).

Ideas Have Consequences by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Ideas Have Consequences

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Some of you might be thinking to yourselves, “What does it matter if I believe in God, the Bible, and creation, or a concept such as organic evolution?” You might be thinking that it is just a belief—a bunch of words and arguments that have very little to do with real life. If you are thinking that, let me politely suggest that such is not the case. What you believe is the driving force behind how you behave. If you believe that man is created in the image of God, then you place a very high value on human life. But if you believe that man is just another animal that has evolved from a primordial soup in the distant past, then human life loses its uniqueness and value. After all, if man were just a “glorified animal,” what would be wrong with ridding ourselves of those who we view as nuisances—unwanted (unborn) children, the retarded, the handicapped, or the infirm elderly? If man is just a “naked ape,” then “putting him out of his misery” would be no sin. After all, we shoot horses when they break their legs, don’t we?
“No”, you say, “surely belief in the theory of evolution would not offer any encouragement for someone to commit such crimes against humanity.” First, let’s look at the principles upon which evolution is based. Take “survival of the fittest,” for example. This principle stands at the very foundation of evolution, and basically claims that the stronger ("more fit") succeed by out-surviving, and sometimes even by destroying, the weak. If we follow this principle to its logical conclusion, it means that stronger humans could kill and destroy weaker humans, all the while remaining in total harmony with the “natural order of things.” If you don’t believe that someone might carry the theory of evolution to its logical conclusion, keep reading.


Adolf Hitler claims his rightful place as possibly the most infamous villain of all time. Children of all ages, and the adults who teach them, history shudder at the deeds done by this criminal mastermind. His vicious atrocities claimed the lives of over 6 million Jews and over 4 million other ethnic groups such as the polish, blacks, and gypsies. Gruesome stories of gas chambers, concentration camps, heinous human experiments, heartless starvation, and forced labor are but a few of the mental pictures that come to mind upon hearing the name “Hitler.”
One question immediately presents itself to anyone contemplating Hitler’s actions: Why? What could allow a man to think that such acts of injustice ever could be justified? Simply put, the answer is—the theory of evolution. Hitler believed that the German Aryan race was superior to all other races. He believed that this superior Aryan race had the right to exterminate all inferior races since, according to evolution, the “natural order of things” is for the strong to survive. To use the words of Charles Darwin, Hitler viewed his murderous plans as nothing more than “the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life.”
A serious study of Hitler’s life and actions, one can easily shows conclusively that the theory of evolution played a major role in his atrocious acts. But many evolutionists object to such an idea. They claim instead that it was not the theory of evolution that perverted Hitler, but Hitler who perverted the theory of evolution.
The problem with this line of thinking is that Hitler did not pervert, or even alter, the theory of evolution in order to use it to support his deeds. He simply followed it to its logical conclusion. According to the theory of evolution, nature has no conscience that distinguishes between what is right and what is wrong. Where would “nature” get such an awareness of morals? Such morals certainly could not evolve from lifeless, matter. No chemical soup could progress by evolution into a being with a conscience. The most evolution could produce would be the idea that “might makes right.” When Hitler exterminated approximately 10 million innocent men, women, and children, he acted in complete agreement with the theory of evolution—and in complete disagreement with everything humans know to be right and wrong.
Still many evolutionists object and suggest that using Hitler’s actions to show the terrible effects of evolution would be like using the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or the Salem “witch trials” to show the terrible effects of Christianity. The difference lies in the fact that the Crusades, witch trials, and Spanish Inquisition were perversions of Christianity’s teachings. Christ taught His followers to turn the other cheek, to pray for their enemies, and to love their neighbors as themselves. It is true that many people in history have committed terrible crimes “in the name of Christianity.” But it is not true that they were following Christ’s principles. In fact, they were perverting Christ’s teachings, and twisting them to say things that Christ did not say. On the other hand, the deeds performed by Hitler in the name of evolution were not a perversion of the theory. Rather, he understood perfectly the principles of evolution and attempted to apply them consistently.
One writer said: “If you teach children that they evolved from monkeys, then they will act like monkeys.” How true. On the other hand, if you teach children that they were made in the image of the holy God, then we can expect them to be holy as He is.

Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


The Bible speaks of things reproducing “after their kind.” What does the biblical word “kind” indicate?
Today, most creationists take the view that variation and speciation can occur only within created kinds. These kinds appeared for the first time in the creation week, and have since colonized the Earth. For land-dwelling animals, modern representatives would have to be the descendants of the kinds carried on the ark (Genesis 6:17; 8:17-19).
However, there is no consensus on the biological definition of kind, or the criteria for grouping animals within a kind. Some creationists equate the term with a particular taxonomic level higher than species, such as genus or family. Most, however, avoid such comparisons altogether. Byron Nelson wrote:
The “kinds” of Genesis refer not to the “systematic” species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the creator set (1967, p. 4).
In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31).
The differences of opinion, and the apparent flexibility in the idea, have given anticreationists cause for criticism. Joel Cracraft complained:
The “created kind” is the unit of creation event just as the species is the unit of evolutionary change. Consequently, if the concept of “created kind” cannot be defined so that it can be used to interpret and investigate nature, then it is of little or no importance for the growth of knowledge (1983, p. 169).
However, the same sort of criticisms leveled at kinds also can be turned on the species concept, which is neither well defined nor objective. First, the widely held biological species concept “holds that a species is a population of organisms that can at least potentially breed with one another but that do not breed with other populations” (Rennie, 1991). Unfortunately, two populations may not breed because they are isolated geographically. This may lead to taxonomic splitting, by which taxonomists give two different names to populations that could interbreed if given the chance. Practically speaking, very few species undergo extensive cross-breeding experiments before classification to test their reproductive isolation. Hybridization is another problem. Two seemingly distinct plant species may cross to produce fertile hybrids.
The potential for taxonomic splitting is especially acute in the fossil record, where it is impossible to apply the biological species concept. Instead, paleontologists tend to define species on their morphology alone. However, the soft parts of an organism rarely are preserved, and the identification must rest almost entirely on hard parts (e.g., bones, teeth, etc.). Any evolutionary relationships drawn from such studies are necessarily limited (Major, 1991).
Second, the species idea often takes on a definite evolutionary connotation. As we have already seen, Cracraft claims that the species is “the unit of evolutionary change” (1983, p. 169). He wants to replace the biological species concept with his own phylogenetic species concept, mainly because he is not satisfied with any definition that ignores alleged evolutionary relationships. Cracraft’s concept defines a species as “the smallest recognizable cluster of individuals that share a common pattern of ancestry” (Rennie, 1991).
The created kind concept can hold its own against these definitions. It proposes that a kind will consist of populations that can interbreed, while still allowing room for variation. If implemented systematically, the concept would reveal barriers or discontinuities between created kinds. “In order to make this evidence of creation available,” Kurt Wise has suggested, “there is a serious need for creation biologists to create, adopt, and employ a reproducible method of flagging identifiable phyletic discontinuities” (1990, 2:354). Creationists, like Wise, are continuing their work on kinds. In the meantime we face a taxonomic system encumbered with evolutionary presuppositions.


Cracraft, Joel (1983), “Systematics, Comparative Biology, and the Case against Creationism,” Scientists Confront Creationism, ed. Laurie R. Godfrey (New York: W.W. Norton), pp. 163-191.
Major, Trevor (1991), “Problems in the Interpretation of Variation Within the Fossil Record,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 28:52-53, September.
Marsh, Frank L. (1976), Variation and Fixity in Nature (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press).
Nelson, Byron (1967), After Its Kind (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Rennie, John (1991), “Are Species Specious?,” Scientific American, 265[5]:26, November.
Wise, Kurt P. (1990), “Baraminology: A Young-Earth Creation Biosystematic Method,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, July 30-August 4, 1990, ed. Robert E. Walsh (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship), pp. 345-360.

"THE GOSPEL OF MARK" Lord Of The Sabbath (2:23-28) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                     Lord Of The Sabbath (2:23-28)


1. As noted previously, the ministry of Jesus prompted close scrutiny by
   religious leaders...
   a. As when the scribes took issue with His claim to forgive sins - Mk2:6-7
   b. As when the scribes and Pharisees took issue with His dining with
      sinners - Mk 2:16

2. One issue in particular produced a strong reaction:  the Sabbath and
   its observance...
   a. At first, it involved Jesus' disciples plucking grain on the
      Sabbath - Mk 2:23-24
   b. Later, Jesus would be criticized for healing on the Sabbath - cf.
      Mk 3:1-2

3. On the occasion involving Jesus' disciples plucking grain...
   a. The Pharisees said it was unlawful - Mk 2:24
   b. Actually, it was contrary to rabbinical tradition, but not the Law
      per se

4. In answering the Pharisees, Jesus stated two notable things...
   a. "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." - Mk 2:27
   b. "Therefore the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath." - Mk 2:28

[These statements will serve as the basis for this study, beginning with
the idea that...]


      1. The Sabbath was first commanded to Israel in the Wilderness
         - Exo 16:23-30
      2. It had previously been unknown to them - cf. Neh 9:14
      3. It was then codified in the Ten Commandments - Exo 20:8-10
      4. As part of the Covenant not given to the patriarchs, but to
         Israel - Deut 5:2-3
      -- The Sabbath was not commanded by God until the time of Moses

      1. Based on the fact that God Himself rested on the Seventh Day
         - Exo 20:11
      2. Inserted as a prolepsis by Moses in his Genesis account - cf.
         Gen 2:3
      3. Given to Israel as a special sign between them and God 
         - Exo 31:13-17
      4. Given to remind them of their slavery in Egypt - Deut 5:15
      -- The Sabbath was given only to Israel as part of the Law of

[Man was made first, and even existed for millenniums before the Sabbath
was ever commanded (see The Sabbath Day for more detail).  Thus the
Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  Next we notice the
claim made by Jesus that...]


      1. As the Son of Man, Jesus was complete and perfect manhood
         a. Since the Sabbath was made for man, the Son of Man was
            rightly the Lord of the Sabbath
         b. He could decide what was permissible, or what was forbidden
      2. As the Son of God, ever one with the Father, He had given the
         Sabbath in the first place! - cf. Jn 1:1-2; 8:58; 10:30; 17:21
      3. Jesus demonstrated  His Lordship by the superiority of His
         reply to the Pharisees
         a. Jesus first appealed to example of David and his men - Mk 2:
            25-26; cf. 1Sa 21:1-6
         b. Matthew adds the example of priests working in the temple on
            the Sabbath - cf. Mt 12:5
         c. Note that Jesus appealed to Scripture to make His point
            ("Have you never read...?")
         d. And what was Jesus' point?  Consider the following:
            1) "A higher law, where it conflicts with a lower one,
               suspends or limits the lower one at the point of
               conflict. Thus the higher laws of worship in the temple
               suspended the lower law of Sabbath observance, and thus
               also the higher law of mercy suspended the lower law as
               to the showbread when David took it and mercifully gave
               it to his hungry followers, and when God in mercy
               permitted this to be done." - J. W. McGarvey, The
               Fourfold Gospel
            2) "And thus, had they done what was otherwise unlawful, the
               disciples would have been justified in eating by the
               higher law of Christ's service. And thus also would
               Christ have been justified in permitting them to eat by
               the law of mercy, which was superior to that which
               rendered the seventh day to God as a sacrifice." - ibid.
         e. Thus by using Scripture Jesus effectively silenced their
            objection based on tradition!
      -- As Lord of the Sabbath, He had sovereign authority to interpret
         its use

      1. If He so willed, Jesus could discontinue the Sabbath
         requirement - cf. He 1:3 ("upholding all things by the word of
         His power")
      2. In fact, Jesus has brought the Law (of which the Sabbath was
         part) to an end!
         a. Through His death on the cross - cf. Ep 2:14-16
         b. Having nailed it to the cross - cf. Col 2:14
         c. Jews who come to Christ die to the Law - cf. Ro 7:4-7
         d. The Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant -
            2Co 3:6-11; He 8:6-13
      3. That Jesus ended the Sabbath requirement is evident
         a. "So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding...
            sabbaths" - Col 2:16
         b. "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems
            every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own
            mind." - Ro 14:5
         c. Thus Christians assemble on the first day of the week to
            worship - Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:1-2
      -- As Lord of the Sabbath, He has chosen to rescind its use


1. Controversy over the observance of the Sabbath has been around for a
   long time...
   a. The manner of its observance was a major issue during Jesus'
   b. The need for its observance is still questioned by some today

2. But when we pay close attention to the teaching of "The Lord Of The
   a. We will reach conclusions based on Scripture rather than tradition
   b. We will find that the Lord who ordained the Sabbath has rescinded
      its use

While we appreciate the role of the Sabbath in Israel's history, let us
be sure that it is the Lord of the Sabbath that we worship, and not the
Sabbath itself...
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016