"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" The Christian's Duty To Government (13:1-7) by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

              The Christian's Duty To Government (13:1-7)


1. Christians are blessed to be citizens of a heavenly kingdom...
   a. Our citizenship is in heaven - Php 3:20
   b. We have been conveyed into the kingdom of God's dear Son 
      - Co 1:13; Re 1:9
   -- As such, we are described as "sojourners and pilgrims" in this
      world - 1Pe 2:11

2. As "pilgrims", we live and work under the governments of men...
   a. With a variety of political systems:  democracies, kingdoms,
      dictatorships, etc.
   b. Offering varying degrees of freedom, responsibilities, etc.
   -- What is our duty to such governments?

3. The Lord's church began and thrived during the Roman Empire...
   a. To Christians in the capital city of Rome, Paul wrote of their
   b. To Christians dispersed in outlying areas of the Empire, Peter did
   -- The Christian's duty to government is made very clear by the

[Using Paul's comments in Ro 13:1-7 as our starting point, let's review
what our duties are...]


   A. THE RULE...
      1. Stressed twice by Paul
         a. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities"
            - Ro 13:1
         b. "Therefore you must be subject..." - Ro 13:5
      2. Peter likewise taught this duty - 1Pe 2:13-14
         a. "Therefore submit yourselves..."
            1) Submit means "be subject to"
            2) Signifying "to place one's self under subjection; to
               render one's self subordinate"
         b. We are to submit "to every ordinance of man"
            1) The word "ordinance" literally means "a creation"
            2) The Greeks and Romans described the appointment of
               officers as the "creation" of them
            3) Thus the expression "ordinance" actually refers:
               a) Not to a particular law passed by government
               b) But to the civil government or institution itself
               c) Cf. "to every human institution" (NASB, NRSV)
            4) Note that we are to submit to every human institution
               (whether it be a monarchy, democracy, totalitarian state,etc.)
      -- Our responsibility is clear:  "Let every soul be subject" 
         - Ro 13:1

      1. Governing authorities that exist have been appointed by God!
         - Ro 13:1
         a. As emphasized in the book of Daniel - Dan 2:20-21; 4:17,25a,
         b. Even those that are evil, which God often uses for His
            divine purposes and then replaces - cf. Exo 9:16 (Egypt);
            Isa 10:5-12 (Assyria)
      2. Therefore to resist government means to resist God Himself!
         - Ro 13:2-4
         a. To resist is to bring judgment upon one's self
         b. For government is a minister of God, designed to avenge evil
      3. Peter adds two good reasons - 1Pe 2:15
         a. First and foremost, "this is the will of God"
            1) Cf. also, "for the Lord's sake" - 1Pe 2:13
            2) This will suffice for all true servants of God
         b. That we may "put to silence the ignorance of foolish men"
            1) Because of their allegiance to a heavenly king,
               Christians are often falsely accused of sedition or
               treason - e.g., Ac 17:5-8
            2) By doing good (e.g., by submitting), we can "silence"
               (lit., muzzle) ignorant charges
      -- To avoid wrath and have a good conscience, "you must be subject"
         - Ro 13:5

      1. It is not whenever government is oppressive
         a. Consider the government and conditions when Paul and Peter wrote
         b. The government was totalitarian, under Nero's evil and
            despotic rule as emperor
         c. Under Nero's reign, Christians suffered greatly 
            - cf. 1 Pe 4:12-13; 5:8-9
         d. Paul and Peter were eventually martyred
      2. The only exception:  we must obey God rather than man!
         a. As illustrated by Peter and the apostles - Ac 4:18-20; 5:
         b. When government tries to force us to disobey God, we must
            disobey the government
         c. Even then, we may break only the particular law designed to
            force disobedience to God
         d. We have no authority to break other laws in protest to the
            unjust law
      -- When government seeks to stifle our service to God, we must
         obey God rather than man!

[As we return to our text, we note additional duties to government...]


      1. As an act of submission we should pay our taxes - Ro 13:6
      2. Also other fees that are due, such as customs - Ro 13:7
      -- We may not approve of how the taxes are spent, but I doubt the
         early Christians approved of how Nero spent the government's
         money either

      1. Fear to whom fear is due - Ro 13:7
         a. Such as police officers, judges
         b. And if you do evil, be afraid! - Ro 13:4
      2. Honor to whom honor is due - Ro 13:7; cf. 1Pe 2:17
         a. Such as presidents, kings, governors, local leaders
         b. Out of respect for the office, if not for the man (or woman)
      -- Our duty is not limited to those whose political or personal
         behavior we approve

[Before we end our study, we should certainly note another duty to
government that is ours...]


      1. We are to offer supplications, prayers, intercessions - 1Ti 2:1-2
         a. Praying for those who lead, not only our country, but those
            around the world
         b. Praying that they rule with wisdom, righteousness, and mercy
      2. We are to offer thanks - 1Ti 2:1-2
         a. Taking time to thank God for those who rule well
         b. Thanking God for when we live in peace and prosperity, and
            for protecting us when we do not
      -- An invaluable contribution Christians can give their country
         are their prayers

      1. Good in a material sense, to enjoy quiet and peaceful times
         - cf. 1Th 4:11; He 12:14a
      2. Good in a spiritual sense, free to be godly and reverent - cf.
         He 12:14b
      -- As God works through the governments of men to bestow peace,
         prayer should be a priority for those who wish to live in peace


1. The duties placed on Christians toward their earthly governments are
   clear and simple...
   a. Be subject to governing authorities
   b. Pay what is due in taxes and respect
   c. Pray for all those in positions of authority

2. Beyond this, our involvement in the affairs of government may fall
   into the realm of judgment...
   a. Should we enter politics, serve in law enforcement, enlist in the
   b. Such questions have been debated by Christians for centuries
   -- One thing is clear, we must obey God rather than man, and avoid
      becoming entangled with the affairs of this life to the neglect of
      our service to God (2Ti 2:4)

As a Christian, are you faithfully fulfilling your duty to earthly
government, while sojourning as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker 

Academia’s Asinine Assault on the Bible by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Academia’s Asinine Assault on the Bible

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The professor, age 50, wearing casual slacks and a sport coat over a sweater, arrived at the lecture auditorium to teach his afternoon class, as some 350 students streamed in for Religion 202—one of the most popular classes on the campus of the large state university. Exuding an energetic, intellectually sophisticated manner, and projecting an endearing personality, the professor proceeded to propound a “problem” pertaining to the Bible. Pacing back and forth across the stage, he launched a ruthless but passionately eloquent tirade against the Bible’s alleged “anomalies,” “contradictions,” and “discrepancies.” It went something like this:
Entire stories have been added that were not in the original gospels. The woman taken in adultery is nothing other than a bit of tradition added by the Catholics 300 years after the New Testament was written. In contrast with Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in the book of John Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, he did not tell any parables, he never cast out a demon, and there’s no last supper. The crucifixion stories differ with each other. In Mark, Jesus was terrified on the cross, while in John, he was perfectly composed. Key dates are different. The resurrection stories are different. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you find no trace of Jesus being divine, while in John you do. It’s time for you to think for yourself. You need reasons. That applies to religion. That applies to politics. Just because your parents believe something—isn’t good enough.
So it goes, week after week, a relentless, rapid-fire barrage of bombastic barbs intended to overwhelm, intimidate, and bully their young, uninformed, ill-equipped victims. This scenario has been repeated thousands of times over the past half century in universities all across America. The result has been catastrophic. One heartbroken mother’s recent remarks are typical: “My 22-year-old son just graduated from ________ University where he lost his faith in God and His Word. My husband and I did the best we knew how to raise him to love the church and God’s Word. But he has allowed the world to sway his beliefs.” Like toxic waste, sinister propaganda has been dumped on the youth of the nation by biased, dishonest professors who have no interest in allowing the so-called “academic freedom” they tout in the form of equal time for reputable rebuttal. As a result of their decades’ long labor, a liberal, anti-Christian academic atmosphere now thoroughly permeates the university system of America.
Never mind the fact that these guys have nothing new to say that has not already been said by skeptics over the centuries. Their claims are merely a repackaged version quickly seized upon by a complicit liberal media that eagerly creates instant credibility by thrusting the new “prophet” before a larger audience—as if what he is saying is fresh and newly discovered. The fact of the matter is that all their points have been made and answered long ago. For those who have taken the time to examine the evidence, it is readily apparent that their accusations are slanted, overstated, exaggerated, and transparently biased.
Observe that the above professorial tirade issues two charges: (1) the text of the Bible is tenuous and uncertain, and (2) the gospel records contradict each other. The latter claim has been soundly refuted in detail by biblical scholars over the centuries. The Apologetics Press Web site is loaded with articles and books that defeat accusations of alleged discrepancy (see, for example, Eric Lyons’ Anvil Rings 1 & 2). Regarding the former claim, Textual Criticism is a longstanding discipline that long ago yielded abundant evidence for the trustworthiness of the text of the New Testament. Over the last two centuries, the manuscript evidence has been thoroughly examined, resulting in complete exoneration for the integrity, genuineness, and accuracy of the Bible. Prejudiced professors refrain from divulging to their students that the vast majority of textual variants involve minor matters that do not affect salvation nor alter any basic teaching of the New Testament. Even those variants that might be deemed doctrinally significant pertain to matters that are treated elsewhere in the Bible where the question of genuineness is unobscured. No feature of Christian doctrine is at stake. When all of the textual evidence is considered, the vast majority of discordant readings have been resolved (e.g., Metzger, 1978, p. 185). One is brought to the firm conviction that we have in our possession the Bible as God intended.
The world’s foremost textual critics have confirmed this conclusion. Sir Frederic Kenyon, longtime director and principal librarian at the British Museum, whose scholarship and expertise to make pronouncements on textual criticism was second to none, stated: “Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established” (Kenyon, 1940, p. 288). The late F.F. Bruce, longtime Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Manchester, England, remarked: “The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice” (1960, pp. 19-20). J.W. McGarvey, declared by the London Times to be “the ripest Bible scholar on earth” (Brigance, 1870, p. 4), conjoined: “All the authority and value possessed by these books when they were first written belong to them still” (1956, p. 17). And the eminent textual critics Westcott and Hort put the entire matter into perspective when they said:
Since textual criticism has various readings for its subject, and the discrimination of genuine readings from corruptions for its aim, discussions on textual criticism almost inevitably obscure the simple fact that variations are but secondary incidents of a fundamentally single and identical text. In the New Testament in particular it is difficult to escape an exaggerated impression as to the proportion which the words subject to variation bear to the whole text, and also, in most cases, as to their intrinsic importance. It is not superfluous therefore to state explicitly that the great bulk of the words of the New Testament stand out above all discriminative processes of criticism, because they are free from variation, and need only to be transcribed (1964, p. 564, emp. added).
Noting that the experience of two centuries of investigation and discussion had been achieved, these scholars concluded: “[T]he words in our opinion still subject to doubt can hardly amount to more than a thousandth part of the whole of the New Testament” (p. 565, emp. added).
Think of it. Men who literally spent their lives poring over ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, devoting their lives to meticulous, tedious analysis of the evidence, conversant with the original languages, without peer in their expertise and qualifications, have concluded that the Bible has been transmitted accurately. Then a prejudiced professor of religion has the unmitigated gall to brush aside the facts and pummel students with a slanted, half-baked viewpoint that flies in the face of two centuries of scholarly investigation? It is nothing short of inexcusable and intellectually dishonest. It’s time for parents to rise up and make universities accountable, or else cease sacrificing their children on the altar of pseudo-education. [NOTE: Those who are fearful that the integrity of the text of the Bible is compromised by the reality of textual variants need to be reminded that the world’s foremost textual critics have demonstrated that currently circulating copies of the New Testament do not differ substantially from the original (see Miller, 2005a, “Is Mark...,” 25[12]:89-95; Miller, 2010).]


Brigance, L.L. (1870), “J.W. McGarvey,” in A Treatise on the Eldership by J.W. McGarvey (Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff Publications, 1962 reprint).
Bruce, F.F. (1960), The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.
Kenyon, Sir Frederic (1940), The Bible and Archaeology (New York, NY: Harper).
McGarvey, J.W. (1956 reprint), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Metzger, Bruce M. (1978 reprint), The Text of the New Testament (New York, NY: Oxford University Press), second edition.
Westcott, B.A. and F.J.A. Hort (1964 reprint), The New Testament in the Original Greek (New York, NY: MacMillan).

A Christian Response to Descartes’ Radical Doubt by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


A Christian Response to Descartes’ Radical Doubt

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Modern philosophy is said to begin with René Descartes (1596-1650; Copleston, 1994, 4:1). Many think that “René Descartes is perhaps the single most important thinker of the European Enlightenment” (Hooker, 2009; cf. Copleston, 4:174ff.). Descartes is thought to be “the father of the subjective and idealistic (as was Bacon of the objective and realistic) tradition in modern philosophy,” who “began the great game of epistemology, which in [sic] Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant waxed into a Three Hundred Years’ War that at once stimulated and devastated modern philosophy” (Durant, 1926, pp. 116,117, parenthetical item in orig.; cf. p. 268). First, I will summarize the historical/philosophical context of Descartes’ work, which will provide two things: (1) An overview of his motivations, and (2) an explanation of why the Christian apologist should be prepared to counter certain of Descartes’ arguments. Second, I will examine the nature of Descartes’ doubt, which is central to his philosophy. Finally, I will offer a critique from the Christian perspective.


Burnham and Fieser observed: “Descartes’ philosophy developed in the context of the key features of Renaissance and early modern philosophy. Like the humanists, he rejected religious authority in the quest for scientific and philosophical knowledge” (see Kenny, 1968, p. 4; cf. Maritain, 1944, p. 55). Descartes was a devout Catholic, but was influenced by the Reformation’s challenge to Church authority and scholastic Aristotelianism (philosophy in the tradition of Aristotle’s thought; “René...,” 2008). Specifically, he was influenced by the scientific ideas of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei (see Durant, 1926, p. 117). In 1633, the Catholic church condemned Galileo’s Dialogue because of its heliocentricity, and Descartes thought that his forthcoming work, Le Monde, would offend the church as well, so he postponed its publication (Galilei, 2001; “René...”; Fowler, 1996; Rodis-Lewis, 1992, p. 39; cf. Kenny, pp. 7-8). In fact, Descartes’ first major writing was published anonymously (see Cottingham, 1986, p.13).
In developing his rationalistic philosophy, Descartes positioned himself against scholasticism and Aristotelianism, as he explains in a letter to Voetius:
[T]he philosophy against which you rail with such violence...aims at the knowledge of the truths which are acquired by means of the natural light, and which promise the benefit of the human race; by contrast the dominant philosophy, which is taught in the schools and universities, is merely a muddled collection of opinions which are mostly open to doubts, as is proved by the debates that they occasion day after day, and which are entirely without practical benefit, as centuries of experience have proved only too well (quoted in Cottingham, p. 15; cf. Copleston, p. 174).
Descartes hoped that philosophy could be as certain as mathematics, the principles of which he saw as being exceptionally sound (1952a, 31:ix; 1952b, 31:14,31; cf. Loeb, 1992, p. 219; Rodis-Lewis, 1992, pp. 26ff.; Ree, 1975, pp. 28-34), and that his writings could replace traditional texts based on Aristotle (Ross, n.d.; cf. Cottingham, 16). “[H]e wanted to define an area in which everything could be completely explained by a reductionist, mechanistic physical science” (Ree, p. 91). “[T]he brand of knowledge Descartes seeks requires, at least, unshakably certain conviction,” and such knowledge he considered to be unavailable from authority or sense-perception (Newman, 2005). “Arithmetic, Geometry, and the other sciences of the same class, which regard merely the simplest and most general objects...contain somewhat that is certain and indubitable” (Descartes, 1952b, 31:77). Descartes challenged scholasticism generally because he thought that it had been convoluted by “jargon-manipulation and the juggling of authorities” as “the paramount road to academic advancement” (Cottingham, p. 5). [NOTE: The purpose of this article is not to assess scholasticism or Aristotelianism.]
Banach summarizes Descartes’ starting position: “In order to show that science rested on firm foundations and that these foundations lay in the mind and not the senses, Descartes began by bringing into doubt all the beliefs that come to us from the senses.... The obvious implication is that, since we do know that external objects exist, this knowledge cannot come to us through the senses, but through the mind” (n.d., parenthetical item in orig.). Maritain observed: “Descartes, on the contrary, who with the rest of the moderns makes science consist in invention rather than in judgment, has a hankering for a Science which with one and the same movement proves by discovering, and discovers by proving, established in complete certitude from its inception, rejecting of itself as an attempt against its being, every purely probable element” (1944, p. 55).
His method of acquiring this scientific conviction begins with doubt, which for Descartes took root in his general objection to his instructor’s methods (2007, p. 17). “[W]hen I considered the number of conflicting opinions touching a single matter that may be upheld by learned men, while there can be but one true, I reckoned as well-nigh false all that was only probable” (2007, p. 15). His doubt leads Descartes to the “insistence that philosophy should begin with the self and travel outward” (Durant, 1926, 336).
Whatever Descartes’ specific theological positions, his philosophical starting-point is dangerous to faith. Descartes’ project began by trusting in reason to the exclusion of revelation (both natural and special). This procedure is in contrast with Paul’s prescription: “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” (Romans 1:20). It falls to the Christian apologist to reason properly about what God has revealed (see Warren, 1982), and to defend the faith against the attacks of doubt. God expects us to use our senses as we come to a knowledge of Him (1 John 1:1-3), so we must critically analyze any approach to knowledge that attempts an overthrow of empiricism. As Wilson noted, Descartes had “a general metaphysical vision of reality, and commitments to a special conception of what the world is like and how it works” (1978, p. 221). We must ask whether that metaphysical vision is consistent with Christianity.


From the foregoing, it is obvious that Descartes became a rationalist. Generally speaking, a rationalist “accepts the supremacy of reason, and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics independent of arbitrary assumptions and authority” (“FAQs,” n.d.). Descartes summarized his rationalist perspective: “[I]t is now manifest to me that bodies themselves are not properly perceived by the senses nor by the faculty of imagination, but by the intellect alone” (2007, p. 88). Descartes sought “an absolute foundation for knowledge by proposing to doubt all things and accept as knowledge (or at least as a foundation for knowledge) only what could not be doubted” (Cannon, 2001, parenthetical item in orig.). For Descartes, this narrowed the field of possible knowledge, leaving only that of which “the light of reason” or “the light of nature” provide assurance (see Markie, 1992, p. 147; cf. Maritain, 1944, pp. 50, 115):
I thought that a procedure exactly the opposite was called for, and that I ought to reject as absolutely false all opinions in regard to which I could suppose the least ground for doubt, in order to ascertain whether after that there remained aught in my belief that was wholly indubitable. Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us; and because some men err in reasoning, and fall into paralogisms (pieces of false reasoning)...I, convinced that I was open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for demonstrations (2007, p. 31, parenthetical item added).
Descartes had been troubled by the recognition that his senses deceived him on occasion. For example, “I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true” (2007, p. 31, parenthetical item in orig.; cf. pp. 76-77; cf. Wilson, 1978, pp. 17ff.). Furthermore, “Descartes cannot yet be certain if there are any bodies in existence. Since one cannot ‘sense’ unless there is body present (otherwise it is a dream or a hallucination or a mirage or an illusion)” (Mahon, n.d., parenthetical item in orig.). In examining why his senses deceived him, Descartes proposed the possibility of a deceptive demon. “[S]ome malignant demon, who is at once exceedingly potent and deceitful, has employed all his artifice to deceive me; I will suppose that the sky, the air, the earth, colors, figures, sounds, and all external things, are nothing better than the illusions of dreams, by which this being has laid snares for my credulity” (2007, pp. 78-79).
Descartes had disregarded empirical knowledge entirely (see 2007, p. 79), and settled on the one reality that, he believed, satisfied his radical criterion for truth:
But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM), was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the skeptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search (p. 31, parenthetical item and emp. in orig.).
Descartes focused on the one thing he believed is certain: that he is a “thinking thing” (2007, p. 84). He explained his rationale further in his Principles: “[W]hile rejecting in this way all those things which we can somehow doubt, and even imagining them to be false, we can indeed easily suppose that there is no God, no heaven, no material bodies; and even that we ourselves have no hands, or feet, in short, no body; yet we do not on that account suppose that we, who are thinking such things, are nothing” (p. 5). Cottingham observed: “The most striking feature about the accounts Descartes himself gives of the Cogito argument is that the certainty involved stems from the fact that the mediator has pushed his doubt to the limit.... [T]he very fact that I am around to entertain the doubt shows that I must exist” (p. 38).
Next, Descartes needed to develop a “permanent system of knowledge” from his theory of doubt (see Cottingham, p. 42). Wilson explained: “The upshot of the argument of the Meditations is that an external physical world can be proved to exist, thus in a sense affirming what everyone ‘knew’ all along; but the proof turns out to be arduous and to require immaterialist premises: people are wrong in thinking the direct evidence of the senses is sufficient” (p. 45). In this process of rebuilding the knowledge he previously deconstructed via radical doubt, Descartes reintroduced God. This move was essential to Descartes’ conviction that material objects exist:
Is there not a God...who causes these thoughts to arise in my mind? But why suppose such a being, for it may be I myself am capable of producing them? ... And in truth, as I have no ground for believing that Deity is deceitful, and as, indeed, I have not even considered the reasons by which the existence of a Deity of any kind is established, the ground of doubt that rests only on this supposition is very slight, and, so to speak, metaphysical (2007, pp. 81,90).
Descartes insisted that of all his perceptions of external objects, including his own body, the notion of God “has certainly in it more objective reality than those ideas by which finite substances are represented,” and that the effects of his perceptions must have correlative causes (2007, pp. 92-93). “And how could the cause communicate to it this reality unless it possessed it in itself? And hence it follows...that the more perfect, in other words, that which contains in itself more reality, cannot be the effect of the less perfect” (p. 93). Since Descartes clearly had an idea of God in his consciousness, and since he believed himself incapable of originating this idea independent of some exterior force on his intellect, then he concluded that that Being caused the idea (see pp. 94-97).
I should not, however, have the idea of an infinite substance, seeing I am a finite being, unless it were given me by some substance in reality infinite.... The idea, I say, of a being supremely perfect, and infinite, is in the highest degree true; for although, perhaps, we may imagine that such a being does not exist, we cannot, nevertheless, suppose that his idea represents nothing real, as I have already said of the idea of cold. It is likewise clear and distinct in the highest degree, since whatever the mind clearly and distinctly conceives as real or true, and as implying any perfection, is contained entire in this idea (pp. 96,97).
Hence Descartes did away with the demon, concluding that it is impossible for God, being perfect, to deceive him (p. 103). “[H]e is no deceiver...” (p. 115).
Having reached a conviction that God is real, Descartes proceeded to claim partial knowledge of material objects by virtue of God’s grace:
I cannot deny that we may have produced many other objects, or at least that he is able to produce them, so that I may occupy a place in the relation of a part to the great whole of his creatures.... And although there are perhaps innumerable objects in the world of which I have no idea in my understanding, it cannot, on that account be said that I am deprived of those ideas as of something that is due to my nature, but simply that I do not possess them, because, in truth, there is no ground to prove that Deity ought to have endowed me with a larger faculty of cognition than he has actually bestowed upon me (p. 105; cf. pp.112-113).
On Descartes’ account, humans can be certain that they possess knowledge only because God exists and can be trusted not to deceive.


Consider three problems with Descartes’ approach to knowledge: First, “Insistence upon a standard of absolute certainty eliminates the middle ground of reasonable evidence. It suggests that if you don’t have complete certainty you have no evidence at all” (Cannon, 2001). Anthony Kenny summarizes this objection: “Few would quarrel with the starting point: it is true that we grow up uncritically accepting many beliefs which may be false. But is it necessary, in order to rectify this, that we should on some occasion call in question all our beliefs? Can we not correct them piecemeal?” (p. 18). If, for example, when I strike my fist against a wall, I have an insufficient level of certainty that the wall is real, then what level of certainty is needed? Human beings necessarily operate on a level of faith in their senses, but that faith is biblical (as we will see), and certainly sufficient for human existence.
Kant points out that the Cogito falls short of proving Descartes’ point, because it also is an empirical notion: “The ‘I think’ is...an empirical proposition, and contains the expression, ‘I exist.’ But I cannot say ‘Everything, which thinks, exists;’ for in this case the property of thought would constitute all beings possessing it, necessary beings. Hence my existence cannot be considered as an inference from the proposition ‘I think,’ as Descartes maintained” (2003, p. 225). Also, Kenny raises the question of identity: “Is not Descartes rash in christening the substance in which the doubts of the Meditations inhere ‘ego’? To be sure, he explains that he is not yet committing himself to any doctrine about the nature of the ego.... But what ‘I’ refers to must at least be distinct from what ‘you’ refers to; otherwise the argument might as well run ‘cogitatur, ergo es’ (“thought exists, therefore, you are”) as ‘cogito ergo sum’ (“I think, therefore I am)” (1968, p. 62, parenthetical items added).
Second, “Insistence upon absolute clarity and distinctness to the skeptical reflecting mind eliminates consideration of any respect in which reality transcends full and determinate representation” (Cannon). Indeed, the very fact that Descartes knew that his senses occasionally “deceived” him, demonstrates that his senses usually (typically) provided him with accurate perceptions. The Bible teaches that we generally can place confidence in our senses, even to the degree of sinning, recognizing the need for salvation, and accessing remission of sins (e.g., Genesis 13:15; Matthew 5:13; Acts 13:44; John 20:24-30; etc.). Descartes’ argument is intelligible only if the illusive nature of dreams, for example, does not inhibit our general understanding of reality. Kant, therefore, emphasizes the need for “sensuous phenomena” in the “empirical world” while recognizing its limitations—even if they are God-given (2003, pp. 42,43,316; 1952, 42:337). In the Fourth Meditation, Descartes would seem to agree: “I have no reason...to think that it was obligatory on [God] to give to each of his works all the perfections he is able to bestow upon some” (2007, p. 105).
In this context, it is remarkable that Descartes moves swiftly from doubting his senses, to relying on them (and problematically placing the seat of empirical knowledge in the pineal gland; see Lockhorst, 2008; cf. Kenny, pp. 225-226):
And as I observed that in the words “I think, therefore I am,” there is nothing at all which gives me assurance of their truth beyond this, that I see very clearly that in order to think it is necessary to exist, I concluded that I might take, as a general rule, the principle, that all things which we very clearly and distinctly conceive are true, only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive (2007, p. 32).
Perhaps this occurs because Descartes did not wish to be separated from the reality he knew prior to settling on the Cogito: “Proposing to rebuild one’s knowledge from the ground up because a number of things that once seemed true have become doubtful or false, as Descartes does, is a lot like being in a boat out on the ocean and proposing to abandon ship in order to rebuild the boat from the keel up just because it has developed a few leaks” (Cannon).
Third, Descartes did not provide a convincing reason for his rejection of the possibility that a demon was placing false ideas in his consciousness. Because all of Descartes’ evidence was rational, and none of it was empirical, his basis for thinking that God exists was a “clear and distinct” idea of a Person, “infinite, eternal, immutable, independent, all-knowing, all-powerful” (2007, pp. 96,97). Why could that idea not have been placed in Descartes’ mind by a god who is actually deceitful? Descartes finished where he started, but not prior to attempting an overthrow of empiricism. His pre-existing belief in God rescued Descartes from his own personal skepticism; but what of those readers who find his argument for the existence of God unconvincing? The truth is that God appeals to us by presenting us with biblical and extra-biblical evidence that agrees with our observation and rationality, all of which ultimately are derived from Him (Jeremiah 51:15).


Descartes’ radical doubt, which would entail dispensing with all epistemological knowledge, also would place an insurmountable roadblock to biblical faith. However, his doubt has been shown to be invalid. It is telling that rationalists still maintain a certain scientific epistemology (“FAQs,” n.d.). Perhaps we can hypothesize, with Maritain, that pride ultimately led Descartes to his radical doubt (pp. 33-62):
The pride of human knowledge appears thus as the very substance, solid and resistant, of rationalist hopes. Pride, a dense pride without frivolity or distraction, as stable as virtue, as vast a geometric extension, bitter and restless as the ocean, takes possession of Descartes to such an extent that it would seem the universal form of his interior workings and the principle of all his suffering (p. 56).
This is a stark contrast to Christ’s portrait of those who are pleasing to Him: “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:15).
In light of Descartes’ major contributions to modern science and mathematics, it is remarkable that his doubt also led him to a radical distinction between mind and body, which we will not detail or critique here (it has been done elsewhere: see Hatfield, 1992, pp. 335-370; Kenny, 1968, pp. 216-226; Wilson, 1978, pp. 50-99). Ree summarized the necessity for this dualism: “[H]is dualism of mental and physical properties implied that since human beings had minds, they were more than mere parts of an all-engulfing physical universe” (p. 100). The connection between Descartes’ epistemology and his physiology, in light of the biblical doctrine of mind and body, would be the next logical step in this inquiry. [NOTE: Special thanks to Michael R. Young, Ph.D., for help with research.]


Banach, David (n.d.), “Important Arguments from Descartes’ Meditations,” Anselm University, [On-line], URL: http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/dcarg.htm.
Burnham, Douglas and James Fieser (2006), “René Descartes,” University of Tennessee at Martin, [On-line], URL: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/d/descarte.htm.
Cannon, Dale (2001), “Descartes,” Western Oregon University, [On-line], URL:http://www.wou.edu/las/humanities/cannon/descartes.htm.
Copleston, Frederick (1994), A History of Philosophy (New York: Doubleday).
Cottingham, John (1986), Descartes (Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell).
Descartes, René (1952a reprint), Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Descartes, René (1952b reprint), Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago).
Descartes, René (1983 reprint), Principles of Philosophy, trans. Valentine Rodger Miller and Reese P. Miller (Boston, MA: D. Reidel).
Descartes, René (2007 reprint), Discourse on Method/Meditations on First Philosophy (Illinois: Barnes & Noble).
Durant, Will (1926), The Story of Philosophy (New York: Simon & Schuster).
“FAQs” (n.d.), Rationalist Society of Australia, [On-line], URL:http://www.rationalist.com.au/faqs.htm.
Fowler, Michael (1996), “Life of Galileo,” University of Virginia, [On-line], URL:http://galileo.phys.virginia.edu/classes/109N/lectures/gal_life.htm.
Galilei, Galileo (2001 reprint), Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (New York: Modern Library).
Hatfield, Gary (1992), “Descartes’ Physiology and Its Relation to His Psychology,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Hooker, Richard (2009), “The European Enlightenment: René Descartes,” Washington State University, [On-line], URL: http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ENLIGHT/DESCARTE.HTM.
Kant, Immanuel (1952 reprint), Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Thomas Kingsmill Abbott, ed. Robert M. Hutchins (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 1952).
Kant, Immanuel (2003 reprint), Critique of Pure Reason (Mineola, NY: Dover).
Kenny, Anthony (1968), Descartes: A Study of His Philosophy (New York: Random House).
Lockhorst, Gert-Jan (2008), “Descartes and the Pineal Gland,” Stanford University, [On-line], URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pineal-gland/#2.
Loeb, Louis E. (1992), “The Cartesian Circle,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press).
Mahon, James (n.d.), “Meditation II,” Washington and Lee University, [On-line], URL:http://home.wlu.edu/~mahonj/Descartes.M1.Mind.htm.
Maritain, Jaques (1944), The Dream of Descartes, trans. Mabelle L. Andison (New York: Philosophical Library).
Markie, Peter (1992), “The Cogito and Its Importance,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Newman, Lex (2005), “Descartes’ Epistemology,” Stanford University, [On-line], URL:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/.
Ree, Jonathan (1975), Descartes (New York: Pica).
“René Descartes (1596-1650)” (2008), The European Graduate School, [On-line], URL:http://www.egs.edu/resources/descartes.html.
Rodis-Lewis, Genevieve (1992), “Descartes’ Life and the Development of His Philosophy,” The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, ed. John Cottingham (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University).
Ross, George Macdonald (n.d.), “Descartes Texts,” University of Leeds, [On-line], URL:http://www.philosophy.leeds.ac.uk/GMR/hmp/texts/modern/descartes/dcintro.html.
Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).
Wilson, Margaret Dauler (1978), Descartes (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul).

Skeptics Seize on Improper Biblical Interpretation by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Skeptics Seize on Improper Biblical Interpretation

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Answers in Genesis is a faith-based Christian apologetics organization located in Petersburg, Kentucky. It is one of the largest creation organizations in the world. In many ways, we at Apologetics Press love and appreciate the stand that AIG makes against false theories like Darwinian Evolution and the Big Bang. In fact, much of their scientific research and writing is superb. We at A.P. have referenced many of their articles and books in our materials. Their stand for a young Earth and a literal reading of the book of Genesis is laudable.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes their biblical interpretations are incorrect, and the incorrect conclusions that they draw can be detrimental to authentic, biblical faith. For instance, on the back cover of their monthly newsletter AnswersUpdate, they ran an article titled “When Does Life Begin?” In the brief article, they correctly noted that both science and the Bible plainly show that human life begins at conception. But then they stated: “The only effective way to change minds about abortion is to accept the fact that in the beginning God created, and also to heed the Creator’s words in Psalm 51: ‘In sin did my mother conceive me.’ Indeed, we’re sinful humans right from conception” (2009, 16[ll]:24, emp. added). According to AIG, human babies come into the world bearing the guilt of sin.
The idea that human babies are born sinful is wrong. Due to the influential nature of John Calvin and his teachings, many people have taught that sin is “passed” from one generation to the next, starting with Adam. Many religious people believe that children “inherit” original sins through their parents. Yet, the Bible pointedly and explicitly teaches that such is not the case. In Ezekiel 18:20, the Bible says: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.” In Exodus 32, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the sins of the Israelites when he said: “‘Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book’” (32:32-33). The Bible is plain in its teaching that babies do not inherit sin through their parents or of their great ancestor Adam (see Butt, 2004). The passage that AIG used as a proof text, Psalm 51, has been dealt with in detail and shown to have nothing to do with “original sin” (e.g., Jackson, 2000).
Not only is the concept of “original sin” unscriptural, it also poses a major problem for the Christian apologist who attempts to defend the biblical concept of God. If babies really are born with sin, then, if they die without obeying the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8), they will be lost. Seeing the force of such logic, the skeptic has a heyday with the concept of “original sin” by portraying God as a tyrant Who sends innocent babies to hell simply because their ancestors sinned. Self-avowed atheist Richard Della Valle used this line of reasoning to attack God:
This article will deal with the Christian belief that every human being since the God-created Adam is under the curse of Adam commonly known as “Original Sin” and in need of redemption…. Adam sinned by eating some sort of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of that hideous act, all of mankind became condemned to a place called Hell. Now why in all fairness should there be such a policy? (n.d.)
The Bible simply does not teach the false concept that humans are sinful “right from conception.” It is unfortunate that an organization like AIG, that has so much good material, has given the skeptical community more ammunition to fight against the God of the Bible. Let us all make sure that we heed the words of the apostle Paul to “test all things” and “hold fast” only to that which is “good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), rejecting false ideas like “original sin.”


Butt, Kyle (2004), “Do Children Inherit the Sin of Their Parents?” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2543.
Della Valle, Richard (no date), “Original Sin,” [On-line], URL:http://www.theskepticalreview.com/RDVOriginalSin1.html.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “‘Original Sin’ and a Misapplied Passage,” [On-line], URL:http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/originalSin.htm.
“When Does Life Begin?” (2009), AnswersUpdate, 16[11]:24, November.

A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


A Messiah Who "Sneaks" Into History?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

As Paul stood before King Agrippa’s throne, relating the story of Christ, he declared of the Messiah’s life: “This thing was not done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). Those few words have reverberated through centuries of history as one of the hallmarks of the story of Jesus. Never was the life, death, or resurrection of Christ meant to be kept secret—as something might be when it is stored away in a box in an abandoned attic, to be discovered later by accident only by a fortunate few. Rather, the many facets of Christ’s earthly ministry were readily available for inspection by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
In fact, centuries before Christ set foot on the Earth in human form, the prophets of old repeatedly had spoken of His impending arrival. Over 300 messianic prophecies fill the pages of the Old Testament. God did not try to “sneak” the Messiah into human affairs under cover of darkness and without warning. Truth be told, He went to considerable effort to announce to the world the news of its heralded Savior.
One such instance can be found in Genesis 49:10, wherein Moses wrote: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes.” The word “Shiloh” has long been recognized by biblical scholars as another name for the Messiah. This verse, then, explains exactly when the Messiah was to arrive—when the scepter had departed from Judah.
So what is the “scepter,” and when did it depart from Judah? The scepter was a staff kept in possession of the elders of each of the twelve tribes of Israel and engraved with the name of the tribe. It symbolized the national sovereignty and judicial power of God’s people. As long as the scepter was in place, the Jews could govern themselves, excommunicate one of their own, and even administer corporeal punishment (including the death penalty).
Figure 1
Artist’s concept of Paul before King Agrippa
(image courtesy of ArtToday.com)
Interestingly, the scepter remained in place even while the Jews were in captivity under both the Babylonians and the Medes and Persians. It also remained in place for a time under Roman captivity—until the Emperor instituted procurators. When that occurred, even first-century Jews recognized the departure of the scepter because the Romans (around A.D. 11) took away the Jews’ right to administer capital punishment. One Jewish teacher, rabbi Rachmon, put the situation in these terms: “When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ‘Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come’ ” (as quoted in McDowell, 1999, p. 195).
When the members of the Sanhedrin found that they could not put Jesus to death themselves, but had to request instead that Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, do so on their behalf (Luke 23:24), they should have known the Messiah was in their midst, for that was the exact prophecy Moses had recorded. The scepter had indeed departed from Judah—and the Messiah had indeed come! Yet the Jews ignored the voice of God and demanded the death sentence for His only begotten Son. Why? Because they were the people who “always resisted the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).
Woe to those individuals in our day and age who ignore the powerful evidence that God has provided as proof of the deity of His precious Son, Jesus Christ! Let us ensure that we today do not become as blind to Christ’s Sonship as those first-century Jews.


McDowell, Josh (1999), The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

"I Do not Want to Be a Fool" by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


"I Do not Want to Be a Fool"

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Through our mail box in a year’s time come hundreds of letters. Some are from evolutionists or those sympathetic to them, boldly objecting to our work. Some are from friends, offering a word of encouragement. Some are from students, writing to ask for materials they can use in the preparation of a term paper, speech, or debate. And some are from people whose faith is faltering because it has been attacked by unbelief and is in danger of being destroyed.
This article concerns a letter from the latter category. A Christian student’s graduate program in the sciences at a state university led him to study under a man he termed “a giant in his field...rocket-scientist intelligent...and a devout evolutionist.” In his letter, the student said:
...working this closely with one who thinks as he does is beginning to cause not a small amount of cognitive dissonance in my own mind with regards evolution v. special creation. I really need your help, both as a Christian and a scientist, to clearly see what it is. Hundreds of thousands of scientists can’t be wrong, can they? Consensual validation cannot be pushed aside in science. How can that many people be following a flag with no carrier, and someone not find out? The number of creation scientists pales in comparison.... I do not want to be a fool.”


This young writer expressed what many people experience, yet are unable to enunciate so eloquently. It is not uncommon to encounter those who once knew what they believed and why they believed it, yet who now are terribly confused. “Cognitive dissonance” is the internal struggle one experiences when presented with new information that contradicts what he believes to be true. As he struggles for consistency, he must change what he believes or disregard the new information. This young Christian who once knew what he believed, and why he believed it, no longer knows either. He stated: “I am a confused young man with some serious questions about my mind, my faith, and my God. Please help me sort through these questions....”
There were two things he did know, however. First, he recognized that the beliefs he once held were inconsistent with those he was being taught. Second, he recognized that if he accepted these new teachings, then not only his beliefs but his actions would be inconsistent with his Christianity. His plea—“help me sort through these questions”—has been echoed countless times through the centuries by those who languish in the “cognitive dissonance” which results from replacing the wisdom of God with the wisdom of man. What answer could we give the young querist?


It is true that “most scientists” accept organic evolution. The co-discoverer of the DNAmolecule, James Watson, once stated: “Today the theory of evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority” (1987, p. 2). One university textbook widely used for almost two decades began with these words: “Organic evolution is the greatest principle in biology. Its implications extend far beyond the confines of that science, ramifying into all phases of human life and activity. Accordingly, understanding of evolution should be part of the intellectual equipment of all educated persons” (Moody, 1962, p. 1x). In the March 1987 issue of Natural History, evolutionist Douglas J. Futuyma noted:
That evolution has occurred—that diverse organisms have descended from common ancestors by a history of modification and divergence—is accepted as fact by virtually all biologists.... The historical reality of evolution is doubted chiefly by creationists, mostly on doctrinaire religious grounds (96[3]:34).
This kind of diatribe—that evolution is a “fact” accepted by “all educated persons” except a “fundamentalist minority”—has a devastating impact on impressionable young minds. Two questions are therefore in order. First, why do so many scientists believe in evolution? Second, are they correct in doing so; that is to say, is “consensual validation” reason enough to acquiesce in favor of organic evolution?

Why Do So Many Scientists Believe in Evolution?

There are a number of reasons that could be offered to explain why belief in evolution is popular, but two seem especially apropos here. First, for those who do not believe in a Creator, evolution is their only escape. Henry Fairfield Osborn, renowned evolutionist of the early twentieth century, suggested: “In truth, from the earliest stages of Greek thought man has been eager to discover some natural cause of evolution, and to abandon the idea of supernatural intervention in the order of nature” (1918, p. ix). British evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith once remarked that “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable!” (as quoted in Criswell, 1972, p. 73). D.M.S. Watson, who held the position of the Chair of Evolution at the University of London for more than twenty years, echoed the same sentiments when he stated that “Evolution itself is accepted by zoologists, not because it has been observed to occur or can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is incredible” (1929, p. 233). As Henry Morris has noted: “Evolution is the natural way to explain the origin of things for those who do not know and acknowledge the true God of creation. In fact, some kind of evolution is absolutely necessary for those who would reject God” (1966, p. 98).
Second, it may be that “The main reason most educated people believe in evolution is simply because they have been told that most educated people believe in evolution” (Morris, 1974, p. 26). Many people, including scientists, fall into this category. For the past century, evolution has been taught from kindergarten to graduate school as a fact that “all reputable scientists believe.” As a result, people often believe that if they, too, wish to be “educated,” it is a prerequisite that they believe in evolution. Where, in all likelihood, did the graduate student’s professor receive his education? At the feet of evolutionists, no doubt. And where did they, in turn, receive their education? At the feet of evolutionists. Thus, the vicious circle continues unabated.

Are “Hundreds of Thousands of Scientists” Correct?

The graduate student asked: “Hundreds of thousands of scientists can’t be wrong, can they?” This question may be addressed as follows. First, any argument based on “counting heads” is fallacious. Philosophy professors instruct their students on various fallacies of human thought, one of which is the “fallacy of consensus.” In his book, Fundamentals of Critical Thinking, atheistic philosopher Paul Ricci discussed the “argument from consensus,” and explained its erroneous nature (1986, p. 175). Interestingly, however, in the pages prior to his discussion, Mr. Ricci offered the following as proof of evolution: “The reliability of evolution not only as a theory but as a principle of understanding is not contested by the vast majority of biologists, geologists, astronomers, and other scientists” (1986, p. 172, emp. added).
Mr. Ricci fell victim to the very fallacy about which he tried to warn his readers—truth is not determined by popular opinion or majority vote. A thing may be, and often is, true even when accepted only by a small minority. The history of science is replete with such examples. British medical doctor, Edward Jenner (1749-1823), was scorned when he suggested that he had produced a smallpox vaccine by infecting people with a less-virulent strain of the disease-causing organism. Afterwards, he lived as a man whose reputation had been sullied. Yet his vaccine helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) of Austria is another interesting case study. He noticed the high mortality rate among surgical patients, and suggested that the deaths resulted from surgeons washing neither their hands nor their instruments between patients. Dr. Semmelweis asked them to do so, but they ridiculed him. Today, the solutions posed by this gentle doctor are the basis of antiseptic techniques in life-saving surgery.
Often, scientific successes have occurred because researchers rebelled against the status quo. Sometimes consensual validation must be set aside for the sake of truth. If it is not, those of us who work in science shall become little more than cookie-cutter scientists rushing to fit into a predetermined mold.
Darrell Huff correctly observed: “People can be wrong in the mass, just as they can individually” (1959, p. 122). If something is true, stating it a million times does not make it any truer. Similarly, if something is false, stating it a million times does not make it true. And the prestige of a position’s advocates has nothing to do with whether or not the fact is true or false. It is incorrect (to use one example) to suggest that because a Nobel laureate states something it is true by definition. Were that the case, when Nobel laureate W.B. Shockley suggested that highly intelligent women be artificially inseminated using spermatozoa from Nobel Prize winners to produce superintelligent offspring, we should have taken him up on his suggestion. Of course, such an idea was based on nothing more than the narcissistic dreamings of an over-inflated ego. As Taylor has commented: “Status in the field of science is no guarantee of the truth” (1984, p. 226). Factual knowledge is not based on: (a) the number of people supporting the claim; or (b) the importance of the one(s) making that claim.
Second, the idea of strict objectivity in science is a myth. While scientists like to think of themselves as broad-minded, unprejudiced paragons of virtue, the fact is that they, too, on occasion, suffer from bouts of bias, bigotry, and presuppositionalism. Another Nobel laureate, James Watson, remarked rather bluntly: “In contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid” (1968, p. 14).
History provides a sad but instructive example of how scientists sometimes treat their colleagues when “consensual validation” is threatened. Immanuel Velikovsky was a medical doctor, and a scholar in his own right. He was also an “evolutionary catastrophist” (a rarity in the evolutionary community). Dr. Velikovsky believed, among other things, that the miracles described in the Bible actually occurred, but that they had purely natural explanations. His books (Earth in UpheavalWorlds in CollisionAges in Chaos, and others) challenged much evolutionary thought, and caused ripples of global proportions in the scientific community. The ensuing controversy was not a pretty sight (see de Grazia, 1966; Talbott, 1976). In their book, Velikovsky Reconsidered, the editors of Pensée magazine offered the following assessment of what occurred in this instance:
The professional scientists’ campaign against Worlds in Collision began well before the book appeared. Harlow Shapley, probably the best-known American astronomer alive today, led an energetic attempt to stop the publisher, Macmillan, from publishing the book. He arranged for denunciations of the book, still before its appearance, by an astronomer, a geologist, and an archaeologist in a learned journal. None of them had read the book. When it did appear, denunciatory reviews were arranged, again, in several instances, by professors who boasted of never having read the book.
Velikovsky was rigorously excluded from access to learned journals for his replies. Then Shapley and others really got busy on the old-boy circuit. They forced the sacking of the senior editor of Macmillan responsible for accepting the Velikovsky manuscript. (He had been with the firm twenty-five years.) They forced the sacking of the director of the famous Hayden Planetarium in New York, because he proposed to take Velikovsky seriously enough to mount a display about the theory.
...The process thus begun did not stop. ...a great many “refutations” of Velikovsky’s theory have appeared in print, some by very famous people.... Some of them are chiefly remarkable for dishonesty or incompetence. They misquote the text they are criticizing. They willfully misrepresent the theory Velikovsky advanced. And they are replete with errors of fact and theory (Talbott, 1976, pp. 38,39).
Eventually, Macmillan was forced to transfer Velikovsky’s works to its competitor, Doubleday, which had no textbook division and thus was not subject to the blackmail that Shapley and his evolutionary colleagues were perpetrating. The whole sordid affair was made public in Dr. Velikovsky’s last book, Stargazers and Gravediggers (1984), published posthumously at his request.
Dr. Velikovsky’s treatment was scandalous, and remains a source of embarrassment to every scientist. Science is alleged to be self-testing and self-correcting. Even unorthodox views supposedly are welcome, since once put to the test, they will be weeded out if incorrect. But to deny someone the right to set forward a theory is not science—it is bigotry. While I as a scientist certainly do not share most of Velikovsky’s views, I delight in the fact that science has room in its investigative method and procedures for even the most unlikely candidate of a theory.
Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst, Jr. once wrote about pressures from “fashionable ideas...which are advanced with such force that common sense itself becomes the victim.” He observed that a person under such pressure may then act “with an irrationality which is almost beyond belief ” (1971, p. A-4). This is exactly what happened in the cases of Jenner, Semmelweis, and Velikovsky—and the list could be extended with ease. Common sense became the victim, and people acted irrationally. Were “the scientists” in the majority? Indeed. Were they wrong? Yes. Just because “hundreds of thousands of scientists” believe something does not make it right.


Christ, in His “Sermon on the Mount,” warned that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). The majority ultimately will abandon God’s wisdom in favor of their own. Moses commanded the Israelites: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). Regarding this passage, Guy N. Woods has observed that this divine injunction
...was designed to guard the Lord’s people from the corrupting influences of an evil environment, as well as from the powerful appeals of mob psychology to which so many in every generation succumb....
Man, by nature, is a social and gregarious being, tending to flock or gather together with others of his kind.... Man may, and often does, imbibe the evil characteristics of those about him as readily, and often more so, than the good ones (1982, 124[1]:2).
Yes, there are “hundreds of thousands of scientists” who reject the biblical account of creation. But, as Woods noted, “It is dangerous to follow the multitude because the majority is almost always on the wrong side in this world” (1982, 124[1]:2, emp. added). The “wisdom” with which we are impressed is not always the wisdom with which we should be impressed. Paul told the Corinthian Christians:
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning will I bring to naught. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:19-21).
It should not be surprising that so many “intelligent” people view creation, and Christianity, as the fool’s way out. Paul himself commented that “not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27). Those highly intelligent are often the least interested in spiritual matters because “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) has blinded their minds so that they cannot, or will not, see the truth. They ignore the fact that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7).
We must not fall prey to mob psychology—the idea which suggests because “everyone is doing it” that somehow makes it right. Nor should we believe that “science” provides the answer to every conceivable question.
To treat science as a secular substitute for God is not only naive, it is idolatry.... Science and technology are the activities of imperfect people. The tendencies to misuse and exploit for personal gain operate here as in every other department of life. But the answer to abuse is not disuse, but responsible use (Poole, 1990, p. 126).


The graduate student said, “I do not want to be a fool.” It was a joy to tell him that he does not have to bear that stigma. The Scriptures are clear: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). We need not be intimidated by the pseudo-intellectualism of those who esteem themselves with higher regard than they do their Creator. The cartoon character Lucy was correct when she told Charlie Brown, “You’re not right; you just sound right!”
At times, we need to focus on these issues and remember that it is far more important to study, and submit to, the Word of God than it is to be able to explain the ins and outs of quantum physics. One of those will “abide forever” (Isaiah 40:8); the other will perish. One of the graduate student’s final questions was: “How, then, may we compete?” Frankly, there may be times when we cannot. We run a different race, operated by different rules. While the world may esteem us not at all, the One Who will eventually judge us shall esteem us as “sons by adoption,” and “heirs of the kingdom.” Who, then, shall have played the fool?


de Grazia, Alfred, R. Juergens and L. Stecchini, eds. (1966), The Velikovsky Affair (Hyde Park, NY: University Books).
Futuyma, Douglas J. (1987), “World Without Design,” Natural History, 96[3]:34, March.
Huff, Darrell (1959), How to Take a Chance (New York: W.W. Norton).
Hurst, Jr., William Randolph (1971), “Editor’s Report,” in The [Los Angeles] Herald-Examiner, November 14.
Criswell, W.A. (1972), Did Man Just Happen? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Moody, Paul A. (1962), Introduction to Evolution (New York: Harper & Row).
Morris, Henry M. (1966), Studies in the Bible and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Morris, Henry M. (1974), The Twilight of Evolution (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
Osborn, Henry Fairfield (1918), The Origin and Evolution of Life (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons).
Poole, Michael (1990), A Guide to Science and Belief (Oxford, England: Lion).
Ricci, Paul (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press).
Talbott, Stephen L., ed. (1976), Velikovsky Reconsidered (New York: Warner).
Taylor, Ian (1984), In the Minds of Men (Toronto, Canada: TFE Publishing).
Velikovsky, Immanuel (1984), Stargazers and Gravediggers (New York: Quill).
Watson, D.M.S. (1929), “Adaptation,” Nature, Vol. 123.
Watson, James D. (1968), The Double Helix (New York: Atheneum).
Watson, James D. (1987), Molecular Biology of the Gene (New York: W.A. Benjamin).
Woods, Guy N. (1982), “ ‘And be not Conformed to this World,’ ” Gospel Advocate, 124[1]:2, January 7.