9/1/21

Will Science Eventually Kill God? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

 

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1602

Will Science Eventually Kill God?

by  Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Impossible concept, and yet it has captured the attention of the news media of late (e.g., Wolchover, 2012). Will the bulk of society likely tend to continue its movement away from God in the coming years? Probably, since that has historically been the trend, inside and outside the Bible. But God has never been eliminated from human thought in the thousands of years of human existence, because His providential hand brings punishment on societies at those times when the population in sufficient numbers turns its back on God. Then inevitably follows a return by many to spiritual matters (see Miller, 2008).

Still, according to NBC News, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, believes that science will eventually remove the need for God in the equation to explain certain Universal phenomena. He argues that, “God’s sphere of influence has shrunk drastically in modern times” (Wolchover). We are not sure where he is getting his information, because statistically, the world is en masse (84%) theist (e.g., “Major Religions of the World,” 2007), and the percentage of the population in this country that believes that God has played a role in the origin of the Universe (78%) is far beyond the secular evolutionary community (15%) (see Miller, 2012). While there certainly has been an increase in the ranks of the non-religious community in the past several years, the Earth is still, by far, theistic.

Carroll further argues that many of the phenomena that were once highlighted as proof of the existence of God, since science could not explain those phenomena, are gradually being eliminated, in his opinion. He believes that the need for a God to cause the Big Bang to “bang” is side-stepped by the idea of an eternal Universe—a Universe like the one theorized by the Oscillating Universe Big Bang model. [NOTE: This is not to say that we believe the Big Bang Theory to be true. We have outlined several issues that show the Big Bang to be false elsewhere (e.g., Thompson, Harrub, and May, 2003). We are merely addressing his assertions.] He believes that the problem of having a necessary cause for the Universe, even if the Universe is not eternal, is side-stepped by the idea that time started at the Big Bang, and therefore, there is no need of a pre-existing cause. According to Alex Filippenko, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley that is quoted in the article, “The Big Bang could’ve occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there. With the laws of physics, you can get universes.” Carroll further argues that the “fine tuning” argument used by theists with regard to many physical constants that seem perfectly suited for our existence, can be side-stepped using theories about parallel universes beyond our’s (Wolchover).

Several comments are worth mentioning in response to Carroll. First of all, notice the tacit admission that God is still needed to explain some things in the Universe, even if they might eventually be eliminated in Carroll’s mind. Many issues that point to God have been eliminated, in Carroll’s opinion: but that implies that some remain.

Second, his attempt to side-step the problem of needing a “trigger” for the Big Bang by giving credence to theories that postulate the eternality of the Universe, does not lend to the idea that science has eliminated the need for God in that area. On the contrary, science has already spoken on that matter. Nothing lasts forever, according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007 for an in depth discussion of the Laws of Thermodynamics as they relate to the Universe as a whole). So such theories are not in keeping with the findings of science. Since nothing lasts forever in nature, the Universe could not have lasted forever—God is needed.

His further attempt to side-step the issue of needing a cause for a non-eternal Universe Big Bang model, by arguing that time began at the Big Bang, is reminiscent of Stephen Hawking’s recent comments on the matter. However, as we have discussed elsewhere (see Miller, 2011), that idea is not in keeping with the scientific evidence either. The Universe could not have caused itself since, in nature, nothing comes from nothing. Energy cannot spontaneously generate, according to the evidence from science—specifically the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (see Miller, 2007). Theories that postulate such erroneous concepts are not in keeping with science. So, once again, science has not eliminated the need for God in that instance either. The existence of the Universe still requires an adequate Cause, according to the evidence from science.

Filippenko’s comments merely highlight another issue that science cannot explain without God—the existence of the laws of physics. A poem requires a poet. A law requires a law writer. As eminent atheistic theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist of Arizona State University, Paul Davies, noted, “You need to know where those laws come from. That’s where the mystery lies—the laws” (“The Creation Question…,” 2011). The atheist has no explanation for how the laws of science could have written themselves into existence, and there is no logical explanation outside of a cosmic Law Writer.

Carroll’s attempts to side-step the issue of the theist’s finely tuned Universe argument by postulating parallel Universes is not a sound argument. Science has not proven such a theory. No alternate Universe has ever been witnessed, and therefore is outside the scope of the evolutionary community’s own definition of empirical science. Such an argument is mere conjecture and speculation—not evidence. So again, science has not dismissed the need for God in this instance either.

Time and again, Carroll attempts to make his case for science eliminating God, by relying on theories that cannot be verified with science or that blatantly contradict the evidence from science. So, in the end, Carroll has not proven that science has or could ever eliminate God. The only thing he has proven is that atheists are not self-consistent in their viewpoint on this matter.

Is it true that many people today are accepting such “evidence” and are therefore turning from God? Are they in the process causing God to be eliminated from their minds—i.e., not “retain[ing] God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28)? Is it likely that there will be more and more people in the coming years that join the bandwagon in rejecting God? Definitely. However, such behavior is not due to the evidence from true science, but rather, due to their own desires (cf. Romans 1:20-32). Ironically, while such atheists wishfully dream that science will one day kill God, science has actually already ruled out atheism as an explanation for the origin of the Universe (see www.apologeticspress.org for evidence on this subject).

REFERENCES

“The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.

“Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents” (2007), http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html.

Miller, Jeff (2007), “God and the Laws of Thermodynamics: A Mechanical Engineer’s Perspective,” Reason & Revelation, 27[4]:25-31, April, http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3293.

Miller, Jeff (2008), “The Cycle of Unbelief,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=2495.

Miller, Jeff  (2011), “A Review of Discovery Channel’s ‘Curiosity: Did God Create the Universe?’” Reason & Revelation, 31[10]:98-107, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1004&article=1687.

Miller, Jeff (2012), “Literal Creationists Holding Their Ground in the Polls,” Reason & Revelation, 32[9]:94-95, September, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1093&article=2040#.

Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part 1],” Reason & Revelation, 23[5]:33-47, May, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=541&article=540.

Wolchover, Natalie (2012), “Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?” NBC News: Science, September 18, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49074598/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.UFnWIlEpCeZ.

Why is Good Good? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

 

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=3601

Why is Good Good?

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

In the Nuremburg Trials, the U.S. Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war criminals appealed to a law higher than “the provincial and transient” to ground his prosecution (The Trial of..., 1946, 19:383, July 26). Those of us at Apologetics Press have cited this case as an example of the need for human acknowledgment of universal morality in order to make objective judgments (e.g., Miller, 2008). And, if we appeal to a universal moral law, then this law must have as its source the universal Law Giver, the Creator (see Jackson, 1995). This is a brief way of stating the moral argument for the existence of God.

One objection to this moral argument has been summarized and adapted from a 2,400-year-old debate concerning the following question: “Why is good good?” In questioning the foolish young man Euthyphro, Plato’s Socrates tries to determine the definition of “pious” or “impious” (Plato, 1997, p. 4). Socrates offers two possibilities, but rejects them both: “Is the pious being loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?” (p. 9). The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro is extensive, but the general results are these: (1) Euthyphro cannot define “pious” as “that which is loved by the Greek gods,” for the gods are said to disagree with one another on occasion—a thing cannot be both pious and impious (see p. 4). And, (2) after numerous attempts, Euthyphro cannot say what quality the pious things have, if “pious” means something other than “loved by the gods” (pp. 11ff.).

The Euthyphro dialogue has been adapted by later philosophers in the debate concerning the very existence of God, and this adaptation has been codified in philosophical literature as the “Euthyphro Dilemma” (e.g., Benn, 1998, pp. 47ff.). For example:

There is the further question, which has often been debated, but was raised originally by Plato, in his dialogue, Euthyphro. Should we follow God’s laws just because they are His or rather, because His laws are good? If the latter, then we have to decide what is good in order to know that God is good. If the former, then one has to decide whether or not to believe in God precisely on the basis of whether we can accept those laws. Either way, we have to decide for ourselves what laws of morality we are willing to accept (Solomon, 2008, p. 460).

Perhaps a clearer way of phrasing the dilemma is this: Is good good because it is good, or because God says it is good? If good is good independent of God (and He merely identifies it), then God does not hold the high position which theists have ascribed to Him. On the other hand, if good is good because God says it is, then there is the possibility that God has commanded something that is actually wrong (we are being deceived) and He is merely arbitrary in His ethical requirements: He could just as easily say that lying is good as He could say it is bad. The dilemma is meant to show that objective morality does not exist, because morality is actually grounded exclusively in each moral agent’s subjectivity (and in whatever consensus develops between agents). Any explanation of morality that involves a divine standard is either contradictory or explains itself in terms of itself (i.e., it is circular). This position corresponds with an atheistic position, as it does away with the need for a divine Law Giver.

What response to the Euthyphro dilemma is available for the Christian apologist to use? Consider the following three principles:

1. There Is A Universal Moral Law. In his book, Mere Christianity (2001, pp. 1-8), C.S. Lewis argues for the existence of a universal moral law (and a corresponding Law Giver) in the following way (summarized by Geisler, 1999):

1. There must be a universal moral law, or else: (a) Moral disagreements would make no sense, as we all assume they do. (b) All moral criticisms would be meaningless (e.g., “The Nazis were wrong.”). (c) It is unnecessary to keep promises or treaties, as we all assume that it is. (d) We would not make excuses for breaking the moral law, as we all do. 2. But a universal moral law requires a universal Moral Law Giver, since the Source of it: (a) Gives moral commands (as lawgivers do). (b) Is interested in our behavior (as moral persons are). 3. Further, this universal Moral Law Giver must be absolutely good: (a) Otherwise all moral effort would be futile in the long run, since we could be sacrificing our lives for what is not ultimately right. (b) The source of all good must be absolutely good, since the standard of all good must be completely good. 4. Therefore, there must be an absolutely good Moral Law Giver (p. 500, parenthetical items in orig.).

The conclusion that a universal moral system exists causes us to cast suspicion upon any dilemma that purports to disprove the very possibility of such a system. The Euthyphro dilemma falls into this category. Furthermore, the Euthyphro dilemma proves inapplicable when applied to the God of the Bible.

2. The Euthyphro dilemma is a false one. For the purposes of answering current critics of Christianity, the Christian apologist need not evaluate the dilemma in terms of the Greek gods, but in terms of the one, true God (i.e., the God of the Bible). The Bible teaches that God certainly is good (e.g., Genesis 1:13; 59:20; Deuteronomy 6:24; Psalm 89:14; etc.). God’s essence is to exist as He is (Exodus 3:14). God cannot exist apart from all of His attributes, including goodness. If He existed and lacked any of His attributes, then He would not be the God to Whom we refer when we speak of the biblical God. Therefore, God is good, but not in virtue of a standard of goodness that exists separate from Him. As further evidence for this, consider that there are possible acts which God refuses to do because such acts do not accord with His moral nature. For example, God cannot lie (see Miller, 2009; Colley, 2004).

Because God is infinite, goodness is measured in relation to Him. Jesus illustrated this in His parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15). In the story, only the landowner (representing God) was in a position to determine what was “good” (20:15). Humans, as created beings, are not in a position to argue with God concerning His rightness or wrongness (see Job 29-31; 38-40). The Euthyphro dilemma presumes that we do exactly that, despite the fact that we are incapable of it (Jeremiah 10:23).

Therefore, there is no dilemma as alleged by some who appeal to Plato’s Euthyphro (see Warren and Flew, 1977, pp. 26-28,32). Yet, some maintain that God’s moral principles are unreasonable or that He is contradictory (see Butt, 2009b), and we must therefore reject the biblical God in favor of atheism or another notion of divinity. We now turn to this allegation.

3. While God’s moral principles do not owe their existence to human rationality, they nonetheless appeal to human rationality. Indeed, if it could be shown that God’s rules run counter to human rationality, then it would appear that His principles are deficient to ground human morality, and that we were not made in His image. However, there is not a single biblical principle of morality that can be, when interpreted properly, shown to be in conflict with the best interests of humanity.

The creationist model would anticipate such a perfect correlation between human needs and the provisions of biblical morality, inasmuch as God was motivated by His own character to create the human race in a way that is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and placed requirements upon humanity that are suitable for the fulfillment of human needs. To demonstrate the truthfulness of this statement would require further studies (e.g. Butt, 2009a; Colley, 2010a; Colley, 2010b). Consider the words of the psalmist:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea than much fine gold; sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (19:7-11; cf. 1 Timothy 1:8).

The suitability of God’s laws to man’s needs diffuses the motivation for the Euthyprho dilemma, as the facts about God diffuse the logic of the dilemma.

Therefore, our answer to the Euthyphro dilemma is as follows: Good is defined by God’s goodness, which is inseparable from His nature. His standard of goodness applies to all mankind by virtue of creation.

REFERENCES

Benn, Piers (1998), Ethics (Montreal, Quebec: McGill-Queen’s Press).

Butt, Kyle (2009a), “Biblical Ideas Concerning Killing and Murder are Not Contradictory,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240253.

Butt, Kyle (2009b), “Is God Immoral for Killing Innocent Children?,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240272.

Colley, Caleb (2004), “God Cannot Lie,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2561.

Colley, Caleb (2010a), “In Defense of the Golden Rule,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240331.

Colley, Caleb (2010b), “Defending the Biblical Position Against Lying,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240320.

Geisler, Norman L. (1999), Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Jackson, Wayne (1995), “The Case for the Existence of God [Part III],” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=362.

Lewis, C. S. (2001), Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins), revised edition.

Miller, Dave (2008), “A Higher Law,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240092.

Miller, Dave (2009), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.

Plato (1997), Euthyphro, trans. G.M.A. Grube, in Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett).

Solomon, Robert C. (2008), Introducing Philosophy (New York: Oxford University), ninth edition.

The Trial of German Major War Criminals (1946), 187th Day: Friday, 26th July, 1946, (Vol. 19, Part 1 of 12), (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office), [On-line], URL: http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-19/tgmwc-19-187-01.shtml.

Warren, Thomas B. and Antony G.N. Flew (1977), The Warren-Flew Debate On the Existence of God (Moore, OK: National Christian Press).

Why is Belief in God Natural to Mankind? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

 

https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4655

Why is Belief in God Natural to Mankind?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.



On  June 18, 2012, well-known and much-read atheistic blogger Leah Libresco put out a blog post titled: “This Is My Last Post for the Patheos Atheist Portal” (Merica, 2012). In the post, Libresco explained that she was no longer writing for the atheist portal because she is no longer an atheist. During the months prior to the post, her mental struggles and rational investigations led her to the conclusion that God exists (Libresco, 2012).

What was the primary factor that forced Libresco to this theistic conclusion? She explained that morality was the key. Throughout her time as an atheist, she struggled to come to grips with how humans can adhere to a morality that seems objective if there is no God. As she searched for answers among atheistic thinkers and writers, she admitted that their answers were inadequate.

In an interview with a CNN news reporter, Libresco noted that her conversion from atheism to theism was “kinda the same thing with any scientific theory, almost, that it had more explanatory power to explain something I was really sure of. I’m really sure that morality is objective, human independent; something we uncover like archaeologists not something we build like architects” (Merica, 2012, emp. added).

Libresco’s intellectual honesty regarding morality is refreshing to see. [NOTE: A.P. does not endorse Libresco’s affiliation with Catholicism. See Pinedo, 2008.] Her conversion highlights an important aspect of the process of searching for truth: explanatory value. With an ever-increasing number of skeptics, unbelievers, atheists, and agnostics in the United States and around the globe, it is important for Christians to look for ways to teach them about God, and then Jesus Christ. One effective way to do that is to show that the concept of God maintains much more powerful explanatory value than atheism for the realities that we see around us. Thus, when approaching a reality upon which both theists and atheists agree, the question would be: “Which idea, theism or atheism, explains this particular phenomenon the best?” To frame it in a more positive way, “If there really is a God, what would we expect the world to look like?” Leah Libresco recognized the reality of objective morality and concluded that if atheism were true, there would be no objective morality; but if there is a God, then objective morality is exactly what we would expect to find.

That principle can be extended to a host of realities that are present in our world. The one that this article addresses is the fact that mankind has an inherent predisposition to recognize a supernatural, intelligent Creator. This article establishes the fact that this reality is generally recognized by both atheists and theists. It will then address which of these two ideas, atheism or theism, most adequately accounts for this fact. The purpose of such an endeavor is to reach the unbelieving community with powerful evidence that has the ability to bring them to a belief in God, and one step closer to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Humanity’s “Intuitive Theism”

It might surprise the reader that both atheists and theists overwhelmingly admit that humans are predisposed to believe in an intelligent creator of some sort. Richard Dawkins, arguably the world’s leading atheistic thinker, lecturer, and writer, asked the question: “Why, if it is false, does every culture in the world have religion? True or false, religion is ubiquitous, so where does it come from?” (2006, p. 159). His assertion that religion is false is inaccurate, but his statement highlights the fact—the reality—that religion is universal to mankind, and has been in every human culture ever studied.  He went on to say, a few pages later: “Though the details differ across the world, no known culture lacks some version of the time-consuming, wealth-consuming, hostility-provoking rituals, the anti-factual, counter-productive fantasies of religion” (p. 166). So deeply religious are humans, Dawkins refers to their desire to recognize some type of creator as a “lust for gods” (p. 169). The late atheistic writer Christopher Hitchens wrote: “Sigmund Freud was quite correct to describe the religious impulse, in The Future of an Illusion, as essentially ineradicable until or unless the human species can conquer its fear of death and its tendency to wish-thinking. Neither contingency seems very probable” (2007, p. 247).

Renowned atheist Sam Harris was forced to admit the truth that the concept of God is an inherent human predisposition. He wrote: “Similarly, several experiments suggest that children are predisposed to assume design and intention behind natural events—leaving many psychologists and anthropologists to believe that children, left entirely to their own devices, would invent some conception of God” (2010, p. 151).

The research to which Sam Harris refers is extensive. Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg have written an article, titled “Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” which was published in Science magazine in May of 2007. They suggest that children tend to attribute purpose and design to virtually everything, a tendency the authors call “promiscuous teleology” ([316]:996). Bloom and Weisberg noted: “[W]hen asked about the origin of animals and people, children spontaneously tend to provide and prefer creationist explanations” (p. 996).

In an article titled “Are Children ‘Intuitive Theists’?” Deborah Keleman documented research which led her to conclude that “the proposal that children might be intuitive theists becomes increasingly viable,” and “together, these research findings tentatively suggest that children’s explanatory approach may be accurately characterized as intuitive theism” (2004, 15:299). In an extensive 49-page article in Cognitive Psychology, Margaret Evans wondered aloud: “Why is the human mind (at least the Western protestant mind) so susceptible to creationism and so comparatively resistant to naturalistic explanations for the origins of species?” (2001, 42:252).

In light of the current research, Bloom admitted: “There is by now a large body of research suggesting that humans are natural-born creationists. When we see nonrandom structure and design, we assume that it was created by an intelligent being” (Bloom, 2009, pp. 16-19). He opined: “Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins was right to complain, then, that it seems ‘as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism’” (pp. 16-19). Some atheists, like David Mills, writing for a more popular audience, assert that we “should recognize that all children are born atheists. There is no child born with a religious belief” (2006, p. 29). But that assertion misses the point that humans are born with the predisposition to theistic conclusions. Overwhelmingly, the atheistic community recognizes the reality that humans are born with a “lust for gods,” a “promiscuous teleology,” and a penchant toward “intuitive theism.”

Theists likewise concur that humans have an inherent predisposition to conclude an intelligent Creator exists. Theistic apologist Paul Copan describes mankind’s tendency toward creation as a “religious impulse” that is “deeply imbedded” in the universal human thought process (2011, p. 30). We could supply scores of similar statements from creationists that would underscore the obvious conclusion that, by and large, the creationist community agrees with the atheistic community that there is a universal, built-in, in-born, intuitive human tendency to believe in an intelligent creator. The question then arises, which understanding of origins, atheism or theism, best explains why humanity exhibits “intuitive theism”? One key to arriving at the answer to this question is to understand the problems this reality poses for atheistic, naturalistic explanations of the Universe.

Theism and Religion are “Costly” Concepts

According to naturalistic, atheistic assumptions for the origin of the Universe and the evolutionary assumption for the origin of mankind, everything that exists must have a naturalistic cause. By that, it is understood that atheistic evolutionists must present a reason to explain why humans are “intuitive theists” that corresponds with their atheistic beliefs that the material Universe is all there is. The problem that the atheistic community runs into in this regard is that the ideas of religion and theism run counter to what one would expect to find if atheism and naturalistic evolution were true. According to evolution [by this we mean atheistic, naturalistic evolution in which no intelligent designer played any part], natural selection eliminates physical structures and mental states that are costly in terms of their survival value. For instance, if there developed in a certain sub-group of humans the intuitive idea that rabid Kodiak bears made good pets, that group would soon be killed by such bears, and whatever aspect of the brain that housed the belief would be eliminated from the human population as a whole.

To illustrate further, if a certain group of humans tended to spend lots of effort on religious ceremonies that had nothing to do with their physical survival, and another group did not “waste” their resources on anything but their physical survival, natural selection would suggest that those “religious” people who “wasted” their resources would eventually lose out in the race for physical survival. And the “non-religious” group would be selected by nature to become more prevalent and replace the “wasteful” religious group. Yet, we see just the opposite.

Richard Dawkins acknowledged this problem facing atheistic ideas. He stated: “Religion is so wasteful, so extravagant; and Darwinian selection habitually targets and eliminates waste” (2006, p. 163). Atheistic philosopher Daniel Dennett stated: “Whatever else religion is as a human phenomenon, it is a hugely costly endeavor, and evolutionary biology shows that nothing so costly just happens” (2006, p. 69). What do these atheistic writers mean when they say that religion is “wasteful” and “so costly”? Dennett expounded on the idea when he said that when people look at humanity all over the world

what they see today is a population of over six billion people, almost all of whom devote a significant fraction of their time and energy to some sort of religious activity: rituals such as daily prayer (both public and private) or frequent attendance at ceremonies, but also costly sacrifices—not working on certain days no matter what looming crisis needs prompt attention…and abiding by a host of strenuously observed prohibitions and requirements (p. 75).

Dawkins expanded his ideas of “wasteful” as well, when he said:

Religion can endanger the life of the pious individual, as well as the lives of others. Thousands of people have been tortured for their loyalty to a religion, persecuted by zealots for what is in many cases a scarcely distinguishable alternative faith…. Devout people have died for their gods and killed for them; whipped blood from their backs, sworn themselves to a lifetime of celibacy or to lonely silence, all in the service of religion. What is it all for? What is the benefit? (pp. 164-165).

In their discussions and writings, atheists have sometimes suggested that religion possibly has such overwhelming health benefits that it is “worth” the expense. They note such things as the results of some research to suggest that prayer can lower stress levels or blood pressure. Or they comment on the emotional benefits of fitting into a community, which religious rituals would foster and encourage. Virtually across the board, however, they have rejected the idea that religion is actually beneficial for the physical survival of mankind. They contend that such minor advantages as lower stress levels or lower blood pressure certainly cannot justify the massive expenditure of resources on religion. [NOTE: It is easy to see why they have rejected those explanations. If religion actually provides benefits that would be greater than any negative consequences, then it would be better for humanity to hang on to religious ideas regardless of their factuality or validity. Since most modern atheists are calling for the eradication of religion, they are forced to downplay its benefits and look for another answer that could compel people to want to eliminate religion. While we certainly are not suggesting the idea that religion is beneficial and that is why it “evolved,” it is plain to see why the current atheistic community has forsaken it.]

Sam Harris contended, “And even if tribes have occasionally been the vehicles of natural selection, and religion proved adaptive, it would remain an open question whether religion increases human fitness today” (p. 151). The current atheistic consensus is that religion does not bestow upon humanity enough physical benefit to “increase human fitness.” How, then, do atheists respond to the two facts that (1) humans are intuitively theistic and (2) such religious theism is extremely costly and does not bestow physical survival fitness on our species?

The Current Atheistic Answer: Religion is a Virus or By-Product

What naturalistic explanation can be given to account for the ubiquitous and extremely costly nature of religion? In their attempt to show that theism is unnecessary and ultimately harmful, the atheistic community has concocted the idea that theistic ideas are analogous to mind-viruses that infect a person, not for the benefit of the person, but for the benefit of the mind-virus. In other words, theism is a mind-virus that has been passed from host human to host human for its own survival, and not for the benefit of the human organisms it inhabits. Dawkins explained: “The fact that religion is ubiquitous probably means that it has worked to the benefit of something, but it may not be us or our genes. It may be to the benefit of only the religious ideas themselves, to the extent that they behave in a some-what gene-like way, as replicators” (p. 165).

Dawkins has expounded upon this idea and used the term “memes” to describe ideas that he asserts behave in ways similar to genes. He contends that theism is a “meme” that acts as a mental virus, infecting people and forcing them to replicate the meme by teaching others about it and expending vast resources on it. Along these lines, Dan Dennett has suggested that “the common cold is universal to all human peoples in much the same way as religion is, yet we would not want to suggest that colds benefit us” (p. 165). Dennett, using the meme idea, asserted: “The meme theory accounts for this. According to this theory, the ultimate beneficiaries of religious adaptations are the memes themselves…” (p. 186).

Atheist Darrell Ray wrote an entire book, The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, based on this idea. He opened by saying:

It was not until Richard Dawkins’ idea of  “viruses of the mind” that we gained a ready-made way to examine religion as closely as we look at the epidemiology of the flu virus. This book will show how religions of all kinds fit in the natural world, how they function in our minds and culture and how similar they are to the germs, parasites and viruses that inhabit our bodies (2009, p. 13).

To build his case for the “religion-as-a-virus” idea, he mentioned numerous things that he perceives as validating evidence of his assertion. He wrote: “Once a person has converted to a religion, it is difficult to have a rational conversation about the irrational aspects of his religion. It is as though something invaded the person and took over a part of his personality” (p. 20). He went on to discuss the situation in which a friend lost his father to cancer. Before the loss, the friend was “non-religious.” But after the father’s death, the friend “got a severe case of religion that changed his personality dramatically.” Ray says “there was no way to have a conversation with him on any subject without religion creeping in” (p. 19). He further asserted that “stress can activate the chicken pox virus in adults, leading to the condition known as shingles. Similarly, stress tends to reactivate the god virus in many people” (p. 25).

Other alleged symptoms of the “god virus” include the idea that “religion always functions to ensure its own survival,” just as a virus does (Ray, p. 36). To undergird this assertion, Ray said: “Go into any Christian bookstore, and you will find books about living in a secular world, living with a spouse who is not saved or how to convert friends and relatives. The god virus is always concerned with protecting and expanding its territory—that is what these books are all about” (p. 176). Ray has taken Dawkins’ meme/mental virus idea to its logical conclusion.

The Simplest Response to the God Virus Idea

One very simple idea clearly manifests the flaws in the God virus concept. If thoughts or ideas were self-sustaining, self-replicating “memes” that were simply out for their own survival, that would mean that the idea of atheism would fall under the same condemnation as a “selfish meme” ensuring its own survival to the potential detriment of its host. By what criteria could anyone discern between “real” ideas and those dastardly memes infecting the brain. If someone did propose a set of criteria, who is to say that such criteria are not, themselves, a menacing meme that is infecting the mind of the person trying to weed out memes? And how would we know that the concept of a meme is not merely a meme in and of itself infecting the minds of atheists who present the idea? The reader can see how quickly such a discussion would digress into intellectual chaos. Furthermore, how could people be held responsible for anything they think or do? “My memes made me do it!” would become the mantra for all kinds of malicious crimes. And while atheists have attempted to provide answers to such problems, if memes really do exist as individual entities, who is to say that such “answers” are more than memes?

In fact, when analyzing the writings of those who present the “meme/virus” idea, the reader can quickly ascertain the flaw in their reasoning. For instance, Ray said that when the religious virus took over his friend after his father’s death, the friend mentioned religion in virtually every conversation. But the same could be said for any number of individuals who have become outspoken atheists, who insist on inserting their unbelief in virtually every conversation they have.

Ray stated: “In viral terms, it means that people are so deeply infected that they are immune to influence and generally ignore any evidence that contradicts their beliefs” (p. 39). Yet it can be shown that the available scientific evidence contradicts major tenets of atheistic evolution, a fact that is generally ignored by the atheistic community (see Miller, 2012; Miller, 2013). In addition, we mentioned that Ray said: “Go into any Christian bookstore, and you will find books about living in a secular world, living with a spouse who is not saved or how to convert friends and relatives. The god virus is always concerned with protecting and expanding its territory—that is what these books are all about.” What, pray tell, are the books, tracts, DVDs, and pamphlets about atheism designed to do? Are they not written for the very purpose of protecting and expanding the “territory” of atheism?

Listen to the atheists themselves as they describe their “religious” efforts. Prolific atheistic writer and debater, Dan Barker, likened his teaching about atheism to “evangelism” and he stated: “Representing the Freedom From Religion Foundation, I get to engage in similar atheist ‘missionizing’ all across the American continent….” At one point he said, “Atheist ‘evangelism’ doesn’t just happen in front of an audience” (2008, p. 325).

Notice the irony of the fact that the first chapter of Dawkins’ book The God Delusion is titled “A Deeply Religious Non-Believer.” In that chapter, he quotes Carl Sagan’s writings from a book titled A Pale Blue Dot. Sagan wrote: “A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.” Dawkins then stated: “All Sagan’s books touch the nerve-endings of transcendent wonder that religion has monopolized in past centuries. My own books have the same aspiration. Consequently I hear myself often described as a deeply religious man” (p. 12). Additionally, Ray rails on “religion” as a destructive meme/virus, and yet throughout his book, he capitalizes the terms atheist and atheism consistently. One example is when he states: “In fact, the only thing you can get some Atheists to agree upon is that there is no god” (pp. 51-52). Is it not the “religious” concept “that there is no god” that could easily be put forth as the meme that has infected so many minds to the detriment of the host human and in spite of a vast amount of evidence to the contrary? Such is the double-edged sword of the meme/virus concept. If it cuts at all (which it does not), then it cuts both ways.

The Existence of God Provides the Logical Answer

Up to this point we have established that both atheists and theists admit that humans are “intuitive theists.” That is, the belief in an intelligent Creator comes naturally to humans. This idea poses a serious problem for the atheist because the concepts of God and/or religion are extremely costly to the human species. Thus, in an attempt to explain why theism is so prevalent, they liken it to a mental virus that is out for its own survival and not for the benefit of the “host organism.” This explanation, and others like it, fail since arguments used to dismiss the validity of theism and religion would be equally effective to demote all concepts—including atheism—to “by-products” and “memes.” Thus, we are forced to conclude, as Paul Copan did: “Attempts by these New Atheists to explain away theology as a useful fiction, or worse, a harmful delusion, fall short of telling us why the religious impulse is so deeply imbedded. If God exists, however, we have an excellent reason as to why religious fervor should exist” (p. 30).

In other words, if there really is a God, Who is an intelligent, supernatural Creator Who loves mankind and desires that mankind should know the truth, what would we expect to see? We would expect to find humans “pre-programmed” for a belief in God. Of course, we would not expect all humans to come to the proper conclusion that God exists, since a loving God would equip humans with the capacity to choose what to believe and how they choose to behave. We would, however, expect God to have so designed humans that to dismiss the concepts of creation or theism would be unnatural and would require some type of reverse programming. That an intelligent Designer exists is the answer which maintains the most powerful explanatory value.

In fact, further reading into the atheistic literature makes known the fact that atheism is “unnatural” in the sense that it is not how the human mind is designed to perceive the world. Let us refer back to the Bloom and Weisberg article titled “Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science.” It is important to understand their definition of the term “science.” Their research was done in order to show why many Americans reject atheistic evolution. Thus, the term “science” is equated with “atheistic evolution” in their writing. Understanding this to be the case, notice that they said: “The main reason why people resist certain scientific [read that atheistic evolutionary—KB] findings, then, is that many of these findings are unnatural and unintuitive” (2007, 316:996). Keleman concurred when she wrote: “The implication is that children’s science failures may, in part, result from inherent conflicts between intuitive ideas and the basic tenets of contemporary scientific [atheistic evolutionary—KB] thought” (2004, 15:299). In Dawkins’ discussion of the situation, he includes the fact that Bloom says that humans are “innately predisposed to be creationists.” Dawkins then comments that “natural selection ‘makes no intuitive sense.’” Thus, he concludes that children are “native teleologists, and many never grow out of it” (pp. 180-181).

Notice the admission by these atheistic writers. They are forced by the evidence to admit that humans are naturally inclined to believe in an intelligent Designer. They are further forced by the evidence to conclude that the various tenets of atheistic evolution are counterintuitive and unnatural. Yet, in spite of the evidence, they cling to the idea that somehow this situation can be reconciled with the belief that God does not exist. Notice that a presumption of atheism could never have predicted the situation that humans would be “intuitive theists.” Nor do the purported atheistic answers to the problem provide adequate explanatory value. The simple and most powerfully supported conclusion is that God exists, and that is why humans are “innately predisposed to be creationists.”

The Next Step

Once God’s existence is established using humanity’s “intuitive theism,” the next step would be to see how God expects His creatures to use this preprogrammed disposition. If we can establish that the Bible is God’s Word (and we can, see Butt, 2007), then we can go to it to determine the proper human response. First, we can see that God expects everyone to use this predisposition to accurately assess the evidence He has provided to come to the conclusion that He exists. Romans 1:19-21 bears this out:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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 (emp. added).

Notice that the biblical text makes it clear that these men “suppress the truth” even though “what may be known of God is manifest in them.” Furthermore, unbelievers will be “without excuse” because they are equipped with the evidence, and the inherent predisposition and ability to arrive at the proper conclusion.

In his sermon on Mars Hill to the Athenians, the apostle Paul explained that the Creator “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the Earth…so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27). Paul’s statement corresponds perfectly with the idea that God has so designed humans that they naturally “grope” for Him. This would also fit perfectly with the fact that “many psychologists and anthropologists [are led] to believe that children, left entirely to their own devices, would invent some conception of God” (Harris, p. 151). Humans are “groping” for God.

Notice, then, the divine program for salvation. First, a person gropes for a Creator. That person is able to find the Creator Who designed humans and instilled within them the ability to know Him. Their knowledge of this Creator should lead them to the conclusion that humans are His offspring and not the product of a naturalistic, chance process (Acts 17:29). This truth was sufficiently verified by the life and death of Jesus Christ, Who will ultimately judge all mankind based on the plenteous evidence God has supplied and their inherent ability to assess that evidence correctly (Acts 17:31).

References

Barker, Dan (2008), Godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).

Bloom, Paul (2009), “In Science We Trust: Beliefs About the Natural World that are Present in Infancy Influence People’s Response to Evolutionary Theory,” Natural History Magazine, 118[4]:16-19.

Bloom, Paul and Deena Skoinick Weisberg (2007), “Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” Science, 316 [5827]: 996-997.

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold the Word of God: Exploring the Evidence of the Inspiration of the Bible (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Copan, Paul (2011), Is God a Moral Monster? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin).

Dennet, Daniel (2006), Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Viking).

Evans, Margaret (2001), “Cognitive and Contextual Factors in the Emergence of Diverse Belief Systems: Creation versus Evolution,” Cognitive Psychology, 42:252.

Harris, Sam (2010), The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (New York: Free Press).

Hitchens, Christopher (2007), God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve).

Kelemen, Deborah (2004), “Are Children ‘Intuitive Theists’? Reasoning About Purpose and Design in Nature,” Psychological Science, 15[5]:295-301.

Libresco, Leah (2012), “This is My Last Post for the Patheos Atheist Portal,” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/06/this-is-my-last-post-for-the-patheos-atheist-portal.html.

Merica, Dan (2012), “Atheist Becomes Catholic,” http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/22/prominent-atheist-blogger-converts-to-catholicism/.

Miller, Jeff (2012), “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I],” Reason & Revelation, 32[1]:2-5,9-11, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1018.

Miller, Jeff (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/2786.

Mills, David (2006), Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).

Pinedo, Moises (2008), What the Bible Says About the Catholic Church (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Ray, Darrel (2009), The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture (Bonner Springs, KS: IPC Press).

"THE GOSPEL OF JOHN" This Is Eternal Life (17:2-3)

 







 

"THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

This Is Eternal Life (17:2-3)

INTRODUCTION
  1. In His "High Priestly Prayer" (John 17), Jesus makes mention of eternal life...
    1. "that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him." - Jn 17:2
    2. "And this is eternal life..." - Jn 17:3
  2. Eternal life is a major theme in the gospel of Christ...
    1. Jesus was crucified in order to offer eternal life - Jn 3:14-16
    2. Eternal life in Christ Jesus is the gift of God - Ro 6:23
  3. But what exactly is eternal life...?
    1. Is it simply a future blessing, pertaining to life after death?
    2. Or is it a present possession, something to enjoy in this life?

[What does the Bible say? Let's see if we can find the answer to the question...]

  1. ETERNAL LIFE: PRESENT OR FUTURE?
    1. ETERNAL LIFE AS A FUTURE BLESSING...
      1. Many scriptures refer to eternal life as a future blessing
        1. Jesus spoke of it in this way - cf. Mt 25:46; Mk 10:28-30
        2. Paul wrote of it in this way - cf. Tit 1:2; 3:7; Ro 6:22
      2. Thus many think of eternal life in this way
        1. As a future blessing
        2. An everlasting existence in the presence of God, free from death, sorrow and pain - cf. Re 21:1-7
        3. Available in this life as a hope
        -- It is certainly scriptural to conceive of eternal life as a hope for the future
    2. ETERNAL LIFE AS A PRESENT POSSESSION...
      1. John often writes of eternal life as a present possession
        1. As that which is abiding in one (or not) - cf. 1Jn 3:14-15
        2. That God has given us eternal life, that we have eternal life - 1Jn 5:11-13
      2. Might John be using a form of speech known as the futuristic present?
        1. "This use of the present tense denotes an event which has not yet occurred, but which is regarded as so certain that in thought it may be contemplated as already coming to pass." - Dana & Mantey, p. 185
        2. Examples of such speech can be found in Jn 14:3; 17:24
        3. If so, eternal life would still be only a future blessing, something to be hoped for
      3. There is another explanation which I believe highly plausible
        1. John chooses to use the phrase "eternal life" in a special sense
          1. Describing a quality of life (and not just quantity of life) which comes by knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ
          2. In the manner in which Jesus uses it in His "High Priestly Prayer" - Jn 17:3
            1. Jesus says "This is eternal life..."
            2. Defining it as "that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ..."
        2. In these sense, eternal life is a present possession!
          1. When we come to 'know' God and Jesus, we experience a quality of life that surpasses what the world has to offer
          2. As a present possession, this quality of life is a foretaste of the future blessing we shall experience with God
          3. As a foretaste, this quality of life can rightly be called eternal life
          4. For is not our life with God now really the beginning of eternity with God?

          [Since Jesus spoke of eternal life in both ways, it is both a future blessing and present possession. As we come to 'know' God and Jesus, we begin to experience the blessings of eternal life. This naturally raises the question...]

  2. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO 'KNOW' GOD AND JESUS?
    1. THE MEANING OF THE WORD 'KNOW'...
      1. There are two different words for 'know' in the Greek
        1. oida - this word suggests a fulness of knowledge, coming from observation
        2. ginosko - this word suggests a progression in knowledge, frequently implying an active relationship between the knower and the object known
      2. In Jn 17:3, the word is ginosko
        1. So to 'know' God and Jesus goes beyond knowledge of facts about them
        2. It implies a progressive knowledge and understanding which comes by having an active relationship with Them
        3. "To know the Father and Jesus Christ (for He is the only way to the Father) refers not to merely abstract knowledge, but to joyful acknowledgment of his sovereignty, glad acceptance of his love, and intimate fellowship with his person (through Scripture, that is, through his Word to us; and through prayer, that is, through our word to him)." - Hendriksen
    2. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN 'KNOWING GOD'...
      1. As suggested by Hendriksen, it involves communication through the Word and prayer
      2. It is also directly related to keeping the commandments of the Lord
        1. As emphatically stated by John in his epistle - 1Jn 2:3-4
          1. This is how we know that we know (ginosko) Him
          2. Otherwise we lie if we say that we know (ginosko) Him
        2. As explained by Jesus to His apostles - Jn 14:21,23
          1. Keeping His commandments results in being loved by the Father and the Son
          2. Keeping His word results in the Father and Son dwelling in us
        3. Thus we will 'know' (ginosko) them: ever progressing in knowledge because of an active relationship with God and Jesus!
CONCLUSION
  1. Eternal life is more than just a hope regarding a future blessing...
    1. It is a present possession, an unparalleled quality of life available in this life
    2. It is a blessing that comes from 'knowing' God and Jesus in a personal and progressive way
    3. It is enjoyed only by keeping the commandments of God and Jesus!
  2. In the course of our short sojourn in this life, 'knowing' God is most important... - Jer 9:23-24
    1. More so than wisdom
    2. More so than power
    3. More so than riches

Jesus came to show us the only way to truly 'know' God, and to experience the eternal life that He made possible through His death on the cross. Are you walking in the commandments of the Lord that you might truly know God and His Son Jesus, and thereby experience eternal life...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2021
eXTReMe Tracker

Can The President Strengthen My Religious Liberty? by Ken Weliever, ThePreacherman

 

https://thepreachersword.com/2017/05/05/can-the-president-strengthen-my-religious-liberty/#more-10633

Can The President Strengthen My Religious Liberty?

Yesterday, on the National Day of Prayer, President Trump, signed an executive order designed to strengthen religious freedom.

Ironically, The Religious Liberty Executive Order, was strongly opposed by liberals, but also criticized by many conservatives as not going far enough to protect people of faith. In fact, the National Review called the Order “worse than useless.” Many are calling for a change in legislation, including a repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment that restricts political activity of churches under threat of losing their tax-exempt status.

Nevertheless, the President promised in a Rose Garden ceremony, “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination.”

Furthermore, the President signed a Proclamation making the first Thursday in May The National Day of Prayer, as all Presidents have done since Harry Truman in 1952.  The Proclamation was also a strong message extolling our religious freedom:

“We are also reminded and reaffirm that all human beings have the right, not only to pray and worship according to their consciences, but to practice their faith in their homes, schools, charities, and businesses – in private and in the public square – free from government coercion, discrimination, or persecution. Religion is not merely an intellectual exercise, but also a practical one that demands action in the world. Even the many prisoners around the world who are persecuted for their faith can pray privately in their cells. But our Constitution demands more: the freedom to practice one’s faith publicly.”

While we are happy to live in a country where we enjoy the freedom of worship, and desire to have the religious liberty to practice our faith without fear, we recognize our true liberty is in the Lord, not in Presidential proclamations.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” The freedom of which Christ speaks is the freedom from the slavery of sin. Freedom from Satan’s snare. Freedom from personal guilt. Freedom from condemnation (Jn 8:31-36; Rom. 8:1).

The Bible calls for Christians to “stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.” Yet that liberty is not to be used for carnal objectives, or selfish goals, but as an opportunity to serve the Lord and our fellow man (Gal 5: 1, 13; 1 Pet 2:16).

Regardless of the political situation where I live, I can enjoy spiritual freedom in Christ and experience the liberty of living a life the Lord directs. Certainly, a political and cultural climate that is favorable to Christianity makes it easier, but is not necessary to committed, faithful discipleship.

ThePreachersWord believes that too many churches in America have strayed from the command of the Great Commission and the spiritual purpose for which Christ died for the church (Mk. 16:15-16; Eph. 4:11-16). No where in the Bible do we read of first century churches petitioning Rome for favorable laws, organizing protests, or sending lobbyists to Caesar’s palace.

Individually, like the apostle Paul did on more than one occasion, we may take advantage of the laws as citizens to accomplish God’s will (Acts 16:35-38; 25:11). And surely we are to be good, law abiding citizens (Rom 13:1-7). However, let us never forget that our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). As pilgrims, on the way home, we seek to be “the salt of the earth” and the light of the world.”

Finally, let us be reminded that the work of the Gospel is spiritual, not political. The Kingdom of God will not exercise influence over the kingdom of men by force, legislation, or partisan politics.

In the meantime, we rejoice for any orders by our President or legislation by Congress that insures our freedom. But we know that our true liberty is not in men’s edicts, but in the message of the cross (1 Cor 1:18).

–Ken Weliever, ThePreacherman


ONCE IN GRACE ALWAYS IN GRACE? by steve finnell

 

http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com/2016/09/once-in-grace-always-in-grace-steve.html


ONCE IN GRACE ALWAYS IN GRACE?  by steve finnell


Do the Scriptures support the position of, once in grace always in grace?

Clarification of Hebrews 6:4-6 needed.

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.(NKJV)

Possible Clarifications

A. It is not impossible for those Christians who deny that Jesus is the Christ to be saved.

B. If a Christian falls away, it is because they were not saved in the first place.

C. There no possibility that a person with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could fall away.

D. If a Christian fails to repent of a sinful lifestyle, by continuing to murder, steal, get drunk, and commit fornication, they will still be saved because once you are saved you can never be lost.

E. God knows it is impossible to be lost once you are saved, He put Hebrews 6:4-6 in the Bible by accident.

F. Just because a person has been enlighten, and has tasted the heavenly gift, and has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and has repented, does not mean they are saved. You cannot fall from grace if you were never saved.

G. No clarification needed, just read the Scriptures.

A through G you make the call!

 It takes a master of deception to convince people that they can never fall from grace.  

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 11:15 by Roy Davison

 

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/ears.html

He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Matthew 11:15

"The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The Lord has made both of them" (Proverbs 20:12).

By means of a marvelous mechanism, God gives us the ability to hear.

As I speak, my diaphragm, vocal chords, throat, mouth, teeth and tongue move in intricate ways to produce a complex of sound waves, vibrations in the air.

A message is being sent! Can you hear it? Are you listening?

A shell-shaped protrusion on each side of your head catches the sound waves and enables you to know the direction of the source. The waves swirl around and enter the ear canal. The delicate skin on this canal grows outwardly at 2 or 3 mm per day to continually renew itself.

The outer section of this canal is coated by a water-repellent wax-like substance which traps dirt and helps to keep water out of your ears. The inner part of the canal does not have this substance, which is why you should never poke a swab into your ear, or the wax may be pushed back too far and block the canal. When I was a boy, my father warned me not to put anything other than my elbow in my ear.

The back of the ear canal is closed off by a membrane called an ear drum. The sound waves of my voice strike this membrane and cause it to vibrate. Thus, the air vibrations are converted into mechanical vibrations. Attached to the inside of the ear drum, there is a lever system composed of three small bones. They transmit the mechanical vibrations to the footplate, which is in direct contact with the fluid in the inner ear. Thus, the mechanical vibrations are converted into fluid vibrations. To equalize the pressure on both sides of the ear drum, a tube (the eustachian tube) runs from behind the ear drum to your throat. Swallowing helps balance the pressure.

The inner ear converts the hydraulic vibrations into nerve impulses.

The outer section of the inner ear, called the vestibule, is also used for balance and orientation. Operating something like the water tube in a level, it lets you know which way is down, and gives you a sense of motion, which is your sixth sense. Spinning around causes this fluid to slosh about, which makes you dizzy because your brain no longer knows which way is up. The sensors in the vestibule are also used to keep the visual image in your brain "right-side-up" when you tilt your head.

The back part of the inner ear is a coiled duct, shaped something like a snail shell. It contains an extremely complex system of nerve fibers which can detect frequencies from 20 cycles per second to as high as 20,000 cycles per second. The physical processing of such a wide range of frequencies is an amazing engineering feat, especially since it is done in a mechanical device the size of a pea.

The decreasing diameter of the coil, causes the wave crests of the various frequencies to strike the walls at different places, which enables the nerves to report reception of that particular frequency to the brain. 23,500 sensors send these signals to the brain through the acoustic nerve which is a bundle of about 30,000 individual fibers. These fibers are grouped according to frequency, and the intensity of a sound is indicated by the number of fibers carrying the sound. These signals go to different parts of the brain, where the signals from the two ears are mixed, decoded, insignificant signals are filtered out, and significant signals are acted on and stored in memory.

Thousands of different creatures have ears specifically engineered for their own needs.

The ear was made by God (Proverbs 20:12). It did not evolve, it could not, not in a hundred billion years.

How well do we use these marvelous ears God has given us?

When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, the Father spoke from heaven: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Hear Him!" (Matthew 17:5).

Jesus explained that some refuse to hear: "For the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their heart and turn, So that I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear" (Matthew 13:15,16).

Jesus presented the truth on a take-it-or-leave-it basis: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 11:15). Anyone who has children knows it is possible for audible words to be ignored and simply "not heard"! Are we listening to our Father? Are we willing hearers of the word of God?

In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that good hearts will hear and obey the word: "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).

Jesus also warned: "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given" (Mark 4:24). He once told the crowd: "Hear Me, everyone, and understand" (Mark 7:14). And on one occasion He told His disciples: "Let these words sink down into your ears" (Luke 9:44).

Jesus explained that the family of God consists of those who listen to the Father: "My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it" (Luke 8:21). He also said: "He who is of God hears God's words" (John 8:47); "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27); "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice" (John 18:37).

Paul warned Timothy that some people will turn their ears away from the truth: "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Seven times in Revelation, in the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, Christ commands: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). The Spirit speaks through the holy Scriptures: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21). Are we listening? Are we heeding the prophetic word? Are we hearing what the Spirit says to the churches?

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Most people who call themselves Christians, do not listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. They prefer to follow their own whims, the latest trend, or the traditions of men.

The only way to really be a church of Christ, the only way to really be a Christian, is to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

In the Gospels, Jesus cried out time and time again: "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35). And in Revelation 13:9, as the New Testament draws to a close, we read it again: "If anyone has an ear, let him hear."

Roy Davison

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
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading for September 1 and 2 by Gary Rose

 

Bible Reading for September 1 and 2

World  English  Bible


Sept. 1

Psalms 26-29

Psa 26:1 Judge me, Yahweh, for I have walked in my integrity. I have trusted also in Yahweh without wavering.

Psa 26:2 Examine me, Yahweh, and prove me. Try my heart and my mind.

Psa 26:3 For your loving kindness is before my eyes. I have walked in your truth.

Psa 26:4 I have not sat with deceitful men, neither will I go in with hypocrites.

Psa 26:5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.

Psa 26:6 I will wash my hands in innocence, so I will go about your altar, Yahweh;

Psa 26:7 that I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard, and tell of all your wondrous works.

Psa 26:8 Yahweh, I love the habitation of your house, the place where your glory dwells.

Psa 26:9 Don't gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men;

Psa 26:10 in whose hands is wickedness, their right hand is full of bribes.

Psa 26:11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity. Redeem me, and be merciful to me.

Psa 26:12 My foot stands in an even place. In the congregations I will bless Yahweh.


Psa 27:1 Yahweh is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? Yahweh is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?

Psa 27:2 When evildoers came at me to eat up my flesh, even my adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell.

Psa 27:3 Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, even then I will be confident.

Psa 27:4 One thing I have asked of Yahweh, that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to see Yahweh's beauty, and to inquire in his temple.

Psa 27:5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me secretly in his pavilion. In the covert of his tabernacle he will hide me. He will lift me up on a rock.

Psa 27:6 Now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me. I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tent. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to Yahweh.

Psa 27:7 Hear, Yahweh, when I cry with my voice. Have mercy also on me, and answer me.

Psa 27:8 When you said, "Seek my face," my heart said to you, "I will seek your face, Yahweh."

Psa 27:9 Don't hide your face from me. Don't put your servant away in anger. You have been my help. Don't abandon me, neither forsake me, God of my salvation.

Psa 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then Yahweh will take me up.

Psa 27:11 Teach me your way, Yahweh. Lead me in a straight path, because of my enemies.

Psa 27:12 Don't deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, such as breathe out cruelty.

Psa 27:13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living.

Psa 27:14 Wait for Yahweh. Be strong, and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for Yahweh.


Psa 28:1 To you, Yahweh, I call. My rock, don't be deaf to me; lest, if you are silent to me, I would become like those who go down into the pit.

Psa 28:2 Hear the voice of my petitions, when I cry to you, when I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

Psa 28:3 Don't draw me away with the wicked, with the workers of iniquity who speak peace with their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts.

Psa 28:4 Give them according to their work, and according to the wickedness of their doings. Give them according to the operation of their hands. Bring back on them what they deserve.

Psa 28:5 Because they don't regard the works of Yahweh, nor the operation of his hands, he will break them down and not build them up.

Psa 28:6 Blessed be Yahweh, because he has heard the voice of my petitions.

Psa 28:7 Yahweh is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. With my song I will thank him.

Psa 28:8 Yahweh is their strength. He is a stronghold of salvation to his anointed.

Psa 28:9 Save your people, and bless your inheritance. Be their shepherd also, and bear them up forever.


Psa 29:1 Ascribe to Yahweh, you sons of the mighty, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength.

Psa 29:2 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to his name. Worship Yahweh in holy array.

Psa 29:3 Yahweh's voice is on the waters. The God of glory thunders, even Yahweh on many waters.

Psa 29:4 Yahweh's voice is powerful. Yahweh's voice is full of majesty.

Psa 29:5 The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedars. Yes, Yahweh breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

Psa 29:6 He makes them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young, wild ox.

Psa 29:7 Yahweh's voice strikes with flashes of lightning.

Psa 29:8 Yahweh's voice shakes the wilderness. Yahweh shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

Psa 29:9 Yahweh's voice makes the deer calve, and strips the forests bare. In his temple everything says, "Glory!"

Psa 29:10 Yahweh sat enthroned at the Flood. Yes, Yahweh sits as King forever.

Psa 29:11 Yahweh will give strength to his people. Yahweh will bless his people with peace. 

 

Sept. 2

Psalms 30-32

Psa 30:1 I will extol you, Yahweh, for you have raised me up, and have not made my foes to rejoice over me.

Psa 30:2 Yahweh my God, I cried to you, and you have healed me.

Psa 30:3 Yahweh, you have brought up my soul from Sheol. You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Psa 30:4 Sing praise to Yahweh, you saints of his. Give thanks to his holy name.

Psa 30:5 For his anger is but for a moment. His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psa 30:6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."

Psa 30:7 You, Yahweh, when you favored me, made my mountain stand strong; but when you hid your face, I was troubled.

Psa 30:8 I cried to you, Yahweh. To Yahweh I made supplication:

Psa 30:9 "What profit is there in my destruction, if I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise you? Shall it declare your truth?

Psa 30:10 Hear, Yahweh, and have mercy on me. Yahweh, be my helper."

Psa 30:11 You have turned my mourning into dancing for me. You have removed my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness,

Psa 30:12 To the end that my heart may sing praise to you, and not be silent. Yahweh my God, I will give thanks to you forever!


Psa 31:1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge. Let me never be disappointed. Deliver me in your righteousness.

Psa 31:2 Bow down your ear to me. Deliver me speedily. Be to me a strong rock, a house of defense to save me.

Psa 31:3 For you are my rock and my fortress, therefore for your name's sake lead me and guide me.

Psa 31:4 Pluck me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me, for you are my stronghold.

Psa 31:5 Into your hand I commend my spirit. You redeem me, Yahweh, God of truth.

Psa 31:6 I hate those who regard lying vanities, but I trust in Yahweh.

Psa 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in your loving kindness, for you have seen my affliction. You have known my soul in adversities.

Psa 31:8 You have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy. You have set my feet in a large place.

Psa 31:9 Have mercy on me, Yahweh, for I am in distress. My eye, my soul, and my body waste away with grief.

Psa 31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow, my years with sighing. My strength fails because of my iniquity. My bones are wasted away.

Psa 31:11 Because of all my adversaries I have become utterly contemptible to my neighbors, A fear to my acquaintances. Those who saw me on the street fled from me.

Psa 31:12 I am forgotten from their hearts like a dead man. I am like broken pottery.

Psa 31:13 For I have heard the slander of many, terror on every side, while they conspire together against me, they plot to take away my life.

Psa 31:14 But I trust in you, Yahweh. I said, "You are my God."

Psa 31:15 My times are in your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.

Psa 31:16 Make your face to shine on your servant. Save me in your loving kindness.

Psa 31:17 Let me not be disappointed, Yahweh, for I have called on you. Let the wicked be disappointed. Let them be silent in Sheol.

Psa 31:18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak against the righteous insolently, with pride and contempt.

Psa 31:19 Oh how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, which you have worked for those who take refuge in you, before the sons of men!

Psa 31:20 In the shelter of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man. You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues.

Psa 31:21 Praise be to Yahweh, for he has shown me his marvelous loving kindness in a strong city.

Psa 31:22 As for me, I said in my haste, "I am cut off from before your eyes." Nevertheless you heard the voice of my petitions when I cried to you.

Psa 31:23 Oh love Yahweh, all you his saints! Yahweh preserves the faithful, and fully recompenses him who behaves arrogantly.

Psa 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in Yahweh.


Psa 32:1 Blessed is he whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man to whom Yahweh doesn't impute iniquity, in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Psa 32:3 When I kept silence, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Psa 32:4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me. My strength was sapped in the heat of summer. Selah.

Psa 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to you. I didn't hide my iniquity. I said, I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Psa 32:6 For this, let everyone who is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found. Surely when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach to him.

Psa 32:7 You are my hiding place. You will preserve me from trouble. You will surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Psa 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. I will counsel you with my eye on you.

Psa 32:9 Don't be like the horse, or like the mule, which have no understanding, who are controlled by bit and bridle, or else they will not come near to you.

Psa 32:10 Many sorrows come to the wicked, but loving kindness shall surround him who trusts in Yahweh.

Psa 32:11 Be glad in Yahweh, and rejoice, you righteous! Shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart! 

 

Sept. 1

Romans 13

Rom 13:1 Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God.

Rom 13:2 Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment.

Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same,

Rom 13:4 for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn't bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil.

Rom 13:5 Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

Rom 13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are servants of God's service, attending continually on this very thing.

Rom 13:7 Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.

Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Rom 13:9 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Rom 13:10 Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.

Rom 13:11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed.

Rom 13:12 The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let's therefore throw off the works of darkness, and let's put on the armor of light.

Rom 13:13 Let us walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy.

Rom 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts.

 

Sept. 2

Romans 14

Rom 14:1 Now accept one who is weak in faith, but not for disputes over opinions.

Rom 14:2 One man has faith to eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.

Rom 14:3 Don't let him who eats despise him who doesn't eat. Don't let him who doesn't eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.

Rom 14:4 Who are you who judge another's servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand.

Rom 14:5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind.

Rom 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks. He who doesn't eat, to the Lord he doesn't eat, and gives God thanks.

Rom 14:7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself.

Rom 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord's.

Rom 14:9 For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Rom 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Rom 14:11 For it is written, " 'As I live,' says the Lord, 'to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.' "

Rom 14:12 So then each one of us will give account of himself to God.

Rom 14:13 Therefore let's not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother's way, or an occasion for falling.

Rom 14:14 I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself; except that to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Rom 14:15 Yet if because of food your brother is grieved, you walk no longer in love. Don't destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

Rom 14:16 Then don't let your good be slandered,

Rom 14:17 for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Rom 14:18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Rom 14:19 So then, let us follow after things which make for peace, and things by which we may build one another up.

Rom 14:20 Don't overthrow God's work for food's sake. All things indeed are clean, however it is evil for that man who creates a stumbling block by eating.

Rom 14:21 It is good to not eat meat, drink wine, nor do anything by which your brother stumbles, is offended, or is made weak.

Rom 14:22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who doesn't judge himself in that which he approves.

Rom 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because it isn't of faith; and whatever is not of faith is sin.