Monthly Archives: February 2018

Bewildered

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)

This week our nation suffered another horrendous tragedy – the mass murder of students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Ironically, the massacre took place on Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be Ash Wednesday. “Where was God in all of this?” is the first question many ask.

The spilled blood on the school hall floors had not yet coagulated before the left-right divide made itself apparent. The “left” immediately took the occasion to irrationally call for more and stricter gun control laws while the “right” rationally points out that gun control laws (which too many are already in place) cannot prevent these kinds of senseless acts of violence. If we remove all guns from society–which is absurd at the onset. Those in power – the elites – will always have guns, and outlaws will always find ways to get them—those of a mind to kill will kill by any means available – knives, broken bottles, clubs, cars, homemade bombs, etc.

Guns are not the problem. Wickedness in the heart of man is the problem. Reports say that the shooter, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz, heard demons in his head directing him to carry out the heinous act. That, I can believe. The public defender assigned to Cruz, Melisa McNeill, preparing, I am sure, to enter an insanity defense, described Cruz as “a broken person.” That, too, I can believe.

The fact remains that we are all broken people. The Bible teaches, “There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Every person alive falls into that category. It’s a wonder that more atrocities like this do not take place; although, arguably, these kinds of incidents are on the rise.

The media fill the airwaves with opinions from the left and the right on how to resolve the problem. Some want to ban all weapons. Others want to arm the teachers. Still, others identify all the symptoms but come up empty in offering solutions.

At the risk of sounding insensitive or naïve, the solution is simple. A well-known and seldom employed axiom states, “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”[1] How about this one: “Thou shalt not [murder]” (Exodus 20:13). Oh! That’s right! That is one of the Ten Commandments. That is in the Bible. That is not allowed in school. When I went to school, it was allowed in school, and not only was it allowed, but it was taught. Not surprisingly, we did not experience school shootings when I went to school.

Do we seriously want to stop the madness? Then ban the ACLU from schools and reinstitute God and biblical morality. It really is that simple, however, because we are living “in the last days perilous times shall come (2 Timothy 3:1); And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). Jesus said that the last days would be as the days of Noah. Not only were “they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:38-39); but “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11, emphasis mine). Is that not what we see?

The solution is simple, but the world is bewildered in finding a solution. This too is a sign of the times.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:21-32, emphasis mine)

Is this not the current state of our world? Bewildered: their hearts are darkened; they profess themselves to be wise, but are fools; morally impure, they dishonor their bodies between themselves, women with women and men with men. They do all of this because they have rejected God and God has given them over to these “vile affections.” Then because they continue to reject God, He has given them over to “a reprobate mind,” i.e., a mind that has lost the ability to properly reason. Is it any wonder that they are bewildered by this awful problem and cannot see the simple solution?

At the risk of sounding insensitive, as a society that has ejected God from the public square, we have brought this evil upon ourselves. The solution is simple, but until our nation repents and turns back to God, the violence will continue to increase, and none of our God-less solutions will make them go away. We will remain bewildered!

Notes:


[1]  This axiom or principle is known as Occam’s Razor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Current Events, End Times, Religion, Theology

High Cost of Admission

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23)

Another Super Bowl came and went. I did not go, nor did I watch it, but I know the cost of admission was outrageous, even for the cheap seats. I read that the cheapest seats in the upper level, 11 rows from the top in the corner of the end zone, sold for $4900.[1] Undoubtedly, people actually paid the high cost of admission for the “experience,” and I am sure that today they are boasting that it was worth the “sacrifice.” For those willing to shell out that kind of cash, the price of admission was not too high a cost.

The Gospel writer, Matthew, records an account of “one” who came to Jesus asking about the cost of admission to “eternal life.” One would think the cost would be higher than for tickets to the Super Bowl. This one said, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). By Jesus’ response, it seems the “young man” (v. 20) was insincere in his query. “And he [Jesus] said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17a). The young man did not recognize that he was in the presence of God. To him, Jesus was just another teacher (meaning of “Master”) and the attribution of “good” provided the incentive for Jesus to affirm what he thought about himself.

Jesus played along; “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17b, emphasis mine). Jesus told him what we wanted to hear. Feigning humility, the young man responded coyly, “Which?” (v. 18) pretending that there might be one he missed. Jesus named off a representative list of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:18-19), and the young man could no longer contain his self-righteousness. “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20).

The young man must have thought Jesus would commend him for his righteousness and say, “You’re good to go! You are more than qualified to inherit eternal life.” Instead, “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). The “follow me” part by itself was doable. If it got too rough, he could always go back to what he did before. However, selling all of his possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor was irreversible. The young man probably inherited all of his wealth and had no idea how to build wealth from scratch. He had probably never worked a day in his life. “Work” was something for peasants, not for him. The price was too high. “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matthew 19:22, emphasis mine).[2]

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:23, emphasis mine). The KJV translates the Greek word duskolōs as “hardly,” but what it means is “with great difficulty.” Jesus did not mean that rich people cannot get into heaven. What He did say was that getting into heaven for a rich person is difficult. Why?

Matthew introduced this account with a scene where people (probably mothers) brought their children to Jesus so that He could pray and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). The disciples rebuked the people for bringing their little urchins to the Lord. “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14, emphasis mine). Mark, in his Gospel (probably Peter’s account), records that Jesus was displeased with the action of His disciples. He further adds, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (Mark 10:15, emphasis mine). We refer to children as dependents. They are dependent on their parents for food, clothing, shelter, protection, and guidance. They believe what their parents tell them. They trust their parents for everything.

The rich young man was “independent.” His riches provided all that he needed, and, as long as he had his wealth, he was secure. Jesus challenged his source of security. What Jesus basically said was, “I AM all you need. Follow Me.” A child would have followed without question, but this young man chose rather to trust in his many possessions rather than to trust in Jesus. For him, the high cost of admission was too great a price to pay.

“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26, emphasis mine). The disciples were shocked. If someone who follows all of God’s commandments and has been blessed by God with great wealth cannot be saved, then who can be saved? The lesson is simple. Wealth cannot purchase a ticket to heaven, even if you sell all of your possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. Neither can rigorous religious practice gain one entry into eternal life. However, when one places one’s trust in Jesus with a childlike faith and seeks to follow Him, God gives eternal life. Jesus already paid the high cost of admission.

Reader, in what do you place your trust? Jesus asks that you lay all that aside, and place your trust in Him. If you need help with that, read my page on “Heaven.”

Notes:


[1]  “Super Bowl 2018: How much do tickets cost? Any cheap flights and hotels for Eagles fans?” – http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2018/01/super_bowl_tickets_cheap_flights_to_minnesota_eagl.html

[2]  “Too Rich for Heaven: – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/04/19/too-rich-for-heaven/

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Filed under Christianity, Evangelism, Gospel, Heaven, Religion, Salvation

Intelligent Design

The “Simple” Cell

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jeremiah 32:17)

The Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) originated around 1987, according to Wikipedia,[1] for the purpose of debunking the theory of evolution from a strictly scientific perspective. Wikipedia says that IDM “is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the pseudoscientific idea of intelligent design (ID), which asserts that ‘certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection’” (emphasis mine). One must consider the source! Wikipedia charges that the “movement arose out of the previous Christian fundamentalist and evangelistic creation science movement in the United States, and is driven by a small group of proponents. The overall goal of the intelligent design movement is to overthrow materialism and atheism” (emphasis mine). The author takes a defensive posture against IDM and tends to minimize the scientific research behind the movement.

One of the more familiar IDM organizations is the Discovery Institute founded in 1991 and based in Seattle, Washington. According to their “About” page, the institute is “dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.  Discovery Institute has a special concern for the role that science and technology play in our culture and how they can advance free markets, illuminate public policy and support the theistic foundations of the West.”[2] That seems innocuous enough. It certainly does not come across as overly religious unless one harbors a hypersensitivity to theism (which is a very broad and general term).

Through the years, IDM has made great strides in promoting origin of life by intelligent design over random-chance evolutionary processes.[3] Their research demonstrates the impossibility of life springing from non-life. They have shown how even the simplest of life form is so irreducibly complex that it would require an all-or-nothing simultaneous assemblage of all the components to make up a single cell, and not only once, but multiplied billions of times. In an article written for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), David Rosevear writes:

“… the cell is no longer regarded as simple. The living plasma membrane allows in or out only specific compounds. It is not simply a semi-permeable membrane. Cells contain nucleic acids that carry information about the structure and functions of the organism. They also contain ribosomes where proteins are made using a complex mechanism of nucleic acids and more than a hundred different proteins, each with a specific task. The cell also contains mitochondria where energy (ATP) is produced. The complexity of all these parts of the cell is enormous. Lynn Margulis has suggested that the first proto-cell assimilated these organelles by a process of symbiosis. However, these components cannot now exist independently, nor could the cell exist without their contributions. Moreover, one such type of organelle, known as a lysosome, contains enzymes whose function is to digest foreign bodies. With all the amazingly complex, mutually-dependent components, it seems that the cell had to be complete from the beginning, rather than being assembled piecemeal over years of evolution … Each component of a living cell is breathtakingly complex, yet in isolation it cannot survive nor replicate itself. All the parts of the cell are necessary to its functioning and replication. Nothing works until everything works.”[4] (Emphasis mine)

Recently, the church where I attend invited James M. Tour, Ph.D.,[5] a well-known organic chemist and tenured professor at Rice University, to come and speak on the impossibility of abiogenesis – life from non-life. Dr. Tour began his talk by touting his credentials as a “real” scientist as evidenced by his research and many patents in nano-engineering. He was by no means bragging; he was just stating facts. I spoke to him both before and after his talk, and he is a genuinely humble man, but the fact remains that he is extremely intelligent and gifted. Next, he gave his testimony of how he came to faith in Christ. I was very impressed that before beginning his talk, he took a knee and offered a prayer that God would open the eyes and hearts of the skeptics who might be in the audience. (The church sent to area schools.)

After giving his testimony, he opened the final portion of his talk by stating that from that point on, he would not bring God into the picture. His purposed to disprove evolution by abiogenesis by demonstrating the scientific evidence against it. He read from his “Open Letter to My Colleagues” (not yet published) where he calls the origin of life from non-life a “retarded” theory. “Retarded” because it has not advanced since the Urey-Miller experiments of 1953. He expertly demonstrated how life – even simple life – cannot spontaneously come from random chemical reactions. He pointed out how time is the enemy of slow and gradual evolution. If it is going to happen at all, it must happen all at once.

Tour says he prefers to be “free of that intelligent design label … I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (sometimes called “ID”) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might.”[6] However, like most IDM proponents, he destroys the theory of evolution (life from non-life), but offers nothing substantive to take its place. A public pronouncement of God as the Intelligent Creator is a step too far for him, although on a personal level he may hold and profess that belief. In fact, for Dr. Tour, organizations such as ICR are an embarrassment to both the scientific and Christian community since they rely on Scripture above “science.” Tour wants to maintain a purely “scientific” approach to the question of origins to the exclusion of a supernatural act of creation by Almighty God.

In his 1999 article, David Rosevear said everything Dr. Tour said in his talk.  The difference being that Rosevear attributes the origin of life to God. I suspect that Dr. Tour believes in God as Creator; he is just unwilling to take that stand among his peers.

Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). What one believes concerning the origin of life is not a salvation issue. Dr. Tour professes to be a Christian and his personal testimony is compelling; of course, that confession was made in a friendly venue. Outside of that, how can a Christ-indwelled “believer” question creation by the very One in which he confesses to trust? “All things were made by him [the Word; Jesus]; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). I do not question Dr. Tour’s salvation; only God can judge the heart. I find no flagrant flaw in his testimony. [7] My only issue with him is that he makes a great case for the impossibility of chemical evolution, but then he leaves it at that. If life could not have originated in that way, then how did it originate? If chance randomness cannot account for the precision in the design of even the simplest cell, then how did that design come about? It must have an intelligent source. He will not say, at least not publicly. That is a shame!

IDM makes a great case against evolution and demonstrates how all life shows intelligent design. However, by refusing to proclaim God as the Intelligent Designer, they leave to door open to all kinds of fanciful possibilities. Some in the ID movement go so far as to propose “seeding” of the earth by ancient aliens; but that only pushes the question of origins further out in outer space. All life, indeed all that exists, originated in the mind of One Intelligent Designer – God.[8] “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Institute for Creation Research may be an embarrassment to the likes of Dr. James M. Tour, but at least they are not ashamed to proclaim God as Creator, and the Bible as infallible and inerrant in all matters of life including science. I pray that Dr. Tour will soon arrive at that conclusion as well.

Notes:


[1]  “Intelligent Design Movement” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement

[2]  Discovery Institute “What We Do” – http://www.discovery.org/about/

[3]  “The Fallacy of Time And Chance” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/06/06/the-fallacy-of-time-and-chance-13/

[4]  David Rosevear, “The Myth Of Chemical Evolution” – http://www.icr.org/article/myth-chemical-evolution/

[5]  James M. Tour – https://www.jmtour.com/

[6]  James M. Tour, “Evolution/Creation” – https://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/evolution-creation/

[7]  James M. Tour, “Personal Statement” – https://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/personal-statement/

[8]  “Proof of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/06/22/proof-of-god/

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Evolution, Origins, Religion, Science