Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Evolution of the Eye

In his landmark publication The Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin avowed that “to suppose the eye with all of its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberrations could have been formed by natural selection seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible.” Darwin went on to label this dilemma as the problem of organs of extreme perfection and complication.

Let’s consider what Darwin was talking about. Think for a moment about the incredible complexity of the human eye. It consists of a ball with a lens on one side and a light sensitive retina that’s made of rods and cones inside the other. The lens itself has a sturdy protective covering; it’s called a cornea, and sits over the iris designed to protect the eye for excessive light. The eye contains a fantastic watery substance that is replaced every four hours. Tear glands continuously flush the outside clean. In addition an eyelid sweeps secretions over the cornea to keep it moist. Of course there are also the eyelids or the eyelashes that protect the eye from dust.

Well, it’s one thing to stretch credulity by suggesting that the complexities of the eye evolved by chance; it’s quite another to surmise that the eye could have evolved in concert with a myriad of other coordinated functions. Here’s a case in point, you have extraordinarily tuned muscles that surround the eye for precision motility and shape the lens for the function of focus. Not only this, but consider the fact that as you look around their are a vast number of impulses that are traveling from your eyes through millions of nerve fibers that transmit information to a complex computing center in your brain, which is called the visual cortex. Linking the visual information from your eyes to motor centers in the brain is absolutely critical in creating a vast number of bodily functions that are axiomatic to the process of daily living.

With this coordinated development of the eye in synergistic fashion, the isolated developments would not only be meaningless they would be counterproductive. Well, what’s happened? We no longer live in Charles Darwin’s 19th century science; we live in an age of scientific enlightenment. What Darwin once thought to be relatively simple actually involved staggeringly complicated biochemical processes that demand explanation. Evolution simply cannot account for this inexplicable Lilliputian world of complexity.

Bill Maher on Bible Interpretation

For more than a decade popular TV personality Bill Maher, who makes regular appearances on Larry King Live, has made a cottage industry out of ridiculing religion. To him it’s just plain Religulous, as in ridiculous. He has previously said, “I believed all this stuff when I was young. I believed there was a virgin birth, I believed a man lived inside of a whale, and I believed that the Earth was 5,000 years old. But then something very important happened to me – I graduated the sixth grade.” He’s also dogmatically pontificated that the Bible is written in parables and “it’s the idiots today who take it literally.”[1]

Maher’s problem is elementary he misconstrues the literal principle of biblical interpretation. That’s why he comes up with a 5,000 year old world. To interpret the Bible literally is of course to interpret it as literature. Simply put that means we’re to interpret the Word of God as we would other forms of communication in it’s most obvious and natural sense. Even a cursory reading reveals that Scripture is a treasury that is replete with a wide variety of literary styles. It has poetry, proverbs, psalms, historical narratives, didactic epistles, apocalyptic revelations and so forth. Therefore to dogmatically assert, as Maher does that the Bible was written in parables and that those who read it literally are idiots, is at best an idiosyncratic form of fundamentalism from the left. At worst it is a serious misunderstanding of the literal principle of Biblical interpretation.

The Bible of course does contain parables and that should be obvious to anyone who has graduated the sixth grade, but it is not entirely parabolic. If Maher had read the Bible with an open mind and had paid attention to genre, grammar, and context he would have recognized that his faith was placed in his own dogmatic assertions, rather in reasonable and defensible arguments.

Unlike Maher we should have those reasonable and defensible arguments so that we can give an answer to everyone who asks. We should be able to do this with gentleness, firmness, as well as with respect. We need to be able to firmly answer those who are making a mockery of the Christian faith, particularly fundamentalists on the left like Bill Maher. They are so fond of making dogmatic assertions and getting away with it on Larry King Live on a regular basis and in the process they are ship wrecking the faith of many as a result. It is because many just don’t have the answers to the questions because they assume there are no answers.

[1] Bill Maher Preaches Anti-Religion ( Accessed 9/16/08.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Theistic Evolution

Under the banner of Theistic evolution, a growing number of Christians maintain that God used evolution as His method for creation. That, in my estimation, is the worst of all possibilities. It is one thing to believe in evolution; it is quite another to blame God for it.

Not only is Theistic evolution a contradiction in terms, kind of like talking about flaming snowflakes, it’s also the cruelest the most inefficient system for creation one can imagine. Jacques Monod put it this way:

“[Natural] selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving a new species…The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts…I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”
The bottom line is this: an omnipotent, omniscient God does not have to painfully plod through millions of mistakes, misfits, and mutations in order to have fellowship with humans. He can create humans; indeed, He created humans in a microsecond.

If theistic evolution is true, Genesis is at best an allegory and at worse a farce. If Genesis is an allegory or a farce, the rest of the Bible becomes irrelevant. If Adam did not eat the forbidden fruit and thereby fall into a life of perpetual sin terminated by death, there is no need for the second Adam; there is no need for redemption. In other words, if you compromise the first part of Scripture, if you allegorize the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the rest of the Bible become irrelevant and meaningless. Ideas have consequences. We must always think about the consequences and that is part and parcel of learning to think biblically or Christianly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Word of Faith Movement/Christianity in Crisis - 21st Century

It’s hard to believe that it’s been fifteen years since Christianity in Crisis was published way back in 1993. My prayer then was that it would be used by God as a wake up call to the body of Christ. I have to tell you though, that I was totally unprepared for the response I got to that book. On the one hand, I could have never imagined that this book would be recognized at the Christian Book Sellers convention in Atlanta that year as the number one best selling Christian hardback book in the country. Nor could I have imagined that it would receive the Gold Medallion book award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. On the other hand, I was largely unprepared for the ferociousness of the pushback on the part of prosperity preachers. Indeed those who were plunging Christianity into crisis proved to be willing to do and say virtually anything to silence opposition.

Because of my stance on the Word of Faith tenants as I outlined in my book, I experienced censorship on Christian television and churches that once welcomed my preaching shut me out. Even more insidious was the disinformation campaign that was lodged by faith teachers and their surrogates. I’ve often said, “If I had known in advance what I was going to face as a result of writing Christianity in Crisis, I would have not had the courage to continue the project.” Now when I’ve said that some think that was an expression of cowardliness, but what I was trying to say was that God often leads us through trials step by step, because if we are able to see what lie ahead in terms of suffering and slander even our steely determination and fiercest resolve would prove inadequate. In other words, God gives us the grace we need when we need it and often not a moment before.

While the financial cost of taking stand this stand has been staggering by all counts, the spiritual reward in terms of transformed lives was well worth the effort.

Since the publication of Christianity in Crisis, hosts of new prosperity teachers have continued plunging Christianity into an ever deepening crisis. In the late twentieth century, Word of Faith teachers like Kenneth Hagin and Benny Hinn were at the fore front. In the early twenty-first century they are being overshadowed by a new breed of prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Todd Bentley and a whole host of others who are being increasingly viewed ironically enough as though they are mainstream. Paula White, for example, is lauded by Donald Trump as “an amazing women” with “a significant message.” T.D. Jakes is lauded by Barack Obama and was trumpeted by Time as perhaps “the next Billy Graham.”

This is why I decided to launch a major new release; I’ve titled Christianity in Crisis - 21st Century. I’m convinced that if occult sources like The Secret pose the greatest threat from without, the deadliest doctrines disseminated now by a new crop of prosperity preachers pose the greatest threat to authentic Christianity from within. To avert this crisis we need a paradigm shift of major proportions. A shift from perceiving God as a means to an end to the recognition God is the end. While change must come, it’s not going to come easily. Those who are dispensing spiritual cyanide by the mega dose occupy powerful platforms within the evangelical Christian church. They control vast resources and they stand to lose multiplied millions of dollars if their exposed. No doubt what I will face this time around will make the original release of Christianity in Crisis pale by comparison but I’m absolutely convinced this new volume needs to be published.

Long ago, I memorized the words of Abraham Lincoln ­--- remember Lincoln stood against the tide of slavery and in the midst of persecution --- he said, “I desire to so conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end when I come to lay down the reins of power I’ve lost every other friend on earth. I shall at least have one friend left and that friend shall be deep down inside of me. I am not bound to win but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed but I am bound to live up to the light that I have.” As Lincoln, arguably the greatest of the American presidents, understood our goal should never be to be popular or prosperous or have a larger platform, but rather to live according to the truth so that at the end Christ can say well done thou good and faithful servant.

I’m willing to stand against this rising tide of error and deception but frankly it’s tough to stand alone. Just knowing that people are standing with me in this battle is more of an encouragement than you will ever know. In fact, quite frankly that’s why I’m asking you for your prayers right now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zeitgeist - The Movie

Just a couple of days ago I was asked by my son Paul Stephen about Zeitgeist the movie. Zeitgeist means the spirit of the times. He had watched this movie on the internet and was very troubled. He wanted to get some type of explanation for what was going on, so he asked me would I watch it with him and comment on it. Then shortly after that, I got a manuscript that someone had written on Zeitgeist and wanted my endorsement for it. So I’m interested in this subject because it really, in part, addresses a tired old canard that keeps coming up over and over again ad nauseum ad infinitum­­---this being that Christianity was influenced by pagan mystery religions.

Well is that true? The answer is no, it’s a myth, it’s widely circulated but it’s a myth nonetheless. Purveyors of this myth employ biblical language and then go to great lengths in order to concoct commonalities.

Take for example this alleged similarity between Christianity and the cult of Isis. The god Osiris is supposedly murdered by his brother and then buried in the Nile. The goddess Isis recovers the cadaver only to lose it once again to her brother-in-law who cuts the body into fourteen pieces and then scatters the parts around the globe. After finding the parts, Isis then baptizes each piece in the Nile River and Osiris is resurrected.

The alleged similarities as well as the terminology that is used to communicate the similarities are obviously exaggerated. Parallels between the “resurrection” of Osiris and the real resurrection of Jesus Christ are an obvious stretch. Sadly, for the mystery religion that’s about as good as it gets. Other parallels that are typically cited by liberal scholars are even more far fetched.

Liberals also have the chronology wrong. Most mystery religions flourished after the closing of the canon of Scripture. Thus it would be far more accurate and circumspect to say that the mystery religions were influenced by Christianity, rather than the other way around.

Furthermore, the mystery religions reduced reality to a personal experience of enlightenment. Through secret ceremonies people involved experienced an esoteric transformation of their consciousness that would lead them to believe that they were entering into some higher realm of reality. While followers of Christ were committed to essential Christian doctrine, these devotees of the mystery religions endlessly worked themselves into altered states of consciousness because they were committed to the belief that experience is a far better teacher than words. In fact the reason mystery religions are so named is that they directly involve secret esoteric practices and initiation rights. So far from being rooted in history and evidence they reveled in hype and emotionalism.

One final point needs to be made, the mystery religions were syncretistic in that adherents not only worshipped various pagan deities but also frequently embraced aspects of competing mystery religions while continuing to worship within their own cultic constructs. Not so with Christianity, converts to Christ singularly placed their faith in the one who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father expect through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

Well, was Christianity influenced by ancient pagan mystery religions? The answer is obviously no and the fact that this myth, this tired old canard is being circulated in respectable communities and also on the internet where a lie travels half way around the world before truth has a chance to put its boots on, should not alarm anyone. You should simply look to the right places to get the right facts. We will have a full review of Zeitgeist in the near future through the Bible Answer Man and, in the meantime please check out the following articles.

Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions? By Ronald Nash (

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah Palin and Abortion

I’ve been watching the presidential debates, the interactions, the dialogues, and the conventions. I’m particularly interested in Sarah Palin and how she is being savaged by the media elite. People like Gloria Steinem as a feminist who says the only similarity between Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin is a chromosome. The media is particular savage about the view that Sarah Palin evidently has with respect to abortion. They think this is back woodsy, that this folksy, that this is the kind of thing held by a moose hunter, someone who is not educated. I think exactly the opposite is true.

One of the issues that have been brought up over and over again in regards to abortion is, “Should abortion be permitted in the case of rape or incest?” Well I think this is often used as an emotional appeal that is designed to deflect serious consideration of the pro-life position. How can anyone deny a hurting women safe medical care and freedom from the terror of rape or incest by forcing her to maintain a pregnancy resulting from the cruel and criminal invasion of her body?

The emotion of the argument often precludes serious examination of its merits. So you have media elites who get emotional over this and certainly this is an emotional issue but you have to think about these things rationally and clearly, not just on the basis of your emotion. I think that this is precisely what Sarah Palin is doing.

First, it is important to note that the incidents of pregnancy as a result of rape are rare with studies estimating that approximately one percent to four point seven percent result in pregnancy. So lobbying for abortion on the basis of rape or incest is like lobbying for the removal of red lights because you might have to run one in order to rescue someone who is about to commit suicide. Even if we had legislation restricting abortions for all reasons other rape or incest we would save the vast majority of the some two million pre-born babies who die annually in the United States through abortion.

Furthermore, one does not to obviate the real pain of rape or incest by compounding it with the murder of an innocent pre-born child. As Sarah Palin well knows and clearly articulates two wrongs don’t make a right. The very thing that makes rape evil also makes abortion evil. In both cases an innocent human being is brutally dehumanized.

Finally, let me make the point that Sarah Palin would make and she is an articulate spokesperson for life. The real question should be, “Is abortion the murder of an innocent human being?” That’s the question we should be asking. It is Gloria Steinem who is still living in the backwaters of 19th century science, not Sarah Palin. If in fact abortion is the murder of an innocent human being abortion should be avoided at all costs. In an age of scientific enlightenment we now know that the embryo even at its earliest stages fulfills the criteria needed to establish the existence of biological life. It has metabolism, development, the ability to react to stimuli, and cell reproduction. We know then that a zygote is a living human being and not only does it have these features as it were but it is demonstrated to be distinct by a distinct genetic code. We also know that human personhood does not depend on size, location or level of dependence. For those scientific reasons, abortion should be avoided even in cases of rape or incest.

So it turns out the media elite living in cultural Mecca’s are not quite as sophisticated as Sarah Palin who lives in Alaska. Maybe Sarah Palin has had more time to interact with the scientific literature. Therefore, she is not relying on emotion and rhetoric but on reason and empirical science. Now I know there are a lot of guys out there who want to marginalize Sarah Palin because she’s a women but Gloria Steinem has no excuse. She should just get out her science book and spend an hour reading instead of blowviating all over the news print. It’s disgusting quite frankly and I think it’s about time that we spoke out against people who are no longer committed to reason and evidential substance.

Bill Maher

An example of always being ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us with gentleness and respect ( 1 Peter 3:15) comes from a recent clip of Bill Maher from his new movie Religulous. There is a conversation between Bill Maher and the Jesus actor at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, FL, Maher’s contention is that Jesus is ridiculous or as Maher tries to convey pun intended that’s He’s Religulous. This was on the August 19, 2008 edition of Larry King Live:

Bill Maher : "Having no other gods before you, that's not moral. There's nothing moral about that. It's just -- it's just something a jealous God would do."
Jesus actor : "It does say that our God is a jealous God."
Bill Maher : "But your God is jealous? That seems so un-godlike that God would have such a petty human emotion."
Jesus actor : "He's also..."
Bill Maher : "I know people who have gotten over jealousy, let alone God."
Jesus actor : "There's two sides of the coin. He's a just God, and He's also a merciful God. He casts down our sins..."
Bill Maher : "He spends the first five books wiping out people."
Jesus actor : (laughter) "That's what he chose to do. His ways are higher than ours, Bill."
Bill Maher : "Maybe your thinking should be higher."
Jesus actor : "That's a good point."
Is the Messiah Religulous? Or is Maher just another benighted fundamentalist on the left?

Well to begin with contrary to Maher’s shallow thinking, there is such a thing as sanctified jealously. For example, jealousy is the proper response of a wife when her trust has been violated through infidelity. When an exclusive covenant relationship is dishonored sanctified jealousy as a passionate zeal that fights to restore a holy union is the high point of virtue.

Just as there is sanctified jealously, of course there is also sinful jealously. In this sense jealously is painfully coveting another’s advantages. This is why the apostle Paul lists jealously as an act of the sinful nature. (Gal 5:20).

Just as God personifies sanctified jealously so too those who reflect the character of God should be zealous for the things of God. The Bible is replete with heroes like Elijah, David and Paul whose jealousy for God’s glory motivated their self-sacrifice and their radical reform. The quintessential example is found in the incarnate Christ who exercised the epitome of sanctified jealously by overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple (Mt 21:12)

In Maher’s world God should allow His creatures to do anything they want, anytime they want to do it. That’s because in Maher’s world there’s no such thing as right and wrong, but then of course Maher’s world is simply the figment of his own imagination. The only thing Religulous about jealously is to suggest that it is merely a petty human emotion.

Unlike Maher, who is a master at making dogmatic assertions, followers of the Master should master the art of using even the Religulous assertions of Bill Maher as opportunities for communicating truth. This is another example of man who is communicating an idiosyncratic form of fundamentalism from the left to make assertions and another warning to all Christians that we should be ready to take these assertions and use them as opportunities.

Having a lot of kids, I’m well aware of the fact that kids are constantly being bombarded with these kinds of assertions to undermine their faith. Is it effective? Absolutely! My kids came to me this past weekend asking me questions, I had to have an answer so that they would not only be reinforced in their faith but they could use the answer as an opportunity to help someone else who is shaken by these kinds of assertions.

Bill Maher and a whole new brand of village atheists are seeking to undermine the gospel and we better be ready to give an answer and if were not we are AWOL. We are those who have been called to be ambassadors for Christ but unfortunately often times we are secret agents who never blow our cover before the unregenerate world.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Problem of Evil

I was reading recently the early edition of USA Today in which Michael Novak writes in "The Forum" about the problem of evil. "How could a good God let unthinkable suffering torment our world?" It's an age-old question that goes to the very root of who we are and who we aspire to be. Novak points out that The New Yorker, of all magazines, gave a good number of pages early last month to a quite brilliant book reviewer, James Wood, for a long essay on why he could no longer be a Christian. "Stories like his," says Novak, "are widespread. They usually cite the natural evils that too often crash upon humans — in China a stupefying earthquake, in Burma a cyclone, elsewhere tsunami, or tornado, disease, flood, or cruel slow-working famine. They then add the evils that humans inflict upon other humans" and diseases, accidents.

It raise the question that I answer in Bible Answer Book, Volume 1 of why God would allow bad things to happen to good people. This is the most common question that Christians are asked to answer on shows like Larry King Live.

At first blush it seems as though there are as many responses as religions. In reality, there are only three basic answers: pantheism, philosophical naturalism - pantheism denies the existence of good and evil, because in this view God is all and all is God. Philosophical naturalism, the worldview undergirding evolution, supposes that everything is a function of random processes, thus there is no such thing as good and evil. So you have those to responses. And there's one other - theism. Only theism has a relevant response and only Christian theism has an answer that is satisfactory.

Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil because God created humans with freedom of choice. We choose to love, to hate, to do good or to do evil. The record of history bears eloquent testimony to the fact that humans, of their own free will, have actualized the reality of evil through such choices. Without choice love is meaningless. God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces his love on people, nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love him. Instead, God, the personification of love, grants us the freedom of choice. Without such freedom, we would be little more than preprogrammed robots.

The fact that God created the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice ultimately will lead to the best of all possible worlds - a world in which "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain." Those who choose Christ will be redeemed from evil by his goodness and will forever be able not to sin.