Friday, November 21, 2014

Antony Flew: An Atheist who Looked at the Evidence




Antony Flew has been called the “foremost atheist thinker of the 20th century.” However, after 40 years of debating Christians, he surprised the world.

At a 2004 debate at New York University, Flew declared that he “now accepted the existence of a God” (p. 74). In that debate, he said that he believed that the origin of life points to a creative Intelligence,

·       Almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.” (Antony Flew with Roy Varghese, There is a God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, 75).

Reviewer Lita Cosner points out that:

·       Flew was particularly impressed with a physicist’s refutation of the idea that monkeys at typewriters would eventually produce a Shakespearean sonnet. The likelihood of getting one Shakespearean sonnet by chance is one in 10690; to put this number in perspective, there are only 1080 particles in the universe. Flew concludes:

o   “If the theorem won’t work for a single sonnet, then of course it’s simply absurd to suggest that the more elaborate feat of the origin of life could have been achieved by chance.” (78)

Why was Flew influenced by this evidence and not the majority of atheists? Did he have a religious experience? He explained:

·       “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level, without any reference to supernatural phenomena. It has been an exercise in what has traditionally been called natural theology. It has had no connection with any of the revealed religions. Nor do I claim to have had any personal experience of God or any experience that may be called supernatural or miraculous. In short, my discovery of the Divine has been a pilgrimage of reason and not of faith.” (93).

Flew’s embrace of theism was driven by the evidence! Well, why doesn’t it drive others to the same conclusion? Here’s how the Apostle Paul explains it:

·       For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

Flew might have agreed!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Proof of God from Reason




I enjoy taking snapshots of the glorious work of God. The one below is a snapshot of reason/logic. (All of these snapshots point back to the existence of their Creator.) Here’s how:

  1. REASON EXISTS.
  2. REASON REQUIRES A TRANSCENDENT INTELLIGENCE.
Conclusion: A TRANSCENDENT INTELLIGENCE MUST EXIST.

1.     REASON EXISTS.

This hardly requires any support. In fact, any argument against the existence of reason requires reason.


2.     REASON REQUIRES A TRANSCENDENT INTELLIGENCE.

There are several reasons for this. Reason is absolute, universal, and immutable. It must be immutable. If it isn’t, it would be like measuring with maple syrup. It must also be universal or it should change from state to country.

These qualities cannot be accounted for by a universe of molecules-in-motion. They can only be accounted for by an immutable and universal Cause – something that transcends this universe.

Reason is like the operating systems of a computer, all of which had to be intelligently created. While humans created operating systems, humans could not have created reason, since reason predates humanity. Also, the operating system must be intelligently fine-tuned to the computer if it is to be functional. Amazingly, reason seems to have also been intelligently fine-tuned to this world.

Besides, the humanly created systems are always being improved, while reason remains as is and yet is adequate for all of our enterprises, whether in China or Alaska.


Conclusion: A TRANSCENDENT INTELLIGENCE MUST EXIST.

Praise His glory, all you His creations!

This same proof can be constructed for every law of science. All are elegant, immutable, and universal. All reflect a Supreme Intelligence!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wisdom in Captivity to the Immediate



Modernity has taken wisdom captive. Each age does this. The new “wisdom” now serves self-indulgence. An article entitled, “15 Things Not to Apologize for in Your Relationship” counsels couples that they need not apologize for every nisdeed. Here’s an example:

  • You can be a bitch without your coffee. We aren’t going to change certain things about ourselves. You may be cranky… Being honest about it is part of living in a multidimensional, emotion-filled world.

While there are several areas where we can agree, there are others that are problematic. Indeed, we should be honest, and we have some tendencies that we “aren’t going to change.” Nevertheless, we have to take responsibility for our offensive crankiness. It is not enough to merely say, “Well, that’s just the way I am, and you need to accept it!”

While this cranky partner wants you to accept them the way they are, it seems unlikely that they will accept your hurt feelings, as if they are entirely your responsibility. Meanwhile, your cranky partner expects you to give them a free-ride.

However, I can sympathize. I too am cranky. I’d like to be able to tell my wife to “get over it. You need to accept me just as I am.” Well, she does, and I am grateful for this, However, I have to also own the fact that I have hurt my wife with my crankiness and apologize. Amazingly, she always accepts my apology. This process clears-the-air better than anything else ever could, giving us a fresh start.

This new “wisdom” also recommends that we can carry on a secret no-cost, no-fault romantic thought life with the visiting handy man:

  • If you were single, there really might be something between the two of you. Just think of all the home-improvement projects that would get done. But seriously, a little what-if-ing is normal and nothing to be sorry about.

Mentally fantasizing about an extra-marital romantic relationship might be “normal,” but is it wise? Are there hidden costs? Does this secret, fun thought-life represent a betrayal of marriage? According to Jesus, it does:

  • But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Jesus also warned that what we have in our hearts and minds will eventually spill over into words and actions:

  • You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34)

Consequently, it will only be a matter of time before we will pay a price for the secrets of our heart. Just look at how porn destroys relationships! What will happen if we conjure up the handy man as we make love to our husband? Are we then not living a double-life? And how will this hypocrisy affect us? Our relationships?

I don’t know if our modern progressive gurus consider such things. For many, the moment is all that counts. However, while our philosophy should be a telescope to give us foresight, too often our lives and wants shape our philosophies/religions to serve the immediate. We have commandeered “wisdom” to serve our indulgences.

Predestination is not the Real Offense




Predestination is not the Real Offense

The teaching of predestination/election can be troubling, but it shouldn’t be. It merely teaches that humanity is downing, and therefore, God has to jump in to rescue them. However, God is even more gracious than that. He rescues those who are His enemies (Rom. 8:5-8; 5:8-10) - those who even refuse to be rescued (John 3:19-20; Rom. 3:10-16). What is so bad about that? Nothing! Instead, it’s called the “Good News!”

I think that what many Christians really object to is not predestination, but instead the doctrine that requires predestination – our depravity and rebellion, our universal rejection of the light (John 3:19-20; 1 Cor. 2:14). Consequently, since we will not choose God, He must choose us (John 6:40-45; 15:16), if any are to be saved. But we find this dismal assessment of humanity both unbelievable and offensive!

Is humanity really that bad? Not according to us! But we do not see the inner man. We – even the most spiritual - are duped by appearances. The prophet Samuel certainly was! God had to warn him against judging according to the “outward appearance” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Perhaps all of us judge superficially, and therefore cannot appreciate the depths of sin and God’s abhorrence of it. Jeremiah had a hard time accepting God’s dismal evaluation of Israel. God therefore challenged him:

  • “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city.” (Jer. 5:1)
Jeremiah too had a high estimation of humanity, especially of his own kind, and thought that it would be easy to find one honest man:

  • I thought, “These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God.” (Jer. 5:4-5)
Because Jeremiah had had a high estimation of the educated Israelite, he found God’s assessments and judgments unbelievable and unduly harsh. However, Jeremiah found that all Israel was in rebellion against the Lord. Even his own family wanted to kill him for bringing the message of God. (It is interestingly to note that even though Israel’s rejection of their God had often included every Israelite, the Prophets never blamed God for their rebellion.)

However, once Jeremiah began to see the extent of human rebellion, he too began to reassess humanity and affirm God’s righteous judgments. In fact, he began to plead with God not to forgive.

If we could only see the extent of human rebellion and our hatred towards the Savior, perhaps we might really regard predestination as Good News, which it truly is, and appreciate the extreme generosity of God’s mercy.

It is imperative to understand these depths of our hatred of the light, our enmity against God, however offensive this might be. When we understand the extent of God’s forgiveness of our sins in light of this, we will be truly grateful. Failing to perceive this, we tend to disregard God’s grace.

Jesus was invited to a top-of-the-line pharisaic lunch. A woman He had forgiven entered uninvited and anointed His feet in expensive oil. The host was appalled both by this woman and that Jesus allowed this base creature to touch him. Jesus therefore explained that she was more blessed than the host: “He who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47)

The woman loved much because she knew that she had been forgiven much. Often, we do not know the extent to which we have sinned and have been forgiven and, therefore, love little and disdain God’s just ways. If we only understood the extent of Christ’s forgiveness, we would not be offended by God’s judgments, knowing that they are just. Instead, we’d fully accept the Bible’s judgment that sin deserves death (Romans 6:23; Deut. 27:26). We would also gladly embrace whatever mercy that God might offer – predestination.

There is also another danger when we fail to appreciate the extent of our rebellion against the light – boasting! For my first 15 years in Christ, I believed that I had chosen Christ and not the other way around. Why had I chosen Christ? I had convinced myself that it was because I was more spiritual than others. In doing this, I exalted myself and looked down on others (Luke 18:9-14). Consequently, I had to suffer for years before I could recognize that I had been boasting and that this had been offensive to the One who had given me the faith to believe.

The same had been true for King Nebuchadnezzar, the great Babylonia empire-builder. Understandably, he was convinced that he was great and that his greatness was all about him. However, he had a disturbing dream which changed everything. Daniel interpreted it for him:

  • It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will. (Daniel 4:24-25)
For seven years, Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind, thinking that he was a cow. Why had God punished him in this manner? Because of his warfare? Taking Israel into captivity? His treatment of the poor? No! It was simply to learn a theological lesson – that his success wasn’t about Him but about God, who chooses “whom He will!”

At the end of the seven years of grievous suffering, Nebuchadnezzar got the point and gave all of the thanks to God for choosing him. If this pagan, unenlightened by Scripture, was held to account for his boasting, we will, even more so, be held accountable.

Why? Because God actually deserves the credit! If someone gives you a magnificent painting from their studio, you hang it up in your house, and others ask if you had painted this masterpiece, should you take credit for painting it? If you do, would not the real artist be offended? Likewise, if faith is God’s gift to us (Eph. 2:8-9; Philip. 1:29; Acts 18:27; 16:14; 13:48) and if we take credit for it, as I had, would not God be offended?

Instead, it is only fitting to credit God for our salvation and even for the faith to receive it – God’s predestined salvation!