Saturday, April 25, 2015

Christianity in the Public Square: The Apologetics & Philosophy Renaissance

Christianity in the public square?  For the public good?  The people of the United State are divided in many ways, but in this area the consensus seems to be: Sure you can practice your religion, as long as you do it behind closed doors on Sunday.  Of course a religion that only functions an hour a week on Sunday and is silent the rest of the week is useless, pointless, and might as well be discarded.  Freedom of religion must, and indeed does, by definition, mean freedom to practice that faith at all times, in the public square, at work, at home, and everywhere in between.  We the people of the United States do not have freedom of speech to talk about the weather, we have freedom of speech so we may freely proclaim controversial views.  

We seem to be at a watershed moment in our history as a nation.  All of the shared values of the past are being called into question.  Many things that were once considered sacred are no longer considered such, like marriage and sexual intimacy.  What might be considered "traditional moral views"are often disregarded by a growing movement that insists on "our way or the highway" with an added hashtag "#tolerance."  Tolerance indeed.  Perhaps better stated "tolerance if you agree, but intolerance if you disagree with our opinion."  Or "endorse or we will punish you."  

Issues unrelated to civil rights have been portrayed as civil rights movements.  If I were to say, "I'm an alcoholic, stop oppressing me, and just let me drink.  Oh and by the way, you need to endorse that position or my buddies are going to get you fired from your job" you would think I was crazy.  Yet issues of mental health and unhealthy behavior are being portrayed just like that, despite the scientific, medical, and sociological evidence to the contrary.  

The very crux of the situation is this: We have been sold on the lie that the United States, in the public square and in the realm of government must be divorced entirely from Judeo-Christian values for the sake of fairness.  The idea of cutting off the United States from Judeo-Christian influence is painted as the only way to allow for a freedom of thought.  But one might as well core an apple and see how long the peel stands without it.  The United States was founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  The founders of our great nation knew full well, that the Constitution governing the people of the country was only an effective document if implemented for the governance of a religious people.

The view was simple, the founders knew they did not want a theocracy (a government ruled by religious authorities).  But they also knew that the USA could only function if the people were moral, and spiritual.  So they used the term "God" often, on the print currency, on government buildings, in various legal documents, in the pledge of allegiance, and in the declaration of independence.  The idea was that faith was reasonable, logical, and indeed many hold to religious convictions.  That needed to be encouraged.  They would leave the specific "God" open, so that people would have the freedom of religion (not from, but of) to fill that in with whatever God they worshiped.  And if the individual did not worship any God, well, then they would not be compelled to.  But they may have to be occasionally "offended" by the word "God" on money, government buildings, and other areas of society.  And that was acceptable.  Sometimes, well, people can just be offended.

Is it any surprise then, as the people of the USA have discarded moral behavior and spiritual thought, the United States has had to become increasingly authoritarian with endless pages of laws and statutes to prevent every manner of behavior destructive to society.  Or as the philosopher G.K. Chesterton said, "If man will not be ruled by the ten commandments they will be ruled by the ten thousand commandments."  It seems he was right.  A deeply moral and religious nation doesn't need authoritarian governance, and for a depraved population, even an authoritarian government won't be enough to keep it standing.  

It seems the voices that want to endorse any and all behavior the culture of the moment deems "good" fails to learn from history.  The ancient Roman empire was in just the state we are in now when it fell to internal corruption and external powers noticing her weakness.  For anyone who has studied in depth the fall of ancient Rome, the similarities are absolutely striking.  Click here to read an article I wrote on just that topic.  

Faith is at the very core of our being as a nation.  In fact people all across the planet are deeply influenced by religious thought.  It is at the core of the human nature, the desire to know a transcendent power.  This is the case for not just the United States people, but of all thinking humans on Earth.  In fact, 84% of the population of the planet hold to a religious view (32% of them being those confessing to follow Jesus Christ)(Statistics from a 2012 survey).

Unfortunately the process of secularization continues in the United States. Yet this was not ever what was intended for our nation.  In fact over our nation's we've always had the Bible taught in public schools.  The Ten Commandments and other spiritual statements were placed on buildings and in the official documents of the nation, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  This was not just from the founding of the nation, but also throughout the history of the nation, up until the 1940s and 1950s. 

 It was then that the US Supreme court began handing down some very troubling decisions regarding the future of our nation.  Those decisions have indeed been truly terrible in their scope.  Since Roe v. Wade over 56 million children have been exterminated at abortion clinics.  Not to mention today those abortion clinics are state funded.  Since the shifts in scientific thought surrounding the scopes trial, the Bible was banned from public schools by the Supreme court in 1963.  Prayer was banned from public schools in 1962 (Engel v. Vitale).  Since then the teen suicide rate has tripled.  

Unfortunately in our country something is taking place called secularization.  Secularization is the process by which religious institutions have lost their social significance.  Secularization could also be defined as the process by which Christian thought is evicted from the public square and government body.  

Many have celebrated this as a good thing.  They say "why should one religion be forced on anyone?"  Christians back-peddle in the face of this argument.  Yet is this a good argument?  The United States, our form of government, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence were all directly and indirectly informed by Christian principles.  There is no way to entirely disconnect the government of the United States from Judeo-Christian values.  One might as well try to rewrite the entire form of government.  Though I imagine many would like to.  President Obama himself has called the Constitution a deeply flawed document.

There is no need to disconnect Christian principles from the US government.  If Christian ethics inform the United States government, her leaders, politicians, and laws, so be it.  And if that "offends" people, then it's high past time that we let them be offended.  Maybe they need to be offended for a while.  Maybe it's time that we stop worrying about offending people.  If a law were passed to outlaw everything that offends this person or that person, then everything would be illegal.  

There are in fact a few things that offend me.  Do you know what offends me?  I'm offended by the depravity on the television screen.  I'm offended by LGBT activists shutting down mom and pop pizzerias.  I'm offended by the naturalist religion taught in public schools.  I'm offended by the decline and death of morality in the public square.  I'm offended by the war on religious freedom.  But it doesn't matter what offends me.  It doesn't matter at all.  The most important thing to consider is this: What will allow for the best possible future for the United States?  

There is an incredible drive in my home country, the USA, to cut out the Protestant ethos, the Christian ethic, and toss it aside.  History is rewritten in many ways, in the hearts and minds of young people.  No mention is made of the many, many good deeds of great Christian men and women across the ages.  But the bad is emphasized, underlined, boldened, and even worse, exaggerated, and many times simply made up on the spot.  Eventually the general mindset is that religion is always bad, and on inspection has led to nothing but suffering and darkness for the body of man.  Yet upon my own inquiry, actually studying events... I found that it wasn't true.  

I had never been told that the first hospitals and orphanages were devised by Christians.  I had never been told universities in the United States were largely founded by Christians.  I had never been told many of the founders held seminary degrees.  I had never been told of Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, the Salvation Army, or any of the other giants of history.  I had been told of the crusades, yet no one had mentions they were in response to the Muslim invasion of Europe.  I had even been led to believe that the dark ages were the fault of Christians.  But I discovered that too was false.  I had never been told, history had been preserved in the monasteries of Christians during those times.  I had been told about the religious wars that ever rage, yet upon inquiry I had discovered that the most brutal genocides had been committed by dedicated Marxists and atheists (Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, and the Cambodian Genocide).  I believe they call that revisionist history? 

So what is at stake?  What is the problem with evicting the Judeo-Christian ethic?  Myself, and many others believe it will lead to nothing less than the collapse of western civilization.  Many will respond that such a thing could never happen.  Really, is that so?  Consider what has happened already.  The family has really totally collapsed.  50% of marriages now end in divorce.  Culture has declined and sexual depravity, and media depravity are on an incredible rise.  The atheist, agnostic, liberal is generally unphased by that argument.  But here is where their ears perk up:  Look at the growing corruption in business, economics, and government.  That is one thing both liberal and conservative can clearly see.  It is a very serious problem.  The recent great recession underlines the issue.  What happens when our business leaders live out the new values of the culture: moral relativism, post modernism, and naturalism?  Corruption grows by leaps and bounds.  I think we all take note when the moral problems of the nation begin to adversely affect our bank accounts.  

Thankfully, it's not all bad news.  I'm seeing a turning of the tide in our country.  I'm seeing a new great awakening.  It's a sort of apologetics and philosophy renaissance in this country.  A Christian awakening.  Some have called it an emerging evangelical intelligentsia, with a power to influence culture.  I'm deeply encouraged by this new movement.  Many are standing up for religious liberty, including people like Frank Turek, Ravi Zacharias, Lee Strobel, William Lane Craig, and Eric Metaxas.  It's a beautiful thing to witness, Godly Christian men standing for their principles.  There is much hope left.  We have reason for hope, faith, and to be pleased and encouraged.  I walked in with the bedrock laid, and now I stand on much of what will help turn the tide in our great nation.  And we will.  I promise you, we will.  But you, the reader, must stand with us.  Please do, in the name of Jesus Christ, the savior of all people, of all nations.

The best moments in the history of the United States have been the enlightenments, the temperance movements, and the great awakenings.  Our best moments as a people tend to be when it's all on the line.  Consider the valiant charge of good men to the front lines of World War II.  Consider how Americans noticed a rising evil, and didn't think, they didn't stutter step, they simply brandished their weapons like giants, walking to the front lines, voices silent, eyes shining like the glass of a church window, indwelt by the Spirit of God to change history, and change the world forever.   And change the world they did.  They swept across Europe driving the enemy back on all fronts, and ended the war.  They won the day.  

So how can it done?  We must ask ourselves, how can we prevent the destruction of our way of life?  Don't be mistaken, it is on the line.  

It would take a uniting of the various strands of the Christian movements in the United States.  Protestant groups, Catholics, Lutherans, Christian apologetics ministries, Christian charities, Young Earth, Old Earth, small churches, mega-churches, influential leaders, bloggers, writers, Christian newspapers, Christian websites, and most important, ordinary everyday Christians all aiming to stand for religious liberty, Christian ethics, the end of abortion, and dedication to change culture.  Evangelism is vital.  Getting loud about our faith is so important.  Standing our ground is a must.  Most important we must petition the Lord daily in prayer, and just as importantly, live for him in public, with love, humility, and dignity.

We face some very powerful, entrenched strongholds.  Those strongholds must be taken.  They are the strongholds of the public schools, the mainstream television media outlets, the major universities of this country, Congress, and the Supreme court.  If we keep avoiding those strongholds and calling it "impossible" then we'll have to keep fighting a losing battle.  These are the institutions that keep us on the defensive, continuously falling back.  Why?  The reason should be obvious.  Those institutions shape the minds of young people.  The naturalists and atheists were smart, they knew which institutions to move in on.  And now they're entrenched.  They've evicted the Bible, and their ideologies are taught in public schools, universities, and largely in all the media outlets.  That is an untenable situation for the future of Christianity in the USA.  If those institutions are not retaken, there isn't much hope.  

I called it an apologetics and philosophy renaissance.  But those are actually the words of William Lane Craig.  Why apologetics and philosophy?  The answer is: Because people are hungry for answers.  Young people are hungry for answers.  Young people are tired of all the scams and schemes, they're tired of people trying to take their money and use them.  They want to know the truth.  They want to know what it all means.  Within the realm of apologetics and philosophy we translate the words of the Bible for people of today to connect to in a real way.  

In a lot of ways, in our society, we have to watch out for scams.  We have to watch our for people trying to con us.  Many assume Christianity, at least stateside, is about taking your money.  Just dressed up differently.  In fact a lot of things in our country are dressed up ways for somebody take your money.  Some might even argue college has become something like that even.  I remember my sister telling me she had graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin, but upon graduation they wanted to charge her an extra $100.00 for the honors cord, so she elected to skip honors.  Ridiculous, don't you think?  So when I tell someone that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life the first thought is inevitably going to be: "Why?  Why should I believe that?  What evidence can you show me that this is true?"  

That's where Christian apologetics come in.  Christian apologetics is the practice of Christians going about apologizing for being so religious. Just kidding. Apologetic comes from the ancient Greek word "apologia" which means to give an answer, to give a defense of the reason for faith in God. Christian apologetics is analogous to what the apostle Paul did when he spoke to the Greeks at Mars Hill. 

Acts 17:22-31 (NIV)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Did the apostle Paul quote the Bible to the people of Athens? No he didn't. Paul most certainly did quote the Old Testament when he taught Jews about Jesus, because Jews believed in the authority of the scriptures. But the ancient Greeks did not. If a Christian tells you that we're going to win over atheists and agnostics by quoting them scriptures, they've missed the incident at Mars Hill. Did you notice what Paul did in his apologia?

He did several very important things:

1. Notice how he was polite. He went out of his way to compliment the Greeks. He calls them a deeply religious people (v. 22). Paul is polite and nowhere does he rebuke the Greeks.  He doesn't throw it in their face that they're decadent pagans, or insult their false gods.  In fact he works hard to find common ground.

2. Notice how Paul built a bridge by describing the altar to the unknown god (v. 23). He continues to build the bridge by correcting the Greeks in several areas, and indicating what God is truly like. He completes the bridge by relating the truth about God to what the Athenian poets are already saying about men being the offspring of god (v. 28). Paul then invites the Greeks over the bridge through a request to have a change of mind and move to God through Christ (v. 30, 31).

3. The third thing Paul did was he encouraged the Greeks to pursue a relationship with God.  Paul suggests the idea of seeking God, and finding him (v. 27).

The Christian of today seeks to do the same with the current western culture through apologetics. We look into the natural world and see God's footprints. In astronomy we see design. In history we see evidence. In archaeology we see confirmation. In biology we see information. In mathematics we see probability. In logic we see reason. In philosophy we see truth. In Christ we see love. In the manuscripts we see inerrancy. In the scriptures we see God.

Western man has often been sold the lie that Christian thought is basically a fool believing something that is contrary to reality.  That is what men like Richard Dawkins indicate.  However that is most certainly false.  Christian faith is reasonable faith, in a reasonable God who does in fact existence.  There are many evidences for that God, many of which we have discussed on this website.  Perhaps the most powerful evidence for the existence of God is the argument from design (the fine tuning argument).  Of course there are many other ways to approach the topic, from historical verification, archaeology, textual criticism, and other areas.  But I would say the best arguments come from science ironically, the discipline often used by naturalists to explain away creationism.  Yet the universe had a beginning, and everything that has a beginning has a cause.  Given the scope of the universe, it's cause must be timeless, omnipotent, and outside the system much like... God.  Can you see how this can be put to powerful use toward the minds of skeptics, liberals, agnostics, and uninterested parties?  Yet how many times have I been told "love is the answer" and then been rebuked?  Quite a few.

Of course once the apologetics are presented, Christian philosophy helps to put the faith into practice.  Christian philosophy helps us to coordinate the facts of the Bible into a strategic framework, into a coherent worldview that answers the pertinent questions of the day like: Why am I here?  What is the meaning of life?  What morals should govern a society?  And what is my ultimate destiny?  

Do you see what I'm getting at?  The only way to win the culture is 1) Retake corrupted social, government, and media institutions and 2) Bring the lost to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Can it be done?  I believe it can.  And it must.  The time it late.  The board is set.  The pieces are moving.  It has begun.  God is with us.  Godspeed. 1 O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 

2 Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." "Selah" 

3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 
4 To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. "Selah" 
5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. 
6 I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. 
7 Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 

8 From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. "Selah"

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Paradox of Victory through Surrender: Rise Above

We tend to go through a lot of weighty material, exploring truth claims, philosophy, and apologetics.  But the Christian faith is also a heart issue, found in the depths of the struggles of this life.  To that end, I'd like share a short speech I gave recently.  I was asked to share my testimony of how I became a Christian at a Salvation Army conference called "Rise Above."  It was part of a nation wide conference called "Youth Councils" where the youth of Salvation Army and young adult leaders come together to learn, grow, and worship together.  I gave this testimony, my testimony, on April 18th 2015 in front of several hundred listeners.  It went really well, though I was terrified.  Several people came up and gave me hugs afterward and wished me well.  It was a wonderful experience!  

What is your testimony?  How can you share it with those around you?  It means more than you think.  Our first hand encounters with God are often much more powerful than dry statistics and scientific examples.  People are hurting, and they want to see and learn how hurting people can break free of confusion and apathy.   

The idea is simple... victory from surrender.  Confusing?  A bit.  Contradictory?  Not at all.  Paradoxical?  Certainly.  But God often works in such ways.  Anyway...

Here is the testimony I gave at the conference in Green Bay:

Hello. Its an honor to be in your presence. I told a friend after the last Salvation Army conference I attended, that I'd found a home in the Salvation Army. And she asked why? And I said because they're as nerdy as I am.

I've worked at a salvation army homeless shelter for the last year, and let me tell you, it's been a struggle. To be honest there were several times that I felt like I wanted to throw in the towel. But praise God I didn't.

So when I say its an honor to be in your presence. I mean that. What we do is not easy.

I'd like to share some of my story with you, how I came to this point.

William Booth said:"The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender." That statement is what you call a paradox. How can power flow from surrender? Keep that statement in the back of your mind as I share my story.

One of my first memories, was as a child, around age 4 or 5, looking up into the sky and wondering.. why do I exist? At the moment I felt the joy and discovery of new life. Yet the question remained: Why am I here?

Jump forward 10 years, and the first of a long journey downward began, with the destruction of my family, in a bitter, cold divorce. Suffering, strain, and sorrow have a way of refining the search for truth and meaning.

From right around that age, I began to increasingly see the evil and suffering in the world around me. I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. Never could quite place it. But I knew one thing.. I wanted to save the world. Can anyone else relate to wanting to see a better world? (raise your hand)

And yet pain, and sorrow, and confusion. My family crumbling. What was the solution? As the family problems grew worse and worse, I had been given anti-depressants, and then anti-anxiety meds, and sleep meds. So I started taking pills. Pills led to alcohol. Alcohol, to cigarettes, cigarettes, to marijuana. Marijuana to other drugs. Depression grew. 
Charges eventually began to accumulate. I was in jail several times. Placed on probation. Drunk driving charges. Drug charges.

Yet the search continued. Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the solution to all the problems of the world? I read books, Henry Thoreau, Aldous Huxley, HG Wells, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, and eventually began to study a great deal regarding politics, philosophy, and spirituality. I began attending college, and found an increasing interest in writing and journalism.

Yet the agony of life in those days was profound. It seemed like I went from blunder to blunder. I wept bitterly in a jail cell reading the book of Job over and over. I did drugs daily, and one night found myself laying on the road, in the middle of the night outside my house calling out "just do it, run me over." Incident after incident, new low after new low.

The darkness of those days I would fondly recall as the "year of no light" in my many pages of writing. Yet that year seemed to repeat over and over and over again. Eventually I gave my life the grim title "the repeating disaster." Because the same cycle seemed to repeat over and over.

I would write endless pages pondering the meaning of life. I would take walks in the middle of the night, sometimes every night, yearning for an answer, staring up at the stars, wondering how things might change.

How could I rise above? How could I escape the repeating disaster?

By age 27, I had lost all of my friends. My family had given up on me. I had been hospitalized in the emergency room twice for drug overdose. I recall one night in the emergency room ICU, the doctor came in and told me, we're not sure if you're going to make it through the night. Then he slammed the door. As if my life didn't matter. I burst out crying. My mother next to me, burst out crying. I felt an emptiness like I'd never experienced before. It was really over. I'm going to die.

I had been such a kind young man at one time. So full of life. So full of hope. So full of drive to change the world. But the problem was not just outside me. It was within me. 
And I was a slave to addictions, and compulsions, and sins, chains that were not breakable. I had tried, the steel was too thick. I couldn't rise above. I could tread water for a while, but I always dipped under again.

During that last year I began carrying a Bible around with me as I wandered the city in constant despair and sadness. I read from Genesis again and again the story of Jacob. How he ran from his brother, ran from God, fled him out the days and nights in fear. Yet despite Jacob's failings, God pursued him, and showed him the stairway to heaven. Jacob wrestled with God, and admitted who he truly was before God. And God made a great man of him as a result.

And I read the gospel of John, over and over. It said..

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind." John 1:4  

"the Word became flesh & dwelt among us & we have seen his glory" John1:14

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

I had seen my foundation shattered. I had lost all hope. I lost my family. I lost my friends. I'd become enslaved to addictions so powerful they had engulfed me. I had been sent to jail. Judged, prescribed to, diagnosed, and declared a danger to myself and others. I had been condemned before my fellow man. I had become a vagabond. I despised my own life. I had failed in my desire to help the world. I had done terrible things. I had become terrible things. I had let everyone down. And my body now, was physically crumbling.

At that moment, at rock bottom, for some odd reason, I crawled onto the floor in my living room, in the dark.. now this is something I would never do. And I'm still not sure exactly what happened.. but I got down on the carpet, on the floor, and I realized who to call out to. Call out to Jesus. And I cried out, loudly in the room, I cried, JESUS SAVE ME. I remember at that moment it was like the words echoed, the call rumbled through my being. I felt the ground shaking around me. I was terrified. Am I going crazy?

Yet after that day, November 1st, 2012, I never had to drink or drug again. And everything in my life changed as a result of a call for help.. to one man: Jesus Christ. 
Reaching out across the years, I had asked...

Where do I go from here? How can I rise above? Jesus said, "I am the way."

I asked: What is the truth? Jesus said, "I am the truth."

I asked: How do I live? Jesus said, "I am the life."

Here were the answers to all those ancient questions.

I began attending a church, and support groups. I was baptized into the body of Christ. I learned to follow Jesus, and see the world through the eyes of the Christian worldview. I began studying religion at Liberty University. I wrote a blog on my journey. And I was hired at a Salvation Army homeless shelter. 2 years later I asked God, what next? Where do you want me? And it began to seem clear, I should pursue officership... among you fine people.

I've become a new man. Not by my strength. Not by my cunning, no. But through surrender, as William Booth said. I've become a new man because the Great Physician, Jesus, has given me new life, in his grace. Not metaphorically, but literally, he has saved me.

So many want us to try and drag ourselves up by our own bootstraps. But thats impossible. Victory is only possible, paradoxically, by surrender at the cross of Jesus Christ. I tossed aside my approach to life, and gave in to his. I admitted God was in fact, God. There is only one way to rise above this world, the temptations, the sins, the addictions, and the lies.. and it's by radical submission to the way, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is not just a story.. This is not just a tradition. It's real. I know it for a fact. Jesus is alive. God is real. What we have here in our midst is the truth. All my questions, all my searching, all my hopes to be a hero, to be a man of honor.. were impossible before. Now, anything is possible. All of those yearnings are "yes" in Christ. Believe in him. Dare to really follow him. Experience the victory found in surrender, as I did.

Let's pray. Lord, give us hearts to serve you, and hearts to serve others. Thank you for saving us from ourselves. Amen. Thank you.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complexity in DNA, & the Resurrection of Christ

“If the Bible is not the Word of God and inspired, the whole of Christendom for 1800 years has been under an immense delusion; half the human race has been cheated and deceived, and churches are monuments of folly. If the Bible is the Word of God and inspired, all who refuse to believe it are in fearful danger; they are living on the brink of eternal misery. No man, in his sober senses, can fail to see that the whole subject demands most serious attention.”
J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Life, death, truth, falsehood, we face down the greatest questions of our time on this website.  And why not anyhow?  Dare we dismiss all inquiry, sacrificed at the altar of post-modernism?  Should we dismiss all comprehension of a creator to give ourselves an open season to depravity?  No, we shall not!  Truth is truth, and we must know it while the chance is available to us.

In the United States we love experts.  We look to the experts for everything from psychology to politics and of course to the sciences.  Expert testimony is vital in determining if indeed there is a God, or if there is not.  Unfortunately the playing field is not always even.  Or as Dr. Ravi Zacharias said, "Man's problem is not the absence of evidence but the suppression of it."

Since the famed scopes trial evolutionary biology has fought it's way from the outside, to the very center of the US educational system.  Darwinian evolution is powerful and entrenched.  Dissent is silenced, yet many brave men and women, scientists, have the courage to stand for the truth.  What can we learn from them?  Did we really rise from the muck?  Or does the emperor have no clothes?  

Next we look at complexity in DNA, observed by scientists as evidence for the existence of God.  Given such severe complexity, such incredible loads of information, what conclusions can we draw?

Finally, we look at the very center of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Before we dismiss the miraculous as impossible, perhaps we should recheck that underlying assumption.  Are miracles really absurd?  Is there solid evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  And is it really so ludicrous to think that the God who made the universe from nothing could bring back this man from the dead?  Consider these questions, and the assumptions underneath prior beliefs when examining these quotations from great thinkers across the ages.  Enjoy.

The Demise of Evolution

 “Scientists who utterly reject evolution may be one of our fastest-growing controversial minorities...Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science.” –Larry Hatfield, “Educators Against Darwin,” Science Digest Special (Winter 1979), pp. 94-96.

“These are exciting times. When I finished the Epilogue to Darwin on Trial in 1993, I compared evolutionary naturalism to a great battleship afloat on the Ocean of Reality. The ship's sides are heavily armored with philosophical and legal barriers to criticism, and its decks are stacked with 16-inch rhetorical guns to intimidate would-be attackers. In appearance, it is as impregnable as the Soviet Union seemed a few years ago. But the ship has sprung a metaphysical leak, and that leak widens as more and more people understand it and draw attention to the conflict between empirical science and materialist philosophy. The more perceptive of the ship's officers know that the ship is doomed if the leak cannot be plugged. The struggle to save the ship will go on for a while, and meanwhile there will even be academic wine-and-cheese parties on the deck. In the end, the ship's great firepower and ponderous armor will only help drag it to the bottom. Reality will win.” –Phillip E. Johnson in an article, “How to Sink a Battleship: A call to separate materialist philosophy from empirical science.”

“According to Darwinists, there is such overwhelming evidence for their view that it should be considered a fact. Yet to the Darwinists' dismay, at least three-quarters of the American people - citizens of the most scientifically advanced country in history - reject it....The truth is Darwinism is not a scientific theory, but a materialistic creation myth masquerading as science. It is first and foremost a weapon against religion - especially traditional Christianity. Evidence is brought in afterwards, as window dressing. This is becoming increasingly obvious to the American people, who are not the ignorant backwoods religious dogmatists that Darwinists make them out to be. Darwinists insult the intelligence of American taxpayers and at the same time depend on them for support. This is an inherently unstable situation, and it cannot last. If I were a Darwinist, I would be afraid. Very afraid.” –Jonathan Wells, American molecular biologist

“A Chinese paleontologist lectures around the world saying that recent fossil finds in his country are inconsistent with the Darwinian theory of evolution. His reason: The major animal groups appear abruptly in the rocks over a relatively short time, rather than evolving gradually from a common ancestor as Darwin’s theory predicts. When this conclusion upsets American scientists, he wryly comments: "In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin.” –Phillip E. Johnson in an article, “The Church of Darwin.”

“Even if all the data points to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.” –Dr. Scott Todd, Kansas State University

Complexity in DNA

“Just one living cell in the human body is, more complex than New York City.” –Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner

“There is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.” –Richard Dawkins, prominent atheist ethologist & biologist

"Human DNA contains more organized information than the Encyclopedia Britannica. If the full text of the encyclopedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people would regard this as proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when seen in nature, it is explained as the workings of random forces." –George Sim Johnson, quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, 219.

“DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced that any software we've ever created.” –
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

“It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” –Antony Flew, English Philosopher & former atheist turned theist

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

“I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” –Thomas Arnold, historian and Oxford professor

“If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” –Paul Maier, Historian Emeritus, Western Michigan University

“They [the disciples] were testifying to the resurrection, a question of fact, not merely of faith. They were convinced of an event. And their willingness to die for attesting to that event is far more convincing that the willingness of others to die for a mere belief or because of loyalty to a religion or religious leader.” –Dave Hunt, Christian Apologist & Author

“Raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.”
Brooke Foss Westcott, British Bishop, Biblical Scholar & Theologian

“If Jesus remained dead, how can you explain the reality of the Christian church and its phenomenal growth in the first three centuries of the Christian era? Christ's church covered the Western world by the fourth century. A religious movement built on a lie could not have accomplished that....All the power of Rome and of the religious establishment in Jerusalem was geared to stop the Christian faith. All they had to do was to dig up the grave and to present the corpse. They didn’t.” –Henry Schaefer III, computational & theoretical chemist, University of Georgia 

In other words, welcome to the family, should you decide that now is the moment to embrace what is seen to be true... ultimately the choice is yours.  The architect of the universe loves us enough to give us a choice, whether to embrace him, or ignore him.  Imagine that.    

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology, & the Historical Jesus

“Christianity is...rarely understood by those outside its bounds. In fact, this is probably one of the greatest tasks confronting the apologist–to rescue Christianity from misunderstandings.”
Alister E. McGrath, theologian, historian, and scientist,
Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion at the University of Oxford

We've recently gone through expert testimony in six areas of inquiry, organized into the past two posts:

Expert Testimony: The Existence of God, the Problem of Evil, and the Facts on the Bible 

Expert Testimony: The Anthropic Principle, Anthropology, and Historicity 

Now we come to three additional areas of inquiry: intelligent design, archaeology, and the historical Jesus.  Expert testimony is very important to the verification of truth claims.  Is Christianity really the truth about reality?  That is the ultimate question.  If it isn't then it ought to be disregarded.  If it is, then it ought to be followed.  It ought to be the lenses through which we see reality.  The truth is so very important.  Can we know truth?  Yes indeed we can.  

Intelligent design seeks to describe the scientific case for a designer of the universe.  Archaeology is a discipline by which history may be discovered by excavating dig sites and examining artifacts for their historical implications.  The idea of "The Historical Jesus" is approaching the person of Jesus Christ from a historical angle, asking ourselves: Did Jesus of Nazareth really exist?  Is there evidence to support the conclusion that he did exist?  Let's see what some experts have to say on these three important topics: 

Intelligent Design
Is there positive evidence for design? 
(1) Biochemistry
 Natural structures contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g., they contain high CSI). These include language-based codes in our DNA, irreducibly complex molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum, and highly specified protein sequences. Regarding the latter example, mutational sensitivity tests and genetic knockout experiments have shown that the amino acid sequences of functional proteins must be highly complex and specified in order to function.

(2) Paleontology
Biological novelty commonly appears in the fossil record suddenly, ‘fully formed,’ and without similar precursors or evolutionary intermediates. The Cambrian explosion is a prime example, but there are many other examples in the fossil record, including a bird explosion, an angiosperm explosion, and a mammal explosion. Even our genus Homo appears abruptly.

(3) Systematics
Highly similar parts have been found re-used in widely different organisms where even evolutionists believe the common ancestor did not have the part in question. Examples include genes controlling eye or limb growth in different organisms whose alleged common ancestors are not thought to have had such forms of eyes or limbs. There are numerous examples of extreme convergent genetic evolution, including similar genes used in whales and bats for echolocation. These examples are best explained by common design. Genes and functional parts are commonly not distributed in a “tree-like” pattern or nested hierarchy predicted by common ancestry.

(4) Genetics
Studies have discovered mass-functionality for “junk-DNA.” Specific examples include functionality in pseudogenes, microRNAs, introns, endogenous retroviruses, and repetitive LINE, SINE, and Alu elements. Examples of unknown DNA functions persist, but ID encourages researchers to investigate functions, whereas neo-Darwinism has discouraged seeking such function.

 All quotations from Evolution News: The College Student's Back to School Guide to Intelligent Design

Do archaeological findings support or refute the Biblical narrative?

 “Archaeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the Scriptural record. More than one archaeologist has found his respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine.” –Millar Burrows, former Yale University professor

 “Where the data of the Gospels can be tested, they consistently have proven to be remarkably accurate, especially in John. Archaeologists have unearthed the five porticoes of the pool of Bethesda by the Sheep Gate (John 5:2), the pool of Siloam (9:1-7), Jacob's well at Sychar (4:5), the "Pavement" (Gabbatha) where Pilate tried Jesus (19:13), and Solomon's porch in the temple precincts (10:22-23). As recently as 1961 an inscription was discovered in Caesarea, providing for the first time extrabiblical corroboration of Pilate as Judea's prefect during the time of Christ. Since the, discovery of an ossuary (bone-box) of a crucified man named Johanan from first-century Palestine confirms that nails were driven in his ankles, as in Christ's; previously some skeptics thought that that Romans used only ropes to affix the legs of condemned men to their crosses....In 1990, the burial grounds of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, and his family were uncovered in Jerusalem. These and numerous other details create a favorable impression of the Gospels' trustworthiness in the areas in which they can be tested.” –Craig L. Blomberg, New Testament Scholar at Denver Seminary

 “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.” –Nelson Glueck, American Archaeologist and Academic.  Pioneer in Biblical Archaeology

“It is not too much to say that it was the rise of the science of archeology that broke the deadlock between historians and the orthodox Christian. Little by little, one city after another, one civilization after another, one culture after another, whose memories were enshrined only in the Bible, were restored to their proper place in ancient history by the studies of archeologists…The over-all result is indisputable. Forgotten cities have been found, the handiwork of vanished peoples has reappeared, contemporary records of Biblical events have been unearthed and the uniqueness of biblical revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to the newly understood religions of ancient peoples. Nowhere has archaeological discovery refuted the Bible as history.” –John Elder, Archaeologist (Quoted in Don Stewart, The Ten Wonders of the Bible, 1990, p. 58)

The Historical Jesus
Was there a historical person named Jesus of Nazareth? 

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” –H. G. Wells, prolific English author

“Do you believe in the existence of Socrates? Alexander the Great? Julius Caesar? If historicity is established by written records in multiple copies that date originally from near contemporaneous sources, there is far more proof for Christ’s existence than for any of theirs.” –Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, p. 296.

“The “Encyclopedia Britannica, fifteenth edition, devotes 20,000 words to the person of Jesus Christ and never once hints that He didn’t exist.” –John Ankerberg, Author & Theologian, Ankerberg Theological Institute

“That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic, and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of life, character, and teaching of Christ remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature in the history of Western man” –Will Durant, renowned historian who devoted his life to the study of records of antiquity, Caesar and Christ, in The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, 1944, p. 557.

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The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism & the Christian Faith

The United States once again finds herself at a crossroads.   The lines have been drawn.  The shots have been fired.  The culture war seems to rage on endlessly.  Left vs. right.  Liberal vs. Conservative.  Secular vs. Christian.  These are some of the most difficult and muddy issues to delve into.  But an answer must be found.  A solution must be possible, right?  

What's really happening here in our country?  What's the reason?  Is there any way out of this predicament?  

I find myself on the conservative Christian side of this present culture war.  Yet only ten years ago I was very much a dedicated liberal non-religious individual.  I've seen the battle from both sides.  

The culture war is very troubling to me.  It keeps me up at night.  I read about it on social media, and get aggravated.  I feel the weight of it.  The burden of it is heavy. And I fear for the future of the great nation I call home.

The United States has always been a diverse bunch of misfits and heroes.  Many of the founders were Christians with seminary degrees.  Still others were agnostic or atheist, deeply interested in philosophy, science, and invention.  The diversity has grown as millions have migrated to the USA.  The United States has prospered a great deal from diversity.  

In the history of the United States there have been philosophical enlightenments as well as great awakenings and temperance movements.  It seems to me that the current liberal side of the culture war is a development from the American enlightenment and scientific breakthroughs of the United States.  And it seems to me that the current conservative side of the culture war is a product of the great awakenings and temperance movements within the United States.  The interesting thing is that from a perspective of being on both sides of the culture war, one notices that each side tends to function in keeping the other side honest.   

Women were oppressed in the United States in the past.  Slavery and prejudice were tolerated by the public for many years throughout the history of the USA.  The family has at times been oppressive to children.  And yes, those holding to LGBT sexual preferences were treated shamefully by many who held to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Yet those same teachings said "Love thy neighbor, and pray for those who persecute you" (Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:44).  Even more shamefully still, Priests were found to have sexually abused children.  Yet Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them" (Luke 18:16).  Thank God that liberals, progressives, and some conservatives have had the courage to decry loudly these tragic injustices.  

Yet in the past 10 years in this country we've seen the coin flipped the other way.  Christianity is openly mocked in the academic institutions of the United States.  Religion is considered to be, well, always bad and always oppressive.  Those holding to conservative Christian views are often decried as bigots, homophobes, and racists in the public square.  Opposition is silenced.  Secular humanism is the new ethic.  LGBT is pure and good, traditional views are considered corrupt and always suspect.  Those supporting traditional marriage are bullied and forced to resign from their jobs, or forced to close their businesses.  Sex is fine before, during, and after marriage, because well, we say so.  Modernity has replaced all the backwards views of religious fanatics, and we have converted many of the Christians to our sexual views, and the hold outs won't last much longer under the onslaught of science, modernity, and sanity!  Many such statements were made in a recent New York Times article.

The latest manifestation of the culture war is the Indiana controversy over a religious liberty bill passed by the state legislature.  The LGBT community lead by George Takei assaulted the state of Indiana over the religious liberties bill which they said could be used to turn away homosexuals from local businesses.  George Takei called for a boycott of no less than the entire state of Indiana over the religious liberty bill.  Later Charles Barkley chimed in calling for the NCAA to move out of Indiana permanently.  Arkansas passed a bill shortly after, and once again the call went out to boycott another state.  Yet 20 other states have bills passed quite similar to the bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  No cries have gone out to boycott businesses in those states though.  

Conservative newspapers, online and otherwise came out explaining how other states have similar laws on the books.  Then liberal newspapers came out and explained why Indiana's bill is different.  Still other conservative newspapers explained why those liberal newspapers are wrong, and that the difference is marginal.  

I read an article written by Hans Fiene a Lutheran minister explaining that the current mass support for gay marriage is the millennial generation embracing a revolutionary cause that requires no effort or sacrifice to embrace.  He called it Selma envy.   Click here to read that article.  

The situation developed further when a small family owned pizzeria was forced to close it's doors.  The owners went into hiding, all from the onslaught of LGBT activists threatening them and blasting them for a rather mild interview with a local media outlet in which they said they would probably not cater for a gay wedding.  Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, a supporter of gay marriage wrote an article titled "Should Mom-and-Pops that forgo Gay weddings be Destroyed?" in which he indicated that LGBT activists shutting down business owners is not an ethical approach to achieve their ends. 

The liberal solution to these issues, like gay marriage, women's rights, racism, and so on is for the bullied to become the bully.  But that cannot be the solution.  It only leads to culture war.  Both sides of this debate don't seem to understand that we need each other.  We check and balance one another.  We keep each other honest.  

Yet I'm a conservative Christian.  I won't stand by and allow the United States to crumble under the weight of a new bullying majority.  But let's table that for a minute.  The real question is very basic: Is homosexuality wrong?  Or is it dangerous and/or harmful to society?

The Bible says homosexuality is wrong (Romans 1:24-27).  But let's table that too for the moment.  What does the science say?  What do the studies say?  According to Mayo clinic, those engaging in homosexuality activity are at greater risk for diseases like AIDS.  Sexual intercourse through the rectum can be damaging over time, because simply, it wasn't designed for sexual use.  Long term irritation of the bowels can lead to cancer and chronic irritation.  (further statistics on medical concerns regarding homosexuality).

Of course people are outraged when you bring up those facts.  Then come the ad hominem attacks.  They call you a bigot, homophobe, racist, sexist, and so on.  People will attack personally when they don't have a counter argument for your arguments.  Don't insult me, give me a good counter argument.  

Is homosexuality socially destructive?  The raw facts say that it is.  But once again, the gay activists will raise the noise, and try to bully people into silence.  Why don't they deal with the arguments?  Why does the US government need to endorse an activity that is medically dangerous and socially destructive?  I just don't understand it.  Yet the current Supreme Court seems to ignore the Constitution time and again, and rubber stamp such destructive behavior as legal and acceptable.  Should the government encourage destructive behavior?  Of course not.  Yet that's what is happening.  Click here to watch a video where author Frank Turek breaks down the issue of gay marriage and it's ramifications for society.  

Religious liberty is an extremely important issue.  Christians and non-Christians a like need to stand up for freedom of religion.  Freedom of religion is inexorably linked to personal liberty, and Libertarians ought to remember that as well.  

Those in the LGBT community should be treated with dignity and respect.  All people should be treated with dignity, love, and respect.  The Bible commands all Christians to love their neighbors.  Love and respect is vital.  But we as Christians have the freedom to disagree with gay marriage, while still loving and respecting those on the other side.  Love does not mean "I agree with your views on everything."  Love means we can disagree respectfully, and still love and tolerate one another.  But don't let anyone sell you on the idea that you must hate or fear them if you don't agree with their views on sexuality.  Yet that is the lie being perpetrated.  That somehow my support for traditional marriage makes me a bigot or a monster.  Most certainly, that is a total fabrication.  People are very afraid to stand up on this issue of marriage, because the LGBT community has gotten very hostile.  As much as they call for tolerance, they seem to be a very intolerant bunch.  This group seems to try to claim the moral high ground, yet their actions make it clear that they do not have the moral high ground.  Yet many Christians seem to concede to that, because the call of being a "bigot" is such a severe claim.  Of course it's total nonsense.  Ad hominem once again, the science and psychology indicates that homosexuality is detrimental to society and the individual.  Yet I'm the bigot.  If a bigot is someone intolerant of another's beliefs, then many in the LGBT community are guilty of being bigoted toward religious faith and traditional marriage views.  

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” -Rick Warren

Why should Christians care?  This is an issue by which all people of faith are being attacked.  Religious liberty is under attack.  It's a divisive issue by which all Christianity is dismissed as backwards and false.  And some Christians are caving to pressure, and endorsing gay marriage.  Recently a liberal branch of the Presbyterian church embraced gay marriage.  That makes it a very important issue for the people of the United States.  

Yet I would say that the gay marriage issue is a symptom of a greater problem.  The problem is that we have religion being taught in our public schools today.  What you say?  How can that be you say?  Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  Unproven beliefs are taught in all public schools.  A total worldview based on presuppositions and unproven beliefs is being taught in public schools, a religion: the religion of naturalism.  

The underpinning is simple: Everything in reality must be described within the natural world, natural terms.  If something doesn't fit that construct, it's disregarded.  

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." -Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist) 

No spiritual views may be taught, no possibility of intelligent design may be mentioned.  Creationist scientific interpretations are rejected in favor of naturalistic interpretations of the data.  

The underlying philosophy in the United States seems to be that religious views must be excluded from all areas of society.  That is insanity, given a historical perspective of the United States.  The nation was founded for the governance of a religious society.  The religion was not forced, yet the hints were placed everywhere.  The society was considered functioning "under God."  The ten commandments were placed on buildings.  And there was nothing wrong with that.  No one was being forced.  Maybe a few were "offended" but then fine, let them be offended!  The government may make reference to those ideas because they are universal.  The government of the USA was designed for the governance of a religious people, and the Constitution was considered useless to govern anyone but a religious people.  By making reference to biblical beliefs the government was not endorsing those beliefs, but they were vital to the framework of the nation.  It showed that religious views were universal, reasonable, and logical.  In fact many of our laws are based on those moral beliefs, the belief that the universe is a moral place.  When a homosexual decries religious people for their "bigoted" attitude, that individual is assuming that he or she lives in a universe governed by objective morality.  Where did that belief come from?  The Judeo-Christian worldview.  There will never be a theocracy in the United States.  We don't want or need one.  But detaching all society from any mention of the Bible or the Christian worldview will lead to the destruction of society itself.  By forcing naturalism on the US population through the public school system, well, we have seen the results.  Each generation of young people becomes progressively more and more depraved.  As a result less and less people are willing to be a law unto themselves, so more and more laws must be put on the books to protect people from each other.  Or as the philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it,“If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.”  So more and more, the United States becomes a police state governed by innumerable laws.  There are so many vague and oddly stated laws on the books in the United States that it's estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day without even realizing it.  Click here to learn more about the problem of authoritarian governance.  

Is it any wonder that Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court have become so corrupt?  When the Judeo-Christian ethic is jettisoned, where does the ethic come from?  Personal opinion?  The corruption in business and banking is destroying the United States.  Those same businesses and banks then get their hands into the political process, and we have our present state: a Congress with billions of dollars flowing into it from special interest groups.  There are 11,500 lobbyists at work in Washington D.C.  Very simply, the mass bribery is destroying the economy, and eroding trust in the government process.  Much of the corruption being seen can be attributed to the secularization of American society.  

The logical outworking of naturalism, or darwinism, is a society of dog eat dog.  There is no reason for moral behavior, one must find a way to scam or conquer the others and spread their DNA as far and wide as possible, correct?  Most certainly that is the case.  Secular humanism really has no reason behind it, it is simply borrowing the Christian ethic and redressing it with secular language.  (Michael Ramsden's a noted apologist expounds on the grounding of naturalism in an excellent presentation on living the faith.  Click here to view/read that.)

It's best stated by atheist Professor John Gray in his book Straw Dogs: "Modern humanism is the faith that through science humankind can know the truth — and so be set free. But if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true this is impossible. The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. To think otherwise is to resurrect the pre-Darwinian error that humans are different from all other animals.  The idea of humanity taking charge of its destiny makes sense only if we ascribe consciousness and purpose to the species; but Darwin’s discovery was that species are only currents in the drift of genes. The idea that humanity can shape its future assumes that it is exempt from this truth." (Ibid., 4)

I've often said, and not exclusively in jest: If one studies religion at a major university (Harvard, Princeton, Yale) aren't they in fact studying pre-suppositional secular humanism?  The arrogance and presumption of these religion departments is astounding in their approach to the scriptures of the Bible.  They approach it with intense skepticism, ruling out any possibility of the supernatural, approaching scriptures with the eyes of naturalism, excluding any possibility that the scriptures might mean what they say, and instead declare their own superiority over the scriptures, altering them to be interpreted through the lense of ascribing all meaning and worldview within those scriptures to local culture and mythos.  Their approach is such an absurd act of unmitigated gall the casual observer might as well call it egotistical blasphemy.  Oh the irony, that schools like Harvard now turn out "Secular Humanist Chaplains."  What, I wonder, are they standing on?  According to the atheist Prof. John Gray, they stand on nothing less than the Judeo-Christian ethic, stripped of Christian terms and redressed with humanist philosophy.  

When the public schools indoctrinate children into naturalism, is it any wonder that the United States is becoming a post-Christian culture?  All the power of the Christian churches across the USA cannot fight that kind of indoctrination.  Is it any wonder then, given the public schools, that universities (many started by Christians) now unquestioningly adhere to the Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian view of reality?  The final piece of this worst case scenario is the mainstream media, radically secular, dedicated to mocking the church and the Christian faith: the television, internet, and print news media.  Included is Hollywood, and day time television, filled to the brim with every manner of depravity, temptation, violence, and sexual sin.  These three keys: public schools, universities, and the media, matched with the corrupt US Congress and Supreme Court leave the Christian majority disarmed and facing a radically shifting paradigm.

These three strongholds must, must, must be retaken by US Christians: the public school, the university system, and the mainstream media.  Otherwise in 100 years Christianity will be a myth in the United States.  Why?  Because all of those institutions manufacture the minds of young people.  And young people are the key to the future.  Hitler himself said give me their minds before their 7, and they'll be Nazi's until they die. Well the naturalists have claimed the minds of young people.  The result has been horrendous.  There are many statistics.  One telling statistic is that since Bible's were banned from public schools the suicide rate among teenagers has tripled.  Let that sink in for a few minutes.   

When you think about it.. everything in our society is false. People stare at screens in their living rooms, screens at work, screens in their pockets. Society exterminates unwanted children by the millions in clinics. Child sacrifice is legal, sacrificed to selfishness and "sexual freedom." Banks and corporations run Congress. Bombs drop in the middle east. Minimum wage keeps the poor getting poorer and corporate subsidies keep the rich always getting richer. Christianity is mocked, self worshiping "spirituality" is encouraged. Lies are everywhere. Temptation for food, alcohol, prestige, and sex are constantly blasted from the media outlets. Children are trained in naturalism indoctrination centers they call "public schools." No Bibles, and no praying allowed in public schools (though they were allowed there for hundreds of years prior.) The Supreme court says gay marriage is fine, despite the clear science indicating that the practice is medically dangerous and socially harmful. Hospitals (originally started by Christians) have become secular money making machines for the medical industrial complex. Universities (originally started by Christians) are now largely training grounds for Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian ideologies that mock and denigrate people of faith and appose liberty, democracy, and free thought. Hollywood, Disney, and the mainstream media feed the population depravity, and make sin seem cool while good is portrayed as boring. The number one cause of death in the USA is heart disease, and obesity, cancer, and diabetes are skyrocketing due to the processed, genetically modified, chemical filled food that Americans eat. Yet liberal sociologists, philosophers, and critics indicate that everything is fine, and anyone who follows Jesus Christ is a fool for believing in all that nonsense about love, hope, truth, forgiveness, grace, and God-forbid, hope after the grave.

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.” - Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

Yet the way back is simple.  If Jesus Christ is real, then we must follow him out loud in truth and we will prevail against the greatest enemy.  If Jesus Christ is not real, then we will fail.  Since Jesus Christ is in fact really God, and alive today, the only way we can fail is if we fail to stand for what we believe in at this critical time in history.  So what can you do?  Speak up to your friends. Speak up on social media.  Get educated on the issues.  Join a political action group.  Support groups like Liberty Institute, Campaign for Liberty, and Alliance defending Freedom.  Write your local newspapers.  Spread the word.  Get active on these issues.  And we can save the United States.  Not by destroying those of naturalist conclusions, but by living love and standing by our convictions.   

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