Sunday, April 27, 2008

Creationism, Intelligent Design and An Intelligent Worldview

Worldview. There’s a term you probably don’t encounter very often, though it has been getting a fair share of publicity lately. Simply stated, a worldview is a person’s way of viewing reality. You could call it our philosophy of life or our way of explaining life as we know it. Everyone needs a framework, some way to explain his or her core belief system.

Understanding what a worldview is and how it works helps us make sense of all the ideas going on around us. Every worldview can be analyzed by the way it addresses three basic tenets: 1) Where did we come from? 2) What has gone wrong? 3) What can we do to fix the problem?

Everything we encounter in our lives can be tested against these criteria. The Christian worldview states that we came from God. He is our Creator. What went wrong? Sin. The Fall. The curse. What can we do to fix the problem? Nothing. Jesus did it all for us. His death on the cross allows our Righteous Creator to forgive our sins and restore our relationship.

If we zero in on that first plank of evaluating a worldview—origin—there are, of course, two major answers: creation and evolution. Every major worldview now in existence will start with one of these two premises. Creationism says that humanity has come about by intent. It goes by many names. The world’s theistic religions (like Judaism, Islam and Christianity) would fall under this category. “Intelligent Design” is a currently popular term (consider, for example, Ben Stein’s movie Expelled) that could encompass secularists who may not necessarily believe in God, but reject naturalism. Christians, specifically believe that God brought us forth and created us in His image. Evolutionists have another idea. They believe we came about by accident, by some chance occurrence and can be religiously zealous in protecting that radical dogma.

There are a plethora of responses to the issue of origins, and the faithful Christian would be wise to know several “evidences” of a Creator. Some people we talk to are rather open to receiving our input; others are quite hostile. In some cases, we can give simple answers; in other instances, we need to be more detailed and scientific.

Thomas Aquinas lived in the 13th century and wrote a major work for Christianity called Summa Theologica. It was a systematic presentation of Christian doctrine in philosophical terms. One of the arguments Aquinas advanced concerning creation was called First Cause. Simply put, if you walked into your kitchen and saw a top spinning on your kitchen table, you would immediately believe one of your children, grandchildren, or a brother or sister had been there right before you to set it in motion. You would never imagine the top inverted itself, started wobbling on its own, building momentum until it was at such a speed it could balance itself properly.

Applied to our world, everything around us causes us to believe there was a First Cause. Christians call Him God. He spoke the world into existence and set everything in motion. Evolutionists, while they would never believe something as simple as a spinning top could start up on its own, advocate that our complex universe started spinning on its own. I find this argument an easy one to remember and an easy one to communicate. Most people follow logic. First Cause is the only logical explanation of how the world as we know it came to be.

Or consider other aspects of our universe. The earth is at the perfect distance from the sun. Any closer and we would boil; any farther and we would freeze. And our planet must remain about the same distance from the sun in its orbit, which means its orbit must be nearly circular (which it is). This is very interesting because most of the other planets have an elliptical orbit. Coincidence? The force of gravity is perfect, allowing the universe to expand at just the right speed. And water is the only known substance in which the solid phase is less dense than the liquid phase. This allows ice to form on the tops of lakes and oceans instead of sinking to bottom—allowing fish and marine life continued existence during cold seasons.

And did you know that the atom itself bears witness to a Designer? The neutron is slightly more massive than the proton, which means that free neutrons can decay and become protons. But if things were reversed and the protons tended to decay, then everything composed of hydrogen would decay. Can you remember back to your science class and name two important things composed of hydrogen? Both the sun and water would decay, along with our observed universe which is estimated to be about 74% hydrogen.

Perhaps one could believe some of these things occurred by random chance. But could any remotely logical person truly believe they ALL occurred by random chance? The evolutionist says yes. That person believes there is no Intelligent Creator who has guided the creation process. I say otherwise. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

BTW...Here's my favorite site on this subject: Answers in Genesis

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reflections on the Pope's Visit to America

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the U.S. gave me a 1999 flashback. Almost 10 years ago, it was the globe-trotting Pope John Paul II who showed up in America, even venturing into America’s heartland and my home state of Missouri.

Papal visits are rare things, especially to Midwest America. And John Paul II was a morally good man who had pursued many worthy endeavors. However, a dark, theological cloud hung over the Pope’s visit back then—highlighting his spiritual deception.
A few months earlier, in the quiet halls of the Vatican, John Paul II had issued Incarnationis Mysterium –a papal bull declaring the jubilee year. At the center of this declaration was the practice of indulgences from punishment for sin, the practice which prompted the Protestant Reformation. This practice is a serious divergence from genuine, biblical faith and must be repudiated by true Christians.

Pope Clement VI was the first to start this deviant doctrine. In the mid-1300’s, he advanced the notion that the church was a treasury of merits stored up by saints. In the 16th century, Pope Julius II revived the practice of selling indulgences to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, prompting the fiery dissent of Martin Luther.

The Bible clearly teaches that God (and only God) forgives sin. The church is not the dispenser of forgiveness. Rather, the penitent sinner has access to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. As Martin Luther wrote in his 95 theses in 1517, “Any truly repentant Christian has a rich right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.”

And so, Pope John Paul’s Incarnationis Mysterium widened the gulf between Catholics and Protestants. On one hand there is the teaching that you must come to the church for forgiveness; on the other is the belief that you must go to God who alone has the power to wash you and cleanse you.

Pope Benedict XVI has done nothing to correct this theological departure. In fact, his own writings further underscore this historic rift between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the Bible.

So in all the hype and excitement over this latest papal visit, let us commit ourselves afresh to the truth of the Bible and let us resist strongly any and all teachings which pervert the truth of the Holy Scriptures. Finally, may we witness to our Catholic friends and relatives of the grace and forgiveness that is offered directly by God through His Son Jesus Christ.


PS: Somewhat off point, but is anyone else annoyed by our President's language? Whenever he refers to God it is usually a very detached "the Almighty". When welcoming Pope Benedict, the President said: "Holy Father, thank you for making this journey to America. Our nation welcomes you." Does one sound more reverent than the other?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

“I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, while stumping in Pennsylvania, responded to a question at a town hall meeting over the weekend about his views on the AIDS crisis. Obama began speaking about the importance of both comprehensive sex education and abstinence. Here’s the controversial comment in its context:
"The most important prevention is education, which should include...teaching the children... you know, that sex is not something casual... Look, I've got two daughters--9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

Obama’s statement reveals his dismal respect for human life and his outrageous perspective that a baby is “punishment.” The Bible clearly reveals God’s viewpoint on human life regarding babies: “Children are a heritage from the Lord and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3). Babies are reward, not punishment. They are a blessing, not a curse. Let us hope that Obama’s daughters do remain chaste until marriage, for their own sakes as well as a future grandchild reading Grandpa Obama’s words.

And since when is contraception 100% effective? Obama speaks more like a Planned Parenthood propagandist than an informed Presidential hopeful. The sex ed crowd has done a masterful job foisting this myth upon the American people, but the fact remains only abstinence is 100% effective in stopping the physical and emotional effects of sexual intercourse.


Should we be assuming that Barack and Michelle plan on offering training to their daughters on safe needle drug use? I’m sure he teaches his daughters abstinence in the area of drugs as well, “but if they make a mistake” I’m sure he wouldn’t want them “punished” with some disease from shared needles. And is Obama’s “abstinence plus” philosophy also extended to others areas of morality like bank robberies? I’m sure he wants his daughters to abstain from crime, “but if they make a mistake” is he teaching them how to make a fast getaway?

The philosophy of Barack Obama articulated this past weekend has about as much moral weight as Jello. The only consistent and reasonable position in sexuality and all other moral issues is to teach abstinence only. A part of that equation is teaching that consequences come from a result of violating that code.