How Is the Creationist’s View Scientific If It Requires Faith?

All worldviews require faith.

Dictionary.com has many definitions of faith, from which I’ve captured a few excerpts: “confidence or trust  . . .” and “belief not based on proof . . .” and “belief in god . . .” and “the obligation of loyalty . . .” and my favorite, “belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standard of merit, etc.[1]”

Many people associate faith with “belief not based on proof” . . . but that begs the question . . . What is proof?  Or maybe more accurately, Who is proof?

If you showed a creationist and an evolutionist a fossil, you would have very different opinions about what the proof was.  The same evidence, but both would draw different conclusions . . . because both have different beliefs.

A person can believe based on

  • Evidence
  • Arguments
  • Lines of thoughts (e.g. philosophy, psychology)
  • Previous beliefs
  • Conditioned response
  • Treatment (e.g., if someone is treated well by a person believing X, (s)he might decide to believe X too.)

These categories blend together in ways that make it incredibly hard (if not impossible) for us to sort out what comes from what.

Science itself is a belief: the belief that the mind is logical, that the universe is logical, and that information can be gathered from it.

I am not ashamed to say I have faith, and that faith changes how I look at the world.  I put on my “Biblical glasses” as Ken Ham calls it, and I look through those glasses when I think about philosophy, science, history, literature, psychology, and so on and so on.  I will freely admit that I do not see perfectly clearly at all times, but this is not because my glasses are out of focus, but rather because I sometimes close my eyes!

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t believe in science.  Being a Christian gives me a reason to believe in science.

Actually, I believe very much in science!  I love to learn about science!  I look at the evidence through my worldview, Jesus Christ, just like an atheist looks at the evidence through his/her humanist worldview.  The difference isn’t the evidence, but the worldview.

And worldview is what belief is all about.

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Colossians 2:8, NLT)

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[1] From dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


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Published in: on February 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What is the probability that, if there is a God, God is the Christian God?

What is the probability that, if there is a God, God is the Christian God?

Probability is useful for things we can test.  By ‘test’, I mean things that we can experience repeatedly to check the ‘odds’, like chance of rainfall or buying a lottery ticket.  (See What is the probability there is a God? blog for more information.)  We can’t calculate the probability of a God because probability is only reliable if we can test likelihoods over and over.  Can you imagine being able to do that with God?  Of course not!  If there is a God, then there is no universe He won’t be in, and if there isn’t a God, then there is no universe He will be in!

So I think a better question than What is the probability that God is the Christian God is rather Who is the most likely God?

Unless we believe a god ‘evolved’, we have to assume that God has been around since before we were.  (Evolved god = no god, as a god is not just a being in power but the creator.  For more information see Relativity blog.)

What would be characteristics we would expect to see in the real God?

  • Intelligence (as the Creator of the Universe)
  • Creativity (as the Creator of the Universe)
  • Beauty (as the Creator of the Universe)
  • Immortality (to sustain the Universe)

What type of god wouldn’t qualify based on intelligence?

  • A cow
  • A tree
  • A gold cow
  • An old tree, etc.
  • ‘Mother Earth’
  • ‘Nature

Something I’ve always thought was true: sandwiches did not invent sandwiches.  Mice did not invent mice.  Necklaces did not invent necklaces.  Something not in existence yet can’t create itself.  As of yet, I have not seen a single thing come into existence that made itself.  Baskets didn’t appear out of thin air one day and *poof* weave themselves.  Panda bears didn’t drop out of nowhere saying proudly, “We did it!  Now we exist!”

Therefore, nature does not make nature.  This includes the universe.  The universe did not make the universe, and science has given strong evidence that the universe was not always here[1][2][3][4].  No totem pole god, no dirt god, no metal god is going to work, because all of these are created substances.  And, besides, they are not intelligent.  The universe is not ‘smart’.  That would be personifying the universe when the universe isn’t a person!

The God of the Bible is intelligent.  He has had a masterplan since the beginning of the universe for how to restore people’s relationship with God.  That’s right—God knew Adam and Eve would sin before they sinned . . . and God had a plan before He even made them for how to bring them back to Him.

Some people don’t understand why God would still make the earth, knowing the messes that would happen . . . the pains and struggles . . . but they don’t really realize what they are saying.  Would you rather not exist?  Would you really want to be nothing?  You see, that God made humans in spite of what He knew would happen makes an incredible statement for the love of God.  God could have easily made more animals and plants to fill the earth, and left humanity out of it altogether.  But God wanted to create us!  God loved humans enough that He created them even knowing the disasters that would happen . . . because He wanted them to have an eternal existence in Him.

The Tree of Life was given to Adam and Eve as a free gift . . . and when they turned away from God, and cut themselves off from His Life . . . He gave them a second chance.  This time, however, the life could not come just from that tree.  If Adam and Eve ate from that tree as sinners, they would never die and therefore be forced to live eternally on this earth in the current state of things.  This would be no gift!

No, in order for people to eat from that tree again, they had to be right with God again.  Notice that God made them right with Him to begin with!  When He made them, He didn’t ask them to do ten commandments for Him; prove themselves through accomplishments; earn His love through hardships.  No, they were created with the incredible freebie of being right with God! They naturally, instictively obeyed God’s commandments without even needing to hear them, as we obey gravity whether we have been told its law or not.

Even though God created them perfect, with everything going for them, He still gave them another chance . . . this one costing Him the greatest cost of all . . . Himself.

What type of god wouldn’t qualify based on creativity?

  • A dull god
  • A shallow god

Sadly, there are people who think Christianity is boring.  It’s crazy to think that we can read and become excited over such stories as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight , the Marvel comics, and video games that feature characters like Link and Pokèmon and Mario . . . and miss the great adventure of the Bible!  Some people have heard the Bible stories unenthusiastically presented for so long that they see them as “ho hum”, but imagine reading for the first time about the creation of the earth . . . the collossal worldwide flood . . . the death and resurrection of God Himself!  The Bible is packed with stories about humanity’s relationship to God, everything from the miraculous events like men being thrown into a fire and not burning; an enormous sea parting for slaves;  a few fish and loaves turning into a feast for all. . . to seemingly ‘ordinary’ events like how Ruth meets Boaz or Timothy pastors his church.

What type of god wouldn’t qualify based on beauty?

  • An evil god

There have been evil ‘gods’ worshipped throughout history, gods who required human sacrifices, even children sacrifices, and gods who enjoy torment and trickery.  Satanism is the ultimate example of evil worship, but any ‘god’ who causes people to turn away from the true God is an evil god, whether it be more obvious, such as the ancient Mayan gods, or more subtle, such as the obsession for wealth.

Some people try to assert that the Christian God is evil, but nothing could be further from the truth!  I’ve already discussed why God chose to create humans knowing Adam would make the wrong choice.  God doesn’t allow evil to happen in the world because He enjoys it or because it makes His goodness seem “better”.  God’s goodness is fully good without any evil present.  God is not like a novel writer, creating conflict to prove Himself the hero.  God is already the hero as the creator.  God did not “set it up” so people would sin and He would have to sacrifice His Son.  This is absurd when you realize that Jesus is God and therefore any pain Jesus endured . . . His Father in Heaven had to endure as well.   (For more information, see the blog, If Jesus is God’s Son, how was He with God from the beginning?)

God does not cause people to sin and He does not want people to sin.  He was not happy to give His Son to die.  Some people think it was “mean” of God to give His Son to die, but they forget that Jesus is God and that Jesus’ death is the only way to salvation.  If God hadn’t given His Son, everybody would go to Hell.

Some people think God is evil because He sends people to Hell, but they are not thinking about how morally irresponsible and cruel it would be to have everyone living in Heaven together, including unrepentant serial killers, child abusers, tormentors, and so on.  (For more information, read the blog Is the Bible just one of many holy books? The All-Roads Idea and the blog, coming soon Lord willing, Why is there a Hell?))

What type of god wouldn’t qualify based on immortality?

  • A god that is a “fad” god
  • A god that has not been God since the beginning of the earth (and all things!)

The Christian God revealed Himself to the very first two people on the earth.  He didn’t make Himself any mystery.  And through time, He revealed Himself time and time again, most importantly in the history-changing, eternity-changing event of His death and resurrection on the cross, to the ultimate revelation described in the last book of the Bible, Revelation.

Some people think God isn’t revealing Himself now, and therefore He must be a fraud.  But this is totally false!  God does reveal Himself now.  Since the time of Christ, there have been Christians who not only have been given the incredible gift of being right with God and knowing Him, but who have also been given the opportunity of sharing that incredible gift with others!  Certainly not everyone who claims to be a Christian is, but genuine Christians find themselves sharing their testimony throughout the earth, everything from what I’m trying to do in some small way in this blog, to the amazing efforts of (true) missionaries who have been persecuted and even killed trying to give people from all nations and speaking all languages the Message of Jesus Christ!

These lyrics to God from the songwriter David encapsulate the intelligence, creativity, beauty, and immortality of God far more beautifully than I have done:

I will exalt you, my God and King,

and praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise you every day;

yes, I will praise you forever.

Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!

No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;

let them proclaim your power.

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor

and your wonderful miracles.

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;

I will proclaim your greatness.

Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;

they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

The Lord is good to everyone.

He showers compassion on all his creation.

All of your works will thank you, Lord,

and your faithful followers will praise you.

They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;

they will give examples of your power.

They will tell about your mighty deeds

and about the majesty and glory of your reign.

For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.

You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;

he is gracious in all he does.

The Lord helps the fallen

and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

The eyes of all look to you in hope;

you give them their food as they need it.

When you open your hand,

you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in everything he does;

he is filled with kindness.

The Lord is close to all who call on him,

yes, to all who call on him in truth.

He grants the desires of those who fear him;

he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

The Lord protects all those who love him,

but he destroys the wicked.

I will praise the Lord,

and may everyone on earth bless his holy name

forever and ever. (Psalm 145, NLT)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.


[1] Evolution Exposed: Earth Science Chapter 2: The Big Bang? by Roger Patterson, 2010, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ee2/big-bang

[2] “So Long, Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!” by Bert Thompson, Ph.D., 2003, http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/310

[3] The Universe Confirms the Bible by Jason Lisle, Ph.D., 2008 http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tba/universe-confirms-bible

[4] Who Created God? Paul S. Taylor, adapted from author Ray Comfort, http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c039.html

What is the probability that there is a God?

What is the probability I am experiencing reality right now and not a dream or illusion?

What is the probability that the people around me are thinking beings and not just robots?

What is the probability that the universe is real?

I think these questions are really impossible to answer with probability.

So far as I can see, probability only works for events that we have measured before, preferably many times.  The more something is measured, the more likely our statistics are to be accurate.

If I only flip a coin once to see if I get heads or tails, I am not get an accurate probability.  I’ll either think that the coin lands on heads 100% of the time or tails 100% of the time.  If I flip a coin 5 times, the odds are that I will have a more accurate, although it is still possible that I flipped to heads 100% of the time or tails 100% of the time.  If I flip a coin 10,000 times, the odds are overwhelming that I will have a much better probability, very close (thought probably not perfect) to 50-50.

So I don’t see how we can reasonably assign a probability to something that we can’t test even once[1].

I can say that there is a 1 in 33,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that if I make a gingerbread cookie it will jump off the tray and run away.  The problem is . . . we have never seen a gingerbread cookie get up off a tray and run away.  So how can I establish any probability about this at all?  How do I know that a gingerbread cookie would ever jump off a tray?  What if it’s never possible?

So how can I make a probability guess about how likely it would be for the universe to come into being on its own?  I could give a number with all kinds of zeros behind it, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible.  I have never seen a universe come into being, so how could I know the probability that a universe would come into being on its own?  What if it’s never possible?

On the flip side, what is the probability that God exists?  What number can I ascribe to this?  Once again, I could string a bunch of zeroes behind a one, but that would not mean a God does or does not exist.  What if there is no chance there’s a God?  Or what if it’s not possible the universe can exist without God?

Probability-wise, I’m not getting anywhere fast on any of these questions.  Probability-wise, I’m not getting anywhere slow either.  I’m not getting anywhere at all.

Probability might be helpful when I’m rolling a die[2] but it isn’t much good at determining what occurs or has occurred outside the observable realm.

When probability doesn’t work for my most important questions . . . where will I find my answers?

I think about Elijah’s prayer:

“O LORD, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” (1 Kings 18:37, NLT)


[1] (unless, of course, a higher authority tells us the probability!)

[2] (however, only to an extent, since it can never guarantee me what I will roll, nor can it promise me that my roll is not influenced by a higher will, who could have created mathematics)

See The New Answers Book 2: Chapter 6: Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life by Mark Riddle, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab2/natural-processes-origin-of-life

Photograph by Flare, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/75898532@N00/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Doesn’t the scientific evidence prove evolution?

Science presents evidence; scientists draw conclusions.

How we draw conclusions . . . tells what we believe.

God’s message is near you, on your lips and in your heart—that is, the message of faith that we preach. If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved.10 For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved.The scripture says,
         Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed. This includes everyone, because there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles; God is the same Lord of all and richly blesses all who call to him.As the scripture says,
         Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved. (Romans 10:8b-13, GNT)

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To see what creationists believe,

Answers in Genesis

Creation Ministries International

Creation Research Society

Institute for Creation Research

QuestionEvolution.com

Evidence Press

True Origin

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The difficulty of persuading someone a loving God does exist and accepts us freely through His Son

Suppose I decide to interview 100 people on how they got to work today.

Most people tell me they drove to work.  A few people told me they took the bus.  One person even tells me he biked!  “Fine, fine,” I say.

But then this rather serene-looking woman walks up.  I ask the regular question, “How did you get to work today?”

She says, “I took a jet.”

I look at her a little funny and say, “No you didn’t.”

She says, “Wait a minute, how do you know I didn’t?”

I say, “Well, I don’t see a jet anywhere.”

She says, “It’s parked just behind the building.  I’ll show it to you if you want.”

I say, “You’ll show me the jet?  That’s real funny.  Really, how did you get here?”

“Really,” she says, “I took a jet.”

I’m getting irritated now.  “Really,” I say, “how did you get here?”

She looks a little surprised.  “I took a jet.  It’s the best way to travel.”

I stick out my lower jaw and I am really getting annoyed.  “It is not the best way to travel,” I say.

“How do you know?” she asks.

“Because I don’t travel that way!” I shout.  “And besides, you do not have a jet!  There’s no way.  Your clothes came from a thrift shop and you didn’t even get a decent haircut!  YOU DON’T HAVE A JET!”

She crinkles her forehead.  “. . . What do my clothes and haircut have to do with me taking a jet?  Oh!  You mean I’m not rich enough?”  She laughs.  “You’re right about that.  I don’t have any money to pay for a jet.  No, no.  The jet is free.”

I narrow my eyes.  “The jet is free.  Yeah, right.  Next thing you’re going to tell me you take a rocket ship back home.”

“No,” she says confidently.  “Just the jet.”

I sigh and set my jaw.  “I’m going to ask you this question again.  How did you get to work—AND DON’T SAY A JET!

She blinks a few times.  “Well, I can’t really say anything then.”

“Fine!” I say.  “You’re disqualified! You don’t get to be in the statistics I’m writing!  SO THERE!

She blinks a few more times.

“. . . Ok,” she says.  “But it still doesn’t change the fact that I got here in a jet.”

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The idea of a loving God who freely gives us salvation through the sacrifice of His only Son on a cross . . . seems more impossible to believe than that an ordinary woman could arrive to work on a free jet.  And yet . . . the free gift of Jesus’ payment for our sin because of His vast love is the foundation of the Bible and the heartbeat of Christianity.

Paul explains our God well:

“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 hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'” (Acts 17:24-28a, NIV)

And how we can have a miraculous, unthinkable, unbelievable friendship with Him because of His unimaginable determination to open the only Way possible back to Him:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:1-10, NLT)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  (Romans 8:1-4, NIV)

Find out more from God Himself . . .

Listen to the Bible

Read the Bible (this link starts at John 1)

Find out more from Christ-followers . . .

Find out more, and talk to a person (if you want)

Explore your thinking

Watch clips of Christian answers to lots of questions

How to become a Christian

Read answers to questions about Jesus

Short videos investigating Christianity

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Geisler & Turek

Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims: Approaches to Christian Apologetics by Gordon Lewi

Can We Trust the Gospels? by Mark D. Roberts

The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, and The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

Hard Questions, Real Answers by William Lane Craig

Why would I believe in a young earth?

2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 15:4, and 2 Peter 1:20-21 give no allowance for a "somewhat useful" Scripture. I must decide either 1) every word of the Word is true or 2) God is a liar or 3) people have made God up.

If the God of the Bible is perfect, His guidebook is perfect.  The Word is not just an authored book, the Word is a manifestation of the Author (see John 1:1-5).

For me to believe the God of the Bible is who He says He is, I must believe His Word is perfect.  The Word sets up an incredible claim: either every word God inspired specially chosen people through the ages to write is infallible, or the entire message is lost in imperfection.

I believe, with everything I am, that the Word is infallible.  I could not think otherwise because God has opened my eyes to read and my ears to hear the language of God, set down perfectly and immovably in the 66 books of Scripture.

This foundation is much broader than only a belief in a young earth.  This foundation is the starting point for why I accept every claim in Scripture [1].

There are Christians who genuinely believe the Word of God is infallible, but they believe God used millions or billions of years to create the Universe rather than the 6 days the Bible clearly outlines in Genesis 1.

To harmonize these two beliefs, they have to add time in between days of before the first day or believe the days as symbolic.  They also must believe the order of events is symbolic if they believe in the Big Bang.

Unless the Christian believes God used millions or billions of years for some processes but created Adam from dust[2], Adam is believed to be an evolved ape-like creature who God “finished” or merely “adopted and breathed into” rather than created from dust as Scripture says.

Outside the Garden of Eden, the world was already full of the skeletons of animals who have struggled to survive and failed.  To harmonize this with the Bible would have to mean death of animals is

very good (Genesis 1:31).

Ape-like creatures, who would one day become human, also suffered and died.  But God did not show care or concern for them until one day He “adopted” two [3]?

If instead of being the first two humans, Adam and Eve were two of many apes-like creatures evolving (as some progressive creationists now believe), why did the curse fall on all of humanity?  And what is the consequence of sin if there was already suffering and death[4]?

But most deadly of all, if the first Adam was symbolic . . . why do we believe the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, is an actual Person?  To believe in a symbolic Christ is to destroy the entire Bible, the purpose of faith, the atoning power of Jesus, and to condemn us all–every single one of us—to the sinner’s Hell where we belong.

Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47, NLT)

Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.  Certainly sin was in the world before the law was given, but no record of sin is kept when there is no law.  Nevertheless, death ruled from the time of Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the same way Adam did when he disobeyed.  He is a foreshadowing of the one who would come.

But God’s free gift is not like Adam’s offense.  For if many people died as the result of one man’s offense, how much more have God’s grace and the free gift given through the kindness of one man, Jesus the Messiah, been showered on many people!  Nor can the free gift be compared to what came through the man who sinned.  For the sentence that followed one man’s offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift brought justification, even after many offenses.  For if, through one man, death ruled because of that man’s offense, how much more will those who receive such overflowing grace and the gift of righteousness rule in life because of one man, Jesus the Messiah! (Romans 5:12-17, ISV)

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17, NLT)

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[1] I am ashamed to even use the word “claim” to describe the Truth.  God has given us the freedom to choose to accept His Word or not, and this is what I am trying to express.  The reality is that whether or not I accept the claims of Scripture, they will always be truth.  Regardless of whether I accept the claim of gravity, if I jump off a cliff it’s not going to go well for me.  To an infinitely greater extent, what I conclude about God’s Word has no impact on its validity but instead on the state of my soul.

[2] This doesn’t satisfy the evolutionist, who insists man came from ape-like creatures, or explain why God would describe each day as a day but only day 6 (or certain days) to be literal.

[3] If Adam and Eve evolved from ape-like creatures, then Eve’s creation must be symbolic as well, for she could hardly have been made from Adam’s rib if evolution is true.

[4] If the only consequence of Adam’s sin was Hell, then the rest of creation did not actually suffer any more than it already was.  But Romans 8:22 says,

We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.

Romans 8:18-23 is a crystal-clear explanation of the connection between the fall of creation, suffering, death, and our sin.  My prayer is you will take the time to read this passage, and explore what the Bible says about the curse (e.g., Genesis 3) for yourself.  Biblecc.com and Biblegateway.com are easy ways to look up Scripture.

Photograph by Savio Sebastian, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/savioseb/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Why does God allow death and suffering?

C.S. Lewis calls it “the problem of pain” in his book by the same name.  Philosophers ask the question . . . but this is not a question that stays only in the realm of the intellect.  It is a question buried deep in our souls, from the instant tragedy bursts the fragile bubble of dreams we have when we start this life.

The question is not bound by class, age, ethnicity, culture, or religion.  It roams our souls, seeking an answer that can somehow patch up the holes blown through our hopes: Why would God allow death and suffering?

I lost my father to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, over a slow 21 months of dying.  Right after him, I lost a wonderful boy I’d met in college who had a degenerative muscle disease.  A few years ago my mother had a occurrence of CMV, a virus that nearly killed her when I was a toddler, and developed with it spinal meningitis, confined to bed, her strength broken like a delicate eggshell.

For most of my teenage and early adult years, I struggled with depression and terrifying anxiety attacks.  I didn’t understand why God allowed so much suffering to happen, from the small experiences of having someone cuss me out or belittle me . . . to the large experiences like coping with my father’s terminal illness or the way so many people seemed to abandon him.

And then there are the people whose lives seem to prove the case for an uncaring god, the people who have one tragedy after another tragedy hit, the people who lose until they go bankrupt and lose some more.

My mom told me a story of a little girl she never forgot from her teenage years.  Every time she saw the little girl on the bus, the little girl would come up to her and sit on her lap.  She was always bruised and shaking, terrified to go home.  My mom has no idea what happened to her.

Why would God allow suffering, and why this excruciating kind of suffering?  Why would He allow this little girl to go home every day and not strike her parents dead?  Why would He allow so many people around the world to suffer . . . for long times . . . in terrible ways?

We want the answer to this question so badly . . . but do we ever think of what the alternative would be?

What would happen if God didn’t allow suffering?  What would happened if He intervened? If He stepped in every time, the entire world would have to end, because we live in a broken world, or we would have to be puppets, unable to love.  If the world had ended the first time suffering had occurred . . . think of how many people would never even had had the opportunity to know God, would never even have been conceived?

If God is only to intervene some of the time, on our times, we must answer impossible questions: How great would the suffering have to be before He intervenes?  How many people can be lost by never getting  a chance at life because another person’s suffering was ended?  For example, suppose we ask God to come and strike dead the parents of the abused child I talked about earlier.  But what if these very parents will have another child a year later?  What about that child’s life, who will never even exist?  What if that child later brings a discovery to the world that saves a hundred thousand lives?  What if that child has a child who has a child who has a child?

And for that matter, how great does the sin have to be for God to strike someone dead?  If it were just for sin, would He not strike every one of our fallen race dead?  And how can we measure how great the sin?  And what if the person about to be struck dead later repents and, in later years, brings great joy to a hundred people?  To ten people?  To one person?  What if that person would later save the life of someone else?  What if because of that person’s wickedness, a person witnessing the events decides not to sin, but would have sinned otherwise, and sinned even more wickedly?

Suffering can make us wonder why we are even here. But we were not created to suffer. And our Creator cared about our suffering enough to die to bring us back to Him.

There is no way we can play God.  No way.

Why does God allow death and suffering?  So He can bring about hope to as many people as will receive Him.

The worst death, the greatest suffering, was brought upon the most innocent person of all, Jesus Christ.  If there was any time it seemed God should step it, it was when His own holy and perfect Son died, His Son who had spent His life bringing healing and salvation to so many people, so many people who were viewed nearly worthless or vile in His society: women, children, lepers, the crippled, the poor, the hated ethnic groups, as well as people who gave themselves reason to be disliked–thieves, swindlers, prostitutes, liars, and even a man who lived among the caves of the dead.

But God did not stop evil religious leaders, the angry mob, or the wicked government.  Because if He had, there would be no salvation for us.  God–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit–chose this path of suffering that seemed as if it could only be a dead end, so that Jesus could make a way through the dead end for the salvation of all who trust Him.

I don’t have answers for why there is the suffering there is in this world, why some people suffer as they do, why some suffering is so particularly terrible.  But I know our suffering is part of the great price of sin that God didn’t want us to carry.

And I know the God who carried suffering.

Jesus called his disciples to him. He said, `I share the suffering of the people. They have been with me for three days and they have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry. If they go away hungry, they will get weak and fall on the way.’ (Matthew 15:31, WEB)

Jesus stopped and called the men to him. He asked, `What do you want me to do for you?’

They said, `Sir, we want to see.’

 Jesus was very sorry for them as he shared in their suffering. He touched their eyes, and right then they were able to see. They went with him. (Matthew 20:32-35, WEB)

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise again from death. And this Jesus, whom I am talking about, is the Christ. (Acts 17:3b, WEB)

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1st Photograph (statue), by Jo Ann Deasy, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/7682623@N02/

2nd Photograph (You suffer, but why?) by Pankaj, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/pankaj/

3rd Photograph (house) by Vagabond Shutterbug, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/waikikiweekly/

4th Photograph (statue) by Mykl Roventine, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/myklroventine/

5th Photograph (question) by Quinn Dombrowski, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/quinnanya/

6th Photograph (Why am I here?) from the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Kentucky, personal photograph.

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

Underlining of “suffering” is mine in each Scripture.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why Aren’t There More Signs of God?

I remember a song that used to be very popular, Calling All Angels by Train, which you can still hear on the radio from time to time.  The opening line is, “I need a sign to let me know you’re here.”

Ken Ham in Is There Really a God? handles this question with brilliance.

In his seminar, he discusses how some scientists have searched for ‘extraterrestrial life’ in signals received by earth.  In England, when SETI scientists made their discovery of a pulsar, they thought it might be evidence for extraterrestrials.  He also mentions, SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence).  Their website mission statement is: “To explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature, and prevalence of life in the universe”[1].  Their list of sponsors includes NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Geological Survey[2].

In spite of any scrutiny of outer space to discover intelligence, Ken Ham points out:

“If scientists would turn their telescopes into microscopes and look at our DNA, they would discover the most complex information system signal . . . that you could ever find in the entire universe.  But they look at that and say, ‘Chance, chance, chance!’ Then they hear, ‘Blip, blip, blip!’ [of a pulsar] and they say, ‘There’s intelligence out there [3]!’”

There’s an amazing ‘children’s’ story that comes to mind called Yellow and Pink by William Steig.  In the story, two marionettes wake up one day for the first time.  In other words, they come to “existence”.  They discuss with each other what might possibly have caused them to be what they are.  Yellow explains how a series of natural events could have occurred, but Pink is not so sure about all this.  The ending is fabulous.

Is it that we don’t have enough signs?  This is the very thing that many people in Jesus’ day complained about.  There is a theme throughout Jesus’ ministry that the people who did not want to believe Him were never satisfied with His signs, always wanting more.  (See Matthew 12:38-42, Matthew 16:1-4, Mark 8:11-14, Luke 11:29-32.)

Jesus performed all sorts of miracles.  He fed thousands of people with a few fish and loaves; He healed the sick; He freed the possessed; He cured skin diseases, blindness, deafness, muteness, and paralysis; He even resurrected the dead.  But the majority of the religious leaders still didn’t believe Him!

If I say, “Well, that’s just evidence miracles didn’t really happen!” . . . then why would the New Testament writers record such a crazy falsehood?  Why would they say that a group of the religious elite in their day, the people who had power and great authority, witnessed these miracles if they hadn’t?  Wouldn’t it be wiser to say all the miracles happened in a cave somewhere or a remote island?

No, the New Testament authors wrote that Jesus performed miracles in front of the religious elite because He did!  These leaders didn’t question that His miracles were miracles.  It was His authority that was the argument: Was He doing these things because He really was God?

This begs the question . . . if a person can heal the sick, the crippled, the haunted, and even the dead, but people won’t believe . . . what kind of sign is needed?  What would cause people to believe?

Jesus tells about a rich man and a poor man in a story.  In the story, the poor man lived a miserable life on earth and the rich man sees him often but never helps him.  They both die.  When the poor man dies, he goes to paradise and meets the highly respected Jewish forefather, Abraham.  When the poor man dies, he goes to Hell and is in total misery.

The rich man can see into paradise—but he can’t get there—and he calls out to Abraham  for help.  When he finds there is no way he can ever get help, he begs Abraham to send the poor man back to his brothers’ houses so his brothers can believe.  But here is what Abraham says:

“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”  (Luke 16:31, NIV)

Many religious leaders of Christ’s day proved this was true.  After Christ’s ultimate miracle, His resurrection, the Pharisees no more believed in Him than they had before.  Even when the guards they’d arranged to guard Jesus’ tomb came back with amazing news that an angel had rolled the stone away and Jesus was gone, they did not believe, not the belief that He was their Lord and Master.  I think they probably did believe He had been resurrected.

Signs in and of themselves, even the greatest sign of all, does not cause people to repent.  The only way to repent is to see your sin by the light of the Holy Spirit and want to turn from it.  So the real issue is not about miracles.  It’s about pride.

People who don’t think they have done anything wrong, or don’t want to believe they need rescuing, or deny that Jesus Christ is incomparably better than them . . . aren’t going to be convinced by miracles or angels or even the testimony of the resurrected Lord.  Only when He comes back will they believe.  And then, tragically, it will be too late.

These people (and I used to be one of them) have an arrogance that says, “Impress me”, rather than a humility that says, “I must find forgiveness for my failures.”  And so they search for razzle and dazzle, fog machines and strobe lights and pyrotechnics, and they miss the Message of the Almighty God.

Jesus, the One who says these things are true, says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

(Revelation 22:20, NIV)


[1] SETI Institute Homepage, http://www.seti.org/, 2011

[2] SETI Institute: About SETI Institute, http://www.seti.org/page.aspx?pid=234, 2011

[3] Is There Really a God? DVD, Ken Ham

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 15, 2011 at 10:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where did God come from? How did God become God?

God exists outside of time and space.  We exist inside time and space.  Trying to understand how God could exist without beginning is beyond our mindspan, because we exist in a place that has beginnings and endings.

Events will always be in sequential order, even outside of time.  Christ’s death will always have come after Adam’s sin and before His second coming.  But outside of time, there is no “beginning”.  I don’t pretend my mind is big enough to grasp this.

Therefore, God is.  He gives Himself the name “I AM” for a reason.  He is!

Is this hard to understand?  Well, it depends on how I look at it.  Is it hard for me to understand how someone could exist without beginning?  Absolutely!  But is it hard for me to understand that God could exist without a beginning?  Not really, because if God had a beginning, He wouldn’t be God.

Evolution on the other hand, believes something came out of nothing.  Where did the “stuff” come from that evolved and evolved and evolved and eventually “became” life?

First, there has to be a magic act where something spontaneously poofs out of nothing.  And then, that nonliving thing has to find some way to “make itself” living.

I can’t explain how God can exist without time and space, but I don’t need to, because I am not God.  On the other hand, it would seem the evolutionist would need to explain how something can come from nothing, since the process had to be simple enough that a nonliving, nothing, no time, no space “thing” (which was no thing) could do it.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14, Word English Bible)

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, before there was an Abraham, I AM!” (John 8:58, ISV)

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I Am he.  I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (John 8:28, NLT)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8, NIV)

Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. (Isaiah 41:4, ESV)

The Lord, the king of Israel, is the Lord All-Powerful, who saves Israel.  This is what he says: “I am the beginning and the end.  I am the only God. (Isaiah 44:6, NCV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 7:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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It’s not fair! Adam and Eve shouldn’t be allowed to make my choices for me!

Have you ever been in a situation where one person ruined something for everybody?

I was at an amusement park with my friends one time, and they were about to get on this spinning, spinning, spinning ride.  I knew one millisecond on that and I would want to get off.

But my friends stood in the long line.  When they were close to the front, sure to be on the ride next, one of the teenage kids getting off the ride messed with some kind of control.  He probably didn’t really “do” anything, but the whole ride had to be shut down and go through a process of safety testing before it could be reopened.  I believe it was going to be like a 45 minute process.  My friends got out of line, and everybody was pretty mad at the kid who messed with the control.

Was it “fair” for the ride operators to shut the ride down, when the people waiting in line had done nothing to deserve not getting on the ride?  Well, it was fair, because the operators weren’t going to put people on a ride that might, by some remote chance, end up killing someone.  Safety is nothing to mess with.

Sin is nothing to mess with either.  When Adam and Eve sinned, their soul changed hands from belonging to God to belonging to Satan.  Their DNA began the break down from perfection and eternal sustainability to deterioration and death.  God forced them to leave the garden of perfection because they weren’t perfect anymore.  It wouldn’t be wise to let imperfect people live in a world that had changed from paradise to purgatory. 

I can complain about the Eden kick-out until I think about what would have happened if God hadn’t kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden.  Everyone would have to live on this broken world until its destruction if we ate from the tree of life each day.  That would mean prisoners of wars would be endlessly tortured for thousands of years, never dying.  That would mean that people sold into slavery in unthinkable circumstances would be forced to live like that for thousands of years.  And if God hadn’t shut Adam and Eve out of Eden–if He had allowed them to eat from the tree of life–then His promise that they would die if they ate of the fruit would have been broken (Genesis 2:16), making God a liar–and God never lies (for example, see 1 Samuel 15:29, Titus 1:2).

Every time Eve conceived a child, that child would be fallen.  We now know that DNA is copied with mistakes, and this results in the birth impairments we see present in every creature on earth.  But more than just a physical change, every child was born with a sin nature: a disposition towards sin.  Adam and Eve had, without knowing it, sold their children into slavery!

Who would buy them back?

God would!

I’ve thought before that God was unfair to continue the human race after Adam and Eve sinned, thinking, “Why didn’t He just destroy the whole earth right then, if He knew there was going to be all kinds of suffering and death brought about because of sin?”

But keeping them alive is by the very grace of God!

God knew all the children who would ever be conceived as a result of Adam and Eve.  He wanted them to have the opportunity to know Him!  He couldn’t do that if they never came into existence.  And so He allows the world to continue, until His last child is brought into this world and has had an opportunity to know and believe in Him.  (How does God know who His children are?  Because He knows what people will choose.  This doesn’t mean He makes people choose something.  God chooses everyone to be in His kingdom who will receive Him (John 1:12), but not everyone will respond to the invitation.  See, for example, the parable of the Dinner Banquet in Luke 14.)

Did Adam and Eve mess everything up for all their children?  Yes! But there’s a second story going on here . . . and that is that their children actively participated in messing it up.  We all know in our heart that we have done wrong during our lives—that we have sometimes been the person messing things up for everybody else.

So we need redemption not only because of our ancestors Adam and Eve, but also because of our personal sin.  The bad news is we can’t get into Heaven the way we are.  The good news is we can get into Heaven through Jesus Christ.  The question is whether or not we want Him to bring us in by His sacrifice, His total payment of our sins.

I know I do.

God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift.  They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ.  God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins.  We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death.  This showed that God always does what is right and fair, as in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins. And God gave Jesus to show today that he does what is right.  God did this so he could judge rightly and so he could make right any person who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26, NCV)

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See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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