Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hitchens Challenge

Christopher Hitchens’ challenge:  ““Name me an ethical (moral) statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer.”

Answer:  A non-believer can neither make an ethical statement nor perform any ethical action.

Rational:  First let’s try to get our heads around some working definitions.  Since Christopher is secular, then we will go with secular sources for the key definitions.  We will take ethical to mean - of or relating to moral (concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character) principles.
Now, let’s suppose that non-believer Chris wants to do something ethical.  The first thing he needs to do is determine some wrong or bad behavior.  Let’s suppose that Chris decides that in general lying is wrong or bad.  Chris then states: “Lying is wrong or bad.”  Chris goes for 100 days and states only the truth.  On the 101st day a situation comes up that Chris did not think about before where he determines that lying in this case is the right thing to do.  Chris modifies his ethics and now lies only in the cases where he determines lying is not bad.  This will quickly become confusing for Chris and others to follow but let’s say we can all live with this as ethical behavior; Chris’s set of principles are just complicated but he manages to live by them for another 200 days.  On the 301st day a situation comes up where Chris is tempted to lie, let’s say for personal gain or convenience.  Now, Chris knows this is wrong.  He has had someone lie to him before because it was convenient for them and Chris did not like that one little bit; yes, it is wrong by Chris’s standards and Chris is fully aware of it.  However, there is so much personal gain or convenience at stake for Chris that he does it; he lies.  Most would say, yeah ok, Chris messed up but he is still ethical, or, more to Christopher’s point, Chris has stated and done ethical things in the past.
Wait just a minute.  This one act erodes all of the efforts Chris has made in the past and all of the efforts Chris will make in the future with respect to telling the truth.  It uncovers the true basis of his schema.  Chris does not tell the truth because lying is wrong or bad; Chris tells the truth when it is convenient and lies when it is convenient.  That is all Chris has ever done that is all he, by himself, will ever do.  Chris has not lived the past 300 days by his ethic of lying is bad.  Lying, to Chris, is only bad in theory.  In practice, it can be very convenient.

You might be now ready to beg that Chris does have an ethic:  Inconvenience is bad.  I caution you.  For if so, you have come to the description of human character summed up in Romans 3.  You might be comforted at this point by the fact that believers, of their own strength and will can neither make an ethical statement nor perform an ethical action.  We all have the same problem.  The solution?  There is one; Jesus.  John 15: 5 – 8.  So, the believer can make ethical statements and perform ethical acts by the power of the Holy Spirit in him or her.  The non-believer, at best, can only do what is convenient.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Modern Cosmology

 I was reading this morning the comedy of modern cosmology.  One positive note; of late these cosmologists seem to be worming up to the idea “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:” – Psalm 104: 2  You see some of them think the Universe has a diameter of 156 billion light years while all the lemmings agree the Universe is about 13.7 billion light years old.  Read for yourself from

“"All the distance covered by the light in the early universe gets increased by the expansion of the universe," explains Neil Cornish, an astrophysicist at Montana State University. "Think of it like compound interest."

Need a visual? Imagine the universe just a million years after it was born, Cornish suggests. A batch of light travels for a year, covering one light-year. "At that time, the universe was about 1,000 times smaller than it is today," he said. "Thus, that one light-year has now stretched to become 1,000 light-years."

All the pieces add up to 78 billion-light-years. The light has not traveled that far, but "the starting point of a photon reaching us today after traveling for 13.7 billion years is now 78 billion light-years away," Cornish said. That would be the radius of the universe, and twice that -- 156 billion light-years -- is the diameter. That's based on a view going 90 percent of the way back in time, so it might be slightly larger.”

If you extrapolate this idea just a bit more, then a 6,000 year old Universe is not hard to see.  I am reminded of a problem I gave my high school students when I was a math teacher.

Just for fun let’s say that the 13.7 billion year age is an accurate coordinate time age for the Universe and that the 78 billion light year radius is equally as good and that it all started at the big bang.  What would the proper time number look like?  Well, the velocity of the expansion after the big bang is generally agreed to be preposterous or insane or some other such adjective by these folks ( LUDICROUS SPEED).   Ok, maybe not ludicrous speed.  Let’s try an average rate of expansion of 0.9999999999999c where c is the speed of light.  According to the accepted formula, ΔƮ = ΔT*SQRT(1 – v^2/c^2), for proper time ΔƮ, then due to the observable phenomenon of time dilation proper time would be about 6,128 years.  In relativity, proper time is the elapsed time between two events as measured by a clock that passes through both events.

In other words, if we would have lived through the events of the supposed big bang as they unfolded the current physics tells us that it would have taken no more than a few thousand years (proper time) for the Universe as we know it to have formed.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day Two

Genesis 1

6 And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."

     Jeremiah 10:12

     He has made the earth by His power,
     He has established the world by His wisdom,
    And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.

     2 Peter 3: 5

     this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old,
     and the earth standing out of water and in the water,

     Psalm 136: 6

     To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament and it was so.

     Job 38: 8 - 11

     “Or who shut in the sea with doors,
     When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
       When I made the clouds its garment,
     And thick darkness its swaddling band;
      When I fixed My limit for it,
    And set bars and doors;
      When I said,
     ‘This far you may come, but no farther,
     And here your proud waves must stop!’

     Proverbs 8: 27 - 29

     When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
     When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
       When He established the clouds above,
     When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
       When He assigned to the sea its limit,
     So that the waters would not transgress His command,
     When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

     Psalm 148: 4

     Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
     And you waters above the heavens!

8 And God called the firmament Heaven.  And the evening and the morning were the second day.

     1 Chronicles 16: 24 - 27

     Declare His glory among the nations,
     His wonders among all peoples.
       For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
     He is also to be feared above all gods.
       For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
     But the Lord made the heavens.
       Honor and majesty are before Him;
     Strength and gladness are in His place.

     Matthew 24: 30

     Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes
     of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the
     clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day One

Genesis 1

1 In the beginning God

     Psalm 90: 2

     Before the mountains were brought forth,
     Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
     Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

     Isaiah 63: 16

     Doubtless You are our Father,
     Though Abraham was ignorant of us,
     And Israel does not acknowledge us.
     You, O Lord, are our Father;
     Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.

     Romans 1: 20

     For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by
     the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without

created the Heaven and the Earth

     John 1: 1 - 3

     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
     He was in the beginning with God.
     All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. 

     Jeremiah 4: 23

     I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void;
     And the heavens, they had no light.

     Isaiah 45: 18

     For thus says the Lord,
     Who created the heavens,
     Who is God,
     Who formed the earth and made it,
     Who has established it,
     Who did not create it in vain,
     Who formed it to be inhabited:
     “I am the Lord, and there is no other.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

     Psalm 24: 1 - 2

     The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
     The world and those who dwell therein.
     For He has founded it upon the seas,
     And established it upon the waters.

     Job 26: 13a

     By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

     Psalm 33: 6

     By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
     And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.

     Psalm 148: 5

     Let them praise the name of the Lord,
     For He commanded and they were created.

     Hebrews 11: 3

     By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things
     which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

     2 Corinthians 4: 6

     For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts
     to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

     Isaiah 45: 7

     I form the light and create darkness,
     I make peace and create calamity;
     I, the Lord, do all these things.

     James 1: 17

     Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,
     with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

     Psalm 74: 16a

     The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;

And the evening and the morning were the first day.

     Job 38: 12

     “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
    And caused the dawn to know its place,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

That Great City!

Revelation 21: 10 -- "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,"
Revelation 21: 16 -- "And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.  The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal."
So, how big is that?  Will we, Christians, all fit?
Well a furlong here is a Greek stadion which is 1/8th of a mile.  So, the Jerusalem cube has a volume of 3,375,000,000 cubic miles.  That sounds kinda big; but how big?  Let's compare it to the space we live in here on earth.
The radius of the earth is approximately 3,959 miles.  So, the volume of space we live in can be calculated using the following formula:

V = 4(pi)((3959 + x)^3 - 3959^3)/3

where x is the altitude in miles above sea level for the top of our space.

According to National Geographic the highest town in the world is La Rinconada, Peru some 3.2 miles above sea level.  For x = 3.2, V = 630,785,690 cubic miles.  The Great City is more than 5 times as large.  Ok, commercial jets fly at about 45,000 feet or about 8.5 miles.  For x = 8.5, V = 1,677,767,946 cubic miles.  That is about half the size of the Great City.  The tropopause has an altitude of 10.6 miles.  This is the end of weather.  For x = 10.6, V = 2,093,384,542 cubic miles, not even 2/3 rds the size of the Great City.  In fact, not until x > 17, well into the stratosphere, does the volume of "our space" reach that of the Great City.  Bacterial spores are the only things that live in the stratosphere.  So, I think we can safely say that the Great City is larger than the total of space that we all, saved and unsaved, live in now.  Glory to God.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Abortion: Are we doing the right thing?

In 1973 the United States Supreme Court decided that an unborn child is not a person.  Therefore, the fetus is not entitled to the rights guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States.  In their course of making this determination they refused to take up the question of human life.  That is:  Is the unborn child / fetus a human being or not?  They found themselves not up to the task of answering this question.  However, they did conceded that its answer would be the determining factor could it be ascertained.
So let me ask the pro-choice people of the year 2013, if the fetus is a human being, then is its life more important than the privacy of the woman whose body is inflicted by this parasite?  If the answer is yes, then should we not now, with the vast medical knowledge attained over the past 40 years, re-examine this question?  Perhaps we can answer it more surely than could the cowardly justices of 1973.  Perhaps we could all agree that while a pregnancy can be enormously inconvenient for the mother, if the unborn baby is a human life, then we are bound to respect the life of an innocent human being over the convenience of another.  Do you have the stomach to look at this issue anew with an open mind to medical and biological facts?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Can a Christian forfeit his/her salvation? -- (4)

(4)   The assurance
Philippians 1: 3 – 6
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,  for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Ephesians 1: 13 – 14
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
1 John 2: 18 – 19
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the[c] Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
Hebrews 13: 5
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Romans 8: 28 – 39
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.