Category Archives: God

Why Is Creation Such an Emotionally Charged Issue?

Few issues are as intellectually complex and emotionally charged as the subject of creation. There are a number of reasons this issue arouses such strong emotions.

Both sides in the debate claim that the weight of evidence is on their side. For Christians and other believers in a personal God, the recently enunciated anthropic principle 1 affirms their conviction that creation requires a Creator (Psalm 8:3, 4; Romans 1:20). Believers in naturalism (atheistic evolution) counter with the assertion that there is no mathematical, scientific “proof” that God intervenes supernaturally in the “closed system” of natural cause and effect.

Another source of conflicting evidence relates to the problem of evil. Believers in a personal Creator maintain that the limitless beauty of the universe and the existence of consciousness, self-sacrifice and love imply a loving, personal Creator. Naturalists focus on the randomness of nature and the universality of disease, predation, and suffering. They insist that the destructiveness in nature can be explained more easily by an impersonal universe than a loving, personal Creator.

Unfortunately, some believers in creation have had obviously flawed philosophical and theological perspectives. For example, because the book of Joshua speaks of the “sun standing still” (Joshua 10:12-14 ), a significant number of prominent Christians in the past assumed that the sun revolved around the earth. Because of this misreading of Scripture, they opposed the Copernican revolution. 2. More recently, other prominent Christians have endorsed Ussher’s chronology 3, insisting that the world is exactly as old as a superficial reading of the Old Testament genealogies would imply 4. Such believers allowed their own interpretations of Scripture to become idols, outweighing overwhelming evidence and undermining the authority of Scripture itself.

Many atheistic evolutionists, on the other hand, make an idol of the scientific method. They are reductionists who “reduce” life to nothing more than what can be demonstrated by scientific fact. By restricting the realm of “fact” and “reality” only to things that can be demonstrated scientifically, they exclude God and the most important aspects of human life.

Believers in creation make the reasonable observation that further acceptance of atheistic evolutionism’s worldview will make the spiritual vacuum that already oppresses modern society even stronger. Godless evolutionism laid the groundwork for the violent atheistic ideologies of communism, race-based nationalism, and fascism that made the 20th century the most catastrophically murderous century in human history 5. Atheistic evolutionists (naturalists) fear—with much less evidence—that the antiscientific bias of those who affirm creation may cause a recurrence of blind superstition on a mass scale, like that produced the Medieval witch-craze in Europe. (See the ATQ articles Why Did Ancient Pagans Practice Blood Sacrifices? and Did Church Authorities Seek to Eradicate Paganism in Europe by Killing Millions of “Witches”?)

Each side has fundamental doubts about the other’s integrity. Naturalistic evolutionists tend to view religious creationists as intellectually lazy people who are unwilling to grapple honestly with the evidence. Generalizing, they conclude that unwillingness of some creationists to seriously grapple with vast areas of evidence uncovered by science implies that the faith of all creationists is propped up by mere ignorance and group consensus. On the other hand, believers in a Creator tend to see all naturalists stridently promoting a worldview that fails to answer the most basic questions of human existence and ignores the despair it creates. They view all evolutionists as arrogant zealots unhumbled before the mystery of life, motivated largely by a desire to deny their accountability to a higher Judge.

The subject of creation tends to draw out the obscurantism on both sides: an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of physical evidence, and an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of the spiritual side of reality. Each inflames its opposite. Before they can come to a fuller understanding, both creationists and evolutionists need to be willing to dispense with their “pat answers” that ignore either physical facts or spiritual reality (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 5:1-3; Job 38, 39)

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4. See the rest of the chapter).

A hundred years ago, the weight of the spirit of the age seemed to favor the naturalist who denied the need for God. Today, the spirit of the age is swinging in favor of those acknowledging the reasonability of a Creator Yet, it would be a mistake for Christians to depend on current scientific opinion as a basis for their faith. Healthy Christian faith thrives on both spiritual and rational integrity. Its vision of reality can be expanded by new scientific discovery without mistaking the world of mathematics and scientific observation for the sum of reality. Of all people, Christians should be most open to exploring both physical and spiritual truth.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalms 139:1-18).

  1. One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact, and collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (J. P. Provenzano, The Philosophy of Conscious Energy) Back To Article
  2. Although not all early and Medieval Christians who took this view, Martin Luther was a prominent example of those who held that Joshua 10:12-14 proved that the sun revolves around the earth, rather than the earth revolving around the sun. Of course all the Bible verifies is that the sun and moon appeared to stand still. This apparently involved some kind of miracle, but God probably made the sun appear to stand still without stopping the rotation of the earth with all of the consequences of such an action.
    Were the rotation of the earth stopped, the oceans would probably have flooded over the highest mountains and unprecedented earthquakes and volcanoes have been triggered as the result of tremendous pressures in the earth’s crust. All but the simplest life would be annihilated. Of course, God would have the power to suspend the laws of physics so that none of this would happen, but a miracle of this scale would seem to be a bit “excessive” just to help the Israelites win a battle. After all, there would be much simpler ways that God could make the sun “stand still.” Back To Article
  3. In the mid 17th century Archbishop James Ussher of the Anglican Church published a chronology that concluded the “first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar, near the autumnal equinox.” Back To Article
  4. There is no certain biblical means of determining the amount of time that has elapsed between the creation of man and the coming of Christ. The genealogies of Genesis are clearly not reliable for this purpose. For instance, the Genesis genealogies would allow for only 300 years between Noah and Abraham, yet at the time of Abraham there were already great civilizations in such widespread places as Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia, and Greece. In addition, detailed archaeological evidences demonstrate that in some of these places many dynasties had already come and gone, and civilization was already ancient.
    The solution to the apparent conflict between archaeological evidences and the biblical record lies in the fact that the genealogies don’t include unimportant individuals. The Hebrew word for son, ben, didn’t only mean son, but also was used to refer to grandsons and descendants. Similarly, the Hebrew word yalad (bear) also can have the meaning of “become the ancestor of” (Isaiah 29:23 is an example of yalad being used in this way).

    There are a number of good examples of how genealogies tend to omit all but the most important individuals in a line. for instance, Matthew 1:1 names only Abraham, David, and Christ. Even though there are only four generations listed between Levi and Moses (Exodus 6:16-20), Numbers 3:39 states that Levi’s descendants already were numbered at 2200 males! (The genealogy shown for Ephraim seems to show 18 generations between Ephraim and Joshua. This genealogy is found in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27). The list of kings in Matthew 1:2-17 omits a number of names that are listed in the list of kings in the Old Testament.

    These and other examples demonstrate that the genealogies of the Old Testament patriarchs are given in order to demonstrate the common descent of all mankind from Adam and Eve, not to provide an accurate chronology of the time that has elapsed from Adam to Christ. Back To Article

  5. In his book, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993), Zbigniew Brzezinski lists 167,000,000 to 175,000,000 “lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage.” Back To Article
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Does God Hold Christians Responsible for Unpremeditated and Unconscious Sins?

For a believer, unconscious sins are a serious concern, but they shouldn’t be a cause for fear of abandonment or judgment by God. Because we are all sinners by nature, born into a fallen world, we are all guilty of unintentional sin. We would be in a hopeless situation, however, if God required us to be aware of every specific sin in our life and then confess it in order to maintain our fellowship with Him. This would be impossible for us in our limited, fallen state.

Old Testament law indicates that God looks upon unconscious sin differently from conscious sin. The law prescribed sacrifices for sins done in ignorance or weakness and without willful intent ( Leviticus 4:2-3, 13-14 ). However, Old Testament law provided no sacrifice for conscious sin:

Anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the LORD’s word and broken His commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him (Numbers 15:30-31 NIV).

The New Testament also distinguishes clearly between willful and unconscious sin:

That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:47-48 NIV).

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22 NIV).

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13 NIV).

Although the Bible distinguishes between conscious and unconscious sin, when we first put our faith in Jesus Christ, He declared us “justified.” He forgave us in a legal and judicial sense. He did this once and for all, forgiving us of any and all sins: past, present, and future; conscious and unconscious.

On the basis of this legal standing, God has accepted us once and for all into His eternal family ( Romans 5:1 ). Now, even when we sin (either consciously or unconsciously) we are in a new relationship to Him. No longer must we fear God’s condemnation and judgment. Christ has enabled us to be God’s sons and daughters, no longer facing damnation because of sin. However, although we need no longer fear judgment because of sin, sin still interferes with our relationship with God and other people, and sometimes makes it necessary for Him to discipline us as a firm but loving Father.

We shouldn’t worry about our unconscious sin. Although it has destructive effects in our lives, there is so much sin dwelling within us that we can’t expect to be instantly delivered from its influence. We need to be humbled, however, by the fact that we sin in many ways that we don’t detect, and be willing to confess and renounce any sin that the Holy Spirit brings into the light of our awareness. Our Father in heaven is ready to remedy the loss of communication and personal separation that occurs when we resist Him and go our own way ( 1 John 1:7,8 ). But to enjoy the full benefit of relationship with Him, we need to agree with Him about our sin. And it would be wise to follow King David’s example by praying, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” ( Psalm 139:23-24 ).

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Does Claiming God’s Forgiveness Relieve Us of Obligations?

God’s Word assures Christian believers of the forgiveness of any sin through Christ’s sacrificial death on their behalf.

Christians no longer face damnation — the eternal consequences of their sins. But they still face sin’s earthly consequences. For Christians, the earthly consequences of sin don’t exist as the punishment of an angry God. They remain as reminders of the fact that we live in a flawed, fallen world. The effects of sin still remain. The fullness of our redemption still lies ahead.

A person who has been a drunkard for many years, for example, may suffer irreversible liver damage that will remain following his conversion. A father who has neglected his family will continue to see the effects of his neglect. Sometimes we can make amends in this life for our sins, other times we cannot.

The Holy Spirit strengthens and renews Christians, even though they continue to be haunted by the earthly consequences of sin. The character of Christ Himself becomes established within them ( Romans 8:29 ), so that they will be empowered to live consistently with the truth. The Old Testament prophet Micah wrote, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” ( Micah 6:8 ).

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Can Dreams Have Symbolic Meaning or Messages from God?

It’s easy to expect either too little or too much of dreams.

An excellent book by a scientist who has researched the physiology of dreams (The Dreaming Brain by J. Allan Hobson) sets forth the hypothesis that because the brain is never completely inactive during sleep, it is constantly triggering the images of memories and experiences into our sleeping consciousness. Because we human beings are continually in search of meaning (and meaningful patterns), the process of trying to make sense of our world doesn’t stop when we are sleeping. Therefore, even when we are sleeping we try to create order and meaning out of random memories and images projected by our dreaming brain. He concludes that dreams are the result of this process.

After nearly 60 years of reflecting on my dreams, I think Dr. Hobson’s hypothesis fits the content of most of them. Still, I’m not sure that all dreams have a completely random neurological source. Sometimes the images are so unusual that it is hard to remember (or even imagine having had) any memories or experiences that might be their source. In fact, sometimes dreams have such duration and continuity that their content seems created by the interpreting mind rather than rising independently of it. Clearly, Dr. Hobson’s hypothesis leaves open the possibility that some dreams and nightmares expose the conflicts and fears we repress during waking hours as well as the fact that the process of working through problems and issues continues even when we are asleep.

In addition to dreams that might have symbolic significance are supernatural/preternatural dreams. Most of us have heard a trustworthy person tell of a dream that depicted a future event or alerted them to the fact that a loved one was in danger. The Bible also describes dreams that involve clairvoyance or precognition (Genesis 20:3; 31:10, 24; 37:5; 40:5; Numbers 12:6; Judges 7:13; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2:3; 4:5; 7:1; Joel 2:28; Matthew 1:20; 2:12; 27:19).

When we think about our dreams, it’s important to try to understand them on the basis of Scripture. God warned the Israelites about false prophets who told lies based on dreams:

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal” (Jeremiah 23:25-27).

In 2 Corinthians 11:14, the apostle Paul warned us that Satan “transforms himself into an angel of light” and could conceivably use dreams to deceive us. Obsession with dreams and their interpretation might lead a person into occult interests and estrangement from reality.

Remember, our heavenly Father is the “Father of lights” (James 1:17) who reveals the truth openly and clearly. He will never give us a message in our sleep that is contrary to reason or Scripture.

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How Can I Know If My Faith Is Strong Enough?

When you doubt that your faith is strong enough for you to be a child of God, it’s a clear indication that you misunderstand the nature of faith. Faith in God doesn’t involve certainty, nor does it imply the absence of doubts. The Gospel of Mark makes this clear in the account of Jesus’ healing of a little boy possessed by evil spirits ( Mark 9:14-27 ). The father came asking for help in front of a multitude, including religious leaders. He told Jesus that he had asked His disciples to cast the demons from the child, but they were unable. Then he said:

If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us (v.22).

Jesus’ tested the father’s sincerity, saying:

“If you can” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes” (v.23).

The boy’s father didn’t claim that he had perfect faith, nor did he walk away in despair. He acknowledged his doubts (unbelief) at the same time that he passionately expressed his desire to believe:

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v.24).

This father’s faith passed Jesus’ test. Jesus didn’t condemn him for his doubts. Instead, He healed his son.

What a torment, what a terrible burden, to believe that faith must be perfect before God will respond to our need! If we believe that our faith must be perfect, we have established an unattainable goal and enslaved ourselves to a new form of works-salvation. Rather than basing our faith on God’s goodness and Christ’s completed work of love on our behalf, we base it on our own achievement-our own perfection.

People who think that their faith must be perfect before it will be acceptable to God ignore dozens of scriptural examples of people whose trust in God was imperfect, yet their faith was still accepted by Him. Here are just a few:

  • Moses ( Exodus 3:11; 4:1 )
  • Abraham ( Genesis 12:10-13; 15:1-5 )
  • Jacob ( Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-46 )
  • Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:4 )
  • Peter ( Matthew 14:28-31; 26:69-75 )
  • Thomas ( John 20:24-25 )
  • The disciples ( Matthew 26:56 ).

These examples show that it isn’t the perfection of our trust that matters, but the perfection of God’s love and forgiveness. Perfect faith will be ours only when the Holy Spirit has completed His work of sanctification within us.

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