Monday, December 31, 2012

God and Science

Recently one of my atheist friends posted this picture on Facebook:

If you can’t read it, it says: God left him to die, but then, Science and medicine! The caption goes on to explain that nurses, not God or miracles, are what led this child from starvation to nutrition.

To me, this is like the classic story of the man in the flood. The whole town is told to evacuate because a major flood is coming, but one stubborn man refuses to leave because God would take care of him. After the flood began, rescue workers came by in a boat and offered him a ride. The man refused, saying God would take care of him. Eventually the man was sitting on his roof as the flood waters rose, and the National Guard flew over in a helicopter. Once again, the man refused help, saying God would save him. The waters continued to rise, and the man drowned.

When he got to heaven the stubborn man asked God why he didn’t save him. God replied, “I gave meteorologists the ability to foresee the storm and warn you. I led your mayor to evacuate the city. I sent rescue workers on a boat, and I sent the Guard in a chopper. What else did you want?”

While that is a silly story, the truth of it applies here. As a person with common sense I know that we are not the result of random chance, but Intelligent Design. And I also believe that the God who made us equips us, and in this case, He equipped the nurses.  

But here are some tangible facts about the role that God and Christians play in science:

·    *  Until the 20th Century, all hospital development was the result of private donations motivated by Judeo-Christian ideals of charity.
·     * In a 2002 article in the NonProfit Times, the seven financially largest publicly supported philanthropies in the United States were: The National Council of YMCAs ($4.2 billion), American Red Cross ($4.1 billion), Catholic Charities USA ($2.6 billion), Salvation Army ($2.2 billion), Goodwill Industries International ($2.1 billion), United Jewish Communities ($2 billion), and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America ($1.1 billion).
·     * Excluding the contributions of literally thousands of smaller faith-based initiatives and groups, the larger Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) alone provide more than $20 billion of privately contributed funds.[1]

These facts do not include the canned goods, clothes and blankets, food, blood, and other items that are donated, along with the hundreds of thousands of volunteer man-hours. Millions of dollars worth of diapers, formula, and childcare needs are given to crisis pregnancy centers to assist mothers in need.
And that is just in America; the overseas efforts are also staggering. Missionaries go across the world with life giving medicine, all of which is paid for by churches in the States. In fact, the very picture that inspired this blog is a reflection of what Christians are doing all over the world through orphanages, soup kitchens, and medical clinics. I know this because I run an FBO. My book sales go directly to these causes, and our church is on the front lines here at home and internationally.

So please don’t tell me that God has been bailed out by science. God commands His followers to be agents of love, serving as His figurative “hands and feet” all over the world. Instead of looking at nurses and wondering where God is, we should look at nurses and see proof of God at work.   

Christians, keep up the good. While we might be mocked by the occasional atheist, we are saving lives all over the world.

[1] Guillen, Michael Can a Smart Person Believe in God? Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.86-89

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Legend of the Candy Cane

You may have heard the popular story of the origin of the candy cane. It’s a great story about a candy maker from Indiana who set out to create a piece of candy that would tell the true meaning of Christmas.

As the story goes, this man called his creation the Christmas Candy Cane, but unfortunately the name was later reduced and the word Christmas was left out.

The story includes all of the ideas that went into the finished product. The cane is shaped like a shepherd’s staff, which symbolizes the shepherds who visited the baby Jesus on the first Christmas; it also symbolizes that Jesus became our Good Shepherd. And if you turn the cane upside down, the staff becomes the letter J, which stands for Jesus.

The candy is very hard, reminding us that Jesus is the rock of our salvation. The candy was originally pure white, just as the Christ Child lived a pure life. But the candy maker was not satisfied with a simple white cane, so he added the color red. Red was chosen because it is the color of the blood that Jesus shed for us, and this red descended as three stripes as a picture of the stripes that Jesus received at His scourging.

These features of the candy cane paint a beautiful story, and they can certainly remind us of our Lord. Unfortunately, the story of the candy maker isn’t true.

For starters, the candy cane was invented in the 17th Century, long before there ever was an Indiana. Ancient Christmas cards have pictures of the candy cane drawn on them, so we know that they have been around for a very long time.

This candy has evolved over time. It originated as a stick, not a cane. And it was pure white for a time, with the red stripes being added later. Some say that it became associated with Christmas as a tree decoration, similar to popcorn. Others say that it was used to entice children to be quiet during Christmas Eve services.

While we don’t know all the details for sure, we do know that the popular emails and even the children’s book on the topic are false.*

I am not writing this to be the Scrooge of candy canes. I just found this out recently when I was researching the story to use with our AWANA kids at church. I figure that there are many people who, like me, have unintentionally misled people with this great story.

I worry that children might one day find out that this story isn’t true, and then they may throw the baby out with the bath water. One professor will tell them that Creation isn’t true, while another tells them their absolute values should be more subjective. They will begin to think that we have been lying to them their whole lives.

That might be a little overzealous on my part, but I never want to be guilty of leading these students astray.

With all that said, we don’t have to abandon the candy cane in our children’s churches. We can still use all of the analogies because they are still fitting. In fact, this year I am giving out candy canes to all of our students, and with the cane I am attaching a poem that highlights these illustrations.

The candy cane is still a great object lesson because it is delicious, fun, Christmassy, and most of all, accurate in its symbolism.

Here is a link to a website with a printable poem that does not mention Indiana or any dates, just the rich object lessons from the candy cane. This is what we are using this Christmas, and hopefully it can help you too.

Merry Christmas!  


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fairy Tale of Evolution

Is evolution science or fairy tale?

We could debate the science end of the question; after all, science must follow the scientific method, which requires being observable and repeatable. Who has observed or repeated the Big Bang?

But what I want to really focus on is the religious end of the question. Evolution is philosophical. It is a way of thinking more than a provable system. It invites its followers to shrug off God as a prerequisite for membership into its elite club.

The reason I bring this up is to counter the claim that Christianity and the belief in an Intelligent Designer is far fetched. We are told that the science points towards evolution, and that anyone who rejects their science (fraudulent and circular, though it may be) believes in fairy tales.

Let’s put on hold for a minute the fact that the universe screams Intelligent Design. Let’s forget for just a moment that molecular biology shows us cells far too complex (irreducibly complex) to have evolved. Let’s pretend that there are no “cosmic coincidences” involving gravity or the size and location of the sun and moon.

Those things show us that there was a Creator, but even if we were not aware of them, let’s see where the real fairy tales occur.

Astronomer Fred Hoyle realizes that the evidence points towards design. But who is the designer? Is it God? He said, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics.” But the “super-intellect,” he concluded, was an alien mind from another universe.

Another astronomer, George Greenstein, had a similar realization that life requires design. He asked,  “Nothing in all of physics explains why its fundamental principles should conform themselves so precisely to life’s requirement.” He went on to wonder, “Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?” No, he concluded. “The cosmos does not exist unless observed…the universe brought forth life in order to exist.”

Nobel Prize-winning biologist George Wald echoed the idea of the cosmos magically brining itself to life because “the universe wants to be known.” Physicist Freeman Dyson added, “It almost seems as if the universe knew we were coming.”

And when the evidence piles up in favor of a Creator fine-tuning our planet and making it optimal for human life, defenders of evolution now speculate that there are probably scores of other planets also teeming with life.[1] This is done so that Earth does not seem nearly as spectacular, and that the “coincidences” don’t seem nearly as coincidental.

So with one breath defenders of evolution laugh off creation as being a fairy tale, and with another breath they incite fairy tales to explain evolution.

Think about it: an alien from another universe?

The universe coming to life because it knew we were coming?

There are other planets populated by other life forms?

That last one is my personal favorite. Christians believe in fairy tales (angels, God, demons, etc.), but when it helps them out of a jam evolutionists can believe in space men?

If a Christian used aliens or universes coming to life as proof of God then they would be laughed at. No, those proofs are reserved for the Darwinian elites.

If a person wants to believe in evolution without it having a shred of proof that is fine, but can we stop pretending that evolution is based on fact and Creation is for the weak-minded religious people?

These outlandish claims almost sound as if they were getting talking points from the mother ship.

Oh wait; that would be crazy.



[1] Pearcey, Nancy Total Truth, Crossway Publishers, p.189-190

Friday, December 14, 2012

God's Mercy even in a School Shooting

I have never used my Blogger app to post a new blog, but I am out running errands and have a heavy heart. The school shooting in Connecticut that claimed 26 lives is horrifying.

There are so many things that make this tragic. So close to Christmas. School administrators killed. Young children. And this event accounts for more deaths than any other school shooting in history.

I hope you will join me in lifting all involved up in prayer, and I wish I had something profound to say, but I don't.

I do want to remind everyone that God is still with us, and He is very much in control. Also, I think that right now we can cling to the age of accountability now more than ever.

Every young child who lost his life today was immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus.*

It is so important that we each understand the age of accountability, and in a time like this it demonstrates the mercy of God in the face of tragedy. These children could have been the children of God-deniers or God-haters, but that was not laid to the charge of the children.

For more on proof of the age if accountability click those words in the "labels" section at the bottom.

*by young children I do not mean a specific age, but those too young to be accountable for their choices.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Steady Fight Against Abortion

When writing about Elijah appointing Elisha to be his successor in 1 Kings 19, Warren Wiersbe made the following statement:

“No one generation can do everything, but each generation must see to it that people in the next generation are called and trained and that the tools are made available for them to continue the work of the Lord[1].” 

No one generation can do everything. Wiersbe is exactly right in that regard, and this applies to many different battles that we might find ourselves in. One battle that I have stayed committed to is over the lives of the unborn.

Some have thrown in the towel. Some have thrown their hands in the air in desperation. “What’s the use? We will never overturn Roe.”

I know that this has been a long, frustrating battle, but we can’t lose heart. I realize that the Supreme Court is not going to rule on this matter again any time soon, but there is more to it than that. Instead of viewing this as an insurmountable challenge, let’s just focus on this generation making a difference. While we work to do what we can, let us also train the next generation to continue the fight once our time is done.

What are some ways that this generation can chip away at abortion? Here are a few:

*Get involved in crisis pregnancy centers. Every day these centers talk scared girls into delivering their children by giving them hope, diapers, and love.

*Write to Congress. Talk to your representatives, and remember they are paid by you to represent you. Tell them to defund Planned Parenthood. Let them know that you and your vote will only support the right to life.

*Vote. Realize that there is more to this than the Supreme Court. Embryonic stem cell research, tax payer funding of abortion, abortion without parental consent for minors, money sent to countries like Mexico for free abortions—these things have all been recent topics in elections.

*Go to school. Your child’s school, that is. Know what they are doing. Let the school board know that you disapprove of nurses and guidance counselors driving girls to abortion clinics without parental consent, that you disapprove of Planned Parenthood being on campus, and that you disapprove of contraception being given to students. If the school board doesn’t care, let them know you will alert the local media. Most people disapprove of abortions for minors without parental knowledge and consent, and the school board members answer to the voters.

*Petition. No, not in the “in-your-face picket sign” way. But people like Abby Johnson and groups like 40 Days for Life have great professional, loving methods of offering prayer to abortion clinic workers. They are constantly seeing people walk away from their jobs and joining the pro-life movement.

*Display something, like the tiny footprints lapel pin. These are great conversation starters and eye-openers.

*Donate money to groups that are fighting the fight the right way, like 180. Your donations can make a big difference.

*Educate yourself. Know how abortions are performed, when they are performed, and just how far along these tiny lives are when they are aborted. Next time someone says, “It’s just a clump of cells,” you can say, “That clump of cells has unique DNA, fingerprints, and a working brain and heart, and it is only 7 weeks old.”

*Pray. That is not just the Christian follow-up point. It is our most powerful weapon. Pray for abortion to come to an end and for the Lord to forgive this nation for the genocide against our most defenseless members.

We also need to focus on smaller ways of gaining back ground, like when President George W. Bush banned partial-birth abortion (that President Clinton signed into law). By pushing legislation that requires the mother to see an ultrasound of her baby before she has an abortion, or that requires the mother be given accurate information about what an abortion actually is, or that only leaves abortion legal in the cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s health, we can win battles without winning the war.

  By doing these things and more, we can reduce the number of abortions, and continue to sway people away from voting for any candidate that is pro-abortion. In so doing, we can leave the next generation in better position to get this atrocity back before the Supreme Court. And if we do our job, the bench will have nine pro-life Justices that were appointed by pro-life Presidents, and they will vote for what the majority of Americans want: to protect the lives of the unborn.  

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[1] Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Responsible, Cook Communications, p.151