Saturday, June 28, 2014
I listened to Enyart's podcast discussing the upcoming debate, and one of the topics mentioned was that God is not outside time, not timeless. This got me thinking about the absurdities related to the idea that God is not outside time.
Either God created time or He did not.
If He did not, then:
-it exists beside Him.
-it exists outside of the creative power and decree of God.
-Colossians 1:16-17 should read: "For by Him almost all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—almost all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things except time, and in Him all things except time hold together."
If time came into being, but God is not outside time, then someone other than God created time, or time spontaneously generated. And since God is inside time, that means somehow God changed fundamentally when time came into being, since He is inside it. One wonders exactly how that would have worked.
If time did not come into being, that means an infinite number of seconds have elapsed from eternity ago already. And yet every second we continue to experience as we live, right now, adds to the infinite number of seconds that have already elapsed. I made a diagram to illustrate:
It is impossible to add to infinity. Time has not always existed. But since God is inside time for the open theist, what could the resolution be for Enyart's position?
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption [or the pit]
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption (Acts 2:24-29).
(Not the best singing voice, but appears to be the original songwriter.)
Brother, sister let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace,
to let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
We are family on the road.
We are here to help each other,
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you,
in the night-time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping,
when you laugh I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joys and sorrows,
till we've seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven,
we shall find such harmony.
Born of all we've known together,
of Christ's love and agony.
Brother, sister let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace,
to let you be my servant too.
Friday, June 27, 2014
[Editor's note: Dr. Olson's position that he would not worship God if he were as Calvinist doctrine depicts him is not representative of all Arminians or a question on which SEA itself has a formal position.]
For those of you who don't want to have much involvement in apologetics, but instead want to just pray, study the Bible, entrust your children to God, etc., I would ask whether you take the same approach toward other areas of life. Just as you don't teach your children about matters like apologetics and church history, don't teach them ethical standards or things like how to tie their shoes or brush their teeth either. Don't work a job. Don't pay your bills. Don't shovel the snow off your driveway or cut your grass. Don't go to a doctor, watch your diet, or exercise. Don't do any research about finances or saving for retirement, for example. Instead, just trust God, pray, read your Bible, and so on. Don't make the most of the resources God has given you, such as the mind he's given you and the opportunities he's given you to do research and reason with people. Instead, just pray, read the Bible, etc. (the same approach you take toward apologetic matters) and wait for God to pay your bills, cut your grass, and set aside money for your retirement. See what happens.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Here are some specific examples. At least as far back as Richard Hodgson's investigations of Leonora Piper, it has been noted that newly deceased communicators speaking through mediums often exhibit feebleness and confusion; their messages are brief and muddled. But with the passage of time (usually just a few days) the communicators improve noticeably; the confusion is largely dispelled, and the messages become clearer and more lengthy. Moreover, with continued practice, some communicators seem to hone their skills, and some just seem better at it than others; certain individuals come through a variety of mediums with consistently good results, while others never seem to get the hang of it.
Hodgson and other survivalists argue that these developments are just what we would expect if the communications are genuinely coming from discarnate individuals. The trauma of the dying process leaves these persons fatigued and befuddled for a short time, but with the opportunity to rest and orient themselves to their new environment, they grow stronger and shake off their lethargy. Furthermore, practice improves their abilities in some cases; and just as some incarnate individuals have a gift for mediumship and others don't, some discarnates are better able to communicate through mediums than others.
Allison’s familiarity with the literature is daunting. Pages 279-82 of his essay contain only 16 lines of text and nearly 200 fine lines of references! But his very strength as a bibliographer becomes a weakness, since he tends to accept all reports uncritically, lumping together serious studies in journals of psychology with New Age popular books and publications in parapsychology. Most of the so-called veridical visions of deceased persons are gathered from parapsychological literature of the late nineteenth century. What is wanting is a careful sifting of the evidence and a differentiated discussion of the same.
Snelling concedes that much of the geological evidence cannot be reconciled with any interpretation that uses the physical laws, properties and relationships as they presently are. He postulates that God miraculously changed the laws of nature during the Flood.
Appealing to a change in the laws of nature marks a remarkable change in YEC strategy, and in many ways it also makes a significant admission. As a strategy, it indicates an end to any real attempt to empirically establish the historicity of a global flood. Miracles, by definition, cannot be scientifically examined. The appeal also admits that the scientific evidence does not support the YEC model.
As I noted before, presuppositionalism recognizes that all approaches to truth begin with certain assumptions that are taken on faith. However, there is one important caveat at this point. The presuppositionalist believes that the validity of one’s presuppositions must eventually be tested by using the laws of logic, and be demonstrated by a consistency with the evidential findings. Fideism, by contrast, does not believe one’s presuppositions can be tested. Like the presuppositionalist, the fideist believes that one starts with certain presuppositions. But unlike the presuppositionalist, the fideist does not subject his starting assumptions to any type of feedback or check. The fideist operates by “blind faith.”
The Only Recourse Left: The Omphalos Argument
First, an appearance of age is an appearance of a non-actual history… If the original creatures were created fully grown, then they were created with an apparent history. By extension, a universe created fully mature will, by necessity, give signs of a history that did not actually happen.
Second, the mature creation argument is unfalsifiable. This means it can be neither proven nor disproven. As Bertrand Russell observed, “We may all have come into existence five minutes ago, provided with ready-made memories, with holes in our socks and hair that needed cutting.”57 Since there is no way to prove the theory, we have moved from the realm of science into the realm of metaphysics. The mature creation argument truly is a fideistic position, since it places creation beyond investigation.
Third, the appeal to an appearance of age is an admission that the evidence is against the young earth view. Gosse conceded this over 150 years ago.58 If the overwhelming preponderance of empirical data pointed to a recent creation, then YEC advocates would not bother with such a difficult hypothesis as the omphalos argument. The very fact that YEC proponents find it necessary to appeal to the mature creation argument is a concession.
Fourth, the mature creation argument seems almost to embrace a denial of physical reality. Certain advocates of the argument do not hesitate to describe the universe as an illusion. Gary North declares, “The Bible’s account of the chronology of creation points to an illusion...The seeming age of the stars is an illusion...Either the constancy of the speed of light is an illusion, or the size of the universe is an illusion, or else the physical events that we hypothesize to explain the visible changes in light or radiation are false inferences.”59 At this point the arguments for the appearance of age seem uncomfortably Gnostic.
Fifth, a consistent application of the mature creation argument will conclude that there are no evidences of a young earth. The universe has been coherently, uniformly created with the appearance of age.
Sixth, Gosse arrived at the conclusion that we should study the earth as if it were old.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
From a Christian perspective, my faith rests in the historical life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The faith doesn't rest on the historicity of particular OT events.
Moreover, even if Jesus did think Jonah was historical, that doesn't mean we should. See my article on Jesus' errant theological beliefs.
Perhaps some of the miracles in the Gospels did not happen. The incarnation and the resurrection are really the only two biblical miracles that must have happened in order for Christian faith to be true. Whether other miracles in the NT are true can be debated.
Peter Enns I highly recommend Andrew Lincoln's recent "Born of a Virgin?" It deals at great length with this very issue from a position of both faith and commitment to historical criticism.
Luke Van Horn Prof. Enns, does Lincoln's book address the question I asked, about why some people seem to think that denial of the virgin birth would require rethinking Jesus' deity?
Peter Enns Yes. I think you would agree with what he says. He also tackles head on why only 2 Gospels mention the virginal conception, Paul never hints at it, and the reasons the early church had for holding to it as it did (based on a misconception--pardon the pun) of human reproduction.
Karl Giberson I refer to the study by Larson and Witham, considered definitive. Also some more recent work by Elaine Ecklund. Miracles are more complicated and less relevant. Loads of Christians reject virtually all miracles save the resurrection and even define that in a different way.
Robert Firestone At what point is the word "Christian" even meaningful without the bodily resurrection?
Karl Giberson You should read Hans Kung or other leading theologians who explain that. I am not a theologian. I was once, rather provocatively, asked to "draw the trajectory of the ascension." Try it....
|A Roman Catholic Cardinal, Professor,|
lazy scholar and spreader of lies.
Typical even today.
From this “Doctor of Theology, Theological Professor in the University of Laval”, Louis Nazaire Bégin, James provides this quote:
It is a very lazy thing indeed to do what this Roman Catholic Cardinal and Professor has done – to re-hash old polemics. That has been the method of Roman Catholics apologetics since the time of the Reformation.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Oftentimes, "neocon" is just an antonym for libertarian foreign policy.
The Complexities of Iraq
Iraq consists of three major groups: Shia, Sunnis and Kurds. The United States left Iraq in the hands of the Shiite-dominated government, which failed to integrate the Kurds or the Sunnis. The Kurdish strategy was to create and maintain an autonomous region. The Sunnis' was to build strength in their region and wait for an opportune moment. That moment came when, after the recent election, Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki failed to quickly form a new government and seemed intent on recreating the failed government of the past.
The Sunnis did not so much invade as arise, taking control of Sunni areas and to some extent coordinating activities throughout the region. They did not attack the Kurdish region or predominantly Shiite areas. Indeed, the Shia began to mobilize to resist the Sunnis. What has happened is the failure of the central government and the assertion of regional power. There is no native power that can unite Iraq. No one has the strength. The assumption is that the United States could hold Iraq together -- thus the demand by some in Iraq and the United States that the United States massively intervene would make sense.
As in Ukraine, it is not clear that the United States has an overriding interest in Iraq. The 2003 invasion was more than a decade ago, and whatever decisions were made then belong to historians. The Sunni uprising brings with it the risk of increased terrorism and obviously gives terrorists a base from which to conduct attacks against the United States. By that logic, the United States ought to intervene on behalf of the Kurds and Shia.
The problem is that the Shia are linked to the Iranians, and while the United States and Iran are currently wrapped up in increasingly complex but promising negotiations, the focus is on interests and not friendship. The 2003 invasion was predicated on the assumption that the Shia, liberated from Saddam Hussein, would welcome the United States and allow it to reshape Iraq as it desired. It was quickly discovered, however, that the Iraqi Shia, along with their Iranian allies, had very different plans. The U.S. invasion ultimately failed to create a coherent government in Iraq and helped create the current circumstance. As much as various factions would want the United States to intervene on their behalf, the end result would be a multi-sided civil war with the United States in the center, unable to suppress the war with military means because the primary issue is a political one.
That, of course, leaves the possibility of an increased threat of terrorism. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, and some of them are prepared to engage in terrorist activity. It is extremely difficult, however, to figure out which are inclined to do so. It is also impossible to conquer 1.6 billion people so as to eliminate the threat of terrorism. Given the vast territory of the Islamic world, Iraq may be a convenience, but occupying it would not prevent Sunni or Shiite terrorism from arising elsewhere. Defeating an enemy army is much easier than occupying a country whose only mode of resistance is the terrorism that you intend to stop. Terrorism can be defended against to some extent -- mitigated, observed perhaps -- but in the end, whether the Sunni regions of Iraq are autonomous or under extremist rule does little to reduce the threat.
The Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are hostile to each other. Saddam controlled the country through the secular institutional apparatus of the Baath Party. Absent that, the three communities continue to be hostile to each other, just as the Sunni community in Syria is hostile to the Alawites. The United States is left with a single viable strategy: to accept what exists -- a tripartite Iraq -- and allow internal hostilities to focus the factions on each other rather than on the United States. In other words, allow an internal balance of power to emerge.
Nathan Rinne points to this podcast in which Chris Rosebrough commented on Joel Osteen’s recent meeting with the pope, and the ways many things that these men share in common. Both men are advocates of some sort of “cosmic quid-pro-quo” works-based methods of salvation: “If you do particular things correctly, you earn things from God…” – and they explicitly teach and function in ways that “the Word of God” is insufficient.
Further, they don’t merely represent themselves. They represent “theological systems” that share and propagate these ideas.