Category Archives: Blog

Is this the death of democracy in America? (Part 2)

In the previous blog, I wrote about the kind of government America has and the convention that brought about that government showing that the losers in the 2016 general election are traders to that convention by refusing to lose. If that becomes the norm, democracy in America will be dead. I concluded the blog by saying, “The losers are not submitting to their obligation to lose under a constitutional democracy. They are submitting to their feelings”. That brings me to the second ongoing event that I see as destroying democracy in America.

A democracy is predicated on certain freedoms the citizens in the democracy have, by law, given themselves. The most basic of these freedoms is the right to free speech. The citizens themselves have agreed to limit their freedom of speech by making it against the law to falsely accuse someone else or to make false claims about a product. These are objective claims that can cause harm and can be proved or disproved in a court of law.

In America today, the right to free speech has been limited much further, not by a majority of the citizens imposing limits or restraints on their own speech, but by a few judges and public and academic administrators labeling certain speech as “hate speech” spoken only by “haters” and, by declaration, making it against the law in their particular domain. The problem I see for democracy in America is that these types of restrictions on free speech are subjective and predicated on people’s feelings and emotions. Feelings and emotions are subjective and impossible to prove in a court of law. In America, no one has the right to slander or libel another person. But in America, a person used to have the right to call someone a creep if they thought they were a creep. In America, people used to have the right to say “I think you are wrong”, if he thought the person was wrong. Those are subjective statements, expressing an opinion,  but were not against the law. They had to be ignored if offensive to someone’s feelings.

How that has changed in America! So many people are not secure enough in themselves to be able to ignore someone else’s opinion. They get their feelings hurt and they must be protected. Feelings now dictate the laws and when one is governed by feelings the intellect is shut down. Once the intellect is shut down preferences become phobias because definitions, being of the intellect, are ignored. Nowhere in American society is this more obvious than in the area of sexual preference (by definition meaning to like better or best). One person’s sexual preferences has become another person’s phobia (by definition meaning an exaggerated or illogical fear), and only the ones with the “preferences” have a right to speak against the ones with the “phobia”. It is against the law for the ones with the phobias to speak against the ones with the preferences; that would be “hate speech.”

What is ignored, because the intellect is ignored, is the fact that preferences and phobias are based on feelings and are therefore, subjective and are impossible to govern by law. Feelings are governed by what is inside a person. Also ignored is the fact that everyone has preferences. To label those that have the opposite or different  preferences to yours as “phobic” and “haters” is as childish and immature as a 5 year old, and when these subjective emotions dictate the speech laws, the freedom of speech and freedom of our democracy is doomed. Preferences are personal and cannot be legislated.

For example, people on both sides of all social issues have dogs and/or cats in their homes. However, none (or certainly few) have pigs in their homes. Why? Is it because they have piggyphobia? Or that they hate the idea of pigs and, therefore, are haters? Are they discriminating against pigs? No! People have dogs and cats, but not pigs, as a matter of preference. To prefer one and not the other does not make the person bad. Democracy gives the freedom to have personal preferences and to act on those preferences. When someone does not like, or agree with, someone else’s preference, that is freedom. If, by law, they cannot express their dislike, or lack of agreement, i.e. their opinions, that is repression. That is how people in Russia, China and North Korea live.

Rosseau did not get everything right in The Social Contract but he did understand what holds a society together as a body politic. He states:

            In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary, or dissimilar to, the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest  may speak to him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding…the State…, he may wish to enjoy the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.

That is what I see going on in the aftermath of the 2016 general election. The losers have determined that the cost of losing to them is greater than the harm they are doing by preventing the winners from governing. Are they right? Time will be the judge and America will be the ultimate loser.

Rosseau states on page 1 of The Social Contract: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” That about sums up the natural human condition. Natural man is born with a body of flesh that is never satisfied and an ego that is never subdued. Therefore, man is in chains to both. Those chains are destroying democracy in America. The ego of the losers will not permit them to acknowledge the reality that they lost. The flesh’s appetite for sexual pleasure will not permit those with unnatural appetites to say “no”. Not being willing to submit one’s flesh and one’s ego to something greater than oneself is itself a bondage to flesh and ego. It keeps them thinking that it would harm them more than it would harm society if they broke those chains. Therein lies the deception of their bondage and the danger to democracy in America.

Is this the death of democracy in America? (Part 1)

This past presidential election was the twelfth that I have voted in and because I had to be 21 years old to vote, I was able to observe two more in my teen years. The buildup to the 2016 election was different from previous ones in many respects. But what has happened after the election has never occurred in American history and has brought about what I fear will be the death of democracy in America.

Two ongoing events are destroying democracy in America. The first one is the fact that the losers in the election are refusing to lose. Heretofore, losers in presidential elections submitted to the outcome, whether they thought it was just or not, and the government got on with the business of governing. Regardless of who you voted for, the simple fact is the losers in the 2016 election are refusing to let the winners govern. They have the mindset that, even though losing, they can win if they can keep the winners from governing. This is as anti-democratic as one can get and I am afraid that it is setting the tone for future elections.

I lived for a number of years in a West African country that was populated by two main tribes. The tribes had their own parts of the country that they populated and controlled (much like the blue states and red states in America). That country has been trying to have a democracy since it became independent in the 1960s. The country’s president always comes from one of the two main tribes. The problem is the tribe that loses refuses to be governed by someone from the rival tribe. The losers will destroy infrastructure in the territory controlled by the winner and even resort to killing ministers of the opposing government if they venture into certain parts of their territory. It is tribal warfare clothed in democracy. The net result is that the winners seek to benefit only those of their own tribe and the nation as a whole suffers and has not prospered but digressed since becoming independent. I see this same pattern evolving in American politics. It has become tribal warfare.

The 16th century philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rosseau wrote in The Social Contract, “The law of majority voting is itself something established by convention, and presupposes unanimity, on one occasion at least.” The convention Rosseau is talking about is what he calls the “first convention” by which a group of people decides what kind of government it will submit to. The unanimity he talks about is the fact that every citizen in the group, by remaining in the group or by becoming a part of the group, is in effect casting his or her vote for the kind of government the majority selected in the beginning. In America’s case the founding fathers adopted a Federal Republic to be governed by a Constitution. Even if all did not agree that was the best form of government for the new nation, all agreed to submit to it because the majority ruled. Since its founding, every citizen of America has agreed to submit to that form of government and to uphold the Constitution that guides it. Those born in America acquiesce to submitting to that form of government (what Rosseau calls the “first convention”) by not leaving the country. The immigrants that become citizens of America must swear an oath that they renounce all allegiance to any other government and that they will support and defend the constitution of the United States of America. By doing that, they accept the first convention that defines the group of people called Americans. There is unanimity in that we have all agreed to be governed alike. Should anyone refuse to be governed accordingly, they would be a traitor and/or an anarchist.

Back to what is going in 2017. Some people, I am sure, believe that the personalities involved gave them the right or permission to refuse to submit to the form of government they have previously agreed to live under, by staying here if born here, or by oath as an immigrant. Personality may govern who one wants to be friends with, but has nothing to do with the Constitution or the authority of the President of the United States. Whether we like the person elected or not in no way negates the obligation to be governed by the winner of that office.

If any presidential elections should have elicited the rebellious response that we see to the 2016 election, two come to mind. In 1960, John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic elected President, much to the chagrin of many Protestants. If religion was going to bring death to the American democracy that was the time; but it did not. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first black to be elected President, much to the chagrin of many whites. If race was going to bring death to the American democracy that was the time; but it did not. In both cases and in all cases previous to 2016, the losers submitted to the winner and went about doing what they thought needed to be done to win the next election. That is how democracy works. Any departure from that will set a pattern for losing that will bring death to democracy.

For the losers to think they can win by keeping the winner from governing is politically anarchistic and personally selfish and childish. The losers are not submitting to their obligation to lose under a constitution democracy. They are submitting to their feelings.

That brings me to the second ongoing event that I see as potentially destroying democracy in America. It will be the subject of my next post.

What are you seeking?

A.W.Tozer wrote:

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras divided men into three classes:

  1. Seekers after knowledge;
  2. Seekers after honor;
  3. Seekers after gain.

I wonder why he failed to notice two other classes: those who are not seeking anything and those who are seeking after God.

Let us add them to the list:

  1. Seekers after nothing. These are the human vegetables who live by their glands and their instincts. I refer to the millions of normal persons who have allowed their magnificent intellectual equipment to wither away from lack of exercise. Their reading matter is the sports page and the comic section; their music is whatever is popular and handy—and loud!
  1. Seekers after God. I am thinking of men and women who are God-hungry souls though their numbers may not be large. By nature they are no better than the rest of mankind, and by practice they have sometimes been worse. The one sign of who they are is their insatiable thirst after the Source of their being. Thank the Lord for seekers after God and their destiny lies in the hand of the One who gave His only begotten Son to die for the life of the world.

I would put the first four classes of people under the banner of “self-seekers.” The outward manifestation of what they are seeking betrays the inward emptiness of their being. Human beings want to know who they are and why they are here. Most try to define who they are by the things they desire and those things are what they seek after. But should their self-seeking world ever stop, they then realize that they are not their iPhone or their Mercedes or their Boss. And they are left with the question “Who am I?”

Millions try to answer that question on social media through a fictitious version of themselves. When people like you and want to be your friend on Facebook, etc., the feeling is “This is who I want to be because I am liked and I have friends.” Again, if their self-seeking world stops, they realize the person they put on social media is the person they want to be and not the person they are. Most that I have talked to or counseled with believe if they put their real selves on social media nobody would like them or would want to be their friend. They are self-seeking, but they are seeking the wrong thing for their self. They are seeking an identity that others will like and not seeking an identity they like and are at peace with, even if nobody else likes them

That brings us to Tozer’s fifth  class of seeker: seekers after God. Around 400 AD, Augustine of Hippo wrote: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine had tried to find his identity in his century’s version of social media. He went through a succession of desperate searches for fulfillment: excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, dissipation and distractions—futilities that left him so weary of himself he could only cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long?” For him, and for all who want to find their self-identity in God, the wait was not long. He found his identity in God and he found rest for his soul. People today are laboring to find out who they are. Two thousand years ago Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” With that rest comes contentment.

Any self-identity that does not bring contentment, peace and rest to your soul is inherently false if Augustine can be believed. And he can be believed because he only paraphrased what Jesus had said.

The connection between who we are and why we are here is addressed in the final chapter of my book The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be, which is titled “Life: The Meaning of the Story.”

If cows can be content, why can’t old people?

They do have things in common, you know, like being put out to pasture. How many of you remember the advertising slogan “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows”?

Elbridge Amos Stuart was born in North Carolina (like I was) in 1856 (like I wasn’t). He was an American milk industrialist and creator of Carnation evaporated milk which was a staple in American homes until the 1960s. In 1907, he introduced the promotional phrase “Carnation Condensed Milk, the milk from contented cows”. This slogan referred to the higher quality milk from happy cows grazing in the lush Pacific Northwest. Carnation cows held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years. That is some accomplishment for those who have been put out to pasture.

Old people and cows have more in common than being put out to pasture. Their lives consist of the basics of eating and sleeping. Cows are content with that if the grass is good. As cows go about their pastoral life they unthinkingly produce milk. The quality of the pasture makes a difference in the quality of what they produce. For old people, the quality of the person they are makes a difference in their contentment level when in the pasture. Unfortunately, most older people are not thinking about the kind of person they are. They are thinking about the pasture they have found themselves in and most are not content.

I believe that by middle-age people should be paying attention to the kind of person they are because that is the kind of old person they will be if they do not change. The character traits of being aggressive, looking out for yourself first, getting ahead of the pack, etc. that society demands of up-and-coming adults will only get you ostracized to the back of the pack when you are out to pasture. That is not  a receipt for contentment in old age. What is needed is a paradigm for contentment for old people.

Here are some excerpts from Chapter 1 of my book The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be: A paradigm for 65 and beyond that will be released September 1, 2016:

What would make a person content in their old age? The answer is obvious. People who have family close by, financial security, and good health are the most content. Remember that we Baby Boomers broke all the rules and we are paying the price as we enter old age. The divorce rate for this generation is the highest in US history. Families are shattered and scattered. Consumer credit has overextended us to where the markets cannot support us and the value of retirement funds has taken a severe hit in recent years. Good health can go in a second, and we are less likely to have it the older we get. The obvious basis for contentment in old age is not the reality for most of us old people.

——————–

Back when I had my 65th birthday I realized that the majority of the people in the world would consider me an old man. I am in the minority (i.e., in denial), so I got to thinking about what kind of old man I wanted to be when I got to be one. I did not want it to just happen. I did not want to just morph into an old man, so I decided to be proactive and choose the kind of old man I wanted to be and then to take steps to be that kind of person. I don’t want to be old, but it is the only way I know to have a long life.

As I am writing this, my wife and I are about halfway between 65 and 70 years old. We still have good health and are able to go and do; however, we are finding it takes us longer to get over going and doing. I write about the kind of old man I want to be with my wife in mind. She will have to put up with whatever kind of old man I am and she deserves the best, so, I will try to be the best old man I can.

I also write with my mother in mind. She died in her early 80’s after a few years in a nursing home. Her experience there gave me the opportunity to observe older people at their most vulnerable. There were some who were a joy to be around and some that the attendants were not paid enough to be around. What was the difference?

This was about 20 years ago and I started thinking then that a place like this could very well be my future. Some, like my mother, were not able to walk; some were not able to talk. Could I handle this if it was me? When I turned 65 I realized that the possibilities have become probabilities and I better get busy preparing myself for being an old man. What kind of old man do I want to be?

Now, I don’t claim to know how the milk got in the coconut, but I am reasonably intelligent and I should be able to figure this old man thing out. I don’t want to be like many old men who, like I said before, look for things to do to kill time while time is killing them. I have learned to look thoughtful even when I am not thinking, but I have also done a lot of actual thinking about the kind of old man I want to be.

——————–

There are some things that I cannot do anything about and there are some things that I can. So, I will concentrate on the things I can be proactive about. One is my character or personality. I do not want to be a grumbling, complaining old man. I want to be an old man who is positive and not negative. I want to have the temperament that makes for happiness and contentment for me and those around me.

Possibilities, probabilities and reality

When we look at the natural world, do we see order or chaos? There is order everywhere in the universe except where man has taken control. Even what we call “natural disasters” are caused by the order in the universe. They are a process of cause and effect. In other words, man can explain why they occurred based on various physiological factors that already existed. What man cannot explain is why anything exists at all. Scientists deal with possibilities and probabilities and are confounded by reality.

We live in an ordered universe. As one scientist put it: “A system requiring such a high degree of order could never happen by chance since random processes generate disorder rather than order, simplicity rather than complexity and confusion instead of “information.”’

Another scientist posted on the internet:

 “In living cells, most catalysts are protein enzymes, composed of amino acids, but in the 1980s another kind of catalyst was discovered. These are RNA molecules composed of nucleotides that are now called ribozymes. Because a ribozyme can act both as a catalyst and as a carrier of genetic information in its nucleotide sequence, it has been proposed that life passed through an RNA World phase that did not require DNA and proteins.

For the purposes of today’s column I will go through the probability  calculation that a specific ribozyme might assemble by chance. Assume that the ribozyme is 300 nucleotides long, and that at each position there could be any of four nucleotides present. The chances of that ribozyme assembling are then 4^300,  a number so large that it could not possibly happen by chance even once in 13 billion years, the age of the universe.

But life DID begin! Could we be missing something?”

The answer is, of course, yes, they are missing something. They are missing another possibility, one that the reality of the universe demonstrates to be a real probability—an intelligent  divine Designer. I am talking about a God that is wise enough and powerful enough to design and created our universe. It can be denied but it cannot be disproved.

Anything that has a zero probability of happening must have a zero possibility of happening. I.L. Cohen, in his Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities states: “Mathematicians agree that any requisite number beyond 1050 has, statistically, a zero probability of occurrence.”

Even the simplest replicating protein molecule that could be imagined has been shown by physicist Marcel Golay to have a probability of one in 10450. Frank Salisbury, a plant physiologist,  calculates the probability of a typical DNA chain to be one in 10600. Again, probability zero; possibility zero.

This is what Freeman Dyson, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University posits about evolution:

“You  had what I call the garbage bag model. The early cells were just  little bags of some kind of cell membrane, which might have been  oily or it might have been a metal oxide.  And inside you  had a more or less random collection of organic molecules, with the  characteristic that small molecules could diffuse in through the  membrane, but big molecules could not diffuse out. By converting  small molecules into big molecules, you could concentrate the organic  contents on the inside, so the cells would become more concentrated  and the chemistry would gradually become more efficient. So these things could evolve without any kind of replication.  It’s a  simple statistical inheritance.  When a cell became so big that  it got cut in half, or shaken in half, by some rainstorm or environmental  disturbance, it would then produce two cells which would be its daughters,  which would inherit, more or less, but only statistically, the chemical  machinery inside.  Evolution could work under those conditions.”

Yes, that is a theory worthy of the garbage bag!

“Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory … we would still be justified in preferring it over rival theories [creationism].”
—Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

The basis for a conclusion of this nature is obviously not observed facts, but a predetermined theological conviction that a divine Designer does not exist. There is a risk involved in making this presupposition. As I write in Chapter 7 of my The Kind of Old Man I Want to Be (which should be released by September) about the existence God:

Maybe you are not convinced. Are you a betting man? Are you willing to bet the rest of your life in this world and your eternity in the afterlife that I am wrong? According to Pascal’s Wager, that would not be a rational bet. Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist who charted new territory in probability theory and the formal use of decision theory. Pascal argued that belief in God is pragmatically justified in the long run because we have nothing to lose and everything to gain from holding that belief. If there is no God, there is no eternal judgment to fear. When life is over it is over, no matter how good or bad it was. But if there is a God…? Pascal was speaking of the God of the Bible, the God of Christianity. Here is the way his argument shaped up:

  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven—an infinite gain.
  1. If you do not believe in and live for God, and it is true that God does exist, you will be condemned to eternity in hell—an infinite loss.
  1. If you believe in and live for God, and it turns out that God does not exist, in the end you will have lost nothing because when you are gone you are gone—a finite loss.
  1. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you can live like you want to but in the end you lose everything because when you are gone you are gone—   a finite loss.

Put simply, Pascal argued that the expected value of believing in God is vastly greater than that of not believing, since if you believe in God and commit yourself to a life of faith and obedience to God and it turns out to be true, then you win an enormous good (eternity in heaven). But if you believe and it turns out to be false, then you have lost nothing except a few years of living for yourself that disappears when you die. Therefore, the rational thing to do is believe in God.

If you look at our universe with an open mind, the reality of it speaks to the possibility and the probability that it had an intelligent Designer.

Moral and intellectual bankruptcy

First, a note to my readers. A revised manuscript of Living Right in a World of Woe has been submitted and processed by the publisher. It corrects some citing errors that got past the proofers. Also, the price of the eBook version has been dropped to 99 cents in an effort to get more people to read it.

It has been about eight months since my last post. It is not because I have been idle; it is because I have been involved. We traveled back to Florida this past November to spend two months at the missionary homes where we have stayed when in the States for about twenty years. The same day we arrived the announcement was made that the homes had already been sold and were closing down. However, they were honoring the reservations already booked so we were able to stay there for one last time.

To make a real long story much shorter, it did not seem right to us that the 55 homes and eight acres of land that had been donated for missionary housing should be sold before any indication was given by the President or Board that this was going to happen. I fell back on to my old CPA skills and started investigating. After about three months of investigating, I found out that the President and Executive Director of this ministry made false statements to its supporters and missionary beneficiaries; they colluded with Pinellas County, Florida to sell the property to the county in secret and in apparent violation of the Florida Sunshine Laws; and they apparently violated the Charitable Trust Doctrine by selling the houses which were donated for specific charitable purposes.

A formal complaint with documented evidence was filed with the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi. The Florida Attorney General has declined to act on behalf of this Florida Charitable Trust. On June 7,  my AP news app had an article about Pam Bondi. She personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump at the same time her office was considering investigating alleged fraud at Trump University. She received a $25,000 donation and her office decided not to pursue the investigation.

The President of the missionary homes ministry is a well-known Florida attorney who claims to be a Christian but apparently doesn’t read the Bible the way I do. Just last month a judge disqualified him from a sex-abuse case for trying to represent both sides.

There was a time when this type of self-serving behavior by public servants and ministry leaders would not be tolerated. If prison was not sentenced, at least they would lose their position. But as my previous blog post stated: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”. The societal changes that began in the 1960’s have resulted in the absence of moral judgments. About the only Bible command society wants to obey is, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Illegal and immoral behavior is practiced with impunity.

I want to deal briefly in this blog with an article that appeared on the Business Insider website. The site provides and analyzes business news as well as other articles of interest to the editors. The CEO and Editor-in-Chief is Henry Blodget. He worked on Wall Street until he was charged with securities fraud. He agreed to a permanent ban from the securities industry and payments of $4 million in fines and disgorgement, but no prison. Not a problem – this man is now giving business advice to millions of people from a web-based company that last year sold 88% of its stock to a German publisher for a reported $343 million.

Now to the Business Insider article at hand. It shows, I believe, that not only is society morally bankrupt, it is intellectually bankrupt as well. You would think that Harvard University would be a hotbed of intellectuals, and that physicists might lead the pack. However, after reading the article posted on November 14, 2015 about the book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs written by Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, I am sure that is not the case.

In that book she puts forth the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs was necessary for the emergence of humans on the planet and the whole process was brought about by dark matter. What, in the name of what is, is dark matter you may ask. Randall describes it as “a dark, pancake-shaped patty of densely packed dark matter within our galaxy” which she says exerts gravitational influence.

OK, she has propounded a theory on the existence of dark matter and like a good scientist she must test it. Right? Not anymore. She goes on to say, “Dark matter has never been directly detected. However, there is enough evidence for its immense gravitational influence on our universe that the vast majority of the scientific community agrees that dark matter is a form of mysterious matter that we can neither see or touch, but that nevertheless must permeate the cosmos.”

The article goes on to state, “We have a dozen or so functioning detectors underground, on Earth’s surface, and in space – and none of them has yet managed to sniff out a dark-matter particle.” There you have it. The testing that can be done does not prove the theory, but that does not stop Harvard University from teaching the theory and it did not stop her from finding a publisher.

So, what does all this have to do with society being intellectually bankrupt? Going back to Randall’s statement: “dark matter is a form of mysterious matter that we can neither see or touch, but that nevertheless must permeate the cosmos”, we see a basic assumption (must permeate the cosmos) that is not really a product of intellect but of ignorance. Nothing is said of how gravitational influence brought about the existence of humans that, because of gravity, walk on the earth, but did not influence the development of birds and bees that defy gravity. Even that is not the ignorance I am talking about.

The assumption is made that dark matter “must” exist because at present there is no other scientific explanation for the existence of humans in the universe even though there is no evidence for dark matter’s existence. If an assumption is going to be made, why not make an intelligent assumption. In all of intellectual science’s theories and assumptions, the intellectuals have never been able to explain the existence of order in the universe or how a single human cell operates the way it does with its irreducible biochemical complexity, or the origin of the material universe. There are only unproven theories that do not account for everything that is or account for why things are the way they are. Only ignorance would hang its hat on these theories.

The alternative, and I believe the intelligent assumption, is to believe what the original scientists believed. They believed in the existence of a God who created the universe with intelligent order and with certain natural laws functioning within the universe. They believed the job of the scientist is to discover those natural laws. The list of scientists who believed in God include Copernicus, Bacon, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Mendel, Kelvin, Planck and Einstein. Einstein recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. These men were the intellectuals of their day, and unlike the intellectuals of today, their theories have not been disproved.

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to the Apologetics volume of my School of Christianity which is waiting to be published:

Evidence, Proof, and Certainty

As we begin this section some definitions are in order. Evidence is anything which provides grounds for belief or disbelief of a proposition. Evidence appeals to the mind. Proof is evidence that establishes the truth of a proposition beyond any doubt. Certainty is the mental state of being positive and confident about an event or the truth of a proposition. Since certainty is a state of the mind it is possible to have certainty even without absolute proof. But you can have neither certainty nor proof without evidence. Christian Apologetics seeks to provide evidences for the Christian faith that will lead to certainty, but not proof, of its truths. We can take propositions about Christianity to be certain when we have no doubt about their truth. When the absence of doubt is justifiable we can be certain, and evidences justify the absence of doubt.

Contrary to popular opinion, proof is not available in science, and certainly not in religion. The scientific process consists of observation of some natural phenomenon (occurrence); the formulation of a theory based on that observation; testing of the theory by repeating the phenomenon a number of times; and based upon the test results, rejecting the theory or accepting it as a scientific fact. However, it is not fact, it remains a theory with a high probability of being fact. Science deals with measurements and averages since the same occurrence of an event cannot be repeated. Only a similar event can be made to happen and the similar event cannot be the exact duplicate of the original because, if nothing else, the time has changed. So measurements are taken and those measurements are averaged to get a result. They do not produce facts or proof of the original theory, only the probability (it may be very high) that the theory is correct. Proof is limited to mathematics (3 eggs times 4 equals 12 eggs and the eggs can be counted to prove it), and logic (If A equals B in all respects, and B equals C in all respects, then A equals C in all respects, and A and C can be compared to prove it).

We live in a world in which much of what we believe and do is based upon probability rather than proof. You normally do not sit in a chair full of anxiety that it may break at any time. You cannot be certain that it will not break, but you can sit with a high degree of probability that it will not break. You only have proof that the chair will not break after you have finished with the chair and gotten up. It did what you, by faith, trusted it to do and it proved itself to be true to your expectations.

I am willing to go with probabilities. You can do your own research, but I find the most frequent scientific estimate of the probability of life formed by natural process to be around 1 chance in 10 to the 40,000 power, that is 1 with 40,000 zeros after it. The atheistic  scientist would say that no matter how small the probability is, life exists. That is like looking at a man on top of a 10-story building and saying, “No matter how small the probabilities are that he jumped up there from the ground, he is up there, so he must have jumped.” The conclusion does not take into account other possible and more likely (or more probable) explanations of what is. More on this subject in the next post.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Every July there is a two-week international guitar festival here in Córdoba. I think that is because Córdoba claims some credit for the first classical guitar being made here in the sixteenth century. And every year they seem to make a point of inviting some aged rock and roll star to put on a concert. This year it was Bob Dylan. Ol’ Bob was born in May 1941, so that means he was 74 years old when he came here. He still dressed like he did when he became popular in the 1960s. He still wore his hair like he did then. He still sang the same songs he did then. So, what is a-changin’ for ol’ Bob?

Dylan and his fellow pop singers in the 60s were catalysts for change in Western society. Their lyrics were rebellious and disparaging of the status quo of that era. They cried out for change and they eventually got what they asked for. I think these lyrics from Dylan’s song with the above title will show what I mean:

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your wall
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Even though ol’ Bob hasn’t changed much from the 60s, for sure we are living in changing times. Before you can adjust to one change it changes. The most rapid change is coming in the area of morality. The 60s generation wanted a new one and the twenty-first century has chucked morality all together. Issues of right and wrong have become issues of rights—one’s right to do what they want morally. According to God the right to do wrong brings judgment and woe. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my Living Right in a World of Woe which has just been released by Antioch Press:

From the beginning of the world God has given instructions in the form of commandments and laws informing His people how they are to live in this world. These commandments and laws are the basis of God’s relationship with people. He is God; we are His creation. He commands; we obey. Our obedience to His laws brings blessings. Our disobedience to His laws brings curses and woe. God does not change and God’s laws do not change. What God says is right will never be wrong. What God says is wrong will never be right.

We are now living in a time when some civil laws of the land are in opposition to the laws of God. What is evil in God’s sight is now called good. Obedience to those laws that oppose God’s laws will bring woe to individuals and nations. What is a Christian to do when ungodliness is the law of the land? The answer is simple: we are to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). At this time when legal and societal pressure will be on Christians to conform to the laws of the world, it will be good to take a fresh look at how God requires his people to live right in this world and its coming woe. We must see right, be right and do right in order to live right in a world of woe.

God pronounced woe to the enemies of Israel. God pronounced woe to Israel. The psalmist pronounced woe to himself. The prophets pronounced woe to themselves. Jesus pronounced woe to cities. Jesus pronounced woe to the teachers of the law and Pharisees. Jesus pronounced woe to the rich. In Matthew 18:7 Jesus pronounced woe to the world. What is woe? Where does woe come from? Why does woe come? Why is this world a world of woe?

Woe has several different meanings as used in the Bible. None of them are good. Woe can mean an exclamation that brings a curse of condemnation or judgment. It can mean deep sorrow, grief or affliction. It can mean ruinous trouble and calamity. An exclamation of woe can apply to the one expressing it as in the case of the psalmist and the prophets. It can apply to individual people, cities and nations when pronounced by God.

With the psalmists and the prophets, woe comes from what they observed going on around them. The wicked prosper. God’s people suffer. But the greatest woe came to the prophets because they observed God’s people sinning and enjoying it. Woe comes to the sinners as a natural outcome of their sin.

Romans 1 gives us a list of things that go wrong when people do not acknowledge God: their thinking becomes futile and their hearts are darkened; thinking they are wise, they become fools; and, God gives them over to the sinful desires of their hearts, to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Sin brings woe to the sinners. This woe is the one that means a curse or condemnation. This woe comes from God.

Isaiah 5:20–24 gives us a concise explanation of why woe comes and why the world today is a world of woe. The prophet spoke words that apply to all ages when he said:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

22 Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks,

23 who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.

24 Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the Lord  Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

After describing the world we live in, the prophet succinctly put the reason woe comes in these words, “they have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.”