When talking with a non-Christian, make truth – not behavior – the main issue

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Pastor Matt posted about something that I think all Christian apologists believe, deep down. (H/T The Poached Egg)

He writes:

Typically, the church has defined loving one’s neighbor as in line with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Christ’s teaching in passages such as Matthew 25:31-46, in which we are commanded to love the imprisoned, the homeless, the hungry, etc. as if they were Jesus himself. Of course all believers should do so whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating money to ministries like World Help.

But there is more to loving one’s neighbor these days than caring for the poor, as important as that is.  Those of us who live in a first world western country now dwell in a post-Christian society.  Our neighbors are inundated with naturalism masquerading as good science and sound philosophy.  Non-Christians believe the faith is intellectually vacuous.

It shocks many people when those trained in apologetics point out that atheists cannot answer questions like, “How did the universe come into existence?” “Why is our planet so finely tuned for life despite all the odds against it?” “How did life begin?” “Why do humans have consciousness?” “How is there truth or right and wrong without God?” “Why did the disciples die horrible deaths as impoverished traveling peasants rather than deny the resurrection of Jesus?”, etc.

If we are to help bring our neighbors to saving faith, we must first destroy their false ideas of what Christianity is and is not.  That means we must preach the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21), knock down specious views of the faith and present the truth of what we believe.

Apologetics is not just an intellectual exercise for nerds like me or a debate to be won on college campuses but an increasing tool in loving our neighbors.  For if they do not understand the faith, they will likely not come to faith and that is what the God we love wants and how we must show love to our neighbors.  So, let’s study not just to win arguments but to love others.

That reminds me of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Our job is to beat up on false ideas and speculations.

Pastor Matt’s point is critical, I think. Just stop and think for a minute about your non-believing co-workers. Do they know that the universe began to exist? Do they know that the initial conditions and the cosmological constants have to be finely tuned to support things like galaxies, stars, planets and elements heavier than hydrogen? Do they know how much information is in a protein, and how many proteins would be needed to make the first living cell? Do they know what it takes to make a planet that can support life? What facts from the gospels and the Pauline letters pass the tests for historicity? What is the best explanation of those minimal facts?

These are the facts that we share when we discuss spiritual things with people. They are not Christian facts, they are public, testable facts. And yet, almost no one in the culture who is not already a believer is curious to find out these things on their own. But without the evidence, how are they supposed to take the first step towards a relationship with God through Jesus Christ? It’s not possible. This is a propositional faith, and we know it’s true by evidence. To share the evidence with someone so they can decide is as loving as sharing the evidence about retirement planning, or the evidence about nutrition, or the evidence about fitness and exercise, or the evidence about career planning. When you love someone, you tell them the facts, and then they decide. Evangelism is the same thing.

Here’s something from a recent post by J. Warner Wallace, where he talks about doing apologetics with people who have not yet decided whether God exists or not.

The Undecided

In many ways, this group holds the most promise. People who are undecided usually fall into two categories. Some have never really given the issue much thought. They’re neither for nor against; they’ve simply been living unaware. You may be the first person to introduce them to the issues you are trying to share. If so, remember the importance of a first impression. What you say or do will have an impact on the work of those who follow you. The second group of “undecideds” are people who have given the issue some thought, but are just beginning to make their decision. For this group of people, your defense of Christianity may very well be the deciding factor. The responsibility you and I have with the undecided is daunting, but it’s a privilege to play a small part in their decision.

OK, so I want to make a point about this. So often, I see Christian parents and leaders trying to focus on changing people’s behaviors, and not by giving them evidence. Instead of trying to convince them about what’s true, they tell them Bible verses, or maybe tell them they are going to Hell. But given what Matt and J. Warner said, I don’t want us to be focused on changing outward behavior. I want us to be focused on showing people what is true and showing our work – how we arrived at these true beliefs. You are doing Christianity wrong if you focus on getting behaviors from people by shaming them, overpowering them or scaring them.

So in my case, I’m not trying to get non-Christians to act like Christians when they have no reasons to be one. I’m trying to get them to settle on true beliefs – so that each of them and God can shake hands and be reconciled, responding to his drawing them of their own free will. Then, they can decide how they are going to act. And how they act might be even better than what we had in mind for them when all we wanted was for them to quit swearing and eat their vegetables. The Christian life is bigger than just making people do what we want them to do.

North Carolina State University loses court battle to silence Christian students

Alliance Defending Freedom: for religious liberty and the conscience protection
Alliance Defending Freedom: for religious liberty and protection of conscience

Friday – that means you get good news, courtesy of the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Excerpt:

As part of a settlement with a Christian student group, officials with North Carolina State University have revised the school’s solicitation policy so that it no longer unconstitutionally censors the free speech of students. In light of the policy change, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the student group, Grace Christian Life, withdrew their lawsuit against the university on Tuesday.

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a preliminary injunction that halted the university’s former policy, which required a permit for nearly any kind of non-commercial student speech or communication anywhere on campus.

“Students of any religious, political, or ideological persuasion should be able to freely and peacefully speak with their fellow students about their views without interference from university officials who may prefer one view over another. NC State did the right thing in revising its policy to reflect this instead of continuing to defend its previous policy, which was not constitutionally defensible,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer.

ADF-allied attorney Edmund LaCour of Bancroft PLLC served as co-counsel in the lawsuit, Grace Christian Life v. Woodson, and argued before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in favor of the preliminary injunction that the court granted. The settlement essentially incorporates the terms of the injunction and requires the university to adopt a policy that protects the First Amendment freedom of all students to engage in speech throughout the campus without prior permission from the university.

The university only selectively enforced its permit policy and did so against Grace Christian Life, a registered student organization, when officials told members of the group that they needed a permit to speak with other students in the student union.

You can learn more about the ADF by reading about them on their web site.

Well, that’s your good news for Friday. ADF is one of the best Christian organizations for solving the real problems that Christians actually face. I really am grateful for their work defending religious liberty. Somebody has to hold the line against the efforts by those on the secular left to deny basic rights to Christians, such as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and conscience protection. It seems like it is open season on Christians, these days. Hardly a day goes buy where some organization or other (often taxpayer-funded!) is trying to intimidate Christians from exercising their Constitutional rights. Well, if nobody shows up to fight a battle, then the other side wins. If we don’t have groups like the ADF showing up to fight for us, we will lose these legal battles. Make sure that you honor those who are fighting for you and for your freedom to be who you are.

What is the difference between capitalism and socialism?

Over 100,000 Venezuelans pouring into Colombia from the Venezuela in order to buy food
Over 100,000 Venezuelans cross into Colombia in order to buy food

(This photo H/T Prager University)

One country that has done a good job of implementing socialism is Venezuela.

Here is an article from March 2013 from Slate, a web site that strongly favors socialism. The headline is “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle: The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains”. The author is “a senior writer for the International Business Times”.

He writes:

Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

What did Chavez do, precisely, that caused the Venezuelan economic to boom? Well, he nationalized private industry and redistributed wealth from job creators and entrepreneurs to the poor.

As The Week correctly put it, while “Chavez’s policies of redistribution and nationalization of oil assets endeared him to Venezuela’s working class” and produced many laudable results, the country’s “oil-centric economy has taken away resources from other areas that are badly in need of development.”

OK, so that’s pretty much what the Democrat party wants to do in the United States as well. Nationalize the energy sector, nationalize health care, etc. Let the government take over the private sector industries in order to eliminate “inequalities”. Raise taxes, and redistribute the money to the low income people via social programs, also known as welfare.

So, how does it work? Is socialism really an “economic miracle”?

Here is the latest from Venezuela, as reported by CNN Money. (H/T William)

Excerpt:

Venezuelans cried at the sight of fully-stocked supermarket shelves in Colombia.

Pregnant women, children and even elderly Venezuelans crossed into Colombia on Sunday after the border was temporarily reopened, allowing them to buy basic foods and toiletries — rare commodities in their home country.

Tearful Venezuelans had gone weeks without basic food items like milk, flour and toilet paper. It’s a sad but common part of daily life today in crisis-ridden Venezuela, a country that has the world’s largest proven reserves of oil. Colombian officials estimate that about 100,000 Venezuelans crossed the border.

Venezuela is expected to dive deeper into the abyss this year, according to new projections published Wednesday by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF forecasts Venezuela’s economy will shrink 10% this year, worse than its previous estimate of 8%. It also estimates that inflation in Venezuela will catapult to 700% this year, up from the earlier guess of about 480%.

“Venezuela’s economic condition continues to deteriorate,” says Alejandro Werner, chief Latin America economist at the IMF. The estimates for growth and inflation are the worst worldwide.

The numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Venezuela is deep into a humanitarian crisis — people are dying in ill-equipped hospitals and many live without basic food items. Venezuela can’t pay to import goods because its government is desperately strapped for cash after years of mismanagement of its funds, heavy spending on poorly-run government programs, and lack of investment on its oil fields.

[…]It’s all even more tragic given that despite Venezuela’s oil abundance, its state-run oil company, PDVSA, is broke. Venezuela’s oil production fell to a 13-year low in June, according to OPEC, of which it’s a member.

That’s what you get when you let the government take over the free enterprise system, or even when you just stifle the free market with burdensome regulations and high taxes. That’s what socialists in Venezuela did. That’s what the Democrat party would do. They’re  two sides of the same coin.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager put out a good video recently explaining the problems with socialism:

Why would anyone prefer a system that encourages some people to feel entitled to what other people create and earn? We want a system that is focused on serving your neighbor – not stealing from them.

Arthur Brooks

If you would like a very brief introduction to capitalism, also known as the free enterprise system or the free market system, then you can watch the videos below, featuring Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute.

Here is the first one, which explains the myths that most Americans are taught about capitalism in school and in the culture:

An important advantage of capitalism is that it lifts people out of poverty. The poorest people in America live much better than the wealthy in Venezuela.

And the second video explains what capitalism offers to individuals for their fulfillment, which socialism does not:

Earned success makes people happier, which is at least as important as the wealth benefit.

We can compare the results of each system by looking at where it’s been tried. Capitalism lifts people out of poverty – all the people in the society who are willing to work are lifted out of poverty. Even the people who can’t work in a capitalist society enjoy the benefits of charity from their neighbors – when people do well, they give more money away. Socialism drives those who work and those who don’t work into poverty, and eliminates charity. No one has anything to share when everyone is poor.

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Ted Cruz refuses to endorse Trump, tells voters to “vote your conscience”

Lone man refuses to give Hitler salute
One single, solitary man refuses to salute Hitler at a Nazi party rally

I have to say something about Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, OH.

This article from The Federalist was the best summary:

Ted Cruz knows exactly what he’s doing. On Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, Cruz walked onto the stage in Cleveland to thunderous applause, smiled, waved, and then openly defied the Republican Party.

Not only did Cruz fail to endorse Donald Trump, in a master stroke of rhetorical understatement he also implored Republicans to “vote your conscience” in November. It was all he needed to say.

Cruz uttered the name of the GOP nominee only once, right at the beginning. “I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” Cruz told the crowd.

That was it. The very next thing he said was a rhetorical shot across Trump’s bow: “I want to see the principles of our party prevail in November.”

For the rest of his remarks, Cruz’s theme was freedom—not Trump or party unity or even Hillary Clinton. He took up his theme by talking about something he’s been talking about for years: the frustrations of average Americans with what Cruz calls the “Washington cartel.” Recall that early in the primaries, Cruz made common cause with Trump as an outsider candidate, lambasting not just the Obama administration but also a Republican establishment he said was woefully out of step with ordinary Americans.

“Voters are overwhelmingly rejecting big government,” he said. “That’s a profound victory. People are fed up with politicians who don’t listen to them, fed up with a corrupt system that benefits the elites, instead of working men and women.”

He lambasted a “political establishment that cynically breaks its promises and ignores the will or the people,” a shot aimed not just at the Obama administration, but at his GOP establishment rivals in Congress.

But it was clear, to those who have ears to hear, that Cruz was not making a case for Trump. “We’re fighting not for a particular candidate or campaign,” he said. Americans deserves leaders who “stand for principles” and “shared values.”

The closest Cruz came to an endorsement of anyone was a plea for the beleaguered down-ballot Republicans who in many places across the country face tough odds in November with Trump at the top of the GOP ticket.

“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” he said. “Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

That’s what I’ve been telling people as well. Don’t vote for Trump, but do vote for solid conservatives at every level of government in your home state.

Here is the full speech: (Transcript at Caffeinated Thoughts)

 

Ted explained his actions like this:

Not everyone who runs for office is a "politician"
Not everyone who runs for office is a “politician”

Donald Trump repeatedly insulted the much better conservatives who were running against him in the primary. Most of those conservatives, like Rubio, have apologized, grovelled, and kissed his ring after they lost. Not Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz is as far above Trump in intelligence and morality as Hyperion to a satyr, to quote Shakespeare. There is no way that Cruz could kowtow to an immoral imbecile like Trump.

Jonah Goldberg says this at National Review:

Well here comes Ted Cruz providing exactly the sort of drama they yearned for and many of these same voices are aghast at Ted Cruz’s effrontery. The word has gone out across the land: This is an outrage! Not since Caligula appointed his horse to the Roman senate has a political figure showed such contempt for decorum and the solemnity of politics!

[…]I understand that Chris Christie will spew whatever fake outrage his masters instruct, like a trained seal barking for another herring. But I don’t see why so many supposedly seasoned political observers are volunteering for service.

[…]This is part of the corruption of Trump. He called Ted Cruz a liar every day and in every way for months (it used to be considered a breach in decorum to straight up call an opponent a liar, never mind use it as a nickname). The insults against his wife, the cavalier birtherism, the disgusting JFK assassination theories about his Dad: These things are known. And yet the big conversation of the day is Ted Cruz’s un-sportsmanlike behavior? For real?

[…]Ted Cruz has never been my favorite politician. And I am not so naïve that I don’t recognize the gamble Cruz is making.

But if the choice is between forgiving Ted Cruz’s obvious political calculation to become the standard bearer of an authentic conservatism or Donald Trump’s lizard-brain narcissism where no principle or cause outranks his own glandular desire to be worshipped, like a conqueror atop the carcass of conservatism, I choose Ted.

If the choice is between, say, congratulating the Boy Scoutish obedience of Mike Pence as he sells off bits and pieces of his soul like jewels from a family heirloom just to survive another day, or Ted Cruz who took the tougher road and refused to join the mewling mobs of toadies, apologists, human weather vanes, difference-splitters and vacillators, I choose Ted.

If the choice is between suspending the rules of decorum, decency, and civility for Donald Trump as he casually bad mouths his own country to the New York Times just as he secures the presidential nomination of the Republican Party or accepting that we are in dark and uncharted waters and conscience must light the way, I choose Ted.

I wasn’t worried about what Cruz would say at the convention. More than anyone else speaking, I trusted him not to stain his honor by endorsing someone he didn’t support, for political gain. There was just no way that someone with the education, achievements, moral character and conservative principles of Ted Cruz would lower himself into the gutter to support a disgusting piece of godless left-wing filth like Donald Trump. Ted Cruz will be back in 2020. Maybe then American voters will care enough to actually look into the backgrounds and achievements of the candidates.

I can only hope that God will give this nation one more chance to turn off of the road to serfdom. But even if he does not, we can’t say that we were not warned.

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Genome mapper Francis Collins changes his mind on “junk DNA”

Christianity and the progress of science
Christianity and the progress of science

First, let’s see what Darwinian evolutionists predict about junk DNA, before we look at what the experiments show.

Here’s biologist John Timmer to explain the orthodox Darwinian view of DNA from 2007:

Personally, I fall into the “it’s all junk” end of the spectrum. If almost all of these sequences are not conserved by evolution, and we haven’t found a function for any of them yet, it’s hard to see how the “none of it’s junk” view can be maintained. There’s also an absence of support for the intervening view, again because of a lack of evidence for actual utility. The genomes of closely related species have revealed very few genes added from non-coding DNA, and all of the structural RNA we’ve found has very specific sequence requirements. The all-junk view, in contrast, is consistent with current data.

Got that? According to Darwinists, DNA is almost entirely junk – this is what is consistent with the view that creatures have evolved through a process of random mutation and selection. The estimates that I’ve seen from evolutionary biologists range from 95% to 99% junk. Now let’s compare the religion with science, and separate mythology from reality.

Regarding this junk DNA, commenter Thomas A alerted me to this article from Evolution News about famous theistic evolutionist Francis Collins.

It says:

Count on Marvin Olasky at World Magazine not to miss something like this. InThe Language of God, theistic evolutionary icon Francis Collins used so-called Junk DNA as homerun evidence against intelligent design. He has since backed down on that, honorably, admitting “hubris” in the process. Olasky:

Collins claimed on page 136 that huge chunks of our genome are “littered” with ancient repetitive elements (AREs), so that “roughly 45 percent of the human genome [is] made up of such genetic flotsam and jetsam.” In his talk he claimed the existence of “junk DNA” was proof that man and mice had a common ancestor, because God would not have created man with useless genes.

Last year, though, speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Collins threw in the towel: “In terms of junk DNA, we don’t use that term anymore because I think it was pretty much a case of hubris to imagine that we could dispense with any part of the genome, as if we knew enough to say it wasn’t functional. … Most of the genome that we used to think was there for spacer turns out to be doing stuff.”

Good for Collins — and maybe he’ll go on to deal with other times scientists feel sorry for God as they look at His purportedly poor design. For example, evolutionists use the retina of the eye as evidence against creation, because nerve endings are at the front rather than at the back, which at first glance seems better placement. Yet, as Lee Spetner explains in The Evolution Revolution(Judaica Press, 2014), physicists now see front placement as the best one for “ingeniously designed light collectors.”

The list of needed retractions should include what you probably learned in high school about apparently purposeless human vestigial organs. Robert Wiedersheim’s 1895 list of 86 has shrunk, as almost all of them have proved to have functions. For example, the most famous vestigial organ — the vermiform appendix — is a crucial storage place for benign bacteria that repopulate the gut when diarrhea strikes. The appendix can be a life-saver.

Who knew? Well, intelligent design proponents knew.

Here’s intelligent design theorist William Dembski’s view of “junk” DNA, from 1998:

Even if we have a reliable criterion for detecting design, and even if that criterion tells us that biological systems are designed, it seems that determining a biological system to be designed is akin to shrugging our shoulders and saying God did it. The fear is that admitting design as an explanation will stifle scientific inquiry, that scientists will stop investigating difficult problems because they have a sufficient explanation already.

But design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term “junk DNA.” Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as “junk” merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function… Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it.

Now let’s look at the experimental evidence and see whose prediction was proven right by the progress of science.

Science Daily reports on a recent study that confirms the previous study that falsified Darwinian predictions about junk DNA.

Excerpt:

Researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute have confirmed that, far from being “junk,” the 97 per cent of human DNA that does not encode instructions for making proteins can play a significant role in controlling cell development.

[…]Using the latest gene sequencing techniques and sophisticated computer analysis, a research group led by Professor John Rasko AO and including Centenary’s Head of Bioinformatics, Dr William Ritchie, has shown how particular white blood cells use non-coding DNA to regulate the activity of a group of genes that determines their shape and function. The work is published today in the scientific journalCell.

“This discovery, involving what was previously referred to as “junk,” opens up a new level of gene expression control that could also play a role in the development of many other tissue types,” Rasko says. “Our observations were quite surprising and they open entirely new avenues for potential treatments in diverse diseases including cancers and leukemias.”

Now, this is yet another falsification of Darwinism, to go with the other papers that I keep posting about new research that falsifies Darwinism. How many papers do we need to falsify Darwinism? I think if you are in an argument over Darwinism, and you produce these articles, then you win, so long as the other person cannot produce anything. It’s also a good idea to couple these pieces of evidence with a positive case for intelligent causes operating during the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion. You can’t just argue that Darwinism is false, you have to also show that life shows the same signs of design as software code or blog posts. Information.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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