The Apple Of God's Eye

February 22, 2011

Historical Proof: Jesus Christ Really Lived!

bijuachan.webs.com

Is there evidence, apart from the Bible, that Jesus really lived? Actually, the accounts in the Bible, which are God’s inspired revelation to humanity, are proof enough. But extrabiblical sources also amply attest that Jesus lived, that He was born of a young virgin, preached the Gospel, performed miracles, and was condemned to execution.

Justin Martyr, a second-century theologian, wrote: “Now there is a village in the land of the Jews, 35 stadia from Jerusalem, in which Christ was born, as you can ascertain also from the registries of the taxing under Cyrenius your first procurator in Judea” (“First Apology,” Chapter 34).

Justin Martyr was referring to public records that existed in his day to demonstrate that Jesus was born in Judea. Of course, one would expect that a religionist such as Justin Martyr would naturally support Jesus’ authenticity as a historical person. But what about a historian who despised Christians?

Cornelius Tacitus, Roman historian, senator, consul, and governor of the province of Asia, wrote this concerning Jesus and His followers: “Nero … punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. But in spite of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome” (“The Annals of Imperial Rome,” XV, 44).

The fourth-century Roman emperor Julian the Apostate (named this because he turned from Christianity after being brought up in it) wrote a major work against Christianity in which he said this: “Jesus, whom you celebrate, was one of Caesar’s subjects. If you dispute it, I will prove it by and by; but it may be as well done now. For yourselves allow, that he was enrolled with his father and mother in the time of Cyrenius …. But Jesus having persuaded a few among you, and those the worst of men, has now been celebrated about 300 years; having done nothing in his lifetime worthy of remembrance; unless anyone thinks it a mighty matter to heal lame and blind people, and exorcise demoniacs in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany”(“Cyril Contra Julian,” VI, pages 213, 191).

These are reports from pagan Romans who despised Christianity. They had access to government records, and, if they could have disproved Jesus’ authenticity, they would have done so. But, they could not. Their writings are additional proof of Christ’s life.

What about the Jews? If Jesus did not exist, the Jews would have had no reason to reject Him! The Jewish historian Josephus admitted that Jesus, His disciples, and John the Baptist lived. He called John the Baptist “the good man” (“Antiquities of the Jews,” XVIII, 5, 2). Scholars recognize as genuine his account of the death of James, “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ” (Ibid., XX, 9, 1).

According to “The Jewish Encyclopedia” (1907 edition) and other sources, Jesus is also mentioned in the “Talmud,” the collection of Jewish tradition consisting of the Mishnah and the Gemara. The sections of the “Talmud” which are said to be references to Jesus are Shabbath 104b and 116b; Sanhedrin 43a, 67a, and 107b; and Sotah 47a. You may also wish to read the article “Jesus of Nazareth” in “The Jewish Encyclopedia” (1907 edition), the article “Jesus” in the “Encyclopedia Judaica,” the articles “Jesus Christ” and “Talmud and Midrash,” which shows how the “Talmud” (Mishna) is organized, in “The New Encyclopaedia Britannica” (1981 edition), and the book titled “Jesus Christ in the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and the Liturgy of the Synagogue,” by Gustaf Dalman (1973).

These facts, all from sources outside the Bible, clearly substantiate the existence of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not a myth. The Bible record is true.

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February 25, 2010

A Credible Religious Answer To Evolution!

Mankind has a long history of seeking God, but it now appears that human intellect is in a rush to eliminate Him. Supposed superstition, ignorance and fear is said to give way to intelligence in order that human civilization may be brought fully into being.

And no wonder. The gods of some nations have been carved by men’s hands out of wood, stone, or other existing material. The gods of some religions and individuals have been carved out of human imaginations and faulty human reasoning. Some have worshiped the sun, or other inanimate objects of nature. All these gods are merely the created—most of them formed and fashioned by man, therefore inferior to man.

But He who did the creating—He who brought everything that exists into existence, including all else falsely called God—He who created all matter, force and energy, who created all natural laws and set them in motion, who created life and endowed some of it with intelligence—He is God! He is superior to all else that is called “God.” He, alone, is God! (more…)

September 15, 2009

The Power Of God In Universal Vastness

starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov

starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov

It was just before dawn on July 16, 1945, and the world’s first atomic bomb was about to be tested in the desert of New Mexico.  It worked! In a split second, the world’s first atomic weapon released the power of 20,000 tons of conventional explosive.

Three weeks later, a second bomb was exploded. But this was no test. It was dropped over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and in a flash of heat and light, the city was destroyed and 100,000 people were killed or injured. Conquered and conquerors alike were awed by the power of this terrible new weapon.

The power of the atom

What man did was turn a small piece of uranium — about one gram, or a 30th of an ounce — into raw energy. Scientists had long suspected that it was possible. It took the urgency of war for them to discover how.

But when they did, even those who worked on the project were sobered by the implications of the power they could unleash. U.S. President Harry Truman summed it up in a warning to the people of Japan the day after Hiroshima was destroyed. “It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power…”

President Truman was right. Man had indeed harnessed the power of the universe, the very force from which the sun draws its power.

The atom bomb that devastated Hiroshima was a mere firecracker compared to the weapons of today. Now we measure their destructive power in megatons — one megaton is the equivalent of a 300-mile-long trainload of conventional explosives! But we have become so accustomed to such figures that they no longer impress us.

We should look again at the power of the atom. It is indeed the force by which mankind will bring himself to the edge of destruction. But there is also an encouraging and reassuring side to it. By splitting the atom, we learn — or could learn, if we were willing — a little more about the awesome power of God.

Before nuclear physics

For most of his approximately 6,000 years on earth, man has been surprisingly ignorant about the true nature of his surroundings. The ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome made some progress in science. But after the fifth century, man’s knowledge hardly advanced for 1,000 years.

During the Dark Ages, science, magic and witchcraft were considered to be much the same thing. Such scientists as there were wasted their time trying to find the elixir of life or a way to turn lead into gold. They thought the earth was flat and that angels pushed the sun and stars around it. Superstition rather than science guided men’s thinking.

Then, in the middle of the 16th century, knowledge began to expand rapidly again. Navigators discovered that they could sail around the world without falling off. Copernicus showed that the earth was not the center of the universe, but just another planet in orbit around the sun. Galileo’s experiments in astronomy and physics challenged some ideas that had remained unchanged (and wrong) since the days of Aristotle.

The English scientist Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated how physical phenomena could be measured and quantified. He made it possible for scientists to build on their discoveries, rather than conduct isolated experiments. Newton realized there was a system of law governing gravity, mass, force, acceleration and motion. This laid the groundwork for the advances that made our modern world possible.

For two centuries nobody seriously questioned the validity of Newton’s laws. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was considered indisputable that physical matter (the elements) and energy (heat and light) were separate entities that could neither be created nor destroyed. The amount of matter and the amount of energy in the universe were presumed fixed.

Matter could change its form through chemical reaction. Energy could also change — heat into light, for example. But matter could not turn into energy or vice versa. Or so they thought.

The theory of relativity

It was Albert Einstein who first understood that this was not totally true. He put forward a theory that predicted that physical matter and energy were not separate — that they were, in a sense, interchangeable. Matter could be transformed into energy, and energy could be transformed into matter.

This “theory of relativity” rocked the scientific world. This article is no place to try to explain in detail these incredibly complicated ideas. But Dr. Einstein summed them up with the now famous equation E = mc2 (where E = energy, m = mass and c = the speed of light, which is about 186,000 miles a second). What this means is that if you can transform physical matter into energy, the amount of energy produced is equal to the mass of the matter times the speed of light multiplied by itself (i.e., 186,000 x 186,000).

You don’t need to be a genius to realize that if this line of reasoning is true, even a small amount of matter can produce an astonishing amount of energy.

Splitting the atom

But how do you turn matter into energy? To do this, you would have to literally split the atom — or, to be specific, the nucleus of the atom. And that is easier said than done.

Scientists had shown that the atom, once thought to be the smallest possible particle of matter, is composed of even smaller, subatomic particles — neutrons, protons and electrons among them. The protons and neutrons make up a central core or nucleus of an atom, while the electrons whirl around the nucleus rather like the planets orbit the sun, only much faster — billions of times in a millionth of a second. (The makeup of the atom is actually even more complex than this, but this will serve to make the point.)

These components of the atom each have an electrical charge — negative, positive or neutral. The electrons whirling around in orbit have a negative charge. The nucleus is made of neutrons, which have a neutral charge, and protons, which have a positive charge.

Think of these charges like the opposite poles of a magnet and you’ll get the idea. If you have played with magnets, you’ve discovered that like poles repel each other, while opposite poles attract. It’s the same with electrical charges.

So, since the nucleus of an atom is made up of neutral neutrons and positively charged protons, what stops the protons from repelling each other — or, in other words, why doesn’t an atom’s nucleus fly apart? (Again, think of it as trying to hold the like poles of two powerful magnets together. It takes a surprising amount of strength, and as soon as you let up, the magnets immediately push themselves away from each other.)

There must be a force that counteracts the repelling power of the protons and binds them together in the nucleus. Physicists call this the “strong force.”

It is indeed so strong that, for centuries, nobody even suspected its existence. So firm was its grip on the core of the atom that no force available to man could even begin to persuade it to let go. Thus it was hardly surprising that scientists thought the atom was the smallest possible division of matter.

In the 19th century it was discovered that some elements had a strange property. They gave off radiation — or, as we say now, were radioactive. Physicists realized that the atoms of these elements were slowly disintegrating. It happened very slowly — so slowly and unobtrusively that for thousands of years nobody even suspected it.

Strange, isn’t it? For millennia, alchemists had wasted their time trying to turn one element into another, yet here it was happening naturally under their noses all the time. Uranium, for example, given enough time, will decay down to lead, a nonradioactive element.

Experiments showed that when one element is transformed into another, not all of it is changed. A very small percentage of matter is changed into energy.

But if Einstein was right and E really did equal mc2, that still meant a lot of energy would be released as an atom decayed. Just before the Second World War, scientists learned how to speed up the decay by splitting the atom with a nuclear reactor, releasing the power in the atom.

When a radioactive element decays in nature, a small amount of energy is produced. For example, one pound of radioactive uranium gives as much energy as is produced by 5,000 pounds of gasoline. But it needs a thousand million years to do it. In a nuclear reactor (or a nuclear bomb) the atom is literally split in two. Much greater amounts of energy are released, suddenly and violently.

In the reaction that caused the devastation at Hiroshima, only about 1/1000th of the uranium was transformed into energy — about a 30th of an ounce.

Think of the power that was locked into that speck of matter, when it was transformed into heat and radiation! And that was a very small bomb.

A hydrogen bomb is many times more powerful than an atomic bomb. It takes an atomic explosion to produce enough energy to start the reaction.

But when the reaction does take place, it is with a flash of light brighter than the sun. Millions of degrees of heat are generated. That is why it is called a thermonuclear reaction. With the making of the hydrogen bomb, man has actually succeeded in duplicating the force that drives the sun.

The incredible sun

Look up at the sun. What you are seeing is a continuous chain of nuclear explosions in a reaction of unimaginable power. The sun is actually a giant thermonuclear reactor. It is composed mainly of hydrogen that is gradually changing into helium. Deep inside the sun’s core tremendous gravitational forces, 250 billion times those of earth, compress hydrogen atoms until the heat and pressure force a thermonuclear reaction to take place.

Energy released is thrust toward the surface, but the sun’s great mass pulls it back. It may take up to 15 million years for the energy to jostle its way through to the surface and escape as heat and radiation.

Scientists estimate that nearly four million tons of hydrogen are transformed into energy every second in the nuclear holocaust on our sun. (Remember, it took only a 30th of an ounce to destroy Hiroshima.)

And then stop and think about this: Our sun is only one star in our galaxy of 100 million stars. And there are probably 100 million other galaxies, each with another 100 million stars. That makes — oh, never mind. The point is that there is an almost inconceivable amount of power locked up in this awesome universe that surrounds us.

God made that universe by and out of His own power. “For He commanded and they were created,” the Bible tells us (Psalm 148:5).

The power of God

How can we even begin to comprehend the power that God has available? How much energy had to be held together to forge the atoms of even the most commonplace and seemingly insignificant of God’s creations — a sparrow, a spider or a leaf?

If all the energy compacted in a gram of matter could be released, it would supply as much energy as the Hoover Dam produces in about 18 and a half hours. Put another way, the matter in a 150-pound person, if converted completely to energy, would supply as much energy as Hoover Dam could produce in 144 years.

Yet God made giant stars 1,000 times the size of our sun! Can we ever begin to appreciate just how great God is? No wonder He could never allow mortal man to see the full power that radiates from Him. Nothing made of flesh and blood could survive that experience.

But God has, through His creation, given us hints, mere suggestions, of the immensity of His power. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [those who don’t or won’t believe in God] are without excuse,” wrote Paul (Romans 1:20).

The physical things God has made can teach us — if we have eyes to see. But, sad to say, many scientists today have rejected the very idea of God.

Never before have they known so much about the universe. Never before has there been more reason to believe in a Creator. Not so long ago, sailors were afraid to sail over the horizon for fear they would fall off the earth. Now we travel into space routinely, discovering, measuring, analyzing and quantifying. And every breakthrough leads inexorably toward one conclusion — that there must have been a time when all that we see began.

But that implies a Creator, and that is something that many scientists cannot — or will not — admit. And so they “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (verse 21).

Perhaps if scientists had been willing to acknowledge the awesome power of God, they would never have dared tamper with those forces that bind the universe together.

In God’s hands, those forces are under control and are used only to do good. He has carefully regulated the inferno on the sun so that it makes life possible on earth.

But what has man done with nuclear power? Certainly there have been numerous peaceful industrial applications, although some argue that even these are hazardous. But our potential to split the atom is also lurking in the warheads of the weapons that will destroy all life if they ever are used.

Those weapons may be even more destructive than we dare think. President Truman threatened a “rain of ruin” on Japan. He didn’t know then that those relatively little bombs were paving the way for a possible nuclear winter that would eventually eliminate those who survived the initial blasts of nuclear bombs.

While the human heart is ruled by anger, lust and greed, it would be wiser to leave the “basic power of the universe” alone.

But it’s too late now. Once the first atomic bomb went off successfully, the die was cast. A chain reaction began. The bombs got bigger, and Bible prophecy tells us that man will use the principle of E = mc2 to batter the earth to the point where it can no longer sustain life.

Then, and only then, will the people of this world look out to the heavens and ask once again, “My God, what have we done?” 

Psalm 19

King Davis stated in Psalm 19: “The law of God is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure… the statutes of the Lord are right… the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes… by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11).

David knew that God rules His Kingdom and regulates His power with the great law of love. Before humans can inherit God’s Kingdom, they must show that they will live in obedience to that law. Only then can God be sure that the great reserves of power will always be used for good and peaceful purposes.

So God watches us now, while we are still relatively powerless, to see how we live. He expects us to take seriously even the smallest details of His law, which is far more binding than even the strong force that holds the earth together, or the power that constrains the energy locked in the stars. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away,” said Jesus Christ (Luke 21:33).

King David believed that. And so, when this righteous king looked into the heavens, he was filled with longing for the time when he could share that splendor as a born child of God. But he knew he had to qualify, and he knew he needed help. So he prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

God did help David. He gave him power — not the power of the atom, but the even greater power of the Holy Spirit. He began the greatest reaction process of all — the transformation of the very nature of David. One day, David will be resurrected in power and glory.

God will do the same for you. He will share His Spirit with you — just a little, for now. But you must use it properly — to overcome, to obey God’s law, to do good and serve others.

Then one day, you, too, will be welcomed by the great Creator God into His Kingdom, to live with Him in full brilliance and majesty and share His awesome power forever.

Source: Good News, 1985

August 28, 2009

God, The Failed Hypothesis?

1I recently ran across a book entitled: God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. It is the author’s conclusion, after examining the scientific data relating to every attribute, that the empirical scientific evidence is overwhelmingly against the existence of any being possessing any of them. In short, none of the standard attributes accepted by most believers as being true about their god can be salvaged in light of known facts about the universe. This, in turn, prevents any rational, reasonable, or justified belief in such a god from being salvaged.

Life, he says, was not designed, it evolved naturally. The universe was not created, it arose naturally. Morality was not divinely created, it evolved naturally. The universe was not fine-tuned, it’s just what we would expect to find.

As usual, this type of book rambles about on with a crude sense of cynicism, arrogance and hostility wrapped up in the cloak of science. I did not however find that the author knew much about theology, philosophy and history and found at least a dozen logical fallacies and false generalizations.

For example, the arguement that no indisputable evidence of God has been found in nature, therefore God must not exist is futile, since God is spiritual and cannot be seen by human eyes (Col. 1:15). God is everywhere in nature, since it is His creation. He says in Rom. 1:20:

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

“The expression “his invisible things” refers to those things which cannot be perceived in an intellectual way, by the faculty of the understanding; things which may be known of him, though not discoverable by the eye. We judge of the objects around us by the senses, the sight, the touch, the ear, etc. Though we can’t judge God this way, we may come to the knowledge of him by, ‘his eternal power and Godhead, by means of the material universe which he has formed. The argument implies that is enough to leave mankind without any excuse for its ignorance.” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible).

So, the power of God is evident in invisible things, and yet clearly seen in creation. The workman is known by his work. The variety, multitude, order, beauty, harmony, different nature, and excellency of the things that are made, the direction of them to certain ends, and the concurrence of all the parts to the good and beauty of the whole,  abundantly prove a Creator and his eternal power and Godhead. The proof is not weakened because we don’t see the process of creation constantly going on. It is rather augmented by the fact that he sustains all things, and continually controls the vast masses of matter in the material world.

God has given us so much clear evidence of his existence and claims, that man is without excuse for his denial. We have all the modern discoveries of astronomy, and no one thing more proves the stupidity of people, than the sad forgetfulness of Him that made the heavens and the earth.

Is archaeological proof lacking?

The book also argues that no archaeological evidence exists of a certain Biblical person, place or thing, therefore he/she or it must be mythical. In other words, the Bible is guilty until proven innocent, and a lack of outside evidence places the Biblical account in doubt. This standard is far different from that applied to other ancient documents, even though many, if not most, have a religious element. They are considered to be accurate, unless there is evidence to show that they are not.

Contrarily, when archaeological findings show “supposed”proof of  “discrepancies,”  we find when these are examined in detail, it is found that the problems lie with misinterpretation of evidence, lack of evidence, or poor scholarship, and not with the Bible.

Although it is not possible to verify every incident in the Bible, the discoveries of archahaeology since the mid-1800s have certainly demonstrated the reliability and plausibility of the Bible narrative.

Here are some examples:

  • The discovery of the Ebla archive in northern Syria in the 1970s has shown the Biblical writings concerning the Patriarchs to be viable. Documents written on clay tablets from around 2300 B.C. demonstrate that personal and place names in the Patriarchal accounts are genuine. The name “Canaan” was in use in Ebla, a name critics once said was not used at that time and was used incorrectly in the early chapters of the Bible. The word tehom (“the deep”) in Gen. 1:2 was said to be a late word demonstrating the late writing of the creation story. “Tehom” was part of the vocabulary at Ebla, in use some 800 years before Moses. Ancient customs reflected in the stories of the Patriarchs have also been found in clay tablets from Nuzi and Mari.
  • The Hittites were once thought to be a Biblical legend, until their capital and records were discovered at Bogazkoy, Turkey.
  • Many thought the Biblical references to Solomon’s wealth were greatly exaggerated. Recovered records from the past show that wealth in antiquity was concentrated with the king and Solomon’s prosperity was entirely feasible.
  • It was once claimed there was no Assyrian king named Sargon as recorded in Is. 20:1, because this name was not known in any other record. Then, Sargon’s palace was discovered in Khorsabad, Iraq. The very event mentioned in Is. 20, his capture of Ashdod, was recorded on the palace walls. What is more, fragments of a stela memorializing the victory were found at Ashdod itself.
  • Another king who was in doubt was Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel 5. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus according to recorded history. Tablets were found showing that Belshazzarr was Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. Thus, Belshazzar could offer to make  Daniel “third highest ruler in the kingdom” (Dan. 5:16) for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position. Here we see the “eye-witness” nature of the Biblical record, as is so often brought out by the discoveries of archaeology.

Source: Christiananswers.net

The universally accepted nature of science is that it is always evolving, with old theories and hypothesis being revised or discarded in favour of new ones, on the basis of the latest evidence. Therefore scientists do not believe in absolute proof, because new evidence might turn up which alters an old model, theory or law.

However, the existence of God can be proven. It is evident in the power of His creation; it is evident through archaeological evidence; through records of accounts written even after the facts by enemies of Christ, by the Roman Catholic church; it is evident by faith; and certainly will be evident through eschatological verification – when Christ returns, or when we die – whichever comes first. We will then have conclusive proof.

I find it pitiful that evolutionists or atheists believe that religion is a mere superstition: irrational folk beliefs that arose from fear and the human need for meaning and control of our surroundings. Science and our ability to control our environment has supposedly made us the captain of our own fate – no need for God anymore. But our control is a mere illusion. God says:

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Pet. 1:24-25)

So you see, we have only a few years on this earth and then we die. Without God, we have no hope, no future, no reality. It is only the word of God which is truth (John 17:17), not the ego filled vanity of atheistic nonsense. If all we have is hope in the present life, we are indeed hopeless.

But God promises eternal life, and He (unlike man), cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). I’ll take that statement above the fables foisted upon man by evolutionary science. At least I know where I’m going.

May 6, 2009

Why Hasn't Science Discovered God?

hybrid-androgyne.deviantart.com

hybrid-androgyne.deviantart.com

Until the later half of the nineteenth century, the intellectual community was dominated by religious thinking. In intellectual pursuits men were expected to espouse a belief in God. Alternate views were automatically viewed with suspicion. Science existed, but it was cloaked in a shroud of superstition.

Early in this century, however, the actors on the intellectual stage exchanged roles. God became a mere “extra.” Superstition was cast as the villain. Science emerged to replace religion in the leading role. In the final act many expected science to explain all mysteries, dissolve all superstition and leave nothing to the realm of the supernatural.

But will it? Is this its responsibility? Should we expect science to replace God and religion as significant forces in the intellectual world? Will all knowledge finally succumb to the defining scrutiny of empirical investigation? And will scientists and other educated men who today believe in God eventually cease to believe? Or is there more to the question of God and science than is commonly assumed?

A careful analysis is in order for anyone seeking an intelligent perspective of reality. Science is neither anti-God, nor does it disprove Him. There is no reason to be confused by the belief that God can or even should be done away with by science. Here is why.

What Is Science?

The English word “science” comes from the Latin scientia, which simply means “knowledge.” On the surface it would seem, then, that knowledge of God ought to be a scientific issue. Some religious groups even hold this idea as a basic doctrine of faith. They state that science is not really “true” science unless it includes God and a knowledge of things supernatural. Yet if one is really precise in his definitions, and wishes to avoid inaccurate logic in his quest for factual knowledge of God, this simple definition must be refined.

Science in its proper modern usage is the pursuit of only a limited type of knowledge. “At no time does science claim to be in possession of the whole truth; in fact, science is quite clear in insisting that it is never able to be in possession of the whole truth …” (Richard H. Bube, ed., The Encounter Between Christianity and Science [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968], p. 35). “Science gives us only a partial, even though ever expanding, picture of the universe. To assume that its descriptions cover the whole of reality is folly indeed!” (Ibid., p. 265.)

Science by definition is confined to establishing general truths by the means of empirical evidence available through the five senses. It originates exclusively in physical observation, experience or experimentation. Therefore, “Science is concerned only with the natural world. Unless a phenomenon can be described within the framework of space and time, it is not properly within the domain of science …

The human senses are the tools of science in studying the natural world. If you can’t see it, hear it, feel, taste, or smell it, then science can’t work with it …” (ibid., p. 18). “Its very nature is such that it cannot deal with unobservable phenomena …” (ibid., p. 265). “Science as such cannot either affirm or deny the truth of statements that lie beyond the limits of that which is empirically verifiable and observable” (ibid., p. 280).

In fact, had not scientists confined their investigations to repeatable, testable evidence — the realm of the physical — many of science’s greatest discoveries might still be covered by a cloak of irrational superstition.

One does, though, sometimes hear the term “science” used in less specific ways. Take the term “religious science,” for example. Here the term “science” really ought to be understood as merely meaning “knowledge” — in that religion is not within the scope of science in its exact sense. Therefore, it would seem that the term “religious knowledge” might be more appropriate when used in critical discussions.

“… We must always recognize the limitations of science. Its very nature is such that it cannot deal with unobservable phenomena, including those that are supernatural …” (ibid., p. 265). “Supernatural phenomena which are not thus observable [by use of the senses, etc.] are outside the scope of science” (ibid., p. 263).

Philosophy, Not Fact

Nevertheless, many do forget the distinction. In fact, much of the skepticism, agnosticism and atheism in the civilized world can no doubt be traced to a disregard of the implicit limits of science. In such a case, scientific methodology is universally applied to everything outside the laboratory. One ceases to deal with science, but enters the realm of philosophy, called empiricism or scientism. Such a concept is not scientific; it is merely the highly restrictive view that anything nonscientific is unreal or untrustworthy.

As the dictionary defines it, empiricism is “a theory that all knowledge originates in experience” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). I am sure that many thinking men would reject the validity of this philosophy. But in an age when science has done so many wonderful things for mankind, it is difficult to reject the idea that science does not hold the keys to all mysteries. But conclusive knowledge of God is patently a bigger issue than science alone. God is not antiscientific. He is not even unscientific. He is simply extra-scientific, or largely beyond the testability of empirical methods.

“An awareness of these limits can help us avoid many inappropriate controversies. For example, does the idea of God lend itself to scientific scrutiny? … If our hypothesis is correct, God would indeed exist everywhere … and we would never be able to devise a situation in which God is not present … But if our hypothesis is wrong, He would not exist and would therefore be absent from any test we could possibly make … Yet we would need such a situation for a controlled experiment. Right or wrong, our hypothesis is untestable … and science cannot legitimately say anything about Him. It should be carefully noted that this is a far cry from saying ‘science disproves God,’ or ‘scientists must be godless … ‘ Science commits you to nothing more … than adherence to the ground rules of proper scientific inquiry” (Paul B. Weisz, The Science of Biology, 4th ed. [New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1971], p. 8).

Thus we see that a scientist, when speaking as a scientist, should confine his comments to the limits of his discipline. Unless properly qualified, he should avoid philosophic extrapolations into fields which empirical techniques do not permit him to venture. To require this is not to criticize. It is a mere statement of definition. “The supernatural is not excluded from science because of a bias on the part of scientists; the supernatural is excluded by definition” (Bube, op. cit., p. 19).

Many great scientists, particularly of the last century, did also possess experience that qualified them to speak on topics other than science. Two notable examples are Isaac Newton, who had a well-developed love for poetry, and Samuel B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph and a recognized painter in his day. In fact, most educated men of that day felt an obligation to gain a broad-based educational experience before venturing into specialized fields. Like classical Greek scholars, they felt it poor intellectual wisdom to theorize in areas where they lacked a foundation of basic knowledge.

Perhaps it is unrealistic to attempt, as did nineteenth century scholars, competence in all fields of learning. The sheer mass of information available to a student today makes the task impractical. Yet the need to respect the value and existence of knowledge other than empirical knowledge is still obvious. Many have not, however, and have fallen into the quicksands of empiricism.

I have no objection to a scientist expressing an opinion. Anyone has that right. But a thinking person must object to the man’s reputation as a scientist being used as authority to express non-scientific opinions. Knowledge of science does not qualify one to make authoritative statements about God.

And yet it surprises me how many people trust anything that comes from a scientific authority without asking if it is scientific fact or mere extra-scientific, personal opinion wrapped in a technical-sounding package. Such is the problem today of many who have some education in the field of science and who otherwise want to know about God. They respect science, but they also feel that God might also make sense. But they have been lulled into an acceptance of the philosophy of empiricism by an educational system largely devoted to materialistic goals.

Science is very important to our modern world. To look down on such benefits would be foolish. But to forget the limits of science is even poorer thinking. Science is useful and productive, but it is not the final authority on knowledge. Much truth lies beyond the investigation of empirical observation and experiment. The existence of God, for example, lies within that realm.

But how does one come to grips with truth beyond science? In science, the facts are real and tangible. Beyond it, whatever truth might exist seems unworkable. This surely is the next logical question in the God/science controversy.

Vital Definitions

To properly understand how one can work with all truth, and not just the variety we see, smell or taste, the meaning of the word “truth” itself must be comprehended. In fact, three concepts commonly tossed about in discussions of God and science must be brought to sharp focus. They are: truth, proof and evidence.

Truth is defined as “that which conforms to fact or reality; that which is … has been, or must be.” Anything which intrinsically and absolutely exists is embodied in the term “truth.” As the dictionary states, “truth” is “that which is,” whether scientifically testable or not. Truth is truth even if no human minds perceive that it exists; and all truth, visible or not, is equally real.

Evidence is, as the dictionary defines it, “Clearness: an outward sign; indication ….” It is that which makes truth visible and clear to the human mind. The truth of electricity, for example, may not be clear and visible to a human mind until it can see, through the eye, the effect of the electricity on a physical object like a light bulb. That is evidence of electricity.

The real difference between scientific and supernatural truth lies not in the degree of validity of one truth over another, but in the inability of the human mind to see all truth with equal ease. We are physical beings, and our thinking mechanism receives its raw material only via the five physical senses. Therefore scientific truth is naturally seen. Supernatural evidence is just as real; but we simply do not have the senses to detect it automatically as we do physical fact.

Some truth, like many basic physical truths, can be so easily demonstrated that scientists call it scientific law. For others, the evidence is less available. Albert Einstein, for example, long sensed the truth of relativity before other scientists were able to provide empirical observational evidence.

Thus we see that man’s overall view of reality is naturally limited. Where the evidence is abundant, truth can be defined with considerable certainty. But in many cases it cannot. God is the supreme example. The truth of His existence clearly does not abound with physical evidence, at least not the irrefutable, objective type. Theoretically (and as the Bible does say), God’s handiwork as the Creator of the universe is physically visible. But as the long history of serious, sincere and conscientious scholars shows, physical evidence alone is inadequate. If one chooses to exclude from his thinking everything but empirical evidence, then he must intellectually recognize the well-established fact that there is no ladder by which a man can climb to a sure knowledge of God. Final proof must depend on the assistance we have received in God’s revelation.

Even if one finds this fact disappointing, revelation is a necessity to make the picture complete. It provides the basic dimension of certainty lacking in physical scientific evidence alone. Frankly, it is God’s responsibility to make His revelation both adequate and believable.

“But I Want Solid Proof!”

But of what value is revelation? Some say they can only trust something they can “prove” — like scientific evidence. And here we meet with a surprise. Revealed evidence can be proved exactly as scientific evidence can. There is no difference when one properly understands the real meaning of “proof.”

Most dictionaries have defined proof as, “The degree of cogency, arising from evidence, which convinces the mind of any truth or fact and produces belief.”

Proof is not absolute or intrinsic. It is entirely personal. It is in the “mind”; it “convinces”; it produces “belief.” And the key is “cogency.” Proof is the mental acceptance that something is sensible, reasonable, logical; in other words, cogent. Therefore it is completely subjective.

It is narrow-minded thinking to insist that proof to you “must” be proof to someone else. But it just can’t be. What may constitute “proof’ to one person may be woefully inadequate to another. Absolute proof simply does not exist. That is why science does not deal with absolute proof. It only seeks out and systematizes evidence that leads to an increasing level of probability.

But viewed as a personal matter, it is not difficult to realize why scientific evidence is no better at proving (producing a belief in) truth than is supernatural evidence. Whichever is the more cogent, logical, reasonable or sensible to an individual’s mind, provides the best “proof.” Some people accept meager evidence as solid proof, while others seem to have the capacity to remain unmoved in the presence of the very best evidence!

Some, as we have seen, resist the cogency of anything but physical, scientific evidence. But whether the evidence is empirical or not does not matter!

Cogency is the criterion, but for it to make sense, one must intelligently accept proof as a relative issue and reject science as the final authority in all knowledge. These are surely basic steps to philosophic stability.

Source: The Good News, January 1974

April 21, 2009

Who Are The Innumerable Multitude In The Book Of Revelation?

The great multitude of Revelation 7:9, 13-14 are those who have come through the Tribulation soon to afflict the earth. This group consists of people who were never in God’s true Church prior to the Tribulation.

Right after this frightful time, when men are seized with stark terror by supernatural signs in the sun, moon and stars, multiplied thousands will repent. When they see how the world was misled and deceived about the great Tribulation, and they have gone through it, then at last so many that they cannot be numbered (figuratively – Rev. 7:9), will recognize the truth and turn to God, rather than the superstitious nonsense of denominational churches and pagan religions of this world. They come out of the Tribulation and wash their robes, making them white in the blood of the Lamb, meaning they become converted and accept the blood of Jesus Christ to pay for their sins (Rev. 1:5).

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