10/27/2007

Another Round of Argumentation

I have followed with interest much of what Paul Davies has written on the subject of science and the origins of the universe. He certainly writes many things which I do not agree with, but he is often eloquent and intelligent. Here’s a sample of him confronting the notion of an eternal universe:

One evasive tactic is to claim that the universe didn't have a beginning, that it has existed for all eternity. Unfortunately, there are many scientific reasons why this obvious idea is unsound. For starters, given an infinite amount of time, anything that can happen will already have happened, for if a physical process is likely to occur with a certain nonzero probability-however small-then given an infinite amount of time the process must occur, with probability one. By now, the universe should have reached some sort of final state in which all possible physical processes have run their course. Furthermore, you don't explain the existence of the universe by asserting that it has always existed. That is rather like saying that nobody wrote the Bible: it was just copied from earlier versions. Quite apart from all this, there is very good evidence that the universe did come into existence in a big bang, about fifteen billion years ago. The effects of that primeval explosion are clearly detectable today-in the fact that the universe is still expanding, and is filled with an afterglow of radiant heat.

I have found this line of reasoning to be good reason for faith. There are scientific and philosophical reasons to believe in a beginning and a Personal Creator.

It is not possible to move through an infinite series of moments of time. For example, if time extends forward out to infinity then it is obvious we will never reach the end of it. Reversing the process, if time extends infinitely into the past, we could never have moved through time from the past to get to this moment.

(For an physicists reading this: the common understanding of time is used here as an analogy. The line of reasoning in the next paragraph follows no matter how you see time.)

Similarly, we cannot expect that an infinite regress of finite causes exists either. That is, if we move backward from ourselves to the things that caused us, then backward to the things that caused them and so on, we must find something that did not have a beginning. Otherwise, we would never have moved through the infinite series of finite causes to get to ourselves. The infinite regression of discrete, physical things cannot exist in reality.

Whatever the first cause in the chain was, it must have always been (it is “eternal”) and it must have the power to bring about all we see in the universe (a part of “omnipotence”). We know something of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” from the world we live in.

We can know more than that from the line of argument. This eternal cause existed when nothing else did. Nothing outside of this first cause caused it to act or influenced it’s action. It had to have the power to act in and of itself. Only a being with the power of choice fits this picture. The power to choose without any outside influence is the hallmark of a Personal Being. This cause must have a personality in the primary sense of the word.

Evidence of rational design provides the rest of the picture of a Personal God. Further, we have historically reliable accounts of Christ’s life found in the New Testament that provide evidence that this Personal God is not adverse to interaction with His creation.

These chains of evidence and argument are enough to convince any unbiased person of the Christian God’s existence. The problem is that we are not, when left to ourselves, unbiased.

10/22/2007

Some Quotes Deserve a Post

An interesting article by Jonathan Barlow over at CRTA concludes as follows:


I would do well at this point to break away and leave Dawkins in the morass of his purely contingent universe in which not even logic, science, and morality make any sense. For all of his huff and puff against faith, Dawkins lives in a drafty house of pure scientism that he has sealed up with faith -- faith in logic, of whose foundations he can give no account, faith in induction, upon which he builds science, and faith in the evolving human brain and the evolving human society to more often produce Martin Luther Kings than John Wayne Gacys.


Strong words. Other links on the site back up these claims.

10/18/2007

THINK

I found a great sermon by C. H. Spurgeon on the web today.

If we would influence thoughtful persons it must be by solid arguments. Shallow minds may be wrought upon by mere warmth of emotion and force of excitement, but the more valuable part of the community must be dealt with in quite another
manner…

This is a lesson for the ministry at large. Certain earnest preachers are incessantly xciting the people, and but seldom if ever instructing them; they carry much fire and very little light. God forbid that we should say a word against appealing to the eelings; this is most needful in its place, but then there is a due proportion to be bserved in it…

The preacher may touch the feelings by rousing appeals, as the harper touches the
harpstrings; he will be very foolish if he should neglect so ready and admirable an instrument; but still as he is dealing with reasonable creatures, he must not forget to enlighten the intellect and instruct the understanding. And how can he appeal to the understanding better than by presenting to it the truth which the Holy Ghost teacheth? Scriptural doctrine must furnish us with powerful motives to urge upon the minds of Christians.- C. H. Spurgeon


I am often amazed that Spurgeon is so popular in certain circles where much of his teaching would not be welcomed. So often our churches neglect sound, intellectual doctrinal teaching in favor of moving emotional appeals that play on the heart-strings.

We decide that sermons must be practical and touch on real-life problems and issues faced by hearers. True to a point, but why are we so easily convinced that doctrine is impractical? Applying my mind to learn the clear teachings of Scripture has been the single most practical endeavor of my life.

I would never have weathered the storms I have faced without the firm conviction that God holds the world in His hand and works all things together for my good. I would never have had the confidence to try to repent of my sin without the firm conviction that Christ died for me to earn my forgiveness. I would have given up rather than repent, step out in faith, and try again.

Sometimes we seem to have decided that the life of the mind is distinctly unchristian in some sense. As if God did not want us to think. Do we have to be so anti-intellectual?
I wish we would return to a more reasonable time and use the minds God has given us.

10/13/2007

Breakpoint 1

I have been a subscriber to Charles Colson’s Breakpoint newsletter for a long time now, and I find it helpful. The commentary and intights are almost always worth the time to read.

This week’s was especially interesting as it begins a series on modern, militant atheism. Here’s a sample:


In a recent issue of Scientific American, arch-Darwinist Richard Dawkins and
physicist Lawrence Krauss discussed the relationship between science and religion.

Dawkins, whose latest book, The God Delusion, is only one of a slew
of recent books attacking religious beliefs, prefers an "in your face" approach.
He once wrote that "if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution,
that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane." He then added "or wicked, but I'd
rather not consider that."


In his discussion with Krauss, Dawkins stood by his statement, calling it "a simple and sober statement of fact." …

All of this begs the question: "Is faith, in particular, Christianity, irrational?"
Neither Dawkins nor Krauss comes close to proving this. Instead, Dawkins and Krauss simply assume that materialism—the idea that there is nothing besides matter—is true. Thus, what makes a faith "rational" is whether it can be proven empirically...

Dawkins and Krauss do not offer any arguments to justify
their assumptions. They do not tell us why materialism is true: Instead, they
ask you to take its truth as a given—in other words, on faith…

Way to go Mr. Colson, and I look forward to the future newsletters in this series.

10/07/2007

Calvinism?

An interesting quote from R. C. Sproul over at Between Two Worlds:

…My point is that there is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. However, I think that if a person really understands the other four points and is thinking at all clearly, he must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic. Still, there are people who live in a happy inconsistency. I believe it's possible for a person to believe four points without believing the fifth, although I don't think it's possible to do it consistently or logically. However, it is certainly a possibility given our proclivity for inconsistency…


Sproul’s approach has always been inconsistent with many people’s miss-conception of Five Point Calvinism. I think R. C. puts forth the doctrine clearly and well, and I agree with him. The idea is very distinct from what Baptist history knows as “high Calvinism” (put down within Baptist circles by Andrew Fuller) or hyper-Calvinism (argued against by Charles Spurgeon). The free offer is a real offer. All who come to Christ in faith are saved.

10/06/2007

Pray

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” - Abraham Lincoln

I am once again driven to my knees over the situation I find myself in. I am overwhelmed by the weight of the burden I have for those around me. I am confused by the suffering of my close relatives who don’t seem to deserve it. I am powerless to overcome my own sin.

I am comforted by the fact that I am never more powerful that I am when I pray. I am connected to the supreme power in the universe. I am assured of the power of God in response to my prayers. I know I make a difference in the world as I depend upon Him.

“Pray, and let God worry.” - Martin Luther

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers.” -J. Sidlow Baxter

10/03/2007

Christ Alone

Eternal life depends on Christ alone — nothing, but nothing, else. Predestination will not bring it. Providence cannot produce it. It does not rest on foreknowledge, divine decrees, or even the atonement itself. Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life is union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with Jesus Christ is faith. The sinner comes to Him, rests in Him, trusts in Him, is one with Him, abides in Him and this is life because it never, ever, ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter. This is the heart of the Bible. This is the heart of the gospel. This is the heart of Christianity. This is the heart of the saint. This is the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. - John H. Gerstner

I take a lot of flack from people sometimes over the idea that I am a Reformed Baptist. If a person takes the time to discuss theology with me, and those people are rare, they find that I do have a knowledge of and an appreciation for the “doctrines of grace.” I do believe in predestination. I do think that salvation is all of God and not of us.

Know this: all of the debate and discussion over predestination is secondary. Christ alone saves. He gives us life because of what He did. Salvation is outside of us. We are beholden to Him for everything: our personal relationship to God, the change in our lives, our freedom from guilt, our ultimate salvation and trip to heaven. Everything!

We no longer have to worry about how we stand before God, our relationship to Him; Christ took care of that. We no longer have to worry about our sinful lives; Christ took care of that. We no longer have to worry about our failures; Christ took care of that. We no longer have to worry about where we will spend eternity; Christ took care of that.

We must have faith, trust that what Christ did he did for us. Not for us in the abstract, but for us personally. We stop trusting in our good works and we start trusting in Christ. We stop turning to our improved lives and turn to Christ’s perfect life.

Oh that the protestant church would free herself from the tyranny of looking to her own works and turn to Christ. Oh that we would be free from the chains that circle our hearts.

10/01/2007

New Job

I have taken a new job with a new company.

Please excuse me for not posting new items for a few days or weeks. I will return in full force once I get acquainted with my new responsibilities.

Soli Deo Gloria!
J. K. Jones

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