Category Archives: Current Events

MUSIC MONDAY My Letter to Chris Martin of COLDPLAY who appears in the video “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash

____

March 10, 2016

Chris Martin c/o 3 D Management, Music Artist Management Company,

Dear Chris,

I have written a lot about your spiritual views in the past on my blog. I have been heavily influenced by the Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer. In fact, if you google “Coldplay Francis Schaeffer” many posts will come up that I did on the spiritual nature of your past songs.

You and I have something in common and it is the song GOD’S GONNA CUT YOU DOWN. You were in the video and my post about that video entitled, People in the Johnny Cash video “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” is the most popular post I have done in recent years. It ranked #1 for all of 2015 and I have over 1,000,000 hits on my http://www.thedailyhatch.org blog site. The ironic thing is that I never knew what a big deal Johnny Cash was until he had died. I grew up in Memphis with his nephew Paul Garrett and we even went to the same school and church. Paul’s mother was Johnny Cash’s sister Margaret Louise Garrett.

Stu Carnall, an early tour manager for Johnny Cash, recalled, “Johnny’s an individualist, and he’s a loner….We’d be on the road for weeks at a time, staying at motels and hotels along the way. While the other members of the troupe would sleep in, Johnny would disappear for a few hours. When he returned, if anyone asked where he’d been, he’d answer straight faced, ‘to church.’”

There were two sides to Johnny Cash and he expressed that best when he said, “There is a spiritual side to me that goes real deep, but I confess right up front that I’m the biggest sinner of them all.”

Have you ever taken the time to read the words of the song?

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler,
The gambler,
The back biter
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Tell ’em that God’s gonna cut ’em down
Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head’s been wet with the midnight dew
I’ve been down on bended knee talkin’ to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel’s feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, “John go do My will!”

 Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand

Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s down in the dark will be brought to the light
You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
___
Johnny Cash sang this song of Judgment because he knew the Bible says in  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD.” The first part of this verse is about the judgment sinners must face if not pardoned, but the second part is about Christ who paid our sin debt!!! Did you know that Romans 6:23 is part of what we call the Roman Road to Christ. Here is how it goes:
  • Because of our sin, we are separated from God.
    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)
  • The Penalty for our sin is death.
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
  • The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ!
    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
  • If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins!
    For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)
    …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thanks for your time.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221

PS: I have enclosed a booklet entitled THIS WAS YOUR LIFE! If one repents and puts trust in Christ alone for eternal life then he or she will be forgiven. Francis Schaeffer noted, “If Satan tempts you to worry over it, rebuff him by saying I AM FORGIVEN ON THE BASIS OF THE WORK OF CHRIST AS HE DIED ON THE CROSS!!!”

Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down

Johnny Cash’s version of the traditional God’s Gonna Cut You Down, from the album “American V: A Hundred Highways”, was released as a music video on November 9 2006, just over three years after Cash died. Producer Rick Rubin opens the music video, saying, “You know, Johnny always wore black. He wore black because he identified with the poor and the downtrodden…”. What follows is a collection of black and white clips of well known pop artists wearing black, each interacting with the song in their own way. Some use religious imagery. Howard sits in his limo reading from Ezekiel 34, a Biblical passage warning about impending judgment for false shepherd. Bono leaning on a graffiti-filled wall between angel’s wings and a halo, pointing to the words, “Sinners Make The Best Saints. J.C. R.I.P.” A number of artists wear or hold crosses.

Faces in Johnny Cash God's Gonna Cut You Down music video

Artists appear in this order: Rick Rubin, Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Patti Smith, Terence Howard, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Q-Tip, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Sir Peter Blake (Sgt Peppers Artist), Sheryl Crow, Denis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Amy Lee of Evanescence, Tommy Lee, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, Martie Maguire (Dixie Chicks), Mick Jones, Sharon Stone, Bono, Shelby Lynne, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Barker, Lisa Marie Presley, Kid Rock, Jay Z, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Depp, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin and Owen Wilson. The video finishes with Rick Rubin traveling to a seaside cliff with friend Owen Wilson to throw a bouquet of flowers up in the air.

  • American singer and civil rights activist Odetta recorded a traditional version of the song. Musician Sean Michel covered the song during his audition on Season 6 of American Idol. Matchbox Twenty also used the song before playing “How Far We’ve Come” on their “Exile in America” tour.

  • The New Jersey rock band The Gaslight Anthem have also covered the song.[citation needed] Canadian rock band Three Days Grace has used the song in the opening of their live shows, as well as the rock band Staind . Bobbie Gentry recorded a version as “Sermon” on her album The Delta Sweete. Guitarist Bill Leverty recorded a version for his third solo project Deep South, a tribute album of traditional songs. Tom Jones recorded an up-tempo version which appears on his 2010 album Praise & BlamePow woW recorded a version with the Golden Gate Quartet for their 1992 album Regagner les Plaines and performed a live version with the quartet in 2008. A cover of the song by Blues Saraceno was used for the Season 8 trailer of the TV series DexterPedro Costarecorded a neo-blues version for the Discovery channel TV show Weed Country (2013). Virginia based folk rock band Carbon Leaf covered the song many times during their live shows.
  • Chart positions[edit]

    Moby version: “Run On”[edit]

    Chart (1999) Peak
    position
    UK Singles Chart 33

    Johnny Cash version[edit]

    Chart (2006) Peak
    position
    UK Singles Chart 77

  • American Idol contestant ministers in Chile

  • SANTIAGO, Chile (BP)–Sean Michel smiled through his distinctive, foot-long beard as he slid the guitar strap over his shoulder and greeted the crowd at El Huevo nightclub with what little Spanish he knows. The former American Idol contestant and his band then erupted into the sounds of Mississippi Delta blues-rock.But unlike other musicians who played that night, the Sean Michel band sang about every person’s need for God and the salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.”We came down [to Chile] to open doors that other ministries couldn’t,” said Jay Newman, Michel’s manager. “To get in places that only a rock band could — to create a vision for new church-planting movements among the underground, disenfranchised subcultures of Chile.”The Sean Michel band recently traveled through central Chile playing more than 15 shows in bars, churches, schools and parks. The group consists of Southern Baptists Sean Michel, lead singer; Alvin Rapien, lead guitarist; Seth Atchley, bass guitarist; and Tyler Groves, drummer.”Although we’re a blues rock ‘n’ roll band, we’re an extension of the church,” Michel said. “We’re kind of like ‘musicianaries,’ if you will.”MISSIONS-MINDED MUSICIANSThe band formed after Michel and Newman met as students at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. While there, the two began recording and selling Michel’s music as a way to raise money for mission trips to Africa and Asia.”We were just trying to raise money for a mission trip, but we’d also seen God speaking to people through the music,” Michel said. “So we were like, ‘Well, maybe we need to do something with this,’ and we became a music ministry. But it’s always been rooted in missions and … in the Great Commission.”Michel graduated from Ouachita in 2001, Newman in 2004. In 2007, Newman talked Michel into auditioning for American Idol. The exposure Michel received through the television show gained a wider audience for their ministry.”The whole American Idol thing was so weird,” Michel said. “We just kind of went on a whim. But the Lord used it in a big way.”During his tryout, Michel belted out a soulful rendition of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” The video of the audition went viral on the Internet.Soon he was doing radio interviews in which he identified himself as a Christian and directed listeners to the band’s Gospel-laden MySpace page. On their next mission trip to Asia, Michel and Newman found that being recognizable gave them access to venues they couldn’t have entered before.The band is now an official extension of First Southern Baptist Church of Bryant, Ark., where the musicians have long been active members serving in the music and youth ministries. Every mission trip they have taken has involved working with International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries.”We’re Southern Baptist,” Michel said. “That’s who we roll with.”TOUR DE FAITH”With short-term mission trips, you can plan, but you just got to be willing for your plans to change,” said Michel. When the band arrived in Chile, they were surprised to find that their schedule wasn’t nearly as full as expected. Almost no public venues had booked shows, and many rock-wary churches had declined to host the band.”The biggest barrier we had was the pastors,” said Cliff Case, an IMB missionary in Santiago, Chile, and a 1984 graduate of Ouachita Baptist. “The older pastors on two or three different occasions gave excuses for not doing it. It was a real frustration in that sense.”

    Disappointed by the lack of interest, the band prayed for God’s help. They met Jose Campos — or Pépe, as the band came to know him. Campos works with music and youth for the Ministry of the Down and Out, an independent Christian ministry that seeks to reach the often-overlooked demographics of Santiago.

    Campos was able to use his connections to book shows for the band in venues they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

    “Had we met Pépe (Campos) two or three weeks before the group came, there’s no telling how many shows we might have done,” said Case, who met Newman at Ouachita when Case and his wife, Cinthy, were missionaries-in-residence there.

    Campos booked the show at El Huevo, possibly Chile’s most popular club. Playing there has given the band musical credibility among Chilean rockers. And, one Chilean church reported that a youth accepted Christ after hearing Newman talk before a show. The band already is contemplating a return tour next year.

    OPENING NEW DOORS

    Sharing the Gospel through their songs is only the beginning for the Sean Michel band. Their vision is to be a catalyst to help churches — and missionaries — connect with the lost people of their communities.

    “God is not saving the world through rock bands,” Michel said. “He’s saving the world through the church. And it will always be through the local body.”

    The band wants to see churches take ministry beyond the church doors.

    “If you’re going to want to legitimately reach lost people, you’re going to have to get out,” Michel said. “Go out into the dark places. Those are the places we need to be to reach out.”

    The band’s ministry in Chile opened new doors for IMB missionaries to reach the young, musical subculture of Chilean society.

    “They laid the groundwork for more opportunities,” Case said. “Now we have a network of who to talk to and how to get organized. We can focus on how to use the work they’re doing so we can win people to the Lord and plant some churches.”


    Tristan Taylor is an International Mission Board writer living in the Americas.

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Woody Allen on the Emptiness of Life by Toby Simmons

I have spent alot of time talking about Woody Allen films on this blog and looking at his worldview. He has a hopelessmeaningless, nihilistic worldview that believes we are going to turn to dust and there is no afterlife. Even though he has this view he has taken the opportunity to look at the weaknesses of his own secular view. I salute him for doing that. That is why I have returned to his work over and over and presented my own Christian worldview as an alternative. Take a moment and read again a good article on Woody Allen below. There are some links below to some other posts about him.

Francis Schaeffer two months before he died made the following comments in Knoxville, TN in 1984 and he comments on Woody Allen:

I would emphasize and it grows on me always with intensified strength the older I live that there is only ONE REASON to be a Christian and that is because it is TRUTH. There is no other reason to be a Christian.

The reason to become a Christian is not because it gives you butterflies in your stomach on Sunday morning. The reason for being a Christian is because it is true.

We at L’Abri talk about it being TRUE TRUTH and we are talking about it not just being religiously true but true in all reality. In other words, if you don’t have the Bible and you don’t act upon it, it isn’t that you just don’t know how to escape hell and go to heaven, you do that too happily, but it also is true that without the Bible we won’t know who God is and we would know who people are.

That is what is wrong with our generation and that is why it accepted abortion and the infanticide and youth euthanasia came in quickly with such a flood because this generation doesn’t understand who people are.

I don’t know if you say the TIME editorial a short time ago called THINKING ANIMAL THOUGHTS. It did so much better than most of our evangelical magazines did on dealing with this because what they said was (it was from a non-christian point of view) if you take away the biblical view of who God is and man being made in his image then there is no basis for a distinction between human life and other forms of life. You only have distinctions and that is life and non-life, and he carried it out quite properly to its extension. What right does the human race to perform experimentation’s on animals if the human race is good and the human race is only the same qualification of life? This author really understood the game much better than most Christians seem to understand it.

What I’m saying is without the Bible it isn’t just that you don’t know how to go to heaven, but without the Bible you don’t know who people are and you don’t know what this world is. When you watch the birds fly across the sky  if you really don’t have the Bible to tell you who created this world and what the world is even the birds flying across the sky is very different. We have many people that come to L’Abri that have thought this out to the very end properly and that is there is no meaning to life, no meaning to life, no meaning to human life. They are not wrong. They are right.

The younger generation who grab the needle and shoot it up because they can’t find any meaning to life, they are not wrong. They are right. if you take the Bible away it is not just that people are lost for eternity, but they are lost now. They have no meaning to life…. If I was talking to a gentleman I was sitting next  to on an airplane about Christ I wouldn’t necessarily start off quoting Bible verses. I would go back rather to their dilemma if they hold the modern worldview of the final reality only being energy, etc., I would start with that. I would begin as I stress in the book THE GOD WHO IS THERE about their own [humanist] prophets who really show where their view goes. For instance, Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize winner from France, in his book NECESSITY AND CHANCE said there is no way to tell the OUGHT from the IS. In other words, you live in a TOTALLY SILENT  universe. 

The men like Monod and Sartre or whoever the man might know that is his [humanist] prophet and they point out quite properly and conclusively what life is like, not just that there is no meaningfulness in life but everyone according to modern man is just living out some kind of game plan. It may be knocking 1/10th of a second off a downhill ski run or making one more million dollars. But all you are doing is making a game plan within the mix of a meaningless situation. WOODY ALLEN exploits this very strongly in his films. He really lives it. I feel for that man, and he has expressed it so thoroughly in ANNIE HALL and MANHATTAN and so on.

September 3, 2011 · 5:16 PM

Woody Allen on the Emptiness of Life

In the final scene of Manhattan, Woody Allen’s character, Isaac, is lying on the sofa with a microphone and a tape-recorder, dictating to himself an idea for a short story. It’ll be about “people in Manhattan,” he says, “who are constantly creating these real unnecessary, neurotic problems for themselves” because they cannot bear to confront the “more unsolvable, terrible problems about the universe.” In an attempt to keep it optimistic, he begins by asking himself the question, “Why is life worth living?” He gives it some thought. “That’s a very good question,” he says, “There are certain things, I guess, that make it worthwhile.” And then the list begins: Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the second movement of Mozart’s ‘Jupiter Symphony,’ Louis Armstrong’s recording of Potato Head Blues, “Swedish movies, naturally,” Flaubert’s Sentimental Education, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, “those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne, the crabs at Sam Wo’s … Tracy’s face.”

This list acts as an important hinge in the film’s narrative, the point at which Isaac suddenly becomes aware of his feelings for Tracy and resolves to go after her. But within the list there is also something far greater being communicated, something which, I believe, can be described as the central subject of nearly every Woody Allen film, or, perhaps, as the thing that compels him to make films in the first place. Isaac is conveying here a belief in the sheer power of art, its ability to provide a sense of worth to an otherwise empty existence. Art, Woody Allen seems to be saying, is the only valuable response – or the only conceivable response – to the dreadful human predicament as he sees it.

~ ~ ~

“My relationship with death remains the same: I’m strongly against it.”

~ ~ ~

Recently, at the Cannes Film Festival, Woody Allen was asked about what motivates him. He simply laughed and said, “Fear is what drives me.” Work, for Allen, is a wonderful distraction from the “terrible truth” – the ostensible meaninglessness of life, the apparent futility of all human endeavour, the inevitability of sickness, the unescapable prognosis of death. Film-making, like the “unnecessay, neurotic problems” dreamt up by the characters in Isaac’s short story, diverts Allen’s attention away from this reality, from the fear that presents itself when he stops to think about the fact that eventually everybody dies, “the sun burns out, and the earth is gone, and … all the stars, all the planets, the entire universe, goes, disappears.” So this fear is the reason for his prolificity, the impulse behind all of his artistic achievements. Manhattan, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Sleeper came about, first of all, as distractions, projects that prevented him from having to “sit in a chair and think about what a terrible situation all human beings are in.”

I believe there’s a lot of truth in Woody Allen’s perspective. We distract ourselves constantly, we refuse to think about the meaning of our existence, we skirt around the inevitable. Certainly – and he acknowledges this – Allen is not the first person to have hit upon this truth. It’s been recognised by thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, the Buddha and the writer of Ecclesiastes. And Allen knows, too, that one can’t live in a perpetual awareness of this fact. Such a life would be crippling torment. Indeed, it’s this very torment that Tolstoy found himself in after having realised that there was “nothing ahead other than deception of life and of happiness, and the reality of suffering and death: of complete annihilation.” After realising, in other words, the sheer absurdness of human existence, the meaninglessness of life without God. In his Confession he writes:

My life came to a standstill. I could breathe, eat, drink and sleep and I could not help breathing, eating, drinking and sleeping; but there was no life in me because I had no desires whose gratification I would have deemed it reasonable to fulfil. If I wanted something I knew in advance that whether or not I satisfied my desire nothing would come of it.

We can’t live like this, says Woody Allen. We must provide ourselves with necessary delusions in order to carry ourselves through life. He remarks that, in fact, it’s only those people whom he calls “self-deluded” that seem to find any kind of real satisfaction in living, any peace or enjoyment. These people can say, “Well, my priest, or my rabbi tells me everthing’s going to be all right,” and they find their answers in what he calls “magical solutions.” And this recourse to the “magical” he dismisses as nonsense.

It’s worth comparing Woody Allen’s pessimistic agnosticism with the utopian atheism of someone like Richard Dawkins. Evidently, the former worldview is entirely consistent with non-belief in God, but it’s not clear that the latter is. In fact, it appears unfounded, false. Dawkins removes God from the picture entirely, yet clings persistently to a belief in life’s meaning, grounding this meaning, it appears, in natural selection. There’s a contradiction here in Dawkins’ thought. On the one hand, he claims that science “can tell us why we are here, tell us the purpose of human existence,” yet, on the other, he insists on characterising natural selection itself as a blind mechanism, containing “no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference.”

Whilst I myself do believe in God and don’t share Woody Allen’s agnostic belief, I can respect his consistency, his willingness to acknowledge an existence without God for what it really is: “a grim, painful, nightmarish, meaningless experience.” His worldview follows naturally from what Heidegger termed the state of human “abandonment,” the absence of God in all human affairs. Dawkins’ worldview, however, doesn’t – it’s an embarrassing mishmash of strict empricist and naturalistic belief with what really amounts to a kind of foggy mysticism, a belief system according to which human beings can create for themselves an objective purpose. What he fails to realise is that this purpose is nothing more than a delusion, a mere appearance of purpose. It might get us up in the morning, but, once again, it’s no more real than the neurotic problems dreamt up by Isaac’s characters.

~ ~ ~

“It is impossible to experience one’s death objectively and still carry a tune.”

~ ~ ~

Let’s return to Woody Allen’s seemingly affirmative opinion of art. Given his lifelong insistence on the belief that human existence is “a big, meaningless thing,” how are we to make sense of Isaac’s list? Is it really possible to reconcile Woody Allen’s adament nihilism with his invocation of the power of art, its ability to stand firm in the face of such a “terrible truth”? The point to be made, I believe, is a very subtle one. In that same interview at Cannes, Allen talks about the role of the artist as he sees it: essentially, they must respond to the question that Isaac poses, “Why is life worth living?” Faced with the emptiness of life, they must try to “figure out – knowing that it’s trueknowing the worst – why it’s still worthwhile.” Allen isn’t, I believe, claiming that art can provide objective meaning to life. Such an assertion would conflict with his unswerving pessimism. Instead, he’s saying that the essence of art, what animates it, what inspires it to flourish, is a courageous struggle against this “terrible truth.” The artist, he says, must confront the futility of life, look at it in the face, embrace it in all of its hopelessness and despair, and provide humanity with an honest reply. The question we should ask in response, then, isn’t, ‘Can Woody Allen justify his belief in objective meaning as embodied in art?’ I don’t think he believes in objective meaning, a necessary purpose for human existence. Rather, the question should be, ‘Is it possible for the artist to look squarely at the human predicament and supply humanity with a worthwhile answer?’

And this, I want to say, still isn’t possible. As we’ve seen in the example of Tolstoy, one can’t live one’s life in full awareness of its apparent futility, of the imminence of death, of the falsity of one’s happiness, and yet carry on as normal. One would end up utterly debilitated. And if this is indeed how artists have been living for centuries, confronting the inevitable, facing the dismal truth, then art itself is an inexplicable phenomenon.

~ ~ ~

“On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.”

~ ~ ~

The answer isn’t to appeal to art as something that can provide human existence with objective meaning. Such a ‘faith in art’ would merely beg the question, ‘But why is art so special?’ How can art, if viewed as just another custom, an event within the world, give purpose and value to human life? How can that which is within the world give meaning to that which is also within the world? Meaning, I believe, can only come from without, from a personal God who transcends the world, yet is immanent within it, actively involved in human existence, instilling it with significance and worth. One of the purposes of art, I believe, is to reflect the being and glory of God, who is the ground of being itself. Far from art being an escape from a “terrible truth” or a desperate attempt to confront and suppress nihilism, it should be seen as an affirmative activity, an act of creative celebration to be enjoyed in the company of our good Creator God.

Here is a complete list of all the posts I did on the film “Midnight in Paris”

What can we learn from Woody Allen Films?, August 1, 2011 – 6:30 am

Movie Review of “Midnight in Paris” lastest movie by Woody Allen, July 30, 2011 – 6:52 am

Leo Stein and sister Gertrude Stein’s salon is in the Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris”, July 28, 2011 – 6:22 am

Great review on Midnight in Paris with talk about artists being disatisfied, July 27, 2011 – 6:20 am

Critical review of Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris”, July 24, 2011 – 5:56 am

Not everyone liked “Midnight in Paris”, July 22, 2011 – 5:38 am

“Midnight in Paris” one of Woody Allen’s biggest movie hits in recent years, July 18, 2011 – 6:00 am

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

“Woody Wednesday” The heart wants what it wants”jh67

I read this on http://www.crosswalk.com which is one of my favorite websites. Life Lessons from Woody Allen Stephen McGarvey I confess I am a huge film buff. But I’ve never really been a Woody Allen fan, even though most film critics consider him to be one of the most gifted and influential filmmakers of our […]

“Music Monday”:Coldplay’s best songs of all time (Part 6)

  “Music Monday”:Coldplay’s best songs of all time (Part 6) This is “Music Monday” and I always look at a band with some of their best music. I am currently looking at Coldplay’s best songs. Here are a few followed by another person’s preference: My son Hunter Hatcher’s 15th favorite song is “trouble.” Even though […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen once wrote these words: “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.” jh31

Woody Allen, the film writer, director, and actor, has consistently populated his scripts with characters who exchange dialogue concerning meaning and purpose. In Hannah and Her Sisters a character named Mickey says, “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.”{7} […]

“Music Monday”:Coldplay’s best songs of all time (Part 5)

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You Can Trust the Bible Psalm 19:7-9 P10 John MacArthur

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The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)

You Can Trust the Bible

John MacArthur

You Can Trust the BibleWe live in a world that, for the most part, has no absolute standard for life and behavior. We are under a system of morality by majority vote—in other words, whatever feels right sets the standard for behavior.

That philosophy, however, runs contrary to everything we know about our world. For example, in science there are absolutes. Our entire universe is built on fixed laws. We can send satellites and other spacecraft into space and accurately predict their behavior. Science—whether biology, botany, physiology, astronomy, mathematics, or engineering—is controlled by unalterable and inviolable laws.

Yet in the moral world many people want to live without laws or absolutes. They try to determine their points of reference from their own minds. However, that is impossible. When we move from the physical to the spiritual realm, fixed laws still exist. We cannot exist without laws in the moral and spiritual dimensions of life any more than we can do so in the physical dimension. Our Creator built morality into life. Just as there are physical laws, so there are spiritual laws. Let me give you an example.

People have asked me whether I believe that AIDS is the judgment of God. My response is that AIDS is the judgment of God in the same sense that cirrhosis of the liver is the judgment of God or that emphysema is the judgment of God. If you drink alcohol, you’re liable to get cirrhosis of the liver. If you smoke, you’re liable to get emphysema or heart disease. And if you choose to violate God’s standards for morality, you’re likely to contract venereal disease—even AIDS. It is a law that the Bible describes in terms of sowing and reaping.

We can explain this principle in another illustration. Gravity is a fixed law. You may choose not to believe in gravity, but regardless of what you choose to believe, if you jump off a building you’ll fall to the ground. You don’t have an option. It’s not a question of what you believe; it’s a question of law. The law will go into effect when you put it to the test. That is true in any other area of physical law.

The same thing is true in the moral and spiritual dimension. To segment life into a physical dimension in which fixed laws cannot be violated and a moral or spiritual dimension in which laws can be violated is an impossible dichotomization. The same God who controls the physical world by fixed laws controls the moral and spiritual world.

Where, then, do you find the laws of morality? How do you determine what is right and what is wrong? Has our Creator revealed such standards to mankind in a way we can understand?

The Bible claims to be the revelation of God to man. Although I have spent many years of my life studying the Bible, I wasn’t always committed to it. That commitment developed after my freshman year in col lege, when I came to grips with my life and future and wanted to know the source of truth. I discovered several compelling reasons for believing that the Bible is God’s Word. Five basic areas, which go from the lesser to the greater, help prove its authenticity.

The Authenticity of the Bible

Experience

First, the Bible is true because it gives us the experience it claims it will. For example, the Bible says God will forgive our sin (1 John 1:9). I believe that, and I can truly say that I have a sense of freedom from guilt. The Bible also says that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ). That’s what happened to me when I came to Jesus Christ. The Bible changes lives. Someone has said that a Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t. That’s true because the Bible can put lives together. Millions of people all over the world are living proof that that is true. Maybe you know one or two of them. They’ve experienced the Bible’s power.

That’s an acceptable argument in one sense, but it’s weak in another. If you base everything you believe on experience, you’re going to run into trouble. Followers of Muhammad, Buddha, and Hare Krishna can point to various experiences as the basis for their beliefs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that their beliefs are correct. So although experience can help validate the power and authority of the Bible, we will need more evidence.

Science

The Bible also presents a most plausible, objective understanding of the universe and the existence of life. It presents a God who creates. That makes more sense than believing that everything came out of nothing, which is essentially what the theory of evolution says. I have an easier time assuming that someone produced everything. And the Bible tells me who that someone is: God.

The study of creation helps explain how the earth’s geology became the way it is. The Bible tells of a supernatural creation that took place in six days and of a catastrophic worldwide flood. These two events help explain many geological and other scientific questions, some of which we will soon explore.

You will find that the Bible is accurate when it intersects with modern scientific concepts. For example, Isaiah 40:26 says it is God who creates the universe. He holds the stars together by His power and not one of them is ever missing. In this way the Bible suggests the first law of thermodynamics—that ultimately nothing is ever destroyed.

We read in Ecclesiastes 1:10: “Is there anything of which one might say, ‘See this, it is new’?” The answer immediately follows: “Already it has existed for ages which were before us.” Ancient writers of the Bible, thousands of years before the laws of thermodynamics had been categorically stated, were affirming the conservation of mass and energy.

The second law of thermodynamics states that although mass and energy are always conserved, they nevertheless are breaking down and going from order to disorder, from cosmos to chaos, from system to non-system. The Bible, contrary to the theory of evolution, affirms that. As matter breaks down and energy dissipates, ultimately the world and universe as we know it will become dead. It will be unable to reproduce itself. Romans 8 says that all creation groans because of its curse, which is described at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 3). That curse—and God’s plan to reverse the curse—is reflected throughout biblical teaching.

The science of hydrology studies the cycle of water, which consists of three major phases: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Clouds move over the land and drop water through precipitation. The rain runs into creeks, the creeks run into streams, the streams run into the sea, and the evaporation process takes place all the way along the path. That same process is described in Scripture. Ecclesiastes 1 and Isaiah 55 present the entire water cycle: “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again” (Ecclesiastes 1:7). “For . . . the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth” (Isaiah 55:10). Also, Job 36:27-28 speaks of evaporation and condensation—centuries prior to any scientific discovery of the process: “He [God] draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly.”

In the 1500s, when Copernicus first presented the idea that the earth was in motion, people were astounded. They previously believed that the earth was a flat disc and that if you went through the Pillars of Hercules at the Rock of Gibraltar you’d fall off the edge. In the seventeenth century, men like Kepler and Galileo gave birth to modern astronomy. Prior to that, the universe was generally thought to contain only about one thousand stars, which was the number that had been counted.

However, in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, the number of the stars of heaven is equated with the number of grains of sand on the seashore. God told Abraham, “I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore” ( 22:17 ). Jeremiah 33:22says that the stars can’t be counted. Again God is speaking: “As the host of heaven cannot be counted, and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David.” Today several million stars have been cataloged, though hundreds of millions remain unlisted.

The oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job, pre-dates Christ by about two thousand years. YetJob 26:7 says, “He hangs the earth on nothing.” In the sacred books of other religions you may read that the earth is on the backs of elephants that produce earthquakes when they shake. The cosmogony of Greek mythology is at about the same level of sophistication. But the Bible is in a completely different class. It says, “He . . . hangs the earth on nothing” (emphasis added).

Job also says that the earth is “turned like the clay to the seal” (38:14, KJV*). In those days, soft clay was used for writing and a seal was used for applying one’s signature. One kind of seal was a hollow cylinder of hardened clay with a signature raised on it. A stick went through it so that it could be rolled like a rolling pin. The writer could, therefore, roll his signature across the soft clay and in that way sign his name. In saying the earth is turned like the clay to the seal, Job may have implied that it rotates on its axis. The Hebrew word translated “earth” (hug) refers to a sphere.

It’s also interesting to note that the earth maintains a perfect balance. If you’ve ever seen a basketball that’s out of balance, you know that it rotates unevenly. You can imagine what would happen if the earth were like that. The earth is a perfect sphere, and it is perfectly balanced. The depths of the sea have to be balanced with the height of the mountains. The branch of science that studies that balance is called isostasy. In Isaiah 40:12, centuries before science even conceived of this phenomenon, Isaiah said that God “has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales.”

English philosopher Herbert Spencer, who died in 1903, was famous for applying scientific discoveries to philosophy. He listed five knowable categories in the natural sciences: time, force, motion, space, and matter. However, Genesis 1:1, the first verse in the Bible, says, “In the beginning [time] God [force] created [motion] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter].” God laid it all out in the very first verse of Scripture.

The Bible truly is the revelation of God to mankind. He wants us to know about Him and the world He created. Although the Bible does not contain scientific terminology, it is amazingly accurate whenever it happens to refer to scientific truth. But someone might say, “Wait a minute. The Old Testament says that the sun once stood still, and if that happened, the sun didn’t really stand still; the earth stopped revolving.” Yes, but that statement is based on the perception of someone on earth. When you got up this morning, you didn’t look east and say, “What a lovely earth rotation!” From your perspective, you saw a sunrise. And because you permit yourself to do that, you must permit Scripture to do that as well.

Miracles

A third evidence for the authenticity of the Bible is its miracles. We would expect to read of those in a revelation from God Himself, who by definition is supernatural. Miracles are a supernatural alteration of the natural world—a great way to get man’s attention.

The Bible includes supportive information to establish the credibility of the miracles it records. For example, Scripture says that after Jesus had risen from the dead more than five hundred people saw Him alive (1 Corinthians 15:6). That would be enough witnesses to convince any jury. The miraculous nature of the Bible demonstrates the involvement of God. But to believe the miracles, we must take the Bible at its word. So to further validate its authenticity we must take another step and consider its incredible ability to predict the future.

Prophecy

There is no way to explain the Bible’s ability to predict the future unless we see God as its Author. For example, the Old Testament contains more than three hundred references to the Messiah of Israel that were preciselyfulfilled by JesusChrist (Christ isthe Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah).

Peter Stoner, a scientist in the area of mathematical probabilities, said in his book Science Speaks that if we take just eight of the Old Testament prophecies Christ fulfilled, we find that the probability of their coming to pass is one in 1017. He illustrates that staggering amount this way:

We take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas . They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly. . . . Blindfold a man and tell him he must pick up one silver dollar. . . . What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them come true in any one man. ([ Chicago : Moody, 1963], 100-107)

And Jesus fulfilled hundreds more than just eight prophecies!

The Bible includes many other prophecies as well. For example, the Bible predicted that a man named Cyrus would be born, would rise to power in the Middle East, and would release the Jewish people from captivity (Isaiah 44:28—45:7). Approximately 150 years later, Cyrus the Great became king of Persia and released the Jews. No man could have known that would happen; only God could.

In Ezekiel 26 God says through the prophet that the Phoenician city of Tyre would be destroyed, specifying that a conqueror would come in and wipe out the city. He said that the city would be scraped clean and that the rubble left on the city’s surface would be thrown into the ocean. The prophecy ended by saying that men would dry their fishnets there and that the city would never be rebuilt.

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Tyre three years after the prophecy was given. When he broke down the gates, he found the city almost empty. The Phoenicians were navigators and colonizers of the ancient world; they had taken their boats and sailed to an island a half mile offshore. They had reestablished their city on the island during the years of siege. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city on the mainland, but since he didn’t have a navy, he was unable to do anything about the island city of Tyre . This left the prophecy partially unfulfilled.

About 250 years later Alexander the Great came into the area of Tyre needing supplies for his eastern campaign. He sent word to the residents of the island city, but they refused his request. They believed they were safe from attack on the island. Alexander was so infuriated at their response that he and his army picked up the rubble that was left from Nebuchadnezzar’s devastation of the mainland city and threw it into the sea. They used it to build a causeway, which allowed them to march to the island and destroy the city. That exactly fulfilled what Ezekiel had predicted hundreds of years previously.

If you travel to the site of Tyre today, you’ll see fishermen there drying their nets. The city was never rebuilt. Peter Stoner said that the probability of all the details of that prophecy happening by chance is one in 75million.

The Assyrian city of Nineveh is another example. It was one of the most formidable ancient cities, which reached its apex during the seventh century b.c. Yet the prophet Nahum predicted that it would soon be wiped out. He said an overflowing river would crush the gates and that the city would be destroyed (Nahum 1:8; 2:6).

In those days when people walled in their cities, they tended to build gates down into the rivers nearby. The water could flow through the bars of the gates and keep out intruders. In the case of Nineveh , a great storm came and flooded the river, carrying away a vital part of the city walls. That permitted besieging Medes and Babylonians to enter the city and destroy it, just as the prophet predicted.

The Life of Christ

Additional evidence for the authenticity of the Bible is Christ Himself. As we have already seen, He fulfilled many detailed prophecies and did many miracles. It is important to note that He also believed in the authority of the Bible. In Matthew 5:18 He says, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”

If you would like to read more about the life of Christ and other evidences for the Bible’s reliability, try Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell (Here’s Life Publishers).

The Power of the Bible

The Bible is an amazing book. It’s amazing in that it stands up to many tests of authenticity. But beyond that, it’s particularly amazing when looked at from a spiritual and moral perspective.

The Bible claims to be alive and powerful. That’s a tremendous statement. I have never read any other living book. There are some books that change your thinking, but this is the only book that can change your nature. This is the only book that can totally transform you from the inside out.

There’s a section in Psalm 19 that is Scripture’s own testimony to itself. This is what it says:

  • The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
  • The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
  • The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
  • The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  • The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
  • The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. (vv. 7-9)

Let’s look at each aspect separately.

The Bible Is “Perfect”

First, “the law of the Lord” is a Hebrew term used to define Scripture. Psalm 19 specifies that it is “perfect”—a comprehensive treatment of truth that is able to transform the soul. The Hebrew word translated “soul”(nepesh) refers to the total person. It meansthe real you—not your body but what is inside. So the truths in Scripture can totally transform a person.

You may say, “I’m not interested in being transformed.” Then you probably aren’t interested in the Bible. The Bible is for people who have some sense of desperation about where they are. It is for people who don’t have the purpose in their lives they wish they had. They’re not sure where they are, where they came from, or where they’re going. There are things in their lives they wish they could change. They wish they weren’t driven by passions they can’t control; that they weren’t victims of circumstance; that they didn’t have so much pain in life; that their relationships were all they ought to be; that they could think more clearly about things that matter in their lives. That’s who this book is for: people who don’t have all the answers and who want something better.

The Bible says that the key to this transformation is the Lord Jesus Christ. God came into the world in the form of Christ. He died on a cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine, and rose again to conquer death. He now lives and comes into the lives of those who acknowledge Him as their Lord and Savior, transforming them into the people God means for them to be. If you’re content with the way you are, you’re not going to look to the Word of God for a way to change. But if you’re aware of your guilt, if you want to get rid of your anxiety and the patterns of life that desperately need to be changed, if you have some emptiness in your heart, if there’s some longing that has never been satisfied, and if there are some answers you just can’t seem to find, then you’re just the person who needs to look into the Word of God to determine if it can do what it says it can. It can transform you completely through the power of Christ, the One who died and rose again for you.

The Bible Is “Sure”

Second, Psalm 19 says that the Scripture is “sure”—absolute, trustworthy, reliable—”making wise the simple.” The Hebrew word translated “simple” comes from a root that speaks of an open door. Ancient Jewish people described a person with a simple mind as someone with a head like an open door: everything comes in; everything goes out. He doesn’t know what to keep out and what to keep in. He’s indiscriminate, totally naive, and unable to evaluate truth. He doesn’t have any standards by which to make a judgment.

The Bible says it is able to make such a person wise. Wisdom to the Jew was the skill of daily living. To the Greek it was sheer sophistry—an abstraction. So when the Hebrew text says it can make a simple person wise, it means it can take the uninitiated, naive, uninstructed, undiscerning person and make him skilled in every aspect of daily living.

The Bible touches every area of life, including relationships, marriage, the work ethic, and factors of the human mind and motivation. It tells you about attitudes, reactions, responses, how to treat people, how you’re to be treated by people, how to cultivate virtue in your life—every aspect of living is covered in the pages of the Bible.

How does the Bible transform one’s life? It does so when you read it and Commit your life to Jesus Christ, the Teacher and the Author of Scripture. He comes to live in you and applies the truth of the Word to your life.

The Bible Is “Right”

Third, the Word of God—called “the precepts of the Lord—is right. In Hebrew, that means it sets out a right path or lays out a right track. And the result is joy to the heart.

I look back at times in my own life when I didn’t know what direction to go, what my future was, or what my career ought to be. Then I began to study God’s Word and submit myself to His Spirit. Then God laid out the path for me. As I’ve walked in that path, I’ve experienced joy, happiness, and blessing. In fact, I find so much satisfaction in life that people sometimes believe something’s wrong with me. Even difficulty brings satisfaction, because it creates a way in which God can show Himself faithful. Even unhappiness is a source of happiness. In John 16, Jesus compares the disciples’ sorrow at His leaving to the pain of a woman having a baby. There’s joy through any circumstance. I know you want a happy life. I know you want peace, joy, meaning, and purpose. I know you want the fullness of life that everybody seeks. The Bible says, “[Happy] are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28). Why? Because God blesses their faithfulness and obedience. You can have a happy life without sin, without sex outside of marriage, without drugs, and without alcohol. God is not a cosmic killjoy. He made you. He knows how you operate best. And He knows what makes you happy. The happiness He gives doesn’t stop when the party’s over. It lasts because it comes from deep within.

The Bible Is “Pure”

Fourth, the psalmist says the Word of God is pure, enlightening the eyes. The simplest Christian knows a lot of things that many scholarly people don’t know. Because I know the Bible, some things are clear to me that aren’t clear to others.

The autobiography of English philosopher Bertrand Russell, written near the end of his life, implies that philosophy was something of a washout to him. That’s shocking. He spent his life musing on reality, but was not able to define it. I don’t believe I’m Russell’s equal intellectually, but I do know the Word of God. Scripture enlightens the eyes, particularly concerning the dark things of life, such as death, disease, tragic events, and the devastation of the world. Scripture deals with the tough issues of life.

I can go to a Christian who is facing death and see joy in his heart. My grandmother died when she was ninety-three years old. She was lying in bed, and the nurse told her it was time to get up. My grandmother said, “No, I’m not getting up today.” When the nurse asked why, my grandmother said, “I love Jesus, and I’m going to heaven today, so don’t bother me.” Then she smiled and went to heaven.

Do you have that kind of hope?

When I was a boy I used to go to Christ Church in Philadelphia and read epitaphs written about Americans who have had a great impact on our country. Benjamin Franklin wrote his own epitaph:

The body of
Benjamin Franklin, printer,
(Like the cover of an old book,
Its contents worn out
And stript of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms!
Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
For it will, as he believed, appear once more
In a new
And more beautiful edition,
Corrected and amended
By its Author!

Can you look death in the eye and say, “This is not the end; it is but the beginning for me”? What can you say to someone who loses a child? What can you say to someone who loses a spouse to cancer or heart disease? Are you roaming around in the confusion in which many people find themselves? Where do you go for the dark things to be made clear? I go to the Word of God, and I find clarity there.

The Bible Is “Clean”

Further, Psalm 19:1 says that the Word of God is “clean, enduring forever.” The only things that last forever are things untouched by the devastation of evil—another word for sin. The word of God is clean. It describes and uncovers sin, but it is untouched by evil. And even though it is an ancient document, every person in every situation in every society can find timeless truth in this book. Here’s a book that never needs another edition because it’s never out of date or obsolete. It speaks to us as pointedly and directly as it ever has to anyone in history. It’s so pure that it lasts forever.

When I was in college I studied philosophy. Almost every philosophy I studied was long dead. I also studied psychology. Almost every form of psychotherapy I read about is now obsolete or has been replaced by more progressive thinking.

But there’s one thing that never changes, and that is the eternal Word of God. It is always relevant.

The Bible Is “True”

Finally, and most pointedly, Psalm 19:9 says that the Word of God is true. Today it seems there’s no longer a premium on truth. But that was true even in Jesus’ day. Pilate, when he sent Jesus to the cross, said, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). The context makes clear that he was being cynical.

I remember meeting a young man on drugs who was living in an overturned refrigerator box by a stream in the mountains of northern California . I was hiking through the area and asked if I could introduce myself. We talked a little while. It turned out he was a graduate of Boston University . He said, “I’ve escaped.” I asked, “Have you found the answers?” “No,” he said, “but at least I’ve gotten myself into a situation where I don’t ask the questions.” That’s the despair of not knowing the truth.

Scripture describes some people as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). That’s not referring to intellectual truth; it’s referring to the truth of life, death, God, man, sin, right, wrong, heaven, hell, hope, joy, and peace. People can’t find it on their own.


What Is Truth?

To look at things philosophically, we live in a time-space box we can’t get out of. We cannot go into a phone booth and come out Superman—we cannot transcend the natural world. We are locked into a time-space continuum.

And we bounce around in our little box trying to figure out God. We invent religions, but they’re self-contained. The only way we’ll ever know what is beyond us is if what is on the outside comes in. And that’s exactly what the Bible claims. It’s a supernatural revelation from God, who has invaded our box. And He invaded it not only through the written word, but also in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel Nausea lays out an existential view of life. Its main character, Antoine Roquentin, is horrified by his own existence. He tries to find meaning in life through sex, humanitarianism, and other avenues but is left with a nauseating feeling of meaninglessness, never really finding genuine answers.

Where do you find truth that eluded Roquentin? I believe it is in the Word of God, the Bible. Consider its attributes.

The Attributes of the Bible

The Bible Is Infallible and Inerrant

The Bible, in its entirety, has no mistakes. It is flawless because God wrote it—and He is flawless. It is not only infallible in total, but also inerrant in its parts. Proverbs 30:5-6 says, “Every word of God is tested. . . . Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.” Every word of God is pure and true. The Bible is the only book that never makes a mistake—everything it says is the truth.

The Bible Is Complete

Nothing needs to be added to the Bible. It is complete. Some today say the Bible is incomplete and simply a product of its time—a comment on man’s spiritual experience in history—and that we now need something else. Some believe that preachers who say, “The Lord told me this or that,” are equally inspired, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or any of the other prophets. That is essentially to say that the Bible is not complete. However, the last book of the Bible, Revelation, warns, “If anyone adds to [the words of this book], God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book” (22: 18-19).

The Bible Is Authoritative

Since the Bible is perfect and complete, it is the last Word—the final authority. Isaiah 1:2 says, “Listen, Oh heavens, and hear, Oh earth; for the Lord speaks.” When God speaks, we should listen, because He is the final authority. The Bible demands obedience.

John 8:30-31 reports that many of the people Jesus preached to came to believe in Him. Jesus said to them, “If you continue in My word, then are you are truly disciples of Mine.” In other words, He demanded a response to His word. It is authoritative. Galatians 3:10 says, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” That’s a tremendous claim to absolute authority. In James 2:10 we read, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” To violate the Bible at one point is to break God’s entire law. That’s because the Bible is authoritative in every part.

The Bible Is Sufficient

The Bible is sufficient for a number of essentials:

Salvation . Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Salvation is the greatest reality in the universe—and the Bible reveals the source of that salvation. Acts 4:12 says regarding Jesus, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Instruction . Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The Bible can take those who don’t know God and introduce them to Him. Then it will teach them, reprove them when they do wrong, point them to what is right, and show them how to walk in that right path.

Hope . Romans 15:4 says “Whatever was written in earlier times [a reference to the Old Testament] was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The Bible is a source of encouragement, giving us hope now and forever.

Happiness . James 1:25 reveals the key to happiness: “One who looks intently at [Scripture], and abides by it . . . this man will be [happy] in what he does.” Psalm 119, the longest psalm in the Bible, devotes all 176 verses to describing the Word of God. It begins, “How [happy] are those who walk in the law of the Lord.”

How Will You Respond?

Your response to the Bible determines the course of your life and your eternal destiny. First Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (NIV). Man could never conceive of all that God has to offer on his own!

Every time we pick up the Bible, we pick up the truth. Jesus said, “If you continue in My word . . . you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). What did He mean by that? Think of the person who is working diligently on a math problem. As soon as he finds the answer—he’s free. Or consider the scientist in the lab pouring different solutions into test tubes. He stays with it until he says, “Eureka, I found it!”—then he’s free. Man will search and struggle and grapple and grope for the truth until he finds it. Only then is he free. The Bible is our source of truth—about God, man, life, death, men, women, children, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, and enemies. It shows us how to live. The Bible is the source of everything you need to know about life on earth and the life to come. You can trust the Bible. It is God’s living Word.


Copyright 1988 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1977 by The Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Adapted from How to Study the Bible, by John MacArthur (Moody Press, 1982).

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THE SCOPES TRIAL by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 1997. 96 pages,

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THE SCOPES TRIAL by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 1997. 96 pages, bibliography, illustrations, index. Hardcover; $16.95.

Nardo has written over seventy books; his works include biographies of Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, and H. G. Wells. The Scopes Trial gives the reader a glance at the overall trial and it includes annotated bibliographies, a thorough list of works consulted, and a comprehensive index. Moreover, the purpose of this book is to give the big picture of the trial and to provide sources for further research.

Even though The Scopes Trial is only 96 pages in length, it gives many of the little known details of the trial. For instance, the prosecution team included a local attorney named Sue Hicks (the original Boy named Sue of the Johnny Cash hit song) who had been named for his mother (p. 29). The trial was the first to be broadcast on radio, and Judge Raulston declared, My gavel will be heard around the world (p. 43). Loudspeakers were set up on the courthouse lawn Afor the crowds who were unable to squeeze into the courtroom (p. 46). Ironically, when the jurors were asked to step out of the courthouse, they still heard the testimony (p. 46). Just before William Jennings Bryan took the stand, cracks appeared in the ceiling of the courthouse; as a result, court reconvened on the front lawn (pp. 66-7).

After reading The Scopes Trial, I felt like I had actually been there in Dayton in 1925. This was due in part to Nardo’s excellent choice of over 40 pictures and his discussion of the events of the trial. Nardo writes:

Under Darrow’s relentless and skillful stream of questions, Bryan had revealed his nearly complete ignorance of world history. After more than an hour on the stand, Bryan showed not only that he was ignorant of history, but that he knew practically nothing of the established and universally accepted facts of archaeology, geology, astronomy, and other scholarly disciplines. The man who had so vigorously advocated limiting the teaching of science in the schools had just demonstrated that he had not the foggiest notion of what science was all about (p. 74).

The Scopes Trial does have a weakness though. Nardo fails to mention that much of the evidence presented by the scientists at the trial was later proven faulty. Judge Raulston ruled that all testimony bearing on the meaning of evolution or its truth or falsity had nothing to do with whether John Scopes had broken the law and should therefore be excluded from the trial (p. 59). But the Judge did allow the defense to read some of the expert testimony into the record while the jury was excused (p. 66). Part of that testimony read into the record included the two popular biological arguments for evolution embryonic recapitulation and vestigial structures. Medical science has since disproved both of these views. Furthermore, the evolution of the horse was called conclusive and the Piltdown fossils were said to be supporting evidence for evolution. Needless to say, these two pieces of evolution are no longer presented by evolutionists. In fact, evidence surfaced recently that indicates who the Piltdown hoaxer was (Henry Gee, Box of Bones `Clinches’ Identity of Piltdown Paleontology Hoaxer, Nature, 381 [1996]: 261-2).

On the other hand, creationists too have been guilty Of mistakes. John George, the author of They Never Said It!, pointed out that many creationists have mistakenly attributed these words to Clarence Darrow: “For God’s sake, let the children have their minds kept open! Close no doors to their knowledge; shut no door to them. Let them have both evolution and creation! The truth will win out in the end.” Actually it was Darrow’s co-counsel, Dudley Field Malone, who was the speaker. And what Malone said was rather different: “Make the distinction between theology and science. Let them both be taught.” Nardo states, The speech was so eloquent and passionate that the audience, even including many of the fundamentalists who supported Bryan, gave Malone a long and respectful ovation (p. 63).

In sum, The Scopes Trial is well researched and well written. I highly recommend it to the readers of PSCF.

Reviewed by Everette Hatcher III, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221.

From PSCF 49 (December 1997): 269.

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NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY (GENESIS 1-11) by Kenneth A. Mathews. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996. 528 pages,

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NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY (GENESIS 1-11) by Kenneth A. Mathews. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996. 528 pages, index. Hardcover; $34.99.

Mathews is professor of Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University. He is an acknowledged expert in the Dead Sea scrolls, text criticism, biblical Hebrew, and the literary study of the Old Testament, having written or edited books and articles in these areas.

His commentary on Genesis 1-11 thoroughly covers foundational doctrines. The freewill of man (pp. 211-12), the explanation of evil (pp. 226-31), and the divine model for marriage (pp. 222-25) are all dealt with in detail. Moreover, Mathews puts special emphasis on explaining what it means to be made in the image of God (pp. 164-75). Later he concludes that Ahuman life must be treated with special caution because it is of singular value as life created in the image of God (p. 402).

Mathews convincingly argues that the biblical flood was worldwide according to the Bible (pp. 365, 380) and that it was not based on other ancient pagan flood myths (pp. 86-100). He explains that these epics differed from the biblical flood story (pp. 339-40) and that the biblical flood story has no chronological inconsistencies (pp. 377, 385, 492).

The issues of creationism and naturalism are covered (pp. 101-7). Mathews points out that Aphilosophical naturalism denies the existence of God, while methodological naturalism, though not explicitly rejecting deity, excludes God in developing a theory of the universal process (p. 102). He shows that creationists have their different views too, but the disagreement is Anot about who? but about how? and how long? and when? (pp. 106-7). Mathews cites the works of J. P. Moreland, Phillip Johnson, K. P. Wise, Henry Morris, John Whitcomb, Hugh Ross, H. J. Van Till, Bernard Ramm, W. L. Bradley, and C. B. Thaxton.

Mathews spends a good deal of time discussing the documentary hypothesis and the historical-critical approach that many modern scholars use when examining the pentateuchal witness (pp. 63-85, 353-56, 377, 435-36). Mathews disagrees with the critical approach, and he gives some evidence that seems to nullify the liberal view that the Pentateuch was written during the first millennium B.C. The literary evidence indicates a much earlier date of authorship. Mathews observes:

Several lines of internal evidence, while unable to prove traditional Mosaic authorship, indicate the concurrence of a second millennium date, such as the antiquity of Deuteronomy’s literary structure having similarity to international treaty formulas of the Late Bronze Age (p. 79).

Mathews is not alone in this view. He cites the works of other scholars such as M. G. Kline, P. C. Craigie, E. Merrill, P. J. Wiseman, D. J. Wiseman, G. C. Aalders, G. Archer, R. K. Harrison, K. A. Kitchen, O. T. Allis, E. J. Young, I. Abrahams, M. H. Segal, and B. Jacob (p. 79). Furthermore, Mathews notes:

The names of the coalition of kings in Genesis 14 and the political circumstances accord well with what we know of this early period. The author was an eyewitness of the events in Exodus Deuteronomy and was well acquainted with Egyptian language and geography. Egyptian loanwords from the second millennium are found in Hebrew (p. 79).

Obviously Mathews has extensive knowledge of ancient Near Eastern languages, literature, and culture. The New American Commentary series is one of the finest on the market today, and Mathews continues the scholarly tradition with his work on the first eleven chapters of Genesis. I highly recommend it to the readers of PSCF.

Reviewed by Everette Hatcher III, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221.

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Greg Koukl takes on Evolutionist Robert Wright and Monkey Morality (What Darwinists cannot do is give us a reason why we ought not simply copy nature and destroy those who are weak, unpleasant, costly, or just plain boring)

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Greg Koukl takes on Evolutionist Robert Wright and Monkey Morality.

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Recent studies suggest that animals are capable of rudimentary forms of moral behavior. God isn’t the source of morality, evolutionists say; Mother Nature is. The evolutionary answer, though, does not explain morality; it denies it.

Bongo is a chimp.  He’s being punished by other members of the chimpanzee band for not sharing his bananas.  Bongo is selfish.  Bad Bongo.  Moral rule:  Chimps shouldn’t be selfish.

One of the strongest evidences for the existence of God is man’s unique moral nature.  C.S. Lewis argues in Mere Christianity that there is a persistent moral law that represents the ethical foundation of all human cultures.  This, he says, is evidence for the God who is the author of the moral law.

Not everyone agrees.  Scenarios like the one above have been offered as evidence for rudimentary forms of morality among animals, especially the “higher” primates like chimpanzees.  This suggests that morality in humans is not unique and can be explained by the natural process of evolution without appeal to a divine Lawgiver.

This view of morality is one of the conclusions of the new science of evolutionary psychology.  Its adherents advance a simple premise:  The mind, just like every part of the physical body, is a product of evolution.  Everything about human personality–marital relationships, parental love, friendships, dynamics among siblings, social climbing, even office politics–can be explained by the forces of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Even the moral threads that make up the fabric of society are the product of natural selection.  Morality can be reduced to chemical relationships in the genes chosen by different evolutionary needs in the physical environment.  Love and hate; feelings of guilt and remorse; gratitude and envy; even the virtues of kindness, faithfulness, or self-control can all be explained mechanistically through the cause and effect of chance genetic mutations and natural selection.

One notable example of this challenge to the transcendent nature of morality comes from the book The Moral Animal–Why We Are the Way We Are:  The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, by Robert Wright.

How Morals Evolve

The Blind Moral-Maker

In his popular defense of evolution, The Blind Watchmaker,  Richard Dawkins acknowledges that the biological world looks designed, but that this appearance is deceiving.  The appearance of intelligent order is really the result of the workings of natural selection.

Robert Wright holds the same view regarding man’s psychological features, including morality.  The strongest evidence for this analysis seems to be the explanatory power of the evolutionary paradigm when dealing with moral conduct.  The argument rests on the nature of natural selection itself:

If within a species there is variation among individuals in their hereditary traits, and some traits are more conducive to survival and reproduction than others, then those traits will (obviously) become more widespread within the population.  The result (obviously) is that the species’ aggregate pool of hereditary traits changes.[i]

Wright argues from effect back to cause, asking what is the simplest, most elegant solution adequate to explain the effects we see.  To Wright, the evolutionary explanation is “obvious.”  In order to survive, animals must adapt to changing conditions. Through the process of natural selection, naturalistic forces “choose” certain behavior patterns that allow the species to continue to exist.  We call those patterns “morality.”

Wired for Morality

The thesis that evolution explains all moral conduct requires that such conduct be genetically determined.  Morality rides on the genes, as it were, and one generation passes on favorable morality to the next.  Wright sees a genetic connection with a whole range of emotional capabilities.   He talks about “genes inclining a male to love his offspring,”[ii] and romantic love that was not only invented by evolution, but corrupted by it.[iii]  Consider these comments:

If a woman’s “fidelity gene” (or her “infidelity gene”) shapes her behavior in a way that helps get copies of itself, into future generations in large numbers, then that gene will by definition flourish.[iv] [emphasis in the original]

Beneath all the thoughts and feelings and temperamental differences that marriage counselors spend their time sensitively assessing are the stratagems of the genes–cold, hard equations composed of simple variables.[v]

Some mothers have a genetic predisposition to love their children, so the story goes, and this genetic predisposition to be loving is favored by natural selection.  Consequently, there are more women who are “good” mothers.

What is the evidence, though, that moral virtues are genetic, a random combination of molecules?  Is the fundamental difference between a Mother Teresa and a Hitler their chromosomal makeup?  If so, then how could we ever praise Mother Teresa?  How could a man like Adolph Hitler be truly guilty?

Wright offers no such empirical evidence.  He seems to assume that moral qualities are in the genes because he must; his paradigm will not work otherwise.

Wright’s Double-Standard

Morality Above Morality

In a public relations piece promoting his book, Robert Wright says, “My hope is that people will use the knowledge [in this book] not only to improve their lives–as a source of ‘self-help’–but as cause to treat other people more decently.” [emphasis mine]

This statement captures a major flaw in Wright’s analysis.  His entire thesis is that chance evolution exhausts what it means to be moral.  Morality is descriptive, a mere function of the environment selecting patterns of behavior that assist and benefit the growth and survival of the species.  Yet he frequently lapses, unconsciously making reference to a morality that seems to transcend nature.

Take this comment as an example:  “Human beings are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse.”[vi] [emphasis mine]  Wright reflects on the moral equipment randomly given to us by nature, and then bemoans our immoral use of it with words like “tragic,” “pathetic,” and “misuse.”

He writes, “Go above and beyond the call of a smoothly functioning conscience; help those who aren’t likely to help you in return, and do so when nobody’s watching.  This is one way to be a truly moral animal.”[vii]

It’s almost as if there are two categories of morality, nature’s morality and a transcendent standard used to judge nature’s morality.  But where did this transcendent standard come from?  It’s precisely this higher moral law that needs explaining.  If transcendent morality judges the “morality” that evolution is responsible for, then it can’t itself be accounted for by evolution.

Social Darwinism

Like many evolutionists, Wright recoils from social Darwinism.  “To say that something is ‘natural’ is not to say that it is good.  There is no reason to adopt natural selection’s ‘values’ as our own.”[viii]  Just because nature exploits the weak, he argues, doesn’t mean we are morally obliged to do so.

Natural selection’s indifference to the suffering of the weak is not something we need to emulate.  Nor should we care whether murder, robbery, and rape are in some sense “natural.”  It is for us to decide how abhorrent we find such things and how hard we want to fight them.[ix]

Wright argues that the reductio ad absurdum argument from social Darwinism is flawed.  Though life in an unregulated state of nature is, as 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes described it, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,”[x] we’re not required to take the “survival of the fittest” as a moral guideline.

Evolutionists may be right when they argue that we’re not compelled to adopt the morality of evolution.  The danger of social Darwinism, though, is not that society is required to adopt the law of the jungle, but that it is allowed to.  The exploitation of the weak by the strong is morally benign according to this view.

What Darwinists cannot do is give us a reason why we ought not simply copy nature and destroy those who are weak, unpleasant, costly, or just plain boring.  If all moral options are legitimate, then it’s legitimate for the strong to rule the weak.  No moral restraints protect the weak, because moral restraints simply wouldn’t exist.

Monkey Morality

 Recent studies have attempted to show that animals exhibit rudimentary moral behavior.  In one case, a group of chimpanzees “punished” one “selfish” member of their band by withholding food from it.  Apparently, the moral rule was this:  Chimps shouldn’t be selfish.

Conduct, Motive, and Intent

There are some problems with this assessment.  First of all, drawing conclusions about animal morality simply from external behavior reduces morality to conduct.  Why should we accept that morality is exhaustively described by behavior?  True morality entails non-behavioral elements, too, like intent and motive.

One can’t infer actual moral obligations from the mere fact of a chimp’s conduct.  One might talk descriptively about a chimp’s behavior, but no conclusion about morality follows from this.  One can observe that chimps in community share food, and when they do they survive better.  But you can’t conclude from this that Bongo, the chimp, ought to share his bananas, and if he doesn’t, then he’s immoral because he hasn’t contributed to the survival of his community.

Further, in fixing blame, we distinguish between an act done by accident and the very same act done on purpose.  The behavior is the same, but the intent is different.  We don’t usually blame people for accidents:  The boy didn’t intend to trip the old lady.

We also give attention to the issue of motive.  We withhold blame even if the youngster tripped the old lady on purpose if the motive is acceptable:  He tripped her to keep her from running in front of a train.

Motive and intent cannot be determined simply by looking at behavior.  In fact, some “good” behavior–giving to the poor, for example–might turn out to be tainted if the motive and intent are wrong:  being thought well of with no concern for the recipient.  Indeed, it seems one can be immoral without any behavior at all, e.g. plotting an evil deed that one never has the opportunity to carry out.

Morality informs behavior, judging it either good or bad, but it’s not identical to behavior.  Morality is something deeper than habitual patterns of physical interaction.  Therefore, one can’t draw conclusions about animal morality simply based on what he observes in their conduct.

Morality:  Explained or Denied?

This leads us to the second problem, which runs much deeper.  When morality is reduced to patterns of behavior chosen by natural selection for its survival value, then morality is not explained; it’s denied.  Wright admits as much.  Regarding the conscience he says:

The conscience doesn’t make us feel bad the way hunger feels bad, or good the way sex feels good.  It makes us feel as if we have done something that’s wrong or something that’s right.  Guilty or not guilty.  It is amazing that a process as amoral and crassly pragmatic as natural selection could design a mental organ that makes us feel as if we’re in touch with higher truth.  Truly a shameless ploy.[xi] [emphasis mine]

Evolutionists like Wright are ultimately forced to admit that what we think is a “higher truth” of morality turns out to be a “shameless ploy” of nature, a description of animal behavior conditioned by the environment for survival.  We’ve given that conduct a label, they argue.  We call it morality.  But there is no real right and wrong.

Does Bongo, the chimp, actually exhibit genuine moral behavior?  Does he understand the difference between right and wrong?  Does he make principled choices to do what’s right?  Is he worthy of blame and punishment for doing wrong?  Of course not, Wright says.  Bongo merely does in a primitive way what humans do in a more sophisticated way.  We respond according to our genetic conditioning, a program “designed” by millions of years of evolution.

The evolutionary approach is not an explanation of morality; it’s a denial of morality.  It explains why we think moral truths exist when, in fact, they don’t.

Why Be a Good Boy Tomorrow?

This observation uncovers the most serious objection to the idea that evolution is adequate to explain morality.  There is one question that can never be answered by any evolutionary assessment of ethics.  The question is this:  Why ought I be moral tomorrow?

One of the distinctives of morality is its “oughtness,” its moral incumbency.  Assessments of mere behavior, however, are descriptive only.  Since morality is essentially prescriptive–telling what should be the case, as opposed to what is the case–and since all evolutionary assessments of moral behavior are descriptive, then evolution cannot account for the most important thing that needs to be explained:  morality’s “oughtness.”

The question that really needs to be answered is:  “Why shouldn’t the chimp (or a human, for that matter) be selfish?”  The evolutionary answer might be that when we’re selfish, we hurt the group.  That answer, though, presumes another moral value:  We ought to be concerned about the welfare of the group.  Why should that concern us?  Answer:  If the group doesn’t survive, then the species doesn’t survive.  But why should I care about the survival of the species?

Here’s the problem.  All of these responses meant to explain morality ultimately depend on some prior moral notion to hold them together.  It’s going to be hard to explain, on an evolutionary view of things why I should not be selfish, or steal, or rape, or even kill tomorrow without smuggling morality into the answer.

The evolutionary explanation disembowels morality, reducing it to mere descriptions of conduct.  The best the Darwinist explanation can do–if it succeeds at all–is explain past behavior.  It cannot inform future behavior.  The essence of morality, though, is not description, but prescription.

Evolution may be an explanation for the existence of conduct we choose to call moral, but it gives no explanation why I should obey any moral rules in the future.  If one countered that we have a moral obligation to evolve, then the game would be up, because if we have moral obligations prior to evolution, then evolution itself can’t be their source.

Evolutionists are Wrong about Ethics

Darwinists opt for an evolutionary explanation for morality without sufficient justification.  In order to make their naturalistic explanation work, “morality” must reside in the genes.  “Good,” beneficial tendencies can then be chosen by natural selection.  Nature, through the mechanics of genetic chemistry, cultivates behaviors we call morality.

This creates two problems.  First, evolution doesn’t explain what it’s meant to explain.  It can only account for preprogrammed behavior, which doesn’t qualify as morality.  Moral choices, by their nature, are made by free agents, not dictated by internal mechanics.

Secondly, the Darwinist explanation reduces morality to mere descriptions of behavior.  The morality that evolution needs to account for, however, entails much more than conduct.  Minimally, it involves motive and intent as well.  Both are non-physical elements which can’t, even in principle, evolve in a Darwinian sense.

Further, this assessment of morality, being descriptive only, ignores the most fundamental moral question of all:  Why should I be moral tomorrow?  Evolution cannot answer that question.  It can only attempt to describe why humans acted in a certain way in the past.  Morality dictates what future behavior ought to be.

Evolution does not explain morality.  Bongo is not a bad chimp, he’s just a chimp.  No moral rules apply to him.  Eat the banana, Bongo.


[i]Robert Wright, The Moral Animal–Why We Are the Way We Are:  The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New York:  Pantheon Books, 1994), p. 23.

[ii]Ibid., p. 58

[iii]Ibid., p. 59.

[iv]Ibid., p. 56.

[v]Ibid., p. 88.

[vi]Ibid., p. 13.

[vii]Ibid., p. 377.

[viii]Ibid., p. 31.

[ix]Ibid., p. 102.

[x]Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651.

[xi]Wright, p. 212.

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“Practical Atheism” – Psalm 14

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Sir Julian Sorell Huxley FRS (22 June 1887 – 14 February 1975) was an English evolutionary biologist, humanist and internationalist.

Timothy F. Leary Editorial Stock Photo

Timothy F. Leary (1920�1996), an American writer, psychologist, campaigner for psychedelic drug research and use and 60s counterculture icon, with Laura Huxley

Timothy F. Leary and Laura Huxley

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Leary and the Huxleys at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology, Copenhagen, Aug. 1961 Original: NYPL

Leary and the Huxleys at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology, Copenhagen, Aug. 1961 Original: Leary Archives, NY Public Library

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Never Before Published Photo of Timothy Leary with Aldous and Laura Huxley

Leary and the Huxleys at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology, Copenhagen, Aug. 1961 Original: NYPL

Leary and the Huxleys at the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology, Copenhagen, Aug. 1961 Original: Leary Archives, NY Public Library

By Michael Horowitz and Lisa Rein

This photograph–possibly the only one in existence of Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley (there are some with Laura from later years)–documents a historic moment:  the only time the two appeared on stage and gave talks at the same public event.

It also marked a milestone in Leary’s career:   it was the first time he addressed an international conference, where he spoke about the psychedelic research project at Harvard–an event that had both personal and professional implications for him and his associate, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass).

Reprint of the two talks distributed by IFIF (International Federation for Internal Freedom) in 1963. Original from Michael Horowitz' Archives

Reprint of the two talks distributed by IFIF (International Federation for Internal Freedom) in 1963. Original from Michael Horowitz’ Archives

The event was the 14th Annual Congress of Applied Psychology, held in Copenhagen in August, 1961.  Leary chaired the symposium on psychiatric drugs.  It was he who invited Aldous to attend.  The two had met some months earlier, when Tim invited the author of the first two major works of modern psychedelic literature (The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell) to participate in the Harvard research program.   Huxley agreed and was “Subject no.11” in a group psilocybin session run by Leary in November 1960.

In Copenhagen, Huxley spoke on the subject of “Visionary Experience,” a topic he often revisited.  After discussing various non-drug methods of achieving visionary experiences, he came around to this:

“In modern times pharmacology has produced, partly by more refined methods of extracts and partly by methods of synthesis, a number of mind-changing drugs of extraordinary power, but remarkable for the fact that they have very little harmful effect on the body….With such drugs as psilocybin, it is possible for the majority of people to go into this other world with very little trouble  and with almost no harm to themselves.”

He concluded his talk by noting that “we shall hear from Dr. Leary of the induction of such experiences by such substances as psilocybin,” anticipating Leary’s subject by noting that psychedelic drugs “may be very, very important in changing our lives, changing our mode of consciousness, perceiving that there are other ways of looking at the world than the ordinary, utilitarian manner, and it may also result in significant changes in behavior.”

It is noteworthy that Frank Barron, Leary’s lifelong friend and colleague, also spoke.  His talk made reference to his “commending the mushroom to the attention of Dr. Leary, who immediately seized upon its possibilities as a vehicle for inducing change in behavior as a result of the altered state of consciousness which the drug produced.”

Leary spoke later in the day on the topic, “How To Change Behavior,” during which he summarized the work he and his team had done since initiating the Psilocybin Research Project in the fall of 1960, offering some controversial opinions:

“For many people, one or two psilocybin experiences can accomplish the goals of a long and successful psychotherapy…. The non-game visionary experiences are, I submit, the key to behavior change.  Drug-induced satori.   In three hours under the right circumstances the cortex can be cleared.  The games that frustrate and torment can be seen in the cosmic dimension.”

The way Robert Greenfield tells it in Timothy Leary: A Biography, Leary’s talk deeply disturbed many of the professional psychologists in the audience (which included several of his nervous academic superiors at Harvard), who believed mind-expanding drugs caused temporary psychosis and should only be used under strict medical supervision.  Richard Alpert (almost a decade before he became known as Ram Dass) followed Tim at the podium, freaking out the assembly even further with the notion that psilocybin and LSD produced genuine mystical experiences, which was an end in itself.

Their deviation from the medical model was more than anyone in the audience could handle —with the exception of Aldous Huxley, who had made similar assertions in his talk, though with a less impassioned tone.

Tim was later told by some psychologists who were present that his talk “had set Danish psychology back twenty years.”   Their Harvard colleague, George Littwin, claimed that this event proved to be the beginning of the end, not only for the research program but of Leary and Alpert’s time at Harvard, which came to a close in June 1963.

Nonetheless, “How To Change Behavior” proved to be one of Leary’s most popular writings, being reprinted in a number of books and journals.

The Copenhagen congress thus represented the first public pronouncement by Leary and Alpert who, taking their cues from Huxley and the results of their own scientific research, were early on convinced that the advent of synthetic psychedelics was a major evolutionary stage for humanity, destined to bring about a cultural revolution which they had no hesitation in facilitating if not spearheading.

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“Practical Atheism” – Psalm 14

Introduction
I’d like to begin by asking you a question I’ve asked myself. Are you an atheist? You probably think that’s an ignorant question to ask. Of course you aren’t! You wouldn’t be here, worshipping God, if you were. But that isn’t necessarily true. The fact is that America’s churches are filled with atheists. That’s because there are two kinds of atheist and that’s what I’m going to preach about today.

Professing Atheists
David wrote Psalm 14 and in verse 1 mentions those who say, “There is no God.” We call those who do so professing atheists. Professing atheists believe and proclaim that only matter, only atoms and the molecules they form, exist. God, therefore, doesn’t exist.

Atheism is an issue in America today. For one thing, atheists are growing in number. According to a George Barna poll, 11% of Americans are atheists, agnostics or have no religion at all. That’s 30 million people. For another thing, atheists are growing in organization and initiative. This past Christmas season, for instance, four separate groups instituted aggressive radio, television and billboard campaigns attacking belief in God. One, American Atheists, put up billboards displaying the nativity scene. Written over the scene were these words: “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.” Christians no longer have the luxury of assuming everyone believes in God. Many don’t.

Why People Are Atheists That’s why we need to understand what David teaches us about atheists in Psalm 14. He begins by telling it like it is in verse 1. They’re fools. The word “fool” here has a mental component and implies something all of us need to know and proclaim. Atheism is intellectual suicide, a point that Paul also makes in Romans 1:18-23. It requires a blind leap of faith, blind because it’s contrary to the facts. It believes, for instance, that something came from nothing or that matter is self-existent. It also believes that chance, which is a pure abstraction, caused the universe to be the way it is. But those beliefs are absurd. They violate logic, which makes them blind leaps of faith.

In his recently published book The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking proposes that the cosmos spontaneously generated “from nothing.” But one has to wonder. How can nothing produce something, let alone hundreds of billions of galaxies? Atheist Richard Dawkins famously declared that theists, those who believe in God, are delusional. But just the opposite is true. It’s atheists, not theists, who are delusional.

But why are they? Stephen Hawking, for instance, is considered the most intelligent person on earth. So why does he believe something that so obviously flies in the face of the facts and common sense?

David tells us in his choice of the Hebrew word translated “fool” in verse 1. There are several Hebrew words for “fool”. The one he chose, nabal, implies an aggressive perversity, which he defines in verses 1-4. Notice the vivid language he uses to describe what atheists in general are or do: “corrupt,” “abominable deeds,” “does not do good,” and “workers of wickedness.”

With that language in mind, listen as I quote two celebrated atheists. One is the 20th century English writer Aldous Huxley: “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed that it had none. The philosopher who finds no meaning . . . . is concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do . . . For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness (atheism) was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.” The other atheist is contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel: “I want atheism to be true . . . . It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God, and, naturally hope I’m right about my belief. It’s that I hope there is God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

Those astonishing confessions illustrate that atheists in general believe God doesn’t exist because they want Him not to. Their objections aren’t nearly as much intellectual as they are moral. They want to run their own lives, to do whatever they want, without guilt and fear. But if God exists, they can’t. So, they choose to believe He doesn’t. Professing atheists, in other words, don’t live the way they do because they’re atheists. They’re atheists because they live the way they do. They make the way they believe fit and sanction the way they live.

Professing Theists
But it isn’t just professing atheists that concern David here. It’s professing theists as well in verses 6 and 7. These verses picture the wicked oppressing the righteous. But the righteous don’t fret because they know God shelters them, verse 6, and will “restore their fortunes,” verse 7. The righteous of verses 6-7 stand in sharp contrast to the wicked of verses 1-5. The wicked believe that God doesn’t exist. But the righteous believe that He does. They’re theists.

Now, the belief of theists is unlike the belief of atheists. Atheism is a blind leap of faith. Theism is a logical step of faith. By “logical step”, I mean this. If we do the math, if we gather the relevant evidence and connect it up rightly, we’ll conclude two things.

First, we’ll conclude that God can exist. There is no reason in the nature of things why He cannot exist. Atheists commonly point to certain realities or facts like Darwinian evolution or the existence of evil and claim they prove God cannot exist. But they’re categorically wrong about that. The truth is this. There is no reality or fact we can point to and say, “That makes it impossible for God to exist.” Take Darwinian evolution for instance. It’s false but let’s assume it’s true. That would not prove God cannot exist. For one thing, it only addresses how living things came to be and how they came to be the way they are. It says nothing at all about the existence of non-living things and their intricate nature. For another thing, Darwinian evolution itself is elaborate. The complexity and order that characterize it would actually be an argument for God. They clearly imply that someone designed and created evolution. It certainly didn’t design and create itself.

There’s no debating it. Nothing about the universe or life in it renders God existing impossible, improbable, or implausible. So, any objective person, with no ax to grind, will conclude that He can exist.

If we do that math, we’ll conclude a second thing. God does exist. The evidence make it clear to any objective person that He does. I explained some of that evidence in a Sunday school study titled Do the Math. I don’t have time to reiterate it now. But I’ll recount an anecdote that illustrates the result of gathering it and connecting it up rightly.

Antony Flew, who died last year, was a legendary British philosopher. Until the early 2000’s, he was one of the most notable atheists in the world and an outspoken critic of theism and creationism. But the developing knowledge of molecular mechanisms and DNA caused a monumental shift in his worldview. He came to believe in a creator God and explained why: “What I think the DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements together.” In a 2007 interview, he added that his belief in a creator God was the result of “my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself . . . . can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source.” Statements like those compelled the atheists who once adored him to detest him. But Flew didn’t care. He simply replied: “Well, that’s too bad. My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato’s Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.”

That’s exactly right. We should follow the evidence wherever it leads. Flew is a classic case of what happens when we do. We become professing theists. We come to believe that God can exist and does.

Practical Atheists
But that isn’t all we come to believe when we follow the evidence. We also believe that this God who exists is Yahweh, the God of the Bible. Again, I don’t have time to explain the evidence that proves that. I can only refer you to the Do the Math study I mentioned before. But when we objectively follow the evidence it presents, we can and will believe that the God who exists is Yahweh, the God of the Bible.

But it isn’t enough just to believe it. As the Bible and good sense demand, we must live it as well. We say that God exists and is the God of the Bible. So let’s act like it. We’re practical atheists when we don’t. That’s the second kind of atheist. The first kind is the professing atheist of verse 1, who believes God doesn’t exist. The second kind is the practical atheist, who believes God does exist but acts as if He doesn’t.

An analogy helps explain what I mean. Atheists live in many ways as if they aren’t atheists. The belief that there is no God spins off a whole host of other beliefs, like human beings are nothing more than a chance collection of molecules or there are no objective rights and wrongs. If atheism is so, those two beliefs and others must also be so. Atheists though almost always act as if they aren’t. Francis Schaeffer met a group of bright young physicists who insisted to him that only matter exists – that God doesn’t. So he asked them: “How do you live out your atheism at home? Do you treat your wives and children a chance collections of molecules?” To which one of them laughed and replied, “Dr. Schaeffer, you know our lives are a dichotomy.” He meant that they could live out that implication of their atheism in the lab, but couldn’t at home and didn’t.

Whenever atheists love people and treat them as objects of worth or whenever they judge something right or wrong, they’re thinking and acting as if God exists. They are practical theists when they do.

That helps us understand, by way of analogy, what practical atheists are. They’re Christians who are thinking and acting in some way as if God doesn’t exist. The belief that He does exist spins off a whole host of other beliefs. Christians are practical atheists when they’re thinking and acting as if any of those beliefs aren’t so.

With that in mind, the very first belief that God’s existence spins off is this. The invisible world, consisting of God and His kingdom at hand, is utterly real and ultimately important. If it is so that the God of the Bible exists, then that is also so.

Unfortunately many Christians think and act as if it isn’t. A George Barna study, for instance, found that the average Christian spends nine minutes a week reading the Bible. Another study found that the average Christian spends fifteen hours a week watching television. Calculate that in these terms – nine minutes engaging the invisible world and fifteen hours the visible. It’s clear which of the two worlds those Christians in that context regard as primary. It’s the visible.

Christians who think and act that way are practical atheists. Don’t misunderstand me. That doesn’t mean that they won’t go to heaven because in Jesus they will. It does mean that in this specific context, they’re like atheists. They’re giving primary importance to the visible world.

Our call, in contrast, is to give primary importance to the invisible world. It’s to have what Dallas Willard calls “a life beyond.” We think and act as if God and His kingdom at hand are utterly real and ultimately important. We learn how to routinely direct our minds and bodies to God and His kingdom at hand, which we teach here at Bethel, and then do just that. A.W. Tozer sums it up well in his book The Pursuit of God: “We must break the habit of ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen. For the great unseen reality is God.” We’re practical Christians, not practical atheists, when we do.

Conclusion
I close with an observation. The greatest distinction among Christians today is this. It’s between those who give primary importance to the invisible world and those who give primary importance to the visible. Are you a practical atheist? Give primary importance to the invisible world, God and His kingdom at hand. You aren’t if you do

.

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God and the Intellectuals (Part II) (6000 words) great article on Hawkings determinism and. Great list of brilliant theists!!!!!

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God and the Intellectuals (Part II)

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“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”—Cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle[1]

…by Jonas E. Alexis

The scientific community experienced one of its most important paradigm shifts in the twentieth century when scientists discovered evidence that the universe was not eternal, but had a beginning. As Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose state,

“almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.”[2]

Many scientists were bewildered by that discovery because it clearly pointed toward a conclusion they had been trying to avoid. Not only did it compel them to reconsider their theories, but it also implied that a greater intelligent force must exist.

After all, everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist, therefore the universe has a cause.

While physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies agrees that the scientific data suggest that the universe had a beginning, he rejects the conclusion of a Creator because, in his own words, “I never liked the idea of divine tinkering.”[3]

When all is said and done, the scientific evidence does not offer us many choices when it comes to the beginning of the universe. Despite the fact that theists have been saying for thousands of years that the universe had a beginning, some atheist scientists have just figured that out in the twentieth century. The only difference is that the theist posits a Creator as the cause, whereas the atheist tries to come up with something else.

Since the eternal universe hypothesis has now been rejected by the scientific community, we are left with two possible and frightening explanations: either the universe created itself, which is a contradiction in terms, or someone else did the job.

David Berlinski

The universe as we know it is a privileged one, containing all the elements required for life—alter or remove a single element and death on a massive scale will ensue.[4] This is a fact most physicists agree upon,[5] however reluctantly, and is what mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski calls a “put-up job.”[6]

If the universe created itself, that means that the universe had to be in existence before it created itself! This is not only self-contradictory but completely incompatible with all the known laws of science and human experience.

Unfortunately, many brilliant minds have fallen into the trap of what I call intellectual perversity. Daniel Dennett DE CLAREs in his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (a book that is considered an apologetic for atheism) that the universe “creates itself ex nihilo,” and that, he believes, is “the ultimate bootstrapping trick.”[7]

Quite frankly, it is a bootstrapping trick, and Dennett gets stuck on that trick because he wants the origin of this “self-creation” to be “non-miraculous.” Perhaps Berlinski was quite right when he joked a few years ago:

“We lose something in the literary or intellectual culture that’s no longer accessible. You get a guy like Daniel Dennett, whose greatest intellectual achievement was growing that stupid beard of his, masquerading as a scientific expert on Darwinian theory, staring at the camera, and no one is dousing him with a bucket of water. It’s incredible to me. Richard Dawkins is accepted as the great intellect…it should be sad.”[8]

In a heated email correspondence between Michael Ruse and Dennett, Ruse wrote of Dennett and Richard Dawkins,

“I think you and Richard are absolute disasters in the fight against intelligent design…What we need is not knee-jerk atheism but serious grappling with the issues. Neither of you are willing to study Christianity seriously and to engage with the ideas…It is just plain silly and grotesquely immoral to claim that Christianity is simply a force for evil, as Richard claims…

Daniel Dennett

“Now, for the record. I am a hard-line Darwinian and always have been very publicly when it did cost me status and respect. in fact, I am more hard-line than you are, because I don’t buy into this meme [expletive]… ”[9]

Ruse, who is no friend of intelligent design or creationism and who is a “fanatical Darwinian,”[10] again DE CLAREs that “evolutionism…functions like a secular religion,” although he maintains that “Darwinian evolutionary theory is anything but a genuine theory…”[11]

Ruse writes that Dawkins’ “The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist and I mean it.”[12] Lastly, Ruleactually compares Dawkins’ argument with a first-year undergraduate student and, on that note, says, “There are a lot of very bright and well informed Christian theologians. We atheists should demand no less.”[13]

Terry Eagleton, one of England’s most influential literary critics, came to similar conclusions. He wrote,

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology…As far as theology goes, Dawkins has an enormous amount in common with Ian Paisley and American TV evangelists. Both parties agree pretty much on what religion is; it’s just that Dawkins rejects it while Oral Roberts and his unctuous tribe grow fat on it”[14]

A Self-Creating Universe?

Dawkins agrees with Dennett’s idea of the universe creating itself. In answer to the question “How do you believe life itself began?,” he responded, “The origin of life has got to be something self-replicating. We don’t know what it was, but whatever it was, it was self-replicating.”

When the interviewer asked him to define what he meant by self-replicating, Dawkins said, “It has to grow and then split, so that it reproduces daughter units like itself.”[15]

Stephen Hawking, in his recent book The Grand Design, ascribes to that hypothesis, saying, “Because there is a law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.”[16]

Peter Adkins of Oxford likewise gives allegiance to this principle, calling it the “Cosmic Bootstrap.” For Adkins, “space-time generates its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly.”[17]

These ideas are spurious when taken to their logical conclusions. As Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science John C. Lennox notes in his critique of Hawking’s view,

“If we say that ‘X creates Y,’ we presuppose the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. That is a simple matter of understanding what the words ‘X creates Y’ mean. If, therefore, we say ‘X creates X,’ we imply that we are presupposing the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. This is obviously self-contradictory and thus logically incoherent—even if we put X equal to the universe! To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its own existence sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland, not science.”[18]

Yet Dennett believes that even reason can be explained that way. Dennett dogmatizes,

“In the beginning, there were no reasons; there were only causes. Nothing had a purpose, nothing had so much as a function; there was no teleology in the world at all. The explanation for this is simple: there was nothing that had interests. But after millennia there happened to emerge simple replicators.”[19]

At its core, this is nothing more than a circular argument. Adding massive amounts of time does not change the fact that nothing can begin without a cause. If there was no purpose or reason in the beginning, where did these “simple replicators” originate from?

Natural selection cannot be the answer here, for it can only function using information already present in a system. A donkey, for example, has in its gene pool the information for four legs, a tail, and so on, but it does not possess the information to produce a wing or a beak.

Charles Darwin assumed that the required information was already present in the system and had evolution continue on from there (quite frankly, he was never able to give a succinct explanation of the origin of species in his ambitiousOrigin of Species).

Daniel Dennett, however, attributes to Darwinism what Darwin had assumed already existed:

“self-replicating macros, preceded or accompanied perhaps by self-replicating clay crystals, gradually advancing from tournaments of luck to tournaments of skill over a billion years. And the regularities of physics on which those cranes depend could themselves be the outcome of a blind, uncaring shuffle through Chaos. Thus, out of next to nothing, the world we know and love created itself.”[20]

This argument is important because it demonstrates how far Dennett is willing to bend reason and logic in order to justify his preexisting beliefs.

Dennett’s idea that the universe created itself, without reason or cause, is not only irrational but suggests that Dennett is willing to give up whatever intellectual credibility he has to make his dreams come true.

And it was Dennett who complained that “I wonder if any believers in the End Times will have the intellectual honesty and courage to read this book [Breaking the Spell] through”![21]

Richard Lewontin

For Dennett, the issue of a miraculous origin of the universe is out of the question, so he is forced to postulate something that is even more miraculous: that the universe created itself. This kind of desperate leap of faith is needed when one tries to escape from the more rational conclusion that the universe indicates that some “super-intellect has monkeyed with physics,” to use Sir Fred Hoyle’s words.

Yet Dennett’s particular view is shared by many, including Thomas Nagel of New York University,[22] Richard Lewontin of Harvard, L. T. More of the University of Cincinnati, physicist Paul Davies, Nobel laureate George Wald, and scientist/author Isaac Asimov.

In recent years, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow have fallen into a similar trap by promoting the multiverse theory in order to escape the ultimate conclusion that the universe was created by a supernatural being.

Hawking and Mlodinow DE CLARE that the new theory, also called M-theory, “predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god.”[23]

But where did these multiverses come from? Hawking and Mlodinow tell us that they “arise naturally from physical law.They are a prediction of science.”[24]

Both scientists, though brilliant in their own fields, cannot see that this simply replaces one circular argument with another. If adding billions of years is not enough to solve the origin of the universe, then adding an unlimited number of parallel universes also will not answer the question of how our universe was created.

These arguments are merely smokescreens to deflect attention away from the inherent deficiencies of the belief system. It is one thing for Hawking and Mlodinow to confidently posit these assertions as axiomatic, but it is quite another to provide scientific foundations for them.

If multiple universes arise naturally from the physical law, where did the physical law come from in the first place? If multiple universes are a prediction of science, then science must be able to give us at least some scientific explanation for this.

Again John Lennox addresses the underlying flaws of this theory:

“Physical laws cannot create anything. They are a description of what normally happens under certain given conditions…The sun rises in the east every day, but this law does not create the sun; nor the planet earth, with east and west. The law is descriptive and predictive, but it is not creative. Similarly Newton’s law of gravitation does not create gravity or the matter on which gravity acts.”[25]

Because there is no scientific or rational backbone supporting Hawking’s multiverse theory, fellow intellectuals such as Paul Davies and Richard Swinburne completely reject it. Swinburne states,

Roger Penrose

“It’s crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.”[26]

Physicist and staunch atheist Steven Weinberg lamented that multiple universes “are very speculative…without any experimental support”[27] and physicist Lee Smolin called it “a fantasy,”[28] even though he promoted it in his book.

Roger Penrose, who is far from thrilled with Hawking’s new book, DE CLAREs in his response to The Grand Designthat “M-theory enjoys no observational support whatsoever.”[29]

Atheist physicist Peter Woit of Columbia University was also disappointed at The Grand Design’s heavy reliance on M-theory, which he sees as sheer speculation. He DE CLAREs,

“I’m in favor of naturalism and leaving God out of physics as much as the next person, but if you’re the sort who wants to go to battle in the science/religion wars, why you would choose to take up such a dubious weapon as M-theory mystifies me.”[30]

Because Hawking and Mlodinow jumped on the multiverse idea without first pulling together scientific backing, John Horgan of Scientific American denounces Hawking’s “‘new’ theory” as “the same old crap.”[31]

The lack of scientific evidence for M-theory has also been dismissed by physicists such as Frank Close, Jon Butterworth, and Jim Al-Khalili.[32]

Even if we grant Hawking the premise that M-theory is correct and scientific for the sake of argument, it would still not be legitimate to conclude that there is no “super-intellect” behind it. This was pointed out by Don Page, a theoretical physicist at the University of Alberta, Canada, and a former student of Hawking’s, with whom he co-wrote many papers.

Page DE CLAREs, “I certainly would agree that even if M-theory were a fully-formulated theory (which it isn’t yet) and were correct (which of course we don’t know), that would not imply that God did not create the universe.”[33]

Victor J. Stenger

Although atheist physicist Victor J. Stenger admits that Hawking and Mlodinow have not said anything new at all, he rejoices that “thanks to Hawking’s notoriety, at least more people will now have heard that science has plausible answers to how the universe came about naturally without the need for a creator.”[34]

The only people thrilled with The Grand Design rest largely in the New Atheists camp. Richard Dawkins, for example, rejoiced at what he saw as a victory for Darwinian evolution.

“Darwinism kicked God out of biology but physics remained more uncertain. Hawking is now administering the coup de grace.”[35]

Similarly, although Hawking and Mlodinow DE CLARE in the first page of their book that “philosophy is dead” and that it “has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics,”[36] they later get involved in highly philosophical theories that have not been confirmed by science.

Speculation about multiple universes aside, there are basic yet profound questions—such as why human beings matter, why there is a universe after all, and why the laws of the universe seem to correspond to the rational human mind—that science cannot explain.

Nobelist Sir Peter Medawar called this the limit of science.[37] Michael Polanyi, the Jewish polymath who converted to Christianity, also implies that there is a limit to the sciences.[38] As mathematician and astronomer John D. Barrow argues, science can only make sense if it operates within certain parameters, for if it is unlimited and unbound, it may lead to contradictions.[39]

Science also cannot explain basic mathematical truths and principles—axioms that all mathematicians take for granted. Even Euclid made it clear in his Elements that postulates in mathematics are “unproved but accepted premises.”[40]

Mathematics cannot function without these unproved but accepted premises, and Elements itself has to begin with accepted premises in order to go forward. Every student of geometry knows that a line by definition must contain at least two distinct points. But this is an assumption that has to be accepted as true in order to make any progress in geometry.

Despite this principle, Peter Adkins of Oxford wrote,

“There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence. Only the religious—among whom I include not only the prejudiced but the underinformed—hope there is a dark corner of the physical universe, or of the universe of experience, that science can never hope to illuminate.”[41]

Yet fellow atheist Bruce Sheiman DE CLAREs, “The more I understand the world as revealed by science, the more I find the materialist and reductionist explanation for our human destiny terribly devoid of depth, value, and meaning.”[42]

Adkins, like many of his fellow atheists, has not been paying attention at all, for even physicist and Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman made it clear that “every attempt to reduce ethics to scientific formulae must fail…The sciences do not directly teach good or bad…Ethical values lie outside the scientific realm.”[43]

And Feynman certainly was not among the religious.

Does the Brain Think?

Francis Crick

Willfully ignorant of the shaky footing their suppositions rest on, Hawking and Mlodinow then apply their views to the human brain.

“Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions and not some agency that exists outside those laws.”[44] Then Hawking and Mlodinow take the next illogical step, concluding that “free will is just an illusion.”[45]

There is nothing new here at all. This idea has been advanced by people from Daniel Dennett to Francis Crick. Crick DE CLAREs in his book The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul:

“The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”[46]

But this position suffers badly when it is taken to its inevitable conclusion. If the brain determines our actions, it logically follows that we are prisoners of our brains. Be it for good or evil, we have no choice but to follow the commands of our brains, since we are “no more than biological machines.”[47]

Albert Einstein, being a determinist, accepted the idea that we have no responsibility when it comes to our own actions, even though he saw the logical repercussions of it and was frightened by them:

“I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”[48]

However, if Stalin, Mao and others are not philosophically responsible for their actions, then how can they be held accountable? The interesting part is that this deterministic/materialistic view is also embraced by Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and nearly all the other New Atheists.

In actuality, the so-called New atheists leave themselves no other choice. For example, Stephen Hawking is a flaming determinist, so it is no accident that in The Grand Design we constantly read phrases like “given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past” (using Pierre Laplace’s argument) and this “scientific determinism must hold for people as well.”[49]

Not only that, the authors state that “biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets.”[50]

One needn’t be a genius to see that this is nonsense. If the unfeeling laws of nature determine how a system will evolve over time, what reason do we as conscious human beings have to trust that system? The laws of nature do not have minds or emotions. And a thing by itself cannot be “determined”—i.e., passively acted upon—without necessitating an external determiner.

John Eccles

Hawking and Mlodinow are very vague about how they arrived at the idea that because biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry, they are therefore “determined.” This is why philosopher of science Ervin Laszlo makes the point that when people like Hawking begin to talk about God and religion, we should not mistake them for scientists.[51]

In order to make their case, Hawking and Mlodinow have to give the impression that their presuppositions are scientific, when in fact they can provide no scientific foundation for their flimsy and—quite frankly, intellectually embarrassing—claims. There is no convincing evidence from neuroscience saying that our physical brains determine our actions.[52]

In fact, there is a great deal of reliable evidence to the contrary. The brain is simply a machine that the real person inside uses. This is one reason Nobel Prize winner Sir John Eccles DE CLAREd that there is a “ghost”—the real person—that tells the brain what to do.[53]

Yet the New Atheists seem determined to base whole premises on the idea that understanding the physical brain will help neuroscientists understand the real person.

“The more we understand ourselves at the level of the brain,” Sam Harris writes, “the more we will see that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human values.”[54]

Hawking and Mlodinow agree wholeheartedly. “Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws.”[55]

This makes no practical sense whatsoever. If their suppositions are true, we might as well empty our jails and close down our courts, since anyone accused of a crime was simply taking orders from his or her brain. They can’t be held responsible for the chaotic, meaningless commands issued by their brains.

Yet every day thousands of people are convicted and held responsible for their choices.

Another application is emotional love. If Hawking and Mlodinow are correct, then telling someone “I love you” has no meaning. It was merely prompted by chemical impulses in the brain, probably to further a biological imperative. (I hope Crick’s and Hawking’s wives do not know about their presuppositions.)

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning culminates in absurd real-life applications. If we are merely puppets of our brains, then personhood, free will, the purpose of life, and humanity itself become meaningless concepts.

We see a similar pattern in Sam Harris’s books, which are fraught with internal contractions.

During the course of The Moral Landscape, Harris uses brain and mind interchangeably, revealing his rejection of anything beyond the materialistic.[56] However, he also refers to human beings as “conscious creatures” and consciousness as “the basis of human values,”[57] concepts which his colleague Daniel Dennett completely denies.

Dennett himself unapologetically asserts that human beings “are made of mindless robots and nothing else, no non-physical, non-robotic ingredients at all.”[58]

Robots, by definition, do not have consciences and do not act as free agents. External entities always tell them what to do and they act on those orders. Again jumping off his premise that we are all robotic machines rather than free agents, Dennett argues that consciousness itself is an illusion.[59]

Francis Crick and others believed likewise. Steven Pinker, who along with Dennet previewed Harris’s manuscript forThe Moral Landscape,[60] also does not believe in a conscious, human-controlled mind. He states that the mind is simply “the physiological activity of the brain” and that this process goes back to the genes, which previously had been shaped by “evolutionary processes.”[61]

But even he understands that this is merely a hypothesis. He admits that “virtually nothing is known about the functioning micro-circuitry of the human brain, because there is a shortage of volunteers willing to give up their brains to science before they are dead.”[62]

Lost in his assertions, Sam Harris somehow fails to provide an evidentiary explanation as to why human beings are “conscious creatures.” Harris simply assumes it and offers nothing more.

In a nutshell, the New Atheists have adopted such ideas about the brain not because there is verifiable science behind them, but because, as Richard Lewontin of Harvard said some years ago, “materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”[63]

In other words, these atheists don’t care whether an idea is true or false, whether a hypothesis is scientifically accurate or incorrect, but merely whether it denies a “super-intellect” a place in the universe. Listen to Lewontin’s full quote:

“We take the side of science [Darwinian evolution] in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spiteof the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”[64]

This underlying absolute must be taken seriously, for it forms the foundation for many atheists’ books over the years.

Francis Collins

Daniel Dennett postulated in 1995 that the Christian God who created the universe is “like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood,” leaving room for none but the deluded to believe in Him after reaching adulthood.[65] (Richard Dawkins said something very similar in 2003 on a BBC radio broadcast.[66])

Yet if this were true—if God belongs in the class of imaginary beings like Santa or the Tooth Fairy—then why is it that no adults believe in Santa but many consistently believe in God throughout their entire lives?[67]

Formerly an atheist, Alister McGrath didn’t come to believe in God until he went to Oxford and began to rethink things he had taken for granted. He soon discovered that neither the intellectual foundation nor the existential description for atheism could stand up to reality.[68]

Antony Flew, one of the most trenchant and articulate atheists in the twentieth century, renounced his atheistic beliefs late in life.[69] Lee Strobel was a staunch atheist throughout his time at Yale, until he began to reexamine the claims of Christianity.

Francis Collins, former head of the Genome Project, did not become a Christian until he started practicing medicine.[70]Cosmologist Frank Tipler started his career as “a convinced atheist,” but changed his views when he seriously studied Christianity.[71]

And the list of individuals throughout history who believed in God is long. Let’s just name a few here:

Antiseptic Surgery, Joseph Lister (1827-1912)

Bacteriology Louis, Pasteur (1822-1895)

Calculus, Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Celestial Mechanics, Johann Kepler (1571-1630)

Chemistry, Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Comparative Anatomy, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

Computer Science, Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

Dimensional Analysis, Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Electrodynamics, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Electromagnetics, Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Electronics, Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

Entomology of Living Insects, Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

Field Theory, Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Fluid Mechanics, George Stokes (1819-1903)

Galactic Astronomy, William Herschel (1738-1822)

Gas Dynamics, Robert Boyle (1627-1691)

Genetics, Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)

Glacial Geology, Louis Agassiz (1807-1873)

Gynecology, James Simpson (1811-1870)

Hydraulics, Leonardo de Vinci (1452-1519)

Hydrography, Mattew Maury (1806-1873)

Hydrostatics, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Ichthyology, Louis Agassiz (1807-1873)

Isotopic Chemistry, William Ramsay (1851-1916)

Model Analysis, Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Natural History, John Ray (1627-1705)

Non-Euclidean, Geometry Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866)

Oceanography, Matthew Maury (1806-1873)

Optical Mineralogy, David Brewster (1781-1868)

Paleontology, John Woodward (1665-1728)

Pathology, Rudolph Virchow (1821-1902)

Physical Astronomy, Johann Kepler (1571-1630)

Reversible Thermodynamics, James Joule (1818-1889)

Statistical Thermodynamics, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

Stratigraphy, Nicholas Steno (1631-1868)

Systematic Biology, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Thermodynamics, Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Thermokinetics, Humphrey Davy (1778-1829)

Vertebrate Paleontology, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)

Absolute Temperature, Scale Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

Actuarial Tables, Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

Barometer, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)

Biogenesis, Law Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Calculating Machine, Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

Chloroform, James Simpson (1811-1870)

Classification System, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778)

Double Stars, William Herschel (1738-1822)

Electric Generator, Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Electric Motor, Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Ephemeris Tables, Johann Kepler (1571-1630)

Galvanometer, Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Global Star Catalog, John Herschel (1792-1871)

Kaleidoscope David Brewster (1781-1868)

Pasteurization, Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Reflecting Telescope, Isaac Newton (1642-1727)

Self-Induction, Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Telegraph, Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872)

Thermionic Valve, Ambrose Fleming (1849-1945)

Mathematical Analysis, Leonhard Euler (1707-1883)

Number Theory, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)

Botanist and Inventor, George Washington Carver (1864-1943)

Mathematician and Astronomer, Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)

And who can talk about the world of literature and classical music without William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Liszt, among others?

Are all these people deluded? And if so, what is so powerful about Christianity

that it can deceive so many brilliant people throughout the centuries? As Francis Collins pointed out,

“If faith was a psychological crutch, it must be a powerful one.”[72]

This psychological crutch has also kept noted figures such as John Polkinghorne into intellectual bondage for far too long.[73] Polkinghorne, who played an instrumental role in the discovery of quark and other theoretical particles, did not become an idiot by accepting Christianity.[74]

It seems then that it is too simplistic to equate the idea of God with childhood myths. But this concept continues to find favor with modern atheists, and can be traced back to the writings of Sigmund Freud—The Future of an Illusion—and Ludwig Feuerbach—The Essence of Christianity. We will look at the premises and the illogical leaps of these two books in a future article.

Though Hawking and Mlodinow do not regurgitate Freud and Feuerbach in their book, they do seem to follow Lewontin’s premise, declaring confidently that “it is possible to answer” the question of the origin of the universe “purely within the realm of science, and without invoking any divine beings.”[75]

With divine intervention thrown out, the authors state that “Mtheory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe,” and they hope this theory will eventually “be a model of a universe that creates itself. We must be part of this universe, because there is no other consistent model.”[76]

Once again, Hawking and Mlodinow are great scientists, but “when ideology is your guide, you’re bound to get lost.”[77]

[1] Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Engineering and Science, November 1981.

[2]Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 20.

[3]Quoted in Clive Cookson, Scientists Who Glimpsed God,” Financial Times, April 29, 1995.

[4] See for example Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1988).

[5] See Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (New York: Mariner Books, 2008); John D. Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008); Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (New York: Basic Books, 2000); Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards,

The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (WA: Regnery Publishing, 2004); Michael J. Denton, Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe (New York: The Free Press, 1998).

[6]See David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretension (New York: Basic Books, 2009), chapter 6.

[7]Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Penguin, 2006), 244

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV5UESb0txA.

[9] http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-ruse-dennett-briefwechs…

[10] Michael Ruse, “Why Richard Dawkins’ Humanists Remind Me of a Religion,” Guardian, October 2, 2012.

[11] http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/the-ruse-dennett-briefwechs…

[12] Michael Ruse, “Dawkins et Al Bring Us Into Disrepute,” Guardian, November 2, 2009.

[13] Michael Ruse, “Dawkins et al Bring us into Disrepute,” The Guardian, November 2, 2009.

[14]Terry Eagleton, “Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching,” London Review of Books, October 19, 2006, vol. 28, No. 20: 32-34.

[15]Nick Pollard, “The Simple Answer,” Third Way, April 1995, 16-19.

[16]Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books, 2010), 180.

[17]Peter Adkins, Creation Revisited (New York: W. H. Freeman, 1993), 143.

[18]See John Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking (London: Lion, 2011).

[19]Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1991), 173.

[20]Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (New York: Touchtone, 1995), 185.

[21] Quoted in Andrew Brown, “Beyond Belief,” Guardian, February 25, 2006.

[22] Thomas Nagel seems to have changed many of his views recently. Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

[23]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 8.

[24] Ibid., 8-9.

[25] Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking, 40.

[26]Antony Flew, There is a God, 118-119.

[27] Quoted in D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, 134.

[28] Ibid.

[29]Roger Penrose, “The Grand Design,” Financial Times, September 4, 2010.

[30] Peter Woit, “Hawking Gives Up” (blog post at http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=3141).

[31] John Horgan, “Cosmic Clowning: Stephen Hawking’s ‘new’ Theory of Everything is the Same Old CRAP,” Scientific American, September 13, 2010.

[32]Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking, 53-54.

[33] Ibid.

[34]“Another Ungodly Squabble,” Economist, September 5, 2010; Victor Victor J. Stenger and William Lane Craig have debated the question of origin on at least two occasions. One of the debates can be viewed on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjOs62PJciI.

[35]Victor J. Stenger, “Hawking and the Multiverse,” Huffington Post, September 12, 2010.

[36]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 5.

[37]See Peter W. Medawar, The Limits of Science (New York: HarperCollins, 1984).

[38]See Michael Polanyi, Science, Faith and Society (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1946).

[39]See Barrow, Impossibility: The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), chapter nine.

[40]Marshall Clagett, Greek Science in Antiquity (New York: Dover Publications, 2002), 59.

[41]John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, 8.

[42]Bruce Sheiman, An Atheist Defends Religion (New York: Penguin 2009), viii.

[43]See Lennox, God and Stephen Hawking.

[44]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 32.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 3.

[47]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 32.

[48]Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, 393

[49]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 26, 30.

[50] Ibid., 32.

[51] Ervin Laszlo, “When Stephen Hawking Speaks About God, Don’t Mistake Him for a Scientist,” Huffington Post, September 22, 2010.

[52] See M. R. Bennett and P. M. S. Hacker, Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003); Nancy Murphy and Warren S. Brown, Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul (New York: HarperOne, 2007).

[53]Sir John Eccles, The Neurophysical Basis of Mind (Oxford: Clarendon, 1953), 285.

[54]Harris, The Moral Landscape, 2.

[55]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 32; emphasis added.

[56]Harris, The Moral Landscape, see page 14.

[57] Ibid., 32.

[58]Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves, 2-3.

[59]Dennett, Consciousness Explained.

[60]Harris, The Moral Landscape, 194.

[61]D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, 25-26.

[62]Steven Pinker, How the Mind Works (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 184.

[63]Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NY Times Book Reviews, Jan. 9, 1997.

[64] Ibid.

[65]Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, 18.

[66]Alister McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion, 19.

[67]Ibid., 20. Dennet refuses to change his mind, despite his flimsy assertions.

[68]See Alister McGrath, Dawkins’ God.

[69]See Antony Flew, There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: HarperOne, 2007).

[70]See Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: The Free Press, 2006).

[71]See Frank Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead (New York: Anchor Books, 1994).

[72]Collins, The Language of God, 20.

[73] See John Polkinghorne, Belief of God in the Age of Science (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003);

[74] John Polkinghorne, Science and Religion in Quest for Truth (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012); Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).

[75]Hawking and Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 172.

[76] Ibid., 181.

[77] Daniel J. Flynn, Intellectual m*o*o*ns: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Idea (New York: Crown Publishing, 2004), 1.

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___________

Henry Schaefer discusses Stephen Hawking and his Christian wife Jane Wilde Hawking

_________

Henry Schaefer discusses Stephen Hawking and his Christian wife Jane Wilde Hawking. Begin at the 25 minute point.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Scientific Evidence) (Henry Schaefer, PhD)

Published on Jun 11, 2012

Scientist Dr. Henry “Fritz” Schaefer gives a lecture on the cosmological argument and shows how contemporary science backs it up.

____________________

     Stephen Hawking: the closed mind of a dogmatic atheist

A review of Music to Move the Stars by Jane Hawking
McMillan, New York, 2004

by

Book Cover 'Music to Move the Stars' by Jane Hawking

Jane Hawking was, for a quarter century, the wife of Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous living scientists of today. Stephen Hawking, now an international celebrity, has sold millions of books, and draws huge crowds wherever he speaks. Cited by Time as the heir to Einstein, only Darwin and Einstein are arguably better known among the public. The first American edition of his best seller, A Brief History of Time, had a press run of ten thousand copies—typical press runs are five hundred to two thousand copies.1 A professor at Cambridge, he occupies the same Lucasian chair that Isaac Newton filled two centuries earlier. Hawking is not only famous as a physicist, but also as one who has overcome obstacles due to the severely disabling neuromuscular disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Courtship and marriage

The book contains much background about Jane’s courtship with Stephen, their marriage, and the problems in their marriage due to the domestic friction that one would expect when a family member is seriously handicapped. Stephen’s pioneering research is clearly explained in simple terms for those lacking a Ph.D. in the mathematical physics of black holes. Even though her Ph.D. was not in science, but Spanish poetry, she explains modern cosmology with almost the same elegance, fluidity, precision and accuracy as that of her world-famous husband. The book provides much insight on the age-old conflicts between science and religion, a subject that Jane discusses in depth. Jane also provides much insight into the minds of the world’s leading scientists, especially cosmologists.

Jane married Stephen Hawking knowing that he had an incurable disease, but, believing that his life would be short, they hoped to jam as much love and fulfilment into what they thought would be only a few years together (Stephen outlived all expectations, and they were together for over 25 years). They married fairly young, and soon had three children. For years, Jane was an astounding care giver, dealing with Stephen’s progressive physical decline and heavier demands. She managed the household, reared the children, and hauled him around for years before a serious respiratory incident forced them to hire full-time professional nurses. She also recounts her battles with the British health care system, and with Cambridge University for access.

Jane’s theism vs Stephen’s atheistic faith

One factor that was central to their relationship—and eventual divorce—was religious conflicts. Jane notes that ‘Stephen had no hesitation in declaring himself an atheist despite the strongly Methodist background’ of his family (p. 46). She concluded that his reasoning was, ‘as a cosmologist examining the laws which governed the universe, he could not allow his calculations to be muddled by a confessed belief in the existence in a Creator God’ (p. 46). With candid insights into her private spiritual experiences, Jane draws her own conclusions regarding God’s role in the universe.

Jane also discusses in detail the anthropic principle, which she calls ‘an important cosmological principle of the twentieth century’ (p. 153). She observed that the strong version has a ‘close philosophical affinity to the medieval cosmos’ where humans were at the center of creation (p. 153). She then concluded that the anthropic principle places humans in a ‘special place at the centre of the universe’, just as did the Ptolemaic system, and that, ‘for the medieval populace, this special position was a strong statement of the unique relationship between human beings and their Creator’ (p. 153). The main intent of early philosophers was to reconcile the

‘existence of God with the rigours of the laws of science, towards unifying the image of the Creator with the scientific complexity of His Creation. … Conversely, their intellectual heirs, some 800 years later, seemed intent on distancing science as far as possible from religion and on excluding God from any role in Creation. The suggestion of the presence of a Creator God was an awkward obstacle for an atheistic scientist whose aim was to reduce the origins of the universe to an unified package of scientific laws, expressed in equations and symbols. To the uninitiated, these equations and symbols were far more difficult to comprehend than the notion of God as the prime mover, the motivating force behind Creation’ (pp. 154–155).

She adds that, as a direct result of the focus of modern cosmologists on mathematics, the concept of a personal God became irrelevant for these scientists because, in their mind, their calculations diminished ‘any possible scope for a Creator’, and

‘they could not envisage any other place or role for God in the physical universe. Concepts which could not be quantified in mathematical terms as a theoretical reflection of physical realities, whether or not the actual existence of those physical realities was proven, were meaningless’ (p. 155).

The nihilism of atheism

Her major concern is that she perceives—and discusses extensively why, based on discussions with her husband and the leading physicists of the world—that the result of the goals of science would eventually result in the situation where

‘Human reactions in all their complexities, emotional and psychological, would one day … be reduced to scientific formulae because, in effect, these reactions were no more than the microscopic chemical interactions of molecules’ (p. 156).

The result was that ‘in the face of such dogmatically rational arguments, there was no point in raising questions of spirituality and religious faith, of the soul and of a God who was prepared to suffer for the sake of humanity—questions which ran completely counter to the selfish reality of genetic theory’, evidently referring to the work of Richard Dawkins and others (p. 156).

Jane notes,

‘at the end of the twentieth century, religion finds its revelationary truths threatened by scientific theory and discovery, and retreats into a defensive corner, while scientists go into the attack insisting that rational argument is the only valid criterion for an understanding of the workings of the universe’ (p. 200).

She concludes that the complexity of the cosmologist’s calculations and the admiration their discoveries have caused some people

‘to fall into the trap of believing that science has become a substitute for religion and that, as its great high priests, they can claim to have all the answers to all the questions. However, because of their reluctance to admit spiritual and philosophical values, some of them do not appear to be aware of the nature of some of the questions’ (p. 200).

She is especially disheartened with attempts to extrapolate animal-behaviour rules to human behaviour, as illustrated by the evolutionary psychology field. After noting that evolutionary psychologists ascribe altruism solely as a result of natural selection, she adds that

‘scientists still cannot satisfactorily explain why some human beings are prepared to give their lives for others. The complexity of such anomaly lies far outside the scope of their purely mechanical grasp. Nor can they explain why so much human activity operates at a subliminal level. The spiritual sophistication of musical, artistic, politic, and scientific creativity far exceeds that of any primitive function programmed into the brain as a basic survival mechanism’ (p. 200).

Although scientists offer explanations, they ‘acknowledge that they are still very far from reaching’ the goal of answering ‘why’, noting that many scientists

‘arrogantly even aspire to become gods themselves by denying the rest of us our freedom of choice and disputing our right to ask the question “Why?” in relation to the origins of the universe and the origins of life. They claim that the question is as … inappropriate, as it would be to ask why Mt. Everest is there. They dismiss the suggestion that the question ‘Why’ is the prerogative of theologians and philosophers rather than scientist because, they say, theologians are engaged in the “study of fantasy”: belief in God can be attributed to “a shortage in the oxygen supply to the brain”. Their theories reduce the whole of Creation to a handful of material components. They complain with a weary disdain of the stupidity of the human race, that human beings are always asking “Why?” Perhaps they should be asking themselves why this is so. Might it not be that our minds have been programmed to ask “Why?” And if this is the case they might then ask who programmed the human computer. The “Why” question is the one which, above all, theologians should be addressing’ (p. 201).

She concludes by opining that, since the modes of thought by scientists

‘are dictated by purely rational, materialistic criteria, physicists cannot claim to answer the questions of why the universe exists and why we, human beings, are here to observe it, any more than molecular biologists can satisfactorily explain why, if our actions are determined by the workings of a selfish genetic coding, we sometimes listen to the voice of conscience and behave with altruism, compassion and generosity’ (p. 200).

Their marriage deteriorates

In the latter days of their marriage, her ‘attempts to discuss the profound matters of science and religion with Stephen were met with an enigmatic smile’ (p. 465). Stephen usually ‘grinned’ at the ‘mention of religious faith and belief, though on one historic occasion he actually made the startling concession that, like religion, his own science of the universe’ also required a leap of faith as did theism (p. 465). Jane approvingly quoted scientist-theologian Cecil Gibbons, who concluded that ‘scientific research required just as broad a leap of faith in choosing a working hypothesis as did religious belief’ (p. 465). Although in theory, a leap of faith in science ‘had to be tested against observation’, the problem is that a scientist has to ‘rely on an intuitive sense that his choice was right or he might be wasting years in pointless research with an end result that was definitively wrong’ (p. 465).

When asked if he believed in God, ‘Always the answer was the same. No, Stephen did not believe in God and there was no room for God in his universe’ (p. 494). When Stephen gave his usual atheistic answers in Jerusalem, this struck Jane as especially ironic, and she quipped:

‘My life with Stephen had been built on faith—faith in his courage and genius, faith in our joint efforts and ultimately religious faith—and yet here we were in the very cradle of the world’s three great religions, preaching some sort of ill-defined atheism founded on impersonal scientific values with little reference to human experience’ (pp. 494–495).

She concludes by saying that the blunt denial by Stephen ‘of all that I believed in was bitter indeed’. Jane was also stuck at the insensitivity of the press to matters of religious faith—they often treated it as something that, if one possesses it, should be kept well hidden (p. 525).

As he got older, Stephen became more and more hardened in his atheism. As a result, Jane notes that although in the early days their arguments on religion ‘were playful and fairly light-hearted’, in later years they increasingly

‘became more personal, divisive and hurtful. It was then apparent that the damaging schism between religion and science had insidiously extended its reach into our very lives: Stephen would adamantly assert the blunt positivist stance which I found too depressing and too limiting to my view of the world because I fervently needed to believe that there was more to life than the bald facts of the laws of physics and the day-to-day struggle for survival. Compromise was anathema to Stephen, however, because it admitted an unacceptable degree of uncertainty when he dealt only with the certainties of mathematics’ (p. 201).

The Galileo irony

Ironically, Stephen’s hero was Galileo—‘a devout Catholic’ (p. 200). Stephen launched a personal campaign for Galileo’s reinstatement, which was eventually successful. But it ‘was nevertheless seen as a victory for the rational advance of science over the hidebound antiquated forces of religion rather than as a reconciliation of science with religion’ (p. 202). Indeed, Galileo’s main problem was the dogmatism of the Aristotelian scientific establishment of his day! The intransigence of Stephen on religion is in dramatic contrast to the many changes he made in his theories and ideas—for example, the conclusion that ‘contrary to all previously held theories on black holes, a black hole could radiate energy’ (p. 236).

Dogmatic boffins

As Stephen became more famous, his associations changed to more and more eminent scientists, which Jane had to admit she did not find appealing. The contrast between her old friends and the world’s leading scientists who became their friends (as Stephen became increasingly renowned in his field) was enormous. Their old friends were able to talk intelligently about many things and show a ‘human interest in people and situations’. In contrast, as a whole, their new friends were ‘a dry, obsessive bunch of boffins’, little concerned with people, but rather very concerned with their personal scientific reputations. She adds, ‘They were much more aggressively competitive than the relaxed, friendly relativists with whom we had associated in the past’ (p. 296). Their old friends’ dedication to science verged on the dilettante in comparison with the ‘driving fanaticism’ of their new friends (p. 296). Jane stresses that she concluded that

‘Nature was powerless to influence intellectual beings who were governed by rational thought, [but] who could not recognize reality when it stood, bared before them, pleading for help. They appeared to jump to conclusions, which distorted the truth to make it fit their preconceptions’ (p. 312).

Jane’s solace in religion

Religion permeated Jane’s world, as is obvious from her extensive discussions. This world, though, her husband did not want any part of, nor did most of his friends. It was a world that Jane eventually left, partly because the antagonism of Stephen and his atheistic friends. She concluded that most famous scientists, her former husband among them, were dogmatic atheists, unwilling to even reason on the evidence for design in the universe. Jane even called physics a ‘demon goddess’. Such scientists, in turn, saw someone such as Jane, who believed in God, as an ignorant person who inhabited a world that they were not part of, nor did they want to be part of.

Stephen’s view of the world was a universe ‘which had neither beginning nor end, nor any role for a Creator-God’ (p. 389). And this was a universe in which Jane did not want to live, and which many people increasingly see as not only unreal, but one that avoids reality. Jane summarized her concept of much of the research, of which her husband was in the forefront, as ‘theorizing on abstruse suppositions about imaginary particulars traveling in imaginary time in a looking-glass universe which did not exist except in the mind of the theorists.’ This she described as ‘the demon goddess of physics’ (p. 372).

In an assembly before the Pope, Jane states the Pope said that scientists ‘could study the evolution of the universe’, but ‘should not ask what happened at the moment of Creation at the Big Bang and certainly not before it because that was God’s preserve’ (p. 391). She stated that she was not impressed with this attitude; rather she believed that

‘Instead of embracing the modern scientific quest for truth to its ultimate objective and glorying in the even deeper layers of mystery thus revealed, the Vatican still viewed cosmological science as a contentious issue, a threat to religious stability, which had to be contained’ (p. 391).

She concluded that the Pope’s prohibition was misdirected, and what is dangerous is the misinterpretation of, and the use to which, these discoveries are put—especially those who have an axe to grind, such as many eminent scientists.

The fact that many came to look at Stephen as godlike is discussed in several sections of her book. She stated,

‘I found myself telling him that he was not God. The truth was that supercilious enigma of that smile which Stephen wore whenever the subjects of religious faith and scientific research came up was driving me to my wit’s end. It seemed that Stephen had little respect for me as a person and no respect at all for my beliefs and opinions’ (p. 536).

One of her strongly held opinions was that ‘reason and science alone could not furnish all of the answers to the imponderable mysteries of human existence’ (p. 536). Yet this ‘simple and fairly obvious’ truth was ‘most unpalatable to those people who had come to believe in Stephen’s immortality and infallibility’ (p. 537). The fact is, in the minds of many people, Stephen’s scientific theories became ‘the basis for a new religion’ (p. 537). Nonetheless, she concluded that ‘Religion for me had to be a personal relationship with God and through it … I found the germinating seeds of an incipient peace and a wholeness which I had not known for a very long time’ (p. 572).

A critical stabilizing factor in Jane’s life was her church. She often talked about her minister’s sermons, and how they helped her to cope with the difficulties of dealing with an invalid husband who required twenty-four-hour-a-day care—he needed to be bathed, have his teeth brushed, have his hair combed, and have his bodily functions taken care of just like a six-month-old baby, yet he attracted worldwide notoriety wherever they went—and they traveled often, which was also a struggle. Jane noted that, as his conditioned deteriorated, she became more like a nurse taking care of a man with a body like a Holocaust victim who had the needs of a child. A concern she had was that ‘Although I derived comfort from my return to the Church, it also posed imponderable questions in my mind.’ One was, ‘What was God really asking of me? How great a sacrifice was required of me?’ (p. 336).

Although Stephen’s state of health was often extremely precarious, modern medicine and twenty-four-hour nursing care (he carried his own mini-hospital with him everywhere) allowed Stephen to pursue a ‘hedonistic way of life, compensating ever more tenaciously for his disability, ever more assured of his own invincibility, mocking the untimely death whose grasp he had evaded’ (p. 476). What sustained Jane was trusting ‘in God through darkness, pain and fear’ (p. 484). When she tried to help Stephen understand the solace she obtained from her faith, and especially the Bible, Stephen ‘was insulted by any mention of compassion; he equated it with pity and religious sentimentality’—something for which he had contempt (p. 485).

Jane discusses her friendship with many well-known cosmologists, many of which were close and personal friends. The theistic evolutionist John Polkinghorne, whom she states she admired, was one of the few who was a great encouragement to her, partly because he helped her realize that ‘atheism was not an essential prerequisite of science and not all scientists were as atheistic as they seemed’ (p. 246). Jane’s assessment is especially critical because she was able to stand back and observe both the worlds of science and religion in order to make objective judgments. Indeed, her book clearly represents an effort to come to grips with some of the central questions of humanity, and why she accepted theism and rejected the atheism of virtually all the leading scientists with whom she spent much of her life, including, especially, her husband. She was the proverbial fly on the wall, giving us insight that can be found nowhere else into the thinking of the world’s leading cosmologists.

The enigma of evil

Evil was a subject with which she had to deal because of Stephen’s progressing illness, which caused endless hospital stays and almost insurmountable obstacles necessary to live a life that resembles normalcy. With much insight, she notes that if ‘belief in God were automatically decreed by the Creator, the human race would simply be a breed of automatons’ (p. 461). The world God created provided motivation for discovery, and a sense of wonder due to freedom of choice. Jane recognized that, given this freedom, therein lies the heart of the source of suffering and evil. God could eliminate evil, but if He did, freedom of choice also would be eliminated. She stresses that most evil is often reducible ‘to human greed and selfishness’ (p. 461).

However, this does not explain physical evil such as her husband’s illness which only a literal Genesis Creation and Fall, provides.

Jane abandoned by Stephen

Although many other women might have left Stephen because of his intolerable attitude toward her, and especially what she represented, she stuck by her husband through everything. It was he who left her for another woman. She tried in vain to reconcile with Stephen—his terms were, he would live at home with his family for part of the week, and the rest of the week he would live ‘with his ladylove’ (p. 574). This was unacceptable to Jane. His selfishness and hedonism had shown through again.

Much of this work is a contrast between a woman deeply conscious of her Christian spirituality, and a man firmly closed to any theistic spirituality. It is also a sober warning against a Christian becoming unequally yoked with an unbeliever in marriage. Jane concluded that faith is the outward expression of one’s spirituality that ‘can make sense of all the wonders of Creation and of all the suffering in the world’ and give ‘substance to all our hopes. However far-reaching our intelligent achievements and however advanced our knowledge of Creation, without faith and a sense of our own spirituality there is only isolation and despair, and the human race is really a lost cause’ (p. 594).

One cannot read this book without truly admiring Jane and feeling the struggle that she faced. It is an important work for all people interested in not only science/religion conflicts, but also the human needs that so many of us possess.

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Reference

  1. As a point comparison, the first American edition of Jonathan Sarfati’s best sellers Refuting Evolution and Refuting Evolution 2 had a press run of 19,472 and 22,494 copies, respectively. Return to text.

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__________________   Beatles 1966 Last interview I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about them and their impact on the culture of the 1960’s. In this […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 49 THE BEATLES (Part A, The Meaning of Stg. Pepper’s Cover) (Feature on artist Mika Tajima)

_______________ The Beatles documentary || A Long and Winding Road || Episode 5 (This video discusses Stg. Pepper’s creation I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking and writing about […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 48 “BLOW UP” by Michelangelo Antonioni makes Philosophic Statement (Feature on artist Nancy Holt)

_______________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: _____________________ I have included the 27 minute  episode THE AGE OF NONREASON by Francis Schaeffer. In that video Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” How Should […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 47 Woody Allen and Professor Levy and the death of “Optimistic Humanism” from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS Plus Charles Darwin’s comments too!!! (Feature on artist Rodney Graham)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 ___________________________________ Today I will answer the simple question: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE AN OPTIMISTIC SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR AN AFTERLIFE? This question has been around for a long time and you can go back to the 19th century and read this same […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

____________________________________ Francis Schaeffer pictured below: __________ Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” , episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”, episode 8 […]

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Scientific Foreknowledge and Medical Acumen of the Bible by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

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Scientific Foreknowledge and Medical Acumen of the Bible

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

While it is the case that the Bible does not present itself as a scientific or medical textbook, it is only reasonable that if God truly did inspire the books that compose the Bible, they would be completely accurate in every scientific or medical detail found among their pages. Furthermore, if the omniscient Ruler of the Universe actually did inspire these books, scientific and medical errors that fill the pages of other ancient, non-inspired texts should be entirely absent from the biblical record. Is the Bible infallible when it speaks about scientific fields of discipline, or does it contain the errors that one would expect to find in the writings of fallible men in ancient times?

That the first five books of the Old Testament are a product of Moses is a matter of historical record (Lyons and Staff, 2003). Furthermore, the story of Moses’ education among the Egyptian culture was well understood. In fact, even those Jews who did not convert to Christianity were so familiar with the historic fact that Moses was educated in “all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22), that Stephen’s statement to that effect went completely undisputed. Moses had been trained under the most advanced Egyptian educational system of his day. With such training, it would have been only natural for Moses to include some of the Egyptian “wisdom” in his writings if he were composing the Pentateuch by using his own prowess and mental faculties.

A look into the medical practices from ancient Egypt and those found in the Pentateuch, however, reveals that Moses did not necessarily rely on “wisdom” of the Egyptians (which, in many cases, consisted of life-threatening malpractice). While some medical practices in the Pentateuch are similar to those found in ancient Egyptian documents, the Pentateuch exhibits a conspicuous absence of those harmful malpractices that plague the writings of the Egyptians. Moses penned the most advanced, flawless medical prescriptions that had ever been recorded. Furthermore, every statement that pertained to the health and medical well-being of the Israelite nation recorded by Moses could theoretically still be implemented and be completely in accord with every fact modern medicine has learned in regard to germ spreading, epidemic disease control, communal sanitation, and a host of other medical and scientific discoveries.

It is the case that the ancient Egyptians were renowned in the ancient world for their progress in the field of medicine. Dr. Massengill noted that “Egypt was the medical center of the ancient world” (1943, p. 13). During the days of in the Medo-Persian Empire, the ancient historian Herodotus recorded that it was king Darius’ practice “to keep in attendance certain Egyptian doctors, who had a reputation for the highest eminence in their profession” (3.129). Thus, while the medical practices of the Bible could be equally compared to those of other ancient cultures and found to be flawlessly superior, comparing them to that of the eminent Egyptian culture should suffice to manifest the Bible’s supernatural superiority in the field.

It Will Cure You—If It Doesn’t Kill You First

Among the ancient documents that detail much of the Egyptian medicinal knowledge, the Ebers Papyrus ranks as one of the foremost sources. This papyrus was discovered in 1872 by a German Egyptologist named Georg Ebers (the name from which the papyrus acquired its moniker) (Ancient Egyptian…, 1930, p. 1). It consists of a host of medical remedies purported to heal, enhance, and prevent. “Altogether 811 prescriptions are set forth in the Papyrus, and they take the form of salves, plasters, and poultices; snuffs, inhalations, and gargles; draughts, confections, and pills; fumigations, suppositories, and enemata” (p. 15). Among the hundreds of prescriptions, disgusting treatments that caused much more harm than good can be found. For instance, under a section titled “What to do to draw out splinters in the flesh,” a remedy is prescribed consisting of worm blood, mole, and donkey dung” (p. 73). [Doctors S.I. McMillen and David Stern note that dung “is loaded with tetanus spores” and “a simple splinter often resulted in a gruesome death from lockjaw (2000, p. 10).] Remedies to help heal skin diseases included such prescriptions as: “A hog’s tooth, cat’s dung, dog’s dung, aau-of-samu-oil, berries-of-the-xet-plant, pound and apply as poultice” (Ancient Egyptian…, 1930, p. 92). Various other ingredients for the plethora of remedies concocted included “dried excrement of a child” (p. 98), “hog dung” (p. 115), and “a farmer’s urine” (p. 131). One recipe to prevent hair growth included lizard dung and the blood from a cow, donkey, pig, dog, and stag (p. 102). While it must be noted that some of the Egyptian medicine actually did include prescriptions and remedies that could be helpful, the harmful remedies and ingredients cast a sickening shadow of untrustworthiness over the entire Egyptian endeavor as viewed by the modern reader.

As medical doctor S.E. Massengill stated:

The early Egyptian physicians made considerable use of drugs. Their drugs were of the kind usually found in early civilizations; a few effective remedies lost in a mass of substances of purely superstitious origin. They used opium, squill, and other vegetable substances, but also excrement and urine. It is said that the urine of a faithful wife was with them effective in the treatment of sore eyes (1943, p. 15).

In addition, it seems that the Egyptians were among the first to present the idea of “good and laudable pus” (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 10). Due to the idea that infection was good and the pus that resulted from it was a welcomed effect, “well-meaning doctors killed millions by deliberately infecting their wounds” (p. 10). Needless to say, the modern-day reader would not want to be a patient in an ancient Egyptian clinic!

PRESCRIPTIONS IN THE PENTATEUCH

The first five books of the Old Testament, admittedly, are not devoted entirely to the enumeration of medical prescriptions. They are not ancient medical textbooks. These books do, however, contain numerous regulations for sanitation, quarantine, and other medical procedures that were to govern the daily lives of the Israelite nation. Missing entirely from the pages of these writings are the harmful remedies and ingredients prescribed by other ancient civilizations. In fact, the Pentateuch exhibits an understanding of germs and disease that much “modern” medicine did not grasp for 3,500 years after the books were written.

Blood: The Liquid of Life

Blood always has been a curious substance whose vast mysteries and capabilities have yet to be fully explored. Doctors in the twenty-first century transfuse it, draw it, separate it, package it, store it, ship it, and sell it. And, although modern-day scientists have not uncovered completely all of the wonders of blood, they have discovered that it is the key to life. Without this “liquid of life,” humans and animals would have no way to circulate the necessary oxygen and proteins that their bodies need in order to survive and reproduce. Hemoglobin found in the red blood cells carries oxygen to the brain, which in turn uses that oxygen to control the entire body. A brain without oxygen is like a car without gas or a computer without electricity. Blood makes all of the functions in the body possible.

In the past, ignorance of blood’s value caused some “learned” men to do tragic things. For instance, during the middle ages, and even until the nineteenth century, doctors believed that harmful “vapors” entered the blood and caused sickness. For this reason, leeches were applied to victims of fever and other illnesses in an attempt to draw out blood containing these vapors. Also, the veins and arteries located just above the elbow were opened, and the patient’s arms were bled to expunge the contaminated blood. George Washington, the first President of the United States, died because of such misplaced medical zeal. An eyewitness account of Washington’s death relates that he came down with a chill, and in an effort to cure him, those who attended him resorted to bleeding; “a vein was opened, but no relief afforded” (“The Death of George Washington,” 2001).

Thousands of years before the lethal practice of bloodletting was conceived, mankind had been informed by God that blood was indeed the key to life. In Leviticus 17:11, Moses wrote: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”

Today, we understand completely the truthfulness of Moses’ statement that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.” But how did an ancient shepherd like Moses come to know such information? Just a lucky guess? How could Moses have known almost 3,500 years ago that life was in the blood, while it took the rest of the scientific and medical community thousands of years (and thousands of lives!) to grasp this truth? The Old Testament’s conspicuous failure to institute improper medical procedures as they related to blood speaks loudly of its medical accuracy.

Germs, Labor Fever, and Biblical Sanitation

In their book, None of These Diseases, physicians S.I. McMillen and David Stern discussed how many of the hygienic rules established by God for the children of Israel still are applicable today. To illustrate their point, they recounted the story of Ignaz Semmelweis.

In 1847, an obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis was the director of a hospital ward in Vienna, Austria. Many pregnant women checked into his ward, but 18% of them never checked out. One out of every six that received treatment in Semmelweis’ ward died of labor fever (Nuland, 2003, p. 31). Autopsies revealed pus under their skin, in their chest cavities, in their eye sockets, etc. Semmelweis was distraught over the mortality rate in his ward, and other hospital wards like it all over Europe. Nuland noted that Australia, the Americas, Britain, Ireland, and practically every other nation that had established a hospital suffered a similar mortality rate (2003, pp. 41-43). If a woman delivered a baby using a midwife, then the death fell to only about 3%. Yet if she chose to use the most advanced medical knowledge and facilities of the day, her chance of dying skyrocketed immensely!

Semmelweis tried everything to curb the carnage. He turned all the women on their sides in hopes that the death rate would drop, but with no results. He thought maybe the bell that the priest rang late in the evenings scared the women, so he made the priest enter silently, yet without any drop in death rates.

As he contemplated his dilemma, he watched young medical students perform their routine tasks. Each day the students would perform autopsies on the dead mothers. Then they would rinse their hands in a bowl of bloody water, wipe them off on a common, shared towel, and immediately begin internal examinations of the still-living women. Nuland commented concerning the practice: “Because there seemed no reason for them to wash their hands, except superficially, or change their clothing before coming to the First Division, they did neither” (2003, p. 100). As a twenty-first-century observer, one is appalled to think that such practices actually took place in institutes of what was at the time “modern technology.” What doctor in his right mind would touch a dead person and then perform examinations on living patients—without first employing some sort of minimal hygienic practices intended to kill germs? But to Europeans in the middle-nineteenth-century, germs were virtually a foreign concept. They never had seen a germ, much less been able to predict its destructive potential. According to many of their most prevalent theories, disease was caused by “atmospheric conditions” or “cosmic telluric influences.”

Semmelweis ordered everyone in his ward to wash his or her hands thoroughly in a chlorine solution after every examination. In three months, the death rate fell from 18% to 1%. Semmelweis had made an amazing discovery. On the inside cover-flap of the book about Semmelweis, written by medical doctor and historian Sherwin Nuland, the text reads:

Ignác Semmelweis is remembered for the now-commonplace notion that doctors must wash their hands before examining patients. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, this was a subversive idea. With deaths from childbed fever exploding, Semmelweis discovered that doctors themselves were spreading the disease (2003, inside cover flap).

Had Semmeliweis made a groundbreaking discovery, or is it possible that he simply “rediscovered” what had been known in some circles for many years? Almost 3,300 years before Semmelweis lived, Moses had written: “He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean.” Germs were no new discovery in 1847; the biblical text recorded measures to check their spread as far back as approximately 1500 B.C.

The Water of Purification

Also germane to this discussion is the composition of the “water of purification” listed in Numbers 19. When Old Testament instructions are compared to the New Testament explanations for those actions, it becomes clear that some of the ancient injunctions were primarily symbolic in nature. For instance, when the Passover Lamb was eaten, none of its bones was to be broken. This symbolized the sacrifice of Christ, Whose side was pierced, yet even in death escaped the usual practice of having His legs broken (John 19:31-37).

With the presence of such symbolism in the Old Testament, it is important that we do not overlook the Old Testament instructions that were pragmatic in value and that testify to a Master Mind behind the writing of the Law. One such directive is found in Numbers 19, where the Israelites were instructed to prepare the “water of purification” that was to be used to wash any person who had touched a dead body.

At first glance, the water of purification sounds like a hodge-podge of superstitious potion-making that included the ashes of a red heifer, hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet. But this formula was the farthest thing from a symbolic potion intended to “ward off evil spirits.” On the contrary, the recipe for the water of purification stands today as a wonderful example of the Bible’s brilliance, since the recipe is nothing less than a procedure to produce an antibacterial soap.

When we look at the ingredients individually, we begin to see the value of each. First, consider the ashes of a red heifer and cedar. As most school children know, the pioneers in this country could not go to the nearest supermarket and buy their favorite personal hygiene products. If they needed soap or shampoo, they made it themselves. Under such situations, they concocted various recipes for soap. One of the most oft’-produced types of soap was lye soap. Practically anyone today can easily obtain a recipe for lye soap via a quick search of the Internet (see “Soapmaking,” n.d.). The various lye-soap recipes reveal that, to obtain lye, water often is poured through ashes. The water retrieved from pouring it through the ashes contains a concentration of lye. Lye, in high concentrations, is very caustic and irritating to the skin. It is, in fact, one of the main ingredients in many modern chemical mixtures used to unclog drains. In more diluted concentrations, it can be used as an excellent exfoliant and cleansing agent. Many companies today still produce lye soaps. Amazingly, Moses instructed the Israelites to prepare a mixture that would have included lye mixed in a diluted solution.

Furthermore, consider that hyssop was also added to the “water of purification.” Hyssop contains the antiseptic thymol, the same ingredient that we find today in some brands of mouthwash (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 24). Hyssop oil continues to be a popular “healing oil,” and actually is quite expensive. In listing the benefits of hyssop, one Web site noted: “Once used for purifying temples and cleansing lepers, the leaves contain an antiseptic, antiviral oil. A mold that produces penicillin grows on the leaves. An infusion is taken as a sedative expectorant for flue, bronchitis, and phlegm” (see “Hyssop”).

Other ingredients in the “water of purification” also stand out as having beneficial properties. The oil from the cedar wood in the mixture most likely maintained numerous salutary properties. A Web site dealing with various essential oils noted: “Cedar wood has long been used for storage cabinets because of its ability to repel insects and prevent decay. In oil form, applied to humans, it is an antiseptic, astringent, expectorant (removes mucus from respiratory system), anti-fungal, sedative and insecticide” (“Spa Essential Oils,” 2005). Another site, more specifically dealing with the beneficial properties of cedar, explained:

Cedar leaves and twigs are in fact rich in vitamin C, and it was their effectiveness in preventing or treating scurvy that led to the tree’s being called arbor vitae or tree of life. In addition, recent research has shown that extracts prepared from either Thuja occidentalis or Thuja plicata [types of oriental cedar—KB] do in fact have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. A group of German researchers reported in 2002 that an extract prepared from cedar leaf, alcohol, and water inhibits the reproduction of influenza virus type A, while a team of researchers in Japan found that an extract of Western red cedar was effective in treating eczema (Frey, n.d).

It is interesting to note that this information about the beneficial properties of the ingredients such as cedar, hyssop, and lye in the water of purification is not coming from Bible-based sources. Most of it is simply coming from studies that have been done through cosmetic and therapeutic research.

Finally, the Israelites were instructed to toss into the mix “scarlet,” which most likely was scarlet wool (see Hebrews 9:19). Adding wool fibers to the concoction would have made the mixture the “ancient equivalent of Lava® soap” (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 25).

Thousands of years before any formal studies were done to see what type of cleaning methods were the most effective; millennia before American pioneers concocted their lye solutions; and ages before our most advanced medical students knew a thing about germ theory, Moses instructed the Israelites to concoct an amazingly effective recipe for soap, that, if used properly in medical facilities like hospitals in Vienna, would literally have saved thousands of lives.

Quarantine

Moses detailed measures to prevent the spread of germs from dead bodies to living humans long before such was understood and prescribed in modern medicine. But the Old Testament record added another extremely beneficial practice to the field of medicine in its detailed descriptions of maladies for which living individuals should be quarantined. The book of Leviticus lists a plethora of diseases and ways in which an Israelite would come in contact with germs. Those with such diseases as leprosy were instructed to “dwell alone” “outside the camp” (Leviticus 13:46). If and when a diseased individual did get close to those who were not diseased, he was instructed to “cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!” (13:45). It is of interest that the covering of ones mustache would prevent spit and spray from the mouth of the individual to pass freely through the air, much like the covering of one’s mouth during a cough.

Concerning such quarantine practices, S.E. Massengill wrote in his book A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy:

In the prevention of disease, however, the ancient Hebrews made real progress. The teachings of Moses, as embodied in the Priestly Code of the Old Testament, contain two clear conceptions of modern sanitation—the importance of cleanliness and the possibility of controlling epidemic disease by isolation and quarantine (1943, p. 252).

In regard to the understanding of contagion implied in the quarantine rules in the Old Testament, McGrew noted in the Encyclopedia of Medical History: “The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings. The Old Testament, however, is a rich source for contagionist sentiment, especially in regard to leprosy and venereal disease” (1985, pp.77-78). Here again, the Old Testament exhibits amazingly accurate medical knowledge that surpasses any known human ingenuity available at the time of its writing.

LAWS OF FOOD CONSUMPTION

Food regulations enumerated in the first five books of the Old Testament have been scrutinized by credentialed professionals in the fields of dietary and pathological research. The regulations have proven to coincide with modern science’s understanding of various aspects of health and disease prevention.

In 1953, an extensive study, performed by David I. Macht and published in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (a publication of the American Association of the History of Medicine and of The Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine), tested the toxicity of the meat of animals listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Macht’s technique was to place a certain seedling (Lupinus albus) in fresh muscle juices of the various animals noted as clean and unclean in the biblical text. This method was used at the time to study the blood of normal human patients as compared to the blood of cancerous patients (1953, p. 444). Macht noted that his results revealed “data which are of considerable interest not only to the medical investigator but also to the students of ancient Biblical literature” (p. 445).

Some of his results were indeed of interest. For instance, he would take a control group of seedlings that grew in normal solutions and compare that group to seedlings placed in the various meat juices. He would then record the percent of seeds that grew in the meat juices as compared to those that grew under normal circumstances. For example, when placing the seedlings in meat juices from the Ox, the seeds grew 91% as often as they would if placed in a regular growing solution. Seeds in sheep juices grew 94% as often as those in the control group in regular solution. Seedlings in meat juice from a calf—82%; from a goat—90%; and from a deer 90%. Since these animals chew the cud and have a divided hoof, they were listed as clean in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat’” (Leviticus 11:1-3).

When several unclean animals were studied, however, they showed significantly higher levels of toxicity and much lower levels of seedling growth. Seedlings in meat juice from pigs grew only 54% as often as the control group under normal growing conditions; rabbit—49%; camel—41%; and horse—39%. These results for larger mammals suggested that the biblical division between clean and unclean could have been related to the toxicity of the juices of such animals.

Macht did similar research on birds, in which he found that extracts from biblical clean birds such as the pigeon and quail grew his seedlings 93% and 89%, while those from unclean birds such as the Red-tail hawk (36%) and owl (62%) were much more toxic. As Moses said: “And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind” (Leviticus 11:13-19). Other studies included several different kinds of fish. The biblical regulation for eating fish was that the Israelites could eat any fish that had fins and scales (Deuteronomy 14:9). Those water-living creatures that did not possess fins and scales were not to be eaten (14:10). In regard to his study on the toxicity of fish, Macht wrote:

Of special interest were experiments made with muscle juices and also blood solutions obtained from many species of fishes. Fifty-four species of fishes were so far studied in regard to toxicity of meat extracts. It was found that the muscle extracts of those fishes which possess scales and fins were practically non-toxic [Herring—100%; Pike—98%; Shad—100%—KB], while muscle extracts from fishes without scales and fins were highly toxic for the growth of Lupinus albus seedlings (pp. 446-448).

Macht’s study, even after more than five decades, continues to remain of great interest. His rigorous research led him to conclude:

The observations described above corroborate the impression repeatedly made on the author in investigations as a physician (M.D. Johns Hopkins, 1906), as an experimental biologist (Member of Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine), and as Doctor of Hebrew Literature (Yeshiva University, 1928) that all allusions of the Book of Books, to nature, natural phenomena, and natural history, whether in the form of factual statements or in the form of metaphors, similes, parables, allegories, or other tropes are correct either literally or figuratively…. Such being the extraordinary concordance between the data of the Scriptures and many of the modern and even most recent discoveries in both the biological and physico-chemical sciences, every serious student of the Bible will, I believe, endorse the assertion of Sir Isaac Newton, that “The Scriptures of God are the most sublime philosophy. I find more such marks of authenticity in the Bible than in profane history anywhere” (p. 449).

Some, however, have questioned Macht’s results. Prior research done by Macht in 1936 and 1949 produced discordant results from his research in 1953. But there are several compelling reasons for accepting Macht’s 1953 research. First, it could be the case that Macht’s 1953 research simply was more refined and the procedure better understood. As one would expect in the scientific field, research generally tends to improve with time. Second, Macht was a high-profile doctor with copious credentials. His research in 1936 and 1949 had been published and was easily accessible. Yet even though his previous research was available, the Johns Hopkins Institute considered it acceptable to publish his 1953 research, which would suggest that the 1953 research included additional methods and/or information that would override the earlier research. Third, Macht’s procedure as described in the 1953 paper was fairly simple and easily reproducible. But those who question the work have failed to produce experimental data after 1953 that would negate Macht’s study. If his 1953 procedures were fraught with error, a few simple experiments could be done to prove that. No such experimental data refuting Macht has been produced.

For these reasons, the findings of Dr. Macht aid in the defense of the Bible’s inspiration and remarkably accurate medical procedures as far back as the time of Moses. But the validity of Old Testament food consumption laws certainly does not rely solely on Macht’s 1953 research. Additional confirmation of the beneficial, protective nature of Mosaic food consumption laws is readily available.

Fins and Scales

As was previously mentioned, the Mosaic criteria for eating water-living creatures was that the creatures have scales and fins (Leviticus 11:12). This injunction was extremely beneficial, since a multitude of problems surround many sea creatures that do not have scales and fins.

The Blowfish

The blowfish has fins but does not have scales. Thus, it would not have been edible under the Old Testament laws—fortunately for the Israelites. The blowfish can contain toxin in its ovaries, liver, and other organs that is highly potent and deadly. This toxin, called tetrodotoxin, is thought to be “1250 times more deadly than cyanide” and 160,000 times more potent than cocaine. A tiny amount of it can kill 30 grown adults (Dilion, 2005). As odd as it sounds, blowfish is served as a delicacy all over the world, especially in Japan and other far eastern countries. As a delicacy, it is called fugu, and is prepared by certified, licensed chefs. The toxins can be removed successfully, making the food edible, but the procedure often goes awry. Some who have researched fugu say that it is a food connoisseur’s version of Russian roulette. Due to the extreme danger involved in eating fugu, it is illegal to serve it to the Emperor of Japan! The Mosaic instructions concerning edible fish would have helped the Israelites avoid the dangerous blowfish, as well as danger posed by eating other toxic sea creatures such as certain jelly fish, sea anemones, and octopi.

Shellfish

Although shellfish are edible today, there are inherent dangers in eating ill-prepared types such as oysters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has produced a twelve-page tract warning people about the dangers of eating raw or partially cooked oysters (“Carlos’ Tragic…,” 2003). In the tract, the FDA warns that some raw oysters contain the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. In regard to this dangerous bacteria, the tract states:

Oysters are sometimes contaminated with the naturally occurring bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. Oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus can’t be detected by smell or sight; they look like other oysters. Eating raw oysters containing Vibrio vulnificus is very dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, hepatitis, cancer and HIV…. 50 percent of people who are infected with Vibrio vulnificus as a result of eating raw contaminated oysters die (2003).

Eating oysters if they are not cooked properly can be potentially fatal, says the FDA. Thus, the wisdom of the Mosaic prohibition is evident to an honest observer. In a time when proper handling and preparation procedures were difficult to achieve, the best course of action simply would have been to avoid the risk of eating potentially contaminated foods, especially since the contamination cannot be detected by smell or sight.

Reptiles and Salmonella

In Leviticus 11, Moses included reptiles in the list of unclean animals. Obviously, they are not cud-chewers that walk on cloven hooves, so they would not classify as clean, edible animals according to Leviticus 11:3. But to make sure that the Israelites understood, Moses specifically mentioned reptiles such as the large lizard, gecko, monitor lizard, sand reptile, sand lizard, and chameleon (Leviticus 11:29-31). Immediately following this listing of reptiles, the text states: “Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening” (11:31).

Interestingly, reptiles have a much higher rate of carrying Salmonella bacteria than do most mammals, especially those listed as clean in the Old Law. The Center for Disease Control has repeatedly warned people about the possibility of being infected with Salmonella passed through reptiles. In summarizing the CDC’s 2003 report, Lianne McLeod noted that the CDC estimates over 70,000 cases of human Salmonella infection a year are related to the handling of reptiles and amphibians (2007). The CDC recommends that homes with children under five should not have reptiles as pets. Furthermore, while other animals such as cats and dogs can pass Salmonella, McLeod noted:

As high as 90% of reptiles are natural carriers of Salmonella bacteria, harboring strains specific to reptiles without any symptoms of disease in the reptile. While it is true that many pets can carry Salmonella, the problem with reptiles (and apparently amphibians) is that they carry Salmonella with such high frequency. It is prudent to assume that all reptiles and amphibians can be a potential source of Salmonella (2007, emp. added).

In light of such evidence, the prudence of the Mosaic prohibition to eat or handle reptile carcasses is clearly evident.

Of further interest is the fact that reptilian Salmonella contamination can occur without even touching a reptile. If a person touches something that has touched a reptile the bacteria can spread. The ARAV (Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians) made this statement: “Salmonella bacteria are easily spread from reptiles to humans. Humans may become infected when they place their hands on objects, including food items, that have been in contact with the stool of reptiles, in their mouths” (“Salmonella Bacteria…,” 2007).

When this statement by the ARAV is compared with the injunctions in Leviticus 11:32-47, the astounding accuracy of the Old Testament regulation is again confirmed.

Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean (Leviticus 11:32-34).

After reading Leviticus 11:32-34, it seems as though a microbiologist was present with Moses to explain the perfect procedures to avoid spreading Salmonella and other bacteria from reptiles to humans. How could Moses have accurately laid down such precise regulations that belie a superior understanding of bacteria? An honest reader must conclude that he had divine assistance.

Bats and Rabies

Moses specifically forbade the Israelites to eat bats (Leviticus 11:19). The wisdom of this instruction is demonstrated by the fact that bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies…,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MD, MPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD, reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies…,” 2002). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super-human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament. As the eminent archaeologist, W.F. Albright, in comparing the list of clean and unclean animals detailed in the Pentateuch, noted that in other ancient civilizations, “we find no classifications as logical as this in any of the elaborate cuneiform list of fauna or ritual taboos” (1968, p. 180).

Case in Point: Pork Consumption

One of the most well-known Old Testament food regulations is the prohibition of pork consumption (Leviticus 11:7). Under close scrutiny, this prohibition exemplifies the value of the biblical laws regarding clean and unclean animals. During the days of Moses, proper food preparation and cooking conditions did not always exist. In fact, the general knowledge of the need to separate certain uncooked foods, especially meats, during preparation from other foods was virtually non-existent. Certain meats, if contacted raw or under-cooked, have greater potential to carry parasites and other harmful bacteria that can infect the end consumer (in this case, humans).

Due to the fact that pigs are scavengers, and will eat practically anything, they often consume parasites and bacteria when they eat the carcasses of other dead animals. These parasites and bacteria can, and often do, take up residence in the pigs’ muscle tissue. Fully cooking the meat can kill these harmful organisms, but failure to cook the meat completely can cause numerous detrimental effects. R.K. Harrison listed several diseases or other health maladies that can occur due to the ingestion of improperly cooked pork. He noted that pigs often are the host of the tapeworm Taenia solium. Infection by this parasite can cause small tumors to arise throughout the body, including on the skin, eyes, and muscles. Furthermore, these tumors can affect the brain and cause epileptic convulsions. Additionally, humans can develop trichaniasis (trichinosis) infestation from eating undercooked, as well as tape worm known as Echiococcus granulosus from water polluted by pigs. Further, pigs can pass on the microorganisms that cause toxoplamosis, a disease affecting the nervous system (Harrison, 1982, p. 644).

Due to a much more exhaustive body of knowledge concerning parasites and pathogens, modern readers are increasingly attune to the dangers of consuming raw or undercooked pork. In fact, most pork bought in grocery stores contains nitrates and nitrites that have been injected into the meat to hinder the growth of harmful microorganisms. But Moses and the Israelites did not have access to such modern knowledge. How is it that the food regulations recorded by Moses over 3,000 years ago contain such an accurate understanding of disease control? Albright noted along these lines, “thanks to the dietary and hygienic regulations of Mosaic law…subsequent history has been marked by a tremendous advantage in this respect held by Jews over all other comparable ethnic and religious groups” (1968, p. 181).

Circumcision

In the book of Genesis, the text relates that God chose Abraham and his descendants to be a “special” people who were set apart from all other nations. The covenant that God made with Abraham included a physical “sign” that was to be implemented in all future generations of Abraham’s descendants. According to the text, God said:

He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant (Genesis 17:12-14).

Thus, the covenant with Abraham and his offspring was to be indelibly marked in the flesh of every male child.

The inclusion of this medical, surgical practice provides another excellent example of the medical acumen of the biblical text. Two significant aspects of biblical circumcision need to be noted. First, from what modern medicine has been able to gather, circumcision can lessen the chances of getting certain diseases and infections. Pediatrician, Dorothy Greenbaum noted in regard to the health benefits of circumcision: “Medically, circumcision is healthful because it substantially reduces the incidence of urinary tract infection in boys, especially those under one year of age. Some studies cited in the pediatric policy statement report 10 to 20 times more urinary tract infection in uncircumcised compared with circumcised boys.” She further noted that sexually transmitted diseases are passed more readily among men who have not been circumcised (2006). In addition, circumcision virtually eliminates the chance of penile cancer. In an article titled “Benefits of Circumcision,” the text stated: “Neonatal circumcision virtually abolishes the risk [of penile cancer—KB]” and “penile cancer occurs almost entirely in uncircumcised men” (Morris, 2006). [NOTE: Morris’ work is of particular interest due to the fact that it has an evolutionary bias and was in no way written to buttress belief in the biblical record.]

Not only can a litany of health benefits be amassed to encourage the practice of infant circumcision, but the day on which the biblical record commands the practice to be implemented is of extreme importance as well. The encyclopedic work Holt Pediatrics remains today one of the most influential works ever written about child care, pediatric disease, and other health concerns as they relate to children. First written in 1896 by L. Emmet Holt, Jr. and going through several revisions until the year 1953, the nearly 1,500-page work is a master compilation of the “modern” medicine of its day. One section, starting on page 125 of the twelfth edition, is titled “Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn.” The information included in the section details the occurrence of occasional spontaneous bleeding among newborns that can sometimes cause severe damage to major organs such as the brain, and even death. In the discussion pertaining to the reasons for such bleeding, the authors note that the excessive bleeding is primarily caused by a decreased level of prothrombin, which in turn is caused by insufficient levels of vitamin K. The text also notes that children’s susceptibility is “peculiar” (meaning “higher”) “between the second and fifth days of life” (1953, p. 126).

In chart form, Holt Pediatrics illustrates that the percent of available prothrombin in a newborn dips from about 90% of normal on its day of birth to about 35% on its third day of life outside the womb. After the third day, the available prothrombin begins to climb. By the eighth day of the child’s life, the available prothrombin level is approximately 110% of normal, about 20% higher than it was on the first day, and about 10% more than it will be during of the child’s life. Such data prove that the eighth day is the perfect day on which to perform a major surgery such as circumcision.

How did Moses know such detailed data about newborn hemorrhaging? Some have suggested that the early Hebrews carried out extensive observations on newborns to determine the perfect day for surgery. But such an idea has little merit. McMillen and Stern noted:

Modern medical textbooks sometimes suggest that the Hebrews conducted careful observations of bleeding tendencies. Yet what is the evidence? Severe bleeding occurs at most in only 1 out of 200 babies. Determining the safest day for circumcision would have required careful experiments, observing thousands of circumcisions. Could Abraham (a primitive, desert-dwelling nomad) have done that (2000, p. 84)?

In fact, such amazing medical accuracy cannot be accounted for on the basis of human ingenuity in the ancient world. If circumcision was the only example of such accuracy, and the Hebrew writings were laced with incorrect, detrimental medical prescriptions, such an explanation might be plausible. But the fact that the entire Old Testament contains medical practices that would still be useful in third world countries, without a hint of error in regard to a single prescription; divine oversight remains the only reasonable answer.

CONCLUSION

In reality, entire books could be written on the Old Testament’s amazing medical accuracy. Medical doctors McMillen and Stern have done just that in their extremely interesting volume None of These Diseases. Many physicians who have compared Moses’ medical instructions to effective modern methods have come to realize the astonishing value and insight of the Old Testament text. As Dr. Macht once wrote: “Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance” (Macht, 1953, p. 450). Such is certainly the case in regard to the medical practices listed in its pages. Indeed, the accurate medical practices prescribed thousands of years before their significance was completely understood provide excellent evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.

REFERENCES

Albright, W.F. (1968), Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (Garden City, NY: Doubleday).

Bryan, Cyril (1930), Ancient Egyptian Medicine: The Papyrus Ebers (Chicago, IL: Ares Publishers).

“Carlos’ Tragic and Mysterious Illness: How Carlos Almost Died by Eating Contaminated Raw Oysters” (2003), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, [On-line], URL: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/vvfoto.pdf.

Collins, Anne (2002), “What is Saturated Fat?” [On-line], URL: http://www.annecollins.com/dieting/saturated-fat.htm.

“The Death of George Washington, 1799,” (2001), EyeWitness to History, [On-line], URL: http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washington.htm.

Dilion, Denise (2005), “Fugu: The Deadly Delicacy,” Welcome Magazine, [On-line], URL: http://www.welcome-moldova.com/articles/fugu.shtml.

Frey, Rebecca J. (no date), “Thuja,” [On-line], URL: http://health.enotes.com/alternative-medicine-encyclopedia/thuja.

Greenbaum, Dorothy (2006), “Say ‘Yes’ to Circumcision,” [On-line], URL: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/8/story_813_1.html.

Harrison, R.K. (1982), “Heal,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), revised edition.

Herodotus, (1972 reprint), The Histories, trans. Aubrey De Sẻlincourt (London: Penguin).

“Historical Chronology of Significant Medical and Sanitary Engineering Discoveries” (no date), from Gerald Friedland and Meyer Friedman (1998), Medicine’s Ten Greatest Discoveries (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), [On-line], URL: http://bridge.ecn.purdue.edu/~piwc/w3-history/discoveries/med-env-eng- discoveries.html.

Holt, L.E. and R. McIntosh (1953), Holt Pediatrics (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts), twelfth edition.

“Human Rabies Often Caused by Undetected, Tiny Bat Bites” (2002), Science Daily, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020506074445.htm.

“Hyssop” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.taoherbfarm.com/herbs/herbs/hyssop.htm.

Lyons, Eric and A.P. Staff (2003), “Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch—Tried and TrueReason & Revelation, 23:1-7, January.

Macht, David I. (1953), “An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciation of Leviticus XI and Deuteronomy XIV,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 27[5]:444-450, September-October.

Massengill, S.E. (1943), A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy (Bristol, TN: S.E. Massengill).

McGrew, Roderick (1985), Encyclopedia of Medical History (London: Macmillan).

McLeod, Lianne (2007), “Salmonella and Reptiles,” [On-line], URL: http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/reptiles/a/reptsalmonella.htm.

McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.

Morris, Brian (2006), “Benefits of Circumcision,” [On-line], URL: http://www.circinfo.net/#why.

“New Dietary Guidelines from the American Heart Association,” (2000), [On-line], URL: http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/972602194.html.

Nuland, Sherwin B. (2003), The Doctor’s Plague (New York, NY: Atlas Books).

“Salmonella Bacteria and Reptiles” (2007), ARAV, [On-line], URL: http://www.arav.org/SalmonellaOwner.htm.

“Soapmaking” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.itdg.org/docs/technical_information_service/ soapmaking.pdf.

“Spa Essential Oils” (2005), [On-line], URL: http://www.mysticthai.com/spa/essential_oil.asp.

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