Category Archives: Current Events

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 158 B PAUSING to look at the life of Riccardo Giacconi and my 1-17-15 email to him

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Riccardo Giacconi on 16 December 16, 2018, in La Jolla, CA,  and I wanted to spend time on several posts concentrating on him.

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R.I.P. Riccardo Giacconi

Riccardo Giacconi receiving the 2003 National Medal of Science
Riccardo Giacconi receiving the 2003 National Medal of Science

On Sunday, December 9 Riccardo Giacconi passed away. He was the father of X-ray astronomy and Nobel Prize in physics in 2002 for his contributions in that field.

Riccardo Giacconi was born on October 6, 1931 in Genoa, Italy. He obtained a degree in physics at the University of Milan with a specialization in the research on cosmic rays. In 1956 he moved to the USA, where he carried out research first with the University of Princeton and then at AS&E (American Science and Engineering), where he started developing the first instruments to detect cosmic X-rays.

In 1962 Riccardo Giacconi discovered the first extraterrestrial X-ray source, named Scorpius X-1. In 1970 he oversaw the launch of NASA’s Uhuru satellite, the first specialized in X-ray astronomy, followed in the following decades by increasingly sophisticated stellites such as the Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) in 1978, designed while Giacconi was director of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1999.

Although Riccardo Giacconi is remembered above all for the development of X-ray astronomy, he also worked in other specializations. In particular, in 1981 he became the first director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, the center of scientific operations for what was then another pioneering project, the Hubble Space Telescope. Giacconi kept that office until 1993 and directed the search for a solution to correct the primary mirror flaw discovered after Hubble’s activation in space.

After that experience, between 1993 and 1999 Riccardo Giacconi was general director of ESO, directing among other things the construction of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), an observatory on which various instruments were installed over the following years making it one of the best ground-based telescpes in the world.

In 2002 Riccardo Giacconi was awarded the Nobel prize for his pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources. It’s the most famous among the awards he received but there were several others in Italy, in the USA and in other countries. In Italy he also received the honor of Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Cavaliere di gran croce dell’Ordine al merito della Repubblica italiana) in 2002 and the Italian Medal of Merit for Culture and Art (Medaglia d’oro ai benemeriti della scuola, della cultura e dell’arte) in 2005.

Riccardo Giacconi returned to work with NASA as principal investigator in the Chandra Deep Field-South project of the Chandra X-ray observatory. He leaves a huge legacy as today X-ray astronomy means studying a part of the universe full of violent events that generate those strong electromagnetic emissions such as neutron stars and black holes

Emailed on 1-17-15

To Dr. Riccardo Giacconi, From Everette Hatcher, I thought you would  like to see this movie Monday night in a theater near you!!

Dear Dr. Giacconi,

I am in the process of posting a  response on my blog to your comments on the film series RENOWNED ACADEMICS SPEAKING ABOUT GOD (which received over 300,000 hits on You Tube). I have already finished responding to some of your other fellow academics  who also appear on the same film series such as David J. Gross,  Frank Wilczek,  .Alexander Vilenkin,  Roy GlauberRoald Hoffmann,  Rebecca GoldsteinNoam ChomskyBrian GreeneMarvin Minsky,  Shelly KaganHubert Dreyfus,  Simon Schaffer,  Marcus du Sautoy,  Steven WeinbergBarry Supple,  Lawrence KraussLord Martin Rees,  Alan DershowitzLewis WolpertAaron CiechanoverLeonard Mlodinow,  Herbert Huppert,  Leonard Susskind,  Alan Macfarlane,  Saul Perlmutter,  Stuart Kauffman,  Douglas Osheroff,   Alan Guth,  Sir David Attenborough, and  Harry Kroto who started it all by promoting this video series in the first place.  However, it has taken me a little longer to respond to your comments.

I thought of you when I heard about this film PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE: THE EXODUS, which is only showing one time this Monday night January 19, 2015 at 7 pm at a theater near you. You have contended you don’t believe in the Bible because you don’t have the scientific type evidence that you require.This film contains the findings of over a dozen academics who are experts in archaeology and here it is at a nearby theater to you.

You can get a ticket by going to this website at this link and putting in your zip code to find a theater near you. It stars Israel Finkelstein, Benjamin Netanyahu,  Shimon Peres,  and many more and they will be discussing if the Exodus took place or not with only scientific facts.  I have posted several very good reviews of the major motion picture on my blog.

Here are some theaters near you that are showing the film:

1. CINEMARK TOWSON AND XD,  111 East Joppa Road, Towson, MD 21286, 2. AMC OWINGS MILLS 1710100 Mill Run Circle, Owings Mills, MD 21117, 3. CINEMARK EGYPTIAN 24 AND XD,  7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, MD 21076

Everette Hatcher, cell ph 501-920-733, everettehatcher@gmail.com, P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Nick Gathergood, David-Birkett, Harry-Kroto

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

In  the first video below in the 47th clip in this series are his words and will be responding to them in the next few weeks, but today I just wanted to pause and look at this life. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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My Picks to be new Arkansas Razorback Football Coach (Eli Drinkwitz and Gus Malzahn are two of my favorite ones and both coached at Springdale High!!!)

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My picks are similar to Steven Lassan below with a few changes.

Examining who could replace Chad Morris at Arkansas

Arkansas fired head coach Chad Morris on Sunday after a 2-8 start to the 2019 season. Morris was hired after working as SMU’s coach from 2015-17 but went 4-18 in his 22 games in Fayetteville and did not record a victory in SEC play. Barry Lunney Jr. will serve as interim coach for the final two games of the season. Morris and his staff inherited a rebuilding project from former coach Bret Bielema, but there was very little progress over the last two seasons. The next coach will inherit similar challenges and some roster fixes will only be attained through recruiting over the next couple of years.

Who could replace Morris at Arkansas? Here are 10 names to watch in the coaching search:

10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Chad Morris at Arkansas

Bill Clark, Head Coach, UAB

Clark seems entrenched at UAB, but Arkansas should at least inquire to see if he’s interested in the job. The Alabama native has spent his entire coaching career in the state at the high school level or as South Alabama’s defensive coordinator (2008-12) before taking the head-coaching job at Jacksonville State in 2013. The Gamecocks went 11-4 and earned a trip to the FCS Playoffs in Clark’s only year at the helm. UAB went 6-6 in Clark’s first season, but the program was disbanded from 2015-16. Clark rebuilt the program from scratch and guided the Blazers to a Conference USA title in 2018. UAB is 31-17 under Clark’s watch.

Eli Drinkwitz, Head Coach, Appalachian State

Drinkwitz is in his first year as Appalachian State’s coach, so he’s a longshot to get the job. The Oklahoma native has ties to the state from stints at Springdale High School and later as an assistant at Arkansas State (2012-13). Drinkwitz also spent time as an assistant at Arkansas State, Boise State and NC State before taking over in Boone prior to the 2019 season. The Mountaineers are 8-1 and have defeated two Power 5 teams in Drinkwitz’s first year.

Hugh Freeze, Head Coach, Liberty

Freeze is probably a longshot candidate, but he had a lot of success in a previous stint at Ole Miss from 2012-16. The Rebels went 39-25 over five years and played in four consecutive bowl games. Additionally, Freeze went 20-5 as a head coach at Lambuth (2008-09) and finished 10-2 at Arkansas State in 2011. Freeze is 6-4 in his first year at Liberty. There’s no question Freeze has baggage based upon his resignation from Ole Miss prior to the 2017 season. However, he’s a proven winner in the SEC and is regarded for his work in developing offenses.

Willie Fritz, Head Coach, Tulane

Fritz has won at every stop during his coaching career and has brought significant improvement to Tulane – one of the AAC’s most difficult jobs – since arriving in 2016. The Green Wave are 22-24 over the last four years and earned a bowl trip in 2018. After a 9-15 start in New Orleans, Tulane is 13-9 over the last two years with Fritz at the helm. He previously went 17-7 in two years at Georgia Southern (2014-15), 40-15 at Sam Houston State (2010-13) and 97-47 at Central Missouri (1997-09). Fritz is 176-93 overall as a head coach.

Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, FAU

Kiffin was reportedly close to becoming the head coach at Arkansas after the 2007 season. Could there be interest once again in the job? Kiffin is quietly doing an outstanding job at FAU, as he’s recorded a 23-13 record since 2007. Prior to taking over in Boca Raton, Kiffin had a successful three-year run as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16. Kiffin went 7-6 in his only season at Tennessee (2009) and finished 28-15 before his dismissal at USC during the 2013 season. However, Kiffin has a good track record in developing offenses and his overall record as a collegiate coach is 57-34.

Seth Littrell, Head Coach, North Texas

Littrell is a coach on the rise since taking over at North Texas prior to the 2016 season. The Mean Green are 27-23 under Littrell’s direction and played in three consecutive bowl games (2016-18) with a chance to get eligible in 2019. Littrell is regarded for his work on the offensive side of the ball and also has stops as an assistant from Texas Tech, Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina on his resume.

Gus Malzahn, Head Coach, Auburn

Malzahn’s name popped up in the last coaching search at Arkansas. Will that happen again or is Malzahn content at Auburn? It’s no secret the Texas native has ties to the state of Arkansas. He started his collegiate career in Fayetteville (1984-85) and worked in the state as a high school coach from 1991-05. He joined Houston Nutt’s staff at Arkansas in 2006 but left after one season. Malzahn spent two years as Tulsa’s offensive coordinator (2007-08) before taking over as Auburn’s play-caller (2009-11). Malzahn spent one year as the head coach at Arkansas State and went 9-3 during the 2012 campaign. He was hired at Auburn prior to 2013 and is 60-29 in his tenure. However, while the Tigers have experienced some highs (an appearance in the 2013 national championship), Malzahn’s seat was a little warm after a disappointing 8-5 mark in 2018.

Billy Napier, Head Coach, Louisiana

Napier has pieced together an impressive resume since his playing career ended at Furman in 2002. The Georgia native spent time as an assistant at Clemson working under Dabo Swinney (2008-10) and later at Alabama under Nick Saban (2013-16). Napier also worked at Colorado State (2012) and Arizona State (2017) before taking over as Louisiana’s head coach in 2018. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished 7-7 with a Sun Belt West Division title in Napier’s debut last fall. Louisiana is 7-2 through nine games in 2019 and is favored to win the division once again.

PHOTO BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning calls a play during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

I have read a lot about Peyton Manning in the past and I got to see him play when he was the Vol quarterback and I was excited to hear that he will be speaking in Little Rock on June 1, 2013.

LIKE IT IS

One of NFL’s best will honor state’s best

LITTLE ROCK — Peyton Manning is coming to the Rock.

Manning, perhaps the most prolific quarterback in NFL history (he currently holds 19 records), does only a handful of speeches each year, but Tabitha Cunningham, events manager for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, zeroed in on him from the very start and managed to get him as the keynote speaker for the first All-Arkansas Preps sports banquet.

In all honesty, his fee isn’t cheap, but you wouldn’t expect a Super Bowl MVP to be a bargain.

The banquet, which will be June 1 at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, may be one of the hardest tickets to come by in the history of sports banquets. Not just because of Manning, but because there will be approximately 300 athletes named to the All-Arkansas Preps teams as well as an outstanding player of the year, male and female, for the eight sports.

The awards include first-, second- and all-sophomore teams for football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, boys soccer, girls soccer and softball. Boys and girls in golf, tennis and track and field will come from championship events or the Meet of Champs.

Coaches also will be honored in the sports, and there will be three athletic/ academic/community awards.

St. Vincent Health System is the main sponsor, and it was fitting that Tuesday’s announcement was at its partner, D1 Sports.

Keith Jackson, who has agreed to be the master of ceremonies, was on hand for the news conference. So was Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee, who is part owner and works out at D1, and he really liked the idea of an allencompassing celebration of so many athletes.

For decades, football and basketball players have been named to the Democrat-Gazette’s All-Arkansas teams, but this is the first time to embrace eight different sports.

Some of the All-Arkansas athletes have already been announced in the newspaper, and among the outstanding players of the year on handfor the announcement were Central Arkansas Christian’s Landon Hearnes (boys golf), Conway’s Summar Roachell (girls golf), Pulaski Academy’s Julio Olaya (boys tennis) and Conway’s Janet Taylor (golf coach of the year).

Others who have already been named winners but were unable to make the trip Tuesday were Hot Springs Lakeside’s Mary Wright (girls tennis) and Shawny Green (tennis coach of the year) and Greenwood’s Drew Morgan (football) and Rick Jones (football coach of the year).

The honorees are chosen by a committee of coaches and sportswriters.

“I still remember opening the Arkansas Democrat to see who made the All-Arkansas team. It was a thrill,” said Jackson, a two-time collegiate All-American who spentnine years in the NFL and is the founder of Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids. “An event such as this will take it to another level.”

Peter Banko, president and CEO of St. Vincent Health System, will present the St. Vincent Award to a studentathlete who overcame a health issue. The P.A.R.K. Education Award will go to an athlete who has made great achievements on the field and in the classroom. The Hussman Award will go to an athlete who has excelled on the field and in their community.

Nominations for those three awards are being accepted from coaches, teachers and the general public at allarkansaspreps@arkansasonline.com.

The athletes and coaches are why this newspaper decided to undertake such a major banquet, but the keynote speaker was also a major part of the planning.

“When we first started planning this event, the one name that kept coming up was Peyton Manning,” Cunningham said. “We are also thankful for our sponsors for joining us to make this event a great experience for everyone.”

Metropolitan National Bank, Academy Sports and Arkansas Select Buick GMC Dealers are also sponsoring the event, and the plan is for this to become an annual event.

More information on table sponsorships – and they won’t last long – can be obtained by calling (501) 378-3553.

Sports, Pages 17 on 01/23/2013

Print Headline: One of NFL’s best will honor state’s best

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 158 A PAUSING to look at the life of Riccardo Giacconi and his quote “Irrational thinking of any kind is very dangerous, …I wish that with the progress of science we could inject a little bit more rationality in the world. But in that sense we have failed. ”

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Riccardo Giacconi on 16 December 16, 2018, in La Jolla, CA,  and I wanted to spend time on several posts concentrating on him.

ann18090 — Announcement

Riccardo Giacconi (1931–2018)

“Father of X-ray astronomy” and former ESO Director General key to the success of ESO’s Very Large Telescope has passed away

11 December 2018

ESO’s fifth Director General, Riccardo Giacconi, passed away on Sunday 9 December 2018 at the age of 87.

Riccardo Giacconi led ESO from 1993 to 1999, at a crucial time in the organisation’s history. ESO was constructing what is now its flagship facility, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), on Cerro Paranal, and starting the partnership that would become the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array(ALMA). The successes of these years, and in particular the construction of the VLT, put ESO on the path to being the world-leading astronomical organisation that it is today.

Riccardo Giacconi was born in Genova, Italy on 6 October 1931. He obtained both a degree in Physics and his PhD from the University of Milan. In 1956, two years after receiving his PhD, Giacconi moved to Indiana University, USA and then on to Princeton University, USA to work at the Princeton Cosmic Ray Laboratory.

Following his time at Princeton, Giacconi began the work that earned him the title of “father of X-ray astronomy”. He was contracted by American Science and Engineering to initiate a space science programme, and Giacconi decided that the programme should focus on observations at X-ray wavelengths. This decision effectively marked the beginning of X-ray astronomy. In 1962, he and his group discovered Scorpius X-1, the first known X-ray source outside the Solar System, and the cosmic X-ray background.

As an X-ray astronomer myself, Riccardo Giacconi and his work illuminated more than three decades of my career, long before I came to ESO,” commented Xavier Barcons, ESO’s current Director General. “I consider it a great honour to be one of his successors as Director General, at the organisation that he did so much to shape,

During Giacconi’s time as ESO’s Director General he made significant changes to the organisation of ESO which were instrumental in making the VLT a success. In particular, his modern management techniques were well-suited to large programmes, and fostered greater collaboration between ESO and Chile. Thanks to his leadership, ESO was able to overcome significant technological and financial difficulties in building the VLT, and two of the four Unit Telescopes saw first light toward the end of his term.

During his tenure as Director General, he also oversaw further developments at La Silla — through his support, the New Technology Telescope (NTT) was improved. The NTT broke new ground for telescope engineering and design and was the first in the world to have a computer-controlled main mirror.

Upon leaving ESO, he returned to the United States to take up a post as President of Associated Universities Incorporated(AUI) in 2002. He was awarded a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002 “for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources.”

Riccardo Giacconi’s contributions as Director General helped shape ESO into the world-leading organisation it has become, and his leadership will be remembered as instrumental for ESO’s enduring success.

A fuller obituary has been published in ESO’s quarterly journal The Messenger.

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On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

Nick Gathergood, David-Birkett, Harry-Kroto

I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:

Arif Ahmed, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BatePatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky,Alan DershowitzHubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan FeuchtwangDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Hermann HauserRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodHerbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart Kauffman,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George LakoffElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlanePeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff,  Jonathan Parry,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceLisa RandallLord Martin Rees,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisNeil deGrasse Tyson,  .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John WalkerFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

In  the first video below in the 47th clip in this series are his words and will be responding to them in the next few weeks, but today I just wanted to pause and look at this life. 

50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)

Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)

A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)

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December 25, 2014

Dr. Riccardo Giacconi, c/o Johns Hopkins University, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy, Room 366
3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218

Dear Dr. Giacconi,

I love the town of Baltimore. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in the Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. My sons and I got to visit Fort McHenry back in 1996 in Baltimore, and we loved our tour.

Also I have done a lot of posts on my blog on William Foxwell Albright (from John Hopkins) who was the greatest biblical archaeologist of all time because of his knowledge of pottery.  One of the posts I did was entitled, “14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.” The final reason that I love your town so much is because of the nickname you chose for the NFL team in Baltimore which is tied into Edgar Allan Poe and that of course is the Ravens!!!!

Recently I ran across this quote from you, ” Irrational thinking of any kind is very dangerous, …I wish that with the progress of science we could inject a little bit more rationality in the world. But in that sense we have failed. ”

On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto  who I have been corresponding with and it said:

…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975

and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.

Harry Kroto

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There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I saw that you were featured in this film series. I have been responding to some of thestatements concerning God and I plan on responding to what you have said on this issue too.

Now on to the other topics I wanted to discuss with you today. I wanted to write you today for two reasons. First, do you believe that evangelicals should have a place at the table when it comes to science even though we believe in a personal Creator?  Second, I wanted to point out some scientific evidence that caused Antony Flew to switch from an atheist (as you are now) to a theist. Twenty years I had the opportunity to correspond with two individuals that were regarded as two of the most famous atheists of the 20th Century, Antony Flew and Carl Sagan. (I have enclosed some of those letters between us.) I had read the books and seen the films of the Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer and he had discussed the works of both of these men. I sent both of these gentlemen philosophical arguments from Schaeffer in these letters and in the first letter I sent a cassette tape of my pastor’s sermon IS THE BIBLE TRUE? (CD is enclosed also.) You may have noticed in the news a few years ago that Antony Flew actually became a theist in 2004 and remained one until his death in 2010. Carl Sagan remained a skeptic until his dying day in 1996.

You will notice in the enclosed letter from June 1, 1994 that Dr. Flew commented, “Thank you for sending me the IS THE BIBLE TRUE? tape to which I have just listened with great interest and, I trust, profit.” It would be a great honor for me if you would take time and drop me a note and let me know what your reaction is to this same message.

In 1994 and 1995 I had the opportunity to correspond with the famous evolutionist Dr. Ernst Mayr of Harvard. He stated in his letter of 10-3-94, “Owing to your ideological commitments, it is only natural that you cannot accept the cogency of the scientific evidence. However, to a person such as myself without such commitments, the story of the gradual evolution of life as reconstructed by chemists and molecular biologists is totally convincing.”

I responded by pointing out three points. First, Scientific Naturalism is atheistic by definition. Second, many great scientists of the past were Christians, and that did not disqualify their observations and discoveries. Third, the fact that evolution is true does not rule out God’s existence (Harvard’s own Owen Gingerich and many others such as Francis Collins hold to a Creator and evolution).

Let me just spend some time on my second point. Francis Schaeffer in his book “HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?” stated that according to Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, both renowned philosophers and scientists of our era (but not Christians themselves), modern science was born out of the Christian world view. Whitehead said that Christianity is the “mother of science” because of the insistence on the rationality of God. In the article, “Christianity and Technological Advance – The Astonishing Connection,” by T. V. Varughese, Ph.D, he observed:

Without question, “technology” has now become the new magic word in place of the word “science.” Since technology represents the practical applications of science, it is clearly consumer-oriented. Herein is bright economic promise to all who can provide technology.

In terms of technology, our present world can be divided into at least three groups: countries that are strong providers of technology, both original and improved; countries that are mass producers because of cheaper labor; and countries that are mostly consumers. Without a doubt, being in the position of “originating” superior technology should be a goal for any major country. The difficult question, however, is “how.”

An obvious place to start suggests itself. Why not begin with the countries that have established themselves as strong originators of technology and see if there is a common thread between them? The western nations, after the Renaissance and the Reformation of the 16th century, offer a ready example. Any book on the history of inventions, such as the Guinness Book of Answers, will reveal that the vast majority of scientific inventions have originated in Europe (including Britain) and the USA since the dawn of the 17th century. What led to the fast technological advances in the European countries and North America around that time?

The answer is that something happened which set the stage for science and technology to emerge with full force. Strange as it may seem, that event was the return to Biblical Christianity in these countries.

The Epistemological Foundation of Technology

According to Alfred North Whitehead and J. Robert Oppenheimer, both renowned philosophers and scientists of our era (but not Christians themselves), modern science was born out of the Christian world view. Whitehead said that Christianity is the “mother of science” because of the insistence on the rationality of God.[1] Entomologist Stanley Beck,though not a Christian himself, acknowledged the corner-stone premises of science which the Judeo-Christian world view offers: “The first of the unprovable premises on which science has been based is the belief that the world is real and the human mind is capable of knowing its real nature. The second and best-known postulate underlying the structure of scientific knowledge is that of cause and effect. The third basic scientific premise is that nature is unified.”[2] In other words, the epistemological foundation of technology has been the Judeo-Christian world view presented in the Bible…

Perhaps the most obvious affirmation that Biblical Christianity and science are friends and not foes comes from the fact that most of the early scientists after the Renaissance were also strong believers in the Bible as the authoritative source of knowledge concerning the origin of the universe and man’s place in it.[4] The book of Genesis, the opening book of the Bible, presents the distinctly Judeo-Christian world view of a personal Creator God behind the origin and sustenance of the universe (Genesis 1:1Colossians 1:17; etc.).

Among the early scientists of note who held the Biblical creationist world view are Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and Samuel Morse (1791-1872) – what motivated them was a confidence in the “rationality” behind the universe and the “goodness” of the material world. The creation account in Genesis presents an intelligent, purposeful Creator, who, after completing the creation work, declared it to be very good (Genesis 1:31). That assures us that the physical universe operates under reliable laws which may be discovered by the intelligent mind and used in practical applications. The confidence in the divinely pronounced goodness of the material world removed any reluctance concerning the development of material things for the betterment of life in this world. The spiritual world and the material world can work together in harmony.

 References –

  1. Francis A. Schaeffer: How Should We Then Live (Revell, 1976), p. 132.
  2. Henry M. Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Baker, 1991), p. 30.
  3. Schaeffer, p. 131.
  4. Henry M. Morris, Men of Science, Men of God (Master Books, CA, 1988), 107 pp.

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Henry Morris pointed out:

Many of these great scientists of the past were before Darwin, but not all of them. However, all of them were acquainted with secular philosophies and some were in fact opponents of Darwinism (Agassiz, Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, Maxwell, Dawson, Virchow, Fabre, Fleming, etc). Many of them believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, as well as in the deity and saving work of Jesus Christ. They believed that God had supernaturally created all things, each with its own complex structure for its own unique purpose. They believed that, as scientists, they were “thinking God’s thoughts after Him,” learning to understand and control the laws and processes of nature for God’s glory and man’s good. They believed and practiced science in exactly the same way that modern creationist scientists do.

And somehow this attitude did not hinder them in their commitment to the “scientific method.” In fact one of them, Sir Francis Bacon, is credited with formulating and establishing the scientific method! They seem also to have been able to maintain a proper “scientific attitude,” for it was these men (Newton, Pasteur, Linnaeus, Faraday, Pascal, Lord Kelvin, Maxwell, Kepler, etc.) whose researches and analyses led to the very laws and concepts of science which brought about our modern scientific age…. 

To illustrate the caliber and significance of these great scientists of the past, Tables I and II have been prepared. These tabulations are not complete lists, of course, but at least are representative and they do point up the absurdity of modern assertions that no true scientist can be a creationist and Bible-believing Christian.

Table I lists the creationist “fathers” of many significant branches of modern science. Table II lists the creationist scientists responsible for various vital inventions, discoveries, and other contributions to mankind. These identifications are to some degree oversimplified, of course, for even in the early days of science every new development involved a number of other scientists, before and after. Nevertheless, in each instance, a strong case can be made for attributing the chief responsibility to the creationist scientist indicated. At the very least, his contribution was critically important and thus supports our contention that belief in creation and the Bible helps, rather than hinders, scientific discovery.

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My relatives live 3 miles from Spring Hill, Tennessee. When the new General Motors plant opened there I got to go see it. What if I had said, “The assembly line created a beautiful Saturn automobile!” Hopefully, some would have corrected me by responding, “The assembly line did not create the automobile. It was first designed by the General Motors engineers in Detroit.” ASSUMING EVOLUTION IS TRUE, IT WOULD STILL ONLY BE THE MECHANISM. DOES EVOLUTION ACCOUNT FOR THE DESIGNER?

Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.

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

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Critics – Part 1
By Dr

In my ongoing debate with other bloggers on the Arkansas Times Blog, I had an interesting response from Dobert:

You can’t have it both ways. If the Gospel writers were allowed to adapt their message to a particular audience then it can’t be claimed that God literally took their hand and wrote the scriptures. If we allow the Gospel writers to adapt their message, then we had better get ready to accept the fact that Paul interjected his own opinion about so many matters that he was personally opposed to or were culturally dominant at the time he wrote it. God would not have written inconsistencies in His Scriptures unless we want to admit that God has a sense of humor.

I responded with this:

Hank Hanegraaff the director of CRI has noted:

 “Can anything involving human beings contain the inerrant Word of God”? 

The short answer to that question is “yes.” It’s true that humans are fallible vessels that they’re prone to error, but that in no way precludes the inerrancy of the Bible. All Scripture is God breathed. All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Apostle Paul there puts a very significant premium of the accuracy of all Scripture. 

The Apostle Peter does essentially the same thing. He says that prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  

The doctrine of inspiration tells us that God did something miraculous in inspiration. He worked through fallible human prophets, He utilized their individual personalities, all to pen what is authoritative, infallible, and sacred as Scripture. In fact we can demonstrate that the Bible is divine as opposed to human in origin. If you look just at archeology, you find what is concealed in the soil, corresponds to what is revealed in the Scriptures, and that with minute precision. I’m talking about people, and places, even particulars. So we know, we have evidence that the Bible corresponds to reality, and therefore it is truth, and a miracle—the miracle of infallible inspiration, the inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit. 

Now we don’t suppose that the disciples walked around with tape recorders, or we’re programmed automatons, but what we do suppose is that the believers who are used by God to pen the Scriptures captured the essential voice of God in the Scripture. Not the exact words they heard. For example, if you look at the Sermon on the Mount, you’ll see that there are various versions of the Sermon on the Mount given by Mark, Matthew, and Luke. And you see that the Sermon on the Mount is given in a different way but is essentially the same, because through their own personalities Matthew and Luke capture the essential voice of Jesus not the exact verbiage that Jesus used, and that’s why there can be differences and yet complete agreement because there’s no difference in the message that is being communicated in either case.

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I remember listening to a 90 minute lecture by Francis Schaeffer on the conclusions the great American archaeologist (William F. Albright) who changed his views over the years because of the archaeological evidence. Below is some of that evidence. (You can access some of the evidence that convinced William Ramsey concerning the Book of Luke and Acts here.)

I went and secured a copy of the interview and read it myself. In a 1963 interview with Christianity Today magazine, William F. Albright (1891-1971) stated:

In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and eighties of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about 50 and 75 A.D.)(CHRISTIANITY TODAY, VII, 359, January 18, 1963, “Toward a More Conservative View,” interview with William F. Albright.)

. ohn Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon

Biblical Archaeology, Silencing the critics (Part 1)Significantly, even liberal theologians, secular academics, and critics generally cannot deny that archaeology has confirmed the biblical record at many points. Rationalistic detractors of the Bible can attack it all day long, but they cannot dispute archaeological facts. Consider the weekly PBS series “Mysteries of the Bible.” Despite some shortcomings, such as the theologically liberal experts and non-Christian commentators, this program has offered example after example, week after week, of the archaeological reliability of the Bible.To further illustrate, probably the three greatest American archaeologists of the twentieth century each had their liberal training modified by their archaeological work. W. F. Albright, Nelson Glueck, and George Ernest Wright all “received training in the liberal scholarship of the day, which had resulted from the earlier and continuing critical study of the Bible, predominantly by German scholars.”1 Despite their liberal training, it was archaeological research that bolstered their confidence in the biblical text:Albright said of himself, “I must admit that I tried to be rational and empirical in my approach [but] we all have presuppositions of a philosophical order.” The same statement could be applied as easily to Gleuck and Wright, for all three were deeply imbued with the theological perceptions which infused their work. Albright, the son of a Methodist missionary, came to see that much of German critical thought was established upon a philosophical base that could not be sustained in the light of archaeological discoveries…. Nelson Glueck was Albright’s student. In his own explorations in Trans-Jordan and the Negev and in his excavations, Glueck worked with the Bible in hand. He trusted what he called “the remarkable phenomenon of historical memory in the Bible.” He was the president of the prestigious Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and an ordained Rabbi. Wright went from the faculty of the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago to a position in the Harvard Divinity School which he retained until his death. He, too, was a student of Albright.2Glueck forthrightly declared, “As a matter of fact, however, it may be clearly stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact details historical statements in the Bible.”3In fact, “Much of the credit for this relatively new assessment of the patriarchal tradition must go to the ‘Albright school.’ Albright himself pointed out years ago that apart from ‘a few diehards among older scholars’ there is hardly a single biblical historian who is not at least impressed with the rapid accumulation of data supporting the ‘substantial historicity’ of patriarchal tradition.”4And, in fact, this is true not just for the patriarchal tradition but the Bible generally. The earlier statement by assyriologist A. H. Sayce continues to hold true today: “Time after time the most positive assertions of a skeptical criticism have been disproved by archaeological discovery, events and personages that were confidently pronounced to be mythical have been shown to be historical, and the older [i.e., biblical] writers have turned out to have been better acquainted with what they were describing than the modern critics who has flouted them.”5Millar Burrows of Yale points out that, “Archaeology has in many cases refuted the views of modern critics. It has been shown in a number of instances that these views rest on false assumptions and unreal, artificial schemes of historical development….” And, “The excessive skepticism of many liberal theologians stems not from a careful evaluation of the available data, but from an enormous predisposition against the supernatural.”6Many other examples could be given of how firsthand archaeological work changed the view of a critic. One of the most prominent is that of Sir William Ramsay. Ramsey’s own archaeological findings convinced him of the reliability of the Bible and the truth of what it taught. In his The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament and other books, he shows why he came to conclude that “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness” and that “Luke is a historian of the first rank … In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”7As part of his secular academic duties, Dr. Clifford Wilson was for some years required to research and teach higher critical approaches to the Bible. This gave him a great deal of firsthand exposure and insight to the assumptions and methodologies that go into these approaches. Yet his own archaeological research was found to continually refute such skeptical theories, so much so that he finally concluded, “It is the steady conviction of this writer that the Bible is … the ancient world’s most reliable history textbook….”8In a personal communication he added the following,I was not always the “literalist” I am today. I’ve always had a profound respect for the Bible, but accepted that the use of poetic forms meant that the record could often be interpreted symbolically where now I take it literally—though of course there are times when symbolism is clearly utilized. Thus in later Scriptures “Egypt” can be a geographic country or a symbolic term. That liberalism is especially true in relation to Genesis chapters 1 through 11, often considered allegorical or mythical, where my researches have led me to the conclusion that this is profound writing, meant to be taken literally. There was a real Adam, creation that was contemporaneous for the various life forms as shown in Genesis chapter 1, and a consistent style of history writing—such as the outlines given in Genesis one, then zeroing in on the specifics relating to mankind in Genesis chapter 2; the history of all the early peoples in Genesis chapter 10, then the concentration on Abraham and his descendants from Genesis chapter 11 onwards. Early man, “the birth of the lady of the rib,” long-living man, giants in the earth (animals, birds, and men), the flood, the Tower of Babel—and much more—point to factual, accurate recording of history in these early chapters of Genesis. Over 40 years have passed since I first became professionally involved in biblical archaeology and my commitment to the Bible as the world’s greatest history book is firmly settled. As Psalm 119:89 states, “Forever O Lord, your word is established in heaven.”Indeed one of the most valuable contributions of modern archaeology has been its reputation of higher critical views toward scripture. Consider for example the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.J. Randall Price (Ph.D., Middle Eastern Studies) currently working on a forthcoming apologetic text on biblical archaeology writes, “Those who expect the [Dead Sea] scrolls to produce a radical revision of the Bible have been disappointed, for these texts have only verified the reliability and stability of the Old Testament as it appears in our modern translations.”9

He further points out how the Daniel fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls should require scholars to abandon a Maccabean date. The same kind of evidence forced scholars to abandon Maccabean dates for Chronicles, Ecclesiastes, and many of the Psalms. But so far, most scholars refuse to do this for Daniel: “Unfortunately, critical scholars have not arrived at a similar conclusion for the Book of Daniel, even though the evidence is identical.”10 In fact, according to Old Testament scholar Gerhard Hasel, a date for Daniel in the sixth or fifth century BC “has more in its favor today from the point of view of language alone than ever before.”11 The Dead Sea Scrolls also provide significant evidence for the unity and single authorship of the Book of Isaiah. Dr. Price concludes, “The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, then, has made a contribution toward confirming the integrity of the biblical text and its own claim to predictive prophecy. Rather than support the recent theories of documentary disunity, the Scrolls have returned scholars to a time when the Bible’s internal witness to its own consistency and veracity was fully accepted by its adherents.”12

(to be continued)

Notes:

1 Keith N. Scoville, Biblical Archeology in Focus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978), p. 163.

2 Ibid., p. 163.

3 Norman L. Geisler and Ron Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), p. 179.

4 Eugene H. Merrill, Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, “Ebla and Biblical Historical Inerrancy” in Roy B. Zuck (Genesis ed.), Vital Apologetic Issues: Examining Reasons and Revelation in Biblical Perspective (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1995), p. 180.

5 A. H. Sayce, Monument Facts and Higher Critical Fancies (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1904), p. 23, Cited in Josh McDowell, More Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Arrowhead Springs, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1975), p. 53.

6 As cited in Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Arrowhead Springs, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972) p. 66.

7 William M. Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Bookhouse, 1959), p. 91; cf. William M. Ramsay, Luke the Physician, pp. 177-79, 222 from F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1971), pp. 90-91.

8 Clifford Wilson, Rocks, Relics and Biblical Reliability (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Richardson, TX: Probe, 1977), p. 126

9 J. Randall Price, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), p. 146.

10 Ibid., p. 159.

11 Ibid., p. 163.

12 Ibid., p. 164; cf. p. 157.

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

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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)

“Music Monday”:Coldplay’s best songs of all time (Part 5) 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: Hunter picked “Don’t Panic,” as his number 16 pick of Coldplay’s best […]

Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it jh55

(If you want to check out other posts I have done about about Steve Jobs:Some say Steve Jobs was an atheist , Steve Jobs and Adoption , What is the eternal impact of Steve Jobs’ life? ,Steve Jobs versus President Obama: Who created more jobs? ,Steve Jobs’ view of death and what the Bible has to say about it ,8 things you might not know about Steve Jobs ,Steve […]

“Woody Wednesday” A review of some of the past Allen films jh32

I am a big Woody Allen fan. Not all his films can be recommended but he does look at some great issues and he causes the viewer to ask the right questions. My favorite is “Crimes and Misdemeanors” but the recent film “Midnight in Paris” was excellent too. Looking at the (sometimes skewed) morality of […]

Good without God?

(The signs are up on the buses in Little Rock now and the leader of the movement to put them up said on the radio today that he does not anticipate any physical actions against the signs by Christians. He noted that the Christians that he knows would never stoop to that level.) Debate: Christianity […]

“Music Monday”:Coldplay’s best songs of all time (Part 4)

Dave Hogan/ Getty Images 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: For the 17th best Coldplay song of all-time, Hunter picks “42.” He notes, “You thought you might […]

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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