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FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 285 “Is Optimistic Humanism possible?” (Schaeffer v. Richard Dawkins) Featured Artist is Daniel Gordon

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Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins

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Francis and Edith Schaeffer at their home in Switzerland with some visiting friends

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Schaeffer with his wife Edith in Switzerland.


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Richard Dawkins and John Lennox

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DawkinsWard

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Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Harris 

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Canary Islands 2014: Harold Kroto and Richard Dawkins

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Francis Schaeffer pictured below:

The Basis of Human Dignity by Francis Schaeffer

Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Credit: Don Arnold Getty Images

January 1, 2019

Richard Dawkins c/o Richard Dawkins Foundation, 
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Dawkins,

i have enjoyed reading about a dozen of your books and some of the most intriguing were The God DelusionAn Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, and Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science.

I wanted to comment on something you wrote in your book Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, and here is the quote from the chapter “Speaking up for science: an open letter to Prince Charles”:

It may sound paradoxical, but if we want to sustain the planet into the future, the first thing we must do is stop taking advice from nature. Nature is a short-term Darwinian profiteer. Darwin himself said it: ‘What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horridly cruel works of nature.’

Of course that’s bleak, but there’s no law saying the truth has to be cheerful; no point shooting the messenger – science – and no sense in preferring an alternative world view just because it feels more comfortable.

In any case, SCIENCE ISN’T ALL BLEAK. Nor, by the way, is science an arrogant know-all. Any scientist worthy of the name will warm to your quotation from Socrates: ‘Wisdom is knowing that you don’t know.’ What else drives us to find out?

I would differ with your view that atheistic science isn’t all bleak. I wrote a letter a while back that addressed the Optimistic Humanism that you embrace and here it is: 

May 24, 2016

Professor John Mark Elvin,

Dear Dr. Elvin,

I know that your father was active in the  BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION and that he was longtime friends with H.J. Blackham.  Blackham was the founder of the BRITISH HUMANIST ASSOCIATION and he asserted:

On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. If there is a bridge over a gorge which spans only half the distance and ends in mid-air, and if the bridge is crowded with human beings pressing on, one after the other they fall into the abyss. The bridge leads nowhere, and those who are pressing forward to cross it are going nowhere….It does not matter where they think they are going, what preparations for the journey they may have made, how much they may be enjoying it all. The objection merely points out objectively that such a situation is a model of futility“( H. J. Blackham, et al., Objections to Humanism (Riverside, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1967).

 Lionel Elvin (7 August 1905 in Buckhurst Hill – 14 June 2005 in Cambridge

Harold J. Blackham (1903-2009) pictured above

On John Ankerberg’s show in 1986 there was a debate between  Dr. Paul Kurtz, and Dr. Norman Geisler and when part of the above quote was read, Dr. Kurtz responded:

I think you may be quoting Blackham out of context because I’ve heard Blackham speak, and read much of what he said, but Blackham has argued continuously that life is full of meaning;

I just finished reading the online addition of the book Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray. There are several points that Charles Darwin makes in this book that were very wise, honest, logical, shocking and some that were not so wise. The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said of Darwin’s writings, “Darwin in his autobiography and in his letters showed that all through his life he never really came to a quietness concerning the possibility that chance really explained the situation of the biological world. You will find there is much material on this [from Darwin] extended over many many years that constantly he was wrestling with this problem.”

In your interview with Alan Macfarlane I saw that your father was involved in Paris with UNESCO. Wikipedia says of Julian Huxley:

Huxley, a lifelong internationalist with a concern for education, got involved in the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and became the organization’s first Director-General in 1946. His term of office, six years in the Charter, was cut down to two years at the behest of the USA delegation.[15] The reasons are not known for sure, but his left-wing tendencies and humanism were likely factors. In a fortnight he dashed off a 60-page booklet on the purpose and philosophy of UNESCO, eventually printed and issued as an official document. There were, however, many conservative opponents of his scientific humanism. His idea of restraining population growth with birth control was anathema to both the Catholic Church and the Comintern/Cominform. In its first few years UNESCO was dynamic and broke new ground; since Huxley it has become larger, more bureaucratic and stable.[16][17] The personal and social side of the years in Paris are well described by his wife.[18]

I was curious if either your father or you got to meet Julian Huxley?

Recently I ran across this quote from you from that excellent in-depth interview you did with Alan Macfarlane :

I was puzzled by the fact that I was told nonsense, not just something I might not agree with, but nonsense. This was nonsense, and the contrast fascinated me and I was already about age eleven and in some way you could say someone who took as his guide Bertrand Russell’s work that was accessible to me beginning with his popular essays. 

You mentioned in your quote the Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell.  Like you I have read much of his material concerning the existence of God. One quote really stands out to me and here it is:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Bertrand Russell

This nihilistic quote seems to go against what he saying at other times in his life and that was he advocated evolutionary optimistic humanism and even in the 19th century Charles Darwin in his autobiography was touting the same product then!!!!!

When I read the book  Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published lettersI also read  a commentary on it by Francis Schaeffer and I wanted to both  quote some of Charles Darwin’s own words to you and then include the comments of Francis Schaeffer on those words. I have also enclosed a CD with two messages from Adrian Rogers and Bill Elliff concerning Darwinism.

Francis Darwin noted, “passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat abbreviated, from a part of the Autobiography, written in 1876, in which my father gives the history of his religious views:”

“Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is,”

Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) pictured below

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Charles Darwin

T. H. Huxley with Julian in 1893

Julian and Aldous Huxley

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER COMMENTED:

Now you have now the birth of Julian Huxley’s evolutionary optimistic humanism already stated by Darwin. Darwin now has a theory that man is going to be better. If you had lived at 1860 or 1890 and you said to Darwin, “By 1970 will man be better?” He certainly would have the hope that man would be better as Julian Huxley does today. Of course, I wonder what he would say if he lived in our day and saw what has been made of his own views in the direction of (the mass murder) Richard Speck (and deterministic thinking of today’s philosophers). I wonder what he would say. So you have the factor, already the dilemma in Darwin that I pointed out in Julian Huxley and that is evolutionary optimistic humanism rests always on tomorrow. You never have an argument from the present or the past for evolutionary optimistic humanism.

You can have evolutionary nihilism on the basis of the present and the past. Every time you have someone bringing in evolutionary optimistic humanism it is always based on what is going to be produced tomorrow. When is it coming? The years pass and is it coming? Arthur Koestler doesn’t think it is coming. He sees lots of problems here and puts forth for another solution.

In Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography he noted:

“…it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.”

Francis Schaeffer commented:

Here you feel Marcel Proust and the dust of death is on everything today because the dust of death is on everything tomorrow. Here you have the dilemma of Nevil Shute’s ON THE BEACH. If it is true that all we have left is biological continuity and increased biological complexity, which is all we have left in Darwinism here, or with many of the modern philosophers, then you can’t stand Shute’s ON THE BEACH. Maybe tomorrow at noon human life may be wiped out. Darwin already feels the tension, because if human life is going to be wiped out tomorrow, what is it worth today? Darwin can’t stand the thought of death of all men. Charlie Chaplin when he heard there was no life on Mars said, “I’m lonely.”

You think of the Swedish Opera (ANIARA) that is pictured inside a spaceship. There was a group of men and women going into outer space and they had come to another planet and the singing inside the spaceship was normal opera music. Suddenly there was a big explosion and the world had blown up and these were the last people left, the only conscious people left, and the last scene is the spaceship is off course and it will never land, but will just sail out into outer space and that is the end of the plot. They say when it was shown in Stockholm the first time, the tough Swedes with all their modern  mannishness, came out (after the opera was over) with hardly a word said, just complete silence.

Darwin already with his own position says he CAN’T STAND IT!! You can say, “Why can’t you stand it?” We would say to Darwin, “You were not made for this kind of thing. Man was made in the image of God. Your CAN’T- STAND- IT- NESS is screaming at you that your position is wrong. Why can’t you listen to yourself?”

You find all he is left here is biological continuity, and thus his feeling as well as his reason now is against his own theory, yet he holds it against the conclusions of his reason. Reason doesn’t make it hard to be a Christian. Darwin shows us the other way. He is holding his position against his reason.

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These words of Darwin ring in my ear, “…it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress…” . Schaeffer rightly noted, “Maybe tomorrow at noon human life may be wiped out. Darwin already feels the tension, because if human life is going to be wiped out tomorrow, what is it worth today? Darwin can’t stand the thought of death of all men.” IN OTHER WORDS ALL WE ARE IS DUST IN THE WIND.  I sent you a CD that starts off with the song DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song. It included these words, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life.  FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can  face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.

Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible ChurchDAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

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.

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

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

Francis Schaeffer in 1984

Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer in 1982

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Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Episode 1

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Garik Israelian, Stephen Hawking, Alexey Leonov, Brian May, Richard Dawkins and Harry Kroto

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Featured artist is Daniel Gordon

Daniel Gordon Gets Physical | “New York Close Up” | Art21

Daniel Gordon

Daniel Gordon was born in 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts, was raised in San Francisco, California, and lives and works in New York. Described in a 2014 New Yorker review as an artist who “makes Matisse look like a minimalist,” Gordon creates works that dissolve distinctions between collage, photography, and sculpture.

His practice involves culling images from the Internet, digitally altering them, and using them to construct tableaus, which he then photographs. Propelled by intuition and Photoshop, Gordon expands the traditional visual repertoire to include the World Wide Web. His ability to integrate digital and analog images creates a joyful disorientation in which fiction and truth are indistinguishable from each other.

Links:
Artist’s website

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RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 42 Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

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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 _________________ Below you have picture of 1996 Chemistry Nobel Prize […]

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Bart Ehrman “Why should one think that God performed the miracle of inspiring the words in the first place if He didn’t perform the miracle of preserving the words?”

September 2, 2015 – 8:42 am

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MUSIC MONDAY Punk Music and The Offspring, FRANCIS SCHAEFFER TAKES LOOK AT ECCLESIASTES AND THE ISSUE OF MIGHT MAKES RIGHT

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Offspring__

Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.”__

Should we DO WANT WANT TO AS IF THERE IS FINAL JUDGE? That would lead to MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!

Let me challenge these PUNK ROCKERS to watch the film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS by Woody Allen.

Take a minute and read the lyrics from the song “The Meaning of Life” by The Offspring.

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On the way
Trying to get where I’d like to say
I’m always feeling steered away
By someone trying to tell me
What to say and do
I don’t want it
I gotta go find my own way
I gotta go make my own mistakes
Sorry man for feeling
Feeling the way I do
On yeah, Oh yeah
Open wide and they’ll shove in
Their meaning of life
Oh yeah, Oh yeah
But not for me I’ll do it on my own
Oh yeah, Oh yeah
Open wide and swallow their meaning of life
I can’t make it work your way
Thanks but no thanks
By the way
I know your path has been tried and so
It may seem like the way to go
Me, I’d rather be found
Trying something new
And the bottom line
In all of this seems to say
There’s no right and wrong way
Sorry if I don’t feel like
Living the way you do
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bryan Holland / Greg Kriesel / Kevin Wasserman / Ron Welty
The Meaning of Life lyrics © Kobalt

(Notice the nihilistic feeling from the song “Cant Repeat”)

I woke the other day
And saw my world has changed
The past is over but tomorrow’s wishful thinking
I can’t hold onto what’s been done (woah-oh)
I can’t grab onto what’s to come (woah-oh)
And I’m just wishing I could stop, but
Life goes on
Come of age
Can’t hold on
Turn the page
Time rolls on
Wipe these eyes
Yesterday laughs
Tomorrow cries
Memories are bittersweet
The Good times we can’t repeat
Those days are gone and we can never get them back
Now we must move ahead (woah-oh)
Despite our fear and dread (woah-oh)
We’re all just wishing we could stop, but
Life goes on
Come of age
Can’t hold on
Turn the page
Time rolls on
Wipe your eyes
Yesterday laughs
Tomorrow cries
With all our joys and fears
Wrapped in forgotten years
The past is laughing as today just slips away
Time tears down what we’ve made (woah-oh)
And sets another stage (woah-oh)
And I’m just wishing we could stop
Life goes on
Come of age
Can’t hold on
Turn the page
Time rolls on
Wipe these eyes
Yesterday laughs
Tomorrow cries
Time rolls on
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: HOLLAND BRYAN KEITH / HOLLAND DEXTER
Can’t Repeat lyrics © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Round Hill Music, Round Hill Works, Underachiever Music

The Offspring is an American rock band from Garden Grove, California, formed in 1984.[2]Originally formed under the name Manic Subsidal, the band has consisted of lead vocalist and guitarist Bryan “Dexter” Holland, bassist Greg K., guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman and drummer Pete Parada since 2007. Over the course of their 35-year career, they have released nine studio albums and experienced lineup changes, most noticeably with their drummers. Their longest-serving drummer was Ron Welty, who replaced original drummer James Lilja in 1987, and stayed with the band for 16 years; he was replaced by Atom Willard in 2003, and then four years later by Pete Parada.

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Francis Schaeffer noted:

I have lots of young people and older ones come to us from the ends of the earth. And as they come to us, they have gone to the end of this logically and they are not living in a romantic setting. They realize what the situation is. They can’t find any meaning to life. It’s the meaning to the black poetry. It’s the meaning of the black plays. It’s the meaning of all this. It’s the meaning of the words “punk rock.”

“They are the natural outcome of a change from a Christian World View to a Humanistic one…
The result is a relativistic value system. A lack of a final meaning to life — that’s first. Why does human life have any value at all, if that is all that reality is? Not only are you going to die individually, but the whole human race is going to die, someday. It may not take the falling of the atom bombs, but someday the world will grow too hot, too cold. That’s what we are told on this other final reality, and someday all you people not only will be individually dead, but the whole conscious life on this world will be dead, and nobody will see the birds fly. And there’s no meaning to life.

As you know, I don’t speak academically, shut off in some scholastic cubicle, as it were. I have lots of young people and older ones come to us from the ends of the earth. And as they come to us, they have gone to the end of this logically and they are not living in a romantic setting. They realize what the situation is. They can’t find any meaning to life. It’s the meaning to the black poetry. It’s the meaning of the black plays. It’s the meaning of all this. It’s the meaning of the words “punk rock.” And I must say, that on the basis of what they are being taught in school, that the final reality is only this material thing, they are not wrong. They’re right! On this other basis there is no meaning to life and not only is there no meaning to life, but there is no value system that is fixed, and we find that the law is based then only on a relativistic basis and that law becomes purely arbitrary.

OUTLINE OF ECCLESIATES BY SCHAEFFER

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William Lane Craig on Man’s predicament if God doesn’t exist

Read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. During this entire play two men carry on trivial conversation while waiting for a third man to arrive, who never does. Our lives are like that, Beckett is saying; we just kill time waiting—for what, we don’t know.

Thus, if there is no God, then life itself becomes meaningless. Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.

Francis Schaeffer looks at Nihilism of Solomon and the causes of it!!!

Notes on Ecclesiastes by Francis Schaeffer

Solomon is the author of Ecclesiastes and he is truly an universal man like Leonardo da Vinci.

Two men of the Renaissance stand above all others – Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and it is in them that one can perhaps grasp a view of the ultimate conclusion of humanism for man. Michelangelo was unequaled as a sculptor in the Renaissance and arguably no one has ever matched his talents.

The other giant of the Renaissance period was Leonardo da Vinci – the perfect Renaissance Man, the man who could do almost anything and does it better than most anyone else. As an inventor, an engineer, an anatomist, an architect, an artist, a chemist, a mathematician, he was almost without equal. It was perhaps his mathematics that lead da Vinci to come to his understanding of the ultimate meaning of Humanism. Leonardo is generally accepted as the first modern mathematician. He not only knew mathematics abstractly but applied it in his Notebooks to all manner of engineering problems. He was one of the unique geniuses of history, and in his brilliance he perceived that beginning humanistically with mathematics one only had particulars. He understood that man beginning from himself would never be able to come to meaning on the basis of mathematics. And he knew that having only individual things, particulars, one never could come to universals or meaning and thus one only ends with mechanics. In this he saw ahead to where our generation has come: everything, including man, is the machine.

Leonardo da Vinci compares well to Solomon and they  both were universal men searching for the meaning in life. Solomon was searching for a meaning in the midst of the details of life. His struggle was to find the meaning of life. Not just plans in life. Anybody can find plans in life. A child can fill up his time with plans of building tomorrow’s sand castle when today’s has been washed away. There is  a difference between finding plans in life and purpose in life. Humanism since the Renaissance and onward has never found it and it has never found it since. Modern man has not found it and it has always got worse and darker in a very real way.

We have here the declaration of Solomon’s universality:

1 Kings 4:30-34

English Standard Version (ESV)

30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom.

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Here is the universal man and his genius. Solomon is the universal man with a empire at his disposal. Solomon had it all.

Ecclesiastes 1:3

English Standard Version (ESV)

What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?

Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes.

(Added by me:The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.” )

Man is caught in the cycle

Ecclesiastes 1:1-7

English Standard Version (ESV)

All Is Vanity

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.

All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.

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Solomon is showing a high degree of comprehension of evaporation and the results of it. Seeing also in reality nothing changes. There is change but always in a set framework and that is cycle. You can relate this to the concepts of modern man. Ecclesiastes is the only pessimistic book in the Bible and that is because of the place where Solomon limits himself. He limits himself to the question of human life, life under the sun between birth and death and the answers this would give.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

English Standard Version (ESV)

A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.

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Ecclesiastes 4:16

English Standard Version (ESV)

16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.

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In verses 1:4 and 4:16 Solomon places man in the cycle. He doesn’t place man outside of the cycle. Man doesn’t escape the cycle. Man is only cycle. Birth and death and youth and old age. With this in mind Solomon makes this statement.

Ecclesiastes 6:12

12 For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

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There is no doubt in my mind that Solomon had the same experience in his life that I had as a younger man. I remember standing by the sea and the moon arose and it was copper and beauty. Then the moon did not look like a flat dish but a globe or a sphere since it was close to the horizon. One could feel the global shape of the earth too. Then it occurred to me that I could contemplate the interplay of the spheres and I was exalted because I thought I can look upon them with all their power, might, and size, but they could contempt nothing and I felt as man as God. Then came upon me a horror of great darkness because it suddenly occurred to me that although I could contemplate them and they could contemplate nothing yet they would continue to turn in ongoing cycles when I saw no more forever and I was crushed.

THIS IS SOLOMON’S FEELING TOO. The universal man, Solomon, beyond our intelligence with an empire at his disposal with the opportunity of observation so he could recite these words here in Ecclesiastes 6:12, “For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?”

Lack of Satisfaction in life

In Ecclesiastes 1:8 he drives this home when he states, “All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell itThe eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing.” Solomon is stating here the fact that there is no final satisfaction because you don’t get to the end of the thing. THERE IS NO FINAL SATISFACTION. This is related to Leonardo da Vinci’s similar search for universals and then meaning in life. 

In Ecclesiastes 5:11 Solomon again pursues this theme, When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on?”  Doesn’t that sound modern? It is as modern as this evening. Solomon here is stating the fact there is no reaching completion in anything and this is the reason there is no final satisfaction. There is simply no place to stop. It is impossible when laying up wealth for oneself when to stop. It is impossible to have the satisfaction of completion. 

Pursuing Learning

Now let us look down the details of his searching.

In Ecclesiastes 1: 13a we have the details of the universal man’s procedure. “And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven.”

So like any sensible man the instrument that is used is INTELLECT, and RAITIONALITY, and LOGIC. It is to be noted that even men who despise these in their theories begin and use them or they could not speak. There is no other way to begin except in the way they which man is and that is rational and intellectual with movements of that is logical within him. As a Christian I must say gently in passing that is the way God made him.

So we find first of all Solomon turned to WISDOM and logic. Wisdom is not to be confused with knowledge. A man may have great knowledge and no wisdom. Wisdom is the use of rationality and logic. A man can be very wise and have limited knowledge. Here he turns to wisdom in all that implies and the total rationality of man.

Works of Men done Under the Sun

After wisdom Solomon comes to the great WORKS of men. Ecclesiastes 1:14,  “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is [p]vanity and striving after wind.” Solomon is the man with an empire at this disposal that speaks. This is the man who has the copper refineries in Ezion-geber. This is the man who made the stables across his empire. This is the man who built the temple in Jerusalem. This is the man who stands on the world trade routes. He is not a provincial. He knew what was happening on the Phonetician coast and he knew what was happening in Egypt. There is no doubt he already knew something of building. This is Solomon and he pursues the greatness of his own construction and his conclusion is VANITY AND VEXATION OF SPIRIT.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-20

18 Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. 20 Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun.

He looked at the works of his hands, great and multiplied by his wealth and his position and he shrugged his shoulders.

Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

22 For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

Man can not rest and yet he is never done and yet the things which he builds will out live him. If one wants an ironical three phrases these are they. There is a Dutch saying, “The tailor makes many suits but one day he will make a suit that will outlast the tailor.”

God has put eternity in our hearts but we can not know the beginning or the end of the thing from a vantage point of UNDER THE SUN

Ecclesiastes 1:16-18

16 I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.18 Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Solomon points out that you can not know the beginnings or what follows:

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything  appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Ecclesiastes 1:11

11 There is no remembrance of earlier things; And also of the later things which will occur, There will be for them no remembrance among those who will come later still.

Ecclesiastes 2:16

16 For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!

You bring together here the factor of the beginning and you can’t know what immediately follows after your death and of course you can’t know the final ends. What do you do and the answer is to get drunk and this was not thought of in the RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KAHAYYAM:

Ecclesiastes 2:1-3

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.

The Daughter of the Vine:

You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.

from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Translation by Edward Fitzgerald)

A perfectly good philosophy coming out of Islam, but Solomon is not the first man that thought of it nor the last. In light of what has been presented by Solomon is the solution just to get intoxicated and black the think out? So many people have taken to alcohol and the dope which so often follows in our day. This approach is incomplete, temporary and immature. Papa Hemingway can find the champagne of Paris sufficient for a time, but one he left his youth he never found it sufficient again. He had a lifetime spent looking back to Paris and that champagne and never finding it enough. It is no solution and Solomon says so too.

Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves and I had homeborn slaves. Also I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself MALE AND  FEMALE SINGERS AND THE PLEASURES OF MEN–MANY CONCUBINES.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. 10 All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor.11 Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

He doesn’t mean there is no temporary profit but there is no real profit. Nothing that lasts. The walls crumble if they are as old as the Pyramids. You only see a shell of the Pyramids and not the glory that they were. This is what Solomon is saying. Look upon Solomon’s wonder and consider the Cedars of Lebanon which were not in his domain but at his disposal.

Ecclesiastes 6:2

a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction.

Can someone stuff himself with food he can’t digest? Solomon came to this place of strife and confusion when he went on in his search for meaning.

 Oppressed have no comforter

Ecclesiastes 4:1

 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.

Between birth and death power rules. Solomon looked over his kingdom and also around the world and proclaimed that right does not rule but power rules.

Ecclesiastes 7:14-15

14 In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him.

15 I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.

Ecclesiastes 8:14

14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility.

We could say it in 20th century language, “The books are not balanced in this life.”

——

Francis Schaeffer once wrote, “If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions.”_______________Let me challenge these PUNK ROCKERS to watch the film CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS by Woody Allen.

DISCUSSING FILMS AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS
By Everette Hatcher III

“Existential subjects to me are still the only subjects worth dealing with. I don’t think that one can aim more deeply than at the so-called existential themes, the spiritual themes.” WOODY ALLENEvangelical Chuck Colson has observed that it used to be true that most Americans knew the Bible. Evangelists could simply call on them to repent and return. But today, most people lack understanding of biblical terms or concepts. Colson recommends that we first attempt to find common ground to engage people’s attention. That then may open a door to discuss spiritual matters.Woody Allen’s 1989 movie, CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS , is an excellent icebreaker concerning the need of God while making decisions in the area of personal morality. In this film, Allen attacks his own atheistic view of morality. Martin Landau plays a Jewish eye doctor named Judah Rosenthal raised by a religious father who always told him, “The eyes of God are always upon you.” However, Judah later concludes that God doesn’t exist. He has his mistress (played in the film by Anjelica Huston) murdered because she continually threatened to blow the whistle on his past questionable, probably illegal, business activities. She also attempted to break up Judah ‘s respectable marriage by going public with their two-year affair. Judah struggles with his conscience throughout the remainder of the movie. He continues to be haunted by his father’s words: “The eyes of God are always upon you.” This is a very scary phrase to a young boy, Judah observes. He often wondered how penetrating God’s eyes are.Later in the film, Judah reflects on the conversation his religious father had with Judah ‘s unbelieving Aunt May at the dinner table many years ago:“Come on Sol, open your eyes. Six million Jews burned to death by the Nazis, and they got away with it because might makes right,” says aunt MaySol replies, “May, how did they get away with it?”Judah asks, “If a man kills, then what?”Sol responds to his son, “Then in one way or another he will be punished.”Aunt May comments, “I say if he can do it and get away with it and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he is home free.”Judah ‘s final conclusion was that might did make right. He observed that one day, because of this conclusion, he woke up and the cloud of guilt was gone. He was, as his aunt said, “home free.”Woody Allen has exposed a weakness in his own humanistic view that God is not necessary as a basis for good ethics. There must be an enforcement factor in order to convince Judah not to resort to murder. Otherwise, it is fully to Judah ‘s advantage to remove this troublesome woman from his life.The Bible tells us, “{God} has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). The secularist calls this an illusion, but the Bible tells us that the idea that we will survive the grave was planted in everyone’s heart by God Himself. Romans 1:19-21 tells us that God has instilled a conscience in everyone that points each of them to Him and tells them what is right and wrong (also Romans 2:14 -15).It’s no wonder, then, that one of Allen’s fellow humanists would comment, “Certain moral truths — such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not lie — do have a special status of being not just ‘mere opinion’ but bulwarks of humanitarian action. I have no intention of saying, ‘I think Hitler was wrong.’ Hitler WAS wrong.” (Gloria Leitner, “A Perspective on Belief,” THE HUMANIST, May/June 1997, pp. 38-39)Here Leitner is reasoning from her God-given conscience and not from humanist philosophy. It wasn’t long before she received criticism. Humanist Abigail Ann Martin responded, “Neither am I an advocate of Hitler; however, by whose criteria is he evil?” (THE HUMANIST, September/October 1997, p. 2)The secularist can only give incomplete answers to these questions: How could you have convinced Judah not to kill? On what basis could you convince Judah it was wrong for him to murder?As Christians, we would agree with Judah ‘s father that “The eyes of God are always upon us.” Proverbs 5:21 asserts, “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths.” Revelation 20:12 states, “…And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books” (Amplified Version). The Bible is revealed truth from God. It is the basis for our morality. Judah inherited the Jewish ethical values of the Ten Commandments from his father, but, through years of life as a skeptic, his standards had been lowered. Finally, we discover that Judah ‘s secular version of morality does not resemble his father’s biblically-based morality.Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS forces unbelievers to grapple with the logical conclusions of a purely secular morality. It opens a door for Christians to find common ground with those whom they attempt to share Christ; we all have to deal with personal morality issues. However, the secularist has no basis for asserting that Judah is wrong.Larry King actually mentioned on his show, LARRY KING LIVE, that Chuck Colson had discussed the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with him. Colson asked King if life was just a Darwinian struggle where the ruthless come out on top. Colson continued, “When we do wrong, is that our only choice? Either live tormented by guilt, or else kill our conscience and live like beasts?” (BREAKPOINT COMMENTARY, “Finding Common Ground,” September 14, 1993)Later, Colson noted that discussing the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS with King presented the perfect opportunity to tell him about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Colson believes the Lord is working on Larry King. How about your neighbors? Is there a way you can use a movie to find common ground with your lost friends and then talk to them about spiritual matters?

(Caution: CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS is rated PG-13. It does include some adult themes.)

—-

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, like Solomon and Coldplay, they realized death comes to everyone and “there must be something more.”

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The movie maker Woody Allen has embraced the nihilistic message of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. David Segal in his article, “Things are Looking Up for the Director Woody Allen. No?” (Washington Post, July 26, 2006), wrote, “Allen is evangelically passionate about a few subjects. None more so than the chilling emptiness of life…The 70-year-old writer and director has been musing about life, sex, work, death and his generally futile search for hope…the world according to Woody is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

The song “Dust in the Wind” recommends, “Don’t hang on.” Allen himself says, “It’s just an awful thing and in that context you’ve got to find an answer to the question: ‘Why go on?’ ”  It is ironic that Chris Martin the leader of Coldplay regards Woody Allen as his favorite director.

Lets sum up the final conclusions of these gentlemen:  Coldplay is still searching for that “something more.” Woody Allen has concluded the search is futile. Livgren and Hope of Kansas have become Christians and are involved in fulltime ministry. Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 2, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

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Related posts

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Richard Dawkins: ‘Benign’ Christianity is about to be replaced by ‘something worse’ – Islam 03/26/2018 by Mary Anne Hackett

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Richard Dawkins: ‘Benign’ Christianity is about to be replaced by ‘something worse’ – Islam

03/26/2018 at 9:57 AM Posted by Mary Anne Hackett


UNITED KINGDOM, March 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Despite his years of denouncing religion, Richard Dawkins does not welcome a European future without Christianity.

On Wednesday, the atheist author and evolutionary biologist warned those inclined to “rejoice at the death throes of the relatively benign Christian religion” to keep in mind the danger of “something worse” taking its place.

That worse alternative, Dawkins suggests, is Islam, which he has previously called “the most evil religion in the world.”

Dawkins was reacting to a Guardian report on recent polling that shows 70% of people in the United Kingdom between the ages of 16 and 29 do not identify with any religion, that 59% of them never attend religious services, and that almost two-thirds of them never pray.

The research, published by theology and sociology professor Stephen Bullivant of St. Mary’s University in London, finds similarly high numbers in other European nations. Sweden, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic all have even higher percentages of non-religious young people, while the young populations of France, Belgium, and Hungary are all more than 60% non-religious. More than half of the age group in Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Spain is non-religious, as well.

“Christianity as a default, as a norm, is gone, and probably gone for good – or at least for the next 100 years,” Bullivant says. “Cultural religious identities just aren’t being passed on from parents to children. It just washes straight off them.”

The Guardian report quotes Bullivant as noting that “the Muslim birthrate is higher than the general population, and they have much higher [religious] retention rates.”

Despite having once claimed that government needs to “protect” children from being “indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in,” Dawkins recognizes that European Christianity serves as a “bulwark against something worse.”

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings,” Dawkins said. “I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death.”

While Dawkins holds far-left positions on issues such as abortion, his take on Islam echoes that of many conservative and religious observers. In January, the Turning Point Project’s William Kilpatrick wrote that Islam was “well on its way to controlling the public square in parts of Europe.”

Last year, the Guardian noted that non-Christian religions such as Islam quadrupled from 1983 to 2015 even as Christianity declined from 55% to 43%. The trend has been so stark that as of last May, the prevalence of Muslims and other migrant communities was the main reason making inner London the most religious area of the United Kingdom.

This is not the first time Dawkins has clashed with Islam. Last July, KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California disinvited him from a planned interview following complaints about his past comments on Islam.

“[W]e didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people,” the station said in a statement. Dawkins responded with an open letter declaring he would continue to condemn the “misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism,” and noting that he has been similarly critical of Christianity—to which none of his hosts have ever objected.

“Why do you give Islam a free pass?” he asked. “Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”

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Image result for rolling stones street fighting man

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Francis Shaeffer

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Image result for francis schaeffer

Street Fightin’ Man
Ev’rywhere I hear the sound
Of marching charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right
For fighting in the street, boy
Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no
Hey think the time is right
For a palace revolution
But where I live the game
To play is compromise solution
Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no. Get down.
Hey so my name is called Disturbance
I’ll shout and scream
I’ll kill the king, I’ll rail at all his servants
Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man, no
Get down
Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man

Street Fighting Man. The Rolling Stones Live 1969 (Full Song)

Uploaded on Nov 10, 2010

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  • Category   Aldous Huxley belowImage result for aldous huxley

Francis A. Schaeffer  wrote something about the ROLLING STONES:
At about the same time as the Berkeley Free Speech Move- 
ment came a heavy participation in drugs. The beats had not 
been deeply into drugs the way the hippies were. But soon 
after 1964 the drug scene became the hallmark of young 
people.
The philosophic basis for the drug scene came from Aldous 
Huxley's concept that, since, for the rationalist, reason is not 
taking us anywhere, we should look for a final experience, one 
that can be produced "on call," one that we do not need to 
wait for. The drug scene, in other words, was at first an ideol- 
ogy, an ideology that had very practical consequences. Some of 
us at L'Abri have cried over the young people who have blown 
their minds. But many of them thought, like Alan Watts, Gary 
Snyder, Alan Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, that if you could 
simply turn everyone on, there would be an answer to man's 
longings. It wasn't just the far-out freaks who suggested that 
you could put drugs in the drinking water and turn on a whole 
city so that the "pigs" and the kids would all have flowers in 
their hair. In those days it really was an optimistic ideological 
concept. 

So two things have to be said here. FIRST, the young people's 
analysis of culture was right, and, SECOND, they really thought 
they had an answer to the problem. Up through Woodstock 
(1969) the YOUNG PEOPLE WERE OPTIMISTIC CONCERNING DRUGS-- 
BEING THE IDEOLOGICAL ANSWER. The desire for community and 
togetherness that was the impetus for Woodstock was not wrong, of course. God has made us in his own image, and he 
means for us to be in a strong horizontal relationship with each 
other. While Christianity appeals and applies to the individual, 
it is not individualistic. God means for us to have community. 
There are really two orthodoxies: an orthodoxy of doctrine 
and an orthodoxy of community, and both go together. So the 
longing for community in Woodstock was right. But the path 
was wrong. 

AFTER WOODSTOCK TWO EVENTS "ENDED THE AGE OF INNOCENCE," 
to use the expression of Rolling Stone magazine. The FIRST 
occurred at Altamont, California, where the ROLLING STONES put 
on a festival and hired the Hell's Angels (for several barrels of 
beer) to police the grounds. Instead, the Hell's Angels killed 
people without any cause, and it was a bad scene indeed. But 
people thought maybe this was a fluke, maybe it was just 
California! IT TOOK A SECOND EVENT TO BE CONVINCING. 

On the Isle of Wight, 450,000 people assembled, and it was 
totally ugly. A number of people from L'Abri were there, and I 
know a man closely associated with the rock world who knows 
the organizer of this festival. Everyone agrees that the situation 
was just plain hideous. 

THUS, AFTER THESE TWO ROCK FESTIVALS THE PICTURE CHANGED. IT IS  
NOT THAT KIDS HAVE STOPPED TAKING DRUGS, FOR MORE ARE TAKING  
DRUGS ALL THE TIME. And what the eventual outcome will be is 
certainly unpredictable. I know that in many places, California 
for example, drugs are down through the high schools and on 
into the heads of ten- and eleven-year-olds. But drugs are not 
considered a philosophic expression anymore; among the very 
young they are just a peer group thing. It's like permissive 
sexuality. You have to sleep with a certain number of boys or 
you're not in; you have to take a certain kind of drug or you're 
not in. THE OPTIMISTIC IDEOLOGY HAS DIED. 

Street Fighting Man

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Street Fighting Man”
Fightingmanstones.jpg
Single by The Rolling Stones
from the album Beggars Banquet
B-side No Expectations
Released August 1968
Format 7-inch single
Recorded April–May 1968
Genre
Length 3:09
Label London
Songwriter(s) Jagger/Richards
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones singles chronology
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
(1968)
Street Fighting Man
(1968)
Honky Tonk Women
(1969)
Audio sample
MENU
0:00
Alternative covers
French single picture sleeve

French single picture sleeve

Street Fighting Man” is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones featured on their 1968 album Beggars Banquet. Called the band’s “most political song”,[4] Rolling Stone ranked the song number 301 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Inspiration[edit]

Originally titled and recorded as “Did Everyone Pay Their Dues?”, containing the same music but very different lyrics, “Street Fighting Man” is known as one of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards‘ most politically inclined works to date. Jagger allegedly wrote it about Tariq Ali after he attended a 1968 anti-war rally at London‘s US embassy, during which mounted police attempted to control a crowd of 25,000.[5][6] He also found inspiration in the rising violence among student rioters on Paris‘s Left Bank,[7] the precursor to a period of civil unrest in May 1968.

On the writing, Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Jann Wenner in Rolling Stone,

Yeah, it was a direct inspiration, because by contrast, London was very quiet…It was a very strange time in France. But not only in France but also in America, because of the Vietnam War and these endless disruptions … I thought it was a very good thing at the time. There was all this violence going on. I mean, they almost toppled the government in France; de Gaulle went into this complete funk, as he had in the past, and he went and sort of locked himself in his house in the country. And so the government was almost inactive. And the French riot police were amazing.[8]

The song opens with a strummed acoustic riff. In his review, Richie Unterberger says of the song, “…it’s a great track, gripping the listener immediately with its sudden, springy guitar chords and thundering, offbeat drums. That unsettling, urgent guitar rhythm is the mainstay of the verses. Mick Jagger’s typically half-buried lyrics seem at casual listening like a call to revolution.”[9]

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution, but where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Hey, said my name is called Disturbance;, I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the King, I’ll rail at all his servants

Well now what can a poor boy do, Except to sing for a rock & roll band?
Cause in sleepy London Town there’s just no place for a street fighting man, no

Unterberger continues, “Perhaps they were saying they wished they could be on the front lines, but were not in the right place at the right time; perhaps they were saying, as John Lennon did in the Beatles‘ “Revolution“, that they didn’t want to be involved in violent confrontation. Or perhaps they were even declaring indifference to the tumult.”[9] Other writers’ interpretations varied. In 1976, Roy Carr assessed it as a “great summer street-corner rock anthem on the same echelon as ‘Summer in the City‘, ‘Summertime Blues‘, and ‘Dancing in the Street‘.”[7] In 1979, Dave Marsh wrote that it was the keynote of Beggars Banquet, “with its teasing admonition to do something and its refusal to admit that doing it will make any difference; as usual, the Stones were more correct, if also more faithless, philosophers than any of their peers.”[10]

Recording[edit]

Recording on “Street Fighting Man” took place at Olympic Sound Studios from April until May 1968. With Jagger on lead vocals and both he and Richards on backing, Brian Jones performs the song’s distinctive sitar and also tamboura. Richards plays the song’s acoustic guitars as well as bass, the latter being the only electric instrument on the track. Charlie Watts performs drums while Nicky Hopkins performs the song’s piano which is most distinctly heard during the outro. Shehnai is performed on the track by Dave Mason. On the earlier, unreleased “Did Everybody Pay Their Dues” version, Rick Grech played a very prominent electric viola.[11]

Watts said in 2003,

“Street Fighting Man” was recorded on Keith’s cassette with a 1930s toy drum kit called a London Jazz Kit Set, which I bought in an antiques shop, and which I’ve still got at home. It came in a little suitcase, and there were wire brackets you put the drums in; they were like small tambourines with no jangles… The snare drum was fantastic because it had a really thin skin with a snare right underneath, but only two strands of gut… Keith loved playing with the early cassette machines because they would overload, and when they overload they sounded fantastic, although you weren’t meant to do that. We usually played in one of the bedrooms on tour. Keith would be sitting on a cushion playing a guitar and the tiny kit was a way of getting close to him. The drums were really loud compared to the acoustic guitar and the pitch of them would go right through the sound. You’d always have a great backbeat.[12]

On the recording process itself, Richards remembered,

The basic track of that was done on a mono cassette with very distorted overrecording, on a Phillips with no limiters. Brian is playing sitar, it twangs away. He’s holding notes that wouldn’t come through if you had a board, you wouldn’t be able to fit it in. But on a cassette if you just move the people, it does. Cut in the studio and then put on a tape. Started putting percussion and bass on it. That was really an electronic track, up in the realms.[13]

Bruce Springsteen would comment in 1985, after including “Street Fighting Man” in the encores of some of his Born in the U.S.A. Tour shows: “That one line, ‘What can a poor boy do but sing in a rock and roll band?’ is one of the greatest rock and roll lines of all time. … [The song] has that edge-of-the-cliff thing when you hit it. And it’s funny; it’s got humour to it.”[14]

Jagger continues in the Rolling Stone interview when asked about the song’s resonance thirty years on; “I don’t know if it [has any]. I don’t know whether we should really play it. I was persuaded to put it [on Voodoo Lounge Tour] because it seemed to fit in, but I’m not sure if it really has any resonance for the present day. I don’t really like it that much.”[8] Despite this, the song has been performed on a majority of the Stones’ tours since its introduction to their canon of work.[11]

On the song, Richards said, only a few years after recording the track in a 1971 Rolling Stone interview with Robert Greenfield, that the song had been “interpreted thousands of different ways”. He mentioned how Jagger went to the Grosvenor Square demonstrations in London and was even charged by the police, yet he ultimately claims, “it really is ambiguous as a song.”[13]

Musicians[edit]

The Rolling Stones[15]

Additional musicians

Release[edit]

Released as Beggars Banquets lead single in August 1968 in the US, “Street Fighting Man” was popular on release but was kept out of the Top 40 (reaching number 48) of the US charts in response to many radio stations’ refusal to play the song based on what were perceived as subversive lyrics.[16] This attitude would be reinforced as the song was released within a week of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.[9]

Because of the 1968 National Democratic Convention and the possibility of the song inciting further violence, Chicago radio stations refused to play the song. This was much to the delight of Mick, who stated: “I’m rather pleased to hear they have banned (the song). The last time they banned one of our records in America, it sold a million.”[17] Mick said he was told they thought the record was subversive, to which he snapped: “Of course it’s subversive! It’s stupid to think you can start a revolution with a record. I wish you could.”[18]

While many of the US London picture sleeves are rare and collectable, the sleeve for this single is particularly scarce and is considered their most valuable.

Keith weighed into the debate when he said that the fact a couple of radio stations in Chicago banned the record “just goes to show how paranoid they are”. At the same time they were still requested to do live appearances and Keith said: “If you really want us to cause trouble, we could do a few stage appearances. We are more subversive when we go on stage.”[18]

The single’s B-side was album-mate “No Expectations“. For reasons unknown, the single did not see a release in the United Kingdom until 1971 (backed with “Surprise, Surprise“, previously unreleased in the UK).

The US single’s version of the song, released in mono with an additional vocal overdub on the choruses, is different from the Beggars Banquet album’s stereo version.

The album version of the song has been included on the compilations albums Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Hot Rocks 1964-1971, 30 Greatest Hits, Singles Collection: The London Years (album version on 1989 edition; US single version on 2002 remaster), Forty Licks, and GRRR! A staple at Rolling Stones live shows since the band’s American Tour of 1969, concert recordings of the song have been captured and released for the live albums Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (recorded 1969, released 1970), Stripped (1995; rereleased on Totally Stripped in 2016), Live Licks (recorded 2003, released 2004), and Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live (2013).

Charts[edit]

Chart (1968) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[19] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[20] 13
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[21] 32
Germany (Official German Charts)[22] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 5
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 48
Chart (1971) Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[26] 21

Legacy[edit]

“Street Fighting Man” has been covered by many artists. Rod Stewart covered it on the debut solo album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down. Oasis recorded a version that was released as the B-side to their 1998 single “All Around the World“. The song can be found on the fourth and last studio album by Rage Against the Machine, titled Renegades. It appears on Mötley Crüe‘s Red, White & Crüe album as well as the Ramones‘ 2002 re-release of Too Tough to Die. The band Prima Donna performed a live cover early in their career. The band Lake Trout recorded the song for their album Not Them, You. The band Tesla also covered this song on their covers album Real to Reel which can be found on the rare disk 2 track number 5. (You needed to attend a concert during the Reel to Reel tour to obtain this disk.)[citation needed]

Guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who has claimed that the staccato beat–rhythm structure of “Street Fighting Man” is the inspiration for “I’m Free” on Tommy.[27]

Dave Perkins & Lynn Nichols covered the song in their side project “Passafist”.

In 2009, the Australian rock band Sick Puppies used the first 15 seconds of Rage Against The Machine’s version for their single “Street Fighter (War)”.

Radio personalities Opie and Anthony use Rage Against the Machine’s version as part of the opening theme for their show.

The song plays over the end credits of the film V for Vendetta (2006).

It appears during the documentary Sicko (2007) and is also used in the film State of Grace (1990).

Wes Anderson used the track in his 2009 stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The song is referenced by Chris Farley in the movie Dirty Work (1998).

The Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League have used the song as their unofficial theme song, taking the ice at home games as the song plays in the First Niagara Center.

The title line of the song is sung by fictional character Jack T. Chance in the first issue of Green Lantern Corps Quarterly (1992; DC Comics).[28]

The song was played on Criminal Minds season 5 episode, “The Fight”.

The song is featured in the 2013 movie White House Down and it was played during the credits.

The song was played during the closing scene of the fourth-season finale of Southland.

References[edit]

    1. Jump up^ Milward, John (2013). Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues). Northeastern. p. 128. ISBN 978-1555537449.
    1. Jump up^ Willis, Ellen (2011). Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. University of Minnesota Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0816672837.
    1. Jump up^ Schaffner, Nicholas (1982). The British Invasion: From the First Wave to the New Wave. Mcgraw-Hill. p. 77. ISBN 978-0070550896.
    1. Jump up^ “News”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ Azania, Malcolm. “Tariq Ali: The time is right for a palace revolution”. Vue Weekly. 2008(accessed 14 November 2008).
    1. Jump up^ “Street Fighting Man”. Rolling Stone. 2004 (accessed 22 July 2007).
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Roy Carr, The Rolling Stones: An Illustrated Record, Harmony Books, 1976. ISBN 0-517-52641-7. p. 55.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Wenner, Jann. “Jagger Remembers”. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b c Unterberger, Richie. “Street Fighting Man”. allmusic. Retrieved 22 July 2006.
    1. Jump up^ Rolling Stone Record Guide, Rolling Stone Press, 1979. ISBN 0-394-73535-8.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Ian McPherson. “Street Fighting Man”. Timeisonourside.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ ISBN 0-8118-4060-3 According to The Rolling Stones. Chronicle Books. 2003.
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b Greenfield, Robert. “Keith Richards – Interview”. Rolling Stone (magazine) 19 August 1971.
    1. Jump up^ Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7. pp. 229-230.
    1. Jump up^ Ian McPherson. “Street Fighting Man”. Timeisonourside.com. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
    1. Jump up^ Paytress, Mark (2003). The Rolling Stones: Off the Record. Omnibus Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-7119-8869-2.
    1. Jump up^ The Rolling Stones – Off The Record by Mark Paytress, Omnibus Press, 2005, page 153. ISBN 1-84449-641-4
    1. ^ Jump up to:a b The Rolling Stones – Off The Record by Mark Paytress, Omnibus Press, 2005, page 153. ISBN 1-84449-641-4
    1. Jump up^ Austriancharts.at – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man” (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Ultratop.be – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man” (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Top RPM Singles: Issue 5863.” RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Offiziellecharts.de – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”. GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Dutchcharts.nl – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”(in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Swisscharts.com – The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man”. Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ “The Rolling Stones – Chart history” Billboard Hot 100 for The Rolling Stones. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ Rolling Stones: Artist Chart History” Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
    1. Jump up^ “I’m Free”. thewho.net. 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  1. Jump up^ “Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #1 – Layin’ Down the Law (Issue)”. Comicvine.com. 1992-06-01. Retrieved 2016-10-02.

External links[edit]

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Abigail DeVille Listens to History | Art21 “New York Close Up”

Published on Mar 7, 2018

SUBSCRIBE 65K
How does an artist express both the joy and pain in harrowing histories? Through her immersive performances and installation works, Abigail DeVille celebrates the bravery and optimism—while also memorializing the suffering—embedded within the African American experience. Calling out official American history as “garbage,” Deville uses discarded materials herself, like old furniture and tattered flags, to construct complex room-sized installations evoking the overlooked histories of Black Americans in all its messiness and grandeur. “There’s something, that if you’re quiet enough and you listen,” says the artist, “you’re being guided or directed to uncover specific bits of information.” DeVille’s “The New Migration,” presented by the Studio Museum and staged on the streets of Harlem in 2014, was inspired by the women and men of the Great Migration—the millions of African Americans who escaped the systemic racism and state violence of the Jim Crow South in the twentieth century. Directed by collaborator Charlotte Brathwaite and also performed in Anacostia and Baltimore, “The New Migration” is a grand on-the-street procession of musicians, dancers, marching bands, and community members of all ages donning DeVille’s wearable sculptures, which for the artist signify the weight of history. The project also references the current gentrification of American cities like Harlem and Chicago as the next migration forcing communities of color from their homes. A reckoning facilitated through festivity, DeVille’s collaborative community performance honors the agency and hope of Black communities today. “It’s something for me to constantly be reminded of,” says DeVille, “that we as a people, we’re going to get there.” Featuring the artist’s installation “Only When It’s Dark Enough Can You See the Stars” at The Contemporary, Baltimore; and the artist’s 2014 Anacostia performance hosted by the Anacostia Arts Center. Locations include The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. Also featuring music by Artem Bemba, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Cloudjumper, Jade Hicks, Justin Hicks, Kenita Miller-Hicks, New Edition Legacy Marching Band, and Pedro Santiago. Abigail DeVille (b. 1981, New York, New York, USA) lives and works in the Bronx, New York. Learn more about the artist at: https://art21.org/artist/abigail-devi… CREDITS | “New York Close Up” Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Producer: Wesley Miller. Editor: Anna Gustavi. Cinematography & Sound: Amitabh Joshi, Paul Lieber, John Marton, Michael T. Miller, Wesley Miller, Cauleen Smith, Think Out Loud Productions. Music: Artem Bemba, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Cloudjumper, Jade Hicks, Justin Hicks, Kenita Miller-Hicks, New Edition Legacy Marching Band, Pedro Santiago. Design & Graphics: Open, Uros Perisic. Archival Photography: Library of Congress, Prelinger Archives. Artwork Courtesy: Abigail DeVille. Performance Co-Creator & Director: Charlotte Brathwaite. Performers: M. Liz Andrews, Mikel Banks, Asim Barnes, Flip Barnes, JM Denson, Avram Fefer, Asma Feyijinmi, Daniela Fifi, Paula Henderson, Ayesha Jordan, Ifasen Kwame, Shango Kwame, André Lassalle, Hiroyuki Matsuura, Nina Angela Mercer, Candace Mickens, Paul Pryce, Sheldon Scott, Jessica Silva, André D. Singleton, Greg Tate, Ibrahim Turay, LaFrae Sci, Ayinde Utsey. Thanks: Rushern Baker IV, Kent Barrett, Holly Bass, Asha Elana Casey, The Contemporary, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Oscar Cornejo, Sandra Cornejo, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, Stephen Crouch, Jessica Denson, The DeVille Family, David O. Fakunle, Catherine Feliz, Arianne Gelardin, Jackson Gilman-Forlini, Angela Goerner, Deana Haggag, Jennifer Harrison Newman, Lauren Haynes, Lee Heinemann, Ariel Jackson, Amanda Jiron-Murphy, Anthony Joshua, Nathan Lewis, The Loading Dock, Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, Samuel Margai, Dr. Joanne Martin, Michael Metcalf, MICA, Kenita Miller, Morris-Jumel Mansion, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, Jared M. Nickerson, Mary Olin Geiger , The Peale Center for Baltimore History & Architecture, Philip A. Robinson, Terry Scott, Jazmin Smith, Ginevra Shay, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Monica Utsey, Kimberly J. Wade, Nico Wheadon. “New York Close Up” is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

Featured artist is Abigail DeVille

Abigail DeVille

Abigail DeVille was born in 1981 in New York, where she lives and works. Maintaining a long-standing interest in marginalized people and places, DeVille creates site-specific immersive installations designed to bring attention to these forgotten stories, such as with the sculpture she built on the site of a former African American burial ground in Harlem.

DeVille often works with objects and materials sourced from the area surrounding the exhibition site, and her theatrical aesthetic embodies the phrase, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Though collected objects are essential to her installations, DeVille’s priority is the stories her installations can tell. DeVille’s family roots in New York go back at least two generations; her interest in the city, and her work about it, is both personal and political.

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A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World Article By Alex McLellan

A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World

Article ByAlex McLellan

Many people look at this broken world and think we can’t make sense of it all. However, like when were doing a jigsaw, if we want to see the big picture we don’t need every piece of a puzzle. All we need is enough important parts that stand out and fit together.

Taken from A Jigsaw Guide to Making Sense of the World by Alex McLellan. Copyright(c) 2012 by Alex McLellan. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com.

My eldest daughter used to love doing jigsaws as a young girl, and one day I spoke to her about a puzzle she was working on. “Sophia, I wonder what the picture is?” She confidently responded, “Dad, it’s Cinderella!” I recognized a teachable moment and pointed out, “But you haven’t put all the pieces together.” She merely tilted her head and said, “Dad, it’s Cinderella!”

I faked a serious expression and challenged her again, this time with more emotion. “Sophia, wait, it’s not too late to change your mind. You can’t be sure because you haven’t completed the puzzle.” Sophia, who is used to her dad asking unusual questions, merely rolled her eyes the way only a daughter can. “Dad, it’s Cinderella and I’m sure because I have enough pieces in place.”

Clearly Sophia had seen the box and retained this picture in her mind. In fact, it would be easy to assume this was what she was referring to when I asked her about the big picture. But note what she said: “Dad, I have enough pieces in place.” Sophia’s attention had shifted from the box to the puzzle pieces. These were now responsible for her confidence about the big picture. My daughter had stumbled on something significant about this broken world, and I wanted to be sure she remembered it: We can know the truth—and we can know the truth without knowing everything.

I have lost count of the number of times a meaningful conversation has ground to a halt when someone shrugged his or her shoulders and said, “Well, we can’t really know because we’ll never have all the answers.” I normally agree that we’ll never find every answer to every question, but I like to get the conversation back on track. Many people look at this broken world and think we can’t make sense of it all. However, like when we’re doing a jigsaw, if we want to see the big picture we don’t need every piece of a puzzle. All we need is enough important parts that stand out and fit together.

Don’t be put off by things in life that don’t make sense or stumped by parts that don’t seem to fit. Turn your attention to what clearly stands out and start snapping things into place. While it can be frustrating to know we’ll never complete this puzzle, it’s worth the effort to try to see the big picture. When you’ve done enough to see enough, you’ll be confident you know the truth.

This is a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world, and it is a strategy that comes naturally. Transcending boundaries of age, language, intellect and culture, the jigsaw idea has connected with people around the world, and we can use it everywhere to talk about things that really matter. I’ve stood before the Scottish Parliament and used the jigsaw to make a cumulative case for the truth and reasonableness of the Christian worldview. When you hold this key to confident Christianity, you are prepared to share anywhere!

For a long time I’ve known that Christianity is more than endorsing tradition or subscribing to a religion because it offers a unique relationship with God that changes lives. I learned this firsthand as a young boy growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland. My parents, Alex and June McLellan, were unchurched and non-Christian. By the time I was three years old, my sister Paula and I joined the long list of children whose families had been fragmented by divorce. However, a few years later my parents became Christians, radically changed for the better and decided to get remarried—to each other. Witnessing this transformation got my attention and encouraged me to commit my life to Jesus Christ.

If Christianity is real, change is important, but I came to understand that change is not enough. The ultimate question is not “does it work?” but “is it true?” In my teenage years I wrestled with this question until an absence of answers made it easier to drift away from God, and this steady slide continued until difficult circumstances drew me back to faith. The sharp edges of life remind us that we cannot put off until tomorrow what we need to do today. I knew I had to decide where I stood in relation to God and his Son, Jesus Christ. I needed to switch my attention from the missing pieces of the puzzle to what I believed about the big picture. I realized my faith still stood—and stood strong—because it rang true. Therefore I was responsible to do something about it, and I wholeheartedly recommitted my life to Christ.

C.S. Lewis, one of the most influential Christian writers of the twentieth century, said, “If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?”1 I knew the danger of this, so I was determined to do whatever it took to strengthen my belief and add weight to the anchor in my soul: to know what I believed and the reasons I believed it. This was the first step on a lifelong journey. I knew I needed God’s help, so like the man in Mark’s Gospel I prayed, “[Lord,] I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24).

Today I am the founder and executive director of Reason Why International, traveling broadly to speak at churches, universities, schools, camps, conferences and a variety of outreach events and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. What changed? My overwhelming conviction that Christianity is true! How did this happen? I was not zapped by a supernatural bolt of understanding. Rather, I learned many good reasons to believe that a biblical perspective provides the right framework for life and resonates with reality.

Be Prepared to See It

Imagine the wonder of waking up every morning knowing you have discovered the meaning of life—and that it is good news. What would you do? Who would you tell? It may sound too good to be true, but this should be the confident claim of every Christian. Followers of Jesus Christ hold a belief that is supernaturally signed and sealed, but it is also a faith anchored in the real world. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has defended this message in some of the most prestigious religious, academic and political settings around the world. He notes, “God has a script. He has spoken of it in His Scriptures. Finding the script moves us closer to solving the mystery.”2

Life is mysterious, but God’s natural revelation is designed to shine light on the truth and point us in the direction of his supernatural revelation (Rom 1:20Ps 19:1). As author Paul Little has said, “God expects us to believe in him based on comprehensible evidence. He gives us intelligent and logical reasons. He is saying, ‘Look at the natural world, even the universe or your own body and you will have ample evidence for belief.’”3

G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite authors. A prolific and engaging writer, he has been described as a man of colossal genius, and his classic work Orthodoxy powerfully captures the role of reason in his journey to Christian faith. It also discusses the limits of responsibility when it comes to sharing one’s faith with others: “It is the purpose of the writer to attempt an explanation, not of whether the Christian faith can be believed, but of how he personally has come to believe it.”4 As a Christian, I am responsible to share why I believe what I believe with those who are willing to listen. I cannot make anyone believe anything, nor should I try. Yet like Chesterton I firmly believe that ultimate answers are within the reach of everyone who is prepared to look for them with open eyes and an open mind. We will never exhaust the wonders of this world but we can still grasp—and gasp at—the significance of the big picture.

Whenever we are disillusioned by missing pieces of the puzzle or parts that don’t seem to fit, we can turn our attention to things that do snap into place. There is a basic level of revelation that allows everyone to grasp something of the wonder of this world without ever exhausting the depths of knowledge available. Chesterton demonstrates this paradox powerfully: “The good news is so simple a child can understand it at once, and so subtle that the greatest intellects never quite get to the bottom of it.”5 We will never complete the puzzle of this world, but people of all ages and stages can do enough to see the big picture, and the jigsaw puzzle provides a simple mechanism that drives home this wonderful reality. 

A Strategy That Comes Naturally 

Earlier I described how my daughter was able to look at the jumbled pieces of a Cinderella puzzle and snap them into place. But what if she was able to do this only because she had seen the box? Sophia may have switched her attention to the puzzle pieces, yet it’s possible she was relying on her previous exposure to the picture to guide her. In real life we don’t have this advantage; we are not granted direct access to life’s big picture— which is the reason many people are so confused. And any illustration that offers hope of making sense of the real world must take this into consideration. 

Jigsaw 2.0. 

Let’s consider a situation where Sophia is confronted by a puzzle and hasn’t had access to the big picture. We’ll call this illustration jigsaw 2.0. Let’s say there was a mix-up at the factory and the Cinderella puzzle pieces were placed in a box with a picture of Sleeping Beauty on it. Sophia is given the jigsaw, but she does not have the picture on the box to guide her. Even worse, she doesn’t know she’s contending with the wrong box. This would be a frustrating experience, and the disparity would encourage her to eventually forget about the box and focus entirely on the puzzle pieces. What is curious—and crucial—is we would expect her to find a way to snap important pieces into place, perhaps enough to see the big picture begin to emerge.

Still, while Sophia lacks the right picture in her hand, she still has the right picture in her mind. She’s already familiar with Cinderella. Perhaps through sheer luck she stumbles on the fact that this is what the jigsaw represents. If so, her progress from that point on will still owe everything to having the right guide, albeit one planted in her mind rather than painted on a box. If this explains the outcome, then once again the illustration loses its luster. Skeptics will contend that in real life we don’t have access to the big picture—one painted on a box or planted in our mind.

Jigsaw 3.0.

We need to anticipate this objection and undercut it by going straight to jigsaw 3.0. This time Sophia is given a blank box with a Dinderella puzzle inside. (Dinderella is my imaginary addition to the princess hall of fame; I’m willing to develop her if Disney shows an interest.) Sophia has no previous knowledge of this character. There is no concrete image to guide her—in her mind or on a box. Yet we would still expect her to find a way to fit things together. Examining the broken puzzle would take more time, but she could still snap important pieces into place. With patience and perseverance, Sophia would do enough to start to glimpse the big picture, discovering the general nature of this new character without knowing her name or what she looks like, and this suggests that something else is going on.

Sophia has a basic level of understanding about the world—prior knowledge of the way princesses (or people) are and ought to be—and this helps her recognize particular patterns that stand out and fit together. She never really starts with a clean slate or works with a blank canvas; she has a fuzzy familiarity that allows her to look at a broken puzzle and naturally put pieces together. This admission does not undermine the jigsaw approach to making sense of the world. In fact, it provides the transition we need to illustrate why it works.

Sophia can look at a broken puzzle with a sense of the way things are and ought to be, and the jigsaw analogy suggests that we look at the world the same way. We do not start out in life with a clean slate, nor do we work with a blank canvas. We have a fuzzy familiarity with the world that helps us see that it is broken, and this allows us to put important pieces back together. There may be no concrete image in our minds to guide us, but there is a degree of awareness that makes particular pieces of the puzzle stand out and get our attention. Whether it’s Cinderella, Dinderella or making sense of the world, we have a basic ability to snap a number of important things into place, and if we can do enough to see the big picture we will have good reason to believe we know the truth.5

Digging Deeper 

You don’t have to dig too deep to remind people that they do know some things are and ought to be, and some things ought not to be. But reason is never enough to convince those determined to resist a particular conclusion. I once spoke at a high school conference on ethical issues and one student was eager to speak to me afterward. He rejected my defense of absolute moral values, defiantly stating, “It all depends on the situation.” I said I appreciated that there are gray areas when it comes to ethics, adding, “But surely we can know that particular acts—for example, the torture of innocent children for fun—are absolutely wrong.” He hesitated before shaking his head. “I couldn’t say it was absolutely wrong.” This kind of steely determination to turn away from an objective moral value, one that slaps us in the face, was disturbing, but he was ready to do what was necessary to keep up the pretense of his moral autonomy.

The encounter reminded me of a story told by one of my philosophy professors. J. P. Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, and he once had a similar dialogue with a student who was holding tight to everyone’s right to do what they want. Eventually J. P. pretended to end the conversation and walk away, stopping only long enough to pick up the student’s music player on his way out the door. As the young man rose to his feet in protest, J. P. paused and asked why this was a problem.6 In practice we do not really support everyone’s right to do what they want, but we like to superficially suggest it whenever it’s convenient, using it as a thinly veiled warning for people to leave us alone.

Identifying examples of absolute right and absolute wrong is a powerful way to start talking about things that really matter. We can make a good case for the way the world ought to be and ought not to be. It is worth sounding a note of caution: this will take us into sensitive areas, so we need to tread carefully—but the fact is we need to tread. There is a natural order that we can recognize, standards above and beyond us that serve as an ultimate guide to putting things right. Even Greek philosopher Plato said, “In heaven … there is laid up a pattern for it, methinks, which he who desires may behold, and beholding, may set his own house in order.”7 So our goal should be to discern and learn from this heavenly sense of direction, snapping things into place on earth so we can see the big picture and start living in light of the truth.

The challenge is that every religion claims to grant such heavenly insight, and many peer groups will pull together to defend what is common sense, at least to them. They may even point to a few pieces of the puzzle that seem to go together and support their view. A small sample of life can give you a glimpse of the big picture but it can also distort it, and when someone has drifted off course we need to try to steer them back in the right direction. Raising questions and reflecting on critical issues encourages people to stand back and take stock, and we can share the reasons we believe our worldview fills in critical gaps and captures the big picture better than anything else. Our goal is to arrive at that “Eureka!” moment when someone starts to make sense of the world. But a number of obstacles stand in the way.

The First Obstacle: A Random World 

If you were presented with a completely random assortment of broken puzzle pieces, there would be no point trying to fit things together. You could amuse yourself by creating pretty patterns, but there would be nothing reasonable or rational for you to discover. The first obstacle relates to the fact that some people look at the world the same way and come to the same conclusion. Influential atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, and he famously said we are simply “the accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms.”8 If this is true, the world is only a random collection of broken parts that will not make sense in any satisfying way, and it’s not worth the effort to look for ultimate answers when the world is the result of cosmic disorder. But it’s worth considering how an accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms is able to figure out that he is an accidental outcome of a collocation of atoms. As John Gray has argued, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true … the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth,”9 and the outworking of atheism is that “humans cannot be other than irrational. Curiously, this is a conclusion that few rationalists have been ready to accept.”10 Gray has written several books on politics and philosophy, and his honesty about the logical consequences of atheism is admirable, particularly since he seems to hold an atheistic outlook on life.11One cannot help but wonder about the self-defeating nature of Russell’s statement. Chesterton remarked on this kind of curiosity (with a smile, I am sure): “Descartes said, ‘I think; therefore I am!’ The philosophic evolutionist reverses and negates this epigram. He says, ‘I am not; therefore I cannot think.’”12 However, let us be gracious and give Russell (and Gray?) the benefit of the doubt, thinking for a moment about this natural perspective, since it drives the anchor of the first obstacle deep into the ground.

Seeing the world without God’s glasses means seeing reality as a random array of broken bits and pieces and, as a consequence, our lives as insignificant pieces of a meaningless puzzle. This worldview has special prominence in our culture. Indeed, it shapes many people’s outlook on life, and if it’s true, we are simply the byproduct of a cosmic accident. I enjoy standing up in schools and being open and honest about what this means for young people today: You are a grown-up germ! What surprises me is that a secular education that preaches this with such passion wrinkles its collective forehead when students take it to heart and start acting like it. We rebuke rowdy students for behaving like animals—after indoctrinating them with the belief that they are animals. What should we expect from an evolved bacterium that has learned to survive by selfishly promoting its own ends and eradicating everything that stands in its way?

Despite this embarrassing ancestry, atheists still like to inject meaning into a meaningless existence, as the Philosopher’s Magazine cofounder Julian Baggini demonstrates: “What most atheists do believe is that although there is only one kind of stuff in the universe and it is physical, out of this stuff comes minds, beauty, emotions, moral values—in short the full gamut of phenomena that gives richness to human life.”13 A natural ability to recognize this world of wonders comes as no surprise to those who hold a Christian worldview, but the real issue is that a godless perspective has no philosophical justification for it. In other words, Baggini et al. are writing existential checks their worldview cannot cash.

I am thrilled when people have an opportunity to hear what atheism has to say, particularly when Christians can stand on the same platform and point out the logical consequences of this worldview. Atheism results in a world where there is no basis for rationality, human beings have no intrinsic value, life has no absolute meaning, and there is no hope for the future—all beliefs that strike us as deeply problematic. It is not just that these conclusions are uncomfortable; they completely contradict our experience and fall short of our expectations.

The idea that the world is meaningless does not sit comfortably with us, and this should raise a red flag. To suggest that we are simply an insignificant part of a meaningless picture troubles us and reveals something very important. We do not live like this is true, we do not want to live like this is true, and we are unable to live like this is true. So it is worth considering why we should believe this is true when we seem to be wired for so much more. Turn your attention for a moment to the Christian worldview and you discover there is a basis for rationality, every person has absolute value, life has real meaning, and there is hope for the future. When you discover that a number of important arrows are pointing in one direction, it makes sense to pay attention. Atheism, on the other hand, seems to be pointing us in the wrong direction. We need to engage those whose minds have been subtly saturated by this way of thinking to share the reasons it does not fit and is not true. Christians are called to invest their hearts, minds and souls in meeting this challenge, and when we share the good news it is tremendously exciting to see eternal hope rise from the ashes of ultimate despair.

G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis unmask the insufficiency of a godless worldview grounded in meaninglessness, pointing out, “Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do not fit this world,”14 and “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”15 We are born with the expectation that the world ought to make sense, life really means something, and we live in hope of finding ultimate answers. Naturalism, curiously enough, does not come naturally, and despite the pressure of a secular society that indirectly promotes these “values,” our internal compass stubbornly steers us in another direction. This overcomes the suggestion that there is no point in trying to make sense of the world—there is—or that we have no hope of finding ultimate answers—we do. So we are ready to move on and consider the next obstacle to a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world: what about the picture on the box?

The Second Obstacle: A World Without A Box 

There are generally two ways to tackle a jigsaw puzzle: top-down and bottom-up. The top-down method is when you start with a big picture and search for puzzle pieces that correspond to it. The bottom-up approach is when you immediately start trying to snap the puzzle pieces into place. Typically you employ both methods at the same time, but when it comes to solving the puzzle of the world we will consider each in turn. The top-down approach overcomes the second obstacle (a world without a box), and we will return to the bottom-up approach when we focus on the third obstacle (a world of broken pieces).

The beauty of the top-down approach is that it addresses the concerns of someone who looks at life and wonders how to find the right guide to making sense of the world. Many people assume we live in a world without the box, yet many others are looking for the right box to fit this world. Look around and you see that there is no lack of ultimate guides on offer, but how do you know which one is the right one—if any of them are? The best way to begin is to choose one and put it to the test. Every worldview claims to paint the big picture, representing the right way to see the real world; therefore it should connect with life’s broken pieces. The more it corresponds to critical things that stand out in this world, the more we will be inclined to believe it is accurate—and truly reflects the big picture. So when you hear someone say we cannot make sense of the world because we cannot be sure we have the right guide, ask them: why not try one to see how it measures up?

All individuals have a worldview, whether or not they realize it, and it’s possible to put your worldview to the test to see what it’s made of. No one can boast of twenty-twenty vision when it comes to making sense of the world, but we can discover the extent of our shortsightedness. Francis Schaeffer was a Christian author and speaker who was responsible for starting L’Abri Fellowship, a community that has grown into an international network of study centers for those seeking answers to life’s ultimate questions. He noted, “People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide a basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions. ‘As a man thinketh, so is he.’”16Internal forces are at work that taint the way we see things, so we do not approach the world directly as a blank slate, or tabula rasa,17 but neither do we have the power to “create a world or environment from scratch and then live in it,” says R. C. Sproul. “Rather we step into a world and culture that already exists, and we learn to interact with it.”18There is an objective world out there, existing in spite of us and independent from us. And while some things are out of focus and out of reach, there are times when we can directly engage with the world and see it as it is.

We all have a worldview, but this does not mean we are locked in to a particular perspective. Any disconnect between what we expect and what we experience will raise the question: does my worldview really measure up? Earlier I pointed out the hollow outcome of viewing the human race as a byproduct of a chemical collision, and some people even suggest that it more closely resembles a virus. “The human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady … a plague of people.”19 If this big picture is true, our lives do not add up to much. Those who hold to naturalism do not shout this from the rooftops but it is the logical outworking of their worldview. It presents the picture on the box and suggests that it is up to us (or others) whether to assign value to human existence. We should be thankful that most atheists who hold this view do not practice what they preach.

Those with the power to promote this kind of godless ideology have demonstrated how damaging it can be. The pages of human history were deeply stained when Hitler attached his political ambition to a philosophy inspired by the writings of atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche preached Darwin’s survival of the fittest, arguing that our creed should be to ensure the evolution of human beings and the realization of their full potential through the “will to power.”20 Hitler embraced this ideology and put it into practice, combining it with his Darwinian ideals focused on survival of the strong.21 When people talk about survival of the fittest, they tend to forget the other side of the coin: eradication of the weak.22 Hitler did not, and six million people lost their lives when they were deemed worse than worthless and weeded out of the human gene pool.

Many of Darwin’s defenders argue that any social application of his theories is a misapplication, but on what basis? How can you defend the red tooth and claw of the animal kingdom and then suggest that it does not apply to us? Peter Singer is an ethicist from Princeton University who would argue that this is simply speciesism: “a prejudice or attitude of bias toward the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of another species.”23Naturalism is a worldview that runs into trouble when we try to use it consistently as a guide to life, and our persistent belief in human life as absolutely valuable is a serious stumbling block to its success. It presents the kind of big picture that does not make sense of the world, others or ourselves, and this is a good reason to reject it and look for another to take its place.

The Christian worldview presents a radically different top-down approach. Rather than undermine the belief that human life is absolutely valuable, the biblical perspective promotes it and provides a reasonable basis for it. Every human being is made by God, for God and in the image of God. This means every person is stamped with absolute value, and it is not up to us to assign value to human beings or take it away. This cornerstone of Christian belief has motivated acts of kindness and sacrifice throughout history. Jesus himself set the ultimate standard of altruism by giving everything—literally—for everyone else. This is the kind of behavior that is generally lauded and applauded, deemed to be a good thing, even described as something we ought to do—but why? A popular cosmetics company coined a phrase that inadvertently answers this question and captures the ethos of the Christian worldview: “Because you’re worth it!”

The value of human life, in real terms, is one of the most fundamental issues we can address, and to dismiss the fact that Christianity explains it and sustains it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We cannot deny that there are difficult pieces of the puzzle, whatever our worldview, but the jigsaw encourages us to build on the things that do make sense and do the best we can fitting the other pieces together. If we have enough pieces in place, we can be confident we know the truth.

The Third Obstacle: A World of Broken Pieces 

We now turn our attention to the third obstacle, switching to a bottom-up approach to making sense of the world. Instead of starting with the picture on the box that represents a particular worldview, we focus directly on the broken pieces of life to see whether anything stands out and gets our attention.

Just as you can look at an ordinary puzzle and pick out corners, straight edges, and colorful details, so we can naturally identify things in the real world that help us understand more about life and see it in its true context. This chapter has already considered the belief that human beings are absolutely valuable, working from the top down, and we seem to know this is true from the bottom up, without referring to a big picture. There is something special about a person that sets him or her apart from other physical things, and our natural ability to recognize this helps us build a worldview that resembles reality.

Another important piece of the puzzle that stands out and shapes our understanding relates to the world and where it came from. Consider the origin of the universe. There is good reason to believe the universe started to exist, and if it did, then the universe must have a cause.24 The universe could not have brought itself into existence, since it was not around at the time, so we need to posit the existence of something outside the universe, to be responsible. While this sounds reasonable, it is often viewed as fighting talk among those who have closed their minds to such a possibility.

When you hear the statement “the universe came into existence from nothing,” you cannot assume that truly means nothing. I encountered serious equivocation on this issue in a debate at the National Law Library of Scotland. Pointing out the problem with a universe that came into existence from nothing without a cause, one of my opponents, a physics teacher, accused me of ignorance: “You don’t understand what nothing is. If you know a bit of physics, nothing is not nothing, it’s things emerging in and out of existence.”25 I could counter that absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. The belief that things can “emerge in and out of existence” moves beyond the test tube, since we have no physical apparatus to confirm something is out of existence, and if you mean what you say it is always better to say what you mean.

Yet many people, some physicists included, will do anything to resist the conclusion that something exists outside the physical universe. Equivocation is employed to balance the scientific evidence that suggests the universe started from nothing with a philosophical presupposition that nothing can exist outside the physical universe—to start it. In other words, you can talk about a big bang while refusing to concede there had to be a big banger. The statement “the universe started from nothing” must be subtly manipulated in light of the profound consequences. Otherwise you are effectively admitting something (or someone) incredibly powerful (and personal) was responsible. As Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s giants of science, has admitted, “Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.”26

Working from the bottom up, we know that human life is absolutely valuable, a universe that began to exist must have a cause, and particular human actions and attitudes seem to be right, that is, consider the belief that we ought to have a basic level of respect for other people. This moral value has not always been promoted, but wherever it has gone wrong it has resulted in serious damage until powerful forces emerged to try to put it right. It seems to be the way things ought to be. Philosophers may debate the merits of objective morality, but I take comfort from the fact that those who deny it continue to demonstrate it. Michel Foucault was a twentieth-century French philosopher, one of the leading lights in a movement to break free from absolute moral values, yet he could not restrain himself in reacting to the immorality of France’s war in Algeria.27 This brought him into conflict with others who shared his worldview, as they knew he was undermining his own position by indirectly suggesting we can make sense of the world and recognize the way things ought to be.

As you start putting the pieces together to make sense of this broken world, the first thing to do is always the thing to do first: start with what you do know. I was granted the opportunity to do this at the Scottish Parliament, and my confidence was not based on the belief that I know it all (I do not know it all, and I know that I don’t). I was prepared to share because I knew I could put the pieces together and make a cumulative case for the truth and reasonableness of the Christian worldview. There remain many, many things that I do not know, but what I do know clearly stands out.

Consider the universe—where did it come from? I believe in God because something from someone is more probable than something from nothing.

Consider Jesus of Nazareth—a man who lived in a remote place with little money, no political power and no military might. He never wrote a book, taught for only three years and yet turned the history of the world upside-down. I believe that the life, teaching and impact of Jesus Christ confirms he is the Son of God. Consider our experience—a desire for significance in a universe where we are less than a speck, a desire for relationship in a world that is socially broken and fragmented, and a desire for permanence in a life that is fleeting. I believe the Bible makes sense when it says we were made by God (significance), we were created to know God (relationship) and God wants us to spend eternity with him (permanence). As G. K. Chesterton said, the fact that we do not fit this world is the best evidence that we were made for another world, and Christianity offers the reason why.

It’s fascinating that in such a diverse and complex world we share an amazing level of agreement about the way the world is and ought to be. Not that we agree on everything or automatically rubber-stamp whatever appears to be the consensus. Consensus (or what we believe the consensus to be) can often take us in the wrong direction. However, particular beliefs persist and seem to have a transcendent quality; they deserve our special attention. For example, those who experience the bitter taste of injustice feel a searing pain that suggests something significant: the reversal of a universal standard. As Chesterton observed, “Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star…. On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a notice-board, ‘Thou shall not steal!’”28 C. S. Lewis extended this thought when he remarked, “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.”29 In cases where such “universal” standards break down, we generally believe these countercultures to be the result of a broken understanding, and this is reinforced when those who hold such views are willing to reject them in favor of embracing another way of looking at the world.30

The Fourth Obstacle: A World Out of Reach 

We can empathize with those who think making sense of the world is a pointless exercise. The scale of the problem can be overwhelming, and that’s why some people choose to stand back and hold their head in their hands. When we don’t know what to do, sometimes it’s easier to do nothing. However, a jigsaw guide helps us overcome the fourth obstacle, grasping a world that seems out of reach. The answer? Think big by starting small. Do not be daunted; just look for the next piece of the puzzle. Take hold of what stands out in this world and then consider what comes next.

There’s a good illustration of this in the movie What About Bob? The main character, played by Bill Murray, suffers from numerous phobias and visits a respected psychiatrist who helps him move toward recovery by introducing him to his latest book, Baby Steps. Suddenly all of Bob’s greatest fears are reduced to bite-sized chunks, small enough to swallow, and he’s able to move forward and overcome them (here’s the comic twist) by breaking everything down into baby steps. When Bob leaves the psychiatrist’s office he doesn’t know how he’ll get home, but he’s willing to put one foot in front of the other, which is enough to get him where he needs to go. If we are going to make sense of the world we need to take it one step at a time. Think big by starting small, and put the pieces in place one at a time.

What does this look like? Take one important piece we’ve already identified: a universe that started to exist needs a cause. This raises the next question, or presents the next piece of the puzzle: what kind of cause? The universe that exists is incredibly ordered and complex, which makes it hard to believe that it’s the result of unguided forces.31 While it is possible that such a finely tuned universe is the accidental outcome of a cosmic explosion, science—as well as our own experience—tells us that order does not tend to come from disorder.32 Therefore, it is more reasonable to believe that some kind of intelligence is responsible, so we can fit these two things together and get a better idea about the big picture: our universe was created by an intelligence that is out of this world.

I remember meeting a medical doctor who surprised me when he said, “Hemoglobin encouraged me to believe in God.” The function of this protein in our blood shouted purpose and design, loud enough to get his attention. Even among those who eventually go a different direction, many are willing to admit that the evidence initially supports this conclusion.33 Much in this world strongly suggests that an intelligent agent is necessary to make sense of it all, and with every piece that fits together there is more reason to believe it is true.

It is exciting when you use a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world and start to see things taking shape, and I enjoy turning to popular atheist Richard Dawkins to reinforce the way things seem to fit together. A scientist with a gift for communicating with the general public, Dawkins seems to have taken on responsibility for shooting down the reasonable foundation for all religious belief. Yet even in his book The God Delusion he cannot deny the remarkable truth that the planet earth resides in “the Goldilocks zone.” In the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, the little girl wanders into the forest and ends up in the home of three bears. She decides to sample the three bowls of porridge on the table. The first bowl is too hot, the second too cold, so she turns to the last bowl and exclaims it is just right! This picture of perfection has been used to describe the earth’s position in relation to the sun, since “it is not too hot and not too cold, but just right.”34 Hence the Goldilocks zone. The science behind this is incredibly complex, and while Dawkins and others try to put it down to unbelievable good fortune on our part,35 the probability of this naturally occurring—as the product of unguided forces—is off the chart. 36

For a scientist who should always make an inference to the best explanation, Dawkins seems determined to believe in anything but God. But for those who are more open-minded there should be a growing sense that something else is going on: someone or something out there must be responsible for it all. The Goldilocks zone is a great piece of this broken world that stands out and gets our attention.

This kind of revelation stirs a sense of excitement in my soul. People are not condemned to look at the stars and wonder, “Is anybody out there?” We can make sense of the world and begin to see things clearly. There are good reasons to believe that life and intelligence out there are responsible for what we see down here. Do not look at the world and be overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. Take baby steps toward finding the solution. Think big by starting small.

Other Barriers 

Christianity is entirely reasonable and we need to share good reasons to believe it, but making the intellectual case clears away only one level of obstacles. There are still reasons to reject the big picture, and among the most powerful are moral, emotional and spiritual reasons.

Moral resistance: Multiple barriers stand in the way of someone hearing, understanding and embracing the Christian worldview. So when it comes to knowing how much is enough to see the big picture, Christians are responsible only to prayerfully and practically do their best and trust God to take care of the rest. We need to live as a good example of the truth, speak in a way that makes people think about the truth, and allow God to deal with the heart of the matter—the matter of the heart. 37

Jesus understood this better than anyone, and he exposed the underlying obstacles in his conversation with a rich young ruler (Mt 19:16-22). This man appeared to be ready to follow Jesus, having overcome the intellectual obstacles and realizing he spoke the truth; however, his instructions to “go sell your possessions and give to the poor” identified the greater issue and the real stumbling block. Instead of doing what Jesus asked, the man turned and walked away. You do not have to be rich to count the cost of following Christ because we all understand the aversion to giving up what we cling to in life. God requires us to let go and let him take control, while we are determined to hang on to our life with white knuckles. Moral obstacles are often what really stand in the way of people embracing the truth of the Christian worldview, and when this is the case no reason to believe will ever be good enough.

Hitting back in hurt: Emotions are another powerful force at work in our lives, and when we have been deeply wounded in some way it is not unusual to take this out on God. I have read the arguments of some of Christianity’s fiercest critics, and what they lack in substance they generally make up for with rage or sarcasm. A degree of knowledge about God can encourage this response, because God has revealed that he chooses to make himself vulnerable to our actions and attitudes; people can cause God pain (Gen 6:6Eph 4:30). Among those who resist him the most are those trying to hurt him the best. C. S. Lewis was reflecting on his own experience when he said, “All that stuff about the cosmic sadist was not so much the expression of thought as of hatred. I was getting from it the only pleasure a man in anguish can get; the pleasure of hitting back.”38 

Other people may be less vindictive but equally scarred by life’s circumstances. They would rather resist God if it means they can hold on to their pain or anger. Christianity offers forgiveness from God, but it also demands that we be willing to forgive others (and ourselves). When the greater attraction is holding a grudge against those responsible for our deepest hurts, emotional barriers will stand between us and doing what it takes to embrace the Christian worldview.

Spiritual blindness: Another obstacle that leads to resistance, perhaps starting out as a moral or emotional barrier, is spiritual blindness. The Bible says everyone has a natural inclination to resist God’s truth and revelation in the world (Jn 3:19-20), so you could say we are all spiritually shortsighted. No one can see the truth until God supernaturally makes the truth known. However, some people persist in denying God’s revelation (and prompting) for so long that their hearts become hardened (Ps 95:8Heb 3:8). This is not irrevocable, since God will open eyes and reveal the truth to all those who genuinely seek it (Jer 29:12-13), but when spiritual blindness stands in the way there is nothing more you can do or say but pray.

When I was a student at seminary I found a part-time job gardening for a retired couple, and while the lady was very warm and friendly to me her husband had a strong revulsion toward Christianity. It was intense in a way I had never witnessed before. I could not even raise the subject of my studies without him hardening his expression and turning away, as if something seized him from within. There was no willingness to discuss anything related to the Christian worldview, and he made me think of a seafarer determined to remain onboard as captain of his ship even when that ship was sinking. The tragedy was that this man wasn’t in good health, and in real terms his ship was sinking, but he seemed determined to grit his teeth and resist anything I could do or say.

While I look back on this I regret never breaking through this barrier to talk about things that really matter, but I take heart from the fact that no one is out of reach of the truth. In fact, the apostle Paul, one of the greatest ambassadors of the Christian message, started out as one of its fiercest opponents. A violent persecutor of Christians, he was determined to eradicate Christian faith from the world, and there is no natural explanation for why his life completely turned around. That is why Paul’s conversion has been long regarded as a substantial evidence for the truth of.39 I can only hope that the power of God was at work in this man’s life too, able to turn things around in time.

The best worldview is always the one that resonates with reality. While some people automatically rule out anything supernatural, there is no valid reason to do so—without demonstrating an antisupernatural bias. We should be open to natural and supernatural explanations as we try to make sense of the world, and the Christian worldview draws from both realms to put the pieces together. Seeing the big picture is never enough for someone to embrace Christianity and follow Jesus Christ; however, demonstrating that it is the best way to make sense of the world will do three important things: those who grasp it will have reason to hold on to it, those who seek truth will have reason to consider it, and those who reject it will have reason to regret it (and hopefully take time to reconsider).

Putting the Pieces Together 

G. K. Chesterton became convinced that Christianity was true and reflective of the real world based on “an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.”40 Certainly Chesterton’s faith was built on more than his intellect, but this reasonable foundation gave him tremendous confidence in the truth of the gospel and enabled him to successfully share his faith with others. Chesterton effectively used a jigsaw guide to making sense of the world to anchor his belief and undercut popular arguments that life’s big questions were too hard or too heavy. On the contrary, ultimate answers are available, and while people have different levels of access to the world there is sufficient evidence—within the world and within us—to point us in the right direction (see Rom 1:20). Identify things that stand out in the world, start putting the pieces together, and when you have enough pieces of the puzzle in place you can be confident that you see the big picture.

A jigsaw guide to making sense of the world will not answer every question, but it will help you start putting the pieces together so you can make sense of this broken world and see the big picture. Listen before you leap into a conversation that counts, learn to talk about things that really matter and be prepared to share the reason why the Christian worldview resonates with reality.

____________________

Alex McLellan is founder and executive director of Reason Why International and serves as an associate with RZIM Europe.

1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Scribner, 1952), 109.

2 Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods(Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2000), 128.

3 Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, 2nd ed. (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 22.

4 G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw Books, 2001), xxiii.

5 A jigsaw guide to making sense of the world could be described as “exploratory particularism.” See Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, ed., J. P. Moreland & William Lane Craig (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 99-102.

6 J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress 1997), 153.

7 Plato, “Knowledge and Virtue” in Great Traditions in Ethics, ed. Theodore Denise, Sheldon Peterfreund and Nicholas White (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1999), 21.

8 Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not A Christianed. Paul Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 107.

9 John Gray, Straw Dogs, 3rd ed. (London: Granta Publications, 2003), 26.

10Ibid., 28.

11Ibid., xi.

12Orthodoxy, 43.

13 Julian Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 6.

14 Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 116.

15Mere Christianity, 106.

16 Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1976), 19.

17 John Locke, the seventeenth -century British philosopher, coined this term to describe the belief that the mind at birth is a blank tablet and the only input is ideas of sensation and reflection. See Nicholas P. Wolterstorff, “The Essay” in Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophyed. Robert Audi, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 506.

18 R.C. Sproul, The Consequences of Ideas(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2000), 9.

19 Gray (quoting James Lovelock), Straw Dogs, 6.

20 Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Transvaluation of Values” in Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings, ed. Louis P. Pojman, 3rd ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1998), 161-168.

21 “The Fuhrer exhorted them to have no mercy. ‘Might is right.’” See John Toland, Adolf Hitler (New York: First Anchor Books Edition, 1992), 544.

22 “Over and over he preached his pseudo-Darwinist sermon of nature’s way: conquest of the weak by the strong.” Ibid., 226.

23 Peter Singer, “All Animals Are Equal,” Morality and Moral Controversiesed. John Arthur, 5th ed., (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall 1981), 134.

24 This presents one form of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

25 One of my opponents, a physics teacher, made this statement during a debate at the National Law Library in Edinburgh, Scotland, October 2009.

26 Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time(New York: Bantam, 1998), 49.

27 James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 185.

28 G.K. Chesterton, The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (New York: Dover Publications, 1998), 35.

29Mere Christianity, 5.

30 See Don Richardson, Peace Child (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2005) and Lords of the Earth (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2008) as good examples of those standards that generally reflect a broken society in need of repair.

31 “The theistic conclusion is not logically coercive, but it can claim serious consideration as an intellectually satisfying understanding of what would otherwise be unintelligible good fortune.” John Polkinghorne, Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press 1998), 10.

32 The second law of thermodynamics, or the law of entropy, confirms that order tends towards disorder.

33 “The process that Darwin discovered … does all the work of explaining the means/ends economy of biological nature that shouts out ‘purpose’ or ‘design’ at us.” See “The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality,” On the Human: A project of the National Humanities Center, www.onthehuman.org/2009/11/the-disenchanted-naturalists-guide-to-reality.

34 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion(London: Bantam Press, 2006), 135.

35Ibid., 140.

36 John Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Oxford, England: Lion Books 2007), 69.

37 I use the word heart in the biblical sense—that is it applies to the essence of the whole person, not simply the emotions.

38 C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York: Harper One, 2001), p.52.

39 F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 76.

40Orthodoxy, 216.

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INSIGHTS INTO HUMANISM

Robert L. Waggoner[1]

Humanism is the primary modern philosophical enemy of Christianity. Even so, most Christians know little, if anything about it – what it is, or how it functions. The term “humanism” has been around since the Renaissance, although only recently has the man on the street began to use it. Many who do use the term do not sufficiently understand its ideals and concepts.

To help clarify this lack of understanding, “humanism” and some of its related terms will be defined within their historical and philosophical contexts and some short working philosophical definitions of modern humanism will be given. Humanism will be shown to be a method for making decisions. Major philosophical concepts of humanism will be briefly noted, after which terms that modify humanism will be discussed. Finally the seriousness of humanism will be demonstrated by noting its progress in its opposition to Christianity.

Humanistic Terms Often Need Clarification

Humanism is often confusing to people because the primary meanings of many of its basic words have changed. Humanism is often associated with related words such as “humanist,” “humane,” “humanities,” and “humanitarian.” Words may sometimes have dual meanings. However, their primary meanings are generally consistent with the time period in which they are used. Modern humanism frequently promotes its acceptance by utilizing confusion created by words that have dual meanings. A proper understanding of humanism requires knowledge of how a particular word is used within its historical or philosophical context. The original meanings of words related to humanism are generally best understood within their historical context. The current meanings of these words are generally best understood within their philosophical context.

Humanism

Although “humanism” is a philosophical, religious and moral point of view as old as human civilization itself,”[2] and although “humanism traces its roots from ancient China, classical Greece and Rome, through the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment to the scientific revolution of the modern world,”[3] the primary impetus toward the development of modern humanism comes from the Renaissance era, and was strongly re-enforced by the so-called age of Enlightenment.

Petrarch (1304-1374) is considered to be “the father of the new humanism.”[4] A steady stream of professional humanists came after Petrarch. For Petrarch and his peers, humanism meant veneration for the works of ancient humanity, especially the literature of Greece and Rome. Although the content of humanistic studies at first included early church history, Renaissance humanism clearly emphasized non-Christian literature.

Humanist

Most humanists of the early Renaissance, being Catholic, would have claimed themselves to be Christians. Strictly speaking, a “humanist” then was a scholar who engaged in the study of “humane” literature. It was then called “profane” to distinguish it from biblical literature. The “humane” literature then studied was primarily the classical Greek and Latin languages and the ancient non-Christian literary documents written in those languages. Since these scholars studied primarily the “humane” literary works of humanity, their studies were categorically referred to as the “humanities”.

The word “humanists” during the Renaissance era simply described an individual who was a student of humane literature. Although a “humanist” may still be a student of humane literature, the term today does not necessarily refer to a student of humanities. That’s because as Renaissance humanists studied ancient humane literature, they began to accept the beliefs, values, and concepts they read from non-Christian literature. It was not long until they came to prefer a sort of human autonomy rooted in the belief that man is his own judge – totally independent from God. God was either removed from their portraits of reality, or God was placed in the far distant background, and man was positioned at center stage.

Because humanists rejected God in practical matters, the word “humanist” came to mean not only one who studied ancient works of humanity, but also one who believed ancient non-Christian human ideals and values. Whereas the word “humanist” had originally designated what a person did, it came in time to designate what a person believed. The word “humanist” may now describe one who is not even a student of the humanities, but who nonetheless believes those concepts that have come to public consciousness from “humane” literature.

Humanities

The study of humanities for university students today differs from the study of humanities by Renaissance humanists. University students today generally read modern translations of ancient literary words such as Homer’s Illiad and The Odyssey, and the Latin works by Ovid and Virgil, etc., although they do not generally study these works in their original languages. Moreover humanities as studied by modern university students is not limited to literature. Rather, the study of humanities generally includes many other type works of humanity in such fields as music and the arts, in addition to a historical study of the Renaissance humanists and their works.

Humane

Like the words “humanities” and “humanist,” the word “humane” sometimes undergoes changes in its meaning. Whereas it was once designated non-Christian literature, it is now often used to imply human conduct that is kind, tender, merciful and compassionate. This meaning of “humane” is changed because of its association with a concept of modern humanism about the nature of man, namely, that man is basically good.

The Bible does not teach that mankind is basically good. Rather it declares that by Adam sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12), that everyone sins (Roman 3:23; 3:10), and that therefore all everyone is in need of salvation (Romans 1:16, 17; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:9). This does not mean, however, that all people are basically evil. Rather, the Bible declares that people are free to choose whether they will do good or whether they will do evil (John 5:28-29; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

The humanist portrayal of mankind as basically good reflects the strong influence of modern humanism upon our culture. Moreover, cultural acceptance of humanity as “humane” has now influenced the general concept of humanism, so that many, who do not realize the horrible consequences of modern humanism, mistakenly think that a humanistic lifestyle is one of compassionate concern and caring for humanity.

Humanitarian

Likewise, the word “humanitarian” has also changed its meaning from what it was originally. “Humanitarianism was the term originally applied to the followers of a group of eighteenth-century theologians who affirmed the humanity but denied the deity of Christ. It was later used when speaking of the Religion of Humanity, and it carries the subsidiary meaning of the worship of the human race. It is only recently that humanitarianism has come to imply almost exclusively the doing of good deeds that help people. That recent usage should not be allowed to obscure the origins and motivations of humanitarianism. It is above all a religious term.”[5]

Just as words related to humanism have had their meanings changed, so also the meaning of “humanism” itself has also changed. Whereas “humanism” once referred to respect for classical writings of antiquity, the term has now come to mean a respect for human (as opposed to Godly) values that are recorded in these non-Christian documents. Modern humanism must therefore be understood within its philosophical context, not its historical origins.

Humanism May Be Defined Philosophically

There is no single philosophical definition of humanism that is a commonly accepted standard for everyone. There are about as many definitions as there are scholars who discuss the subject. Nonetheless, some basic ideals of humanism may be perceived through reviewing some short working philosophical definitions. 

“Simply defined, humanism is man’s attempt to solve his problems independently of God.”[6]

“Humanism is the religion which deifies man and dethrones God.”[7]

Humanism is “a pre-occupation with man as the supreme value in the universe and the sole solver of the problems of the universe.”[8]

“Humanism is a philosophy which affirms the value of what is human, or which holds that humans have value in and of themselves.”[9]

“Humanism is the viewpoint that men have but one life to live and that human happiness is its own justification and needs no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that, in any case, the supernatural does not exist.”[10]

“Humanism is the placing of Man at the center of all things and making him the measure of all things.” It “means Man beginning from himself, with no knowledge except what he himself can discover and no standards outside himself.”[11]

The basic idea of humanism was expressed by the ancient Greek, Protagoras (c. 485-415 BC) when he said, “Man is the measure of all things, of things that are, that they are; and of things that are not, that they are not.”[12] Humanism sounds positive, being for man. However, to the Christian, humanism is really negative, being against God. “Humanism is a polite term for atheism.”[13] In practice, humanism is a system of beliefs about humanity that excludes God from reality and makes man the judge of all things.

Humanism Is A Method For Making Decisions

However helpful scholarly definitions may be, humanism cannot really be understood until it’s realized that it is primarily a method to be used in making moral decisions. As Paul Kurtz puts it, “[s]ecular humanism is not so much a specific morality as it is a method for the explanation and discovery of rational principles.”[14]

This method is best understood when illustrated. Below are three paragraphs of a magazine article designed for teenagers.[15] As you read these paragraphs, see if you recognize modern humanism. You’ll notice that the word “humanism” (or its related terms) does not appear in these paragraphs. However, some basic concepts of modern humanism are there. Ask yourself whether you agree with the ideas expressed in these paragraphs. Here’s the first one.

“Decisions are an essential part of living. You have to make decisions every day of your life, from deciding what to wear to school to deciding what type work you want to do for the rest of your life. You even have to decide whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship. This is what the decisions section is about.”

That paragraph is primarily introductory. While there may be nothing within it with which we would disagree explicitly, an older generation than ours would have been shocked to read that there are implied alternatives regarding “whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship.”

Godly people understand that a “sexual relationship” outside of marriage is sinful. “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18) “Flee fornication” (I Corinthians 6:18), and “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28), are but a few prohibitions from God on this subject. For all who respect God’s authority, there is no reason to even consider the question of “whether or not you want to have a sexual relationship.”

Now read the second paragraph.

“We’ve asked a doctor, a minister, two parents and three teenagers to tell us how they feel about sex. These are their opinions and not necessarily yours. We only hope that when you read their letters, you will be able to understand why they made the kind of decisions that they did. This will hopefully help you find the why’s behind your decisions.”

Did you notice the implication in that paragraph? What is implicit there is explicit in the next paragraph.

“The decision of whether or not to have sex is not a one-time thing. Each time that you have or do not have sex, when the opportunity arises, a choice is made. It takes careful thought. Think about your feelings, important people’s opinions that you value, your religious beliefs, and any other thing that influences how you think, feel, or behave. You are the only person who knows what is right for you. The final decision is yours.”

Do you agree that you are the only person who knows what is right for you? Did you notice that in these paragraphs appealed to the only human authorities? These paragraphs do not appeal to Divine authority – God, Christ, or the Bible. Nor do they suggest that any human authority is better for you than you are for yourself! In other words, these paragraphs teach that you are sovereign in determining your own conduct!

In contrast, the Bible teaches that God is the only sovereign being (Genesis 1:1; 14:19; Exodus 8:22; 15:18; Deuteronomy 4:39; I Chronicles 19:11-12; Psalms 22:28: 24:1; Acts 17:24-31; Romans 14:11). The Bible teaches that man needs guidance from God because “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

Placing humanity at the center of all things, and making humanity the judge of all things is the primary belief and method of modern humanism. While modern humanism may be considered a type of atheism, it is unlike atheism in that it does not generally argue about the existence of God. Its method is simply to assume that God does not exist. By assuming that God does not exist, humanism dismisses God as irrelevant and makes man his own God. Because humanism rejects God and the Bible, moral decisions can then be based only upon what man learns from nature through natural experiences and observations. While all men may glean from the best of human wisdom in arriving at personal moral decisions, in the final analysis, each man determines for himself what is right and what is wrong.

This belief and process of modern humanism is boldly declared within basic documents of humanism. Humanism affirms that “moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human needs and interest.”[16] “We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility . . . the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased.”[17] The sixth article of Humanist Manifesto II declares that “individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire.” The fourth item of A Secular Humanist Declaration states that “secularists deny that morality needs to be deduced from religious belief or that those who do not espouse a religious doctrine are immoral.” And the conclusion of that document includes the statement that “secular humanism places trust in human intelligence rather than in divine guidance.”

Philosophical Concepts of Humanism 

Modern humanism is a method of thinking that dethrones God and deifies humanity. It is also a philosophical worldview that has certain well-defined major concepts. While all humanists do not necessarily subscribe to every aspect of these concepts, they are generally agreed upon a broad consensus. These concepts are clearly documented by Humanist Manifestos I and IIA Secular Humanist Declaration, and A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics.[18]

Major philosophical concepts of modern humanism can be summarized under three basic categories – God, nature, and man. Concepts regarding the first two categories can be quickly and easily summarized. Regarding God – humanist generally believe either that God does not exist, or that, if he does, he is not relevant to mankind. Humanists therefore believe that theism is unrealistic and detrimental to humanity. Regarding nature – humanists believe that the universe is “self-existing,” that nature is all there is, and that all things within nature, including mankind, evolve by chance.

Humanist concepts regarding mankind are not so briefly summarized. Humanism is essentially a human-centered philosophy. It is concerned primarily with mankind’s physical and moral natures. But these must be understood, according to humanists, by human reasoning, scientific observations, and critical thinking rather than by divine revelation. 

Humanists realize that tensions exist between themselves and theists and that if humanism is to prevail over theism, then God and Divine revelation must be excluded from the process by which people acquire knowledge of all things. They therefore insist upon the right to inquire freely about everything and to act according to their own understandings of humanity and nature without social or legal restrictions imposed upon them by believers in God. If humanists are to achieve their desired freedoms and objectives, they think it essential to their cause that public policies in governmental, professional and social areas of human life not be determined according to Divine revelation, but only from knowledge gleaned by human reasoning, scientific discoveries, and critical intelligence.

Humanists believe that humans have only a physical nature. They deny that mankind is spiritual, or that humans have life after death. Humanists believe that mankind is self-sufficient through the use of reason and critical intelligence. That is, they think that humanity needs no Divine guidance or direction from any source other than humanity. Humanists believe that humanity is basically good. That is, they think people do not sin, and therefore that people have no need of eternal salvation. Since humanity is assumed to be basically good, then whatever mankind does which does not encroach on others’ freedoms is also thought to be good. Thus, the use of pornography, by those who desire it, is sanctioned by humanism.

Humanists believe that man is a moral being. Morality to humanists, however, does not mean the same thing as it does to Christians. Christians believe that moral standard is set by God. It is absolute, constant, and fixed by God in scripture. For humanists, however, moral standards are relative, situational, and autonomous. That is, for humanists, morality is pluralistic, determined by each person for himself. A person is moral, according to humanism, whenever he or she does whatever he of she thinks is right. For Christians, however, a person is moral whenever he or she does whatever God says is right.

Humanists believe there is one moral principle that is universal to all people. That’s the principle of “moral equality.” By that, humanists mean that all people are morally equal. Therefore, all discrimination, whether based on age, sex, religion, race, color, national origin, etc., is considered to be immoral. Humanists apply their principle of moral equality to all people in two major ways. One is related to sex, the other is related to economics.

As applied to sex, the humanistic principle of moral equality means that men and women have equal authority, rights, and functions, in every aspect of life. In other words, there should be no distinguishable differences of authority between men and women in society, and neither should there be distinguishable differences of sexual roles between men and women. In practical terms, this means that husbands should have no more authority over their families than do their wives, that wives should have no more responsibility for house-keeping than do their husbands, and that husbands should have no more responsibility for providing for their families than do their wives. It also means that marriage is but only one legitimate arrangement of convenience for cohabitation between men and women. It means that homosexual and lesbian marriages are just as permissible as are heterosexual marriages. It means that unmarried couples living together are equally as respectable as are married couples and that “short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire.”[19]

As applied to economics, the humanistic principle of moral equality means that society “should provide means to satisfy basic [individual] economic, health, and cultural needs, including wherever resources make possible, a guaranteed annual income.”[20] In other words, humanism is generally opposed to an economy based upon capitalism. It usually insists upon an economy based upon socialistic premises. In practical terms, this means that there should be no economic categories of the rich and the poor, but that all individuals should be economically equal. It means that individuals are not necessarily responsible to provide economically for themselves and their families, but that civil governments are responsible for providing economic needs for all their citizens. It also means, whenever this principle is carried to its logical conclusion, that nationalism must eventually be eliminated, and that in its place must be established an international one-world government. Since economic growth and development is worldwide in scope, humanism declares that “it is the moral obligation of the developed nations to provide – through an international authority that safeguards human rights – massive technical, agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control techniques, to the developing portions of the globe.”[21]Humanists believe that in order to help less-developed nations become more self-sufficient “we need to work out some equitable form of taxation on a worldwide basis.”[22]

Modifiers of Humanism: Secular, Religious, and Christian

Any assessment of humanism would not be complete if it did not include an understanding of terms that sometimes are used to modify the word “humanism”. Three major terms often used to modify humanism are “secular,” “religious,” and “Christian.” Confusion often surrounds these terms as modifiers of humanism just as confusion surrounds the word “humanism” itself.

Secular Humanism

The most common term now used to modify humanism is the word “secular,” which comes from the Latin saeculum. It means ‘time’ or ‘age.’ Secular is that which pertains to this world, temporal, related to, or connected with worldly things. Secularism knows nothing of the majesty of a sovereign God who transcends and rules over the universe. 

In contrast to secularism, Christianity promotes belief in God and in heavenly and eternal things. No one doubts that Christianity is a religion. Humanists want people to equate religion with concerns about God, the church, personal salvation, and things heavenly and eternal. Since humanists reject beliefs about God, personal salvation, eternal life, etc., humanists want people to think of humanism as secular, not as religious. 

A major modern popular concept of the secular is that there are certain areas of human life and activity that may be legitimately separated from religion. These areas of life are now generally presumed to include politics, the arts, education, science, commerce, entertainment, economics, foreign affairs, environmental issues, industry, journalism, transportation, business, civil governments, etc. By applying the term “secular” to all these areas, humanism identifies itself with all these areas, and seeks to separate them from the influence of religion. 

Humanists argue that religious people should confine their religion to matters of worship and attending to the spiritual needs of individuals in their private lives. They argue that religion is only a private matter, and that therefore Christians should have nothing to do with these public matters. Many who profess Christianity seem to have accepted this humanistic way of thinking. Humanists have deceived many professed Christians into believing that the categorical distinction between the secular and the religious is a proper distinction. It is not! The Bible never makes a categorical distinction between the secular and the religious. In fact, the modern concept of the secular, as distinguished from the religious, is never found in the Bible. This categorical distinction is a relatively modern concept, unknown to history until after the time of Thomas Acquinas (1225-1274 AD).

Religion touches all areas of life. The Christian religion is just as concerned with life in this world as it is with eternal life. For Christians, there is no area of life that should not be regulated by the word of God. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Any Christian who thinks his religion is only a private matter has too limited an understanding of Christianity. Christians cannot be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, or a leavening influence within the world unless the Christian faith is applied to all public and private sectors of life.

Religious Humanism

Humanists have not always wanted people to think of humanism as secular. They now want people to think of them as secular because that now seems to be to their advantage. There was a time, however, when humanists thought it was to their advantage to be known as a religion. They then used the word “religious” to modify humanism. Although modern humanists do not now generally refer to their philosophy as a religion, and although many of them will object to modern humanism being classified as a religion, it is nonetheless true that modern humanism is indeed a religion. 

Modern humanism claims to be a religion. Claims made by humanists that humanism is a religion date back more than a century. “As early as 1872, Octavius B. Frothingham wrote Religion of Humanity in which he used the doctrine of evolution to establish a humanistic, naturalistic concept of religious and ethical values.”[23] In 1930, Charles F. Potter, one of the signers of Humanist Manifesto I, wrote a book entitled Humanism: A New Religion. The first sentence in the preface states, “The purpose of this book is to set forth . . . the main outline and principal points of the new religion called humanism.”[24] Many other statements in that book also claim that humanism is a religion. The signers of Humanist Manifesto I believed that the circumstances of their world had “created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion.”[25] They believed that “to establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present.”[26] They declared that in “order that religious humanism may be better understood, we, the undersigned, desire to make certain affirmations which we believe the facts of our contemporary life demonstrate.”[27] Humanist Manifesto I affirmed fifteen principles. Of these, eight use language that requires recognition that humanism be considered a religion. The last paragraph of that document begins with the words, “So stands the theses of religious humanism.”[28] Forty years later, Paul Kurtz stated that Humanist Manifesto I “was concerned with expressing a general religious and philosophical outlook”[29] He also noted that Humanist Manifesto II also addressed itself to “the problems of religion.”[30]

In addition to claiming to be a religion, humanism has religious characteristics. Among these are faith assumptions, attempts to answer basic and ultimate religious concerns, creedal statements, etc.[31] Moreover, humanism has been legally declared, on several occasions, to be a religion. The U. S. Supreme Court declared in 1961 that among “religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, secular Humanism and others.”[32]

Humanists apparently do not now wish for humanism to be considered a religion because – with the prevailing concept of the secular as opposed to the religious, if humanism were generally thought of as a religion – humanism would then have no better standing in the popular mind than is now generally given to Christianity. Moreover, humanism would then not be able to identify itself with the secular. In short, religion was once held in high esteem in this country. Now, however, religion is out, secularism is in!

As religion, humanism is a form of self-worship. Humanism as self-worship in our society manifests itself in two primary ways. One is the quest for things (materialism) and the other is the quest for pleasure (hedonism). The quest for these makes many moderns act like they think humanity is only physical and temporal. Whereas humanism emphasizes self-hood, Christianity emphasizes self-denial (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). For Christians, material things and pleasurable experiences are not evil in themselves, but their singular pursuit causes modern man to forget the spiritual nature and eternal destiny of his soul. Christians should remember that Jesus taught that in order to gain life, one must lose it (Matthew 16:25; Luke 17:33; John 12:25).

Christian Humanism

Just as the term “religious” preceded “secular” in modifying humanism, so also did the word “Christian” precede “religious” in modifying humanism. There are two senses in which the word “Christian” has been used as a modifier of humanism. The first sense is of Catholic scholars like Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More in England who studied ancient classical literature, but who professed belief in Christ. The other sense relates to persons of more recently times, like C. S. Lewis and other Christian apologists. For them, humanism meant something different from that indicated by modern humanism. For them, humanism referred to the dignity of man as created by God and made in Cod’s image. Man’s eternal worth, his dominion over nature, his immortality and his creative ability were central concepts of Christian humanism. Even here, however, many who considered themselves Christian humanists had so compromised Christianity with naturalism that they were often more in tune with modern humanism than they were with Christianity.[33]

The strength of modern humanism is such that, for all practical purposes, the expression “Christian humanism” is now a contradiction in terms inasmuch as genuine Christianity is generally realized to be just the opposite of humanism. Paul Kurtz, a leading spokesman of modern humanism and former editor of The Humanist magazine, says “Humanism cannot in any fair sense of the word apply to one who still believes in God as the source and the creator of the universe. Christian Humanism would be possible only for those who are willing to admit that they are atheistic Humanists. It surely does not apply to God-intoxicated believers.”[34]

Humanism Is Now The Primary Philosophical Enemy of Christianity

Until the 1960s the word “humanism” was seldom heard by the man on the street. Most Christians seem to find it difficult to believe that in the battle for the mind of modern men, humanism has confronted Christianity and now appears to have greater influence in the Western World than does Christianity. Christians know that biblical morality has severely deteriorated since mid-twentieth century, but Christians have generally not known why.

Now, all of a sudden, Christians are beginning to learn that humanism has ruling control over every discipline of study in all public elementary and secondary schools, and in all state colleges and universities; that humanism is the major ruling philosophy in all major professions such as law, medicine, the media, sociology and psychology; and that it’s values dictate most policies of our federal and state bureaucracies. Humanism rules in industry and commerce, in the arts and in foreign affairs. Humanism has turned the Christian world upside down – a reversal from accomplishments of apostolic Christianity! (See Acts 17:6).

A thought provoking assessment of changes humanism has brought about in modern America is given by William A. Stanmeyer. He writes that . . . 

“in the watershed generation since World War II, secular humanism took an aggressive, intolerant, even imperialistic stance. Through variegated cultural and legal changes, secular humanists have modified the public order so that it no longer reinforces Christian values or supports private religious efforts to transmit traditional standards, norms, and values to one’s children. Society’s public policies and laws are no longer a simple extension of the basic commitments and priorities of the Christian individuals who make up that society. In field after field of human endeavor, an extraordinary transformation has take place, as if a butterfly has reversed the process of metamorphosis and changed from a beautiful winged flutterer back to an ugly crawling caterpillar. A society not long ago Christian is now pagan, and the change took place right before our eyes! At the risk of some over-simplification one could summarize the metamorphosis this way: three decades ago, the secular humanist voice was scarcely heard in public policy; two decades ago, it was one among a few; one decade ago, it became the loudest and most influential; in the decade to come, it will seek to silence all other voices. As they seek to gain control of the organs of public policy, the secular humanists will attack enclaves of Christian communal life, such as schools, hospitals, and other charitable organizations transfused with religious commitment. Their goal will be to reduce Christian influence on public morality to the most token and accidental sort”[35]

After giving numerous examples of how humanism has changed, and is still changing our society, Stanmeyer then says, “an ominous pattern is developing: a multifaceted campaign is mounting to remove Christian influence from society entirely – from its schools, its medical practice, its social service institutions, its laws.”[36]

Conclusion

We who claim to be Christians have allowed humanism to make fundamental changes within our culture. Humanism will continue to change our culture until and unless we Christians understand it. We must rise up against modern humanism, “stand in the gap” (Ezekiel 22:30), do battle against it where it is most operative and powerful, and restore the principles of Christianity to the cultural and legal foundations which govern our society.


[1]Copyright © by Robert L. Waggoner, 1987, Revised, 2001. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this document for non-commercial educational purposes when unaltered provided that copyright and authorship is given. All other rights reserved. 

[2]Paul Kurtz, “Preface,” Humanist Manifestos I and II. (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1973), 3.

[3]Paul Kurtz, Same as above, 15. 

[4]Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Old Tappan, N. J.: Fleming H. Revell Company. 1976), 58.

[5]Herbert Schlossberg. Idols For Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 50, with footnote, “See the Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 5, 445; also Encyclopedia Brittanica, 11th ed., 1911, Vol. 13, 872.”

[6]Tim LaHaye. The Battle For the Mind. (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1980), 26.

[7]Homer Duncan. Secular Humanism: The Most Dangerous Religion in America (Lubbock, TX: Missionary Crusader, 1979), 7.

[8]John Eidsmoe. The Christian Legal Advisor (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1984), 180.

[9]Norman Geisler. Is Man the Measure? An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983), 104.

[10]Corliss Lamont. The Philosophy of Humanism. (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1949).

[11]Francis Schaeffer. The Christian Manifesto(Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1981), 23-24. 

[12]Milton C. Nahm, ed. Selections From Early Greek Philosophy. (Crofts, 1934), 239, as cited by A. James Reichley. Religion in American Public Life (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1985), 42.

[13]James Curry, President of American Humanist Association. Quoted from FAC-Sheet #18-A, “Humanism,” Plymouth Rock Foundation, O. Box 425, Martborough, NH 03455-1425.

[14]Paul Kurtz. “A Secular Humanist Declaration”, Free Inquiry, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter, 1980/81, 5.

[15]The source of this article is unknown to me. I received it as a clipping from a friend.

[16]Humanist Manifesto II, Third.

[17]Humanist Manifesto II, Fifth.

[18]Humanist Manifesto I was drafted by Roy Wood Sellers. It was first published in The New Humanist, (May/June, 1933, Vol. VI, No. 3). It was signed by thirty-four people, including John Dewey. Humanist Manifesto II was first published in The Humanist, (September/October, 1973, Vol. XXXIII, No. 5). It was signed by 114 prominent persons, including Isaac Asimov, Edd Doerr, Anthony Flew, Sidney Hook, Lester Kirkendall, Paul Kurtz, Corless Lamont, Lester Mondale, and B. F. Skinner. A Secular Humanist Declaration was drafted by Paul Kurtz. It first appeared in Free Inquiry, (Winter, 1980/81, Vol. 1, No. 1. 3-6). In that issue it was endorsed by fifty-eight people from eight countries, among which were Isaac Asimov, Joseph Fletcher, Sidney Hook, Floyd Matson, and B. F. Skinner. Twenty-three additional endorsements too late for publication then arrived for listing in the next issue. A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics first appeared in Free Inquiry, (Fall, 1988, Vol. 8, No. 4, 4-7). It was endorsed by fourteen Humanist Laureates of the Academy of Humanism. This document was also endorsed by the Board of Directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and the Tenth World Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. 

[19]Humanist Manifesto II, Sixth. 

[20]Humanist Manifesto II, Eleventh. 

[21]Humanist Manifesto II, Fifteenth.

[22]Paul Kurtz, “A Declaration of Interdependence: A New Global Ethics,” Free Inquiry, (Fall, 1988, Vol. 8, No. 4, 6). 

[23]John Eidsmoe, 189. (See chapter 12, “Humanism as an Establishment of Religion,” 179-199). 

[24]Charles F. Potter, Humanism: A New Religion, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1930). 

[25]Paul Kurtz, Humanist Manifestos I and II, 8. 

[26]Same as above. 

[27]Same source, 7.

[28]Same source, 10. 

[29]Same source, 3, opening statement in Preface. 

[30]Same source.

[31]For further discussion of humanism as a religion, read Chapter 12, “Humanism as an Establishment of Religion,” of John Eidsmoe, The Christian Legal Advisor, 170-199; and Homer Duncan, The Religion of Secular Humanism and The Public Schools, (Lubbock, TX: Missionary Crusader, 1983) 

[32]367 U.S. 488 (196), footnote 11.

[33]For a discussion of “Christian humanism,” read Chapter 8, “Christian Humanism,” of Norman L. Geisler, Is Man The Measure? An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism, (Grand Rapids: Baker book House, 1983), 95-107.

[34]Cited by James Hitchcock, What Is Secular Humanism? Why Humanism Became Secular and How It Is Changing Our World, (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1982), 15, 17.

[35]William A. Stanmeyer, Clear and Present Danger: Church and State in Post-Christian America. (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1983), 4-5. 

[36]Same source, 7.

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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.

According to the Humanist worldview Jacques Monod the universe is silent about values and therefore his good friend Woody Allen demonstrated this very fact so well in his 1989 movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. In other words, if we can’t get our values from the Bible then  the answer is MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!

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The question now becomes do you want to know if there is a God or not? Are you willing to examine the same evidence that I provided to the world’s leading atheistic philosopher in 1994 (Antony Flew)? Here some are links below that examine the subjects that Antony Flew studied before he switched from away from atheism, followed by the sermon by Adrian Rogers that I provided to Antony Flew and he said he enjoyed listening to.

Former atheist Antony Flew: “Although I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have since come to see that, when correctly formulated, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God!

Former atheist Antony Flew said, “I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call the MONKEY THEOREM!

Why the world’s most famous atheist (Antony Flew) now believes in God by James A. Beverley

BP)–Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.Flew –

Former Atheist Antony Flew noted that Evolutionists failed to show “Where did a living, self-reproducing organism come from in the first place?”

Former atheist Antony Flew pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life and in every other case, information necessarily points to an intelligent source!

 

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Former atheist Antony Flew: “Although I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have since come to see that, when correctly formulated, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God!”

Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010 A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008 Debate – William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist? Uploaded on Jan 27, 2011 April 4, 2009 – Craig vs. […]

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The argument from design led former atheist Antony Flew to assert: “I must say again that the journey to my discovery of the Divine has thus far been a pilgrimage of reason, and it has led me to accept the existence of a self-existent, immutable, immaterial, omnipotent, and omniscient Being!”

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Former atheist Antony Flew pointed out that natural selection can’t explain the origin of first life and in every other case, information necessarily points to an intelligent source!

______________ Does God Exist? Thomas Warren vs. Antony Flew Published on Jan 2, 2014 Date: September 20-23, 1976 Location: North Texas State University Christian debater: Thomas B. Warren Atheist debater: Antony G.N. Flew For Thomas Warren: http://www.warrenapologeticscenter.org/ ______________________ Antony Flew and his conversion to theism Uploaded on Aug 12, 2011 Antony Flew, a well known spokesperson […]

Former Atheist Antony Flew noted that Evolutionists failed to show “Where did a living, self-reproducing organism come from in the first place?”

____   Does God Exist? Thomas Warren vs. Antony Flew Published on Jan 2, 2014 Date: September 20-23, 1976 Location: North Texas State University Christian debater: Thomas B. Warren Atheist debater: Antony G.N. Flew For Thomas Warren: http://www.warrenapologeticscenter.org/ ______________________ Antony Flew and his conversion to theism Uploaded on Aug 12, 2011 Antony Flew, a well known […]

(BP)–Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.Flew –

_____________ Famed atheist sees evidence for God, cites recent discoveries Antony Flew NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Antony Flew, a legendary British philosopher and atheist, has changed his mind about the existence of God in light of recent scientific evidence.Flew — a prolific author who has argued against the existence of God and the claims of Christianity for […]

Antony Flew in his book THERE IS A GOD talks about his “notoriety” as an atheist! ( also 7 News : Web Extra: Ricky Gervais on God)

  7News : Web Extra: Ricky Gervais on God Published on Mar 23, 2014 He’s not shy about sharing his opinion with 5 million social media followers so Ricky Gervais was happy to clear a few things up for us too. __________________________________ Discussion (2 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas Atheist Lawrence Krauss loses debate […]

Was Antony Flew the most prominent atheist of the 20th century?

_________ Antony Flew on God and Atheism Published on Feb 11, 2013 Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death […]

Why the world’s most famous atheist (Antony Flew) now believes in God by James A. Beverley

____________ Antony Flew on God and Atheism Published on Feb 11, 2013 Lee Strobel interviews philosopher and scholar Antony Flew on his conversion from atheism to deism. Much of it has to do with intelligent design. Flew was considered one of the most influential and important thinker for atheism during his time before his death […]

The Death of a (Former) Atheist — Antony Flew, 1923-2010 Antony Flew’s rejection of atheism is an encouragement, but his rejection of Christianity is a warning. Rejecting atheism is simply not enough, by Al Mohler

Discussion (1 of 3): Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas Uploaded on Sep 22, 2010 A discussion with Antony Flew, N.T. Wright, and Gary Habermas. This was held at Westminster Chapel March, 2008 ______________________ Making Sense of Faith and Science Uploaded on May 16, 2008 Dr. H. Fritz Schaefer confronts the assertion that one cannot believe […]

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THE QUESTION OF MORALITY (Woody Allen v Francis Schaeffer)

THE QUESTION OF MORALITY

“THE PROBLEM OF MODERN MAN IS A FEELING OF COSMIC ALIENATION, INCLUDING THE AREA OF MORALS.  MAN HAS A FEELING  OF MORAL MOTIONS, YET IN THE UNIVERSE AS IT IS, IT IS COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE WITH WHAT IS THERE.”

– FRANCIS SCHAEFFER

As we consider man’s finiteness and his cruelty, it would certainly seem that these things are not one, but two.  Mankind has always thought of these things as being different.  Man’s finiteness is his smallness; he is not a sufficient reference point to himself.  But his cruelty has always been considered as distinct from his finiteness.  Yet we must notice something.  If we accept the impersonal beginning, finally we will come to the place where man’s finiteness and his cruelty become the same thing.

With an impersonal beginning, everything is finally equal in the area of morals.  With an impersonal beginning, eventually morals is just another form of metaphysics, of being.  Morals disappear and there is only one area rather than two.  Left in this position, we can talk about what is antisocial, or what society does not like, or even what I do not like, but we cannot talk about what is really right and what is really wrong.

Hence, what is left may be worded in many different ways in different cultures, but it is only the relative – that which is sociological, statistical, situational – nothing else.  You have situational, statistical ethics – the standard of averages – but you cannot have morality . . . we are just the little against the big, and nothing that has meaning in right and wrong.

Now let us look at the opposite answer – the personal beginning.  In this answer, there is a possibility of keeping morals and metaphysics separate.  This is a profound thing, though it may sound simple.  Whereas the impersonal beginning leads us to a merging of morals and metaphysics, the personal beginning provides the possibility of keeping them separate.  In other words, man’s finiteness may be separated from his cruelty.  God’s character is the moral absolute of the universe.  Plato was entirely right when he held that unless you have absolutes morals do not exist.

Again, as in the area of metaphysics, we must understand that this is not simply the best answer – it is the only answer in morals for man.  The only answer in the area of morals, as true morals, turns upon the fact of God’s being there.  If God is not there (not just the word “God,” but God himself being there), there is no answer and at all to the problem of evil, and morals.

(These selections are from the book, He is there and he is not silent, Chapter 2, “The Moral Necessity” where this is further discussed.)

“I JUST WANTED TO ILLUSTRATE IN AN ENTERTAINING WAY THAT THERE’S NO GOD, THAT WE’RE ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE, AND THAT THERE IS NOBODY OUT THERE TO PUNISH YOU, THAT THERE’S NOT GOING TO BE ANY KIND OF HOLLYWOOD ENDING TO YOUR LIFE IN ANY WAY, AND THAT YOUR MORALITY IS STRICTLY UP TO YOU.”

– WOODY ALLEN, COMMENTING ON THE FILM, “CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.”

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John MacArthur on fulfilled prophecy from the Bible Part 2

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John MacArthur on fulfilled prophecy from the Bible Part 1

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John MacArthur: Fulfilled prophecy in the Bible? (Ezekiel 26-28 and the story of Tyre, video clips)

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John MacArthur on the Bible and Science (Part 2)

August 1, 2013 – 12:10 am

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John MacArthur on the Bible and Science (Part 1)

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The Old Testament is Filled with Fulfilled Prophecy by Jim Wallace

June 24, 2013 – 9:47 am

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Dr Shirley sermon “Four Fearsome Factors” Romans 1

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Four Fearsome Factors

Romans 1:16–20

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Is God a righteous God? Is God a just God? Is God fair to let a person die and go to Hell who has never even once heard the name of Jesus? You’ll have to admit that’s a good question, isn’t it?

God is righteous, and God is just. And there is no other way to Heaven apart from Jesus Christ. Don’t get the sentimental idea that all the world religions are somehow connected. Oh, no. Jesus Christ said, in John chapter 14, verse 6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”—now listen to this—and “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Now, if somebody can come some other way, then what does that make Jesus? That makes Jesus a liar. And, if Jesus Christ is a liar, not only is He not their Savior, He’s not my Savior, because a liar is nobody’s Savior. And, what did the apostles say in Acts chapter 4, verse 12, when they said this: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved?” (Acts 4:12).

This puts us on the horns of a major dilemma. Can a righteous, a good, a loving, a holy God let a man die and go to Hell who never once heard the name of Jesus? How are we going to answer that question? Well, the Apostle Paul is going to answer it for us in Romans chapter 1. So, I pray that you will listen and listen carefully, because we don’t have to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice how Paul begins in verse 16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16). And, look up here, and let me give you a good look at a man who also is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I’ve been preaching it now for 20 years. The more I preach it, the more I marvel at it, the more I thank God for it, the more I stand by it, the more I believe in it. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it”—the gospel—“is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth;”

Read vv. 17–20

Now, what about those who’ve never heard the gospel, those who are lost, who’ve never heard the gospel? Is God just? Is God righteous? Is God good?

Is God loving if He could let such an one go to hell? I want to write four things upon your heart, this morning. I want to give you four factors that will help you to understand this, and put it all together.

I. The Revelation Factor

Factor number one is the revelation factor. All men have some light.

I want you to imagine that the end of time has come, that time we know as the final judgment, and I want you to see out there what we would call the heathen—those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. The accusation is made, the indictment is given: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness … of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). The heathen, the pagans, they say, “Your Honor, not guilty, not guilty! We never heard the gospel, we never knew how to be saved; we are innocent by reason of ignorance. We never heard, we never knew.” And, the Apostle Paul becomes the prosecuting attorney. And, the Apostle Paul says to the Father, “Your Honor, I will prove that they are guilty; I will prove that they are not innocent because of ignorance. I will show that they cannot say they’ve never had a fair and an equal chance. And, I call two witnesses to testify against these who say they never knew, they never heard.

Witness number one: Will you take the stand? Witness number one: Give the court your name.” He says, “My name is Creation.” “Oh, Creation, you’re the witness that God exists?” “Yes, I am the witness that God exists.”

vv. 19-20

Creation testifies to the fact of God. Psalm 19, verse 1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Now, if you have a creation, you have to have a Creator, and the Bible says that the Creator is clearly seen by the things that are made. When I see a piano, here, and it’s finely tuned, I know that somebody crafted it. When I see a watch that runs with precision, I say that somebody crafted that watch. When I see a building put together in symmetry and balance and purpose, I say that there is an architect. And, when I see this mighty universe put together, when I see creation, I say Creator. When I see order and system, I say intelligence. When I see design, I know there’s a Designer!

That’s the reason the Bible says: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Because, witness number one is creation.

But then, Creation steps down from the witness stand, and the Apostle Paul says, “Now I call my second witness. Would you take the stand? Will you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” “I will.” “Will you give your name?” Witness number two says, “My name is Conscience.” So, there are two witnesses. Number one is Creation; that is, the outward, objective witness. The second is Conscience; that is, the inward, subjective witness.

v. 19

Unto them is Creation, in them is Conscience.

2:14-15    “For when the Gentiles”—now, another word for Gentiles is pagan, or those who’ve never heard the gospel—“For when the Gentiles, who have not the law”—the law here means the Old Testament law—“For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14–15).

So, there are two witnesses that all pagans, all heathen, and all the people on all the face of the Earth have. One is the outward objective witness called Creation. The other is the inward subjective witness called Conscience. There is a built-in knowledge of God. It’s a God shaped void inside of us put in us by our Creator.

ill.–Augustine said the soul of man is restless until it finds its rest in God. God made man to serve him, to know him, and until he does, he’s like a round peg in a square hole, or he is out of fellowship.

Now, what is an atheist? There’s no real intellectual atheist. Atheists are not atheists because of intellectual problems; they’re atheists because of moral problems. “Ah,” you say, “but I know some brilliant people who are atheists.” Well, so what? I know some brilliant people who are not. You say, “Well, I know some foolish people who believe in God.” Well, I know everybody who doesn’t believe is foolish. You see, it’s not a matter of intelligence. The Bible says in v. 22 “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). Why? Because, you see, all of us have a God-consciousness. It is not a matter of intellectualism; it is a matter of morality. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

An atheist is somebody who has the idea of God that makes him uncomfortable, so he says, “If I can get rid of this idea of God, I can get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.” But, he really doesn’t get rid of it, not down deep. He’s like the man who bought a new boomerang and killed himself trying to throw the old one away. The idea of God is still there; and, the more he tries to get rid of it subconsciously, the more he knows that God exists, because down in his heart is that conscience.

“Me thinks thou dost protest too much” wrote Shakespeare in Hamlet.  Have you noticed how adamantly so called atheists make their point.  They harp on it so continuously because they are forever trying to convince themselves…and they are so threatened by the truth that they cannot just drop it and step away. They are very defensive about it. Too much…they give away how deeply plagued they are with it all. It’s like those who blast Sarah Palin day in and day out.  If she’s really the ‘nothing’ that they claim, they should be able to walk away from it after they say their peace.  But they are deeply threatened by what she represents, and they have to fight that battle everyday because it won’t go away in their conscience!

So, what is the first factor? It is the revelation factor. All men have some light.

John 1:9 
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

You can’t get around that. “[Christ is] the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Two witnesses, Creation and Conscience, testify that the heathen, the pagans, no matter who they are or where they are, have some light. I didn’t say all light, just some.

II. The Refusal Factor

Now, here’s the second proposition. The first factor is the revelation factor. The second factor is the refusal factor. And, what is this factor? Light refused increases darkness.

vv. 21-22

“Because, when they knew God”—that is, they know by creation and conscience that God exists—“they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). Darkened. All men have some light. But light refused increases darkness. Now, you see, you cannot just simply take light or truth and put it on ice. You cannot put truth in your pocket and say, “That’s very interesting, I’ll spend it some day if I need it.” No, when God gives you light, when creation and conscience speak to the heart of any pagan or any individual anywhere on the face of this earth, when God gives him some light, if he does not glorify God, if he does not believe in God, if he does not trust God, he does not remain stationary; he begins to regress and he loses even the light that he has. His foolish heart will be darkened.

In the Bible, the opposite of truth is not error; it issin. Now, the error is the baggage that comes with the sin. I’m not saying that a man does not have error if he refuses truth. But, why does he refuse truth? He refuses truth because of the sin that is in his heart.

v. 18        ‘hold the truth in unrighteousness.’

Now, look at the word ‘hold.’ You know what that word hold means? It literally means “who resist the truth, who smother the truth, who hold back the truth.” And, how do they hold back the truth? Not in error, but in unrighteousness. Why does a man not believe in God? Because, to believe in God means that he has to adjust his lifestyle. His lifestyle is his unrighteousness…let’s picture it on his left. Creation and Conscience…here on his right…tell him there’s a God. His lifestyle says, “If I admit that, I’m going to have to change this.” So, he’s in a quandary between the two. If he turns this way, he turns from that; but if he turns this way, he turns from that. So, when he says, “I will resist the truth in unrighteousness,” then, when he turns this way, he gets further from that. And, he goes away into the darkness, and his foolish heart is darkened.

The unbelief is the baggage that comes with his sin. Now, I don’t think it’s more graphically illustrated than in the book of 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

        I want you to listen to it. I think it is some of the most terrifying Scripture in all of the Bible. It speaks of the Antichrist who’s coming, and it says: “Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”—now, listen to verses 11 and 12—“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–11). “Hold it, Pastor, hold it! God doesn’t send anybody delusion.” Well, you’d better go back and read it.  It says that God will send them strong delusion. Well, why on Earth would God send them strong delusion? Well, just continue to read: “That they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). It gets worse, doesn’t it? God sends delusion. And, why does God send delusion? “That they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Well, why would God send a lie? Well, let’s continue to read: “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all might be damned” (2 Thessalonians 2:11–12). Seems to get worse, doesn’t it? God sends delusion; they believe a lie, that they all might be damned. Why? Why would God do that? Well, continue to read: “That they all might be damned who believed not the truth”—they had the truth, they believed not the truth—“but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). They heard the truth; they knew the truth; they turned from the truth; and they had pleasure in their filthy, dirty, rotten sin! And, God says, “All right, that’s what you want. You want your sin, and with that sin, the baggage is delusion, a lie, and damnation.” You understand it?

Maybe I can illustrate it this way: Here’s a man who comes to Grace on Easter, and we’re taking a love offering for Jesus. He goes away and he says, “Ha! Those Baptists! All they ever talk about is money.” And, he goes away all steamed, hot under the collar. “It’s the last time I’m ever going to go down to that church. All they ever talk about is money, money, money.” That’s a lie. We talk about Jesus here, and we talk about giving to Jesus, and we’re glad to do it. But, you see, this man’s problem is not the truth. He doesn’t stop to ask, “Are we preaching the truth?” That’s not his problem at all. He knows, if he’ll open the Bible and listen to the Spirit of God, that the truth is there. But, the problem is his rotten greed—his greed! That’s why he got so upset to begin with. So, he leaves, and he says, “I am never going back to that church again.” Now, his problem, there, is not between truth and error, but between truth and greed. And so, he chooses his greed. Now, what happens? He’s home on a Sunday morning, several months from now. Somebody knocks at the door. He’s sitting there watching television, reading the sports page, got a six-pack of embalming fluid there, by his side, and he’s unshaven—just sitting there, on Sunday morning—wife and kids are off at church. He’s by himself. There’s a knock at the door. He opens the door and it’s two of Jehovah’s False Witnesses. And, he says, “What do you want?” And, to cut to the chase, “we’re here to tell you there is no Hell.” He says, “Come in, come in.” And, he listens to them. They tell him a lie. He believes a lie. He’s damned, and lost, and on the road to the very Hell he says he doesn’t believe in. Why? “[He] received not the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). “[He] had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). “For this cause God shall send [him] strong delusion, that [he] should believe the lie, that [he] might be damned” (2 Thessalonians 2:11–12).

Now, folks, you listen to me. All people have some light. That’s the revelation factor. The refusal factor is: Light refused increases darkness.

By the way, these people who are in darkness, really think that they are in the light—if you would look in verse 22: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). They’re the ones who think we’re the fools. Now, they may have a PhD, but in spiritual things it stands for phenomenal dud. They worship science as a god, rather than worshipping the God of science. They never asked, “How did all of this get here?”  Or they worship themselves, because they don’t want to humble themselves and worship God.

—–

pt. 2

 

III. The Reception Factor

All men have some light. That’s the revelation factor. The refusal factor is: light refused increases darkness, “their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).

The reception factor is this: Light obeyed increases light. But some may say, “Now Pastor, there’s a flaw in what you’ve been saying thus far. You’ve been saying that no man can go to Heaven apart from Jesus, and neither creation nor conscience tells you about Jesus. And so, when you say that all men have some light, that’s still not enough to save them, according to what you’ve said.” And, you’re absolutely right. Creation and conscience only bring us to the fact of God. But, if a man is not interested in the fact of God, he’s certainly not going to be interested in the way to God. And, God is under no obligation to show any man the way to God who’s not even interested in the fact of God.

So, what is the reception factor? The reception factor is that light obeyed increases light. Light refused increases darkness. Light obeyed increases light.

vv. 16-17

How is the righteousness of God revealed? “From faith to faith”. That’s the revelation factor. God gives you truth. You believe that truth, and God gives you more truth. You see, “unto every one who hath shall be given” (Matthew 25:29). The more you obey the light, the more light you get.

Here’s a man—God speaks to him, thru the witnesses of Creation and Conscience. He says, “God, I want to know You, I need to know You, I believe that You exist.” That’s faith, and he goes from faith to faith. God gives him more light. He says, “I believe that,” and he goes from faith to faith, and he goes stepping in the light until he comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. When a man is ready to receive the gospel, God will get the gospel to that man if he has to wreck an airplane and parachute a missionary in. I believe with all of my heart there’s never been a man who ever lived on the face of this Earth, or a woman who died, without some opportunity to have received Christ, had they lived up to the light that God gave them. While all men don’t have enough light to save them, all men have enough light to damn them. Had they lived up to the light that they had, they would’ve received more light.

You can find illustrations of this in the Bible. What about that Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8? He’d been to Jerusalem, the most religious city on the face of the Earth. Why had he gone there? He had gone there to worship. He had come all the way from northern Africa, from Ethiopia, in that day when there were no airplanes. He’s traveling now by chariot—can you imagine that—all the way to Jerusalem. And, why had he gone? It was the most religious city on the face of the Earth. He was seeking for God. But, the wells of religion were dry. He’s coming back. He’s reading the prophet Isaiah. He’s trying to understand. Do you know what God does for this man who’s living up to the light that he has? God goes down to Samaria. He gets a preacher named Philip who’s in the middle of a big revival campaign. He says, “Son, leave that revival campaign. I want you to go out in the desert. I’ve got one man out there, and I want you to tell him how to be saved.” You remember that story in Acts chapter 8? That Ethiopian eunuch, that “opportunity on wheels,” got saved, and God brought a missionary to that man to tell him how to be saved (Acts 8). And very cool, when done, God whisked him away…he vanished!

There was another man in Acts chapter 10; his name was Cornelius. The Bible says he was a Gentile, he was not of the household of Israel. But, Cornelius, an army officer, had a hunger to know God. He looked up in the starry heavens, one night, perhaps, as a private on sentry duty, and he said, “Oh, that didn’t just happen. O God, whoever You are, wherever You are, whatever You are, I want to know You.” And, God gave Cornelius a vision. And then, God got Simon Peter over here in the house of Simon the tanner, and said, “Simon Peter, I want you to go over there. There’s a man named Cornelius. I have spoken to him in a vision. You go tell him and his house how to be saved.” And God got the two together (Acts 10).

When you obey the light that you have, God will give you more light. Now, I want to say this to all of those of you who are saved: The reason that some of us don’t understand the Bible any more than we do is that we have not been living up to the light that God is already giving us. Why should God show you morein the Word of God until you obey what you already know? Isn’t that a good question? Some have never submitted to believer’s baptism. They know what the Bible teaches. But they say, “Well, I’ve got a forty dollar hairdo I don’t want to mess up.” And then later, they’re reading a passage of Scripture, and they’re saying, “I wonder why I don’t understand this. God show me what this means.” God says, “Why should I show you what that means? You haven’t obeyed what I’ve already showed you?” “Unto every one who hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away from him” (Matthew 25:29). What I’m trying to say is: Light obeyed increases light. And, if you want to understand the part of the Bible you don’t understand, begin to obey the part you do understand, and you’ll understand what you didn’t understand.

Again, the problem is not in the head; the problem is in the heart. One of the greatest promises in all of the Bible is in John chapter 7, verse 17. They were wondering about Jesus Christ: “Who is Jesus Christ?” The Pharisees were testing Him, taunting Him, picking at Him, and Jesus, said: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me”—and then, Jesus gave this challenge. He said—“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16–17). Do you will to do the will of God? Then, you’ll know.

Listen to this story I heard Dr. Adrian Rogers share:

“When I was in the Space Center, down at Merritt Island, I was in my office, one day, and a man came up in a big Cadillac, parked his car, came in, and said, “Mr. Rogers, I need to talk with you.” He was one of the big shots out at the Space Center, helping to put a man on the moon. I said to him, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” He said, “I want to talk about my wife. She wants to commit suicide, and I don’t want her to.” Well, I thought that was nice—he didn’t want her to commit suicide. So, he said, “Would you talk with my wife?” I said, “Well, I will if you’ll come with her.” So, the two of them came and sat down, and I said, “Tell me, lady, what your problems are.” And, her problems were this man! This man was a liar. He was a drunkard. He was an adulterer. He was a gambler. He was a blasphemer. A wife abuser. I mean, he was rotten. And, that’s mildly put. And so, I just stopped talking to her, and I started talking to him. I said, “Sir, I want to ask you a question. Are you a Christian?” He laughed a scornful laugh, and said, “No! I’m not a Christian; I’m an atheist.” I said, “Oh, an atheist.” I said, “An atheist is a man who says there’s no God and he knows there’s no God. Do you know there’s no God?” And, he said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, that’s interesting.” I said, “Of all there is to know, how much do you know? Do you know half of everything there is to know?” He said, “Of course not.” “But, you said you know there’s no God. Wouldn’t you have to admit the possibility that God might exist in that half of the knowledge you don’t have?” “Well,” he said, “okay, you got me. I’m not an atheist, I’m an agnostic.” I didn’t tell him the Latin equivalent of agnostic is ignoramus. It’s the same word in Latin or Greek: agnostic in Greek, Latin ignoramus. It means just, “I don’t know, I’m ignorant.” I said, “That’s just a fancy word for a doubter. Are you a doubter?” He said, “Yes, and a big one.” I said, “I don’t care what size; I want to know what kind.” He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well, there are two kinds of doubters: There are honest doubters and dishonest doubters. Which kind are you?” He said, “Well, what’s the difference?” I said, “An honest doubter doesn’t know, but he wants to know, and therefore he investigates. A dishonest doubter doesn’t know because he doesn’t want to know. And, he can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman. Jesus said, ‘They hate the light, and they will not come to the light, because their deeds are evil’” (John 3:20). He said, “Well…” I said, “Sir, would you like to find out whether you’re an honest doubter or a dishonest doubter?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Would you sign this statement: ‘God, I don’t know whether You exist or not. I don’t know whether the Bible is Your Word or not. I don’t know whether Jesus Christ is Your Son or not. I don’t know, but I want to know. And, because I want to know, I will make an honest investigation. And, because it is an honest investigation, I will follow the results of that investigation wherever they lead me, regardless of the cost?’” I said, “Would you sign that statement?” He said, “I’d like to be honest.” I said, “Wonderful!” I gave him an assignment. I said, “I want you to begin to read the gospel of John. He said, “But, I don’t believe.” I said, “That’s all right. You just make an honest investigation. You say to God, ‘God, I don’t know whether this is Your Word or not. If this is Your Word, show me, and I’ll make up my mind before the fact that I will obey You, only if you show me this is Your Word and speak to my heart.’” He said, “That’s fair enough.” What happened? In a few weeks, he came back, said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” got on his knees like a little child and wept his way to the arms of Jesus. That was many, many years ago. I got a letter from him a while back. He’s up in Bangor, Maine now. He has a tape ministry and is teaching the Bible. And, this is what he said to me: He said, “Mr. Rogers, I want to thank you for spending time with this general in the devil’s army.”

Where was that man’s problem? He thought his problem was intellectual. His problem was his will. When a man surrenders his will, God will speak to him. Light obeyed increases light. Live up to the light that you have and God will give you more light.

IV. The Reckoning Factor

When God comes to judge us, what is God going to judge us by? Do you think that God is going to judge us by the sin that we’ve committed? No! God is going to judge us by the light that we’ve rejected.

2:5, 11

He’s just simply saying that God knows how much light you have. Many of us have far more light than other people. Not because you necessarily sought it; you just happen to live in America where there’s a church on every street corner. There are Bibles everywhere. And, it’s not so much because you sought it; it’s just simply by the providence of God that you have more light than others. Now, what is God going to do? God is going to hold you accountable more so than the person who’s never heard.

Luke 12:48 
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

It would be bad enough for the pagan in darkest Africa to die and go to Hell, who never heard the name of Jesus, who refused to live up to the light that even he did have. But, how much more for a person who would sit in an auditorium like this, air-conditioned, with a Bible in their hand, hear a preacher tear his heart out and beg people to be saved, and say “no.” If I had to go to Hell, I’d much rather go to Hell as a pagan never having heard the name of Jesus than to go to Hell from GBC, from a service like this.

Listen to me: The burning question is not, “What is God going to do with the heathen who never heard?” The burning question is, “What is God going to do with you who heard the gospel of Jesus?” You’ve heard the message that Jesus died in agony and blood upon the cross, and you said “no” to the Lord Jesus. Do you know what our Lord said? Our Lord said to a soul winner, “When you go out soul winning, you knock on a door and the people won’t hear you”—He said—“shake the dust off your shoes. Shake the dust off your shoes” (Matthew 10:14). Well, why would He do that? God says, “Because, there’s coming a judgment, and in that day, in that judgment, you may stand before God and say, ‘O God, O God, have mercy. I didn’t have a chance.’” And God can say, “Officer, would you bring the evidence into the court?” “What is that evidence?” “Would you look at that, sir?” “What is that?” “That’s the dust off Jerry’s shoes. Those are the shoes he was wearing when he preached the gospel to you.”

        And, Jesus said to Capernaum, His headquarter city, It would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgment than for that city where He preached and taught, and yet, they turned their back on Him and never received Him. All men have some light. Light refused increases darkness. Light obeyed increases light. And, men are judged according to the light that they have.

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Answers to Critics on Science and the Bible

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Let me quote from my former pastor Adrian Rogers:

Skeptics seem to think that the Bible is full of scientific errors. However, before an individual can make that assertion, they had better make sure they know both science and Scripture. You see, I have heard unbelievers state that the Bible is not a book of science, but a book of religion, which is basically true. It is not written to teach us about science, but to teach us about God. But the God of salvation and the God of creation are the same. Science doesn’t take God by surprise. A close look at Scripture reveals that it is scientifically accurate.

Every now and then science may disagree with the Bible, but usually science just needs time to catch up. For example, in 1861 a French scientific academy printed a brochure offering 51 incontrovertible facts that proved the Bible in error. Today there is not a single reputable scientist who would support those supposed “facts,” because modern science has disproved them all!

The ancients believed the earth was held up by Atlas, or resting on pillars, or even seated on the backs of elephants. But today we know the earth is suspended in space, a fact the Word of God records in Job 26:7: “He . . . hangeth the earth upon nothing.” God revealed the facts of cosmology long before man had any idea of the truth.

For centuries man believed the earth was flat, but now we know the earth is a globe. The prophet Isaiah, writing 750 years before the birth of Christ, revealed that “God sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word translated here as “circle” was more commonly translated “sphere.” In other words, Isaiah explained that the earth was a globe centuries before science discovered it.

When Ptolemy charted the heavens, he counted 1026 stars in the sky. But with the invention of the telescope man discovered millions and millions of stars, something that Jeremiah 33:22 revealed nearly three thousand years ago: “The host of heaven cannot be numbered.” How did these men of God know the truth of science long before the rest of the world discovered it? They were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the truth. God’s Word is not filled with errors. It is filled with facts, even scientific facts.

When the black plague was killing one quarter of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century, it was the church, not science, that helped overcome the dread disease. The leaders in the church noticed the instructions given by the Lord to Moses in Leviticus 13:46: “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” These early believers did not know microbiology or understand what germs were, but they could understand a clear teaching to quarantine someone who was sick. So they followed the Biblical dictum, quarantined those sick with the plague, and stopped it from spreading. The Bible had its science correct even before man discovered the truth! Don’t accept the charge that the Bible is filled with scientific errors. Modern science seems determined to explain God away, and refuses to acknowledge any evidence of the supernatural. But the science of Scripture is one reason to accept the Bible as God’s word. 

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John MacArthur on the Bible and Science (Part 2)

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Biblical Inspiration Validated By Science, Part 2 (Selected Scriptures) John MacArthur

We are examining the great doctrine of biblical inspiration. We are looking at the reality that God wrote the Bible and the question always comes up…How do we know God wrote the Bible? There are a number of ways to answer that question. One way to answer it is to look at what the Bible says about the scientific world. To put it simply, whoever designed the universe understands it. Whoever created everything understands His creation, from the microcosm of the minute world of atomic energy, to the macrocosm of limitless space. Whoever created it all understands it because He conceived it and he made it and He sustains it. And whoever is intelligent enough to create this universe with its astonishing and immeasurable complexity is certainly capable of writing a book explaining the way things really are in a simple enough fashion so as to leave His stamp on that book as the divine author. And the fact of the matter is, communication is not something difficult for the creator, He is a communication genius beyond all comprehension. God is the source of all the information that exists and He has appropriately spread it throughout His universe as He deemed necessary to accomplish His purpose.

Post-modernists philosopher Richard Rorty admits that the idea of truth is coherent only in the context of a Christian world view. He said this, “The suggestion that truth is out there, objective and universal, is a legacy of an age in which the world was seen as the creation of a being who had a language of his own, a non-human language which he wrote into the cosmos.” Now he depreciates that view but that is precisely the biblical view and that is precisely what Christians believe, that God is there…as Francis Schaeffer says…and He is not silent. He has spoken, He has spoken throughout His creation sometimes in the written Word of God and sometimes with a language of His own that is non-human. But the Creator speaks and science is more and more month by month year by year discovering what He has said.

For example, the discovery of DNA, the coded instruction that is in every cell of every living thing means that at the heart of all life is language, a message, information. In other words, the organic world is really a book, it is a repository of complex biological information. And not only the organic world, information has become the key for interpreting the physical universe as well. Everything in creation operates on information that has been transmitted to it in a language from the creator. Scientific American journal said recently, “Ask anybody what the physical world is made of and you are likely to be told matter and energy. Yet if we have learned anything from engineering, biology and physics, information is just as crucial an ingredient. Indeed, some physicists now regard the physical world as made of information with energy and matter as incidentals.” And where does information come from? “In all human experience.” I’ll say that again, “In all human experience, information comes from an intelligent source.” Never is it generated by blind material forces, chance or coincidence. In all human experience information comes only by an intelligent agent, an intelligent agent who can assemble that information and communicate effectively that information to another intelligent agent or to an another receptor of that information that then can function on the basis of that information.

If you look at the microcosm of the world, it is loaded with information. Think of the genetic code. Scientists have now discovered that the genetic code is digital, it’s not analogous to a digital code, it is digital. It is exactly as a digitized computer code. It is not like it, it is in reality a digital code of information. More than a hundred years ago when Darwin came up with his theory, his idea was that a cell was extremely simple, just a bubble of protoplasm, a bubble of jelly. Over the past few decades, however, new technology like electron microscopes have produced a revolution in molecular biology, we now know that the cell is not just simple jelly, simple protoplasm, it is a high-tech molecular machine far more complex than any machine ever built by a human being, and I’m talking about every single cell. Scientists tell us now that every cell is like a miniature factory town. Every single cell hums with power plants, automated factories and recycling centers. In the nucleus is a cellular library of every cell, housing blueprints and plans that are copied and transported to the factories in the cell, each of which is filled with molecular machines that function like computerized motors. These manufacture the immense array of products needed within the cell with the processes all regulated by enzymes that function as stop watches to ensure that everything is perfectly timed. And all things are assembled, gathered, transported and delivered in exactly the required moment. It was Francis Crick of DNA fame who said, “The cell is thus a minute factory bristling with rapid organized chemical activity.” Even the outside of the cell, the surface, the membrane is studded with censors, gates, pumps and identification markers to regulate traffic coming in and out of that cell. Today biologists can not even describe the cell without using the language of machines and engineering.
It was Michael Behe who wrote the blockbuster Darwin’s Black Box in which he posited the obvious truth of intelligent design behind creation, rather than random chance. And Behee describes a cell like this. “Each cell has an automated rapid transit system in which certain molecules function as tiny monorail trains running along tracks to whisk cargo around from one part of the cell to the other. Other molecules act as loading machines, filling up the train cars and attaching address labels. When the train reaches the right address in another part of the cell, it is met by other molecules that act as docking machines, opening them up and removing the supplies. To frame a mental image of the cell, picture it as a large and complex model train layout with tracks crisscrossing everywhere. Its switches and signals perfectly timed so that no trains collide and the cargo reaches its destination precisely when needed.” And Behee goes on to say, and here’s his main point, “This is a level of complexity that Darwin never dreamed of and his theory utterly fails to account for. Why? Because a system of coordinated interlocking parts like this can only operate after all the pieces are in place, which means they must all appear simultaneously, not by any gradual piece by piece process.” Therefore, Behee coined the term “Irreducible complexity.” “To refer to the minimum level of complexity, it must be present before such a highly integrated system can function at all. It cannot evolve piece by piece, it must appear simultaneously in the very same moment. Irreducibly complex systems don’t have any function without this minimum number of parts in place, which means they can’t occur by natural selection.”

As another illustration of this, consider the tiny string-like flagellum attached like a tail to some bacteria. Have you ever seen in a microscope a bacteria with a little tail? As the bacterium swims around in its environment, the flagellum whips around like a propellor and from a diagram if you were to see it, you would consider it to be a kind of motorized machine like you would have in an outboard motor. It is a microscopic rotary motor that comes equipped, scientists tell us, with a hook joint, a drive shaft, o rings, a starter and a bidirectional acid power motor that can hum along at up to…are you ready for this?…one hundred thousand revolutions per minute. Structures like these require dozens of precisely tailored, intricately interacting parts which could not emerge by any gradual process. Instead the coordinated parts must somehow appear on the scene all at the same time, combined and perfectly coordinated in the right patterns for the molecular machine to function at all. And all of this is dependent upon information, operational manuals in every part of the organic world.

This has to come from intelligence. It has to come from the Creator who is communicating this information to His creation. If you go from the micro world to the macro world, it’s the same thing. In fact, I am fascinated, and always have been, by the macro world…stars, space. And science is continuing to discover the complexity of our cosmology. This universe, as we know it, is intricately balanced as if on an edge of a knife. Take, for example, just the force of gravity. If it were only slightly weaker, all stars would be red dwarfs, too cold to support life in the universe. If it were only slightly stronger, all stars would be blue giants burning too briefly for life to develop. The margin of error in the universe expansion rate is only one part in ten to the sixtieth power. Cosmologists speaks of cosmic coincidences, meaning that the fundamental forces of the universe just happen to have the exact numerical value required to make life possible. The slightest change would yield a universe inhospitable to life.
What makes the question so puzzling is that there is no physical cause explaining this fine tuned complexity. George Greenstein(?), writes, “Nothing in all of physics explains why its fundamental principles should conform themselves so precisely to life’s requirement.” In other words, there is no physical explanation for why the universe is the way it is. To make it even more clear, perhaps, imagine that you found a huge universe-creating machine, okay? And it had thousands of dials on this machine representing the gravitational constant and the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force and the ratio of the mass of the protein and the electron and all the rest of the complexity of matter, and imagine that each dial has hundreds of possible settings and you can spin them and twirl them around at your will. Nothing is preset to any particular value. What you discover is, however, that the infinite number of dials just happen to be set exactly at the right value everywhere in the entire complexity of the universe so that it all operates perfectly when even the slightest tweak of one of the cosmic knobs would produce a universe where life was impossible. As a science reporter puts it, “They are like the knobs on God’s console counsel and they seem almost miraculously tuned to allow life.” And so they are. They are not constrained by any natural law, that’s what Einstein couldn’t find, that’s what scientists can’t find today. And yet scientists are reluctant to acknowledge a creator. Astronomer Heinz Oberhummer  says, “I am not a religious person, but I could say this universe is designed very well.” Well you ought to be a religious person if you can say that. How about astronomer Fred Hoyle, he said this, it’s a famous quote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics.” Who is that super-intellect? Hoyle says, “An alien mind from another universe,” which just moves his problem somewhere else.

All of that to say that the Creator is the master of information, the master of information in the microcosm, the master of information in the macrocosm. So the Creator knows His creation and the Creator knows the complexity of His creation and He knows the simplicity of His creation and He knows what scientists are going to find out. And He has to write a book that when time goes on and centuries go on and millennia goes on and science digs deeper and deeper and deeper into the matter and the organic life of the universe, nothing that He has said is going to be wrong. And so He speaks in His Word and since He is the Creator, what He says in His Word is absolutely accurate, absolutely right. His Word does not speak about the complexity of the atomic world or the world of cellular structure in the organic realm and the world of complex atomic structure in the inorganic world. It doesn’t speak about that which is only observable to a high-tech far-advanced society. It speaks to those things which are observable by everyone and have always been observable to one degree or another, but it speaks also of things that were not discovered at the time that they were basically written in the Word of God. In fact, they were contrary to common belief at that time. And yet as time has gone on, they have proven to be exactly accurate.

Let’s take some simple categories and look at them. First of all, hydrology…hydrology. This deals with the subject of water…of water, the waters of the earth. You can get all the way in to the seventeenth century, the sixteen hundreds, and you will find scientists puzzled about the source of water, talking about subterranean reservoirs where water is held down in the belly of the earth and comes up from there. But in the seventeenth century, scientists such as Edmé Mariotte, Pierre Perrault, and Edmond Halley, all three in the seventeenth century, opened up the modern understanding of hydrological motion, or the hydrological cycle, how there is only an original mass of water. It is always the same, it always has been the same, it always will be the same. This is the first law of thermodynamics. This same mass of water, this same cycle of the combination of H2O moves continually through a process of evaporation, transportation, precipitation and irrigation, and then run off back to start the process all over again. The Bible is absolutely accurate in the way it presents the hydrological cycle.
Listen to the language of Isaiah 55 and verse 10. “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout and furnish seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be which goes forth from My mouth. It shall not return to Me empty without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I said it.” Now the point of that statement by the prophet is to show that the Word of God always accomplishes its purposes as God sends it forth. But the analogy, and the Bible isn’t a book trying to teach you science, but when it uses a scientific analogy it is an accurate one. It’s as the rain comes down from heaven and returns there but only after its watered the earth that you see the hydrological cycle.

If you turn with me for a moment to Ecclesiastes chapter 1, you find again a reference to this. In verse 6 it talks about how the sun rises, the sun sets, hastening to its place. It rises there again, blowing toward the south and turning toward the north. The wind continues swirling along. Talks about wind currents as well. And on its circular courses the wind returns, the wind runs in circles. This is before they knew the earth was a circle. But the wind is running the circle of the earth. You have in verse 7 hydrology, all the rivers flow into the sea yet the sea is not full, or the sea does not overflow. Why? Because when all the water flows into the sea, it evaporates back out of the sea up to the heavens where it is retained in the clouds and then deposited again on the earth and runs the same cycle again and again.

In Job, perhaps the first book ever written, talking about the same time as the Pentateuch would be written, you have this in Job 36 verses 27 and 28, “For He draws up the drops of water, He draws them up, they distill rain from the midst which the clouds pour down. They drip upon man abundantly.” Now it’s starting to put together the rain and the snow come out of the sky, they come down, they irrigate the earth, they go into the rivers and the streams, they flow into the sea, the sea never overflows because the water is drawn up and distilled in the clouds. The clouds move over the land and they drip upon man abundantly and the cycle goes on. Psalm 135:7, “He causes the vapors to ascend to the ends of the earth. He makes lightnings for the rain.” There you have all of those elements of evaporation, transportation, precipitation, irrigation and run off and the cycle goes on again.

And Scripture speaks about this not infrequently, but quite frequently. Just a couple of other passages that show this. The twenty-sixth chapter of Job verse 8, “He wraps up the waters in His clouds and the cloud does not burst under them.” God collects the evaporated water in the clouds and the clouds as…as thin as they are, as seemingly weak as they are…hold the water. They hold massive, massive amounts of water as we well know who have lived through severe storms when those clouds bring that water, collecting it off the sea as they go and bursting upon the land even to the degree of hurricanes and their horrific deluges.

There is in Psalm 33:7, and I don’t want to go to every passage, I’ll skip a few. Psalm 33:7, “He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap.” This pictures the great ocean reservoir. “He lays up the deeps in storehouses.” God’s storehouse for the water is the deep, is the ocean.
In Job 38:22 it says, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow? Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?” That is to say, have you ever ascended into heaven and gone into a cloud?

Water is an amazing thing. I was reading this week about a mole…m-o-l-e…. It is a collection of molecules and in one mole of water which is 18 grams of water, you have six-hundred-billion-trillion molecules. It is a staggering amount of material in one mole of water. And this massive amount of water moves in this continual cycle that God has designed and simply explained in Scripture not as a scientific explanation but almost in each case either to show the ignorance of man and the inability of man to ascend into the place where God dwells, or to use as an illustration of some spiritual truth.

Going beyond that, let’s talk about astronomy. The most amazing fact of modern astronomy is the essentially infinite size of the universe and the infinite variety of the physical components of that universe, including the stars. And after years and years, there’s universal agreement on the nature of space and all that occupies it.

To show you something of the Scripture’s understanding of this, go to Psalm 103…Psalm 103. Remember now, whoever wrote this book understood this perfectly at a time when no one else did because He is the Creator. In Psalm 103 and verse 11 we read this, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.” Now again we find God making statements that are a true indication of cosmology, a true indication true science and a true understanding of the universe, but not for the sake of the science but for the sake of the illustration. And he is trying to express the infinite nature of His loving kindness and he parallels it to the height of the heavens, as high as the heavens are above the earth, that is how great is the loving kindness of God toward those who fear Him. And just how great is it? It is equal to the distance between the east and the west. Now try to figure that out. How far is east from west? It’s impossible because it’s an infinite line…it’s an infinite line. And there is that point being made. That’s how far He’s removed our transgressions from us. He has removed them infinitely from us as far as east is from west because His loving kindness is infinite, it is as far up as this universe will go. And so we find that God speaks of His infinite loving kindness and His infinite forgiveness by describing the infinity of what we now know is an infinite universe.

In Job 22:12 we read, “Is not God in the height of heaven? Look also at the distant stars, how high they are.”

And Jeremiah 31 verses 35 to 37 is another very straightforward and accurate statement with regard to astronomy. Jeremiah 31:35, “Thus says the Lord who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night.” We now know that they all move in a fixed order in orbits, in motions that are fixed and permanently controlled and varying. This is our God and this is His creation and He knows how it operates.

Go down to verse 37, “Thus says the Lord, if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel.” Meaning, you cannot measure the height of the heavens and you cannot discern what holds the earth in its place, anymore than I will cast off the offspring of Israel. Pretty important statement eschatologically, too, isn’t it?

In the third chapter of Jeremiah and verse 22, a very interesting statement. “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.” Here the Bible says you can’t count the stars and you can’t count the sand on the seashores of the world. That we would agree would be utterly impossible.

However, before the seventeenth century, Hipparchus said there one-thousand and twenty-two stars. Ptolemy said there are one-thousand-fifty-six. Kepler said there are one-thousand and fifty-five. And today scientists tell us there are over one-hundred-billion in our galaxy and billions and billions of uncounted galaxies. Scientists have also discovered in recent centuries that stars are different sizes, different temperatures, various kinds of stars, different varieties. And they are busy cataloging the numerous types of stars.

Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:41, “There is one glory of the sun and another glory of the moon.” The moon is not like the sun. “Another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.” This is to illustrate that in the resurrection we will have a different kind of body. And the Bible is right. There are all kinds of stars and they differ one from another. Science has also charted the absolute patterns of orbits which do not vary. The consistency of these bodies in motion, the great astronomer Kepler had predicted mathematically that on December 6, 1631 the planet Venus would pass in front of the sun. He predicted that based upon the fixed orbit of the planet Venus. He didn’t live to see it but a Frenchman, Pierre Gassendi, prepared to see it occur and it did so as predicted. According to Kepler, a transit again would occur over a hundred years later. But there was an English school boy who calculated orbits and found it should occur frankly in two years…to years after the original one calculated by Kepler, it should happen on December 4 in 1639 and it did.

How can you predict that? Because the orbits are fixed and unwavering. And that’s exactly what we’ve just read. The Lord sets things in their place in fixed orbits. Listen to Jeremiah 31:35 and 36, “Thus says the Lord who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night. If this fixed order departs from before Me, then the offspring of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.”
Look at Psalm 19 for just a moment, in the sixth verse of Psalm 19 a statement is made that science used to laugh at and use it to debunk the accuracy of the Bible. It says in verse 6, speaking of the sun, that the sun is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoices as a strong man to run his course, its rising is from one end of the heavens and its circuit to the other end of them and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” And here the psalmist says that the sun moves from one end of heaven to the other. There were people up until the seventeenth century who thought the sun didn’t move at all. But the psalmist tells us it does move, we now know that the sun is in constant motion, it is in orbit dragging our entire solar system with it and the sun is moving through space at 72 thousand miles per hour in a gigantic orbit that takes two million centuries to complete, based upon that speed. Not many years ago scientists taught that the moon was a great luminous globe like the sun even though 25 centuries ago Job said, “Look to the moon, it does not shine,” Job 25:5. It has no light of its own, it is merely a reflector of the sun.

When you look at the Bible and you look for hydrology and you look for astronomy, the scientific facts are correct. How about geology, the science of the earth? There are a lot of geological things that we could talk about, and I confess that I am not a scientist, but I can read like anybody else and find the things that science is interested in and compare them with the Word of God which is basically what I’ve endeavored to do. But in the realm of geology there is a science called isostasy…isostasy. It is the study of the balance of the earth. It really didn’t come into prominence until around 1959 and it deals with the landmass the mountains, the seas, and how those things all effect the weight of the earth. That is the foundation of what are called geo…what is called geophysics. And the Bible acknowledges this whole matter of isostasy..weight. Isaiah 40 and verse 12, “Behold the Lord God who has measured the waters in the hallow of His hand and marked off the heavens by a 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.”

God knows who much everything weight…weighs. It is in perfect harmony. You have all taken a basketball that was not round and have rolled it, right? And seen it go like that….and that’s what we would be doing every so often, bouncing a little if the earth did not move in a balanced fashion. Psalm 104 verses 5 through 8, “He established the earth upon its foundations so that it will not totter. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place which Thou didst establish for them.” The right height of the mountains, the right depth of the valleys, the right weight of the water, the right weight of the dirt and the dust and it all is in perfect balance.

Geology has another sub-science called geodesy, dealing with the shape of the earth. The shape of the earth, we know what it is, it is round. It is spherical. The ancients taught that it was flat, as you well know, and they thought even up to Columbus’ time that if you just kept sailing, you’d fall off the edge. In fact, they used to think that if you sailed through the gates of Pericles, that was the ancient name of Gibralter, if you passed the land mass North Africa and Spain, that was the end and you would fall into nothingness.
But the Bible was crystal-clear about that. Long before that, Isaiah 40 verse 22. “It is He who sits on the circle of the earth.” Circle is a Hebrew word meaning sphere, meaning sphere. The earth is a circle. The Bible says that. And it even goes further than that. In Job 22 verse 14 it talks about the circle of heaven. And in Proverbs 8 and verse 27, that might be a verse just to point to you, Proverbs 8:27, “When He established the heavens, I was there when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep.” What’s that? That’s the one place where you and I can see the circular character of the earth standing on the beach looking at the circle on the horizon across the edge of the deep. The Bible is crystal clear that this is a sphere, that it is a circle and that it is visible on the horizon.

Even more. Job 38, two verses in Job 38, verses 13 and 14. And again remember, these are usually in the context of making a spiritual point or indicating what it is that God knows that we don’t know unless He reveals it to us. But in Job 38 verse 13 it talks about taking hold of the ends of the earth. What in the world does that mean, taking hold of the ends of the earth? If you go to verse 14 you find out. It is turned…the Hebrew says it is turned like clay under the seal, or clay to the seal. You will notice that under is added. It is rotated like clay to the seal. You take a hold of the ends of the earth and you rotate it like clay to the seal.

Here’s what happened. When in ancient times you wanted to write something, you wrote it in clay before paper. In Job’s time you would have written it in soft clay, like God wrote His Law. And then you would have sealed it so everyone had a seal with his name on it. And you took the soft clay and you rolled the seal of your name across the clay which imprinted your signature. That’s how printing is done even today on a cylinder, it’s rolled across. And Job…God is telling Job that the earth, you take the ends of it and you turn it like you turn that clay signature across soft clay to make an imprint. It is rotated on an axis, you take two ends and the earth rotates on the axis around those two ends, one at the north and one at the south. And we saw even in Job, the oldest book, the understanding that the earth is a sphere, that it is a circle and that it rotates on an axis.

It was the seventeenth century when Newton discovered gravity. That was big. Gravity had always been around, he just identified it for what it was. But it was Job chapter 26 verse 7, “He hangs the earth on nothing. He hangs the earth on nothing.” And gravity is even indicated, go to Job 38 for a minute, verses 31 and 32…Job 38:31 and 32. The Lord’s talking again and He’s giving Job a very important lesson about Job’s ignorance. And He says, “You must think you’re something, Job, so let me give you a few things to think about,” verse 31, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?” What’s He talking about there? He’s talking about gravity. All those stars that move in space in those constellations are held together by divine chains, by divine cords. Who do you think you are? “Do you think you can hold the constellations together? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season? Can you move it through space? Can you guide the bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens and…or fix their rule over the earth?” Who do you think you are?

There is knowledge…if you go back to the fourteenth chapter of Job of another element of geology…in Job 14 and verse 18, “But the falling mountain crumbles away and the rock moves from its place, water wears away stones. Its torrents wash away the dust of the earth.” This is erosion. This is rock erosion. People didn’t live their life long enough to see it. Post-flood, they…they…they would never have known this. No one is around long enough to see that really take place.

In the thirty-eighth chapter, go back again to Job 38 verses 29 and 30, “From whose womb has come the ice and the frost of heaven? Who has given it birth?” Where does the frost come from? The dew. Where does the ice come from? Water becomes hard like stone and the surface of the deep is imprisoned. What’s that? That’s a glacier. You even have here an understanding of the hardness, the dense hardness of glaciers.

So whether you’re talking about hydrology, whether you’re talking about astronomy, whether you’re talking about geology, the Bible shows the designer and the creator’s understanding of all these things in simple enough expressions for everyone to understand. Let’s talk about meteorology for a minute. This is the circulation of the atmosphere, and I already read you how the wind moves in cycles and in circles because it circles the circle of the earth. It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that Galileo discovered that wind had circuits. We read that in Ecclesiastes 1:6. And no scientist before Galileo knew or believed that the air had weight…that it had weight. But Job 28:25 says God imparted weight to the wind…weight to the air.

Let’s talk about physiology briefly…physiology. It wasn’t until 1628 and this was a huge change in the world, that William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood was the key to life. Prior to that, if you got sick, what did they do? Took your blood away. They bled you, stuck leeches on you, cut you open and let you bleed. Not until 1628 did they know what is in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” That is scientifically correct. It was about the 1950’s when medicine began to look in psychosomatic illnesses. And there was a book that came out called Personality Manifestations in Psycho…Psychosomatic Illnessand it began for the first time to understand how emotions cause changes in the body, they cause physiology to change. The Bible completely understood this. Psalm 32, David understood it so well, “How blessed,” he starts in Psalm 32, “is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. How blessed is the man whom the Lord does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” It’s wonderful…he says…to be forgiven, what a blessing it is to be delivered from guilt.
On the other hand, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away.” It had physiological effects. “Through my groaning all day long.” What he means is, I was weakened by my guilt, it affected my strength, it sapped me of my energy. He said, “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, my life juices…literally…my life juices…in the Hebrew…drained away as in the fever heat of summer.” It was like…it was like having…being dehydrated, all my life’s juices disappeared. What are life juices? Well the fluids in your body…blood, secretions of the glands, saliva. The emotional experience of this kind of guilt produced changing amount of blood flow. That’s why when people get angry their face gets red…or when people get frightened their face gets white…or when people lie their mouth gets dry. Excess thyroxin produced by emotion and poured into the blood stream can produce all kinds of things, even fatal heart disease. Also changes muscle tension. In Proverbs 16:24 we read this, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Pleasant words make you feel better, right? It’s like Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Happiness produces a self of well-being, you feel better. The Bible is accurate about everything, even down to these physiological realities.

Well, that’s only an introduction to the vastness of this wonderful subject. But let’s close by looking at Proverbs 30…Proverbs 30. And this is a good place to bring our thoughts to a conclusion. “The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal.” Listen to what he says. “Surely I am more stupid than any man and I do not have the understanding of a man, neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.” On my own I am stupid, I don’t know anything. Verse 4, “Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, or His Son’s name? Surely you know.” We do? How do we know? Verse 5, “Because every word of God is…what?…is pure, proven, tested.” You know the Holy One, you know that He came from heaven. You know He created the wind and the waters and the ends of the earth and you know His name, and by the way, you know His Son’s name, through His revelation. “And you know that He’s a shield to those who take refuge in Him and do not add to His words, lest He reprove you and you be proved a liar.” What that is saying is simply this, God has spoken and what He said is here. Don’t add to it. And whether it talks about spiritual things, or whether it talks about material things, it is the truth because it is written by the creator who knows. Pray with me.

Father, we are so stunned in one sense to look into the passages of Scripture from ancient books, way back at the beginning, millennia ago, long before man was ever able to develop the skill and the equipment to understand these things, but was all laid out accurately. And herein is the evidence that this book comes from the creator who knows. There is no way that the writers could have known. Moses who wrote the Pentateuch couldn’t have known, apart from revelation all these things, nor could Isaiah the prophet, nor could the writer of Job, or the psalmist or even the Apostles of the New Testament who talked about the differing character of the sun, the moon and the variety of stars. It’s all reflective of one single author who is himself the creator. And how wonderful it is that the one who made all this is none other than the one who came incarnate, for in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God and all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. But the Word also became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And as many as received Him, to them He gave the right, the authority and the power to be called the sons of God. We thank You that we can know You, the true and living God. You are the One who made this universe, You are the One who came down to provide spiritual life, eternal life to all who would put their trust in You. And all that You desire to say to us spiritually and to confirm that You indeed are the Creator, you have placed in Your Word. Increase our confidence in it, our love for it, our devotion to it, to know it and thereby to know You, to proclaim it, to defend it to the glory that You deserve as its author and the final object of its purpose which is to redeem sinners for Your eternal glory. We thank You again for the power of the Word in Christ’s name. Amen.

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The John Lennon and the Beatles really were on a long search for meaning and fulfillment in their lives  just like King Solomon did in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon looked into learning (1:12-18, 2:12-17), laughter, ladies, luxuries, and liquor (2:1-2, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20). He fount that without God in the picture all […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 52 THE BEATLES (Part D, There is evidence that the Beatles may have been exposed to Francis Schaeffer!!!) (Feature on artist Anna Margaret Rose Freeman )

______________   George Harrison Swears & Insults Paul and Yoko Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds- The Beatles The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis Schaeffer spent a lot of time listening to the Beatles and talking […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

  The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA Uploaded on Nov 29, 2010 The Beatles in a press conference after their Return from the USA. The Beatles:   I have dedicated several posts to this series on the Beatles and I don’t know when this series will end because Francis […]

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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