Monday, September 24, 2018

Christian Persecution In China: A Comprehensive Truth

            Christians in China are being persecuted and the details are gory. The year 2017 recorded more than 240,000 instances of persecution, up from 48,000 in 2016, according to Dr. Michael Brown.1

            Dr. Brown goes on to add that this is not a one-off persecution endeavor by the Chinese government. This is the third phase of a 14-year plan of the Chinese government to persecute Christian churches:2

“…the government has implemented a three-phase, 14-year plan:
“During the first 2-year phase, 2012-2014, it further eased persecution of the underground church, enticing more of them to surface and be identified.”…
“During the second 2-year phase, 2014-2016, it invited and then pressured the identified underground churches to register and become Three-Self government churches.                                                              
“In the current third, 10-year phase, the gloves have come off as both the remaining underground churches and even Three Self churches are being persecuted using Mao-era brute-force, as well as mass surveillance, artificial intelligence, and big data.”
            This persecution follows its innate pattern. More than 2000 crosses have been destroyed. Church buildings have been demolished. Thousands of pastors have been arrested and tortured.

            Dr. Brown reported an instance, “Brothers and sisters are facing difficulties and suffering for their faith. My sister and her husband along with three others were put in jail for their gathering together with about 30 people and their stuff has been taken way with a few big trucks. They were beaten and shocked by the electronic sticks with head bleeding and arms in painful position. David their son saw what happened and cried and fainted there when it happened…my sister almost had a heart attack and her husband had gout which almost killed him. They were suffering physically and mentally…They were released after 10 days and told by local authorities they had to leave their city and district. All this for holding Christian meetings in China.”3

            This is not it. Satan intends to make it worse.

            The persecution will also include a Chinese design against Historic Christianity – ‘Sinicization of Christianity.’ This is the most dangerous element of this persecution.

            Here are some details of “Sinicization of Christianity”:4

"Sinicization" means adapting to Chinese culture a non-Chinese entity. Sinicization of Christianity, however, means bending Christianity to submit to the will of the Chinese Communist Party…
1.  Sinicization of Christianity will be led by the Chinese Communist Party and guided by "socialism"…
2. Sinicization of Christianity will "adapt" Christian theology…
3.  Sinicization of Christianity will be implemented by personnel who will be trained by "pushing" more "patriotism" and "socialism" at China's "colleges on theology"…
4. They and others are to be indoctrinated with "hermeneutics," "books," and Bibles with "annotations" that promote the "core values of socialism"…
            Sinicization of Christianity is nothing but smuggling socialism into Historic Christianity so as to adapt Christianity to the whims and fancies of the Chinese Communist Party. In other words, this version of Christianity would not be the true Christianity.

            The Sinicization of Christianity will be implemented by the ‘Three Self Church.’ Here’s some information about the Three Self Church:5

Three Self churches are the 60,000 churches in China that belong to the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Three Self Patriotic Movement.
The three ‘Self’s are self-governance, self-support, self-propagation, and reject foreigners' influence on church leadership, foreign financing and foreign missionaries, respectively, while “Patriotic” reflects this church's loyalty to China.
The three rejections have kept the divisive Western denominationalism out of China and thus aren't necessarily bad on their own. What is bad is that the Three Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) tries to restrict, control and twist Christianity to suit the Communist Party. Consider some of the rules governing the Three Self churches:
•  The Communist Party is the head of the church in China (Three Self churches report to the Three Self Patriotic Movement, which in turn reports to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party).
•  The Communist Party decides how many people can be baptized per year.
•  The Communist Party has the final say on who can preach and what can be preached.
•  Preaching should focus on the social rules and the social benefits of Christianity.
•  Preaching about the resurrection of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching about the second coming of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching against religions that deny the deity of Jesus is forbidden.
•  Preaching that atheist Communist heroes went to hell is forbidden.
•  Preaching cannot deny that all good Communists go to heaven.
•  Preaching against abortion is forbidden.
•  Preachers can preach only at the Three Self church to which they are assigned.
•  Worshipping outside Three Self churches and official "meeting points" is forbidden.
•  Importing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
•  Printing Bibles is forbidden, even if they are given away for free.
•  Evangelizing or giving out tracts is forbidden.
•  Government officials cannot be Christian.
•  Police officers cannot be Christian.
•  Soldiers cannot be Christian.
•  Teachers cannot be Christian.
•  Children cannot become Christian.
•  Teenagers cannot become Christian. (Emphasis Mine)
            This persecution in China is unique because of the vicious plan of the Chinese government - ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ - a pogrom against Historic Christianity. This pogrom against Historic Christianity is intended to brainwash Christians to believe in a false Christianity.

            Therefore, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in China to be strengthened spiritually to face this tribulation and be faithful to the Lord Jesus during this persecution. Let us also pray that the ‘Sinicization of Christianity’ - a pogrom of the Chinese government against Historic Christianity, would fail.

            Last but not the least, may the so-called Christians governing the ‘Three Self Churches’ realize their allegiance to Satan, repent of their sins and follow the one and the only, the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and no one else. Amen. 

Endnotes:
1https://stream.org/brutal-truth-persecution-christians-china/

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4http://www.billionbibles.com/china/sinicization-of-christianity.html

5http://www.billionbibles.com/china/three-self-church.html

Websites last accessed on 24th September 2018. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pope Francis Accuses Satan Of Uncovering Bishops’ Sin

            Any well-meaning Christian would claim that the Christian testimony to the secular world – that a Christian loves the Lord Jesus and seeks to glorify the triune God in and through every aspect of his/her life – is of supreme significance. The Christian testimony stands on a doctrinal foundation of confession and repentance. That foundation is the serious endeavor of every genuine Christian to remain faithful to the triune God, in public and private, and confess every sin to God and to the person (whom they have offended), thereby seeking forgiveness, so to glorify God always.

            But when Christian leaders, through their public utterance, jeopardize the foundation of the Christian testimony, clarity should be provided to the secular world. That clarity should expose the aberration committed by the Christian leader, and provide a biblically correct essence of the foundation on which a Christian testimony stands.

            Pope Francis, on Tuesday the 11th September 2018, said that Satan is seeking to uncover the sins of the Bishops, so the Bishops should pray against Satan, ““In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops. True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people. The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'. A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer, that of Jesus and his own, and the humility of being chosen and remaining close to the people of God, without seeking an aristocratic life that removes this unction. Let us pray, today, for our bishops: for me, for those who are here, and for all the bishops throughout the world.””1

            Here is a dissection of Pope Francis’ words. The Pope’s words have been italicized to provide a contrast between his words and my analysis:

             “In these times, it seems like the 'Great Accuser' has been unchained and is attacking bishops.” Pope refers to Satan as the ‘Great Accuser.’ But guess who has the power to unchain Satan? It’s God and only God has the power to unchain Satan. If God did unchain Satan, HE would have a definite purpose behind unchaining him.

            “True, we are all sinners, we bishops.” Pope is absolutely right. Without any exception, every man is a sinner (1 John 1:8).

            “He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.” This is where the Pope is going haywire. Satan is trying to uncover the sins (of the Bishops) to scandalize the erring Bishops.

            The Catholic Church is plagued with sex abuse and cover-up scandals. If God unchained Satan to uncover the sins of the Bishops, then God is probably trying to expose the scandals, so as to enable the sinner to repent and be cleansed of this sin.

             “The 'Great Accuser', as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, 'roams the earth looking for someone to accuse'.” In the book of Job, Satan accused Job, who is righteous (1:8). The ‘Great Accuser,’ in the context of Job, accuses God’s people who are righteous.

            But the context in Pope’s instance is diametrically opposite. Not all, but some bishops of the Catholic church are guilty of sex abuse – the Pope refers to this fact by designating every bishop a sinner. So Satan, in this context, is accusing the guilty, not the righteous. Common sense dictates that the guilty should be exposed.

            “A bishop’s strength against the 'Great Accuser' is prayer…” This is where the Pope once again seems to be going haywire.

            The Pope does not seem to allude to the fact that bishops should pray to cease from sinning because he has already mentioned that his bishops are under satanic attack. Therefore, a reasonable conclusion could be that the Pope is imploring his Bishops, who are in Satan’s radar, to pray against this satanic attack.

            In other words, the Pope seems to advise his bishops to pray against Satan so that their sins are not uncovered. Does this mean that the Pope is encouraging his bishops to sin? One does not hope so. One hopes that the Pope could have worded his statement better.

            The secular world has caught on to the Pope’s faux pas. An article in the Washington Examiner obliterates the Pope:2

I’m starting to think Pope Francis isn’t the man for the job.
It’s almost like he’s trying to make the clergy sexual abuse scandal worse…
On Tuesday, for example, the Holy Father’s Sept. 11 homily included a moment wherein he appeared to bemoan that the Church's institutionalized horror of abuse and enabling has been exposed to the public.
What in the world?
Is Francis suggesting he’d prefer for the sin to remain hidden? Is he’s suggesting that those who are exposing the cancer of clergy sexual abuse are also agents of the devil? Is he suggesting that we should let the issue go because it could hurt the Church?
Who knows!
I’m not entirely sure what Francis is on about here, but I can assure you that the real tragedy of clergy sexual abuse isn’t that the people have been scandalized by sin. The tragedy isn’t that sin has been uncovered. (Remember: The truth will set you free.) The tragedy is that children had their innocence stolen. The tragedy is that men who were trusted to lead the faithful preyed on children and that Church leaders often covered it up and/or enabled it.
Also, Francis’s Job analogy doesn’t work, especially in the context of the crisis currently facing the Catholic Church. Job did not do anything wrong (that’s sort of the point). He certainly wasn’t guilty of sexually abusing children or enabling abusers.
Ordinarily, I’d be only annoyed that the pope once again opted for fuzzy and ambiguous language pertaining to a current issue. But the sex abuse scandal is as serious as any the Catholic Church has faced, and I don’t think Francis sees it that way.
He is handling this like it’s some minor public relations flub and not the sort of thing that leads to a crisis of faith. It’s maddening.
First, Francis said he would “not say a single word” on allegations he empowered known sexual abusers. Then his spin doctors at the Vatican announced this week that they are still preparing the “ necessary clarifications” to the allegations. (It has been 17 days since Francis was first accused of being complicit in the abuse.)
Now, Francis, who must know that the faithful are hanging on to his every word, is seemingly bemoaning that the public knows about the grave evil that the Church has allowed to grow in darkness. The faithful are out here begging the Holy Father to take control and lead, and he’s over there — what? — passive-aggressively subtweeting his critics during Mass? Bold.
If Francis won’t take the matter seriously, he should make way for someone who will.

            An article in The Daily Wire interprets Pope’s words to mean that the real victims of this sex abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church are the Bishops and not anyone else, “…it appears the Pope suggested that people consider the real victims of the sexual abuse scandals currently roiling the Church: the bishops.”3

            Finally, to conclude, the doctrinal foundation on which the Christian testimony stands is that of confession and repentance. Christians endeavor to remain faithful to the triune God, in public and private, and confess every sin to God and to the person (whom they have offended), thereby seeking forgiveness, so to glorify God always. This holds true for you, me, the bishops, and the Pope, as well.

            We pray that God would empower us to cease from sinning. We pray that God would enable us to be humble, so to seek forgiveness from HIM and every person we have offended, thereby restoring our relationship. We also pray that Christian leaders would not be ambiguous in their public utterance, and not sow seeds of heresy and discord.

Endnotes:

1https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2018-09/pope-francis-mass-great-accuser-bishops-scandal.html

2https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/pope-francis-talks-poorly-about-satan-and-the-people-exposing-clergy-sexual-abuse

3https://www.dailywire.com/news/35730/pope-shocks-homily-attacks-great-accuser-satan-emily-zanotti


Websites last accessed on 12th September 2018.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Incel Terror: Satan’s Latest?

            Satan will exploit every trick in the book to deceive people. The “Incels” are his latest victims.

            On April 23, 2018, 25-year-old, Alek Minassian, drove a van into a group of pedestrians killing 10 and injuring 15 in Toronto, Canada. He did not belong to the ISIS or another terrorist outfit. He is an Incel.

            Ben Shapiro, the editor-in-chief for The Daily Wire and the host of The Ben Shapiro Show, a daily political podcast and radio show, enlightens us about the Incels, “Incels are involuntary celibates — men, generally, who want to have sex but cannot find a willing partner… there are two types of incels: men who can’t get laid as a general rule, and people…victimized by a society that has unfair standards of sexiness (“the overweight and disabled, minority groups treated as unattractive by the majority, trans women unable to find partners and other victims…”1 (Emphasis Mine).

            The Incel terror – a corollary of the Satanic deception – is a real deal. The self-proclaimed incel & a mass killer, Alek Minassian, had expressed his intense hatred for the society. “Prior to the attack, Minassian wrote in a Facebook post, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!”…“Stacys” are the women who reject incels for “Chads,” the men who are sexually attractive to women…” says an article in The Gospel Coalition.2

            The Incels are a derivative of the “Sexual Revolution.” At the root of this depravity is a claim to “sexual rights.”

            The Incels demand their right to indulge in sex. This, they believe, is fundamental.

            The Incel terror emphasizes the fact that sexual morality is at stake!

            Ben Shapiro articulates this situation well by contrasting commitment and consummation. The Incels consider sex as the goal of their life. Hence they demand to indulge in sex (consummation) even before committing themselves to a partner through marriage. Here’s an excerpt from his article:3

…conservatives have a solution that the rest of the world calls benighted and stupid: a sexual morality that takes into account commitment, and sees commitment as the fundamental need to be fulfilled before consummation of sexual activity. If we measure happiness by commitment rather than by amount and variety of sex, the onus is placed on us to better ourselves in preparation for commitment — we must become worthy of someone else’s commitment, too…This, of course, is an ancient sexual ethos, and a far more fulfilling one…Placing sex into the context of commitment means restoring it to its proper role, rather than as the goal of life itself…
If sex is the goal of life…then…You have been victimized, because everyone but you is having sex, and having sex is the norm — but you're not normal, and thus you have been cast out. Poor you.
If we treat commitment as the goal of life, then responsibility lies with you, not with society at large. We hear the common complaint among incels that “women just don’t get me.” It’s far rarer to hear men who work on themselves and make themselves marriageable partners complain that they can’t find a woman willing to get married. A sex-first society suggests that you are owed sex. A commitment-first society suggests that you owe someone else your commitment — and the work necessary to earn someone else’s commitment — before sex becomes worthwhile. (Emphasis Mine).
            We are no longer a society that treats commitment as an antecedent factor to sex. We belong to a hedonistic society that values pleasure and self-gratification more than anything and everything. We belong to a sex-first society.

            The Bible says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days…” (2 Timothy 3:1, NIV). The Incel terror is a case in point.

            Our world is not going to be a better place to live in because Satan is ruling those who disobey God (cf. Ephesians 2:2). The incels’ claim for sex will accelerate the horror caused by evil. Ben Shapiro cites Ross Douthat, who predicts the “…growth of the sex worker industry, and demand for new technologies like sex robots. Douthat points out that our society has embraced the “Hefnerian” ethos of plentiful, variety-seeking sexual activity — and that just as with other measures of happiness unequally distributed across society…”4

            What is the role of the churches then? “How should we, as Christians respond to both incels and sexual-rights advocates? While it’s tempting to mock their foolishness and simply shame them for their misogyny (whether explicit, as with the incels, or implicit, as with the sexual-rights advocates), we should offer them an alternative to their false god of sex.

            We should be especially graceful in showing the incels where true hope and freedom can be found. “[I]t is the responsibility of the lonely man to find meaning apart from women,” David French says. “And that meaning happens to be found in a resurrected Christ who—unlike any other false god—can be found by any person who seeks his face,”” these are the words of wisdom in an article in The Gospel Coalition. 5 (Emphasis Mine).

Endnotes:

1https://www.dailywire.com/news/30219/solution-incels-isnt-sex-robots-its-commitment-and-ben-shapiro

2https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/incel-movement-repugnant-logic-sexual-revolution/

3https://www.dailywire.com/news/30219/solution-incels-isnt-sex-robots-its-commitment-and-ben-shapiro

4Ibid.

5https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/incel-movement-repugnant-logic-sexual-revolution/


Websites last accessed on 5th September 2018. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Conflict Between Evolution And Ethics (Evolution Cannot Explain Ethics) – Part 2

            While some atheists believe morality and human freedom are meaningless and illusory, other atheists believe in objective moral values. Atheist neuroscientist, Sam Harris, posited the existence of objective moral values in his book, Moral Landscape.

            Is it plausible to postulate objective moral values in a godless paradigm that atheists subscribe to? If there are objective moral values, there should be a source for these values. Hence we ask, “What is the foundation for objective moral values?”

            Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, disagrees with Sam Harris. Dr. Craig asserts the impossibility of a foundation for objective moral values in the atheistic worldview. Here’s an excerpt from his article, “Navigating Sam Harris' The Moral Landscape”:1

A great merit of Sam Harris' recent book The Moral Landscape is his bold affirmation of the objectivity of moral values and duties. To say that moral values and duties are objective is to say they are valid and binding independent of human opinion. For example, to say that the Holocaust was objectively evil is to say it was evil even though the Nazis who carried it out thought it was good. And it would still have been evil even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everyone who disagreed with them, so everybody who was left thought the Holocaust was good…
The question then is, what is the best foundation for the existence of objective moral values and duties? What grounds them? What makes certain actions good or evil, right or wrong? Traditionally, God has been the highest Good (summum bonum) and His commandments constitutive of our moral duties. But if God does not exist, what foundation remains for objective moral values and duties?
Consider first the question of objective moral values. On atheism, what basis is there for affirming objective moral values? In particular, why think that human beings have objective moral worth? On the atheistic view human beings are just accidental byproducts of nature who have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called planet Earth — lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe — and are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On atheism it is hard to see any reason to think that human well-being is objectively good, anymore than insect well-being or rat well-being or hyena well-being. This is what Harris calls "The Value Problem." [3]…
The purpose of Harris' The Moral Landscape is to solve the "value problem," to explain the basis, on atheism, for the existence of objective moral values. [4] He explicitly rejects the view that moral values are Platonic objects existing independently of the world. [5] So his only recourse is to try to ground moral values in the natural world. But can he do that, since nature in and of itself is morally neutral?...
On a naturalistic view, moral values are just the behavioral by-products of biological evolution and social conditioning. Just as a troupe of baboons exhibit co-operative and even self-sacrificial behavior because natural selection has determined it to be advantageous in the struggle for survival, so homo sapiens — their primate cousins — exhibit similar behavior for the same reason. As a result of sociobiological pressures there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of "herd morality" that functions well in the perpetuation of our species. But on the atheistic view there does not seem to be anything that makes this morality objectively true…
So how does Sam Harris propose to solve the "value problem"? The trick he proposes is simply to redefine what he means by "good" and "evil" in nonmoral terms. [9]He says we should "define 'good' as that which supports [the] well-being" of conscious creatures." [10] He states, "Good and evil need only consist in this: misery versus well-being." [11] Or again: "In speaking of 'moral truth,' I am saying that there must be facts regarding human and animal well-being." [12]
So, he says, "Questions about values … are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures." [13] Therefore, he concludes, "It makes no sense … to ask whether maximizing well-being is 'good'." [14] Why not? Because he's redefined the word "good" to mean the well-being of conscious creatures. So to ask, "Why is maximizing creatures' well-being good?" is on his definition the same as asking, "Why does maximizing creatures' well-being maximize creatures' well-being?" It is simply a tautology — talking in a circle. Thus, Harris has "solved" his problem simply by redefining his terms. It is mere word play.
At the end of the day Harris is not really talking about moral values. He is just talking about what's conducive to the flourishing of sentient life on this planet. Seen in this light, his claim that science can tell us a great deal about what contributes to human flourishing is hardly controversial. Of course, it can — just as it can tell us what is conducive to the flourishing of corn or mosquitoes or bacteria. His so-called "moral landscape" picturing the highs and lows of human flourishing is not really a moral landscape at all.
On the next to last page of his book, Harris more or less admits this. For he makes the telling admission that if people such as rapists, liars, and thieves could be just as happy as good people, then his moral landscape would no longer be a moral landscape; rather it would just be a continuum of well-being, whose peaks are occupied by good and evil people alike. [15] What is interesting about this is that earlier in the book Harris observed that about 3 million Americans are psychopathic, that is to say, they do not care about the mental states of others. On the contrary, they enjoy inflicting pain on other people. [16]…
Thus, Harris has failed to solve the "value problem." He has not provided any justification or explanation of why, on atheism, objective moral values would exist at all. His so-called solution is just a semantic trick of providing an arbitrary and idiosyncratic redefinition of the words "good" and "evil" in nonmoral terms.

            The second question that needs to be addressed is, “Are we obligated to be morally right?” If so, “Who are we obligated to, from within the atheistic worldview?” Dr. Craig dissects this aspect and provides a conclusion to this subject:2

That takes us to a second question: Does atheism provide a sound foundation for objective moral duties? Duty has to do with moral obligation and prohibition, what I ought or ought not to do…
First: Natural science tells us only what is, not what ought to be, the case. As philosopher Jerry Fodor has written, "Science is about facts, not norms; it might tell us how we are, but it wouldn't tell us what is wrong with how we are." [17] In particular it cannot tell us that we have a moral obligation to take actions that are conducive to human flourishing.
So if there is no God, what foundation remains for objective moral duties? On the naturalistic view, human beings are just animals, and animals have no moral obligations to one another. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra, but it does not murder the zebra. When a great white shark forcibly copulates with a female, it forcibly copulates with her but it does not rape her — for there is no moral dimension to these actions. They are neither prohibited nor obligatory.
So if God does not exist, why think we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes these moral duties on us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why they would be anything more than a subjective impression ingrained into us by societal and parental conditioning.
On the atheistic view, certain actions such as incest and rape may not be biologically and socially advantageous, and so in the course of human development have become taboo, that is, socially unacceptable behavior. But that does absolutely nothing to show that rape or incest is really wrong. Such behavior goes on all the time in the animal kingdom…If there is no moral lawgiver, then there is no objective moral law; and if there is no objective moral law, then we have no objective moral duties…
Second: "ought" implies "can." A person is not morally responsible for an action he is unable to avoid. For example, if somebody shoves you into another person, you are not to blame for bumping into this person. You had no choice. But Harris believes that all of our actions are causally determined and that there is no free will. [20]… But if there is no free will, no one is morally responsible for anything. In the end, Harris admits this, though it's tucked away in his endnotes. Moral responsibility, he says, "is a social construct," not an objective reality: "in neuroscientific terms no person is more or less responsible than any other" for the actions they perform. [21] His thoroughgoing determinism spells the end of any hope or possibility of objective moral duties on his worldview because we have no control over what we do…
…The fact remains that whether we experience the illusion of free will or not, on Harris' view we are thoroughly determined in all that we think and do and can therefore have no moral responsibilities.
Conclusion
On Harris' view there is both no source of objective moral duties and no possibility of objective moral duty. Therefore, on his view, despite his protestations to the contrary, there is no objective right or wrong.
Thus, Sam Harris' naturalistic view fails to provide a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties. If God does not exist, we are trapped in a morally valueless world in which nothing is prohibited. Harris' atheism thus sits very ill with his ethical objectivism.

Endnotes:

1https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/navigating-sam-harris-the-moral-landscape/

2Ibid.


Website last accessed on 31st August 2018. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Conflict Between Evolution And Ethics (Evolution Cannot Explain Ethics) – Part 1

            With regard to morality, Christians believe that human beings are moral beings with the knowledge of good and evil and with a disposition to conform to the rules of right conduct. In answering the question, “How are human beings moral beings?” the Bible teaches that we, who are created in the image of God, have the moral law written in our hearts by God (cf. Romans 2:15). With regard to the question, “Why are we moral beings?” Christians would assert that we are moral beings to glorify God.

            The atheist, on the other hand, rejects God’s existence. Thus the atheist rejects creation and subscribes to evolution.

            So the atheist should answer these two questions:

            (1) How did human beings become moral beings?

            (2) Why does morality exist in a human being?

            Before the atheist answers the abovementioned questions, an important question that needs to be answered is, “Are human beings moral beings?”

            Infants are not born as “blank moral slates,” says an article in Mail Online, “Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in Connecticut, whose department has studied morality in babies for years, said: 'A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. 'With the help of well designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. 'Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bones.'”1

            Since human beings are moral beings, it is incumbent upon the atheist to answer the question, “How and why are human beings moral beings?”

            Some atheists believe that morality is an illusion, whereas other atheists believe that there are objective moral values. A proper study should consider both positions. Hence, we adopt a two-pronged scheme to understand this subject:

            (1) In the first scheme of study, we consider atheists’ contention that morality is illusory, meaningless, or that it is impossible to explain without positing God. If atheists believe that morality is an illusion (there is no morality), then the question, “How and why are human beings moral beings?” need not be answered. This is addressed in this article.

            (2) The second scheme of study will take into account the book Moral Landscape authored by the New Atheist, Sam Harris, who posits objective moral values. So we should examine the possibility of the existence of objective moral values without any source (because atheists reject God, who is the source of everything that there is) and without any possibility of objective moral duty (if there is no source, there is no need to be dutiful)? This would be addressed in PART 2 of this article.

Part 1: Morality Is An Illusion In The Evolutionary Paradigm

            Some atheists believe that any deep meaning to morality, such as the existence of objective moral values, is illusory. Christian apologist, William Lane Craig’s article entitled “Can We Be Good without God?” expounds this position by citing the atheist philosopher Michael Ruse, “Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science, writes, The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that humans have an awareness of morality . . . because such an awareness is of biological worth. Morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves . . . . Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction, . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory . . . .”2

            Here’s Craig’s interpretation of Michael Ruse’s rejection of objective moral values, “As a result of socio-biological pressures, there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of “herd morality” which functions well in the perpetuation of our species in the struggle for survival. But there does not seem to be anything about homo sapiens that makes this morality objectively true.”3

            Then there are atheists who believe that it is not plausible to explain the ‘how’ of morality in human beings without positing the existence of God. Christian apologist, Brett Kunkle of the Christian apologetics ministry Stand to Reason says, “J.L. Mackie, one of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the 20th century, said this: “Moral properties constitute so odd a cluster of qualities and relations that they are most unlikely to have arisen in the ordinary course of events, without an all-powerful god to create them.” 4 (Emphasis Mine).

            Secular philosophers understand that evolution deprives morality of its meaning in the atheistic worldview. Craig cites the eminent American Philosopher and ethicist, Richard Taylor, to emphasize this fact, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant. Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion. [2]
            He concludes,
            Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”5

            Moral obligations are also a meaningless term in the atheistic worldview. Brett Kunkle writes, “If humans are simply more developed animals, why think there are moral duties to which they are obligated? Male great white sharks are under no obligation to refrain from forcibly copulating with female great whites. Male lions are under no obligation to refrain from killing all the young lion cubs in a pride they have just taken over. Notice, we do NOT use moral terms to describe such behavior. We do not call the shark’s behavior “rape” and we do not call the lion’s behavior “infanticide.”

            Natural science is a descriptive enterprise, only telling us what is the case, not what ought to be the case. For example, nature can describe what it is to be healthy, but it cannot generate a moral obligation to be healthy.”6

            Brett Kunkle also cites Richard Taylor, who has understood that evolution cannot explain moral obligations, “The idea of political or legal obligation is clear enough…. Similarly, the idea of an obligation higher than this, referred to as moral obligation, is clear enough, provided reference to some lawgiver higher…than those of the state is understood. In other words, our moral obligations can…be understood as those that are imposed by God…. But what if this higher-than-human lawgiver is no longer taken into account? Does the concept of moral obligation…still make sense? … The concept of moral obligation [is] unintelligible apart from the idea of God. [3] .”7

            Furthermore, evolution deprives human beings of any intrinsic value thereby rendering morality a meaningless term. Kunkle cites Richard Dawkins, who explains this fact, “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference…. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. [4]”8

            Kunkle goes on to add, “On a naturalistic evolutionary scenario, human beings are nothing special. The universe comes into existence through the Big Bang and, through a blind process of chance and necessity, evolves all the way through to us. The same process that coughed up humans also coughed up bacteria. Thus, there is nothing intrinsically valuable about being human. Indeed, on this view, to think humans beings are special is to be guilty of speciesism, the view that one’s own species is somehow superior to other species…But what other result should we expect from valueless, cause-and-effect physical processes? There is no reason to think that an impersonal, valueless process could produce valuable, rights-bearing persons.”9

            Finally, evolution hits a vital nail in the coffin of morality when it deems freewill or human freedom as non-existent, “If we are the products of evolutionary forces, how did moral freedom and responsibility emerge? There is no reason to think, given our supposed materialistic and deterministic origins, that we have free will. Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel states that there is “no room for agency in a world of neural impulses, chemical reactions, and bone and muscle movements”; naturalism strongly suggests that we are “helpless” and “not responsible” for our actions. [5]

            Of course, if there is no free will, then no one is morally responsible for anything. Determinism puts an end to objective moral duties because on this worldview, we have no control over what we do. We are nothing more than puppets in a cause-and-effect universe.”10

            In conclusion, since evolution deems morality and human freedom as meaningless and illusory, evolution cannot explain ethics.

Endnotes:

1http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1275574/Babies-know-difference-good-evil-months-study-reveals.html

2https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/can-we-be-good-without-god/

3Ibid.

4https://www.str.org/blog/why-evolutionary-ethics-fails-to-account-for-objective-morality#_ftn3

5https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/existence-nature-of-god/can-we-be-good-without-god/

6https://www.str.org/blog/why-evolutionary-ethics-fails-to-account-for-objective-morality#_ftn3

7Ibid.

8Ibid.

9Ibid.

10Ibid.


Websites last accessed on 27th August 2018. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How To Answer Difficult Questions From The Bible?


          A few days ago, a prominent personality posted an apparent contradiction from the Bible on his social media page. He had thousands of ‘likes,’ hundreds of ‘comments’ and ‘shares.’

            This person did not discover a new contradiction from the Bible. He did not ask a question that had the potential to destroy Historic Christianity.

            He merely posted an asked and answered question/contradiction! He asked a question that many have asked before.

            Christian theologians and apologists have answered this apparent contradiction. Hence, there is no need for anyone to lose their faith in Historic Christianity because of this question or similar questions.

            The question he asked was answered decades ago:1

GENESIS 1:14—HOW COULD THERE BE LIGHT BEFORE THE SUN WAS MADE?
PROBLEM: The sun was not created until the fourth day, yet there was light on the first day (1:3).
SOLUTION: The sun is not the only source of light in the universe. Further, the sun may have existed from the first day, but only appeared or became visible (as the mist cleared) on the fourth day. We see light on a cloudy day, even when we can’t see the sun.
This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe.

            Now, this is what we need to understand.

            Had he genuinely sought an answer to this question as an honest seeker, a simple search on the internet would have yielded him the answer. But no! The actual reason that motivated him to ask this question was to plant seeds of doubts in the minds of naïve Christians.

            How do we respond to such tirades against Historic Christianity? When we encounter such rants against Historic Christianity, do remember that all these questions have been asked and answered reasonably well. So instead of being perplexed, all we need to do is to understand the dynamics of solving an apparent contradiction from the Bible.

            First, what is a Bible difficulty? “A Bible difficulty is an apparent problem posed by the biblical record. It might be called an error, a mistake, a difficulty, a challenge, a contradiction, or any number of other terms. Critics of the Bible are sometimes hostile in their claims that the Bible is "full of contradictions" or "difficulties," but these apparent problems are also brought up by committed Christians wanting to make sense of God's Word,”2 says an article posted on the website of the ‘Focus on the Family’ ministry.  

            Second, how do we solve Bible difficulties? The same article says, “Essentially, handling Bible difficulties is a matter of hermeneutics or interpretation (specifically, biblical interpretation). But other factors also come into play when interpreting, such as looking for a reasonable explanation, carefully making comparisons to other passages when necessary, and in general puzzling through possible answers and satisfactory resolutions to apparent problems.

            Theologically liberal approaches to the Bible, on the other hand, often simply accept contradictions as part of a flawed record. But if the Bible is God's Word, and if God is all knowing and all powerful, it stands to reason we should be able to trust the Bible.”3

            This article offers useful tips to handle Bible difficulties:4

Here are some tips gleaned from the late Gleason Archer's fine book Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties 1
"Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not found it yet." In other words, Archer is accepting the Bible as an accurate, authoritative collection of documents – God's inspired Word. Once a case has been made for this fact, then it stands to reason that the Bible should not contain any serious discrepancies in the manuscript copies. If you come across a Bible difficulty, there should be one or more reasonable explanations for it.
"Carefully study the context and framework of the verse in which the problem arises until you gain some idea of what the verse is intended to mean within its own setting." This is a key point of biblical hermeneutics – the science and art of interpreting the Bible. Context matters significantly. Keep in mind the context of a particular verse in a book, as well as the context given the broader teachings on the subject throughout the entire Bible.
"In the case of parallel passages, the only method that can be justified is harmonization." This helpful tip applies more to the four New Testament Gospels than anywhere else, though there certainly are parallel accounts of historical events in the Old Testament as well. There's no doubt that the Gospels contain various accounts from different perspectives, but these accounts should be able to be reconciled. Critics would not be happy if the four Gospels were identical in their reports of certain events, accusing the authors of collusion. Ironically, however, they aren't happy with the differences either. The best approach is to study the passages and find a way to harmonize them without compromising the essence of the text.
"Consult the best commentaries available, especially those written by Evangelical scholars who believe in the integrity of Scripture." A good commentary is a valuable resource. Many alleged Bible difficulties are addressed in such books. One helpful series is the Expositor's Bible Commentary(Zondervan). With the rise of Bible software, many commentaries are now included in these packages as well.
"Many Bible difficulties result from a minor error on the part of a copyist in the transmission of the text." This is an important point, especially when it comes to apparent numerical discrepancies. While Christians who adhere to inerrancy believe the original Bible manuscripts contained no errors whatsoever, they do grant that copies may contain a small number of errors. These errors or variants, however, do not change any key Christian doctrines.
"Whenever historical accounts of the Bible are called in question on the basis of alleged disagreement with the findings of archaeology or the testimony of ancient non-Hebrew documents, always remember that the Bible is itself an archaeological document of the highest caliber." Again and again throughout history, the archaeological evidence has supported the biblical record, not contradicted it. The evidence is clearly on the side of the Bible. Be wary of the latest news story claiming to debunk some key aspect of Christianity on the basis of recent findings that have yet to be studied in detail by qualified scholars. For more on the archeological evidence for the Bible see The Archaeological Study Bible (Zondervan).

In addition to Archer's helpful tips for handling Bible difficulties, When Critics Ask also offers its share of useful insights. Here's a selection of the advice: 2
"Mistake 1: Assuming that the Unexplained Is Not Explainable." This ties into Archer's advice "that an adequate explanation exists." Be confident that if you encounter a Bible difficulty, there is a reasonable explanation.
"Mistake 2: Presuming the Bible Guilty Until Proven Innocent." This is not treating the biblical text fairly. As with other historical documents, let's grant it the benefit of the doubt unless clear evidence says otherwise.
"Mistake 3: Confusing Our Fallible Interpretations with God's Infallible Revelation." Usually the problem with alleged Bible contradictions and difficulties is with our interpretation, theology, or approach to the text, not with the actual text itself. We make mistakes, but God doesn't.
"Mistake 4: Failing to Understand the Context of the Passage." Again, context is supremely important when handling Bible difficulties. In most cases, a careful reading of the passage(s) in question, in their proper contexts, will resolve apparent difficulties.
"Mistake 5: Neglecting to Interpret Difficult Passages in the Light of Clear Ones." This is a key concept to keep in mind when approaching Bible difficulties that fall into the category of an obscure or particularly challenging passage. We may not be able to completely understand or explain the isolated passage in question, but given the broader context of the Bible and clear teachings on the subject elsewhere, we should be able to come to a good consensus on the matter at hand. A concept known as the perspicuity of Scripture is relevant in such cases. This means that the Bible is clear in essential matters.

            Finally, remember that every difficult question from the Bible has been reasonably answered, “Does the Bible contain some difficult passages? Yes. Are they unresolvable? No. Whenever a critic or sincere believer comes across an alleged Bible difficulty, it has always been answered. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness …" (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV)”5

Endnotes:

1http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/Genesis_1.14.php

2https://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/the-study-of-god/how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-true/how-do-i-handle-bible-difficulties

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Ibid.


Websites last accessed on August 21, 2018.