Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Unanswered Prayers: Are They God's Gift & An Excuse To Forsake God?


            They waited several years for a child. Then God blessed them with a lovely child. Seven years later, the child fell ill.

            The parents prayed desperately as if their life hinged on this one particular event – the survival of their most loved one.

            The child died.

            The parents were inconsolable. Their sorrow knew no bounds.

            Their prayers were unanswered.

            Then when we listen to the song Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks, we hear that unanswered prayers are a gift from God. The chorus reads:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
And just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

            If you do not marry the girl you desperately prayed for, and if the girl you married is better than the girl you once prayed for, then the unanswered prayer is indeed God’s gift.

            But this is not a universal principle.

            Not all unanswered prayers are God’s gifts.

            The child you adored died. What if God did not bless you with another child? What if you remained childless?

            Could you then consider the unanswered prayer as a gift?

            Or you may have been blessed with a beautiful girl and you pray for her marriage. When she’s at a marriageable age, she is brutally raped and unimaginably injured. Despite prayers, after days of hospitalization, she dies.

            How is this unanswered prayer a gift from God?

            Don’t get me wrong. There are various occasions wherein unanswered prayers are indeed a gift from God.

            But I zealously oppose the notion that all unanswered prayers are a gift from God.

            In a couple of instances mentioned above and in the many other horrendous acts of evil perpetrated upon humanity, one cannot fathom unanswered prayers to be a gift from God. So there are many instances wherein unanswered prayers cannot be considered as God’s gifts.

            In an erstwhile blog, I wrote:1

Unanswered Prayers Are A Biblical Reality
Job pleaded, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30: 20-22, NIV).
Some faithful and well meaning Christians would contend the reality of unanswered prayers. They would argue that although Job suffered immensely, he was blessed mightily. The same holds true for King David as well (cf. Psalm 22: 1-2).
The same Bible that narrates the blessing of Job and King David also narrates the incomparable suffering of God’s people. In other words, the Bible implies God’s silence when HIS people were suffering, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-38, NIV).
These verses reveal God’s silence to those who were faithful to HIM. Even when the faithful cried out to God, HE remained silent.
Thank God for poets who so wonderfully articulate these moments of despair,1
"It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God."

(Andrew Peterson in “The Silence of God.”)
           
          Why are unanswered prayers not an excuse to forsake God?

            In that very blog, I wrote:2

Is Renouncing God A Better Option?
Many have renounced Christianity because God did not answer their prayers. To renounce Christianity is one option when God does not answer prayers…
Consider the option of renouncing God. What would happen to those renouncing God? Do they get a better God? No way! There is only one God, and that’s it.

            Forsaking God could depict us as spiritually immature believers, for we may have forgotten the basics of our belief in the God of the Bible:

            1. We believe in the God of the Bible because HE alone saves us from eternal death to life.

            2. As Christians, we profess a consummate commitment to God over man - even family or our own life (cf. Matthew 10: 34-38).  

            3. As Christians, we primarily seek the spiritual and not the material aspects of this world (cf. Matthew 6: 33, 22: 36 - 38).

            If we have properly understood the basics of our belief in Christ, then we would not forsake God even when we suffer a loss of our loved ones or our possessions or even when our own life is threatened.

            Our response to any of these situations would resonate with that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”” (Daniel 3: 16-18, MSG; Emphasis Mine).

            But there could be complicated scenarios. Consider the fervent prayers for our loved ones to believe in Christ and be saved.

            What if our loved ones die without believing in Christ? Would this situation of unanswered prayer justify forsaking the God of the Bible?

            Our prayer, in this very instance, does not focus on the material, but the spiritual – the eternal life for our loved ones.

            How do we respond to a situation where our loved ones remain as unbelievers until their very last breath?

            It’s God who is sovereign, good, gracious and just. HE would never turn away anyone who seeks HIM (John 6: 37). God’s sovereignty, goodness, and justice entails that HE would do everything that needs to be done to bring anyone to HIM – that includes our loved ones as well.

            But God, despite our fervent prayers, will not force anyone to believe in HIM, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”” (Matthew 23: 37 – 39, NET).

            This is the hard truth or the bitter pill that we need to swallow. 

            Whatever be the case, unanswered prayers are not a legitimate reason to forsake God. 

Endnotes:

1https://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2016/08/silence-of-god-despair-of-man.html

2Ibid.

Websites last accessed on 16th October 2019.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Ordination Of Women Pastors; How Do We Respond?


            Could a woman be ordained as a [senior] pastor of a church? Is it biblically right or wrong?

            The Christian community is divided over this sensitive matter. Some say yes, others say no.

            Why?

Yes

            “Dr. Amy Orr-Ewing is a senior vice president with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Joint Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics.”1 She also pastors in a church, “Based in Oxford, England, where she pastors at Latimer Minster with her husband Francis…”2

            Regarding the view that there are ‘silence passages’ in the Bible wherein women are instructed to not be authoritative over men, Amy, while speaking with Eternity News, said:3

Even Paul, who is often seen as a key obstacle to women’s progress in the church, accepted that women could teach and prophesy, she points out.
“What’s interesting in 1 Corinthians where Paul mentions about women being silent in the church, two chapters earlier he’s talked about how women should behave when they prophesy, which means get up and speak in front of everyone.
“So obviously, when he says be silent, he doesn’t mean all women for all time should never say anything. He turns to a specific group of women who are disrupting services and he’s asking them to be silent, but in general he’s saying when women do teach or prophesy in the church they should cover their hair. And the reason he says that is your hair was incredibly seductive; it would be like saying don’t wear an incredibly short skirt when you get up in front of people in church today. He’s not saying ‘don’t get up in front and prophesy.’”
She said this is a classic example of people taking a verse out of context and applying it to everyone for all time.
“It’s absolutely clear if you read the letter in its entirety that it doesn’t mean that,” she says.

No

            Norman Geisler advocates for male church leadership (Emphasis Mine):4

…when understood in context, the “silence” passages are not negating the ministry of women, but are limiting the authority of women. Paul asserts that women were not permitted “to have authority over a man” (1 Tim. 2:12). Likewise, he follows his exhortation to “keep silent” by reminding them to be “submissive” (1 Cor. 14:34). Of course, men too were under authority and needed to submit to the headship of Christ over them (1 Cor. 11:3). Indeed, the ultimate proof that there is nothing degrading about being submissive is that Christ, who was God in human flesh, is always submissive to the Father, both on earth (Phil. 2:5–8) and even in heaven (1 Cor. 15:28). That male headship and leadership is not simply a cultural matter is evident by the fact that it is based on the very order of creation (1 Cor. 11:9; 1 Tim. 2:13). Thus, elders are to be men, “the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2). This, however, in no way demeans or diminishes the role of women, either in the family or in the church. The fact that men cannot have babies is not demeaning to their humanity or their role in the family. It is simply that God has not granted them this function, but a different one.

            Wayne Grudem is also of the opinion that women should not be pastors, “My own conclusion on this issue is that the Bible does not permit women to function in the role of pastor or elder within the church.”5

            However, Wayne Grudem endorses the role of women in the various ministries of the church as long as that role precludes ruling and teaching functions. A woman can be a deacon (provided there is a pastor in that church), a treasurer, a counselor etc.6

Why Not?

            There should be no doubt whatsoever that Jesus Christ elevated the status of women in the society:7

1. Although Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans, particularly the blatant sinners among them, Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman in conversation because HE cared about her spiritual condition (John 4).
2. Jesus commended the woman with hemorrhage who touched the edge of HIS cloak for her faith (Matthew 9: 20-22).
3. Mary and Martha were among Jesus’ closest friends.
4. A woman anointed Jesus at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13) would be remembered for her act of devotion whenever and wherever the gospel was preached (vv. 10-13).
5. Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom Jesus appeared following HIS resurrection, and HE instructed her to tell HIS disciples that HE has risen (John 20: 14-18).

            This list is partial.

            Women stand on the same footing as men in the sight of God, as far as salvation is concerned (Galatians 3:28). The context of this verse is the issue of justification by faith, the individual’s status before God in terms of personal righteousness (v. 27).8

            Women have played a significant role in the kingdom of God:9

1. Miriam assisted Moses and led the Israelite women in singing and dancing after their escape from Egypt (Exodus 15: 20-21).
2. Deborah was the judge of Israel. Esther saved the Jewish people from destruction.
3. Women were seen at the cross (Luke 23: 49), they sought to anoint Jesus’ body (Luke 23: 55-56), they discovered the empty tomb, heard the message of the two angels, and conveyed the news to the apostles (Luke 24: 1-11).
4. Women were given the gift of prophecy (Isaiah 8:3; Acts 21:9; Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 11:5).
5. Paul commends Phoebe’s leadership (Romans 16:2). He speaks of Priscilla and Aquila as his ‘fellow workers’ in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3-4). He speaks of Mary, Persis, Tryphena and Tryphosa as having worked very hard in the Lord (Romans 16: 6, 12). 

            The fact that both men and women are created in the image of God should not be forgotten (Genesis 1: 26-27, 5: 1-2).

            The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 is adorned because she promotes the welfare of her family, does not constantly remain within the confines of her home, and she is engaged in trading and business affairs (vv. 18, 24).10

            The Bible says that the woman was created to be a ‘helper’ to man. This does not relegate the woman to a position of insignificance or subservience. Rather the helper is thought to be as a co-worker or enabler.11

            Having said this, let’s contemplate this matter from another angle.

            Would God be unhappy or angry if the church ordains women pastors?

            Would God not bless the church that has a woman as a senior pastor (cf. Psalm 145: 9; Nahum 1: 3; Matthew 5: 45; Luke 6: 35)?

            It is God who calls a person to be a pastor (Ephesians 4:11). So if a person, even if it is a woman, has that calling, who are we to say no?

            When we argue that a woman cannot be ordained as a pastor, are we claiming that God will not give that gift to women? Can we second-guess the sovereign God?

            Are we going to claim that since God’s word explicitly mentions that the overseer/pastor/elder ought to be a man, God will not contradict HIS words and hence not offer the spiritual gift of the pastoral office to a woman?

            The description of an overseer/elder/pastor is not a command from God; rather it is a guideline/teaching for the church governance.

            So to contest God’s sovereignty even in light of HIS written word may not be a good choice (cf. Romans 9: 15-26 & ‘Cessationism’). (Contesting the ordination of women pastors and thereby peacefully agreeing to disagree is one thing. But to contest the ordination of women pastors and dividing the church of Jesus Christ is entirely another thing altogether.)

            When a church ordains women pastors, it is not sinning against God. A woman who pastors in a church will not lose her salvation.

            If the woman in contention is a sincere disciple of the Lord, Spirit-filled and has the calling into the pastoral office, why should she not be ordained?

            Significantly, the doctrine of a woman pastoring a church is not an essential doctrine of Historic Christianity. If some churches ordain women as pastors, and if these women live up to their calling, then so be it.

            Why quarrel and divide the church over a theme that is non-essential? We have much bigger matters to be concerned about e.g. Science vs. Religion, Effects of Postmodernism and New Atheism, etc.

            So then, should I be a legalist and not espouse the ordination of women into the pastoral office?

            I would rather err on the side of grace than on the side of the law.

Endnotes:

1https://www.rzim.org/speakers/amy-orr-ewing

2https://www.rzim.org/read/rzim-global/is-christianity-bad-news-for-women

3Ibid.

4https://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-solutions/1_Timothy_2.12-14.php

5Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine), p. 937.

6Ibid, p. 945.

7Millard J. Erickson, “Christian Theology,” Second Edition, p. 564-565.

8Ibid, p. 565.

9Ibid, p. 565-566.

10Ibid, p. 564.

11Ibid.

Websites last accessed on 9th October 2019.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Do We Have An Adequate Understanding Of The Origin Of The First Life? No! (Part 2)


            How close are the scientists to understanding the mechanism behind the origins of the very first life?

            Scientists are clueless and none understand it, says Dr. James Tour. In fact, he is the one person who has the authority to make such an audacious statement.

            Dr. James Tour isn’t one of those scientists whose primary occupation is to write books and appear on TV shows. He makes molecules for a living, and he makes it ab initio. He is one of the ten most-cited chemists. He is an active synthetic organic chemist who has more than 130 patents and over 680 research publications. He is the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice University. He was named the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds by Thomson Reuters.1

            James Tour claims that scientists are clueless about the origins of the first life:2

I have written a long article on the origin of life: http://inference-review.com/article/animadversions-of-a-synthetic-chemist. It is clear, chemists and biologists are clueless. I wrote, “Those who think scientists understand the issues of prebiotic chemistry are wholly misinformed. Nobody understands them. Maybe one day we will. But that day is far from today. It would be far more helpful (and hopeful) to expose students to the massive gaps in our understanding. They may find a firmer—and possibly a radically different—scientific theory. The basis upon which we as scientists are relying is so shaky that we must openly state the situation for what it is: it is a mystery.”

            He goes on to say that scientists are clueless about the source of the information that’s required to build the first cell. In other words, no one knows where that information (to build the very first cell) could have come from. Dr. Tour writes:3

The information or coding within the DNA (or RNA) that corresponds to the sequence of the nucleic acids is primary to the entire discussion of life. Some would rightly argue that the information is even more fundamental than the matter upon which it is encoded. I merely showed that the requisite molecules (lipids, proteins, nucleic acids and carbohydrates) are so unlikely to have occurred in the states and quantities needed, that we could never have gotten to the point of figuring out the genesis of the requisite code or information. The code is analogous to the difference between the Library of Congress and a big box of alphabetic letters— the library has a huge amount of embedded information while the random box of letters has little. So origin of first life is the ‘nail holding the coffin closed’ on the emergence of biological evolution. Without that first life, or simple cell, which requires the four molecule types plus information, all proposals regarding biological evolution are without the base of life. And it is difficult to discuss biology without life.
But even if one were given all the molecules needed in complete stereochemical purity, and the information code, could a cell be constructed using the chemical and biochemical tools that we have today? I have written about such a hypothetic experiment, and how it would be impossible, using today’s expertise, to even construct the lipid bilayer, namely the exterior packaging that holds the cell’s nanomachinery in place. Just the lipid bilayer (which itself surrounds thousands of nanosystems) is beyond our ability to synthesize. The conclusion of that thought experiment is that “life based upon amino acids, nucleotides, saccharides and lipids is an anomaly. Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth.” “Yet we are led to believe that 3.8 billion years ago the requisite compounds could be found in some cave, or undersea vent, and somehow or other they assembled themselves into the first cell.”

            J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity enlightens us more about this dilemma:4

The building blocks of life (proteins, ribosomes, enzymes etc.) are formed at the direction of specific nucleotide sequencing in DNA, the largest molecule known. In humans, DNA contains as many as 10 billion atoms. The adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine bases in DNA are linked in a particular order to form the genetic code containing the master plan for every organism. The information in DNA guides and instructs the formation of proteins; without it, protein formation would be a haphazard, hit-or-miss proposal. The nucleic sequence in DNA is informational.
Physicist Paul Davies expresses it well: “Once this essential point is grasped, the real problem of biogenesis is clear. Since the heady successes of molecular biology, most investigators have sought the secret of life in the physics and chemistry of molecules. But they will look in vain for conventional physics and chemistry to explain life, for that is a classic case of confusing the medium with the message. The secret of life lies, not in its chemical basis, but in the logical and informational rules it exploits.”
Information in RNA and DNA presents a problem for researchers, especially those who propose RNA as the first molecule to appear through some combination of chance and chemical necessity (known as the “RNA World Hypothesis”). Even if RNA is a precursor to DNA, the first RNA molecules would have to be rich in information to replicate. Information must exist first, before any other transformational process can take place. Without the prior genetic information in DNA and RNA, nothing of significance happens within cells.
Nucleotide sequences are more than statistical gibberish. They are semantically, pragmatically, and apobetically significant sources of information (for more information on these categories of information, see my new book, God’s Crime Scene). The genetic sequence has meaning and directs action for a specific purpose.
Our personal experience tells us information comes only from intelligent sources. In fact, in the entire history of the universe (and the history of science) a single instance of information arising from anything other than intelligence has never been identified. This presents a problem for those who attempt to stay “in the room” of the universe to account for genetic information. If we limit ourselves to the materials available to us in the universe, information must be explained from matter, chance, the laws of chemistry or physics, and nothing more. Nobel winning biophysical chemist, Manfred Eigen recognized this challenge when he once said, “Our task is to find an algorithm, a natural law that leads to the origin of information.” Efforts to account for information in this way have repeatedly failed. In fact, the information in DNA proves to be the decisive stumbling block for every naturalistic theory offered for the origin of life.
…The chance arrangement of information in DNA is prohibitively improbable, and there are no chemical or physical laws at work to dictate its existence. We are left, then, with a paradox: the laws and forces of nature cannot produce information, but information is required for life to begin. As Paul Davies laments, “we are still left with the mystery of where biological information comes from . . . If the normal laws of physics can’t inject information, and if we are ruling out miracles, then how can life be predetermined and inevitable rather than a freak accident? How is it possible to generate random complexity and specificity together in a lawlike manner? We always come back to that basic paradox.”
Given the utter inability of chance or natural law, and our observations related to the origin of information, intelligence is the best explanation. But this requires us to look for an intelligent source transcending the limits of the physical universe. Scientists trying to account for information by staying “inside the room” seem to be rejecting the obvious. In order to create information, the author of this information must have the ability to select between possible alternatives. This ability to choose selectively requires intelligence, will, and purpose. Unguided physical processes simply cannot accomplish the task. German engineer and IT specialist, Werner Gitt summarizes it this way: “A necessary requirement for generating meaningful information is the ability to select from alternatives and this requires an intelligent, volitional entity . . . Unguided, random processes cannot do this—not in any amount of time—because this selection process demands continuous guidance by intelligent beings that have a purpose.”
The selection process required in the creation of information requires an intelligent, volitional free agent. That’s why the information in DNA most reasonably points to the existence of God. For a much more thorough description of this evidence, please refer to God’s Crime Scene, Chapter Three – The Origin of Life: Does the Text Require an Author?

            It’s sufficiently clear that OOL scientists are not even close to understanding the mechanism behind the origin of the first self-replicating life. Given this situation, James Tour exhorts his fellow scientists to admit that the scientific community is far from understanding the origins of the very first life:5

[J]OHN SUTHERLAND, one of OOL’s giants and the most skilled synthetic chemist to engage in OOL research, has recently proposed that “chemical determinism can no longer be relied on as a source of innovation, and further improvements have to be chanced upon instead.”31 Chanced upon? It appears that Sutherland has come to appreciate the depths of the problems facing OOL researchers. In 2017, Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy et al. showed that diamidophosphate can phosphorylate nucleosides, nucleotides, and stereo-scrambled lipid precursors. These can further result in the formation of random oligonucleotides and oligopeptides. The fundamental challenges with respect to synthesis and assembly remain unaddressed. Krishnamurthy was rightly measured in writing about “the pitfalls of extrapolating extant biochemical pathways backwards all the way to prebiotic chemistry and vice versa.”32 In 2018, Clemens Richert argued that “the ideal experiment does not involve any human intervention.”33 This is a step in the right direction. So, too, is the fact that he scrupled at the pure chemicals used by the OOL community.
It is time for a temporary time out. Why not admit what we cannot yet explain: the mass transfer of starting materials to the molecules needed for life; the origin of life’s code; the combinatorial complexities present in any living system; and the precise nonregular assembly of cellular components?
It would be helpful if leading researchers, among them very sophisticated synthetic chemists, were to step back, pause, and join forces. If the origins of life remain a mystery, two goals are within reach: an agreement about the rational standards by which OOL research should be judged, and a candid acknowledgment of the problems that remain to be overcome. A statement of this sort would be reassuring in its candor.34

Endnotes:

1https://www.jmtour.com/about/resume/

2https://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/evolution-creation/

3Ibid.

4https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/why-the-information-in-our-dna-points-to-the-existence-of-god/

5https://inference-review.com/article/time-out

Websites last accessed on 29th September 2019.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Do We Have An Adequate Understanding Of The Origin Of The First Life? No! (Part 1)


            ‘Origins of Life’ (OOL) research is a precursor to the theme of evolution. Any discussion on evolution is moot when OOL scientists are clueless as to the origin of the very first life.

            A USD 10 million prize is up for grabs! Anyone who can answer the question ‘Where did life come from?’ and ‘Where did the genetic code come from?’ can receive the prize money from Evolution 2.0.1

            What do our naturalist friends offer (from the atheistic or the scientific materialistic bandwagon) as answers to the question, how did the very first [self-replicating] life originate?

            Acclaimed atheist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins is clueless. In response to a question, ‘What areas excite you in terms of future breakthroughs in evolutionary theory?’ Dawkins replied, “The origin of life. The origin of the first self-replicating information is key to the whole process. It's a somewhat baffling question and is a problem of chemistry rather than the biology I am used to. I would like to see that solved – perhaps it won't be with total certainty, but I would hope to see a theory so beautifully plausible that it kind of has to be true. One would hope for a chemical model that makes us say "yes!". That would be wonderful.”2

            American astrophysicist and science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson is also clueless, “However, Tyson is quick to point out that we don’t understand the most vital component of evolution — the beginning. “We still don’t know how we go from organic molecules to self-replicating life,” Tyson said, and he noted how unfortunate this is because “that is basically the origin of life as we know it.” The process is called abiogenesis. In non-scientific jargon, it deals with how life arises from nonliving matter. Although we have a number of hypotheses related to this process, we don’t have a comprehensive understanding or any evidence to support one.”3

            A cursory glance at the Abiogenesis page4 of Wikipedia will send any layman into a tailspin. From outer space to earth, OOL scientists postulate an extremely wide variety of theories/models!

            Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace has abbreviated these models for the consumption of a lay man:5

In my…book, God’s Crime Scene: A Homicide Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe, I make a comprehensive case for the existence of God from eight pieces of evidence in the universe. In Chapter Three (The Origin of Life: Does the Text Require an Author?), I describe the futility scientists have experienced when trying to identify the location in the universe where life might have originated without the intercession and involvement of an Intelligent Designer. The origin of life requires the emergence of pre-biotic molecules (amino acids and nucleotide bases). Where could this have happened? Could life have originated from “inside the room” of the natural universe? If so, where, and is there a better explanation for the origin of life “outside the room” of the universe?
… Here is a very brief summary of the failed attempts to locate a reasonable naturalistic point of origin:
Could Life Have Started in the Atmosphere?
You may remember the famous 1952 Miller-Urey experiment from your high school or undergraduate biology class. Stanley Miller and Harold Urey mixed ammonia, methane, water vapor, and hydrogen and passed an electric charge through the circulating gases. Within a week, they found several types of amino acids had been created. This experiment later became the “poster child” for a naturalistic explanation of the basic building blocks of life. Many believed it proved amino acids could be formed naturally in the atmosphere of the early earth. But with the evidence we now have about the conditions of the early atmosphere, we know the gases used by Miller and Urey were not present in the quantity or proportion they used. While this experiment may have some historical significance, it does not prove life could originate in the atmosphere. In fact, scientists now believe the early atmosphere simply could not produce amino acids at any significant or necessary level.
Could It Have Started in Water?
Like the Miller-Urey experiment, the concept of an ancient “primordial soup” is an iconic fixture in most entry-level biology textbooks. Soviet biologist Alexander Oparin first proposed the idea in 1924, arguing “chemical evolution” took place in the Earth’s early waters, resulting in the formation of amino acids, then primitive proteins. But aside from the fact we have no physical evidence to support the existence of a “primordial soup,” we now know the “chicken and egg” relationship between proteins and polymer chains (DNA) makes their simultaneous appearance in water extremely unlikely (to put it mildly). In addition, the absence of significant sources of phosphate for the early formation of DNA, RNA or ATP is prohibitive in this environment. Worse yet, there would be no way to limit the proportion of left and right “handed” amino acids, nucleotides and sugars in the “primordial soup”, making the formation of DNA and RNA molecules exceedingly difficult.
Could It Have Started On Land?
Some researchers have proposed a scenario in which local terrestrial conditions, such as those occurring in clay, might capture water on occasion, allowing the necessary molecules to form and interact. But when trying to recreate these conditions in the laboratory, scientists have come to realize the impossibility of stabilizing the environment to allow for the formation of the necessary cellular components.
Could It Have Started In the Earth?
Some scientists have proposed an underground location for the origin of life where molecular formation would be protected from water and atmospheric interference. But the underground locations available in the early earth would have been incredibly hostile to the formation of bio-chemical precursors, proteins and RNA. Just as problematic would be imagining a scenario in which these primitive forms of life could then transition from their underground origin to their eventual homes above ground.
Could It Have Started In Space?
Some scientists, frustrated with the lack of progress locating a reasonable earthly source for pre-biotic molecules, have turned their attention to outer space. But even if the basic building blocks for life, amino acids, were delivered to earth in a meteorite, this would still fail to explain how the simple molecules formed into the more complex proteins and nucleic acids necessary for life, given the “chicken and egg” problem (refer to Chapter Three of God’s Crime Scene). And if these more complex organic elements came to us from space, how did they originate there and how could they survive the entry into earth’s atmosphere?
…There’s a reason why scientists are so divided over the location of life’s origin: None of the proposed environments offer a viable, reasonable explanation. Arizona State Cosmologist Paul Davies agrees: “Origin-of-life researchers cannot identify any location on primordial Earth suitable for production of pre-biotic molecules.” Every effort to stay “inside the room” of the natural universe to explain the origin of life simply fails…
            So on one hand, the spokespersons for naturalism are clueless about the origins of life. But on the other hand, there are many models for origins of life and moreover, the media continues to announce that there has been a breakthrough discovery here and there that could possibly explain the origins of life.

            Are the OOL scientists close to understanding the Origins of Life conundrum?

            More to follow…

Endnotes:

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJSCBeLD05M

2https://www.rsb.org.uk/biologist-interviews/162-biologist/biologist-interviews/515-richard-dawkins

3https://futurism.com/neil-degrasse-tyson-universe

4https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis#Panspermia

5https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/can-naturalists-explain-where-life-originated/

Websites last accessed on 28th September 2019.                   

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Debunking Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s False Assertions About Jesus – Part 2


Why Worship Jesus?

            Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s possibly ignorant or deceptive rants against Jesus persist.

            Sadhguru said (and I paraphrase) that Jesus is worshipped for his virtues of grace, patience and tolerance.1

            Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity would emphatically deny this thought.

            Jesus is not worshipped for a specific set of attributes. Jesus is worshipped because HE is God.

            Sadhguru’s New Age worldview would permit him to term Jesus as a god (not God) - one among the many gods in the divine-stable of the henotheist-panentheistic-polytheistic2 Hinduism, which is one of the many sources from which the New Age movement borrows its tenets.

Call Jesus Shiva?

            Regarding Jesus’ identity, Sadhguru said, “…which we can call Jesus or Shiva or whatever you like…”3

            Sadhguru’s henotheist-panentheistic-polytheistic persuasion permits him to call Jesus as Shiva and what-not!

            To stress this notion again, being eclectic in nature, the New Age movement draws its religious views from many religious sources, even if they are fundamentally contradictory. Hinduism is one such religious source. Therefore, a New Ager, from only within his worldview, can term Jesus as Shiva.

            However, it is blasphemous for a Christian to call Jesus as Shiva. Jesus is God-incarnate. HE is the second person of the blessed Trinity. HE is the Christ, the Messiah, “Then Jesus and his disciples went to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said, “John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.” (Mark 8: 27-30, NET).

            Therefore, calling Jesus Shiva will intensely offend the religious sentiment of every Christian who subscribes to Historic Christianity.

Jesus A Good Man?

            First, here’s C.S Lewis to those who consider Jesus as a good man or as a good teacher, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse….You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Emphasis Mine).4

            Second, here’s what Sadhguru said, “Even Jesus is not a good man. Wonderful. Not a good man. Anybody who disturbs the existing situation is not a good man, isn’t it?...Jesus is not a good man. Maybe he’s wonderful, but not a good man.”5

            He probably knows this Scripture passage wherein Jesus questioned why HE should be called good, “Now as Jesus was starting out on his way, someone ran up to him, fell on his knees, and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:17-18, NET).

            Sadhguru deems Jesus as not a good man because Jesus Christ did disturb the religious sentiments of the Jews. How?

            HE claimed to be God!

            The testimony of the Jews is sufficient, “When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said, “You take him and crucify him! Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!” The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”” (John 19: 6-7, NET).

            That’s why the Jews crucified the Lord Jesus Christ!

            Because Jesus is God!

            The God-incarnate Jesus also lived a sinless life. So HE was certainly a good man from a moral perspective.

            Jesus came to seek and save the lost. HE was a good man because HE performed HIS task.

            Jesus was indeed a good man!

Debunking New Age

            Christians are succumbing to the lure of the New Age movement. Hence, they should be liberated from this worldview that stands in stark opposition to Historic Christianity.

            Pew Research Center’s survey states that approximately 60% of Christians in the USA believe in one or more of the New Age beliefs, “But many Christians also hold what are sometimes characterized as “New Age” beliefs – including belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees…While eight-in-ten Christians say they believe in God as described in the Bible, six-in-ten believe in one or more of the four New Age beliefs analyzed here, ranging from 47% of evangelical Protestants to roughly seven-in-ten Catholics and Protestants in the historically black tradition.”6

            This article strives to defend the actuality of the second person of the blessed trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, from Sadhguru’s false portrayal. 

            Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev speaks on behalf of the New Age worldview. Hence, it is imperative to understand the basics of the New Age and follow the reasons that reveal the ideological fragility of the New Age.

            An excerpt from an article entitled The New Age Movement (Pantheism and Monism) in the website of the Christian apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis provides sound reasons to debunk the New Age movement: 7

… This worldview centers on monism (all is one), pantheism (all is God), and mysticism (the experience of oneness with the divine).
Along with these primary core beliefs are some secondary characteristics that are true of most New Agers. For example, most New Agers are highly eclectic. By this I mean that New Agers typically draw their religious and philosophical ideas from a variety of religious sources. They consult holy books like the Bible and the Hindu Vedas, but also feel free to consult psychics and channelers, whose “revelations” from spirit guides are considered just as authoritative as those found in holy books. They have no hesitation in consulting astrologers and others who practice the occultic arts of necromancy, palm readings, ball gazing, tarot cards, etc.
Not surprisingly, New Agers are also syncretistic. By this I mean that New Agers combine and synthesize religious and philosophical ideas from Jesus, the Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, alleged “space brothers” aboard UFOs, Ascended Masters who live on planet Venus, and many others. New Agers believe there is truth in all religions and religious traditions. This willingness to pick and choose what they believe from various sources of enlightenment is a vivid demonstration of the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of the worldview.
Most New Agers are also transformational on two levels. First, New Agers believe that personal transformation takes place when a human being recognizes his or her oneness with all things in the universe. Second, planetary transformation takes place when a critical mass of human beings come into this same awareness. We are allegedly transforming—or transitioning—into a New Age with a new consciousness…
Debunking New Age Claims
Someone said that the New Age movement is a target-rich environment when it comes to opportunities for critique. In what follows, I will provide a brief biblical response to some of the primary ideas set forth in the movement.
All religions do not teach the same truths. One cannot rationally claim that the various world religions are teaching the same basic truths. This becomes evident by examining key doctrines in each religion. The doctrine of God is a good example. The Christian Bible reveals that there is one personal God who is triune in nature (Matthew 28:19; Mark 12:29; Romans 8:15). The Muslim Quran teaches there is only one God, but God cannot have a son, and there is no Trinity. The writings of Confucius affirm polytheism (there are many gods). Krishna taught a combination of polytheism and pantheism (all is god). Zoroaster set forth religious dualism (there is both a good god and a bad god). Buddha taught that the concept of God was essentially irrelevant. Clearly, the world’s major religions hold completely contradictory views regarding the nature of God. The same is true in their view of Jesus and their view of salvation. This means that the New Age claim that all the religions teach the same basic truths is wishful thinking.
New Age meditation can be injurious. New Age (Eastern) meditation’s stated goal of transforming one’s state of mind into a monistic (“all is one”), if not an outright pantheistic (“all is God”), outlook lies in direct contradiction to the biblical view of the eternal distinction between God the Creator and His creatures (Isaiah 44:6–8; Hebrews 2:6–8). Moreover, Christian experts in occultism note that altered states of consciousness (which occurs in New Age meditation) can open one up to spiritual affliction and deception by the powers of darkness… Christians ought to practice biblical meditation. This involves objective contemplation and deep reflection on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8) as well as God’s person and faithfulness (Psalm 119, see also 19:14, 48:9, 77:12, 104:34, 143:5).
Human beings are not divine. Contrary to the New Age claim that human beings are God, Scripture portrays them as creatures who are responsible to their Creator (Genesis 1–2; Psalm 100:3). Because human beings are creatures, they are intrinsically weak, helpless, and dependent upon God (you may wish to consult 2 Corinthians 3:5 and John 15:5). The recognition of creaturehood should lead human beings to humility and a worshipful attitude (Psalm 95:6–7). They have confused the fact that we are made in the image of the divine God (Genesis 1:26–27, 9:6) with falsely being equated to the divine God.
One cannot avoid asking, If human beings are God, then why do we have to buy and read New Age books to find out about it? Wouldn’t we already know it? The fact that a person comes to realize he is God proves that he is not God. For if he truly were God, he would never have passed from a state of ignorance to a state of enlightenment as to his divine nature.
Human beings are fallen in sin and need to be saved. Contrary to the New Age claim that human beings are God and merely need enlightenment about this reality, the biblical truth is that human beings have a grave sin problem that is altogether beyond their means to solve. Human beings are sinners (Isaiah 64:6; Luke 15:10), are lost (Luke 19:10), are capable of great wickedness (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:20–23; Luke 11:42–52), and are in need of repentance before a holy God (Mark 1:15; Luke 15:10). Because of sin, human beings are blind (Matthew 15:14, 23:16–26), enslaved in bondage (John 8:34), and live in darkness (John 3:19–21, 8:12, 12:35–46).
Jesus came into the world to offer a salvation based on grace. The word grace literally means “unmerited favor.” Unmerited means this favor cannot be worked for. Grace refers to the undeserved, unearned favor of God. Romans 5:1–11 tells us that God gives His incredible grace to those who actually deserve the opposite—that is, condemnation. Eternal life cannot be earned. It is a free gift of grace that comes through faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself put it, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” (John 6:47; see also John 3:15, 5:24, 11:25, 12:46, 20:31).
Jesus is the only way. While the Jesus of the New Age is open to all religions, the Jesus of the Bible is God’s exclusive means of salvation. Speaking of Jesus, a bold Peter proclaimed, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). The Apostle Paul affirmed, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus also warned His followers about those who would try to set forth a different “Christ” (Matthew 24:4–5). Truly, Jesus is the only way of salvation, and the only Jesus who has revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture.

Endnotes:

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVmirUq74Lk | What Sadhguru Says About Jesus | Sadhguru Ramayana | Sadhguru Latest On Lord Rama; 6:39; Published Dec 9, 2018

2Henotheism is the belief in and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or the possible existence of other deities that may also be served.

Panentheism meaning "all-in-God", also known as Monistic Monotheism, is a belief system which posits that the divine – whether as a single God, number of gods, or other form of "cosmic animating force" – interpenetrates every part of the universe and extends, timelessly (and, presumably, spacelessly) beyond it.

Polytheism refers to the worship of or belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/sanatanhindusite/hinduism-monotheistic

3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWfmGLtu5lE (Jesus Has to Rise Within You – Sadhguru; 0:56; Published Dec 24, 2018

4https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/who-is-jesus-god-or-just-a-good-man.html

5https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWfmGLtu5lE (Jesus Has to Rise Within You – Sadhguru; 1:08; Published Dec 24, 2018

6https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/01/new-age-beliefs-common-among-both-religious-and-nonreligious-americans/

7https://answersingenesis.org/world-religions/new-age-movement-pantheism-monism/

Websites last accessed on 21st September 2019.