Monday, 17 October 2016

Monday quote

Here is the worldly formula for happiness: Love things, use people. You want to know the right formula? Love people, use things.

Arthur Brooks

Monday, 10 October 2016

Monday quote

There is a determined though unseen bravery that defends itself foot by foot in the darkness against the fatal invasions of necessity and dishonesty. Noble and mysterious triumphs that no eye sees, and no fame rewards, and no flourish of triumph salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battlefields which have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious heroes.

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Monday, 3 October 2016

Monday quote

This movement calls itself feminism for the same reason those who eschew meat call themselves vegetarians: the movements are named after what they consume, not what they protect.

John C Wright

Monday, 26 September 2016

Monday quote

Sheer tragedy is when people become so accustomed to the mercy of God that they despise it—even, and especially, in the act of seeking it.

Dale Ralph Davis, Such a Great Salvation.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Monday quote

To the degree I feel good when exposing the sin of another person, I am exploiting, not restoring.

Jeanne Mayo.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Monday quote

Yet what was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery.

Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Believing men persuaded

Men in Antioch preached the gospel and many became Christians. This was shortly after Peter preached to Cornelius' household and defended the inclusion of the Gentiles amongst those whom were to have life in Jesus' name.
But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:20-21)
This is an interesting passage, though variously translated. The KJV and many that follow it join the act of believing with coming to the Lord. The NIV does likewise.
  • KJV | And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
  • NKJV | And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
  • NRSV | The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.
  • NIV | The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
Thus the passage would be saying that a great number Hellenists were persuaded by the men of Cyrene and Cyprus and as a result turned to the Lord.

Though the ASV and several recent translations connect turning the the Lord with antecedent faith.
  • ASV | And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number that believed turned unto the Lord.
  • RSV | And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord.
  • ESV | And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
  • LEB | And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.
  • NET | The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number (ἀριθμὸς) who believed (πιστεύσας) turned to the Lord.
Although the people could have just believed the message and thus turned to the Lord, are they believers? The question is: were they persuaded and therefore believed? or were believing men persuaded?

The NET study note says,
The participle πιστεύσας (pisteusas) is articular and thus cannot be adverbial. It is adjectival, modifying ἀριθμός (arithmos), but has been translated into English as a relative clause (“who believed”). 
I suspect that the study note is saying that the word "believing" is joined to the word "number" so it must be an describing the great number of people. The phrase could be translated "...a great believing-number turned to the Lord."

We have a potentially important distinction in this passage and elsewhere. The Great Commission was to tell the world about Jesus so that men may repent and be baptised; that they may become disciples; that they may have life in his name. This is quite obvious in our current age. Even so, the time of the New Testament was a time of transition. Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah. He is the true Israel. Christianity was in its infancy. So what are we to make of the faithful of that time? Anna and Simeon in the temple, the disciples, the family of Jesus (even they did not believe him (John 7:5)), Cornelius and other God-fearers. These people were part of God's kingdom but had yet to come to trust in Jesus. While it is true that many of the lost repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus for their salvation, there were others who were part of the kingdom but who were ignorant of how Jesus fulfilled the Messianic promises.

Could not these Hellenists* be men who were believers in the One True God, and because they were so, when Christ is preached they believe also in him? Could this not also be the situation with God-fearers among the Greeks?
Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Jesus had said that he had sheep in other folds before his death and resurrection (John 10:16). Jesus had told some Jews that everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to him (John 6:45), and told others that if God were their Father they would love him (John 8:42).

There were many people who loved God and on learning about Jesus loved him also, and turning to him, entrusted their lives to him.

*If the word is "Hellenists" then this would refer to the godly Greek-speaking Jews in Antioch, or perhaps proselytes. If the word is "Greeks" then this would refer to the Greek God-fearers in Antioch.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Monday quote

Christianity makes sense of who we are in the world. All of us need a framework in which to understand reality, and part of Christianity's appeal is that it is a worldview that makes things fit together. Science and reason are seamlessly integrated in a Christian framework, because modern science emerged from a Christian framework.

Dinesh D'Souza, What's so Great about Christianity.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Starlight and time

One of the most frequent examples criticising creationism that I encounter is the starlight problem and the age of the earth. Perhaps this is somewhat understandable in that the problem is relatively well understood, and is a real problem. They are not critical of the horizon problem which again may be understandable because the horizon problem is known about by many and not quite so easily understood. Nevertheless, both problems: distant starlight and a young earth; and the horizon problem, are starlight problems.

The starlight problem is this. God can create with an appearance of age, but most suggest that it would be at the level of what is required for a mature creation. So God creating several different types of rock as a foundation for the earth is reasonable even if that may appear to some to be a feature of age. But to claim that fossils of animals within rocks were created in the position to make it appear like they were buried despite never existing seems non-congruent with God’s nature. Most creationists, and most people, think fossils represent real animals.

Now God also created stars and they are a long way away. Adam would not have seen them until the light travelled here from the star. Now God could have created the light in transit which I think is fits with necessity of appearance of age. God made the stars for a purpose which involves seeing the star so creating the star and the starlight at the same time may be necessary. The problem with created light is that this light carries information. It carries information about what each star is made from, how fast it spins, when it becomes brighter (nova), and when it explodes (supernova), etc. Now I happen to think that the first 2 of these pieces of “information” (composition and spin) are legitimate to put into created light in transit, they represent the star as it is. But putting in information for the star’s destruction if it never happened seems a little like creating fossils of animals that never existed. Thus creationists think that supernova represent true star destruction. And supernovas more than 6000 light-years away should not be visible in a world only 6000 years old.

So the problem is: how did the light get from the star to earth in so short a period? How did light from a star more than 6000 light-years away get to earth in less than 6000 years. Now this is a real problem. However the stellar evolutionists have exactly the same kind of problem: the horizon problem.

The temperature of space is uniform and there is not enough time for light to have travelled across space to equalise temperatures, even after billions of years. This is well recognised by evolutionists and is called the “horizon problem.” The temperature of space in all directions is much more symmetrical than it should be.

Before we propose any solutions what is extremely important to note is that both creation theory and stellar evolutionary theory have a light travel time problem.

Even if we do not know what the solution is, it is logically invalid to dismiss creationism because of the light travel problem in favour of evolution when it has exactly the same problem. Goose and gander and all.

As it so happens, solutions are proposed by both schools. One may favour one over another, but if your solution has no scientific validation, it is tenuous to use the solution as proof of the truth of your theory. All you can do is claim you have rescued your theory.

The main solution of evolutionists for the light transit problem is the inflationary big bang model.

Creationists have proposed
  • c decay
  • white hole cosmology
  • Carmeli cosmology
While c decay (slowing of the speed of light) is out of favour with most creationists, I have some time for it.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Monday quote

Punching someone in the face is on my bucket list. If I have to, I’ll punch the nurse at my death bed.

Maggie Spiegel (age 11).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Monday quote

There are ultimately only two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire.

E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Monday quote

And if there is any lesson that modern culture has taught us, it is that we have a right to our offenses, however we construe them. Offenses have become a form of currency. And, like the other fiat currencies, they succumb to hyperinflation.


Monday, 8 August 2016

Monday quote

Better the world know you as a sinner than God know you as a hypocrite.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Monday quote

We celebrate authenticity in vice over inconsistency in virtue.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Is the Bible historical?

Modern history as a discipline makes certain demands on the source material although this is also somewhat dependant on the underlying philosophy that one subscribes to. As a word "history" refers to the events that antedate us.

Fundamentally history can be considered as a question of truth concerning the events of the past. Now all narrative is flavoured by the author, even if it is just that way certain events are placed adjacent or separate in the story which may suggest that a correlation is or is not causative. Further, as various histories differ, or change over time, some postmoderns have argued that we cannot know history at all.

Ignoring the epistemological question, the change over time reflects some aspects of history more than others. Consider World War 1. Various histories could debate what they thought were the predominant causes for that war depending on underlying presuppositions, and how they weigh the significance of various events; but all histories would agree that there was a war throughout Europe between 1914 and 1918.

So while historians are interested in the why, the events and dates of history often stand on firmer ground. As often stated, chronology is the backbone of history.

A couple of problems that one could have in analysing Scripture is the lack of corroborating material for some events, and the way that certain events are narrated.

As a question of truth, the narrative portions of the Bible are presented as historical fact. It is history in that sense, and it is unreasonable to ask tho ancients to write in a format that moderns have come to prefer.

As to the way events are narrated and God's involvement in history, many moderns have an anti-supernatural bias which may lead them to minimise or discount biblical narrative.

This brings us to the corroboration question. In many ways this is just a question of certainty: the more (independent) people who discuss an event, the greater our confidence in it. Though true, we can only work with what we have. It is faulty to think that lack of further sources call into question a source. Rather we can hold something tentatively or securely depending on what knowledge is to be had.

That said, there are some considerations with Scripture that speak to its veracity. Firstly, there are some corroborations external to Scripture that confirm what Scripture says; both written sources and archaeological reconstructions. Secondly, when an author is shown to be reliable in one area it is reasonable to think him reliable elsewhere. Thirdly, negative features suggest reliability. It is one thing to diss the foreigners, another to reveal the warts of your own people. The frank honesty of the authors of Scripture with regard to the failures of both the leaders and the citizens of Israel is unusual.


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