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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For the Love of God: Why Christians Should Not Vote for President Obama in November

Among those Christians who tend toward either liberalism or non-traditionalism, and especially black Christians, the "progressive" Barack Obama seems like a viable candidate for president.

I am going to do my hardest to dispel that myth

I hold that President Obama has exhibited a pattern of implementing policies that inhibit, stigmatize, or otherwise go against Christian values and thus should not get a single vote from anyone who considers himself a follower of Jesus Christ.

Let me be crystal clear that this is not a pro-Romney, pro-Ron Paul, or pro-any-one-person post.

My focus is on the president and his actions.

I believe that the issues facing our country are far too grave to simply cast a thoughtless vote for any candidate who seems good enough or has a certain letter in front of his name.

I agree with the theologian Dr. Jack Cottrell when he writes:

"The only real issue between Obama and Romney is this: which one wants government to do what God wants it to do, according to Romans 13:1ff. and 1 Tim. 4:1-4? I.e., which one wants government to protect the rights of every citizen, to defend us from those who want to violate those rights, to enable us to lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity?" (emphasis mine)

And nowhere does the president more clearly fail this test than with respect to the issue of the right-to-life.

Not only are his pro-choice views outside the mainstream of American culture, but that of biblical orthodoxy, as well.

 Scripture clearly affirms the dignity of every human person, so it is verboten for a Christian to support widespread violations of that dignity.

Here are some verses that illustrate this point:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them"-- Genesis 1:27 ( mankind is made in the very image of God)

"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets"-- Matthew 7:12 (we are to treat people in kind with how we wish to be treated)

 "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?"-- 1 John 3:17  (God's love compels is to help our brother in need)

 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward"-- Psalm 127:3 (children are a gift from God, as opposed to a burden)

  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous"-- Matthew 5:43-45 (hating another human is not a viable option for a believer)

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world"-- James 1:27 (true religion cares for those in need)

 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God"-- Micah 6:8 (God has charged us to be just and merciful)

With this in mind, how does President Obama's record on life square with the biblical exhortations to love, care for, and be merciful toward our fellow man?

 (1.) According to the Washington Post fact checker, then Senator Obama voted "present" twice on a vote to ban partial birth abortion 1997, during his time in the Illnois senate.

The partial birth or D&E method is described as such:

This procedure is used to abort women who are 20 to 32 weeks pregnant -- or even later into pregnancy. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist reaches into the uterus, grabs the unborn baby’s leg with forceps, and pulls the baby into the birth canal, except for the head, which is deliberately kept just inside the womb. (At this point in a partial-birth abortion, the baby is alive).

A partial-birth abortion portrayal.

  Then the abortionist jams scissors into the back of the baby’s skull and spreads the tips of the scissors apart to enlarge the wound. After removing the scissors, a suction catheter is inserted into the skull and the baby’s brains are sucked out. The collapsed head is then removed from the uterus.

Does it sound caring, loving, or merciful to suck out the brains of a baby who could at that moment be delivered and survive outside the womb?

Certainly not.

Understandably, such a procedure is illegal in many states.

(2.) In 2001 Senator Obama voted "present" twice on bills that would require parental notification before a minor could receive an abortion.

Is it too much to ask that a parent be informed about a major medical procedure that could fundamentally change or even ruin the life of their under-age child and kill their grandchild?
(3.)  Even more horrifying is that twice as a senator, Obama voted "present" on a bill that would give proper medical attention to babies born alive due to an abortion procedure gone wrong.

This is simply beyond the pale.

We're not talking about a baby in the womb, but a baby that has survived a botched abortion procedure and, like any newborn, is in need of basic care.

In my state of Illinois such children were left to die, and the President, then a senator, didn't care enough about those babies to vote a simple "yes" on the bill.

 You may think that President Obama should get a pass because he voted "present" on those bills rather than "no".

However, it is common knowledge that voting "present" (especially in Illinios) was/is an admitted  political tactic to keep politicians from being marginalized and stigmatized come further elections, not a moral decision.

Will believers cast their vote for man who puts party and politics before the lives of newborn children?

God forbid it!

(4.) As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama opposed a bill that would ban abortions being conducted on the basis of sex, as we often see in China.

(5.) The Patient Affordable Care and Protection Act or Obamacare has in it provisions for tax-payer funded abortions.

(6.) In addition the Obama administration's Health and Human Services mandate would force religious institutions, such as Christian hospitals and schools, to cover the cost of abortion inducing drugs.

To recap:  The president opposed bills that would...

  -Allow infants born alive after a botched abortion procedure to   receive medical attention.
  - Ban the grisly partial birth abortion procedure 
  - Grant parents the right to be informed of and give consent for their minor's abortion.
  - Ban sex-selective abortions.

And instituted legislation that would...

-Force tax-payers to fund abortions and embryonic stem cell research.
 - Force religious institutions to cover the cost of abortion causing drugs.

This abject disregard for human life cannot be reconciled with the God's high view of human dignity.

The two are totally contradictory.

I thought long and hard about other issues that I could write about that show President Obama's disregard for Christian faith and values, but if believers cannot be persuaded to not vote for a man who's moral compass would not compel him to speak or vote against infanticide then nothing will.

Whether it be his irresponsible use of drones in the Middle East, his derision of traditional marriage, his restricting of religious freedom in the military, or open mockery and misrepresentation of the Word of of God, this President has shown himself to be an enemy of those who seek to better know and follow God and who wish to see themselves fairly represented at the highest level of the U.S government.

And so armed with this knowledge, we have a choice before us this election: to support life and liberty or President Obama.

Our Christian belief extends to all areas of our life, including politics, which means even our vote must be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

So if you love the Lord and His commands,  I pray you will abstain from casting your vote for President Obama this November and encourage other believers to do the same.

For God's sake and for the sake of all of us, who will reap the repercussions of for more years of President Barack Hussein Obama.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down: In Defense of the Afterlife

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

 The surest fact about our existence is that it will end.

Sooner or later everyone will die.

You and I will die.

This is our shared terminal diagnosis.

The only question left is whether death serves as the end of human existence or an entrance into the "afterlife"?

As a Christian, I am firm believer in life after death and I hold that we have good reasons to believe in this central theistic doctrine.

The theme of this post was inspired by a Youtube video I watched by Youtuber Mr. Repzion (Daniel Sulzbach?)

Mr. Repzion is a former professing believer and is contemplating issues of death, the soul, and the hereafter.

I pray this post will challenge seekers and encourage my Christian brothers and sisters who eagerly await the resurrection promised us by the grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Dualism as Evidence for the Afterlife

 The philosophy of substance dualism states that humans have a mind (or soul) independent of and non-identical to our body/brain, which forms one part of our dual human nature (ie: body and soul) .

Dualism stands in direct contrast to physicalism which asserts that only physical entities exist (ie: those things that can be described by the language of physics and chemistry) as well as property-event dualism which holds that the human brain contains and causes all mental properties.

If substance dualism is true then it lends itself nicely to hope of life after death because if the mind exists apart from the body then the mind can "go on" after the body is dead.

So why should we prefer substance dualism over physicalism?

I've "tampered" with 4 reasons to reject physicalism that were given (among others) in the book "Philosphical Foundations for a Christian Worldview" in order to make them more accessible for the reader.
REASON 1.  While an outsider may have access to all of our physical properties, at least some of our mental properties are only privately accessible.

A doctor can ravage a human body, probe its brain, and come away knowing all about it's physical properties, but at least some of it's mental properties (ie:  experience of sensations, propositional attitudes etc.) must be divulged.

REASON 2: In addition, while one may always be mistaken about the physical, one cannot always be mistaken about the mental.

For example, if I see a white sheet flapping in the wind and I think it's a ghost, while I am most certainly mistaken about the nature of the sheet (physical object), I could not be mistaken that I, at least, thought I saw a ghost (mental state).

Therefore, It may be said that I can know at least some of my thoughts incorrigibly or without error.

REASON 3: While being of or about something means nothing to physical properties, it does mean something to mental properties.

While my thoughts can be about or of Glee's Naya Rivera, such as 'Naya is simply stunning!', this relationship means nothing to my brain or any of my other physical properties.
So we can say that ofness or aboutness is unique to mental properties.

REASON 4: While our minds do stand in a causal relationships with our bodies (imagine your mental state after being roundhoused by Chuck Norris!) not all of our mental properties are conditioned by the physical.

I am typing this blog, not because of any physical property, but because I exercised a will or purposing to do so.

For these reasons we can conclude that the mind is not indentical to the brain. 

 Now why should we reject property-event dualism?

Well, If mental properties are produced by the brain (much like fire produces smoke) and controlled by physical properties, as is the case on PED, then human beings have no free-will, moral responsibility, ability, or accountability.  

We are simply bodies responding to stimuli.

This idea is, of course, false.

Not only because (1.) moral intuition and general experience give strong testimony to the reality of free-will, moral responsibility, ability, and accountability, but (2.) PED implies universal causal determinism which cannot be rationally affirmed and is thus self-refuting

So much more could be said about all of this, but I think we can rightly conclude that substance dualism is indeed a true representation of the human composition.

 Given this fact, it is perfectly acceptable to hold that the human mind need not to die with the body, but can live on after the body is dead.

The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth

As a believer, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is absolutely central to my faith and my belief in the afterlife.

For if Jesus was indeed who said he was and was raised from the dead as he said he would be, then certainly we may have the hope of such a resurrection too.

I don't care who you are; that is an exciting prospect!  

 The argument is as follows:

1. There are four established facts concerning the fate of Jesus of Nazereth: his honorable burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the discovery of his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and
the origin of his disciples’ belief in the resurrection.

2. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” is the best explanation of these facts.

3. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” entails that God exists.

4. Therefore God exists.

 While this is an argument for the existence of God it is clear that, if true, the argument proves the reality of life after death.

  Now many natural explanations have been invoked to try to explain the facts surrounding Jesus' death:

"The disciples stole the body"

"Jesus wasn't really dead"

"The disciples made it all up"

"Jesus never really existed"
 But all of these reasons fail in explanatory scope and power.

If the disciples made the resurrection up, why did they go to gruesome tortuous deaths for this belief.

Not to mention, the concept of a risen Messiah was completely foreign to the Jews at the time (and still is to many today!).

In addition, it is highly improbable that Jesus survived Roman crucifixion, but even if he did, a half-dead "Messiah" in desperate need of doctor would not engender lifelong support from hundreds of Jews who were expecting a conquering hero that would defeat the Romans.

The belief that Jesus never existed is not to be taken seriously.

And on and on it goes.

If we look at the facts honestly and in view of the arguments for God's existence, I think we can see that the best explanation of the facts concerning Jesus' death was that he was indeed raised by God from dead, which entails the existence of life after death.

              Closing thoughts

I will reiterate that there is much more that could be said about all of this.

I welcome and invite on-point comments and please feel free to send me an e-mail about any pertinent questions you have or leave them in the comment box below.

If Mr. Repizon or anyone else who may be struggling with idea of the hereafter is reading this, I pray the you will continue your search for truth.

Don't give up, for I believe that resurrection which Jesus underwent is available to you on behalf of a loving God!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bill Nye the Confused Guy: A Response to Bill Nye on Darwinism.

While this post may be "a day late and a dollar short", I finally got around to watch the "controversial" Bill Nye the Science Guy video by "Big Think" on "evolution deniers" and decided to offer some thoughts on the video.

Bill makes writing a response to the video difficult because he refuses to define his terms and let the listener know just what exactly he's talking about.

When he says evolution does he mean simple change over time (which all sides agree is indicative of life) or the idea that life on earth originated from a primordial common ancestor and has progressed by way of billions of years of random mutation dictated by natural selection (an idea of which there is debate).

Here's the video: 

At one point in the video, Nye says that "your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution" and then precedes to put forth a line of evidence that has nothing to do with proving Darwinian evolution, but is best suited showing that the earth is not young.

He references things like "deep time", "ancient dinosaur bones", "radioactivity", and "distant stars" and then says "[these things] explain so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your worldview just becomes crazy".

Certainly Nye does not equate disbelief in Darwinian evolution with a belief in a young earth, for such an assumption would be hopelessly false.

What Nye fails to grasp is that all of those things mentioned above only imply an old earth and can be rationally affirmed apart from belief in Darwinian evolution.

Nye also suggests that adults who "deny evolution" are living "in a world that is completely inconsistent with everything we see in the universe."

I beg to differ.

In his ground breaking new book "Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly Wrong" Dr. Thomas Nagel (B.A. Cornell 1958; B.Phil. Oxford 1960; Ph.D. Harvard 1963) lays out the case for why  Darwinian evolution cannot adequately explain the most integral parts of human experience.

The book description is as follows:
 The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.

Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative...
(emphasis mine)

And in Nagel's own words, taken from chapter one of his book:

In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture... by the defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. 

Another skeptic, David Berlinski, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair. (emphasis mine)

I'm sure that Nye would not dare condescend to a man who has a far more impressive educational background than himself.

In addition, Nye makes this claim about doing biology without believing in Darwnian evolution: 

"It's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates: you're just not gonna get the right answer; you're whole world is just gonna be a mystery instead of an exciting place". (emphasis mine)

Can a person not believe in Darwinism and still do science or, more specifically, biology?

 Dr. Hugh Ross of "Reasons to Believe", who rejects Darwinism and believes in progressive creationism says yes!

 In an article titled "Origin-of-Life Predictions Face Off: Evolution vs Biblical Creation" Dr. Ross compares biblical creation and Darwinian evolution to see which paradigm’s predictions hold up to recent scientific discoveries concerning the origin of life and he shows conclusively that the "biblical creation" model comes out on top.

I highly recommenced the article!
Furthermore, Nye tells us that "evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science".

During the past 200 years uniformitarianism (the belief that the earth is shaped by slow, gradual processes, as opposed to catastrophic events) was the reigning paradigm in geology. 

However, a new paradigm was introduced in 1980's that suggested catastrophic events can generate significant alter the earth, on occasion (ie: catastrophism)

Scientific paradigms are dynamic and not static because they change, adapt, and grow over time as we learn more about our universe.

The eminent archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe spent the majority of his career working under a specific paradigm used to develop a time history of prehistoric Europe and then killed himself during the advent of radiocarbon dating because of the threat it posed to his life's work.

We love the romantic idea of men in white lab coats searching for the truth wherever it may be, but sadly this idea is a fantasy and when we reflect upon the example of Mr. Childe we can better understand why some people will fight tooth and nail to see that any and every challenge to their scientific paradigm is demonized and dismissed as nonsense despite any evidence to the contrary.

At the end of the video Nye comforts listeners by saying that "in another couple centuries" the worldview that denies Darwinism "will not exist".

Maybe Nye is right and a hundreds of years from now no one will deny Darwinism, but I think he understands that current trends in microbiology and philosophy are spinning a different weave.

When scientific paradigms can no longer be challenged and are held up as the "be all end all" of a particular scientific discipline, you can be sure that we've stopped doing science and stared doing theology.

I believe that Nye is speaking out because he knows that a certain life science paradigm will disappear in the decades to come.

The only question is whose paradigm will it be?