Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Critique Of Humanist Logic

  • Following Are A Handful Of Excerpts (In Bold) From A Standard Humanist Work Titled "The Philosophy of Humanism" By Corliss Lamont:
          "There are, as I see it, ten central propositions in the Humanist philosophy: First, Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness. Second, Humanism, drawing especially upon the laws and facts of science, believes man is an evolutionary product of the Nature of which he is part; that his mind is indivisibly conjoined with the functioning of his brain; and that as an inseparable unity of body and personality he can have no conscious survival after death.”

          Indeed, it is eyebrow-raising to see how the author of the book capitalizes the word nature, especially considering the fact that in the Bible the name of God is always capitalized. This could easily denote atheism to be a religion. After all, there are atheist churches. There are atheist missionaries. There are evangelistic atheists who preach their worldview as being the truth. There are atheist circles that consider others who disagree with them as being heretical. Atheism is clearly a belief system. In fact, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has coined a phrase to discredit God from the American financial system: "In reason we trust." Atheism is a religion, and should thereby not be enforced upon people who subscribe to different ideological mindsets. It is a paragon of people worshiping the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).

          Notice how the quotation above presupposes the validity of scientism, which is the belief that all truth is determined by the science laboratory. However, this view is refuted because there are many truths that exist beyond the realm of science (view full article). Neither is the laboratory the only way of discovering truth. What needs to be understood is that faith and reason walk together. And how can atheists be so quick to claim that there is no supernatural realm when they have no tangible evidence ruling in favor of their verdict? If we describe the thinking processes of the human mind as being random chemical reflexes, then we have no legitimate reason to believe the claims of atheism because we would not be able to trust our own thoughts. In fact, the author renders the concept of selfhood to being an empty illusion!

          Life without God is meaningless. If the universe came into existence by mere coincidence, and we just so happened to have evolved from a different species of primate forefathers over a period of several billion years, then it would follow that human life has no intrinsic value. The inevitable consequence of eliminating God from the equation of life would be that we possessed no more dignity than the soil, rocks, or other inanimate components which constitute the physical and chemical composition of this planet. To consistently embrace the atheistic worldview would also require that one cares nothing for the drastic reputational precipice of contrariety between the wealthy and impoverished. And what about the stillborn babies or people with severe cognitive impairments (who obviously do not get a chance to succeed in this life)? If no divine creator exists, then the human race would be absolutely useless and unwanted because the universe most certainly has no compassion for life. Time would simply progress as we wait for the natural, appointed termination of our physical existence. Restricting the sense of dignity to the boundaries of earthly life undermines the very meaning of human life having intrinsic value and inalienable rights. If there is no God, then no objective moral standard exists and thus our reasoning becomes subjective at best. No afterlife means having no ultimate sense of purpose or fulfillment, period. While it is impossible for atheism to give us an ultimate purpose in life, the God who inspired Scripture can grant everlasting spiritual life to those who voluntarily approach Him by faith.

          “I believe that the facts of science offer overwhelming evidence in support of the Humanist thesis of the inseparable coexistence of body and personality. To begin with, biology has conclusively shown that man and all other forms of life were the result, not of a supernatural act of creation by God, but of an infinitely long process of evolution probably stretching over at least three billions years….”

          Without delving into the creation verses evolution debate, it would be interesting to note that a Supreme Mind still could have created the universe by means of a giant cosmic explosion of expanding matter (Big Bang Theory) to accomplish the formation of animal species through evolutionary processes. Therefore, the "humanist thesis" does not really negate the possibility of supernatural creation.

          The universe and the human body are so complex that countless factors remain unexplained or unproven. It is completely wrong for one to assert that supernatural intervention in creation has been ruled out. Even if scientists did manage to successfully develop a scientific model that functions without God, proof of unnecessity is not proof of His nonexistence. Moreover, the biblical worldview presents us with a universe that absolutely depends on God for its existence.

          “Humanism believes that Nature itself constitutes the sum total of reality…and that supernatural entities simply do not exist. This non reality of the supernatural means, on the human level, that men do not possess supernatural and immortal souls; and, on the level of the universe as a whole, that our cosmos does not possess a supernatural and eternal God.”

          A concise refutation of naturalism should compose a sufficient analysis of the cited excerpt from Corliss Lamont's book above. Naturalism maintains that everything existing emerged from natural properties and causes to the exclusion of supernatural intervention. In other words, this logical framework operates on the premise that all things are physical and are thus dictated by the laws of physics and chemistry. On the contrary, we know that naturalism is false because things such as numbers, moral laws, and information are nonphysical entities. These things transcend the five senses which scientists use to make observations and draw inferences. The elementary concept of free will disproves naturalism because this philosophy assumes that scientific laws and states are literally in control of all things. Naturalistic evolution is self-refuting because people proclaim it to be true (we cannot conduct autonomous thinking if naturalism is true). Hence, it would also be irrational for atheists to profess believe in naturalism when beliefs supposedly do not point to truth (our convictions are simply physical things which take place as a result of chemical reactions).

          “the scientific concept of evolution…effectively negates the old religious idea of a divine creation of the whole universe.”

          So something can come from nothing? Design from chaos? Can intelligence arise from non-intelligence? Can rationality arise from non-rationality? Can consciousness arise from non-consciousness? The answer to all these questions would be no. As a matter of fact, there are many well-constructed logical proofs for the existence of God (see this article). Thus, theism is more rational than atheism.

          “Matter is self-existent, self-active, self-developing, self-enduring. It is auto-dynamic.”

          Is this not a circular argument (matter has power in of and itself because that is how it is)? How can matter be self-existent when it is comprised of finite particles? What infinite source of energy do atoms possess that enables matter able to act of itself without external causes? How can physical matter come from nothing or create itself? How could non-living matter become alive by itself? How does this kind of humanist reasoning not violate the principle of sufficient reason (everything must have a reason, cause, or ground)?

          It would be far more reasonable to believe that an infinitely powerful, all-knowing, and everlasting God set forth all things in an orderly fashion on the basis of His spoken commands. It would be far more sensible to believe in a God who infinitely transcends the boundaries of nature (Psalm 33:4-8). The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).

          ''A careful analysis of both the natural and the social sciences shows, in the first place, that we do not attain something that is to be called ‘absolute’ truth, but rather what John Dewey cautiously describes as ‘warranted assertibility''

          If there are no absolute truths, then a.) scientific laws are subjective, b.) no point in education because truth is subjective, c.) the concept of certainty is illusionary, d.) no such thing as crime because nobody can definitively declare an action to be evil, e.) no such thing as human rights, and f.) reality becomes an illusion. If there are no absolute truths, then there is no reason for us to believe in the arguments in favor of atheism and no point in Corliss Lamont teaching humanism in books. A society that functions on a moral relativistic worldview will by definition collapse from within. Moral relativism is like a universal acid that corrodes all monuments of truth. A consistently atheistic civilization is the breeding ground for unspeakable evil.

          “For Humanism no human acts are good or bad in or of themselves. Whether an act is good or bad is to be judged by the consequences for the individual and society.”

          Secular consequentialism is the ethical system which maintains that the morality of an action is dependent on its results. In other words, this worldview judges the morality of actions in accordance to their conclusions (not in the action itself). But this method of moral discernment is quite perplexing. What constitutes the authentic definition of good? Who gets to determine the meanings of good and evil? Good for who? What about bad personal motives that just so happened to produce positive consequences for other people? What about the fact that we cannot predict the outcomes of our actions before we act? From whence would morality come from in the first place?

          ''The Humanist refuses to accept any Ten Commandments or other ethical precepts as immutable and universal laws never to be challenged or questioned. He bows down to no alleged supreme moral authority either past or present…But we can say…some ends justify some means. In getting at the ethical significance of a means-end situation, it is always necessary to be specific and inquire,‘Does this particular end or set of ends justify this particular means or group of means?''

          Of course, it is perfectly understandable for atheists to openly reject the notion of objective moral laws because they are retaliating against the God who created them. The quoted statements from the book above are symptomatic of a puffed-up heart. But if there is no supreme Moral Authority who legislates a universal moral standard, then we can ultimately do whatever we want. Atheists would have no right to express their disagreements with us in an objective fashion. If societies get to determine their own moral law codes, then what happens when they contradict each other or themselves? How would such a scenario not render the idea of self-improvement or improvement of society nonsensical? Romans chapter one accurately describes the conditions of our God deprived society: foolish, prideful, and perverse. The Bible is very much relevant to our culture and accurately describes in ample detail the problem alongside with the solution for mankind.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Way Of The Heretic

"The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men. They should not be thought of as men who were deliberately setting out to go wrong and to teach something that is wrong; they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them? Their trouble was this: they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible, and they seemed to find it everywhere."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 7

Monday, December 11, 2017

From Whence Do We Derive Our Morals?

"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people."

Ulysses S. Grant, American General And President (1822-1885)

Never Hesitate To Do That Which Is Good

"You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late."

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet, Philosopher, and Journalist (1803-1882)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Answering Abortion Advocates On The Definition Of Life

“Fertilization is an important landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed… Fertilization is the procession of events that begins when a spermatozoon makes contact with a secondary oocyte or its investments…The zygote…is a unicellular embryo..”

From Human Embryology & Teratology, Ronan R. O’Rahilly, Fabiola Muller, (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996), 5-55.

“The life cycle of mammals begins when a sperm enters an egg.”

Okada et al., A role for the elongator complex in zygotic paternal genome demethylation, NATURE 463:554 (Jan. 28, 2010)

“The zygote is human life….there is one fact that no one can deny; Human beings begin at conception.”

From Landrum B. Shettles “Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth” Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983 p 40.

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).”

Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

“The term conception refers to the union of the male and female pronuclear elements of procreation from which a new living being develops. It is synonymous with the terms fecundation, impregnation, and fertilization … The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.”

J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Freidman. Biological Principles and Modern Practice of Obstetrics. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Publishers. 1974 Pages 17 and 23.

https://www.lifenews.com/2015/01/08/41-quotes-from-medical-textbooks-prove-human-life-begins-at-conception/

Never Pray For The Book Of Mormon

A [Mormon] missionary resource explains, “In order to know that the Book of Mormon is true, a person must read, ponder, and pray about it. The honest seeker of truth will soon come to feel that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.” . . .

Yet there are problems with this challenge. First of all, the test is skewed. A person who “prays” but doesn’t get the same answer as the missionary is viewed as not getting it correct. If prayer is the correct means of testing the book’s authenticity, why is a negative outcome immediately rejected as a plausible response? . . .However, Jeremiah 17:9 says a feeling that one has can be disastrously wrong because “the heart is desperately wicked.” Praying about a religious book, especially if it is fictional and not historical, is hardly an objective test.

If the Book of Mormon is just one of four LDS scriptures, why should it be prayed over and not the other three scriptures? For that matter, why shouldn’t a seeker after truth pray about the Qu’ran (Islam), the Vedas (Hinduism), or the Tripitaka (Buddhism)? Where does praying about a particular religion’s scripture stop? If praying about a book is a way to determine truth, then why have many Mormons never even thought about expanding their prayers to more than just one religion’s scripture?"

Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, Mormonism 101, p. 135

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Abortion And The Bible

  • Children Are A Blessing Of The Lord:
          -"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3)
  • Scripture Uses Personal Pronouns In Describing Unborn Children:
          -“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • God Knows Unborn Children In The Same Manner That He Knows Us:
          -"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:13-16)
  • The Mosaic Law Protected The Lives Of Unborn Babies In The Same Manner As Adults:
          -“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life..." (Exodus 21:22-23)
  • God Views Murder As A Serious Offense:
          -"For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker." (James 2:11)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Life, Liberty, And Property Come From God

"Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property—this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."

Frederic Bastiat

    Friday, December 1, 2017

    A Response To Tim Staples On Sola Scriptura And 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    • Defining The Issues:
              -Popular speaker, director, and former Protestant turned Catholic apologist Tim Staples wrote an article titled According to Scripture with the intention of revealing fundamental problems with appealing to Scripture as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. In his article, Tim raises objections to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as a proof-text for Sola Scriptura, stresses the role of extra-biblical oral tradition in the church, charges that the Protestant position on biblical authority is "contrary to reason" because it "is a textbook example of circular reasoning," and that the canon by definition needed to be assembled by an infallible authority (Roman Catholic Church). Though this proficient Roman Catholic apologist truly desires to spread the gospel, we should never treat a person's sincerity as a standard for guaranteeing accuracy in argumentation. The objective behind writing this article is to reprove a number of weak and misguided assertions of conventional Roman Catholic apologists against Sola Scriptura.
    • The Following Excerpt From Tim Staple's Article Is A Perfect Example Of Roman Catholics Misrepresenting The Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura:
              -"If a teaching isn’t explicit in the Bible, then we don’t accept it as doctrine!" That belief, commonly known as sola scriptura, was a central component of all I believed as a Protestant. This bedrock Protestant teaching claims that Scripture alone is the sole rule of faith and morals for Christians."
    • Explaining The Biblical Doctrine Of Sola Scriptura:
              -The doctrine of Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the only infallible spiritual standard for the Christian church. Other rules of faith such as catechisms, creeds, customs, commentaries, and concordances may be used, insofar as they agree with the principles of Scripture. All uninspired authorities are to be subjugated to the judgment of the Bible because it is inspired by God. This explanation constitutes the classical Sola Scriptura doctrine as upheld by the Protestant Reformation. Consider this documentary evidence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture" (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:10). Thus, it is highly inaccurate for Roman Catholic apologists and theologians to portray Protestants who subscribe to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura as "having a sole rule of faith" or "Bible only Christians." It is also erroneous for Tim Staples to say that we only accept "explicit approval" from the Bible, since we voluntarily acknowledge that it provides us with principles of discernment to apply in our daily lives. The Bible is not the only authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority for the Christian church.
    • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
              A.) The Origin Of Scripture:
              -All Scripture is inspired by God. In other words, the Holy Spirit moved through the apostles and prophets as they recorded His teachings (1 Peter 1:16-21). In fact, the Greek word for inspired, which is theopneustos, literally means "God-breathed."

              B.) The Purpose Of Scripture:
              -The purpose of Scripture is to convict the conscience of sin, confront error, and preach righteousness. Notice the surrounding context of this epistle: 1.) The coming of false teaching (3:1-13), 2.) Paul was about experience martyrdom (4:6-7), and 3.) This was the Apostle Paul's last epistle. Contextual evidence points us to one infallible rule of faith: Scripture. The context mentions no other inspired "rule of faith."

              C.) The Results Of Using Scripture:
              -Scripture "thoroughly" equips the man of God for "every good work," not most or just a few good works. It addresses everything we need to know about a life of godliness, with principles of application. Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation. Scripture alone is therefore sufficient for the Christian church to use as the final court of authority in spiritual matters.
    • Listing The Four So-Called Major Dilemmas Of Using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 As A Biblical Defense Of Sola Scriptura (In The Words Of The Author):
              -"First, it does not speak of the New Testament at all...Second, 2 Timothy 3:16 does not claim Scripture to be the sole rule of faith for Christians...James 1:4 illustrates the problem...Third, the Bible teaches that oral Tradition is equal to Scripture...Finally, 2 Timothy 3:16 is specifically addressed to members of the hierarchy. It is a pastoral epistle, written to a young bishop Paul had ordained..."
    • Evaluating The Evidence Provided Against The Citation Of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 As Being Supportive Of Sola Scriptura:
              -The first Roman Catholic objection to the Protestant citation of 2 Timothy as biblical justification for the Bible functioning as the supreme rule of faith for the Christian church is fallacious because it ignores the literal meaning of the word all. In fact, it would be just as absurd as concluding from the phrase "all ex-cathedra statements are inspired by God" that all official papal decrees are inspired "only up to a certain point in history." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is not discussing the scope of the canon, but rather the purpose and origin of Scripture. The Apostle Paul was speaking of Scripture as a category. Nobody can limit the scope of inspiration as recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16 to the Old Testament, since the context itself places no such limitation and the Apostle Paul had the future in mind as he mentioned the coming of false teachers.
              -The second Roman Catholic objection to the Protestant citation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as biblical justification for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura fails because if Scripture equips the man of God for every good work, then it logically follows that it is the final, sufficient rule of faith for Christians to use in spiritual matters. Can anybody produce a list of "good works" that cannot be found in Scripture? What else can "every good work" mean?
              -For the third Roman Catholic argument to hold any water, at least three conditions need to be met before the apologists can advance any "proof-texts" for "Sacred Tradition": 1.) The exact traditions need to be identified, 2.) It needs to be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the word "tradition" mentioned within the specific texts of Scripture are different in substance from what is contained in the Bible, and 3.) Conclusive evidence needs to be provided in order for any random tradition to be considered apostolic and infallible (click here for full discussion).
              -Neither does James 1:4 illustrate what the author of the article is trying to prove (interpreting "every good work" in 2 Timothy 3:17 to mean that Scripture is sufficient is just as nonsensical as interpreting "perseverance...perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" in James 1:4 to mean that all a person needs is patience to be perfected). This rebuttal does not work because the context of 2 Timothy 3 is directing the reader to the rule of faith (Scripture), whereas James 1 concerns the application of the principles found within that infallible guide. So Tim Staples has actually misapplied the message found in James 1:4 to 2 Timothy 3:17 because he has confused the meaning of both contexts. If Roman Catholic apologists insist on using this argument against the Protestant interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then it would logically follow that they would have to add "patience" as an additional infallible standard of authority to their "three-legged stool!"
              -As for the final quibble raised in the cited excerpt from Catholic Answers above, there is really no reason for us to interpret the message found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 as being directed strictly toward members of a church hierarchy. For starters, the office of pope is not even biblical. In fact, it was not until 150 A.D. that the Roman Church began to develop a single one-head bishop structure (click for more details). Secondly, we never find in Scripture the church tasks found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (to teach, refute, correct, and instruct in righteousness) as being assigned only to clergy. And thirdly, the phrase "man of God" does not necessarily denote reference to ordained ministers (though Timothy most certainly was ordained by Paul). Notice how reputable Roman Catholic Bible versions translate the phrase "man of God." The Jerusalem Bible translates it to be "the man who is dedicated to God." The Good News Bible translates it to be "the person who serves God." The New American Bible translates the phrase "man of God" to be "one who belongs to God." The point is really moot and beside the point. While it is true that the context of 2 Timothy is about preaching, the fact remains that the Apostle Paul pointed to only one rule of faith (Scripture) to function as the infallible standard of authority for the Christian church. Why would Scripture function as a sufficient rule of faith for leadership, but not also for the average reader?
    • Addressing The Charge Of Circular Reasoning:
              -Tim Staple's charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning has already been addressed here and here. Tim Staple's attempt to escape the charge of circularity on behalf of the Church of Rome is unsuccessful because arguing for the Church's infallibility by saying "Jesus said so" is based on the Roman Catholic Church's interpretation of texts such as Matthew 16:18-19. It is merely ASSUMED by the author of the article at Catholic Answers that the Roman Catholic Church was established by our Lord Jesus Christ. The end result of Catholic logic on this matter will always be: "It is thus because Rome said it is thus."
    • Addressing Canon Issues:
              -Tim Staples maintains that Sola Scriptura is an untenable theological position because an infallible authority (Church of Rome) supposedly needed to determine the canon of Scripture. The author of the article further asserts (correctly) that the Bible does not contain an inspired table of contents. However, it needs to be understood that 1.) The church merely recognized the canon of Scripture (more details), 2.) That there has always been a general consensus as to which books belong in the New Testament canon, 3.) Roman Catholics do not have an inspired "table of contents" specifically identifying which oral traditions are inspired, 4.) The authors of books such as Job and Hebrews are unknown, yet still made into the canon, 5.) The Jews successfully assembled an Old Testament canon without the aid of the Roman Catholic Church, 6.) That appealing to extra-biblical sources (date, authorship, doctrinal consistency, tradition, non-Christian works etc.) to affirm scriptural texts is not problematical for Sola Scriptura because that it not what it condemns, and 8.) That it was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. that the Church of Rome had finally canonized its canon (more details here). The Christian church is built on the infallible testimony of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). It has survived throughout the centuries only because of the sanctifying, miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.
    • Addressing The 33,000 Protestant Denominations Myth:
              -This argument is derived from a misinterpretation of the World Christian Encyclopedia (David A. Barrett; Oxford University Press, 1982), which ultimately divides Protestantism into 21 major traditions, and the Church of Rome into 16 separate divisions (see this article for more details). The 33,000 Protestant denominations claim is a blatant lie. So why are the folks at Catholic Answers still propagating this huge myth against the doctrine of Sola Scriptura? Why is it that Roman Catholics can disagree amongst themselves on Roman Catholic doctrine without receiving criticism? The following excerpt from the conclusion paragraph of the article at Catholic Answers reveals how these folks care nothing what the Bible says, "...the Church is the final court of appeal for the people of God in matters of faith, morals, and discipline."