Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Above image by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay

In 2001 Yann Martel published the book Life of Pi, which became a hit film in 2012. One of the themes in the book claims all religions are true and it is enough to love God. 

At the movie’s beginning, we are introduced to a kind-hearted young man named Piscine Molitor Patel, or (Pi), the son of a zoo-keeper. As a young man, Pi earnestly seeks truth, looks for the good in all things, and decides to become a Christian, Krishna, and Muslim. 

One day, when walking in town with his parents, they run into Pi’s Christian priest, his Muslim imam, and his Hindu pandit. An awkward to say the least, as each in turn claims Pi is a devoted Christian, Muslim, and Hindu follower. Finally, they demand he choose one religion. Pi in his wisdom which surpasses his teachers, says, “Bapu Gandi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.”1

Fast forward, and we find Pi with his family on a cargo ship heading to Canada, but in a storm, the ship sinks, and Pi is stranded in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra, and a tiger named Richard Parker. Pi and Richard Parker survive on the open sea for seven months until they float to Mexico, where the tiger runs off into the jungle. 

When Pi is rescued, officials interview him on what happened to the ship. An accounting has to be made, and the owners of the ship who have lost a fortune want to know what took place and why the ship was lost. 

Pi shares the story of the animals in the lifeboat and how they survived, but the officials say that is complete nonsense. Pi then offers another version. He recounts the story, but this time the hyena is the ship’s cook, the orangutan is Pi’s mom, the zebra is a crew member, and Pi is the tiger. 

Pi explains the cook cut off the injured leg of the zebra and used the meat to catch fish. In time the cook kills his mother, and Pi, in turn, kills the cook. Pi ends the story with a choice for the interrogators; they are to choose which story they prefer. Pi points out it is irrelevant; they can’t prove one story over the other. The facts of either account can’t be proven, so it does not matter which they one choose. 

The officials choose the story with the animals, and Pi responds, “Thank you. And so it goes with God.”2

The point Martel makes is that, like the two stories that Pi told, it is with religion. No religion has the whole truth, and all are subject to various interpretations and conflicting stories. 

In today’s culture, religious claims are not truth claims, but cultural or preferred flavors and subjective (opinion) claims. In fact, making the claim that your religion is the correct religion is considered intolerant and unloving. However, Paul Gould points out in his book, Cultural Apologetics, “It does not follow that disagreement entails intolerance. We [as Christians] should tolerate-show love and respect to people, not ideas.”3

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, many on the left demand we show respect for their ideas and beliefs. Beliefs such as the right to choose an abortion must be not only tolerated but respected. Yet, I have no respect for that worldview and find it contemptible. Yet I understand and believe those people who hold such views should be respected and loved. Christian philosopher Peter Kreft wrote, “We ought to be egalitarian with people and elitist with ideas.4

Truth claims, by nature, are exclusive. For example, as I write this, it is raining outside my window. That is a truth claim, which correspond to reality and the world as we understand it. Truth claims hold a belief, thought, or statement that harmonizes with reality. 

If I tell my Jr high students 1/2 is an equivalent ratio to 25/50, that is either true or not; there is no in-between. It is not true some of the time or most of the time, nor is it possibly true or potentially true; it is true all of the time. Christians claim that Jesus is divine, but Muslims say Jesus was not divine, both can’t be correct, and both can’t be true. 

((Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″))

In recent years as the gender identity storm has ravaged our cultural landscape, decisions about sexual orientation or gender identity are based entirely on feelings. There is no denying individuals struggle with gender identity, but gender-affirming care, which includes puberty blockers and surgery, were decided on feelings, not facts. Only in the last couple of years have some begun to acknowledge the devastation this has caused a generation. 

Nancy Pearcy pointed out in her book Total Truth the struggle C.S. Lewis had when he abandoned his childhood faith for atheism. Lewis wanted the truth, “He became desperate to find a truth that satisfied the whole person, including his longing for meaning and beauty.”5

The turning point for Lewis came from the most tenacious atheist he knew, who shared how the Gospel accounts were surprisingly good. That is to say, they seemed plausible, possibly true. “All that stuff of mythology about the Dying God. Rum Thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.”((Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy, Harcourt Brace, 1955, pg 170)) Pearcy explains, “There is no division into contradictory, opposing levels of truth-therefore no division in a person’s inner life either. Christianity fulfills both our reason and our spiritual yearnings.”((Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 121))

Ask yourself if the world we live in is an illusion. Or is it a product of chance, an accident that happened over millions or billions of years? Was God just a human invention, or is there a higher power somehow involved with this theatre we call reality? Who is right in their view of the world and reality, Jesus, George Carlin, or Oprah Winfrey? What you decide matters considerably and will determine how you will live your life. 

When you look at two little white pills, both the same size, color, and weight in grams, you can tell yourself they are basically the same. So on the surface, it really wouldn’t matter which one you choose, but if one was aspirin and the other arsenic, which one you choose will matter greatly. So choose wisely; all religions can’t be true. 


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Life of Pi by James William Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://christianapologetics.blog/.

  1. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 66 []
  2. Martel, Yann. “Chapter 23.” Life of Pi, A Harvest Book, 2003, pg. 69 []
  3. Gould, Paul. “Addressing Barriers.” Cultural Apologetics, 2019, Zondervan, 2019, pg 194″ []
  4. Kreeft, Peter. San Francisco, The Snakebit Letters, Ignatius, 1998, pg 94 []
  5. Pearcy, Nancy. “Keeping Religion in its Place.” Total Truth, Crossway Books, 2005, pg 120 []
Can You Defend What You Believe?

Can You Defend What You Believe?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Swordplay

Many years ago, when I was in college, I took some fencing classes. No, not courses that teach you how to string barbed wire across your property, but lessons that instruct on swordplay. The class started with the foil, expanded to an epee, and finally, the saber. With some martial arts experience under my belt, I felt I had a slight advantage over some other beginning students. 

Several months down the road, I participated in a local college tournament and earned 2nd place after losing to a young woman in her late 20s. I had a 6-inch reach advantage over her and was as fast as she was, but she had more experience and knew some techniques I was unprepared for. 

I remember being frustrated because I could not score on her, and in my frustration, I moved in closer to press the attack, which is when she would often score. Finally, a few minutes later, she won the match.

Fleche

Fleche is a fencing term that is an explosive attack, ideally unexpected, to take your opponent off guard. So often, in conversations, we give away our advantages by making statements or claims we might have difficulty backing up if we don’t have the knowledge, background, or experience. So many Christians feel the pressure to be bold and evangelize their faith and are called to do so, but the truth is they hope no one will ask them any difficult questions they can’t answer. Then when questions start flying, they’re at a loss on what to say or how to respond. 

It should be obvious you don’t want to make any claims you can’t back up. 

Understandably, most Christians are not vocal about their faith for fear of offending or sounding silly when they can’t explain why they believe what they believe. 

Years ago, a co-worker Jennifer, who knows I enjoy blogging on apologetics and wrestling with tough questions, asked me about the crucifixion. She explained that someone asked her why Jesus was buried in a tomb. When the Romans crucified someone, they were thrown into an open grave or pit. In other words, why was Jesus so special? What made him an exception? What a good question; it does sound somewhat contrived, this whole placed-in-a-tomb-story followed by a resurrection claim.

Listen and Clarify

My initial response to her was to ask how he (her friend) knew that no one was buried in a tomb after being crucified? How did he come to that conclusion? That places the burden of proof on him, not because you are trying to avoid having to respond or that you don’t know the answer, but because you honestly want to know. 

We can’t expect to know all the answers to questions skeptics may ask, and it is essential to be honest when asked something you can’t answer. If you don’t know the answer, tell them. At the same time, when you ask someone how they came to that conclusion or what evidence they have for their reasoning, you may learn something in return. They may have good reasons for their claims, and you want to hear them. What is wrong with hearing their reasons? Nothing, and at worse, you will learn something. Not only from them, but if you then go home and research an answer, you will be better prepared to respond the next time someone asks you.

I had not heard that particular push-back before, and other than pointing out that Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy and a follower of Jesus who asked for his body so he could put Jesus in a tomb, Matthew 27:57, I would not have had anything else to add. So I went home and began my research for a blog post. What I found out surprised me, and maybe it will surprise you, too.

Crucifixions

History is unclear on who invented the crucifixion, but most historians believe it was the Persians. Romans crucified enemies for about 600 years, from 300 B.C. until the Roman emperor Constantine outlawed them in 337 A.D. One of the more famous accounts would be the slave uprising led by Spartacus in 73 B.C. After overpowering the Roman guards, the gladiators and slaves escaped from a gladiator school in Capua. The slave army expanded while pillaging the countryside and won several battles against the Romans until Spartacus and his army were trapped between two Roman legions with a 3rd soon to arrive. In 71 B.C., Spartacus and his army were defeated. Of those captured (over 6000) were crucified along the road from Capua to Rome, over 100 miles in length.((Czeck, Kenneth P. “Ancient History: Spartacus and the Slave Rebellion.” HistoryNet, historynet.com, n.d., http://www.historynet.com/spartacus.htm))

The ancient historian Josephus has multiple accounts of crucifixions; for example, Alexander Jannaeus, the Maccabean king, crucified hundreds while dining with his concubines. Varus, a Roman commander in Syria, crucified over 2000 Jews. Josephus even reported that during the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Romans crucified up to 500 Jews a day until they ran out of timber in the surrounding countryside.((Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print.))

With crucifixion such a common practice for centuries, you would expect there to be an overflowing amount of skeletal evidence for this practice. But unfortunately, besides the multiple ancient historical accounts (Josephus is only one of many), we only have one archaeological piece of evidence, which happens to have been found in a tomb.

His name was Yehohanan, a young man in his mid-twenties who, around the time of Christ, did something to offend the Romans. For this offense, he was crucified. Because he was from a wealthy family, he was placed in a tomb, and after a year his bones were gathered together and then placed in a stone box called an ossuary. Two thousand years later, in 1968, a Jewish archeologist made the discovery, which is now on display in a museum in Israel.((Friedman, Matti, “In a stone box, the only trace of crucifixion.” The Times of Israel, timesofisrael.com, 26 March 2012, http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-a-stone-box-a-rare-trace-of-crucifixion/))

Why is there little Evidence for the Crucifixions?

The reasons for the lack of evidence are not necessarily apparent at first but substantial when you give it some consideration. First, nearly all crucified were not placed in a tomb but tossed into an open grave or left for animals to devour.

Second, it is a Jewish custom not to leave someone hanging up overnight, and often the bodies were taken down after several hours by the Jews. Deuteronomy 21:22-23. The bones would be scattered over time with little evidence remaining, and often they were criminals (at least in the view of Romans) and were not placed in tombs.

Third, injuries were often through soft tissue, not piercing bones, but if the bones were damaged, it would be difficult to tell from damage animals may have caused by gnawing on the bones. And not all who were crucified were nailed; some were just tied to the cross. 

Finally, crucifixion nails were considered magical or held special healing properties and were often collected when found. Consequently, the hardiest, longest-lasting evidence was often removed from the location of the crucifixion. The wooden crosses and the victims themselves would not last centuries, unlike the nails used.((Killgrove, Kristina. “This Bone Is The Only Skeletal Evidence For Crucifixion In The Ancient World.” Forbes, forbes.com, 8 December 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kristinakillgrove/2015/12/08/this-bone-provides-the-only-skeletal-evidence-for-crucifixion-in-the-ancient-world/#10012eee403c))

I find it ironic that the claim, “No one crucified was ever buried in a tomb,” is not only false but the ‘only’ physical evidence we have for the ancient practice of crucifixion was found in a tomb of someone who was crucified.

Why Apologetics?

What you just read is an example of apologetics in action. Do you know what apologetics is? Apologetics is not apologizing for your faith – it is defending your faith. It stems from the Greek word apologia and means a verbal defense. Christians should be able to defend verbally why they are a Christian.

If someone asks you why you are a believer, can you give them reasons or evidence? Unfortunately, many Christians pull the experiential card, often based on feelings, emotions, and first-person experiences. Not to say those shared experiences don’t move others, but even the Mormons speak of a ‘burning in the bosom’ as a confirmation of their faith. If that is all two opposing views can offer, they seem to cancel one another out in my opinion. 

Why should a church engage in apologetics? Why should pastors teach apologetics? Why should youth groups be exposed to apologetics? There are several reasons:

  • 1 Peter 3:15
  • It builds the faith of believers. 
  • It feeds certain congregation members who may be more evidentially minded in their faith.
  • It prepares youth to hear arguments, reasoning, and conclusions counter to their faith. The first time they listen to claims counter to their belief should be before they move away.
  • Those who are confident in their answers are more willing to engage the culture and move beyond their comfort zone of fellow believers in conversation.

Your Style of Evangelism

I recently finished a book titled “Contagious Faith” by Mark Mittelberg. Mittelberg describes five styles of evangelism, and most of us favor one or two of the styles he describes. Not all of us are bible-thumping street evangelists, and to push some in that direction when it is not their natural style of evangelism can be a massive turn-off to sharing their faith. 

Mittelberg also recognizes it is not just a matter of having answers but a spiritual battle. “You see, helping people come to Christ is not just a matter of giving them good information or answers to their questions and objections. Neither is it just about being passionate or persuasive-though all of these can be important. It is, at bottom, a spiritual struggle that is being fought at an unseen level…”1

I recommend Contagious Faith for anyone curious about their natural style of sharing the good news. But no matter what your style of evangelism is, knowing what you believe and why you believe it is essential. 

Whether or not you want to admit it, you are walking the streets with a sword hanging from your hip. You are walking by others who are also armed. These swords are not called foils, epee’s, or sabers but by the more familiar names of explanation, ideas, reasons, evidence, justifications, beliefs, assertions, faith, and truth. 

When someone makes a truth claim, and you cross swords, you have two choices and only two choices. Learn from the experience, sharpen your skills, or remain the same; no better swordsman than you were before you engaged them. Which kind will you be?

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Can You Defend What You Believe? by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Mittelberg, Mark. “Reached by God to Reach Others.” Contagious Faith, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Reflective, 2021 pg16 []
Christianity and Circumstantial Evidence

Christianity and Circumstantial Evidence

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Above Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What Teens Notice

Over the years, as I taught Jr. High, I have taken the opportunity to ask my students questions that would encourage them to think. One of the questions I have asked repeatedly over the years was, “If you could ask God any one thing, what would you ask him?” One of the more common replies has been, “How long will the human race last?” Notice it was not IF they will last, but how long. This reply gives us some insight into how teens view the world. Despite their obsession with how they dress in the morning, or how well their favorite sports team did in the playoffs, some do have an insightful understanding of the plight of our civilization. 

This reply has not come from students attending Christian schools but Jr. High students in public schools. It has become evident to them that something is broken, and despite adults’ efforts to fix it, there is not any light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a few years since I have taught Jr. High, but the broken world has become even more evident to anyone who pays attention to the world around them. 

It is true, many teens may not know who the current vice president is. However, as they read their history books, hear, and watch about our current world state of affairs, it has become apparent that humans, on the whole, are in a downward spiral that will only have one possible outcome. That much should be evident for anyone who looks at the world around them. 

Yet, over the years, in some Christian circles, there seems to be the belief humanity is getting better. Some believe that Christians will usher in heaven, and without our efforts to create some utopia or heaven on earth, Christ will not return. This view is called Postmillennialism and is an in-house debate among Christians, but it is fair to say that theologians and those who study Eschatology don’t agree. 

Most teens and young adults probably don’t think about it in these terms, but they are simply making a prediction to determine an outcome using evidence they have seen or experienced.

Types of Evidence

When you find yourself on a jury, the judge may take a few moments and explain the difference between the two types of evidence you might encounter. Direct and circumstantial evidence are types of evidence you have probably heard of. People often think that circumstantial evidence is weak or somehow less valid than direct evidence, but many successful criminal cases have been prosecuted with circumstantial evidence alone. 

The metaphor “smoking gun” refers to circumstantial evidence and is more powerful than many give credit. An example of circumstantial evidence would be if you walked into a room and saw a man holding a bloody knife, standing over another man who happened to be dead on the floor due to stab wounds. Of course, you did not see him murder the man on the floor, but the placement of the standing man and his knife suggests it. 

On the other hand, direct evidence would be if you walked into the room and actually saw the man with the knife stab the man on the floor. Obviously, the direct evidence is more powerful, but cumulative circumstantial evidence can, in some ways, be just as compelling. 

Say the two men had a history of violence, and the man with the knife had threatened the dead man the day before, which was witnessed by others; now you have significant circumstantial evidence. 

You may remember two well-known cases which were successfully prosecuted with circumstantial evidence. Timothy McVeigh, who was found guilty of bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, and Scott Peterson, convicted of murdering his wife and unborn son in Modesto, California, in 2002. 

Circumstantial evidence can include fingerprints, tape recordings, video recordings, photos, letters, documents, and many other types of physical evidence. In some ways, circumstantial evidence can have an advantage over direct evidence since it can come from multiple sources, which fortify each other. If the case relies on a single piece of direct evidence that is discredited, the case is lost.

Evidence for the Resurrection

The evidence for the resurrection is circumstantial but powerful. So powerful that millions have dedicated their lives to Christ, and some have even given up their life for Him. 

Nevertheless, I don’t think that being a martyr is evidence for the truth of a religion. Martyrdom is just evidence that the individual believes wholeheartedly in their cause. Indeed, the Muslims who flew into the twin towers believed in Islam and believed they were on their way to paradise, but that does not make it true.

Some brief evidence that points to the truth of the resurrection would include:

  • The first witnesses of the risen Christ were women. That in itself is amazing since women were 2nd class citizens; a women’s testimony was not even considered admissible in court in ancient Jerusalem.
  • For centuries, following the resurrection, tens of thousands gave their lives to Christ and were willing to die for their belief. As I said above, this is not evidence for the truth, but what is significant is that the disciples were eyewitnesses. They were the eyewitness to the truth of the resurrection and were willing to die for what they had witnessed with their own eyes. That cannot be emphasized enough; the disciples were willing to die for what they saw, not just what they believed to be true.
  • We have testimony from multiple independent eyewitness sources. The New Testament is compiled from 27 different documents and nine different authors.
  • The testimony contains events or details that are embarrassing to the authors. If the resurrection event were a story that some made up, then most often, those telling the story would include false information that would put the authors in a positive light. The opposite is true, as the authors document events that show how they acted stupidly, selfishly, and cowardly.
  • Do we have any enemy accounts? Yes: Josephus’, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and several other offer historical reports.
  • New Testament writers include divergent details. For example, Matthew says one angel was at the tomb while John says there were two. How would this strengthen an eyewitness account? Like any event with multiple eyewitness accounts, they do not necessarily agree on the details. Had the authors of the New Testament collaborated to match their accounts, it would have been obvious and damaged their testimony.

The list above is far from complete, but it should give you an idea that the evidence for the resurrection is quite powerful. 

Evidence from Real Life Stories

We use evidence every day, every hour, every moment of our lives, and how we weigh the evidence presented determines our actions, from opening the fridge to get the cold milk for our cereal or opening the freezer to thaw the ground beef. Some of you may have experienced opening a refrigerator that was not working; the stench can be overpowering and hang in the air for hours, something not soon forgotten. However, if we did not have the consistent, day-to-day experience of successfully using the fridge to keep things cold, we would not use it. 

Sometimes the evidence we have is a singular life-changing event. So impactful, nothing is the same after the experience. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is an extraordinary story of a World War II bombardier Louis Zamperini, shot down and captured by the Japanese. His distinct, permanent, transformative event occurred after his horrific experiences as a Japanese prisoner during World War II. 

It is truly amazing what humans can endure by willpower alone, but what is even more awe-inspiring is the healing power and saving grace of our Lord. Zamperini suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese, but one particular Japanese prison guard, nicknamed “The Bird,” was the worst of all. The Bird’s beatings, whippings, and inhuman abuse to Zamperini lasted till the end of the war.

When Louis returned home, his life began to fall apart as he drank himself into oblivion, suffering from horrible flashbacks and nightmares. Louis was on a mission to hunt down and kill the Bird when his wife talked him into attending a Billy Graham crusade. It was there that Louis Zamperini gave his life to Christ and experienced nothing short of a miraculous healing; he never suffered from another flashback or nightmare, he stopped drinking, and God healed his marriage.

Louis had no prior experience to base his miraculous healing. When he gave his life to Christ that night in a hot sweltering tent, it was not like opening the fridge for the umpteenth time with an expectation of pulling out a cold soda. He had no expectations at all, only a compelling notion that he had to walk forward and accept Christ in his life. Unlike the old T.V. show, Let’s Make a Deal, where constants had to choose what was behind door number 1, 2, or 3, knowing something was behind those doors, Louis had no such anticipation. He only knew he had to walk through that door but was oblivious to the instantaneous, miraculous healing behind it.

Louis’s experience is direct evidence, unmistakable because of his transformed life, and his is not the only story of an altered life. The 2017 movie The Case for Christ is just one more example. The evidence is there; you don’t need blind faith or to take a leap of faith. All you need to do is follow where the evidence leads you. 

While we are often willing to spend time reading the Bible, praying, or participating in church programs and services, few of us recognize the importance of becoming good Christian case makers.― J. Warner Wallace, A Homicide Detective and author of Cold-Case Christianity.

…there are highly intelligent, eminent scientists, such as Professor William Phillips (Physics Nobel Prizewinner 1998), Professor John Polkinghorne FRS (Quantum Physicist, Cambridge), and the current Director of the National Institute of Health and former Director of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins (to name just three) who,…without either embarrassment or any sense of irrationality or absurdity, affirm their belief in the supernatural, and in particular in the resurrection of Christ, which they regard as the supreme evidence for the truth of the Christian worldview. – John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University.

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Circumstantial Evidence by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Why I Am Not an Evolutionist – Part III

Why I Am Not an Evolutionist – Part III

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Part I   Part II

I addressed the first pillar necessary for Darwinian evolution, abiogenesis in Part II. Here in Part III, we will look at the second pillar essential for Macro-evolution, the fossil record. In the last hundred years since Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species,’ paleontologists (people who study fossils) have universally discovered that new animal forms in the fossil record appear abruptly, not gradually as Darwin predicted. Not only are the appearances abrupt, but with little connection to the life that came before.

Because this appearance is so sudden, paleontologists refer to the appearance of more than half of the major animal groups some 530 million years ago as the Cambrian explosion.((Valentine, James W. On the Origin of PhylaChicago, University of Chicago Press, 2004, pg 35)) To put this in perspective, if our planet’s history or timeline was stretched to the length of a football field, the Cambrian explosion would use up about 4 inches.

Turtles are a fine example of a group of animals that appear suddenly in the fossil record. Some 200 million years ago, they entered the stage fully developed and did not have any intermediate forms. Their top shell, called the carapace, is made up of about 50 bones covered with scutes (plates of armor) that have a layer of keratin (like our fingernails) that help protect the shell.((Meyer, Stephen C. “Fossil Succession.” Explore Evolution, Melbourne & London, Hillhouse Publishers, 2007, p 24))

How can evolution explain this? Evolutionary biologist Scott Gilbert wrote, “The turtle shell represents a classic evolutionary problem: the appearance of a major structural adaptation…[evolution] needs to explain the rapid origin of the turtle carapace.”((Meyer, Stephen C. “Fossil Succession.” Explore Evolution, Melbourne & London, Hillhouse Publishers, 2007, p 24))

On the flip side, we have examples of organisms that have remained unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. If you compare fossils of the Ginko leaf to modern Ginko leaves you will see they are unchanged in 130 million years.

Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay

You can also research fossilized nautilus shells and see they are also unchanged in over 400 million years of evolutionary opportunity. Finally, you can find fossilized comb jelly (similar to jellyfish) from the Cambrian period, identical in form to the modern comb jelly. Paleontologists have a name for this kind of stability in the fossil record, ‘stasis.

These examples certainly challenge the evolutionary picture that is widely accepted and promoted in our culture. David Raup, who was a paleontologist at the University of Chicago wrote, “What geologists of Darwin’s time and geologists of the present-day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record.”((Raup, David M. “Conflicts between Darwin and paleontology,” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin 50, 1979 pgs 22-29.))

Few paleontologists will admit the fossil record does not show the transitional forms predicted by Darwinian evolution. Why is that? Many in the field of science have a philosophical bias against a creator. Facts and evidence are irrelevant because they don’t want to be answerable to anyone or anything.

Richard Lewontin, an evolutionary geneticist, and a Marxist wrote, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”((Lewontin, Richard. “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review of Books, 9 January 1997, p31)) Uncommon clarity and transparency coming from a Darwinian evolutionary believer. 

Former atheist Lee Strobel shared the same bias as Lewontin and wrote, “I was more than happy to latch onto Darwinism as an excuse to jettison the idea of God so I could unabashedly pursue my own agenda in life without moral constraints.”((Strobel, Lee. “Since Miracles Contradict Science, They Cannot Be True.” Case for Faith, Zondervan, 2000, pg91.))

I have addressed the Miller experiment in previous posts, but one of the most well-known and popular ‘missing links’ is Archaeopteryx (meaning ancient wing). This specimen was first found a year after Darwin published The Origin of Species, and within a few years, a total of 8 specimens were found in the Solnhofen limestone quarry in Germany.

According to Kenneth Mason and Jonathan Losos, “Undoubtedly the most famous of these is the oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx, which lived around 165 million years ago. This species is clearly intermediate between birds and dinosaurs. Its feathers, similar in many respects to those of birds today, clearly reveal that it is a bird. Nonetheless, in many other respects – for example, possession of teeth, a bony tail, and other anatomical characteristics – it is indistinguishable from carnivorous dinosaurs.”((Losos, Jonathan B., and Susan R. Singer. “21 The Evidence for Evolution.” Biology, by Kenneth A. Mason, 11th ed., McGraw Hill, 2017, pp. 428–429.)) You don’t hear how much the role of Archaeopteryx is in dispute, that is if it is actually a link between reptiles and birds. The evolution of birds from non-flying reptiles is not a simple matter.

Just how this could have happened falls into two camps, the trees down theory and the ground-up theory. The tree’s down theory seems to make more sense because we can envision animals already in the trees over millions of years having small variations and adaptations that would allow them to stay in the air longer. While the ground up theory would mean birds evolved from an animal that ran on the ground and used their hind legs for running and their forelimbs for catching prey, and those forelimbs evolved into wings.((Wells, Jonathan. “Archaeopteryx: The Missing Link.” Icons of Evolution, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2000, pgs 116-117))

The role of Archaeopteryx causes a division between evolutionists and paleontologists. Until recent years, Darwinists classified and grouped organisms by sharing a common ancestor’s. Then in the 1950s, a second camp began and relied entirely on homology (having the same or similar relation, relative position, or structure). This new perspective is called ‘cladistics’ and simply assumes common descent or a common ancestor without evidence.

Jonathan Wells wrote concerning cladistics, “The order in which animals appear in the fossil record also becomes secondary or irrelevant. If evolutionary relationships are inferred solely on the basis of character comparisons, an animal can be the descendant of another even if the supposed ancestry doesn’t appear until millions of years later. The fossil record is simply re-arranged to fit the results of cladistic analysis.”((Wells, Jonathan. “Archaeopteryx: The Missing Link.” Icons of Evolution, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2000, pg 119)) All other lines of evidence or considerations take a back seat. Problems in the ground-up theory, such as having animals older in the fossil record than their ancestors, is dismissed and assume the dating of the fossil records are in error.

Is Archaeopteryx a missing link or not? According to cladistics, it was a two-legged dinosaur with feathers. However, many textbooks still claim that it is the missing link but fail to point out the in-house argument as to its origins and, if anything, modern birds, for example, did evolve from it.

Cladistics does not even try to explain the Cambrian explosion. It is simply a tool to classify organisms. Stephen Myer wrote in Darwin’s Doubt, “Cladistics does not, and cannot, offer any explanation of what caused the Cambrian animals to come into existence. Nor can it account for the origin of genetic and epigenetic information necessary to produce them.”((Meyer, Stephen C.”Epilogue: Responses to Critics of the First Edition.” Darwin’s Doubt, Harper One, 2013, pgs 436-437))

In the spring of 2000, Chinese paleontologist J.Y. Chen gave a lecture at the University of Washington. Chen discovered some Cambrian-era fossils in southern China, and after TIME magazine ran a story on the Cambrian explosion and mentioned Chen’s findings, he became a notable expert in the field.

His findings displayed an even greater variety of body plans than many paleontologists expected. The Chinese fossils supported the contradiction that life seemed to appear suddenly and spontaneously without gradations, not what Darwinists would have everyone believe. During the lecture, one professor questioned Chen about his criticism of Darwinian evolution, as if reminding him to be careful. Stephen Meyer, who was at the lecture, wrote, “As a result, one professor in the audience asked Chen, almost as if in warning, if he wasn’t nervous about expressing his doubts about Darwinism so freely – especially given China’s reputation for suppressing dissenting opinion. I remember Chen’s wry smile as he answered. ‘In China,’ he said, ‘we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.'”((Meyer, Stephen C.”Soft Bodies and Hard Facts.” Darwin’s Doubt, Harper One, 2013, pgs 50-52.))

Why are the conclusions of creationists immediately dismissed as biased but not atheists? Indeed, atheists have a worldview they want to protect, and like that of a creationist, they are anything but neutral; it is a double-edged razor. Both have worldviews and beliefs that may sway their findings, but having opinions consistent with the Bible does not mean it is based on the Bible.

The truth of any view is not based on the worldview of a particular person but based on the quality of evidence. There is no evidence for abiogenesis, only speculation that would make the most addicted of gamblers hesitate to place a bet. As for the fossil record, it is very much in question, even among Darwinists themselves and far from the slam dunk many evolutionists would have us believe.

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. ― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

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Why I Am Not an Evolutionist – Part III by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Quick Replies to Tough Questions

Quick Replies to Tough Questions

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Image by Kasun Chamara from Pixabay

I have been teaching the last few weeks at our Sunday morning men’s group, and for the last two Sunday’s have posed some tough questions for them to consider. 

Here are three questions they wrestled with that may leave a Christian flat-footed the first time they hear it. 

If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would be a Muslim. If you were born in India, you would probably be a Hindu. The only reason you’re a Christian is that you were born in America or that your parents raised you as a Christian.

You have made a ‘choice’ to be a Christian, not because your parents or grandparents were Christian. A family’ heritage’ is something that is handed down, usually something that adds honor or pride to a family or individual. A heritage is acquired because of one’s birth into a family or inheritance received, not because of a deed, action, choice, or behavior.

For example, my own family had a heritage of naming the firstborn boy John. We had several generations of John’s in my family, my older brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. I don’t know who started it or why, but I ended it. I much prefer Jedidiah over John, so we named our son Jedidiah John. 

When someone tells you you are a Christian because you were born into a Christian family, or you are a Muslim because your parents were Muslim, or Hindu because you were born in India, commit the genetic fallacy.

I may have started out as a Christian because I was born into a Christian family, but that has nothing to do with the ‘truth’ of my religion. People (often professors in college) will be the first to make this claim to young believers. You’re a Christian because you were born in America. Many students will have never heard this before and do not have a thoughtful, reasoned response. It could be the first in a long line of objections that undermine their faith. We need to be Christians who are Christians because it is true, not because our parents were Christians.

Students need to have established their faith within themselves before they go to college or join the workforce, or at least begin the process. The truth of their belief has nothing to do with their being born into that religion. Hopefully, they have some reasons for their faith (reasons they can share with others), and they’re not just parroting their parent’s beliefs.

God states in Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder. But, then in Joshua and Judges, God allows and even commands people to murder and destroy cities, all the men, women, and children. Isn’t that a contradiction?

It is not about what people call murder, but what God calls murder. Murder is killing that is not morally justified.

Yes, God called for the destruction of cities and people groups, but there is an essential distinction between killing and murder. I will add that if you make it, you own it. God granted us our lives, and He has the prerogative to take them away.

For example, the Canaanites were not destroyed because of race, religion, or land. Neither were they killed to convert to Judaism. It was their sin. They were a violent people who practiced idolatry, group sex, rape, bestiality, and child sacrifice.

The earliest Canaanite laws prescribed the death penalty for incest, but a few centuries later, it was a mere economic penalty, liken it to a parking ticket.

We also have sources outside the Bible that confirm child sacrifice was taking place regularly within the Canaanite religion; no other ancient culture did this consistently.

If God is so loving and forgiving, why can’t he be more tolerant of our sin?

God is loving, God is forgiving, and God is merciful, but that is not necessarily the same as being tolerant. The word tolerant today has changed into being accepting of other views. That is, you have to agree with them, not just tolerate them.

Look up tolerance online, from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and you will see the words “marked by forbearance or endurance.” In other words, you have to struggle with something that rubs you the wrong way, something you find disagreeable or even painful.

There is a reason God does not tolerate sin. His nature is holy and pure. There is no impurity within Him, and He cannot be in any kind of relationship with sin.

It is His combination of mercy and justice that gives us the answer we so desperately need. His mercy by itself cannot satisfy his perfect justice any more than His justice can be satisfied by His perfect mercy. Both demand a Godly response.

The sin has to be paid for, and His paying for it not only satisfies His justice but His mercy. God is VERY intolerant of sin, but His love for us, His mercy toward us, provides a way for us as imperfect vessels to dwell with a holy and perfect being.


Quick Replies To Tough Questions by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/blog.

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