Archive for category Apologetics

Eyes to See: God, Health, Resurrection, & Rapture

Recently, I had one of the strangest things happen to me.  I woke up one morning and my eyesight had changed overnight from farsighted to nearsighted.  I picked up my iPHone and could see it clearly where the night before I needed my glasses to make out anything clearly.  What a strange miracle I thought!  Then I looked up and it was all foggy when I tried to see long distance.  Ouch! In church I could not see the words of the songs on the screen, but could read my Bible clearly without glasses.  The week before the reverse was true.

Such an immediate shift caused some consternation to be sure.  But three doctors’ appointments later a natural explanation was at hand.   I had been given the drug prednisone by my general doctor for a skin rash.  That drug spiked the sugar in my system enormously.  As a result, the lenses in my eyes absorbed excess water and other materials.  This caused the lenses to bulge which changed the refraction in my eyes.  Hence, I went overnight from farsighted to nearsighted.  Of course, my doctors took me off the prednisone and I was put on medicine to help my system regulate the sugar.  The retinal specialist told me that it would take about six weeks for my eyes to return to the state they were in before the change occurred.  After the six weeks were up, another miracle of sorts appeared.  My eyes were actually “better” than they were before I had the recent problem.  All of my astigmatism was gone.  The very slight offset to my farsight was gone.  My far off sight was now perfect.  Even my close up sight was slightly better.  I thank the Lord for this even though I did not enjoy the process.

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God and Calamity

Earlier today I skimmed through the 1974 book Philosophy of Religion by Norman Geisler, one of my former profs when I was doing doctoral work in theology back in the 1980s.  The problem of God and calamity is the physical problem of evil.  In short form, it is the question of how an ominpotent and loving God would allow physical calamities like hurricanes, tornados, disease, etc., to cause hurt and death.  This form of complaint against Christian theism is raised at many different points with calamities being only one of them.

Geisler gives an overview of his theistic solution to physical evil in the following way:

“In summation, there are many different functions served by physical evil.  But all physical evil is necessary to  the moral conditions of free creatures (human or angelic), which conditions are necessary for the achievement of the best possible world.  Natural evils are necessary to a natural world and a natural world is essential to (or, at least not incompatible with) the conditions of full freedom that are necessary for the achievement of the best possible world.” (p. 395)

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Hurricane Irene: God and Calamity

Hurricane Irene, which had downgraded to a tropical storm, came through our area (Scranton, PA area) yesterday bringing a deluge of rain and high winds.  We are a little over two hours west of New York City.   Some areas lost power and there was minor wind damage in the form of tree limbs downed.  However, at my house the lights flickered once and nothing significant happened.  We are grateful for this but join those who mourn for lost loved ones due to this storm.

When I got up this morning, the sky was crystal clear, the clearest blue I have ever seen.  It is as if God used Irene to wash the sky.  It has been a beautiful day.

Last week in chapel at Baptist Bible Seminary I spoke on “God and Calamity” in light of my church’s summer ministry doing tornado relief work in Alabama.  It is part of my gearing up to deal with the apologetics question of how a good God could allow such things as tornados that kill people.  Later that day was the earthquake on the east coast.  Now with the hurricane, my students don’t want to see me preach in chapel any more!

The content of my sermon was based on Jesus’ statements in Luke 13:1-9 which seems to push believers to consider more important matters.  The audio of my sermon “God and Calamity” is available online at  Let me know what you think.

Who’s Indimidating Who? The Creation-Science Debate

I recently read two books on Bible and science issues.  One was the summary of RATE research by Dr. Don DeYoung, Thousands…Not Billions, which spoke in favor of detailed scientific support for a young age for the earth (with which I agree).  I was refreshed by the honest spirit I found.  At points where the evidence supported a young earth but also left further challenges in different directions, DeYoung did not duck the question and admitted the need for further research by young earth scientists.  He also couched his statements in terms of absolutes when he thought things were clear but in probabilistic terminology when young earth conclusions could be held but the evidence did not rule out other interpretations automatically.

The other book I just finished is Francis Collins’ book The Language of Love.  Collins is the somewhat famous head of the government genome project.  He is also one of the founders of BioLogos, an organization dedicated to propagating the position of theistic evolution.  It seemed for the most part to be a book recycling the old argument that similarity implies common ancestry biologically speaking.  It just adds the detailed information of the human and animal DNA to the argument.

One of the interesting comments I found by Collins was the following:  “While many scientists ascribe to TE [theistic evolution], they are in general reluctant to speak out for fear of negative reaction from their scientific peers, or perhaps for fear of criticism from the theological community” (p. 202).  While I can accept this concern to some degree, I find the concern to be somewhat puny next to the same concern for young earth creationists who are scientists or even those old earth creationists who don’t believe in evolution.  I have a friend who teaches in the sciences in a major state univeristy.  He once confided that he could lose his job if he became vocal about his rejection of evolution.  There are many qualified scientists who reject Darwin’s theory and who keep quite for fear of their jobs.  Also, there are many educational and research institiutions that would never hire a young earth creationist.  This seems to contradict the fact that the same crowd who rejects such people also seems to trumpet pluralism and invoke it when necessay to get their viewpoints across or put other viewpoints down.  All in all, who is trying to intimidate who?

A Young Earth and God’s Alleged Deception

Before I took the turn in my life into Christian ministry as a pastor and seminary educator, I was an aerospace engineer.  I worked on the space shuttle briefly as an intern as a senior in college (back before they built it).  I did most of my work on missile defense systems and especially the F-16 jet fighter.  I have a largely intellectual approach to my faith and have never relinquished my love for scientific method and the field of the sciences in particular.  Early on in my Christian life I became convinced of the young earth approach to harmonizing the Bible and so-called scientific discoveries and teachings.  I have always believed that I can do that with a clear conscience and without surrendering my mind and rational thought.

While I was a seminary student at Liberty Baptist Seminary in the late 1970s, I had a conversation with Dr. Lane Lester, who had come to teach at Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University) about the problem of God’s deception.  If God made the universe with apparent age (stretched out the light rays, etc.), then the things that we discover through our telescopes right now bring a dilemma to our attention.  The mechanics of the universe (speed of light, etc.) point to what we are seeing as having happened billions of years ago.  The young earth position says that what we are seeing did not exist billions of years ago since the earth is only 6000 to 10,000 years old.  Thus, God actually is deceiving us by the way that he designed things and perhaps the deception is ongoing.  Dr. Lester raised this question to me.  I am not sure that I had ever thought about it seriously before that time.  My initial thought was that God did not have to reveal all of his “mechanics” to us naturally.  He has communicated to us in other ways of special revelation.  If we accept the other ways God is communcating to us, we should not have a problem of God creating the universe with apparent age.

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Tornadoes, Fear, Social Action, and Apologetics

I am originally from Alabama, in particular, from Huntsville in the northern part of the state although as a small child I also lived in Eufaula in the southern part of the state.   I watched with horror as the reports came in about the tornadoes that ravaged the state and other states in late April (and in Missouri and other parts just a couple of days ago).  I saw the video of the large tornado going through Tuscaloosa.  After several days of trying to get ahold of my friends in Hunstville (I have no family there any more), I finally talked to some of them the week after.  One of my pastor friends, Rick Johnson, told me that nine tornadoes came through Huntsville that day and he saw two of them himself from his house.  Another close friend, Dr. Sam Wolfe, who helped lead me to Christ in 1974, told me that a subdivision not far from him had been totally demolished.  The picture on the left below is a picture of one of the tornadoes that went through Huntsville.  On the right is a picture of the tornado in Tuscaloosa for which most of the nation saw the video.

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