Atavisms

Jerry Coyne, in his book, Why Evolution is True, presents atavisms as an evidence of evolution. What is an atavism? Coyne says, “These sporadically expressed remnants of ancestral features are called atavisms” (1) and goes on to say, “They differ from vestigial traits because they occur only occasionally rather than in every individual.” (1)

Atavisms are believed to occur because “they come from the reexpression of genes that were functional in ancestors but were silenced by natural selection when they were no longer needed. Yet these dormant genes can sometimes be reawakened when something goes awry in development.”

Some of these atavisms are misinterpreted and mislabeled by evolutionists. They are not vestigial, nor are they evidence of an organisms macroevolutionary past. But then there are cases where an atavism may only indicate a ‘loss of function,’ something that is perfectly consistent with the Creation model. The fall in Genesis 3 had deleterious effects on the world and created an environment where mutations and entropy are possible. In the list of atavisms below, I will distinguish between those which are mislabeled and those which reflect nothing more than a loss of function.

Whale legs

Jerry Coyne, in Why Evolution is True, said, “The most famous genuine atavisms are probably the legs of whales. We’ve already learned that some species of whales retain vestigial pelvises and rear leg bones, but about one whale in 500 is actually born with a rear leg that protrudes outside the body wall. These limbs show all degrees of refinement, with many of them clearly containing the major leg bones of terrestrial mammals – the femur, tibia, and fibula. Some even have feet and toes!”

First of all the so-called ‘pelvic bones’ are not vestigial hind-legs, but serve a known function even today! They are anchor points for special muscles used in reproduction.

“Perhaps they serve some function such as helping to support the whales reproductive anatomy.” –Austin Cline (13)

Jim Dines, the Collections Manager of Mammalogy at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County: “People that really know the reproductive biology of whales and dolphins already know and have known that these pelvic bones are an anchor point for reproductive organs.” (15)

“That the modern whale’s pelvis is still used for help in reproduction does not change the fact that it is vestigial.” –Evolutionwiki (12)

The ‘evidence’ of whale legs (with digits) is very anecdotal as evidenced by the TalkOrigins website.

“On October 28, 2006, Japanese fishermen captured a four-finned dolphin off the coast of western Japan, and donated the whale to the Taiji Whaling Museum where it is currently being studied. This bottlenose dolphin has an extra set of hindlimbs, two well-formed palm-sized flippers that move and flap like the normal fore-flippers. As with other atavistic structures, these limbs are likely the result of a rare mutation that allows an underlying, yet cryptic developmental pathway to become reactivated.” –Douglas Theobald, Ph.D (5)

But Katsuki Hayashi, director of the Taiji Whaling Museum said that, “Though odd-shaped protrusions have been found near the tails of dolphins and whales captures in the past, researchers thought it was the first time one had been found with well-developed, symmetrical fins.” (8) This is clearly a mutation, and perhaps it is nothing more than that. Some humans are born with three nipples, an extra finger or toe (polydactyly). Some cats are born with four ears (6).

Regarding the accounts of whales with legs, Carl Wieland with Creation Ministries International has noted, “There is a complex DNA program which causes the development of the normal bone in this part of the whale’s anatomy. A mutational defect in this program could easily cause one or more extra pieces of bone to form, which would almost inevitably be in the same region, either separate from or fused with the normal bone. In the same way, people can be born with extra fingers, ribs, nipples, etc. If this should extend to two extra pieces of bone, no matter how misshapen or otherwise these were, enthusiastic evolutionists would no doubt interpret one additional piece of bone as a ‘femur,’ and any second one would be labeled a ‘tibia’ (shin bone).” (7)

Finally, I will only point out that, regarding whale evolution, it is commonly asserted that the “ancestor” of modern whales, the Basilosaurus, had hind legs. But this claim reflects evolutionary presuppositions yet again:

  • From an August 2010 National Geographic article by Tom Mueller: “Basilosaurus was indeed a whale, but one with two delicate hind legs, each the size of a three-year-old girl’s leg, protruding from its flanks. These winsome little limbs—perfectly formed yet useless, at least for walking—are a crucial clue to understanding how modern whales, supremely adapted swimming machines, descended from land mammals that once walked on all fours.” (16)
  • And yet consider these two points:
    • The same article by Mueller admits that these ‘hind legs’ had a purpose: “Though unable to support a Basilosaurus’s weight on land, these legs weren’t completely vestigial. They had attachments for powerful muscles, as well as functional ankle joints and complex locking mechanisms in the knee. Gingerich speculates that they served as stimulators or guides during copulation.” (16)
    • The Basilosaurus is believed by many to have nothing to do with whales. “The serpentine form of the body and the peculiar shape of the cheek teeth make it plain that these archaeocetes could not possibly have been the ancestor of modern whales.” –Barbara Stahl, a vertebrate paleontologist and evolutionist

Horse Toes

It is believed that horses evolved from smaller, five-toed ancestors.

Consider toe development in horses:

  • Horse embryos begin development with three toes.
  • Later, the middle toe begins to grow faster. At birth, the smaller two toes are left as thin “splint bones”
  • Jerry Coyne says, “On rare occasions, though, the extra digits continue developing until they become true extra toes, complete with hoofs…This is exactly what the ancient horse Merychippus looked like 15 million years ago.”

This is one of those examples of a simple loss of function…something creationists accept. I can view this as a simple loss of function because this is possible within the microevolutionary, biblical framework. Even Coyne acknowledges in this case that the ancient three-toed ancestor of modern horses was a horse!

Human tails

Jerry Coyne notes, “Rarely…a baby is born with a tail projecting from the base of its spine. The tails vary tremendously: some are ‘soft,’ without bone, while others contain vertebrae – the same vertebrae normally fused together in our tailbone. Some tails are an inch long, others nearly a foot. And they aren’t just simple flaps of skin, but can have hair, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Some can even wiggle.” He concludes, “What could this mean, other than that we still carry a developmental program for making tails? Indeed, recent genetic work has shown that we carry exactly the same genes that make tails in animals like mice, but these genes are normally deactivated in human fetuses.” (1)

In an article by Dr. Fred Ledley called “Evolution and the Human Tail” that appeared in the May 20, 1982 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, he argued that the rare human tail is proof-positive for evolution. But then, later in the article, he says this: “When the caudal appendage is critically examined, however, it is evident that there are major morphologic differences between the caudal appendage and the tails of other vertebrates. First of all, the caudal appendage does not contain even rudimentary vertebral structures.… Secondly, the appendage is not located at the caudal terminus of the vertebral column. It is possible that this structure is merely a dermal appendage coincidentally located in the caudal region. This possibility cannot be excluded.” (14)

Gary Parker, a creationist, responds: “The nervous system starts stretched out open on the back. During development, it rises up in ridges and rolls shut. It starts to ‘zipper’ shut in the middle first, then it zippers toward either end. Once in a while it doesn’t go far enough, and that produces a serious defect called spina bifida. Sometimes it rolls a little too far. Then the baby will be born – not with a tail, but with a fatty tumor. It’s just skin and a little fatty tissue, so the doctor can just cut it off.” (4)

Even if there are rare cases where a baby is born with a tail, it is not much different than cases where babies are born with extra fingers or toes. The genetic information that exists for the vertebra is already there and so bony “tails” would be a mutation of already-existing genetic information. This is a case where evolutionary presuppositions force an unnecessary conclusion from the data.

Some have argued that humans have pseudogenes that, when reactivated, may be the cause of these atavistic tails.

  • According to TalkOrigins: “In fact, the genes that control the development of tails in mice and other vertebrates have been identified (the Wnt-3a and Cdx1 genes)…As predicted by common descent from the atavistic evidence, these tail genes have also been discovered in the human genome.” (18)
  • Even though both the Wnt-3a and Cdx1 genes allegedly play a role in tail formation in mice, these genes have other known functions in humans. (18)(19)

Wings in Earwigs

From the Orkin website: “There are over 1,500 species of earwigs documented, and most species of earwigs have wings. The name of the biological order which they belong, Dermaptera, actually means leather or skin wings. The front wings, or forewings, are not clear but rather are darker and more durable. Even though most species of earwigs have wings, not all species fly.” (11)

Dew Claws in Dogs

“The dewclaws are not dead appendages. They can be used to lightly grip bones and other items that dogs hold with the paws.” -Wikipedia (9) “The dewclaw served as a purpose in ancient dogs, but isn’t not relevant for modern canines. In the wild and today, the extra digit helped canines climbing or holding objects such as the dead animals they were snacking on…” –Jane Meggitt, The Purpose of the Dewclaw on Dogs, “The Daily Puppy” (10)

So it appears that this is yet another example of a loss of function or and potentially a loss of information. This is acceptable within the creation model.

Conclusion

  • Many of these ‘atavisms’ reflect a resurgence of an old trait or feature, which only proves a loss of information and/or loss of function. This fits in the creation model. (i.e. dewclaws)
  • Many of these ‘atavisms’ involve a mutational duplication of pre-existing genetic information (extra fingers and toes). Creationists do not deny that such occurs. (i.e. human tails, whale legs).
  • If evolution is true, there ought to be a much wider and more frequent occurrence of atavisms, such as humans being born with gills, scales or fins.
  • Many of these atavisms reflect an evolutionary presupposition.

SOURCES:
(1) Jerry Coyne, “Why Evolution is True,” 2009, pg. 64

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atavism

(3) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atavism

(4) http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c024.html#1

(5) http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section2.html#atavisms

(6) http://messybeast.com/freak-ears.htm

(7) http://creation.com/the-strange-tale-of-the-leg-on-the-whale

(8) http://creation.com/a-dolphin-with-legs-not, originally reported on breitbard.com

(9) http://creation.com/a-dolphin-with-legs-not

(10) http://dogcare.dailypuppy.com/purpose-dewclaw-dogs-2110.html

(11) http://www.orkin.com/other/earwigs/do-earwigs-have-wings-and-do-they-fly/

(12) http://evolutionwiki.org/wiki/Without_the_pelvis_whales_cannot_reproduce

(13) (http://atheism.about.com/od/evolutionexplained/a/VestigialOrgansAppendix.htm

(14) http://www.icr.org/article/evolution-human-tail/

(15) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/09/09/long-forgotten-secrets-of-whale-sex-revealed/

(16) http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2010/08/whale-evolution/mueller-text

(17) http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section2.html#atavisms_ex2

(18) https://www.wikigenes.org/e/gene/e/7473.html

(19) https://www.wikigenes.org/e/gene/e/12590.html

 

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Is Haiti Being Punished By God?

I’m sure by now that you have heard of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that has struck Haiti. Great damage has been done to the infrastructure of Haiti, and it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Haitians have died as a result of this natural disaster. During times like these, we ask ourselves, why did this happen?

Many religious people might argue that the earthquake is an expression of God’s indignation towards the Haitians. In other words, because of the sins of the Haitians (I have heard that it is a very ungodly place), God punished them by sending the earthquake.

But can we really make such a claim?

Let’s turn to Luke 13:1-5. Here we find an answer to this question. The text says, “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.'”

When we witness tragedy, it may be tempting to say that God is punishing the wicked people who are involved. Many today may say this about the earthquake in Haiti. I know that this same reasoning was tossed around when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. But according to Jesus in Luke 13, it is really not our place to make such claims.

John 9 is another great text to consider here. In John 9:2, the disciples’ asked Jesus, “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.'” Again, we see that suffering is not always the result of personal sin. In this case, the man was born blind that the works of God might be revealed in Him.

Perhaps the earthquake has struck Haiti so that the works of God might be revealed there. I’m not suggesting that miracles are going to be performed in Haiti, but certainly, this is an opportunity for God’s people to show the love of Christ to those people there. We can send financial relief. Perhaps missionaries and evangelists will utilize this opportunity to reach out to the Haitians.

In any case, the tragedy in Haiti reminds us all that God is mighty and infinite in power. As we noticed in Luke 13, instead of exalting ourselves and pointing our judgmental finger at the Haitians, let us instead acknowledge that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

Having said all that, I also want to point out that it is possible that God is indeed punishing the Haitians. The fact is, God does judge wicked nations. Just read the prophets (Isaiah-Malachi) and even certain parts of the book of Revelation, and this point will be obvious to you. So yes, it is possible that God is judging Haiti, but again, can we as people know the mind of God in this matter? No.

So much more could be said about this subject, but I’ll end the article here. May God bless the Haitians during this time of tragedy, and may we do all that we can to help them.

The Completed Canon

We ought to be thankful that we do not serve a detached God who has left us to fend for ourselves, but has, in fact, revealed Himself and expressed His will to us. Yes, there is the testimony of the natural world (Ps. 19:1-2; Rom. 1:20)—design demands a designer. We can see that there is an intelligent Creator behind the complicated universe of which we are a part. But to know the will and mind of God, we cannot turn to the trees or stars.

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

You cannot know what is on my mind unless I tell you what I am thinking. Likewise, we cannot know what is in God’s mind unless He reveals His thoughts to us. Paul’s point in the above passage is that we are not left wondering what God’s will might be. God has revealed His will to us through the Holy Spirit

During the Old Testament times, God “at various times and in various ways spoke…to the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). He spoke to Balaam through a donkey. He appeared to Elijah in the form of a still-small voice. Moses encountered God in the burning bush. God appeared to men and women in dreams and visions, and delivered messages via angels and signs. On occasion, God conveyed a message by a strange symbol, such as when Hosea was instructed to marry the harlot Gomer.

God used men like Moses, Ezra and David to record His words. The written word of God, or scriptures, served as the basis for faith even in the Old Testament. These scriptures were fully inspired and consisted of the very words of God, breathed by Him (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

While God “at various times and in various ways spoke…to the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), this was not the case during the days of Jesus and the apostles. Hebrews 1:2 indicates that He “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” So the manner in which God revealed Himself changed from the Old Testament era to the New Testament era.

Jesus came as the “Word” (John 1:1, 14). His life was dedicated to revealing the law of the kingdom, and He did so by the authority of the Father. Notice the following series of statements made by Jesus to His apostles during the famous “upper room discourse” in John 14-16…

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you…However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:7, 13).

The will of God was revealed through Christ during His ministry on earth. But Jesus Himself told the apostles that He had not revealed His entire will during the three years of His ministry. There was much more that still needed to be revealed, but it wouldn’t happen until after He left them. When Jesus left them, the Holy Spirit would come and guide the apostles into all truth. Coupled with what Jesus had already said, they would come to learn all of the truth.

When did the apostles receive the Holy Spirit? According to Acts 1:4-5, the apostles would be filled with the Holy Spirit not many days after Jesus’ ascension. At that point, they would begin to spread the gospel of Christ to all nations (vs. 8). These things were fulfilled in Acts 2:1-4. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in tongues. It is no coincidence that we find the apostles preaching for the first time to thousands of Jews in Jerusalem by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit—a direct fulfillment of what Jesus had promised them in Acts 1:4-5.

So what do we have up to this point? Jesus, the “Word,” began to reveal the laws and conditions of the new covenant during His ministry, but He could not reveal everything. The apostles were commissioned by Christ to finish the job by the direction of the Holy Spirit. They would be guided into all truth, and through their ministries, the “world” would be convicted “of sin…of righteousness…of judgment” (John 16:8-11). Whereas the Old Testament law was revealed to the nation of Israel specifically, the New Testament law, i.e. the gospel, would be revealed to all the world by the inspired and Spirit-filled apostles of Christ.

The apostles conveyed the gospel message both orally and in written form (2 Thess. 2:15). The oral message would have been confined to those who heard it, but the written message had/has the advantage of permanency and finality. Ultimately, it was God’s will for the entire New Testament message to be recorded in written form.

“…how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:3-5).

Paul, in Ephesians 3, echoes what Jesus told the apostles in the upper room in John 14-16. The apostles would be filled with the Holy Spirit, would be led by the Spirit to understand ALL truth, and would convey that complete message to the world. What Paul clarifies in Ephesians 3 is that “all truth” was written down in the form of inspired scripture so that all the world might read and understand the message/gospel of Christ.

Couple this with the following two passages:

“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by prophetic scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Rom. 16:25-26).

“ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The apostles were led by the Spirit into all truth. This truth was written down. The New Testament scriptures represent ALL of this truth. The scriptures are complete. Therefore, we can read and understand the scriptures penned by the apostles, coupled with the scriptures of the Old Testament, and can know exactly what God expects of us. He left nothing out.

Moreover, the inspired apostle Paul wrote that the canon of the New Testament would reach a point of completion. Notice what is written in 1 Corinthians 13:8-11…

“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

The point of the above passage is that while love will never fail, the miraculous gifts of the first century would come to an end. Prophecies, tongues and miraculous knowledge—all of this would cease and vanish. The transition point of the miraculous age to the non-miraculous age is given in verse 10: “when that which is perfect has come.” The word perfect literally means “complete.” And so Paul is making a contrast here in 1 Corinthians 13:8-11. The miraculous gifts were “in part.” That is, they were imperfect. But something was coming that represented the whole, or the perfect. To put it another way, the miraculous gifts were like the individual pieces of a pie, but then there is the whole pie. The age of miracles was incomplete, but perfection/completion was coming, and when it died, the miracles would no longer exist.

With this in mind, consider what the following two scriptures say concerning the purpose of miracles in the first century:

“And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they touch anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover…And they [the apostles] went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:17-18, 20).

“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3-4).

Miracles existed for the purpose of confirming the word as it was being revealed in the first century. So, in 1 Corinthians 13:8-11, the “perfect” has to be the completed revelation of Jesus Christ. Once the New Testament message was completely revealed and confirmed, the need for miracles ended. Much more could be said about the duration of miracles, but all I’m trying to prove here is that God never intended for the process of revelation to continue throughout all times and ages. Rather, the apostles would be led by the Spirit into ALL truth. ALL truth was revealed and recorded so that we can read and understand the will of God. The apostles completed their mission and the 27 epistles of the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, were written, copied, distributed and eventually canonized by the providence of God.

Notice the following sequence of passages as we conclude this study and make some final conclusions…

“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“There is one body…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God…” (Eph. 4:4-5).

“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

God no longer reveals Himself to us through visions and dreams. He no longer speaks to us audibly as He once spoke to those during Bible times. God’s mind, His words, His will, have been completely revealed to us in the form of the New Testament scriptures.

Were the apostles led into all truth in the first century, or is there some truth that has yet been revealed? Jesus said the apostles received it all (John 16:13). Did the apostles reveal it all to the first century Christians, or did they hold back? Paul said he revealed it all (Ac. 20:27), and Jude confirmed that “the faith” was once delivered (Jude 3). Did or didn’t the apostles record the complete new covenant of Jesus Christ so that even 21st century Christians can be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17)? Can we read and understand these words? Yes (Eph. 3:3-5).

As I serve God, I rely not upon some vision or dream or sign from heaven to know what God expects of me; I turn to the New Testament, for it is the mind of Christ.

The Process of Inspiration

It is often said that the Bible is the “inspired” word of God. This language is derived from 2 Timothy 3:16 where Paul writes, “All scripture (the written word) is given by inspiration of God.” But what does it mean that the Bible is inspired? There is some confusion on this point.
The Encarta Dictionary defines inspiration as, “stimulation for the human mind to creative thought or to the making of art.” Of course, this is how we generally use the word inspiration. On a secular level, an author may say that a certain event inspired them to write a book; an artist may say that a childhood excursion to an art museum inspired them to pick up a paintbrush for the first time. On a more spiritual level, even I may say that a certain event inspired my recent sermon.
However, this is not what we mean when we say that the Bible is the inspired word of God. In other words, God didn’t merely “inspire” the apostles and prophets by stimulating them to creative thought. So what does it mean, then, that the Bible is inspired? Let’s go back for a moment to 2 Timothy 3:16, which is where we find this word “inspiration” in reference to the scriptures. The word itself is from the Greek word theopneustos and means, “divinely breathed in.” So the words that comprise the “scriptures” have been breathed by God. This means that the words from Genesis to Revelation are not the words of men that have been “inspired” or “stimulated” by spiritual experiences; rather, these are the very words of God.
For more insight on this process, let’s consider 2 Peter 1:19-21…
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Peter is giving us insight into the manner in which the scriptures are inspired. It’s not as if these holy men of God received an inspired thought that theyfallibly interpreted and recorded. Instead, those men wrote exactly what the Spirit of God moved them to write. There are many other verses that confirm that this was indeed how the process unfolded.
Moses, David, Luke, Paul and all the other men who penned the scriptureswere NOT simply stimulated to creative thought by their own unique experiences. These men were moved by the Holy Spirit to record the very words of God, breathed out by God Himself, so that we might know, not what Paul thinks about God, but what GOD says about Himself and His will.
This article may inspire other questions, but I simply wanted to offer a brief, biblical explanation of the meaning and process of inspiration. Feel free to submit any comments or questions below!

Pagan Temple Discovered

I just noticed on foxnews.com that archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple west of Jerusalem in a site known to archaeologists as “Tel Motza.”
The term Tel refers to a “mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries.” Just as the leaves of autumn accumulate over the course of many years, forming compost and enriching the forest floor, so also did ancient cities, over time, accumulate debris and thus deeper foundations.
So Tel Motza is the archaeological site of an ancient city known now as Motza. Motza is connected to the biblical city of “Mozah” which is mentioned by name in Joshua 18:26 and that existed in the borderlands of the tribal allotment of Benjamin…not far from Jerusalem.
Having defined these terms, not only is this recent archaeological find interesting, it seems to provide evidence for the timeline of the Scriptures. Check it out…
King Solomon lived and reigned about 3,000 years ago, and during his reign (as well as prior to his reign), the people were dedicated wholly to the Lord and thus alternative religions and rituals were banned (1 Kings 8:54-61). While Solomon did turn to pagan worship towards the latter end of his 40-year reign, it’s inferred that the Temple in Jerusalem remained the only formal temple in the land of Israel (1 Kings 12:26-27).
However, following Solomon’s reign, there was an apostasy in the southern kingdom of Judah. Some good kings reigned, but overall, there was a decline in the moral and religious leanings of the southern kingdom. Later, kings Hezekiah, Josiah and Uzziah (especially Josiah) instituted radical religious reform, but it’s during that gap between Solomon and Josiah that this temple in Mozah allegedly existed (and was destroyed). Archaeologists have dated this pagan temple to about 2,750 years ago. Again, Solomon reigned 3,000 years ago and Jerusalem fell almost 2,600 years ago, so the temple existed between those dates…during the time of apostasy and decline in Israel.
It’s always interesting when new sites are discovered, but it’s especially interesting when discoveries are made that seem to confirm the Scriptures in some way.
For more on this discovery, read the article here.

Should I Trust Science?

Last night, along with a few others from my church family, I watched the much anticipated debate between Bill Nye (the science guy) and Ken Ham in which they sought to answer, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era?” In other words, is it reasonable to assert that a sovereign, omnipotent Creator made the universe, the earth, and all living things about 6,000 years ago? Or, to be scientific, must we embrace naturalistic causes and billions of years? Is this a conflict between superstition and science or a conflict between two philosophical worldviews based on different interpretations of the evidence?

Bill Nye argued that creation is NOT a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era. He repeatedly asserted that there is an overwhelming abundance of astronomical, geological and biological evidence of an ‘old earth’ and chemical evolution (molecules to man). Conversely, he made the point that creationism is not only unscientific, but deleterious to scientific advancements and discoveries.
Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the alleged evidences for the Big Bang, an old earth and Darwinian evolution. I’ve spent even more time studying the Scriptures to discern the age of the earth and whether there is a way to harmonize evolution and Scripture (i.e. Theistic Evolution). I’ve discussed and debated these issues with brethren at church, on Facebook, from the pulpit, and even with atheists and agnostics on the university campus.
I am one of those Christians who believes in a young earth. So I would side with Ken Ham on this issue. You can find out why I believe this by reading an article I wrote back in January called 5 Biblical Reasons to Believe in 6 Literal Days.
But setting the Bible aside for just a moment, my question is this: from a purely scientific perspective, can we all implicitly trust the consensus of modern scientists that the earth is old and that we are here because of evolution? As Bill Nye argued in last night’s debate, are we ignorant when we question the abundance of evidence for an old earth and evolution?
I would say that even without the Bible, it is still reasonable to have doubts about the current consensus of scientists regarding the origins and age of the universe. And I have two reasons that I hope you will consider with me…
  1. There are a number of well-documented examples throughout history of widely-embraced scientific “facts” that turned out to be completely wrong. For example, in ancient Greece, it was believed that the liver, not the heart, pumped the blood in your body, and that your organs consumed your blood as fuel. This was finally disproven in 1628 by William Harvey. Another example: Until the late 19th century, doctors didn’t wash their hands before surgery and blamed the subsequent diseases, not on germs, but on “bad air” and the “four humors.” You might also research spontaneous generation, phlogiston, alchemy and blood-letting. And there are so many other examples. My point is that there is a difference between consensus and fact, and sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference (because of limited knowledge and presuppositions). Darwinian evolution may be the consensus view of scientists today, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fact. And even though we know a lot more than folks did a few hundred years ago, don’t think we know it all. In fact, I would suggest to you that we have barely scratched the surface of scientific truth.
  2. Even among evolutionists, there isn’t consensus regarding what exactly has happened and how it has happened. For example, not all evolutionists explain the origin of the universe by the Big Bang theory. Others ascribe to the “Steady State Theory.” There are different views regarding the means by which dinosaurs “went extinct.” Some say it was a meteor, others, a volcanic eruption, and so on. And if you think there is consensus regarding human evolution, you are mistaken! There is constant debate regarding the identity of so-called “primitive man.” In fact, if you’ve been following the news lately, there is growing skepticism that Neanderthal was an intermediate link between man and our so-called “ape-like ancestor.” And so within the scientific community, there are countless disagreements and debates raging over even the most basic tenets of origins and evolution. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
So let’s set the Bible aside for just a moment and honestly examine science. Are we really being unreasonable and ignorant when we have doubts about billions of years and Darwinian evolution? And if we have such doubts, are we suddenly a threat to the progress of science? Men such as Galileo and Louis Pasteur (who challenged the consensus and turned out to be right) are proof-positive that we can still love science while rejecting a particular scientific claim.
Having said this, I want to make it very clear that science is wonderful and that there are a lot of great scientists out there. And even though Darwinian evolution and billions of years are the consensus views of modern scientists, not all scientists agree; there are many, many scientists who are also young earth creationists, and others who objectively question the status-quo. My objection in this article is not against science or scientists per se, but to the notion that all scientific claims have to be regarded as inerrant fact to the neglect or injury of the Scriptures.

So…”is creationism a viable model of origins in today’s scientific era?” Of course! As with “old earth evolutionists,” creationists have a worldview that is based on an interpretation of the evidence that exists. And I would agree with Ken Ham’s assertion last night that creationism, in fact, offers the most sensible explanation of the evidence.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heart. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

In closing, while scientific claims are ever changing, and while man will always be limited in what he can know about the universe (on his own), we find consistent, unchanging, infallible truth in the inspired Scriptures…which have been authored by the Creator of us all, the sovereign originator of science itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I will put my trust in the incorruptible word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:22-25) rather than the claims of fallible men, especially when it comes down to choosing one over the other.

Six Reasons For My Faith

I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God…and therefore, I believe that the God of the Bible is real. Why do I believe this? Here are six reasons.
  1. The Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, written by over 40 different men from all walks of life, on three different continents, over a span of 1,500 years. And what’s amazing is that these men all addressed countless controversial topics with amazing consistency and harmony. Beyond that, they all contributed in their own way to a greater theme, or story: the story of God’s scheme of redemption. It’s impossible to get two random people to agree on everything. To get over forty men from different cultures and time periods to agree on everything is definitely impossible. So either there is an incredible intricate conspiracy at work here, or these forty men were inspired by a common source.
  2. When the issue of salvation comes up, we often focus exclusively on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This is like looking at the beautiful flower without appreciating the intricate root system underground, or the process by which that beautiful flower has grown from a tiny seed. Yes, the cross is the climactic point of God’s plan, but to truly comprehend the depths of God’s plan, we have to study the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, we find the “mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:1-7). Clues are given inthe stories of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, etc. We see the foreshadowing. We see God’s plan slowly but surely unfolding…perfectly and beautifully. And then, in the life of Jesus, we see it all coming to a head. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law (Luke 24:44). And it is my firm conviction that this intricate scheme of redemption is so deep and so incredible that no man could ever have produced it on his own accord.
  3. Unlike the Book of Mormon and other so-called holy books, the Bible is supported by an insane amount of archaeological and historical evidence. The lands and cities of the Bible can be visited today. The nations and kings mentioned throughout the Bible did exist, as confirmed by historians and archaeologists (read this article). From the Mesopotamian culture of Abraham’s day, to the dealings of the kingdom of Israel, to the early days of Christianity, the timeline of the Bible has been overwhelmingly proven.
  4. One of the most powerful evidences of the Bible’s divine authorship is prophecy. Prophecies about Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28), the Phoenician city of Tyre (Ezekiel 26), the succession of kingdoms from Babylon to Rome (Daniel 2-8), and of course, the dozens of specific prophecies of the Messiah, are found throughout the Old Testament. We can prove that these very specific prophecies were made before they were fulfilled, and we can examine not only the Bible, but historical records, to prove their fulfillment. The only explanation is God!
  5. While the Bible is not a ‘science textbook,’ it does make statements regarding the natural world that have been proven to be true. Many of these scientific statements were made long before they were discovered by secular scientists. We call this “scientific foreknowledge.” While I do not endorse everything said on this website,click here to learn more about this.
  6. For what it’s worth, I also believe that the God of the Bible, as He is defined and characterized from beginning to end, has exhibited Himself providentially in my life. I have seen Him at work not only in my life, but the lives of countless others. His providence. His care. His love. It’s been truly an amazing experience.
So much more study can be done on all six of these points, and if you’re truly interested in such a study, there are a ton of resources out there to help you in your journey. Hopefully, you can see that I have not blindly accepted the inspiration of the Bible. Through much study, I have concluded that the Bible is inspired by God…which means, of course, that the God of the Bible is real.

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Debate at UNR

Debate at UNRSeptember 23rd, 2014
"Evolution or Creationism: Which Has More Scientific Evidence?" I'll be defending the creationist position in this debate which will be held at the University of Nevada.