Ham on Nye

7 Feb

Like many others, I watched the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate on evolution on Tuesday.  Overall, I thought it was a decent debate and thought my time was well spent.

Like others have already written, and as Albert Mohler has summarized well in his recap, the underlying issues were ones of worldview and presuppositions.  I won’t go into all that because I couldn’t say it better than anyone else already has.  But I did want to add a few thoughts.ham-nye-postcard

A few things that Mr. Nye kept repeating that I wish Mr. Ham had addressed (or addressed more thoroughly) are these:

First, Mr. Nye kept implying that Christian faith is incompatible with “science.”  This is a false dichotomy.  He seemed to think that Christians must reject everything that science offers if we are to be consistent with young earth creationism.  He kept referring to cell phones, microbiology, geology, medicine, astronomy, etc. as areas that we accept but, basically, shouldn’t because we reject the idea of an old earth.

I think this stems from his failure (or refusal) to grasp the distinction between observational and historical science.  I understand that he sees them as just one category of “science” because, indeed, they do relate.  All field of science do relate in some way.  However, he would or could not admit that science applied in the here and now does not necessitate that things in the past be the same way.  It may make sense that they were, or the assumption may seem “reasonable” to him but there is nothing — nothing — demanding they absolutely were.  Demanding proof that they were different back then is impossible because the only way to prove it is to go back in time!  An example of presuppositions that shape how we approach the evidence.

That is how and why we can draw a line between historical and observational science.  Just because one can create an iPhone or build Mars rovers using scientific fields of astronomy or geology or electrical engineering doesn’t necessitate that the rate of the decay was the same 5000 years ago as it is today.  That is a classic begging the question fallacy.  It simply cannot be proven because no one was there 5000 years ago to prove the assumptions that we make today.

He failed to see and admit that many, many young earth Christians work in scientific fields; many are competent, well regarded, and love their jobs.  They can and do make contributions to scientific fields, and there is no disconnect between their ability to do that and their biblical position on creation.

While Mr. Ham wisely spent his time on the emphases he had, I wish he had been able to spend some more time on this.

Second, Mr. Nye implied several times that “Ken Ham’s creation model” doesn’t make predictions and since “science” does, it is superior.  Again, this is a false dichotomy.  He wasn’t exactly clear, but I think what he had in mind was the idea that, with the evolutionary model, scientists “predict” certain things to be in certain places (he gave the example of Tiktaalik at one point), and that with the creation model, scientists can’t do that.  (I hope he is not talking about general scientific predictions, not linked to evolution because Christian scientists make predictions exactly the same way non-Christians do.)

Indeed Mr. Ham did say, more or less in passing, that Christian scientists make predictions — but I interpreted that as in the general sense.  I think what Mr. Nye wasn’t grasping is that since young earth Christians already have a position on origins, there really isn’t a “need” to make the same kinds of predictions.  Rather, given what we know about creation, we can expect certain things to be how they are.  But that is an expectation, not a prediction to go test.  For example, we would expect similar gene structures among animals — not because of evolution, but because they have the same Creator.  Further, as Mr. Ham mentioned, young earth creationists do make models (as with the Flood) and test them.  That is a kind of prediction, testing to see if the theory holds water (no pun intended).

Mr. Nye actually isn’t imagining things how they might be if creation is true, and then passes the buck by saying Christians can’t predict; rather, he assumes evolution.  So he is making a category mistake.

Finally, Mr. Nye seemed to want to corner the market on science.  From what I know of him, he is an advocate for science and industry and invention — all very good traits.  But he acts like, if you believe in a young earth, then you cannot simultaneously be a good scientist, contribute to the scientific community, or even really enjoy science.  That would be funny if it wasn’t so wrong.  This relates to my first point; he sees it as all or nothing.  If you believe in a young earth, then you must reject science, period.  You cannot benefit from, let alone contribute to, science.

Clearly, Ken Ham and the Creation Museum love science — but they love it within a certain context.  Where Mr. Nye is curious about figuring out mysteries, Christians can simultaneously wonder at the “how” and be in awe of God’s power. Mr. Nye implied that Mr. Ham being “content” with the ark was a negative.  That is a red herring.  Accepting that God made it possible for Noah to build an ark does not mean we don’t care how it happened.  Why does he think that Answers in Genesis has poured money into investigating how it could have been done — because they don’t care?  Being content “that” something happened does not stop us from discovering “how” it happened.  Mr. Nye fails to distinguish between the two.

Again, Mr. Nye seemed to want to corner the market on love for science — that only secular, evolutionists can love the scientific fields.  I enjoy astronomy, and I know other Christians in the technology and medicine industries who just “love this stuff.”  The main difference between a secularist and a Christian, when it comes to their feelings towards science, is that a secularists’s joy is the pursuit itself, and it ends there.  Christians, on the other hand, have somebody, a Person, to be in awe of in the midst of that pursuit.

I do wish Mr. Ham had addressed that.  Mr. Nye is right: the US needs engineers and innovators, etc.  But he is simply wrong to imply that only evolutionary secularists can fill that need.

In Christ

The Canary in the Coal Mine

20 Sep

I forgot to post this… I preached a while ago at my home church.  You can listen or download here.


Unraveling Abortion

26 Oct

Many Christians (certainly not all) grow up in a conservative environment, both morally and politically.  Even if they haven’t thought about “why” a particular issue is right or wrong, they are convinced on issues like homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex and cohabitation, etc.  But there are also Christians on the more liberal side of the spectrum.  I know because I was one.  It is almost impossible to read the Bible honestly and walk away with the impression that Christianity is a “liberal” religion but note that I am giving these liberal-ish Christians the benefit of the doubt because I am assuming that at least some of them are ignorant of the issues.  If a “liberal” Christian were to confess the gospel and seriously subject himself to the biblical study of certain issues, I would question his Christianity if he continued his liberal leanings.  But that is not to whom this post is addressed.  It is to the person who has been fed a worldview but has never questioned it.

So I would like to tackle the issue of abortion today.  This is not the be-all, end-all of the argument, but hits the highlights as I began to think through the issue.  So let me start at the beginning.

I used to think abortion was fine, even when I became a believer.  I believed the gospel, I believed I was a sinner but I certainly was not educated or settled on the plethora of moral issues.  I was going off of (mis-) characterizations of Jesus Christ — he is loving, compassionate, merciful, etc. — and, in hindsight, I didn’t give much thought to his moral standard.

I believed that a woman has a right to choose — it’s her body, after all!  I didn’t think about when “life began” or stop to consider what God thought about fetuses.  In short, I believed the liberal version of the story.  They sounded right and compassionate, considerate towards women who were, in a sense, disenfranchised.  The ones making the argument also tried to help others who were disenfranchised — minorities, poor, uneducated, etc.  The ones arguing against abortion were the ones who seemed to lack compassion.

I know quite differently now.

What the Bible Says

At the end of the day, what matters is what God says about it.  I can’t say anything here that hasn’t already been said so I will simply summarize.  Abortion, in the eyes of God, is murder.  Murder is purposely and unjustly ending a human life.  This is distinct from similar concepts such as manslaughter (where this is no motive and premeditation) or capital punishment (which is, or should be, a just act).  Murder presupposes the one killed is a human being and Scripture is consistent in presenting fetuses as human beings, fully ordained and known by God.  Psalm 139:13-16; Psalm 71:6; Job 10:8; Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 44:2, 24; Galatians 1:15 — these all point to fetuses as the creation of God, with value in his eyes beyond a blob of cells.  They are persons to God.  He is the author of life.  And if fetuses are persons, then killing them is murder.  It really is that simple.

John MacArthur exposits some of these passages in his recent sermon Abortion and the Campaign for Immorality, available here.  My own pastor also offers his insight here.

Of course, unbelievers will not accept them without a fight.  If the discussion is political or social in nature (rather than religious), it may be helpful to consider the following, too.

The Argument Falls Apart on Its Own

What I realized is that the argument for abortion falls apart on its own.  No reasonable person will admit that murdering innocent people is fine — thus, the issue is “is a fetus a person?”  Clearly, the Bible says it is so we can rest in that.  However, when a “pro-choice” person makes the argument that since we don’t know when “human life” begins, he is actually digging himself a hole.  Let me explain.

This article demonstrates the self-condemning nature of justifying the killing of a fetus based on ignorance.  If you see a human-shaped overcoat lying in the road, you may not know for sure whether that overcoats actually covers a human being.  It certainly could be shaped like a person because of how the coat is bunched up or because of some material inside of it — but any reasonable person would avoid running over that coat because he doesn’t know.  If you run over that coat and someone is inside, that’s manslaughter.  If you run over it and it’s not a person, it is still negligence at a minimum.

The same principle applies to a fetus: if you don’t know it’s a person, why does that give you a right to kill it?  It doesn’t.  You cannot justify murder with ignorance.  Even from a secular perspective, our Constitution protects people.  If you do know it’s not a person, you find yourself taking an absolute position of defining when human life starts (good luck with that).

Women and Unfortunate Circumstances

The arguments are made that women ought to be able to make decisions about their own body (at best) or make a decision in cases of rape (at worst) or incest.  These arguments sound compassionate, almost reasonable, because at least they are considering the woman.

Now, rape and incest are horrible, horrible events.  No one who hasn’t experienced it is going to be able to fully identify with the shame, doubts, and personal violation that a rape victim experiences.  I can only imagine how the thoughts of “This baby will be a living memorial to the worst moment of my life” begin to creep in.  I do not mean to downplay the torment of rape.


As Voddie Baucham relates in this video how a particular rape victim contemplated abortion, “This child has done nothing wrong.”

It may seem unbearable to some women to let a child of rape into this world — but that child is innocent.  It is still murder.  A woman’s feelings, however justified, do not trump the right to life of the child.  If it is unbearable, please consider adopting him out.

The same principle applies to a child of incest.  It may be abhorrent to some people, but it does not justify murder.  The circumstances surrounding the conception of these children, while unfortunate, do not determine the child’s worthiness to live.

And if these principles apply to the “extreme” cases, how much more do they apply to abortions out of convenience?  The abortions due to timing, or school, or work, or the “oops”?  They simply carry no weight.

It’s Going to Suffer Anyway

But what about the arguments that the baby will have a poor quality of life, perhaps born into poverty?  Or that there is some defect such as Down’s Syndrome or even a fatal heart condition?  Well, now at least we are talking about the baby and not the mother.

But I would hope the issue is clearer now: none of this justifies murder.  But these, too, fail under their own weight.

As MacArthur said (and I’m paraphrasing), we’re all flawed — it’s just a matter of degree.  Almost all “defects” are on a spectrum.  We cannot arbitrarily draw a line and say, “This is defective enough to kill the baby, but this is not.”  No amount of posturing can back this up.  In fact, people are already making their cases that murdering a child outside of the womb is justifiable under certain circumstances, either because of defects or a failed abortion.  It’s not so different from justifying the Holocaust.  And if you attempt to justify the Holocaust, you have deeper issues than being ignorant of abortion and that is a separate discussion.

Poverty or quality of life can’t be used to justify murder.  This is a red herring.  We would not kill others based on these arbitrary definitions of “quality” — why would we do it to the unborn?  It isn’t your right or privilege to decide whose life is worth living.

The Issue

Given all of this, abortion is simply wrong.  But how does it stack up against other issues on the table, especially in an election?  What about the arguments, “We need to care about the ones who are alive, too?” or taxes, or foreign policies?

As my pastor pointed out — these are relevant and important issues.  Quality of life, social equality, the disenfranchised, protection of our nation, etc. are all issues.  But I would submit they are also not tantamount to murder.  If I pay a bit more in taxes so that millions of babies can live, so be it.  If I don’t get as much access to quality education as my neighbor because “the system is broken,” then so be it if millions of babies can live.  Again, these things are unfair and the government ought to be addressing issues of justice — but to deny that there are overriding principles and lives at stake, is dishonest.  There are very few issues presently that can compete with abortion in terms of importance.  Millions of lives are literally at stake — comfort, freedom, even protection, cannot be considered at the same level.

Think It Through

The point of all this is to think it through.  The emphasis on a “woman’s right to choose” is a practice in shifting the goalposts, because the root issue has almost nothing to do with the woman.  Rather, the issue is the baby.  The baby has done nothing to merit being killed.  Circumstances and conveniences cannot justify murder.  Ignorance cannot justify it.  Bottom line, a “pro-choice” stance has no merit, either biblically or by its own standards.

This election season, please consider the children.

A Final Word

The point of all this is not to condemn anyone who has had an abortion.  The wonder of the gospel is that God forgives us for any and everything when we turn towards him in faith.  He cleanses us from a guilty conscience (Heb 9:14; 10:22).  Abortion is one of many, many sins we are capable of, and none of us escapes this life spotless.  Hope and joy is found in Jesus Christ!




The Response of a True Christian

30 Apr

The good folks at Sovereign Grace Chapel in Winston-Salem, NC took a chance on me and offered me the pulpit on Sunday, April 29th.  These folks are wonderful saints and great friends so I was very excited about the opportunity; they are simply a joy to be around so I was happy to have a chance to encourage them the way they have encourage my family and I over the years.  I decided to piggy-back on my message at Twin City Bible Church a couple months ago, since many from SGC were present.  The passage is Hebrews 10:19-25.  It was a wonderful time in the Lord and I hope this may serve as a source of edification for you as well.  If you are so inclined, you can listen online or download the message directly.


Kindle Review

23 Apr

Kindle 3G

I have had a Kindle now for several months and have been wanting to spit out some thoughts, helpful tips, and a general review of it.  Hopefully this can help someone in a purchasing decision.

What Model to Get?

To start, the model I got was the Kindle 3G + WiFi with Special Offers.  Why this one as opposed to the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch?  First, I wanted a dedicated reader. The Kindle Fire is essentially an Android tablet and I did not want the temptation to check email and goof around with apps.  While my model has some rudimentary browsing capabilities, it’s too slow and cumbersome to use as a dedicated browser.  So it’s not a temptation.  Second, I am looking at computer screens most of my working day and I did not want yet another backlit screen (which the Fire has) to look at.  I wanted more a print feel and Kindle’s e-Ink technology does just that.  I anticipated reading before bed and studies show that looking at backlit screens (computers, TV’s, smart phones, etc.) can keep your mind running, and I did not want that.  Third, I anticipated taking notes and I wanted a keyboard with real keys, not an on-screen keyboard like the Kindle Touch.  Fourth, I didn’t want to spend the extra $50 for the ad-free version.

As it turns out, taking notes is not something I do often with my Kindle (explained below) so I probably could have gone with the Touch in this case.  The ads are unobtrusive — they act as screen savers, and do not appear in the books. All in all, I am happy with my choice of Kindles.  You would want to think about how you intend to use your Kindle before deciding what model to purchase.

What I Like

There is plenty I like about my Kindle.  I won’t go over the basic features like menus, connecting to Wi-Fi, searching, etc.  I will say that, overall, the user interface is fairly intuitive.  I found this article by Nate Bingham especially helpful in learning the capabilities of my Kindle and how to manage its settings.

So I will start with the selection.  Honestly, I have not purchased many books for my Kindle — or at least paid more than a couple bucks.  There are so many free or low-cost options out there that I find it quite easy to keep myself occupied with reading.  Some of the sources that I have found for finding free books are these:

  • Amazon free books – I subscribe to an RSS feed on Amazon that notifies me whenever free books pop up in the Christian category.  Most of the free books are garbage (and I wouldn’t even call them religious, let alone Christian) but occasionally a good book will pop up.  To see what I’m talking about, go here and scroll to the bottom.  You will see an “RSS Feed” section; use your favorite RSS reader to subscribe to the Top Free > Christianity feed and you will see free books as they become available in your reader.  Other genres have similar feeds.
  • Free book collections – Amazon, Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg, Open Library, and other sites make classics, public domain, and other books available for free.  There are many gems out there, including some Christian classics.
  • Desiring God makes PDF versions of many of their books available for free download.  You can then deliver them wirelessly to your Kindle.
  • I subscribe to Monergism Book‘s email newsletter and, occasionally, they will publicize a free eBook download.
  • Many of of the blogs I subscribe to post deals that they have found.  Tim Challies, Nate Bingham, and Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition are some favorites.
  • Some time recently (I think) Amazon made available the ability to loan and borrow Kindle books.  Turns out that my local library branches integrate their digital library with Amazon.  I can browse their library online, put my name in the queue to borrow it (only one “copy” can be checked out at a time), and they send me an email when it’s available.  I then “check out” on Amazon.  And wa-la — I can read the book on my Kindle for two weeks.  When two weeks is over, it automatically removes itself from my device.
  • You can also let friends borrow your Kindle books or borrow their’s.  This is managed through the Amazon Kindle website.  If you borrow a friend’s Kindle book, he will be unable to read it for the time that you have it, just like with a paper book.

Given all of this, I would say I have more than recouped my investment already.

Here are some miscellaneous items that I have liked:

  •  As I alluded to above, you can read other file types on your Kindle.  You can either transfer the file wired from your computer to your Kindle, or wirelessly by sending the file as an email attachment to the Kindle email address that Amazon supplies for you.  You can either deliver the raw file or have Amazon auto-convert it to Kindle’s proprietary format (a mobi file).  I usually do the latter — it can mess up some of the font formats a little bit, but it makes it more readable.  There are a lot of PDF-version books out there on the web.  I picked up a biography of Lemuel Haynes and John Owen’s commentaries on Hebrews this way, to name a couple.
  • So much easier to travel!  When I travel, I am usually packing 3 or 4 books on top of my Bible.  When packing light, these books can be cumbersome.  Now, if it’s a quick trip, I just have my Kindle — I have two or three Bible versions on it.  If it’s a longer trip, I might take my personal Bible and/or a bound book but I’m still packing lighter than I was.
  • The Washington Post recently had an article (h/t Challies) stating that e-readers are helping boon a renewed interest in reading.  This is certainly true in my case.  I have read books I otherwise would not have or have wanted to read but didn’t want to spend the money.  For instance, I have read almost all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books (love ‘em!).
  • You can view a summary of your highlights and notes either on the Kindle itself or on the Kindle website.  It’s a useful thing if you’re trying to find that passage you know you highlighted but can’t remember where it was.

What I’m Not Crazy About

Some of these are gripes; some of these are shortcomings I think one might experience with any e-reader.

  • If you are a person who likes to take notes, you will find it cumbersome.  I often take notes in the margin of print books but it’s a pain to navigate the Kindle with the directional arrows to the spot to take a note and type it in (switching modes to use alphas or numerics or symbols).  In other words, you can’t quickly jot something down.
  • If you are doing a group study and others are using the print edition, it’s not easy to be on the same page.  Because Kindle’s reading screen is dynamic (you can adjust the print size), your “page” will not match the print “page.”  Kindle does have a feature where it matches your page with the print page, but I found it very inconsistent.  Someone might say, “I liked this part on page 132.”  Everyone flips to page 132 in their print books while I’m pressing buttons to get to the “Go To Page” feature, typing in the page number — and it’s still several pages off.  To be fair, my only test subject was one book in my men’s group.  I’m not sure if this is a failure on Kindle’s part, or the publisher’s or what — but it was cumbersome in a group study.
  • Somewhat related, it’s kind of hard to “track” where you are in the book.  There is a progress bar, showing what percentage you’ve completed — but it doesn’t really translate well from a print book where you can “feel” where you are.  This goes for the pages, too.  You know when reading a print book you kind of take a mental picture where something you read was — where it was in the book, what side of the page, where on the page itself?  You lose that in an e-reader.  The highlight summary feature makes up for that somewhat but if you like to flip to something, you won’t find a comparable replacement.
Thus I find that I enjoy my Kindle most for casual or brisk reading.  It’s not good for studies, note-taking, or group studies.  My Kindle serves more as supplement to print books — definitely not as a replacement.  My advice: just set your expectations as to how you’re going to use it.

Picking a Cover

JavoEdge Flip Style Case

One last thought on picking a cover.  There are a lot of options.  You will quickly find that out.  My advice is consider how you’re going to use it.  I knew that it would need a kick stand because I wanted something that stood up at an angle since I like to read while eating.  I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.  I wanted it to be on the softer side because it gives me a little more confidence that it won’t break if I drop it.  I knew I wasn’t going to be storing notepads, pens, and other items with it.  So I settled on the JavoEdge Flip Style Case, which I’ve been quite happy with.

Happy reading!