Friday, September 26, 2008

Thank God for Science

I’ve called this post “Thank God for Science” but I was tempted to call it, “The Dawning of Atheist Mythology.”

To begin, I want to quote from Joseph Heller’s book, “Good as Gold.” In my opinion, this book is far superior to his best seller - “Catch 22.” In fact it’s the best bit of political satire that I’ve ever read. Extremely funny stuff. The context of the quote is the main character Julius Gold trying to drive his older brother crazy by making nonsensical statements. In this instance he says, “Is it ever good that we found ourselves on a planet where there’s water. Otherwise we’d have to always drink beer or wine.” Well, ok, it’s one of those, you had to be there kind of things. Really, it was funny.

Here’s is a quote however by Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson that to me is even more hilarious. In his comment,
- He’s referring to the constants and values that hold the cosmos together.
- He’s referring to the relationship between these constants that allow our biosphere to not only exist but to support intelligent life.

Mr. Dyson says, “There are many lucky accidents in physics. Without such lucky accidents, life as we know it would be impossible.”

If you can’t see the humour in that chances are very good that you’re an atheist. Let me fill in the blanks for you. While I’m at it I’ll explain some of the reasons why I’m so grateful for science.

) If it wasn’t for science, the only evidence that we’d have for God being the prime uncaused cause of the beginning of the universe would be the Bible saying that Creator God is the Cause.
- Because of science, we know that whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- Because of science we know that whatever begins to exist has an explanation of its cause either in the necessity of itself or in an external cause.

) If it wasn’t for science, we'd have never known, apart from the Bible, that Creator God designed our universe in a way that is perfectly suited for our existence.
- Because of science, we now know that what at first looks like arbitrary and unrelated constants are in reality tied to each other by one and only one common denominator. These seemingly random constants are set precisely as they need to be, and they are related to each other precisely as they need to be related to each other so that there could evolve carbon based intelligent life - namely, us.
- Because of science we now know that if the values and quantities that are present in our universe weren’t exactly as they are, our universe would not exist at all. If it wasn’t for these scientific discoveries we’d only have the Bible to tell us that this universe was created in precisely its present form so that we could come to life.

) If it wasn’t for science we’d have never known, apart from the Bible telling us so, that the universe had a beginning. Until this discovery, atheists were comfortably smug in the belief that our universe had always existed “as is” forever and ever. Now, because of scientific discoveries, it’s not just the Bible that tells us that the universe has a beginning.
- Because of science and the discovery of the rapidly expanding universe, it isn’t just the Bible that says our universe had a beginning.
- Because of science and the discovery of “red shift” it isn’t just the Bible that says our universe had a beginning.
- Because of science and the discovery of background radiation, it isn’t just the Bible that says our universe had a beginning.
- Because of science and the discovery of the entropy levels in the universe, it isn’t just the Bible that says our universe had a beginning.

) If it wasn’t for science, we might believe the lie that our universe evolved or grew into a place where these values, constants and quantities became just right for intelligent life to be possible.
- Because of science we have more than just the Bible to let us know that the exquisitely precise values and quantities had to have been “put into” the equation before the singularity began.

Ok, enough for the basics. I know you’re getting antsy so let’s get around to the part that shows how lucky we are to have found ourselves on a planet with water.

What scientists have found, much to their amazement and chagrin is something they refer to as fine-tuning. Fine-tuning is a neutral secular term that refers to the constants and quantities (atomic weight, gravitational constant, strong and weak force, etc.) being exactly right for the existence of intelligent life. This fine-tuning exists in roughly four areas:

a) The fine-tuning of the laws of physics

b) The fine-tuning of the constants of physics

c) The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe and

d) The fine-tuning of certain higher-level features of the universe

Science has made it possible for us to know these things. In fact, if it wasn’t for science, we wouldn’t know things like:

. If the gravity, being 10 to the power of 33 weaker than electromagnetism, was instead weaker by only 10 to the power of 39, stars would be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster, thereby making life in our universe impossible.

. If the nuclear strong force was different by even 2%, protons would not have formed.

. If the mass between a proton and a neutron were not exactly as they are, again, no life and probably no universe.

. If the nuclear weak force wasn’t exactly 10 to the power of 28, we would have only helium instead of hydrogen.

Are you feeling lucky yet?

. What scientists, what ATHEIST scientists call an “astonishing coincidence” is the fact that prior to the Big Bang, the ratio of the strong force to electromagnetism had to have been exactly as it was or else at 10 to -17 seconds after the start of the singularity, the necessary binding of helium-4, beryllium-8 and carbon-12 would not have occurred and life as we know it would not have appeared.

. The exact number and types of neutrinos at 1 second of the beginning of the Big Bang had to be in place or the expansion rate would have prohibited the formation of our universe.

. If the mass of a neutron were slightly increased by about one part in seven hundred, then stable hydrogen burning stars would cease to exist.

. If the strong force were a long-range force (like electromagnetism or gravity) instead of a short range force that only acts between protons and neutrons in the nucleus, all matter would either instantaneously undergo nuclear fusion and explode or be sucked together forming a black hole.

Pretty lucky for us, huh?

. If the Pauli-exclusion principle did not exist, all electrons would occupy the lowest atomic orbit, which would make complex chemical interactions impossible.

. If the quantization principle did not exist, there wouldn’t be any atomic orbits, electrons would be sucked into the nucleus and therefore no complex chemistry would be allowed.

. The gravitational constant must be exactly 10 to the power of 40 weaker than the strong nuclear force or again, no us. For those that are interested, that’s ten thousand, billion, billion, billion, billion times weaker than the strong force.

Pretty lucky for us that it just happened to work out that way.

. The cosmological constant must fall incredibly close to zero, relative to its natural range of values or again, no life in our universe. To make this easier to understand let me paint this picture for you. The natural range of life-permitting values is 0 - 10 to the power of 53 or from
0 - 10,0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000000.

If this number was conceptualized as a dartboard, the dartboard would extended across our entire galaxy. Now, the target that needs to be hit within this galaxy wide dart board is less than 2.5 centimetres in diameter. Listen up now because here comes what atheists call the really lucky part. The amount of fine-tuning of the cosmological constant, one that we come upon, according to atheists, by accident is like blindfolding yourself, spinning around ten times and then randomly throwing the dart at our galaxy wide dart board and hitting the target exactly in the centre of its 2.5 centimetre disk.

Obviously, atheists fancy themselves to be very lucky people. It’s no wonder they’re so happy.

Perhaps you’re not convinced, so let me use a different, more impressive example.

. Unless the levels of entropy at the beginning of the universe were incredibly low - no universe. This requires an extraordinarily precise arrangement of mass and energy. To hit this exactly right by accident, we would take another dart board.
. This one as wide as the visible universe.
. This time we would put on our blindfold, spin around ten times, and according to atheists, throw a dart randomly at the universe sized dart board and hit the exact correct PROTON.

If, by this point your mind isn’t numb with the credulity and gullibility that atheists force themselves to live with, I just don’t know what it would take to get you to throw up your hands and demand that atheists get out of the education business. I mean, just how blind does a person have to be before s/he willingly stops demanding the right to drive the car?

This is not a joking matter any more. Atheist scientists have discovered this information. They know it, but obviously maintaining their bias against Creator God is worth throwing away their integrity. It’s embarrassing. It’s shameful. It should be a crime for them to teach “The Universe As An Accident” to your children.

Because of science, we have more than just the Bible to tell us that all of these variables had to be in place, exactly as they are before the beginning of the Big Bang. Only an atheist would suggest that such design does not require a Designer. Are you open minded enough to see that anyone who says that we’re here by accident has to have some other reason driving such a preposterous claim, namely an irrational commitment to denying the existence of God. Some people are hard to impress so let me make this a little be more visual for you.

Atheist Stephen Hawking, has calculated that the odds of our universe coming into being by accident is 1 chance in 10,0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000, 0000000000.

How lucky are you feeling now? Because I gotta tell you, if you think that our mathematically precise universe with its exquisitely exact constants and quantities that are related to each other only in their need to support life on this planet happened by accident, then I gotta tell you, the Bible’s description of you being a Fool is how you should be feeling. As is evident on a daily basis, intelligence is not synonymous with wisdom.

For what it’s worth, atheist Stephen Hawking likes those odds. He has been gifted with an amazing intellect and he is using it and the rest of his life to override his own admission that it "sure looks like the universe had a Creator." Some of the strangest and mythical hypothesis in the scientific community today, to explain how our universe did not need a beginning come from Mr. Hawking. I find that just fantastically sad.

Now, there is no small degree of humour and irony in all this for the Christian. To have science, more specifically, to have atheist influenced and biassed science make such a clear case for Creator God can’t help but put a smile on one’s face. And to see such a discovery driving atheists to incoherent babbling almost brings a tear to the eye. Because God cannot be allowed into the atheist scientist’s field of observation we find intelligent women and men positing things like:

. Inflation theories

. Baby universe theories

. Multi universe theories

. Oscillating universe theories

. Gaia theory

. We’re just a quantum particle theory

. Parallel universe theories

. Bubble universe theories

. Chaotic universe theories and on and on and on and on, literally ad nauseam.

The underlying hypothesis in all of this, and a fallacious one at that, is that lots and lots of time changes impossible into possible and even, for hard core atheists, time changes impossible into probable. And it seems that it is always those who don’t understand probabilities who claim that the highly improbable, probably happened. Richard Dawkins, would have you believe that intelligent life has come into being “billions” of times in billions of life-supporting universes. Without even the hint of a smile or a shifting of the eyes, Dawkins will tell you that life-supporting universes are more common than life-prohibiting universes. Tell people what they want to hear and the money roles in. His cynicism seemingly knows no bounds.

Random change did not, does not and will not engender order no matter how many billions or trillions of years we give it. Rather than a scientific conclusion, random change producing order is nothing but an atheistic assumption, one that comes with absolutely no supporting evidence. However, so great is the need to avoid, at all costs the inclusion or even the mention of a Creator God that a sad and pitiful scene is unfolding before our very eyes. Proponents of a godless universe are reducing themselves to throwing out one ridiculous hypothesis after another, all in a vain attempt to avoid the conclusion to which current scientific evidence is now pointing - Creator God exists and He is the reason for our existence. Our perfectly ordered universe is so confounding to atheist scientists that they find themselves positing billions of less ordered universes in order to explain away the one perfectly ordered universe which we inhabit. The atheist’s inability to explain away God is so disconcerting that Steven Weinberg once said, “As we make progress understanding the expanding universe, the problem itself expands, so that the solution always seems to recede from us.”

And now, wonder of wonders, we have atheists, who have laughed at Christianity as being based on mythology, themselves grovelling in mythologies of their own. None, absolutely none of the various theories that I displayed above have any supporting evidence for their existence. They are figments of atheist imagination. Multiverses and the like are purely speculative, undetected and undetectable. There is nothing observable, repeatable, verifiable or testable about them. And what’s even more disconcerting is that atheist scientists and their atheist followers seem to prefer it that way. Given current evidence, reality has become a place that's too scary for atheists to set foot. What’s worse, these atheist scientists seem to believe, they seem to REALLY believe that postulating infinite, invisible universes makes a persuasive argumentation for the non existence of God. The greatest irony of all is that the final defence against an argument for Creator God is the creation of atheist mythology.

I’m getting too angry, so I’ll close with a quote from Bertrand Russel, one of my favourite atheists to read when I need a smile.

“The scientific temper of mind is cautious, tentative, and piecemeal. The way in which science arrives at its beliefs is quite different from that of theology. Science starts, not from large assumptions, but from particular facts discovered by observation or experiment.”

“Is it ever good that we found ourselves on a planet where there’s water. Otherwise we’d always have to drink beer or wine.”

Ya. Good luck with that.

You know what’s good about God?

One of my favourite passages of Scripture is found in John chapter 12. It’s where Jesus is preparing Peter to “rejoin” the group. At one point Peter, to his extreme embarrassment, had turned his back on the One he honestly believed he was ready to die for. However, when reality came knocking Peter betrayed his Lord. He’d thrown Jesus to the lions, so to speak. Now, risen from the dead, and after sharing a meal with the disciples, Jesus, lovely, wonderful, compassionate, merciful and patient Jesus is holding out his arms to Peter and saying, ‘Come on home. Let's get back to our original plan.’ Matching Peter’s three earlier denials of even knowing Jesus, Peter is asked three times by Jesus, “Do you love Me?” The first two times that Jesus asks, He uses the word agapas. This is a willed, volitional, desired love, a dying of self love that gives of oneself to the other. Agapao is the kind of love with which God loves us.

When the resurrected Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” my guess is that Jesus was sweeping His hand toward Peter’s worldly friends and maybe even his livelihood, the fishing boats and the nets hung out to dry. They were, after all, having breakfast on the beach when this all took place. In response to Jesus’ question Peter replied, using the word philo, meaning the love of a friend. “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter, it appears, had learned a lesson. No extravagant claims of a love this time. No commitment that went beyond what he is able to deliver. The third time that Jesus asks, He also uses the word philo. He goes to where Peter is at.

Picture this! You’ve betrayed your best friend. Your closest confidant was falsely accused of something. He was in deep deep trouble and instead of supporting him, you disappeared. Afraid that you would be drawn into the scandal as well, you dropped out of sight. Now, with the scandal over, your heart is broken; both by what you’ve done to Him and also by the self-awareness of who you really are. One day you accidentally bump into your friend. He’s having a meal with the group associates that used to include you. Amazingly and against all hope, your friend stands up and reaches out to shake your hand. He puts His hand on your shoulder and He’s telling you that He wants the friendship restored. All is forgiven. Your cowardly betrayal is forgiven. He’s not going to reject you or punish you. Rather than retaliate, your best friend is trying to reestablish the kind of relationship that you had before this whole incident began. It's as if He knew all along what you were really like, and He loved you anyway. However, this time around He is in effect saying, “No more fooling around. I want to hear from you if you're serious about our relationship, and the work that we have to do.”

Walking with you a few steps away from the others, His eyes never breaking contact with yours, Jesus asks, “Are you going to put our relationship and our project before anything else? Where exactly do I stand with you?”

You try to project sincerity into your words, but that sincerity is betrayed by the fear in your eyes. You want your words to be true. “Jesus, You’re my best friend.”

He knows you better than you know yourself. “Yes, but you said that once before, Peter. We have plans that demand absolute trust in each other. Do you love Me enough to put everything else in second place?”

“Yes! I told you. You’re my best friend.”

And, now, to your chagrin, and in front of all your other friends, friends who know how human and fickle you’ve shown yourself to be, your friend says one final time, “Look at me! Are you really my best friend?”

And here Peter probably hangs his head or averts his eyes and replies, “Lord, you know everything, and you know exactly to what degree that I am able to love you.”

And then, wonder of wonders, Jesus leaves Peter’s admission right where it hangs and He lays out the incredible plan that He has for Peter in the Kingdom of God. God is going to use Peter and the other members of this ragtag group to change the world.

Jesus knows how pitiful our love for Him really is. He knows how fragile our commitment to Him can be. He knows how little it takes for us to deny our allegiance to God’s Kingdom. And yet, and yet, Jesus doesn’t turn His back on us. Instead, He challenges us to deal with the reality of our weakness, but at the same time, He asks us to come along side and do His work on earth with Him.

It isn’t our love, or the lack thereof upon which we should focus. Our focus needs to be on Jesus’ love for us, on His commitment to us, on His promise to never leave us and to never turn His back on us. He is determined to take the changes that He began in us and carry them out to completion.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Those who make extraordinary claims . . .

Most everyone is familiar with the atheist creed: “To say that God exists is an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary proof.”

Well, certainly any extraordinary claim, be it for God or for anything else requires extraordinary proof. From my perspective of course
a) We have extraordinary and compelling proof for the existence of God, and
b) The “burden” of presenting extraordinary proof lies with those who make the following claims.

1) The universe doesn’t need to have a beginning because we come from a Finite Infinity.

1a) Even though “infinity” doesn't exist in reality, but only as a concept or as an idea, to avoid the implications of a Cause for the Big Bang atheists propose that our universe is just the latest in an infinite number of universes. In other words, our universe was caused by a previous universe that was caused by a previous universe, that was caused by . . .

1b) While stating that the universe is infinitely old, and while being forced to admit that if that were true, “today” would never arrive, atheists simply ignore that reality, continue to propose an infinite universe and hope that no one will notice or protest too loudly.

1c) It doesn’t matter what the second law of Thermodynamics says
It doesn’t matter about the levels of background radiation
It doesn’t matter about the levels of entropy
It doesn’t matter that the expansion of the universe is speeding up rather than slowing down, atheists ignore all this and maintain that our universe has existed from infinity past.

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

2) Because the Big Bang carries with it the need for a Cause, atheists declare that despite ALL scientific evidence to the contrary, some beginnings, or at least this one, ie. our universe, doesn’t need a cause. “It just happened.”

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

3) Because the Big Bang carries with it the need for a Cause, atheists declare that our universe was preceded by the universe itself, both materially and chronologically. In essence the universe brought itself into being.

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

4) There are approximately 50 constants and quantities that are so finely tuned that if any one of them were “off” by an infinitesimally small degree, neither we nor the universe would exist. And even though Penrose and Hawking have calculated that all this coming about by chance is 1 in 10 to the 10 to the 123 (which is an impossibly vast number to comprehend), atheists still maintain that everything that we see happened by chance.

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

5) Atheists claim that there is no objective set of morals, values, and duties. They say something like, “My personal likes / dislikes, tastes, preferences and opinions will do just fine when determining the rightness or wrongness of my behaviours. On the other hand, other people’s behaviours, as they affect the quality of my life, must adhere to MY personal likes / dislikes, tastes, preferences and opinions. If they don’t, I can rightfully declare that those people are wrong.

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

6) Atheists claim that regarding the cause of the universe and regarding the first DNA / RNA pre-loaded cell, there is nothing wrong with going in search of ever more complicated solutions, abandoning one after another, after another, after another, not because of new evidence but because of a need to avoid current evidence which points directly to Creator God. Atheists say that’s all the reason they need to disregard current scientific evidence.

This is a highly extraordinary claim!

6a) Atheists say that there is nothing wrong with never returning to a simple solution that coincides with current knowledge and common sense, as long as that current scientific evidence points directly to Creator God. Atheists say that’s all the reason they need to disregard current scientific evidence.

This is a highly extraordinary claim!

7) Atheists say that contrary to what classical historical scholarship says, known and knowable facts of history do not actually apply to the person of Jesus. In fact, Jesus never existed.

That is a highly extraordinary claim!

. Even though the beginning of our universe demands a Cause and
. Even though the design of our mathematically precise universe demands a Designer and
. Even though the objective moral code with which atheists demand others treat them can only come from an ultimate authority, and
. Even though the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth point to the reality of Creator God, atheists claim that none of this points to anything beyond nature itself,

Now, atheists say that they will have evidence eventually, but the promise of proof at some point in the future is the same as no proof at all. Atheists are making extraordinary claims that are lacking not just extraordinary evidence but ANY evidence. What’s more, these people call their way of life reasonable and logical.

That's sad and that's why I'm not an atheist.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Would That Be?

Atheists are forever clamoring for evidence, evidence, give us some evidence. Ok. Try this.

Absolutely none of what you’re about to read has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust), to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the following historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians?
If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Why would they simply invent these stories? There was/is absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained by concocting this as a lie.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why do we have multiple, independent, extra Biblical sources attesting to the risen Jesus?
. Why do we have virtually unanimous modern historical scholarship agreeing that the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive after His death on the cross.
. Why would atheist historian and New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann say, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
. Why would atheist historian Paula Fredriksen say, “I don’t know what they saw, but as a historian I know they believed they saw Jesus.”
. Why would highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agree that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus."
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make sense. Why would the enemies of Christianity affirm the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus if the evidence isn’t accurate and compelling?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why would all the disciples, plus hundreds and hundreds of others believe that they saw Him alive?
. Why would they say that they spoke with Him?
. Why would they say that they ate with Him at various times and various places?
. If none of that is true, why would they be willing to die for making up the lie of seeing Jesus alive? There was absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained, and everything to lose by concocting the supposed lies about Jesus life, death and resurrection. Remember these people didn’t believe someone else’s lie. Over the centuries many people have died for believing someone else’s lies. But if THESE people died for a lie, it was THEIR lie! They died for saying they saw Jesus alive again after His death. Liars simply do not make martyrs of themselves.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, their willingness to die for the “truth” doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Paul’s testimony about His encounter with Jesus and why do we have his radical transformation in character from a persecutor of the Church and a killer of Christians to the greatest missionary that the Christian Church has ever seen? Remember, Paul:
. Was a rabid sceptic when Jesus appeared to him.
. Was an enemy of the Church when Jesus appeared to him.
This is not like most conversions whereby the person reads or hears something that persuades h/her to change. Paul’s evidence for the risen Jesus was first hand and so convincing that he endured years of hardship, persecution and rejection for proclaiming the risen Lord, before finally being beheaded by Nero in 64AD.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in Paul’s character doesn’t make any sense. He had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain, and everything to lose by concocting a story of meeting Jesus while on His way to persecute the Church.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why in the world would Jesus’ brothers James and Jude go to their deaths proclaiming that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead?
. Why would they claim that they had seen Him?
. Why would they confess that Jesus is the Lord God, Messiah?
James’ and Jude’s conversions were a drastic change from thinking their Brother was insane and an embarrassment to the family.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in the beliefs of Jesus’ siblings doesn’t make any sense. They had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain and everything to lose if what they said about Jesus appearing to them after His death was not true.

Remember, Both Paul and James were sceptics at the time that Jesus appeared to them. Why would they become His followers if His resurrection wasn't historical fact?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why was His tomb empty?
. Jesus’ enemies were the ones to confirm that the body was missing by proposing that the disciples stole it.
. The disciples didn’t have the power nor the inclination to steal His body. They were hiding behind locked doors.
. Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal the body and every reason to keep it right where it was. They posted an armed guard, and sealed the tomb with the Governor’s seal to make sure that nothing happened to the body.
. The first proclamations of the empty tomb were made right there in Jerusalem where Jesus was murdered and buried. The tomb could have been easily checked out.
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, how is it that the tomb was empty with no sound explanation other than the resurrection?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do the ancient documents written by Jesus’ followers make the “mistake” of saying that women (who at the time were seen as lower than animals and not capable of telling the truth) were the ones who discovered the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord. If it wasn’t true, if the disciples were trying to convince others of a lie, if the resurrection wasn’t historical fact, why would the writers invent the testimony of women to say that it was true?
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that His followers would do that.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why did Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria all non Christians and all historians write about Jesus’ brother James, his leadership in the Jerusalem Church and his martyrdom for proclaiming Jesus as risen Lord and Saviour?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. People don’t just destroy their careers and reputations by writing lies. They would only write these things if the evidence convinced them that it was accurate.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have an early oral tradition that dates from the first or second year after Jesus’ death attesting to the fact of Him rising from the dead.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. There is no hint of legend or exaggeration in this oral tradition. And these people had their lives to lose by repeating it. Why would they do that if it wasn’t true?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the written works of the early Church with hymns, poetry and creeds, stemming from the early oral history telling about Jesus rise from the dead?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, we simply wouldn't have this.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the Christian Church? Paul told early Christians, “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, your faith is worthless.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact there wouldn’t be any Christianity. Yet here it is today, over 2 billion strong.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
How did Paul know what He knew about Jesus prior to any contact with the apostles and why would they accept Paul as one of their own based on what he was teaching about Jesus?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, and without Jesus appearing to Paul and teaching Paul about Himself, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the four ancient biographies of Jesus, one of them by historian and physician Luke who got his information from eyewitnesses all affirming the resurrection of Jesus? Why would they tell Luke that these things happened if they weren’t true? They paid for that "lie" with their lives.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Polycarp and others, all saying that they had been taught by the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. And THEN, all of these men were themselves martyred based on the believability of what the disciples had told them. These were not ignorant, gullible men. Yet the evidence made sense to them.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, how could that happen?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
What would account for the disciple’s radical transformation from fearful and cowardly men who denied Jesus and who ran away from Him during His trial, to bold individuals who were so confident of the truth of what they saw and heard regarding His resurrection, that they were willing to undergo years of persecution as well as torture and death rather than change their story. Without the resurrection, this change in character doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why was it that Polycarp wrote of the endurance under torture of Paul, Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus for their belief in the risen Christ?
. Why was it that Ignatius also wrote of the suffering and death of the apostles?
. Why was it that Polycarp and Ignatius were both martyred?
. Why would they be willing to die in such a manner if the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection weren’t accurate?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would we have confirming accounts of the disciples teaching and deaths in Roman public records called “Lives of the Caesars.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would Origen write, “Jesus, who has both risen AND led His disciples to believe in His resurrection and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth that they showed to all men by their suffering how they were able to laugh at life’s troubles beholding to life eternal and a resurrection clearly demonstrated to them in word and deed by this one Jesus.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that Origen would write that.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why do we have Eusebius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Hegesibous, Josephus, Clement of Alexandria, all of these sources, Christian and non Christian alike affirming the disciples willingness to die for what they believed to be true.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that these many and varied individuals would make this stuff up.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why is it that Luke writes that Jesus spent about 40 days with the disciples after He rose from the dead, and
. Why can it be further calculated that about 50-55 days after His death, Jesus’ followers started proclaiming His resurrection, and
. Why did Tacitus, an enemy of Christianity, write “Jesus’ execution by Pontius Pilot checked, for the moment, the Christian movement but it then broke out with force not only in Judea but even in Rome.”
. Why would these accounts, one from a follower of Jesus and one from a secular historian and enemy of Christianity be so similar unless they’re true?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

Absolutely none of what I’ve just written has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust) to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the above historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus did in fact supernaturally rise from the dead, then what He taught about being the Son of God and about the existence of Creator God must also be true. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus demands a verdict. With the evidence so overwhelmingly pointing to the fact of His resurrection, one can do three things:
. Submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour - Or
. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or
. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if God is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The restorative powers of atheism

I’ve heard many an atheist claim that Christianity is dangerous, Jesus is a myth and God, well, God is just some imaginary friend. When it comes to curing the ills of the world, atheists suggest that we get rid of what Christians believe and replace it with, surprise, surprise, we should replace it with what they believe. If we all adopt what atheists call reason, all will be well with the world.

As a counsellor, I’ve worked with thousands and thousands and thousands of people from virtually all walks of life. Out of all those people, I have never known a single individual who has said s/he was on the verge of suicide but coming to atheism turned h/her life around. I’ve never heard a single person whose marriage was about to blow apart, say that becoming an atheist restored love to the relationship. I’ve never known a single person who claimed that becoming an atheist transformed h/her life from dishonest to honest, hatred to love, cold to caring, disengaged to becoming interested in others. Never have I heard an atheist say, “Now that I’m an atheist, my children love me and trust me. Not once have I heard of the restoring powers of atheism.

Now, to be fair, I have read atheist bloggers who claim that since coming to atheism they feel much better about themselves, particularly in the area of guilt. Apparently all that is required is that under the banner of atheism, one is able to reinvent, so to speak, the rules of society so that they correspond with how one is already living. In so doing, wonder of wonders, the atheist is now a pretty good person.

On the other hand I could give you the names of thousands of people who have become characters of integrity, peace and joy because of gaining an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus. Jesus really is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Disregarding Him will do nothing of value for the world.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Intolerant Christianity

Christianity is accused of being exclusivist and intolerant.

It’s so exclusive and so intolerant that it’s ONLY in countries that have been historically Christian where you can believe what you want and change what you believe from one belief system to another and another and another without putting your lives in jeopardy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Richard Dawkins Stands In Awe

Atheist, Richard Dawkins says that our universe possesses only the APPEARANCE of design. On the other hand, according to science, this “pseudo” design, as Richard calls it, is so exquisite, so complex and designed to such stringent constants and quantities that even an infinitesimal variation in any one of the constants would render our planet uninhabitable and probably prohibit the existence of the universe altogether. Richard Dawkins implies that any Designer that did such an incredible job of putting together such complexity and order would be impossible to comprehend.

That’s a pretty good act that our universe does for us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"One Way” It really IS offensive!

I ran into it again yesterday. Someone posted that when they hear, “We” have the only way to God" it's tremendously offensive to those who have a different view of life.

Anyone who has read my blog certainly knows that I struggle with being offensive. Or more correctly, being offensive comes all too easily for me. It’s a mighty struggle for me to say what I want to say in a manner that is not a club. Still, isn’t it true that there are some things in life to which there really is only one answer? Mathematics comes immediately to mind. On the other hand, I think these people are absolutely correct if they've heard us say things like:

. Christianity is the only way to be spiritual - That really is offensive!

. Following Jesus is the only way to practice religion - That really is offensive!

. Christianity is the only religion with wise sayings - That really is offensive!

. Following Jesus is the only way to teach your children about morality - That really is offensive!

. Christianity is the only way to worship - That really is offensive!

. Christianity is the only way to approach life’s problems - That really is offensive!

. Following Jesus is the only way to be a good person - That really is offensive!

. Christianity proposes the only realistic way to deal with atonement for sins - That really is, offen . . . umm, wait!

“Christianity is - the - only - way - to - deal - with . . . Hmm. I wonder.

Jesus taught that we have a sin problem of eternal proportions. “Those who do not believe in Me stand condemned already.”

What if Jesus is right? What if we really do come into this world already pre-loaded with sin? What if rebellion against God really is our default setting? Sure you can say that’s not true. And it really would be offensive to tell someone "You don’t have the right to believe Jesus was a liar." But IF what Jesus said is true, then all the contradictory beliefs out there can’t all be right. In fact, there may very well be only one correct way, only one right way, only one “Just” way to deal with the problem that Jesus says exists. Let me give you an example.

What if someone came into your backyard, stole your child, raped and killed your child and then dumped your child’s body in the ditch like a piece of garbage? What would you deem sufficient justice for a crime like that?
. Should the killer have to wash his hands a certain number of times a day?

. What if he promised you, “From now on I’ll be as good as person as I can be.”

. Should the killer have to pray a certain number of times a day?

. Or what if he said to you, “Ya I killed your kid but from now on I’m going to meditate every single day.

. What if he said, “Ya I killed your kid but from now on I’m going to place food and incense in front of the Buddha that I’ve got in my living room. Are we square?”

Would any one of those things satiate your need for justice? Would it?

Someone has brutally killed your child and justice needs to be served. In the same way, our very nature is an offense of enormous proportion to a perfectly Holy Creator God. Because of us, His Son had to die. It was our sins that had Jesus tortured to death.

God says that the wages of, the consequence of, the result of, the justice demanded by sin is death and eternal separation from a perfectly Holy God. According to God’s plan, atonement for OUR sin, the forgiveness of OUR sins, the restoration of OUR broken relationship with God required the death of God, in the form of God the Son -Jesus. Our sin did that to God. My sin did that to God. Your sin did that to God.

Certainly there are many, many ways to be good and to be religious and to “do” life. But reason dictates that there is only one Just way to deal with sin, murder, rebellion and hatred toward a perfectly Holy, merciful, gracious God. And because we cannot possibly fix that ourselves (we’re the problem, NOT the solution) God has decided to provide the solution for us. He took the penalty for our sins upon Himself. Jesus really is the only solution to our dilemma and instead of being offended by that, an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness seems much more appropriate.

In reality, truth must exclude that which is not true. If what Jesus says is true about eternal life then anything that opposes the claims of Jesus must of necessity be false.

In our world, there are roughly 300 gods from which to choose within several dozen belief systems. Our job is to try to figure out if anyone of them is correct. Atheism says that none of them are correct but that only atheism and atheistic science have the answers to our questions of origin, meaning, morality and destiny.

Jesus said that only He has the answer to those questions because He is our Creator, “Before Abraham was I AM.”

For any given mathematical problem one could easily have 300 or 3,000 or 3 bzillion wrong answers. But there will always only be one right answer. Our spiritual problem is unique and it requires a unique answer. Jesus really is the answer to the problem of sin, the only solution to our broken relationship with God and the only way by which we can avoid eternal separation from our Creator God. Jesus is the Truth regarding these things.

Friday, September 19, 2008

God & #’s

Once upon a time in the not too distant past, I had an atheist yell out, "Math rocks!!" while in his imagination he "refuted" something or other that I had written. Well, he's right, mathematics does rock; a mathematically precise universe even more so. While I enjoy philosophy and theology much much more, let's give math a go.

While admitting to the fact of our universe’s precise set of values, Bertrand Russel and like minded atheists claim that the constants and quantities that we observe were not made for us but that we adapted to and evolved “from” them. Let’s see. There are three numbers in particular that suggest atheists might be wrong about this. They are 1/10 to the power of 10 times(123), 10(162), and eπpi.
(Stupid blog - I can't even write these properly)

Oh well. The first number that Christians say points to God is 1 in 10 to the 10 to the 123. This number comes from astronomy. Oxford professor Roger Penrose discusses it in his book The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind. It derives from a formula by Jacob Beckenstein and Stephen Hawking and describes the chances of our universe being created at random. Penrose spoofs this view by picturing God throwing a dart at all the possible space-time continua and hitting the universe we inhabit. The Beckenstein-Hawking formula is too complicated to discuss here, but another approach to the same problem involves a Secular, Scientific term that atheists are coming to detest - the fine-tuning of the universe - and the existence of habitable planets.

The fine-tuning of the universe is shown in the precise strengths of four of roughly 50 basic forces.
. Gravity is the best known of these forces and is the weakest, with a relative strength of 1.
. Next comes the weak nuclear force that holds the neutron together. It is 10(34) times stronger than gravity but works only at subatomic distances.
. Electromagnetism is 1,000 times stronger than the weak nuclear force, and
. The Strong nuclear force, which keeps protons together in the nucleus of an atom, is 100 times stronger yet.
If even one of these forces had a slightly different strength, the life-sustaining universe we know would be impossible.

If gravity were slightly stronger, all stars would be large, like the ones that produce iron and other heavier elements, but they would burn out too rapidly for the development of life. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, the stars would endure, but none would produce the heavier elements necessary to form planets.
The weak nuclear force controls the decay of neutrons. If it were stronger, neutrons would decay more rapidly, and there would be nothing in the universe but hydrogen. However, if this force were weaker, all the hydrogen would turn into helium and other elements.

The electromagnetic force binds atoms to one another to form molecules. If it were either weaker or stronger, no chemical bonds would form, so no life could exist.
Finally, the strong nuclear force overcomes the electromagnetic force and allows the atomic nucleus to exist. Like the weak nuclear force, changing it would produce a universe with only hydrogen or with no hydrogen.

In sum, without planets, hydrogen, and chemical bonds, there would be no life as we know it.

Besides these 4 factors, there are at least 45 others that require pinpoint precision to produce a universe that contains life. Getting each of them exactly right suggests the presence of an Intelligent Designer. Not to atheists mind you, but . . .

The second component to be considered when calculating the likelihood of this life-supporting universe is the presence of habitable planets. In addition to the fine-tuning of the whole universe, there needs to be a carefully specified place where life can reside. Life as we know it can only exist within certain limits. There are at least 45 parameters, from the size of our galaxy to the mass of the moon, which permit the presence of life on a planet. A huge galaxy erupts with too many stars and thus disturbs planetary orbits, but a tiny galaxy does not produce enough heavy elements for a planet to form. At the other end of the spectrum, too large a moon destabilizes a planet's orbit, while having no moon or one that is too small permits a planet to wobble as it spins and disrupts the planet's climate.

From these 45 planetary characteristics alone, Hugh Ross, in his chapter in Mere Creation, calculates there is less than 1 chance in 10(69) of habitable planets occurring at random. This is not a “religious” calculation but one that comes from the scientific field of probabilities. This is just one of the areas where atheists seem to arbitrarily ignore answers from science when they point in the wrong direction.

The fine-tuning of the four physical forces and the presence of one habitable planet are just two of the components that would go into a formula to predict the probability of a life-supporting universe. The first one to try to calculate this number was Frank Drake in 1961, when he listed fewer than ten factors. Coming at the same problem from a different direction by calculating the entropy of black holes, Penrose says the number is 1 in 10 to the 10 to the 123. This number is beyond human comprehension. 10 to the 10 to the 3 would be written as 10 followed by 999 zeros.
To write 10 to the 10 to the 123 in one line would extend beyond the bounds of the universe. If Penrose is right in calculating the odds of a life-supporting universe at 1 in 10 to the 10 to the 123, then a strong case for a Creator emerges. Not to atheists mind you, but . . .

The second number that points to God comes from the field of biology. William Dembski, in The Creation Hypothesis, suggests the following argument.
Darwin thought that all life, including humans, arose from a one-celled organism. Of course, at the time, Darwin didn’t know that that first cell had to come pre-loaded with DNA / RNA. Today’s atheists know this but this is another set of scientific information that they chose to ignore.

Regardless, to get from a one-celled organism to a human being with at least a trillion cells, there would have to be many changes. Daniel Dennett says that mutations don’t occur even once in a trillion “copyings.” And to get from one cell to us, we need not just any mutation but only helpful mutations which are so rare, especially outside the lab as to be nonexistent. However, with nothing but good judgment holding them back and projecting backward, atheists first point to Us and say, “See, we have evidence that helpful mutations must have occurred frequently, trillions upon trillions upon trillions of times over.”

Darwin says these changes were produced at random, but they would have had to occur in the right order. It doesn't do any good to give an organism a leg until it has a nervous system to control it. Because trillions and trillions is too large a number for anyone to comprehend, let's reduce the number of necessary mutations to 1,000 and argue that half of these mutations are beneficial. That is a ridiculously impossible ratio, but atheists are proposing something ridiculous so let's spot them a billion point lead and see if they can catch up - Pfft - NOT!. Again, from the science of probabilities, the odds against getting 1,000 beneficial mutations in the proper order is 2 to the 1000. Expressed in decimal form, this number is about 10 to the 301.

10 to the 301 mutations is a number far beyond the capacity of the universe to generate. Even if every particle in the universe mutated at the fastest possible rate and had done so since the Big Bang, there still would not be enough mutations. Why? Well, based on the evidence of microfossils, scientists estimate that the time between the earth reaching the right temperature and the first emergence of life was only four hundred million years.

There are about 10 to the 80 elementary particles in the universe. The fastest they could mutate would be Planck time, or 10-42 seconds. Planck time is the smallest unit of time and can be approximated as the time it would take two photons travelling at 186,000 miles per second to pass each other. If every particle in the universe,10 to the 80, had been mutating at the fastest possible rate 10 to the 42 since the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago, or 10 to the 17 seconds ago, it would produce 10 to the 80 x 10 to the 42 x 10 to the 17 or 10 to the 139 mutations. But to have a chance at even 1,000 beneficial mutations takes 10 to the 301 tries, and that's using numbers that are easier to understand. Thus, the chance of getting 1,000 beneficial mutations out of all the mutations the universe can generate is 10 to the139 divided by 10 to the 301, or 1 chance in 10 to the 162.

For Darwin's theory to have a chance of being right, the universe would have to be a trillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion times older than it is. Because the universe is so young, Darwin's argument fails, and William Paley's contention that design presupposes a designer becomes more persuasive. Not to atheists mind you, but . . .

The final number comes from theoretical mathematics. It is Euler's (pronounced "Oiler's") number: eπpi. This number is equal to -1, so when the formula is written eπpi+1 = 0, it connects the five most important constants in mathematics (e, πp, i, 0, and 1) along with three of the most important mathematical operations (addition, multiplication, and exponentiation).

These five constants symbolize the four major branches of classical mathematics: arithmetic, represented by 1 and 0; algebra, by i; geometry, by πp; and analysis, by e, the base of the natural log. eπpi+1 = 0 has been called "the most famous of all formulas," because, as one textbook says, "It appeals equally to the mystic, the scientist, the philosopher, and the mathematician."

The reason for this wide-ranging appeal is its utter serendipity. First, there is the ubiquitous number e, which pops up in the most unexpected places. It was first discovered in an attempt to make multiplication easier. In 1614, John Napier figured that adding exponents was easier than multiplying multi-digit numbers, so he (and others) calculated the logarithms of all integers from 1 to 100,000, expressing these numbers as powers of 10. Later mathematicians found it more convenient to express logarithms as powers of the natural log e, a number close to 2.71828.

This number also appears in banking, because it is the limit for growth of compound interest. Let's say one invested $1,000 in a very generous bank that paid an annual interest of 100%. If interest were compounded annually, at the end of the year, the money would have grown to $2,000. If, however, the bank compounded interest four times a year, the money would grow to $2,441.41. If the bank compounded interest continually, the deposit could grow to $2,718.28, which just happens to be the value of e times the original investment.

Finally, e turns up at the origin of calculus, where it is the function equal to its own derivative (if y = ex then dy/dx = ex), and it equals the limit of (1+ 1/n)n as n approaches infinity. e is irrational, so it can never be written exactly in decimal form, but it is a very useful and fascinating number in its own right.
When we combine e with πp, we are introducing the oldest irrational number. Two thousand years before Christ, the Greeks knew that πp was the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and that it could not be expressed as the ratio of any two integers. It is essential in geometry, but it also turns up in waves of air, water, electricity, and light, and it even helps actuaries calculate how many 50-year-old men will die this year.

The number i is a relative latecomer, proposed in the 1600s as an imaginary number and defined as the square root of -1. It was proposed to help solve equations like x2+ 1 = 0, but today it is useful in science and engineering. George Gamow, in his book One, Two, Three …… Infinity, even uses i to locate buried treasure with an outdated map.

The idea that these two irrational numbers should combine with an imaginary one to yield so utilitarian a result is breathtaking. It is like deconstructing a chemical necessary for life (salt) and finding that it consists of two deadly poisons (sodium and chlorine). That these three strange numbers with such diverse origins should work together to produce a result so basic to mathematics argues that there is a profound elegance or beauty built into the system. Not to atheists mind you, but . . .

The discovery of this number gave mathematicians the same sense of delight and wonder that would come from the discovery that three broken pieces of pottery, each made in different countries, could be fitted together to make a perfect sphere. It seemed to argue that there was a plan where no plan should be. Not to atheists mind you, but . . .

Because of the serendipitous elegance of this formula, a mathematics professor at MIT, an atheist, once wrote this formula on the blackboard, saying, "There is no God, but if there were, this formula would be proof of his existence."

Today, numbers from astronomy, biology, and theoretical mathematics point to a rational mind behind the universe. To be sure, they do not point to the personal God of the Bible as such. Yet they are not inimical to the biblical God, either. The apostle John prepared the way for this conclusion when he used the word for logic, reason, and rationality——logos——to describe Christ at the beginning of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God." When we think logically, which is the goal of mathematics, we are led to think of God.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One of these things is not like the other

See if you can tell which of these things is not like the other.

Group One: How Life Came To Be
Random Chance:
With all the universes out there, life had to appear in one of them.

Chemical Affinity:
There is some chemical affinity in non living gas that causes just the right interaction to allow life to spring from non life.

Self-Ordering Tendencies:
Under certain circumstances, if energy is passed through a system at a fairly high rate, the system will become unstable and will somewhat “miraculously” rearrange itself into something that is a higher order of complexity

Seeding from Space:
A living organism hitched a ride on a comet or on an asteroid or was sent by superior beings living in another system to our earth. After coming to earth, it evolved into - us.

Vents in the Ocean:
These are nice warm places where molecules can evolve into, well, again, us.

Life from Clay:
Clay has crystals and as we all know, crystals are capable of, umm, as it turns out, not much.

Group Two: How The Universe Came To Be

The universe just began:
Hypothesis: “It makes more sense to believe that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing than to believe that God created the universe out of nothing.”
Problem: Matter cannot create itself nor precede itself either chronologically or physically.

The Steady State Model:

Hypothesis: As the universe expands, new matter is drawn into being ex nihilo in the voids created.
Problem: There is no verification of any kind to support this view. Discoveries of background radiation and galactic red-shift and the primordial nucleosynthesis of the light elements have forever put an end to this theory.

The Oscillating Model:
Hypothesis: If matter in the universe is not evenly distributed then the universe might collapse and rebound in new Big Bangs and this has been going on forever, our universe just being the latest.
Problem: There is no known physics that would allow a collapsing universe to rebound. Evidence shows that there is simply not enough mass in our universe or any universe model to allow for a collapse. Conclusion, our universe will go on expanding forever. What’s more, quintessence is forcing the acceleration of our universe, not a deceleration.

The Vacuum Fluctuation Model:
Hypothesis: The Heisenberg Indeterminacy Principle allows for quantum fluctuations as well as the general gravitational theory. Perhaps our universe is a long lived virtual particle.
Problem: This theory died a quick and well deserved death in the 1980's. Internal incoherence of the models, the obviously young universe when an infinitely old universe is require by the model, ad hoc solutions, all added to this theory’s demise.

Chaotic Inflationary Model:
Hypothesis: Each inflating domain of the universe, when it reaches a certain volume gives rise to another domain and so on into infinity. Our’s is one of those domains.
Problem: Promoters of this theory are at a complete loss as to explain what came before the first domain. The multiverse cannot be past eternal so this theory also comes to a well deserved death.

Quantum Gravity Model:
Hypothesis: The universe is a quantum wave function.
Problem: These models are nothing more than exercises in metaphysical cosmology. To accomplish their goal, imaginary numbers must be introduced to the gravitational equations. ONLY by doing this are they able to eliminate the singularity. It also requires the entrance of imaginary time turning it into a Euclidean four-dimensional space. Reality however, seems to be the undoing of this theory. If real numbers are reinserted into the equations, the singularity returns.

String Scenarios:

Hypothesis: Even with incomplete equations which of course have no solutions, atheists are not afraid to envision models of universes that require no beginning. In this theory, the Big Bang was nothing but a transitional event between a contraction phase which took place before the Big Bang and the expansion phase after it. Prior to the Big Bang a black hole formed in the ETERNALLY preexisting, static vacuum space and collapsed to the maximum allowed values of such quantities before rebounding in the current expansion that we observe.
Problem: Since there is a positive probability of a black hole forming in any patch of pre-existing space, such an event, given infinite past time, would have happened infinitely long ago, which is inconsistent with the finite age of our observable universe.

Cyclic Ekpyrotic Scenario:
Ditto - this model cannot be eternal in the past.

At this point I have to apologise. The question, “Which of these things is not like the other,” was misleading. None of these are unique.
- All of them are scientific failures in the attempt to avoid Creator God as an explanation of everything that we observe about life and its origins.
- All of them are an attempt to do an end run around current scientific evidence.
- All of these and more have been proposed as alternatives to the glaring metaphysical alternative presented by an absolute beginning of the universe. And with each successive failure of these alternatives, the Standard Model with it’s implied beginning, a beginning with a transcendental cause is reinforced and corroborated.

While conceding and attesting to a steady, unbroken line of failures on multiple fronts, atheists acquiesce to the fact that science cannot tell us how the universe came into being, nor can it tell us how the first cell (pre loaded with DNA / RNA) came into existence. And what science will never be able to tell us is why. Why is there something rather than nothing? Despite all their efforts, atheists haven’t come up with a single possibility that remotely makes any sense. Further, there is no prospect that this will ever happen. In fact, year by year the evidence grows in the direction of Intelligent Design. While science in general has done the world immeasurable good, to be a scientist who is also an atheist while working in the field of origins requires so much faith that clinging to “natural causes only” crosses the line into delusion and desperation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Barack Obama to Lindsay Lohan

Over the weekend Barack Obama flew to L.A. to personally ask Lindsay Lohan and Pamela Anderson, “Please don’t let people know that you support me for President. Don’t say it on your websites. Don’t say it to reporters. Don’t even tell your friends. Please! If you want to see me as your President, Just Shut Up.”

Knowing that most Americans accurately view Hollywood actors and actresses as, well, fluff, and growing frustrated at the sheer number of famous stupid people who are saying they are going to vote for him, Barak Obama, for the first time in this campaign seemingly lost his cool. After a rally in upstate New York, Obama lamented to an aide, “Why can’t I appeal to someone with a brain? Why does it always have to be Hollywood losers that are forever proclaiming how wonderful I am and telling reporters how my values exactly match their values. Even that wooly mammoth Whoopie Goldberg openly sneers at McCain but hangs onto my arm like I’m her dad or something. It’s embarrassing. I’m smarter than all of them, nicer than all of them, and I do not belong to them in any way, shape or form. I would like to say to all of Hollywood, just go away until after the election, OK? But keep that money coming.
I can always use more.”

Who Wrote The Code?

I went to a canyon in New Mexico. There, on the canyon walls were crude drawings, a series of drawings really, and they told a story. Someone put them there for a purpose. They were trying to tell us something.

I went to Egypt. There on house sized blocks of sandstone were hieroglyphics, a series of hieroglyphics really, and they told a story. Someone put them there for a purpose. They were trying to tell us something.

I went to the book store. There I pulled a book off the shelf. When I opened the book I found a sentence, a series of sentences really, and they told a story. Someone put them there for a purpose. They were trying to tell us something.

I looked at a microscopic cell. There in the cell was a code. It was written in a four-letter chemical alphabet whose letters combined in various sequences to form words, sentences and paragraphs. All the instructions needed to guide the functioning of the cell were written in that DNA code. In fact this code worked just like the letters of our alphabet work to form what we want to say. But this wasn't just a sentence or even a thousand sentences. Whatever put these words into the cell had a lot to say. In fact each single microscopic cell in the human body contains more information than is contained in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Hmm, I’m pretty sure that it was something with intelligence that put the “crude” drawings on the canyon wall.

And I’m pretty sure that something with intelligence put the more sophisticated hieroglyphics on the stones in Egypt.

And I’m almost certain that some type of intelligence put the words and sentences in the book on the shelf.

But I’m confused. On the one hand, a guy named Carl Sagan said once, “If we received a single message from space, it would be enough to know there’s an intelligence out there.” And if the only time that we see written information, be it a canyon painting or a book, we know that there's an intelligence behind it, then by analogical reasoning wouldn't it be logical to conclude that is also true of any other information that we find in nature? Wouldn't this be particularly true of something so complicated as the information written in the DNA code. I mean, that's what DNA is, it's written information.

But the guy over at atheist planet is certain that the DNA code, something that no human has been able to replicate except under extremely improbable conditions, well he said that it just happened. Even though a single message from space would be enough to convince atheists of intelligent life, or so they say, when confronted with vast volumes of information . . .? Well, it’s confusing isn’t it? All this information in perfect sequence being a random product of unguided nature; from carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen no less? I think that the DNA code points to intelligence but that man over at atheist planet says that I just have to have A LOT of faith in nature and then it all makes sense.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Can God Be Infinite?

Anyone who has “debated” with an uneducated atheist for more than, oh, 30 seconds, has heard the refrain spoken in a tone of triumph and challenge, “If God can be infinite, then why can’t the universe be infinite?”

Remember the good old days when atheist scientists actually believed that the universe had existed from eternity past? Then came background radiation, a rapidly expanding universe, low entropy etc. etc. etc. We now know that the universe had a beginning around 15 billion years ago. That hasn't stopped the desperate attempt to prove otherwise but - whatever.

What’s interesting though is how the atheist’s question of today is exactly backward. Instead of, “If God can be infinite, why can’t the universe be infinite?” the question should be, “If you, once believed that the changes in matter can be ongoing from the infinite past, why can't an immaterial, changeless, timeless Greatest Conceivable Being that we call God be infinite?”

That will elicit a response, "Well, I don't believe in God," However if God is real enough to make the first comment then He can be real enough to make the second.

. We know from scientific evidence that whatever BEGINS to exist has a cause.
. And we know beyond any doubt that the universe BEGAN to exist.
. Therefore we know that the universe had a cause.

We also know that our universe cannot have another universe or a billion universes or an infinite number of universes preceding it because:
. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.
. Nor can the universe create itself nor precede itself, either materially or chronologically.

We also know that:
. Existing outside of time, the Cause is infinite or Eternal,
. Existing outside of matter, the Cause is immaterial or Spiritual,
. Existing as the Cause of time and energy, space, matter and the laws of physics, the Cause is immeasurably more powerful than the mathematically precise universe and its exquisitely Finely Tuned constants and quantities.
. The cause cannot be “scientific” because neither matter nor the laws of physics existed prior to the Singularity. (This by the way is a working definition of a miracle).
. Therefore the cause is not scientific but Personal.
. The transcendent Cause of the universe is therefore on the order of a Mind. It’s omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
. That Cause, at least in the West is described as God.

Atheist scientists are forced to a priori ignore this reasoning. No matter what the evidence, as long as it includes the supernatural, atheist scientists cannot allow themselves to examine the evidence. Is that logical? Is that reasonable? Is it scientific to leave out evidence that won't produce the results that you want?

That’s why, even if you happen to stumble upon an educated atheist, that person is forced to read, “Whatever begins to exist has a cause,” yet hear or interpret or simply deny by saying, “Well if everything has a cause, then God must have a cause.”
Without a word of a lie, atheists cannot see the difference between the two sentences. They simply cannot do it.

Reality is, if the world’s brightest scientists at one time believed that the universe / matter could be eternal, and without cause, they should have no trouble allowing that a Greatest Conceivable Being is also eternal and without cause.

Reality is, we now know beyond scientific doubt that the universe is not eternal, that it did in fact have a beginning.

Any conclusion that says otherwise cannot be reached in a scientific manner but must be reached by a priori philosophical stance and accepted as fact even though it is fallacious in nature.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Leave your beliefs at home

I’m sure you’ve heard it many times. Atheists and apatheists claiming that anyone entering government must check their religious beliefs at the door, go in and do their job and then put their beliefs back on when they head home. As ridiculous as it sounds, a good number of people actually think that sort of thing is possible, even though they would find it impossible to do the same thing within the context of their own lives. Reality is, we are what we believe.

Though I screw up frequently, my goal is to live my life as Jesus would live my life if He were me. That doesn’t mean doing all the things that He did. Rather, it's going about the tasks that are required of me in a way that Jesus would do them if He were me. A much simplified version of this is WWJD?

The question then becomes, why wouldn’t you want a person with this belief system running the country?

. Have you ever noticed that there is a certain amount of personal and corporate corruption in government? Jesus was not corrupt.
. Have you ever noticed that there is a certain amount of sexual harassment and abuse taking place in government? Jesus would not do that?
. Have you ever noticed that there is a certain amount of stealing that takes place in government? Jesus would not do that?
. Have you ever noticed that apart from believing in objective morals, values and duties as per Jesus’ teaching, one is obligated to live by selective morals, values and duties that are relative to the situation? Have you ever noticed that selective and relative morals and values and duties are what allow politicians, even those claiming to be Christians to include into their government position stealing, sexual abuse and profound amounts of corruption?

Following Jesus is not so much what we do but how we do it. It involves mercy and compassion, and fairness and a focus on the weak and outcasts and those who cannot fend for themselves. Why in the world would anyone want to eliminate that and replace it with someone whose philosophy is grounded in “survival of the fittest,” “might is right” and “you snooze you lose?” Well that's pretty easy to answer isn't it? It's those who themselve live by social Darwinism who want a like minded leader.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What if it’s NOT God’s Fault?

I saw a blog the other day where the guy was blaming God for the evil in the world. He was also decrying the “free will” excuse that he runs into when speaking to “fundies.” Actually I don’t like that excuse much either. But I think we should be very careful when it comes to blaming God for children starving to death or any of the other evils that we see on the news.

First of all, if you are claiming that something is wrong in the world, if you are saying that something is bad or evil, thereby admitting that objective right / wrong, good / bad exist, then the blame for this evil would lie at the doorstep of satan - not God. Anti-theists seem quite adept at giving satan a free pass when it comes to the problems of the world.

Second, is that blaming God for someone’s lack of food, invites Him to point right back at you and say, “So why don’t you fix it?”

Third, a lot of people sound incredulous when hearing of God’s wrath. It’s like, “What are you mad I me for? I didn’t do anything.”

Exactly! The reason, the ONLY reason that millions of children are sold into sexual slavery, that millions more starve to death, that millions die because of a lack of proper medicine, that people are homeless, or murdered, or have their possessions stolen or go for their whole lives without experiencing the love of another human being is because you and I and all other people of privilege are so evil, so callous, so self-serving, corrupt and greedy is that we allow it to happen. The world is the way it is because it’s our fault!!!

Is God angry about this? You’re damn right He is. We’re destroying His Creation and there’s going to be Hell to pay for those who don’t stop blaming Someone else.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Would it make a difference?

There has been quite a protest from atheists, and rightly so, as an unfair bias against them in the United States seems as though it would keep an atheist from being elected to the highest office of the land. My question is, what difference do atheists think it would make to the country if an atheist was President? And let’s push that dream even further. What if the majority of the Senate and Congress were made up of atheists? Atheists think that it would make the United States a better place in which to live. But would it? And if so, how? Is France better off for being secular? Are there other examples where the citizens of courtries are better off now that Christianity is officially dead in that particular state?

My guess is that atheists won't answer this because it would show that contrary to their stated beliefs, even atheists would bring their beliefs to work with them. In other words, it's impossible to not bring your beliefs to work with you. But anyhow . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Living in Interesting Times

An old Chinese saying (are Chinese sayings always old?) goes, “May you live in interesting times.”

I suspect that everyone experiences that to varying degrees, but for those living in the early 21st century, world events are all that. This is especially true if you are up on Biblical prophecy as it applies to the nation of Israel.

Astounding, amazing, awesome, incredible and unbelievable are just some of the terms to describe what has happened to Israel in the last 2,000 years.

“But,” you say, “Israel hasn't been a nation for the last 2,000 years.”


Never before in all of history has a nation disappeared for 2,000 years and then come back into being. And NEVER - EVER has it been predicted thousands of years in advance that a nation would disappear, its inhabitants scattered around the world, and then be brought home virtually in an instant.

Yet this is exactly what we find in Biblical prophecy concerning the nation of Israel.
1948 was the first time since 70 A.D. that the people of Israel have been brought back to control their homeland.
Ezekiel - 37:21 (Written 597 years before the birth of Christ) - For the Lord God says, “I am gathering the people of Israel from among the nations and bringing them home from around the world to their own homeland, to unify them into one nation.”

Ezekiel 38:12 - “I will go to those once desolate cities that are now filled with people again, those who have returned from all the nations, and the whole earth revolves around them. This will happen in the distant future, in the latter years of history.

The new state of Israel now contains people who have come from 100 different countries, speaking 60 different languages and the trek homeward continues to this day.

Zechariah 12:2,3,7, & 9 (Written 520 years before the birth of Christ) - I will make Jerusalem and Judah like a cup of poison to all the nearby nations that send their armies to surround her. Jerusalem will be a heavy stone burdening the world and though all the nations of the world unite in an attempt to move her, they will all be crushed. For my plan is to destroy all nations that come against Jerusalem.

Zechariah 2: 4 & 7 - Jerusalem will some day be so full of people she won’t have room enough for all. I scattered you to the winds, but I will bring you back again.

This is part of the problem with Palestine and Israel right now. There is not enough room for all of the Jews coming home and they are building settlements in Palestinian territory.

What is even more fascinating is watching Russia, the Great Bear of the north, Magog as it’s known in the Bible, as it supplies billions and billions of dollars of war machinery to Israel’s enemies. Russia is who's supplying Iran with nuclear technology. Little by little Israel’s enemies are being drawn into economic dependence upon Russia. Russia’s hatred of Jews and of the nation state of Israel is barely disguised. Russia,along with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and all the others can hardly wait for the opportunity to destroy Israel.

Again, this has all been predicted, thousands of years in advance. Regardless of whether we work for peace in the Middle East(which we absolutely must do) or whether we work to bring about Armageddon (an absolutely insane way of thinking)It will happen! Russia, along with the other dictator states of the Middle East have only one goal, the elimination of Israel as a country and the death of every Jewish person.

For me it’s a lot like driving past a horrendous multi-vehicle accident. The mixture of horror and interest that I experience in myself is both disgusting and fascinating. It’s like watching a movie to which I already know the ending. We are indeed living in interesting times.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

5 things budding atheists need to know.

One of the coolest things about Jesus and the religion based on His life and His teaching, is that Christianity is anchored in history.
. The lives of its main characters are grounded in history.
. The centrepiece of our faith split history into “before” and “after” His arrival on earth.
. The facts of our faith are so historical in context that even enemies of Christianity agree with the known facts of Jesus’ birth, life, death and burial.

In fact, the most informed enemies or detractors of Christianity agree that Jesus' closest followers actually believe they saw Him alive again after He was tortured to death. Only those who live on the fringes of reality, like Holocaust deniers and Tabloid readers try something as foolish as saying that Jesus is not a historical figure.

Out of dozens of examples of Jesus life that are verifiable and open to historical examination there are a minimum of five essential facts of Jesus’ life that are essential to consider when making a decision about your relationship with Jesus. The evidence for these facts is so strong that the vast majority of today’s scholars, including sceptics accept that these facts are historically accurate. These facts are:

Jesus was killed by His torture and crucifixion
As stated above, even Christianity’s critics, those knowledgeable in historical scholarship admit that Jesus’ death on the cross is an indisputable fact of history. For example, John Dominic Crossan one of the most liberal scholars going admits, “That He was crucified is as sure as anything historical ever can be.” Newly proclaimed atheist Bart Ehrman calls the crucifixion an “indisputable fact.” Skeptic J. Tabor says, “I think we need have no doubt that given Jesus’ execution by Roman crucifixion he was truly dead.” And atheist New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann also states that Jesus death on the cross and subsequent burial are indisputable facts of history.

To have that kind of attestation from Christianity’s detractors is the kind of confirming evidence that even a sceptic can trust. However, we also have ancient writers, non-Christians of the time, who wrote about Jesus' death on the cross. For example, the historian Tacitus said “Jesus suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius.” Josephus, a Jewish historian of the time wrote that, “Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified.” Mara Bar-Serapion, a pagan of the time confirms the crucifixion of Jesus, and Greek satirist, Lucian of Samosata writes about the crucifixion of Jesus. As well, we have four ancient documents, called the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John whose testimonies regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, accounts so abounding in historical detail that they are practically inviting themselves to be historically examined.

Another fact of history that a person needs to consider carefully when making a decision about whether to follow Jesus or to reject Him is -

Jesus’ disciples believed that He rose and appeared to them.
That the disciples of Jesus believed that Jesus rose from the dead is attested to on multiple levels. The most convincing of course is that they had nothing to gain and everything to lose in making this claim. In 1st Corinthians 15:11 Paul, who was the last person to see Jesus after He had risen from the dead testifies, “Whether it was they [the disciples] or I this is what we preach,” in referring to the resurrection of Jesus. While Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus took place years before he ever met Jesus’ disciples, he eventually knew the disciples personally and he came to know of their reports. What is amazing is that what Jesus had taught Paul, and what Paul wrote about Jesus’ resurrection, predates what was written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John AND what’s more, what Paul wrote agrees with what Jesus’ disciples had learned at the feet of Jesus. Jesus had taught all of them the same things about Himself even though they came from strikingly dissimilar situations.

Another strong corroboration of the evidence presented is that there are several places in the New Testament where very early oral traditions regarding the resurrection of Jesus have been copied into the New Testament. These traditions, which have very strong historical confirming value are presented in the form of hymns, creeds and sermon summations. What is significant about this is that in order to be included in the New Testament writing, oral traditions had to be dated earlier than those writings. One of the most important writings is found in 1st Corinthians 15:3-7. It says,

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.”

This evidence is extremely early and was given to Paul by eyewitnesses.
Paul says to the people who might wonder if he is telling the truth, ‘Go and ask the eyewitness. Most of them are still alive. Check it out. You’ll see that I’m not lying about this.’ Besides the writings of Paul, we have four “Gospels” that even liberal scholars agree were written within thirty years of Jesus’ death.

. Multiple sources of attestation,
. Early eyewitness reports, and
. Oral tradition and declarations coming from the core of the disciples’ being, whose proclamations of Jesus’ resurrection were unfazed by torture and death, make very compelling evidence that what the disciples say they saw and experienced is in fact true.

There are more than 2,000 solid scholarly sources documenting the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Even atheist Ludemann concedes: “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” Paula Fredriksen, a very liberal scholar and professor at Boston University states: “The disciples’ conviction that they had seen the risen Christ is part of historical bedrock facts that are known past doubting.”

Paul was first a persecutor of the Church and later, after declaring an encounter with the risen Christ became the early Church’s leading missionary
Numerous extra Biblical sources testify that Paul, then known as Saul was a serious enemy of the early Church. He alone was responsible for the torture and death of many early Christians. Paul was an enemy of Jesus until Jesus, the risen Jesus jerked Paul’s chain big-time. This was not some delusion or hallucination. Paul was no friend of Jesus nor was he on a ridiculous spiritual quest to seek a vision of Jesus in a rock or on a piece of toast. Paul’s dramatic change can only be accounted for by the truth of his story; that he had a face to face encounter with the risen Lord.

After this encounter, and in the same manner as the other disciples of Jesus, Paul was willing to be tortured, jailed and ultimately die for proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified and buried, was indeed alive again. More than that, Paul maintained until he was executed that Jesus was the Son of God and Himself, Lord of all. This type of dramatic transformation cannot go unexplained. Dionysius of Corinth, Polycarp, Tertullian, Origen, Clement of Rome and Luke all report that Paul was willing to suffer and die for his belief that Jesus is the risen Lord. We can know with confidence that this was no lie, especially since Paul had nothing of earthly value to gain and everything to lose by holding to his proclamation.

A lot of atheists with whom I’ve spoken lament that they have to base their decision about Jesus on second hand information, regarding the events of Jesus’ life. This was not the case for Paul. He wasn’t convinced by some missionary. He wasn’t convinced by reading the Bible. Paul had primary source information about Jesus from Jesus Himself.

Paul was a religious Jew who had risen to the top of his profession. He believed to his core that Jesus was a false Messiah and that the disciples were organising a dangerous and heretical group. There was absolutely no reason for Paul to change direction except that what he said happened to him is the truth. I’ve heard some people say that Paul was crazy or overcome by guilt. While I disagree, let’s concede that point - for now. That still doesn’t account for what the disciples claim to have experienced, it doesn’t account for the empty tomb, it doesn’t account for Jesus’ family coming around to believe that He was the Messiah, it doesn’t account for these people being willing to be tortured to death for saying that Jesus was alive. All of those facts go to confirm what Paul himself proclaimed, he became a follower of Jesus because he had a first hand encounter with the risen Jesus.

Jesus half-brother and sceptic James became a believer after claiming to having had an encounter with the risen Jesus
Out of the five things a person should come to terms with when deciding about Jesus, to me, this is the most important. If you are a sceptic, think about this. What would it take for you to believe the claims of one of your siblings, that he was the awaited Christ, the Messiah who had been prophesied about in Hebrew Scriptures? Ya. That’s what I thought. Jesus’ brothers and sisters thought He was nuts. He was an embarrassment to the family. At one point they tried to hide Him from the public. Another time they tried to goad him into performing for the crowds. This was probably in an attempt to shame Him into giving up His stupid claims about being God.

And yet, again, historically indisputable facts show that not only did Jesus’ family come to believe that He was the Messiah, two of Jesus' brothers, James and Jude became leaders in the Jerusalem Church. And again, they paid for their belief in Jesus being God incarnate with their lives. If you are a sceptic, put yourself in their shoes and think about it. What in the world must have happened to James and Jude that they turned 180 degrees from mocking their brother to worshipping Him and encouraging others to do the same?

Like Paul, extra Biblical historical evidence tells us that James was a pious Jew, involved in the Synagogue. Josephus refers to James as the brother of Jesus. Hegesippus reports that James strictly abided by the Jewish law AND most importantly, that James was not a follower of Jesus during Jesus’ lifetime.
One of the things that makes the reports of James’ transformation, as recorded in the Bible, believable from a historical scholar’s point of view is that anyone who was trying to invent or make up a story to bolster a false religion would not have added these embarrassing accounts of Jesus’ family's struggles with His ministry. If anything, they would have embellished His relationship with His family. For a rabbi (Jesus) in the first century to not have the support of His family would have been a huge embarrassment. Besides the stories of Jesus’ family coming to get Him out of a house where He was teaching and His brothers taunting Him to go and show off His “tricks,” we have the account of Jesus, from the cross, transferring the care of His mother Mary to His best friend John. Jesus did not want her being taken care us by His non believing family.

And then we have the crux of James’ transformation. The impetus for James’ change of mind is the only thing that COULD have changed his mind, as would be the case for you the sceptic. The risen Jesus appeared to James. In fact, it is extremely likely that the creed that Paul distributes in 1st Corinthians 15, was passed on to him by Jesus’ brother, James. This makes it a first hand, eyewitness report. And remember, James doesn’t just become a believer. He becomes a leader in the Christian Church, right there in Jerusalem, where Jesus had been killed.

Was James lying for some personal gain? Hardly! He died as a martyr, proclaiming till his death Jesus as the risen Lord. Liars simply do not make martyrs. There is simply no other explanation for this kind of change in James, again attested to by both Christian and non Christian sources, except that Jesus of Nazareth appeared to Him as a risen Lord and King.

As a sceptic, you know beyond any doubt that only the appearance of a sibling, who had been dead beyond doubt, alive again, and now confirming beyond doubt that all the things that you formerly believed were tricks were indeed miraculous would make you change your mind. That is what happened to Jesus’ family, including two brothers who became well known leaders in the Christian Church.

Jesus’ tomb was empty.
This final point is one for which there is simply no good explanation except that Jesus rose from the dead. Again, a strong point for its historical accuracy is that we have enemy confirmation that the tomb was empty. As well we have the testimony of women, which in that culture was worth less than nothing. My point? Someone inventing a religion would not have included the testimony of women nor would they have thought to include the testimony of enemies. And finally, we have the fact that all this took place right there in Jerusalem, the scene of the murder. If Jesus body was still in the tomb, right there in a place so easy to check, that would have been the end of the Christian Church. Instead we have Jesus’ enemies accusing His disciples of stealing the body. Again we have extra Biblical confirmation that the powers that be accused the disciples of stealing the body. And why would they say such a thing if the body was still in the tomb? For historical scholars, enemy confirmation is strong, strong evidence that the story is true.

Now most everyone knows, if they give it even thirty seconds of thought that the disciples stealing the body is a really stupid idea. They had neither the opportunity nor the ability nor the will. They had scattered like frightened children. They were hiding behind locked doors. These men were not about to go up against a group of Roman soldiers, break the seal of the Roman Governor and steal what was not rightly theirs to take. And again, are we to believe that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, hid it away somewhere and then were tortured to death for proclaiming what they all knew was a lie? That’s preposterous!

Now, while an empty tomb does not lead to a resurrection as the logical conclusion, an empty tomb in concert with the other four facts just mentioned makes for a pretty strong case. Let me remind:
. Jesus died
. Shortly after His death His disciples were told by women that His tomb was empty.
. Soon after, Jesus appears to them in ways that precluded disbelief.
. Jesus also appeared to groups of people in varying situations and contexts
. The disciples are willing to be tortured and killed rather than say they were lying as to what they saw
. Those close to Jesus during His earthly life, those who thought He was nuts, are soon worshipping Him as the risen Lord and are also willing to be tortured and killed rather than say Jesus did not rise from the dead.
. Paul, who was enthusiastically persecuting Christians, believing all along that he was doing the true God a service, leaves all his earthly accomplishments behind because he too says that he’s had a real-life encounter with the risen Jesus. He loses everything of worldly value, including his freedom and ultimately his life rather than recant what he claims to believe.
. And now we have a glaringly empty tomb. An empty tomb admitted to by Jesus’ enemies who are at such a loss as to explain the missing body that they invent a ludicrous story about the disciples stealing it.

While there may be other explanations for any or all of these five historical facts, each of us needs to genuinely ask ourselves, What is the best and most likely explanation of these historical facts? For me, the simplest explanation, the explanation that doesn’t require mental gymnastics and twisting of facts or preposterous suggestions like Jesus never existed. That explanation is that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. Jesus was in fact exactly who He said He is.
I mean, what else is there?