Public Debates 1

When a world-renowned atheist comes into a public debate with an equally well-known and respected Christian apologist…to debate topics such as Does God Exist?…or Is God Great?…or Is God a Delusion?…the atheist enters into the debate auditorium thinking they can win…and whether they actually win or lose the debate…they leave still thinking they are right.

The idea that the issues in these public debates cannot arrive at a conclusive ending…cannot be so overwhelmingly convincing one way or the other towards a consensus conclusion…for the audience listening to the debate…as well as for the two antagonists…in an absolute resolution to the specific topic being debated…in my opinion is not only an amazing reality worthy of further thoughtful analysis…but in a subtle and counter-intuitive way is itself a positive evidence for the theistic viewpoint.

This again dives right into the complexity and integrated coherence of information question…regarding its origin and source…being clearly too complicated for material particles and fields of energy to produce…and way too complicated for human literary invention to conceive of…or to set in motion a program of the delicate balance in the area of belief and unbelief…that could stand the test of time for literally thousands of years.

From the Christian perspective…this superbly ingenious reality of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…has a divine origin at least as ancient as the existence of “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)…allowed to actualize into human experience through divine foresight and foreknowledge…and adjusted and fine-tuned over the course of human history…for the highest and best reasons imaginable…at the pinnacle of moral reasoning.

It is not a blundering miscalculation…it is not a glaring oversight by God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit…to not make the most of the resurrection of Jesus by having Him walk openly down the middle of Main Street in Jerusalem and straight into the Temple…on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week following His resurrection.

This would be a golden opportunity to empirically demonstrate the divine status of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior…beyond any debatable doubt in the future.

Yet instead God skillfully moderates and calibrates the extent of the physical appearances of the risen Jesus…so as to leave just enough of a personal witness of His resurrection and Godhood to inaugurate and sustain the exponential growth of the early Christian church…and for His followers to write the New Testament…yet at the same time enables the space for the unbelief of the religious elites and a portion of the populace in Israel…to continue in skeptical unbelief in Jesus Christ…as Messiah…that coalesced and solidified in the Jewish community and in the secular Gentile world in the first-century…and is still debated up to this day.

That this delicate balance between belief and unbelief would continue down the centuries to our current time…with brilliant antagonists squaring off in public debate today over the very question that Jesus posed to His disciples two thousand years ago: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Mt. 16:13) coupled with the follow-up question: “But whom say ye that I am?” (Mt. 16:15)…which from the Christian viewpoint are arguably the two most important questions in all of history…still out there and fully in play…and in the opinion of this writer defies humanistic explanation as to the precise longevity of this delicate balance.

Daniel 12:9-10 tells us that this delicate balance of belief and unbelief will continue to the end of time on this earth:

9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”…by which we can infer that the world at the end of time is still in need of evangelical persuasion…that the world is still on the fence in terms of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…as to who Jesus Christ is.

Revelation 12:11 gives us a window into the high cost of discipleship in the last days in fulfilling this calling to take the gospel of the kingdom to all of the world…before the end: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the power of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

The fundamental divide that partially explains skeptical unbelief…is that atheists think that Christianity is a man-made religion.  Skeptical unbelief universally downgrades all religions into the horizontally flat category of fictionally created gods and mythologies.

This overarching mindset creates an impassible gulf…an unreachable chasm to cross from skeptical unbelief to belief…because the starting premise for the atheist is that the Bible is an elaborate fiction concocted out of the religious imagination of men…which then renders all of the tenets of the Bible…even the cross and salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ…as being mute, insignificant, and untrue.

The starting premise of atheism…that there is no God…thereby undermines the credibility of the Bible at the outset…creating this non-overlapping separation between the two worldviews that prevents a “meeting of the minds” between atheists and Christian apologists in debate…because no meaningful dialogue can occur when atheists think the arguments and evidences of the opposing side are universally invalid to begin with.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Mechanism versus Agency 2

What this new recognition of the role of complex and coordinated information means…as a product of modern scientific investigation…is to debunk the centuries-old contention by atheists and skeptical unbelievers that the miraculous components in the biblical narrative stories of faith…disqualify the credibility of these stories…based alone on the philosophical pronouncements of some atheistic scientists and critics of the Bible.

If our laws of science merely explain what normally occurs…of what we observe as repetitive phenomenon in nature…and an independent agent God is the source of the orderliness and intelligibility in this ongoing pattern of recurring phenomenon…then the centuries-old objection by skeptical critics about miracles in the Bible…turns out not to be an empirical fact of scientific investigation itself…but merely a philosophical conclusion based on an inference that natural phenomenon will continue along this same path of orderliness that we now observe.

The idea of a biblical miracle…such as the parting of the Red Sea…defined as this independent agent God inserting more of the same divine creative input via unique and non-repeating events…this objection then by skeptics to the Bible can no longer be categorized as a scientific objection…but merely a philosophical objection.

What is interesting in this new Age of Information…is that the centuries-old skeptical objection to miracles in the Bible as being unscientific…is a misunderstanding in the most profound way.

Miracles in the Bible are only unscientific in the sense that they fall outside of what we normally observe to occur in a repetitive pattern over time.

The extrapolation of what we normally observe…into a rigid axiom that says that absolutely nothing else…without exception including miracles…can occur within the closed system of what we observe over some extended interim of time…that falls outside of what we have historically observed and recorded so far…is a philosophical conclusion…is merely a hypothetical inference…and not science…because the reach of scientific investigation…by definition the study of mechanism…does not encompass this issue of agency that produces creative information.

The construction of a Steinway concert grand piano that entails the technical know-how information of mechanism…does not stretch to the creative intellectual information that can compose a musical composition like Chopin’s Black Key Etude…Etude number 5 in Opus 10.

The insertion of information into the creation of the natural world and of subsequent biblical miracles…belongs in the categories of both agency and mechanism.

The occurrence of unique and non-repeating events defined as miracles…fall outside of the resolution of scientific investigation to study…and thus also fall outside of our above-mentioned example of our physics and chemistry understanding of how ink always bonds to paper…and our understanding of how the printing press machinery always works to print the headlines…in the New York Times analogy.

The fixity of the laws of science…that these laws apply in every case without exception…is a human philosophical construction we impose over a repetitive pattern of facts we observe and study in the natural world.

When an independent agent God is introduced into the equation…who conceived of and ingeniously created these realities of orderliness and intelligibility…this human imposed fixity evaporates.

When the fixity of the laws of science are used philosophically to invoke a closed-system in nature that excludes miracles, undermines the credibility of the biblical narrative stories of faith, and argues for either a non-existent God or a non-participating God…it turns out these arguments are not only circular and self-refuting…but they miss the point.

In the analogy to the newspaper headlines…the only realities that are fixed…belong in the category of information relating to mechanism…ink bonding to paper and the continued operation of the printing press machinery.

The category of information that is not fixed and repetitive…that is variable…is the creative information produced through agency that forms the daily headlines on the front page of the newspapers around the world.

The argument that the biblical God does not exist because miracles are impossible in a closed-system of natural laws according to modern science…assumes that the system is closed to begin with.

The skeptical critic must first prove that the system is closed…that the natural world cannot have a new insertion of divinely creative input…which turns out to be a mere philosophical objection…rather than an empirical fact of science…because human scientific research can never say with absolute certainty that a biblical-quality miracle did not occur…like Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The general statement from scientism that “science is the only reliable source for truth”…internally self-destructs because this statement itself is unprovable through the means of scientific investigation…thus falling short of its own exclusivistic high standard for identifying and defining truth.

The remarkable event of the last few recent decades is that the knowledge-base of science has expanded beyond the point where it will no longer fit within the philosophy of naturalistic materialism…as a working theoretical hypotheses…because information has now been added to matter and energy…as the third fundamental component in the universe…thereby requiring an explanation for its origin.

The reasonable and rational conclusion from modern science…based on the sheer quantity and functional integration of all of the material pieces and parts that would be required at the Big Bang creation of the universe…along with the insertion of the accompanying laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics…and the invention of the fourth dimension of time…now completely and totally refutes any objection coming from the philosophy of naturalism that our natural world is a “closed system”…that God is barred by His own physical laws that He invented…from entering in to perform miracles like the ten plagues in Egypt or the manna provided the Israelites in their exodus to the Promised Land.

The perfectly reasonable idea…that the same Intelligent Designer who invented the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics at the time of the Big Bang…as well as inventing the incredible dual axioms of orderliness and intelligibility that are fundamental in our scientific understanding of the natural world…axioms that enable us to discover and to understand these natural laws…that this Intelligent Designer who first introduced these laws into the natural created world…is also therefore free and capable again within modern times to temporarily suspend or alter them according to His goals and plans…whenever and however He wants…in the history of life on earth.

It is the existence of these dual realties of orderliness and intelligibility of the laws of nature…also created by God at the Big Bang beginning of the universe…that allows human beings to differentiate the everyday ordinary stability of phenomenon in our natural world…from miraculous one-time events that fall outside of these parameters of orderliness and intelligibility (Mt. 9:8).

Christians therefore contend that commonplace stability in the natural world…and the miraculous…are both wrapped-up within the capacities of God.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

Mechanism versus Agency 1

To use an analogy to American football…I think that the atheistic philosophy of naturalism (that science is the only reliable route to establishing empirical truth) was starting the final fourth quarter of play with a big 17-point lead in the 1960’s and 1970’s…but that Intelligent Design has scored three quick touchdowns (worth 7 points each) in the last two or three decades…and has taken the lead in this fourth quarter football game analogy…by a narrow 4 points…at the time of the writing of this book…the year 2018.

The discovery of the vast quantity, complexity, and functional coherence of information systems…is analogous to the information content that is conveyed in the headlines on the front page of the New York Times newspaper…thought-filled information intelligently arranged on paper in the English language…totally independent of and having no correlation or connection to the basic science…in terms of physics and chemistry…of how ink bonds to paper.

How ink bonds to paper…and how ink is arranged in newspaper headlines to convey information in a particular language…are two entirely separate things.

Absolute knowledge and expertise about the first…ink bonding to paper…does not explain the second…intelligently organized and highly specified information.

This brilliant realization has clarified and separated forever the concepts of mechanism…how ink sticks to paper…and agency…the underlying creative intelligence that arranges the ink on paper to convey meaningful information.

In this easy-to-understand example of the dual aspects of the information content in a New York Times front-page headline…even the addition of a full mechanical engineering comprehension of the operation of the printing press machinery…along with the physics and chemistry understanding of ink bonding to paper…will not take us across the wide gulf that separates this scientific understanding of mechanism from the totally different character quality of the creative intellectual information of agency.

This insightful modern perception of the unique and distinctive qualities of information…has actually eclipsed all unguided, mindless, gradualistic, trial-and-error, random chance explanations for the existence of complex information systems in a host of phenomenon in the natural world…and has been dubbed in this unique time-period in history as the Information Age.

In an amazing turn-around from where we were only 50 years ago…modern science has scrubbed away folklore, old-wives tales, superstition, and witchcraft…one of its primary missions starting in the 1500’s at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution.

But modern science has also scrubbed away all gradualistic explanations for the development of complex systems…there being simply too much information content coherently integrated within the microscopic molecule of DNA…or the incredibly complicated folding of amino acids into proteins…or the mind-boggling molecular machinery involved in the replication process taking place inside living cells…to be the product of gradual, mindless, step-by-step, unguided random progression over time from the simple to the complex.

The Information Age has knocked the legs out from under the atheistic philosophies of naturalism and materialism…even though Darwinists are still fighting back with everything they have in their common descent interpretation of the facts.

Mechanism needs agency to supply the creative information to produce complex systems having guided coherence directed toward a functional outcome.

In housing construction…the mechanism of technical trade-craft know-how of putting together the parts of the building…does not assume or replace the need for the agency of the architectural plans that provides the information for the floor-plan layout of the interior walls, the locations of doors and windows, and the front elevation design of the structure.

Mechanism itself cannot be mistakenly confused as the explanatory agent for the origin of creative intellectual information…as the substitute factor for agency that can be plugged into the equation of the diversity for all living things as the explanation for the production of new informational input…any more plausibly than the machinery and the mechanical processes of the printing press…along with the properties of ink bonding to paper…can explain the creative information content generated in a New York Times headline.

The immediate survivability demands of function in living things require that all of the required parts be coherently integrated…up and fully running…at initial start-up…having nothing less than operable function at a bare minimum.

This is unimaginable and unachievable through the slow progression of numerous incremental steps as theoretically contemplated in the gradualistic development of Darwinian macroevolution…producing hypothetically long and continuously connected chains of innumerable transitional intermediate living creatures and plant life…having functional survivability at the precise snapshot moments in time…to the point of being able to produce each successive edition of new offspring possessing genetic, physical trait characteristics, and lifestyle habit improvements.

This gradualistic component of Darwinian evolution…given the quantity, quality, and complexity of the information content involved…is no longer plausible as the wholesale all-in-one explanation for the vast diversity of the living and non-living world…according to Darwin’s branching tree of life that would encompass all living things.

The more plausible explanation involves microevolution…built-in genetic variability and adaptability that occurs over long periods of time and responds favorably to changing ecological environments…like the example of Darwin’s finches on the 13 Galapagos Islands…displaying microevolutionary radiation (change)…yet still remaining finches.

The various series of development in the paleontological fossil record…such as the horse series…wherein horses remain horses…in my layman’s opinion can be more plausibly explained through intelligently designed, built-in microevolutionary genetic variability and adaptability.

For roughly the past 160 years, Darwin’s bold extrapolation that microevolution blends into macroevolution…is still scientifically unsubstantiated.

If God is clever enough to design horses and finches…He is also clever enough to factor-in genetic variability to enable species to adapt to changing earth environments.

Our modern scientific understanding of the implausibility…more honestly in many cases the impossibility…of massive amounts of complex information systems to self-assemble themselves to reach easily identifiable final outcomes…to achieve functional coherence on their own without the input of information coming through intelligent guidance…having foresight…is no longer a viable working philosophy that holds water within the field of science.

The information content is simply too great in size and far too complex for unguided, mindless, trial-and-error search strategies.

This is a relatively new development…in the rapidly expanding marketplace of knowledge and ideas in the early twenty-first century.

If the reader will bear with me a little longer…I am going somewhere important with all of this. 

Once the atheistic philosophies of naturalistic materialism and scientism fall behind in points in the fourth quarter of the American football game analogy…they will never regain the lead.

The reason for this is because the “game” is scored on discoveries from scientific investigation…producing empirical evidence.

The complexity and functional coherence of the information content found in DNA, proteins, the living cell replication process, and the mechanism by which amino acids fold into proteins…will not change…will not revert back to the simplicity of past partial knowledge…will not reduce in complexity with more research.

More investigative scientific research into every area of the natural world…will increase our recognition and understanding…of the vast quantity and the integrated complexity of information.

To borrow a popular phrase…”the toothpaste is out of the tube…and it will not go back in.”

Continued scientific research will unearth more complex and specified information having coherent and coordinated function…in living and non-living systems…and thereby further make the scientific conclusions based upon empirical data…increasingly stacking-up against unguided, random-chance, trial-and-error, incremental progression as a plausible explanation for the assemblage of complex systems.

In other words…the score will continue to run up in favor of Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the complex systems of information we see in the natural world…because the trend…the trajectory…of the data in this regard will continue to go in this same direction of increasing complexity and integrated coherence.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Narrow Bandwidth of Definition

There is a narrow bandwidth of definition in the natural world…that supports the scientific activity of biological taxonomic classification…that defines the essence of every living and non-living thing…which recognizes horizontally constraining definition lines below and above…describing the characteristics, architectural design, and lifestyle habits…of billions of unique and distinctive things in the natural world…a reality that is fatal to the theory of the open-ended boundaries of random change in Darwinian macroevolution, naturalistic materialism, and scientism.

The characteristics, architectural body designs, and lifestyle habits of an apple tree compared to the olive tree or to the rose bush…or the distinctive and unique characteristics that define the African elephant compared to a giraffe or a hippopotamus…not to mention a salmon fish or a falcon bird or a spider insect…all are part of unique and discontinuous, narrow bandwidths of definition that fall within their tight spaces of horizontal lines above and below that lock into place the essence of each and every living and non-living thing…that stay that way without any observable major changes… toward some future, hypothetical, currently unimaginable outcomes…beyond their essential characteristic definitions.

There is an extremely narrow and precise bandwidth of complex, specified, and coherently integrated information…of enormous quantity…front-loaded inside the seed of an apple tree…that tells the seed planted in the ground to burst upward through the surface of the ground and rise with incredible energy, momentum, and direction…to become a very specific type of tree producing a specific type of fruit…apples having nutrients, a sweet taste, and a pleasing aroma.

What tells the apple tree when to stop growing and when and how to start producing fruit…is again front-loaded within the informational package that uniquely and distinctly defines what it means to be an apple tree.

The compelling evidence of ordered and intelligible information integral to this reality of an apple tree…that argues through commonsense for the need for an intelligent designer God setting all of this in motion…along with billions of other brilliantly coordinated systems of information making up the vast diversity of living things in the natural world…seamlessly translates over into the narrow bandwidths of definition found in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

What is beyond humanistic explanation is how each biblical narrative story of faith could hone-in on its own unique mission-plan and outcome…between tightly spaced-apart top and bottom defining horizontal lines…while finding just the right mix of the supernatural and miraculous…while establishing and maintaining a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…a powerful process yet incomprehensible and undetectable to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

When Jesus says to Thomas: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (Jn. 20:29)…Jesus is not being critical of Thomas.

Jesus…in that very moment…is engaged in physically revealing Himself in His resurrected body…again to the disciples…this time while Thomas is not absent elsewhere but present amongst them.

Within the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…these physical appearances of Jesus to the disciples and to other select people…to the extent of the numerical limits as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8…were more than adequate for the inauguration and empowerment of the early Christian church…as historically seen in hindsight.

But these physical appearances of Jesus after His resurrection…were also brilliantly and carefully moderated so as not to extend over into the area of  mass-public appearances…beyond that of the more than 500 disciples described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:6…into the public domain of undeniable, empirically observed reality…like isolated cases of the undeniable persuasiveness of the temporary blindness of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, or the temporary loss of being able to speak for Zacharias in Luke 1, or the potential of Jesus praying to the Father for legions of angels to save Him from the upcoming ordeal of the cross.

All of these examples of visual, observed reality…along with all of the signs and wonders recorded in the Bible…would and did generate a type of faith that Thomas obtained when he examined the hands and the side of the resurrected Jesus (Jn. 20:28)…an empirical acknowledgment of the risen Christ that Thomas would need for the intense storms of opposition and persecution he and the other disciples would face in the immediate days and years to come.

The quality of being able to hear God’s voice in the Spirit…to understand our unique calling…and to be able to follow God’s lead within a narrow bandwidth that defines who and what we are and what we were created to become…derives its high-value because faith and trust is an invaluable part of personal relationships…and is not the same thing as the mere acknowledgment of visually observed events and occurrences…even divine miracles (Jn. 12:37).

Many Christians in the days ahead may need the empirical evidences of divine appearances of God and of angels…in dreams, visions, or visitations (Joel 2:28-29)…to boldly and confidently carry out their challenging missions…like Paul in Acts 23:11.

But the standard stock-in-trade of the Christian life is to commendably and admirably follow God in-the-Spirit…without physical, empirical evidence of His presence and participation in our lives.

The enormous importance of this reality of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…is the two-fold coupling of the apologetic evidence this unfolds…of its divine origin and continued maintenance…along with the equally important inspirational value to the believing Christian of God’s masterful brilliance demonstrated in the tight definitions of the biblical narrative stories of faith…each as unique, distinctive, and having purposeful direction…as the unique informational packages contained within the seeds of apple, orange, olive, or fig trees.

Jesus actually says to the disciples that it is imperative that He go away…that He return to the Father in heaven…so that the Holy Spirit…the divine Third Person of the Trinity…invisible and un-seeable to human beings…can lead them…and us…into all truth (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15).

This reality of a walk with God through life…in the Spirit…applies to modern-day Christians as well as to the early Christian disciples in the first-century.

The ability to invent and to utilize a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…only has tangible application within real interactions with the living God…who is capable of initiating and sustaining personal relationships with His followers (Jer. 31:31-34)…through God-composed journeys of faith.

This distinctive feature of the biblical narrative stories of faith…balanced precisely within the narrow bandwidths that define the original and innovative storylines of the callings of the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible…has no plausible explanation of origin coming from man-made religions having imaginary gods.

The Bible has this unique and distinctive component of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…because the Bible is a divinely inspired composition…co-authored with human beings by the Creator God of the universe.

Any other explanation for its existence within the marketplace of ideas…is nonsensical.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A Delicate Balance between Belief and Unbelief 2

Jesus says to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelves legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Mt. 26:53-54).

The first Christian disciples have to physically see and speak with…to personally interact with…the resurrected Jesus.

Their message to the world…then and now…is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead…that Jesus is the Messiah…the Savior…and that He has the keys to hell and death.

Their bold and uninhibited message is that Jesus has defeated death and sin…having successfully made a full atonement…payment-in-full…for mankind’s sins as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice…Himself being sinless and blemish-free.

The free offer of God is a full pardon…amnesty…for our rebellion-in-sin apart from God…obtained through looking to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

For this salvation to be completely free and un-coerced…to be a willing and voluntary coming to God by exercising faith in Christ…the critical element of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief must be in-place and functioning…otherwise the commendable and admirable feature of exercising faith in God has no meaning…has no independent value.

The vehicle that God has invented whereby we can get to know Him personally…must be on His terms…and not a human invention.

That vehicle is a walk…a journey…an adventure of faith…patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

This divine blend of the physical appearances of the resurrected Jesus to the first Christian disciples…on the one hand…with Jesus the first week after His resurrection not walking down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…on the other hand…is a reality too complex…too highly-specified, and too coherently integrated within the biblical Old and New Testaments…to be the inventive product of human literary imagination.

Atheists and skeptics…over the past three to four hundred years…have used the immerging field of science to question the validity of the miracles and the supernatural in the Bible.

An equally important and valid question in support of the Bible…is where and how would the delicate balance between belief and unbelief come from…other than from God?

An even larger and more profound question in support of the Bible…is the WHY of its existence?

In my opinion, one reason for this delicate balance is that it enables a high-level type and quality of faith…defined succinctly in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6…that creates the context…the free-will environment…for the development of a personal relationship with God…based primarily upon faith, trust, and mutual love (Jn. 20:29, 21:15-17)…which rises far above the mere acknowledgment of empirically observed facts.

The biblical narrative stories of faith of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…are not just exciting bed-time stories for children.  They are a real pattern for a life of faith with the living God.

The question here is not whether the Bible contains supernatural communications between God and people…like the calling of Abraham to go to Canaan or the appearance of Jesus to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…or miraculous events like the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The critical question here…from the standpoint of a compelling apologetic evidence for the defense of the Bible and of Christianity…is how and why this delicate balance between belief and unbelief…clearly discernable in the biblical narrative stories in the Old and New Testaments…could or would plausibly be the product of human literary invention…as a universal through-line skillfully moderated in the Bible…from beginning to end?

The dawn of modern-quality literature…arguably begins with Shakespeare in the early 1600’s A.D.  The composition of the “Joseph novella” (Gen. 37-50) is dated by conservative biblical scholars at around 1,450 B.C.  Some biblical scholars will date its composition to around 1,250 B.C.

This story of Joseph and his uniquely unconventional rise to power to become governor of Egypt during a widespread famine…is considered to be one of the great short stories of literature…ever written…in any time period.

With a composition date of 1,450 B.C. the Joseph novella predates Shakespeare by about 3,000 years…with nothing of equally comparable high-quality in-between.

Regardless of whatever date we assign in the past for the writing of the biblical Old and New Testaments…conservative or liberal…articulated within God-composed adventure of faith life-scripts like the story of Joseph…this unique feature of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…has no parallel in any other system of human experience, religion, philosophy, or worldview.

It is utterly and completely unique to the Bible…subtly interwoven into the biblical narrative stories of faith…in such a skillful and innovative way as to be undetectable and hidden to those people who choose to live in unbelief (1 Cor. 2:6-10)…charting their own life-course through self-sovereignty…rather than a journey of faith following the living God…after the biblical pattern.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A Delicate Balance between Belief and Unbelief 1

In Acts 13:4-12… it is recorded that at the start of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas…beginning in the island of Cyprus…a sorcerer named Elymas sought to dissuade the deputy of one of the cities Paphos in Cyprus…from receiving a presentation by Paul and Barnabas of the Christian gospel message.

Acts 13:9-12 records the response of Paul to this sorcerer:

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season.  And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

We observe in the remainder of the missionary evangelical ministry of Paul as recorded in Acts and in his letters to the early churches…that the Holy Spirit does not re-introduce this overwhelmingly persuasive technique of temporary physical blindness…for skeptics and critics…as part of the tool-kit to spread the good news of the Christian gospel message.

In the many ups and downs of his ministry…even though God uses supernatural signs and wonders to confirm the divine origin of Paul’s preaching (Acts 14:8-18, 16:16-18, 19:6-7, 19:11-12)…the method of conversion of new converts to Christianity was mostly by persuasion through preaching and teaching…producing a reasoned and heart-felt response of saving faith in those who accepted Jesus Christ into their lives as the Savior and Son of God…rather than through the means of an observationally induced faith by visually seeing signs and wonders performed by Paul and Barnabas…such as causing temporary physical blindness in skeptics and opponents:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.  And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13:48-49).

“And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1).

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” (Acts 17:2).

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23).

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” (Rom. 10:14-15).

One similar, supernatural account is given in Luke 1:5-22 of the angel Gabriel announcing to Zacharias in the Temple of the upcoming pregnancy of his wife Elisabeth and the birth of a son to be named John…Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth both being elderly…with the angel saying to Zacharias that he will be dumb and unable to speak for a period of time because of his unbelief regarding this very unusual, divine revelation.

In terms of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His resurrection Jesus did not only…not…openly walk down Main Street and straight into the Temple…showing Himself to the general public and to the religious leaders in His new resurrected body…but Jesus the Son of God on several occasions during His ministry could have used the supernatural technique of causing temporary blindness…or like the case with Gabriel and Zacharias the temporary inability to speak…as a tool to generate a forced, coerced quality of faith.

Imagine if Jesus said to the Pharisees and scribes during His night trial in the house of the high priest Caiaphas: “You shall all be blind for three days…because of your unbelief”…and then walk out the door and out of the courtyard…collecting Peter and John along the way…and then connecting-up with the other scattered disciples the next day to freely continue His ministry.

Imagine if Jesus had said to Pilate, to the Roman rulers in attendance, to the religious leaders, and to the general populace…at His Friday morning public hearing…moments before His condemnation and crucifixion: “You shall all be dumb and unable to speak for an entire month…because of your unbelief”…and then disengage Himself from their custody and walk freely out of Jerusalem and back to Galilee with His disciples.

Yet Jesus does none of these things.

God does not want to upset the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…because developing faith and trust in God is the key underlying reason for the existence of our universe.

Love can never be obtained through coercion.  Love must be freely accepted and freely given.

Again, in terms of the apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible and its narrative stories of faith…it is not so much that we can see a moderated balance of the supernatural signs and wonders blended with the persuasion of truth and reason applied through preaching and teaching…but also that something as complex and premeditated as the existence of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief even exists…and is functionally operative over the thousands of years of human redemptive history.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Importance of the Abraham Explosion

The concept of the Abraham Explosion…borrowing the word explosion from the Cambrian Explosion to describe the similar phenomenon…in the moral reasoning realm…of a sudden, quantum-jump influx of information via the novel, unprecedented life-script for Abraham…may seem like a stretch…but only if one discounts the value of biblical faith.

Obviously, the physical body-plan architectures of the incredibly novel and complex creatures of the Cambrian Explosion…Opabinia, Marrella, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia, Anomalocaris, and Trilobite…have no correlation to salvation through grace by faith…other than that the information packages of both of these explosive events fall outside of humanistic invention or control.

The Cambrian geologic period predates us by 530 million years…so we cannot claim credit for the creation of complex life on earth.

And has been argued throughout this book…biblical faith is unimaginable through humanistic reasoning…and therefore falls outside of human literary invention.

The relative importance of the inauguration of physical life on earth, beginning with the introduction of single cell bacteria around 3.8 billion years ago and accelerating with the sudden appearance of complex creatures at the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary at 530 million years ago…compared to the sudden introduction of salvation through grace by faith starting with Abraham around 4,200 years ago…can be weighed in the relative balance scales of time in that one inaugurated temporary physical life…while the second inaugurated eternal spiritual life (Ex. 3:6; Mt. 22:32).

If we value the biblical faith component of every narrative story of faith in the Bible…that God can and will displace our normative worldly plans with His higher plans for our lives if we will walk with Him in faith…a novel and innovative concept so far outside of worldly conventional thinking that no human writer would ever invent it…then what occurred when Abraham obeyed God in taking his family and all of his possessions in a journey of faith from Haran to Canaan…truly merits the term of the Abraham Explosion. aran to

I sense in this one single topic that I have stumbled upon the equivalent invention of the paper-clip or sliced bread…in the area of Christian apologetics…so important are the implications.

Standard within orthodox Christian thinking today is the commonly held idea that God has a plan for our lives.  I would guess that there are many magazine articles and books written on this subject…along with the accompanying important scriptural admonition to take up our cross and to follow Jesus.

But what I perceive is missing in all of this is the connection of the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42)…integral within each narrative story of faith in the Bible…that authenticates and validates the extremely high worth of these biblical stories of faith…that in some Christian circles has dropped to the dangerously low-value level of being considered myth or fiction…as a result of the skeptical past three or four century’s incessant anti-supernatural bias in philosophy and science…which has seeped into and established a foothold within Christendom.

The reality is that this anti-supernatural bias has been debunked for over four or five decades now, and is no longer a tenable worldview from a philosophical standpoint.

Because the Big Bang is the first moment of the initiation of mathematics, physics, and chemistry into being in the physical universe…in a split-second accompanying the introduction of material particles and energy…in unfathomable quantities and precision…the notion of an intelligent designer inserting His free-will, creative agency into the natural world…can no longer plausibly be considered a violation of the those very same laws of nature…since they both came into being at precisely the same time and from the same source…intelligent agency.

The arguments for atheism are damaged and being eroded on a daily basis as new programs of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information are being discovered and understood in science…which are otherwise inexplicable in the now outdated, Darwinian model of gradual evolution in small incremental steps through genetic mutation and natural selection.

This same quality of guided-to-an-end-point, premeditated information coming from an intelligent agency…God…can be seen in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

Everything we might want to do in our lives…as a practical matter…will not fit within one lifetime.

If God is going to be able to successfully insert His higher ways into our lives in the form of a coherent and functional God-composed life-script…then something else will have to give way.

In order to make the space for the new higher program of God to actualize…then some or all of our own horizontally conventional plans and aspirations will have to go.

This is what we see in the biblical journeys of faith.  This is the dangerous peril to our own autonomous individualism and sovereign will-and-way…within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that is purposely and by design under threat of displacement when in the presence of a biblical-quality journey of faith.

This is the innovative feature of the influx of new information that occurred in the God-composed adventure of faith life-script for Abraham…that puts it on an equal or greater footing with the Cambrian Explosion.

When combined with the concept of a vertical graph-line spectrum of goodness and light…with absolute good and brilliant pure light at the top…and decreasing goodness and light descending down the scale…with the novel and ingeniously innovative concept embedded in the biblical narrative stories of faith that God’s ways will displace our ways within an adventure of faith life-script…this authenticates and validates the high worth and value of these biblical narrative stories of faith.

The recognition of the mere existence of complex information…outside of and above humanistic invention…in Abraham’s calling to go from the city of Haran to the land of Canaan…essentially displaces Abraham’s otherwise normative aspirations…that would have been actualized in some manner or another within the Haran reality.

With a challenging journey of faith across the gap…from where Abraham starts to where he finishes as the “father of faith”…to millions upon millions of people following down the succeeding centuries in pursuit of crossing this same gap through biblical faith in their own God-composed journeys of faith…this argues compellingly for the divine origin of the Bible in the same manner as the Cambrian Explosion argues for an intelligent designer introducing the design information that produces the sudden appearance of new and highly complex life-forms.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.