The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness 1

            The temptation in the wilderness of Jesus regarding the attractive appeal of the kingdoms of this world, and the power and glory of them (Lk. 4:5-8), as the sole means to solve the problems of this world, should not automatically be disqualified as not being commendable and admirable just because it comes out of the mouth of Satan.

            The cleverest and most appealing of the destructive temptations by Satan contain a kernel of partial truth, being half-truths that have some measure of positive value.

            The destructive nature of Satan’s temptations is that they rob the intended target of realizing the fuller benefit of the half-truth being deceitfully offered, having a final, hidden outcome that intentionally and knowingly falls far short of the misleading promise conveyed.

            This is like unknowingly accepting a one-hundred dollar-bill from a counterfeiter, only to find out later at the grocery store that it is worthless.

            The precisely targeted temptations by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5), of Jesus in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-15), and now being put forward in this present time attempt to get people to lower their sights to aim for things below their created potential, to aim for lower goals that miss the mark of people’s divinely intended destinies.

            Human beings were created with the privileged capacity to be able to have a personal relationship with our Creator God, to know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34).

            One of the most misguided tragedies in this life is to become side-tracked by alternative goals that distract, frustrate, and dilute the fully realized human life-script of enjoying a walk with God through life, that actualizes into reality this intimate personal relationship with God.

            The destructive intentions deceptively hidden within the temptations by Satan are masked within the details of choices and suggested courses of action, that have the outward appearance at first glance of being reasonably beneficial and sensible.

            By taking these classic temptations apart piece-by-piece, sunlight being the best disinfectant, what is revealed is the realtruth about God in our modern world (Jn. 10:10). 

            For example, the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5), hopelessly falls short of its implied benefit.

            It misleadingly falls short of the whole story, because simply knowing about good and evil alone without the dual accompanying divine capacities of timeless foresight and absoluteperfect character, leads to the despair of failure. 

            It leads to the frustration of not be able to fully achieve consistent success, of not being able to produce and maintain the trouble-free life of secure happiness, of elevated safely above and out of the vulnerable zone of being corruptible and mistake-prone.

            In a nutshell, going our own way at the compromised lower level of lost potential is an accurate description of flawed human nature.  In essence, this is a fundamental explanation for the imperfect record of human history.

            Our modern culture denigrates the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a human invented, literary myth, but the highly sophisticated theme here is far above and outside of the boundaries of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

            To lightly dismiss this Garden of Eden temptation story as having a human imaginative origin, in my opinionis being naïvely uncritical and short-sighted.

            No human literary writer at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis, or in modern times today, could or would get within ten miles of this story of the downward fall of mankind being negatively defined as venturing out on our own within the self-reliance of self-sovereignty, this being the very cornerstone of humanism.

            Obtaining the knowledge of good and evil alone, on thecheap in the Garden of Eden by merely eating a particular fruit from a tree, is like someone giving us an automobile for free that has no motor.  It may be beautiful on the outside, but it is not functional in terms of getting anywhere.

            That “knowing good and evil” alone would be a positive thing for mankind is a classic example of being a half-truth having an end-point outcome that does not fully deliver as advertised.

            The only way that “knowing good and evil” successfully operates for autonomous human beings walking within our own self-composed life-scripts apart from God, is if we also innately possess the timeless foresight to see into the future to make correct decisions ahead-of-time, and possess the absolute perfectcharacter to always without exception choose the right course of action for the optimum benefit to ourselves and to other people

            Without possessing timeless foresight and absolute goodness, then knowing good and evil becomes a Catch-22 dilemma of only being able to recognize, appreciate, and second-guess our past bad choices and mistakes in hindsight, after-the-fact in the reactive, cleanup mode.

            Not having the benefit in-the-moment of being able to see ahead into the future the final outcomes of our decisions, choices, and actions now in the present time, and not being able to divinely separate and parse the subtleties of good from evil at the proactive, preventive, and trouble-free level of perfect character, is a current reality of human life

            But acquiring the knowledge of good and evil alone, as non-divine human beings, does indeed work extremely well if this clearly recognizable deficiency in our nature is repaired by the addition of a personal connection with our Creator God.

            The essence of the biblical narrative stories of faith is that the God of the Bible does possess the divine attributes of timeless foresight and absolute perfect goodness, a reality that is brilliantly patterned for us in the detailed life-scripts of these worldly unconventional, biblical narrative stories of faith.

            The tempting appeal of independently acquiring for ourselves one of the legs of the three-legged stool required as a first-start to becoming “as gods,” the three legs of the stool being at a minimum the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and perfect character, this hasty and rash decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden carries with it the unimaginably destructive, hidden by-product of going our own way (Isa. 53:6).

            A thoughtfully questioning and worldly-savvy Adam and Eve might have more wisely answered back to the serpent: “What you say sounds good and appealing on the surface, but there is no rush.  We will first discuss this with God, think about it, and then get back to you in a few days.  Also, we know God just well-enough now to trust His judgment, and will ask God to elaborate further on why He told us not to eat this fruit, and why someone like you would be suggesting we do otherwise.  We will put the question squarely to God if there might be another alternate reality we are missing-out on in this Garden of Eden, that is independent of and contrary to the council of God, before making our decision regarding this new option you present.”

            The absence of all of the information needed to make a thoughtful decision, of not having the whole picture, identifies this temptation in the Garden of Eden as having such a malicious and destructive intention.

            Its subtlety is masked within a half-truth containing some limited measure of appealing value, enabling us now in hindsight to be able to categorize this temptation by Satan as being an injuriously deceptive evil.

            This is evidenced on a monumental scale as demonstrated every day in the front pages of newspapers around the world, of people having a knowledge of good and evil but being incapable as less-than-divine gods to divinely control life-events consistently towards favorable outcomes.   

            The temptation in the Garden of Eden essentially gave us a bank account with a checkbook full of checks that we are unable to cash.  It gave us a brand-new automobile without an engine.

            Applying this same line-of-reasoning to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the pivotal turn-about here is that Satan did not know…that this time he was the one who was partially uninformed at the time of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, about the premeditated and timeless plans of God for Jesus to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 2:8). 

            Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 were brilliantly hidden in the Old Testament scriptures as prophetic, predicted events to be fulfilled centuries later in the future, as were actualized into reality on Calvary Hill and on Easter morning in Jerusalem about three and one-half years after this temptation of Jesus took place in the wilderness.

            Satan is a created being and does not possess the divine attributes of divine foresight and foreknowledge.  This time around Satan himself was not “with-it” and divinely savvy to know in advance the precise plans of God for the redemption and salvation of mankind.

            The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness to use the power and glory of the kingdoms of this world as the means to fix humanity’s problems was not an off-target, misdirected temptation.  It was not a random, shot-in-the-dark outcome of Satan’s not fully knowing in advance of the precise details of the life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God, in a human body here on earth.

            But in crafting this deceptive temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, what separates itself out here that tells us a great deal about the real truth about God, is that Satan this time was the one who did not possess all of the information.

Gethsemane 1

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”                                                                                  (Gal. 2:20)

            The idea that God is the author of life-plans that lead to situations and circumstances requiring complete dependence upon God, with successful resolutions generating the broadest possible spiritual benefits, is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. 

            The life-plan of Jesus Christ the Son of God which culminates in the crucifixion and the resurrection is the perfect example of this concept. 

            Hebrews 5:8-9 reads “Though he were a son, yet learnedhe obedience by the things that he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” 

            The lessons that Jesus (the second Person of the Trinity) needed to experience first-hand for Himself through a life lived in a human body here on earth, in order to become the qualified leader able to help us to repent, trust, and surrender our lives to Him, came to a focal point at the events surrounding the crucifixion. 

            We discover in God’s own plan scripted for His Son Jesus at the cross, that circumstances were so challenging that Jesus had to exercise perfect faith, trust, dependence, and reliance in God the Father, approaching the limits of His own divine capacity, to achieve a successful outcome. 

            The fact that the scripture quoted above says that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered, tells us that Jesus went through the experience of dependence and reliance upon God the Father, just like we do as Christians today.

            Even the Son of God, when living within the limitations of a human body, must confront and deal with the same issues we do (Heb. 4:15). 

            Humans cannot fathom the depths of God’s divine love.  The agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is partially a mystery (Mk. 14:34).          

            But God included in the New Testament gospels this record of the struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane, with honesty and candor for a reason. 

            This author does not claim to fully understand the duality of the divinity of Jesus Christ and His human nature, which forms the bond between His earthly experience and our personal walk of faith, for all eternity. 

            I do not claim to understand the dynamics of the Trinity, in which God is one, yet three distinct Persons enjoying loving friendship in unity from eternity past. 

            Jesus Christ the Son of God cries out from the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  More painful than the crucifixion was the momentary separation of Jesus from the Father, possibly experiencing the oblivion of total spiritual darkness as a result of absorbing within Himself as the Passover Lamb of God…the sins of the world. 

            Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted the bitterness of death for every man, so that we would never have to experience this intense agony of separation from God. 

            Jesus tells His followers that He will never leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus in Gethsemane and at Calvary, born-again Christians will never have to say, over the long expanse of eternity, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”      

            Yet however we try to reach a balanced comprehension of the divinity and humanness of Jesus, this account of the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane tells us that Jesus approached the Father for strength just as He did on several occasions, retiring alone sometimes all night to pray (Mt. 14:23; Lk. 6:12). 

            God is telling us in this Gethsemane account that Jesus did not attempt to go it alone in self-reliance in facing the upcoming ordeal of the cross.  God is telling us with tender, frank, and forthcoming honesty about the depths of His own struggle in this balanced-on-a-razor’s edge, monumentally volatile plan of salvation through the cross and the resurrection, designed for our redemption.    

            We therefore find that in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night before the trial and crucifixion, that Jesus experiences difficulty with the completion of His calling and must rely upon the Father for the strength and endurance to be the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for the sins of the world. 

            Even though Jesus knows from childhood that this is the future destiny of His earthly life, when the moment finally approaches, the highest features of divine character are pushed to the limits (if that is possible with God in a human body) of Jesus’ own endurance in offering Himself for the sins and transgressions of mankind. 

            This is one explanation for why Jesus said with relief and triumph just before He died on the cross: “It is finished.” 

            In the Garden of Gethsemane, God reveals to us openly and candidly that His plan devised to transfer to the second Person of the Trinity the weight of the sins of mankind through the Son of God’s atonement on the cross, was not all that easy even for Jesus. 

            Otherwise, Jesus would have breezed through the Garden of Gethsemane without saying his soul was heavy unto death, or having to pray “more earnestly”, or asking the Father to remove this cup of suffering from Him, or sweating drops of blood while praying, or having one of the great angels from heaven (possibly Gabriel), visit Him for comfort and support.   

            In this life-script that God crafted for Himself, we see a level of moral character that instructs us as to the heights of what we can expect in our own spiritual journey. 

            God does not ask us from a comfortably safe distance to step into the risk and adventure of the Christian life. 

            God will not challenge us to the core of our being in terms of character, faith, trust, and reliance upon God, and in times of persecution may even cost the Christian his or her life, without Himself having also shared this similar experience. 

            God composed and orchestrated His own life here on earth in such a way that, in regard to all of life’s critical issues, He challenged Himself through the life-long experience of the cross. 

            This sets the example for us to have a foreglimpse of what is involved in a walk of faith with God. 

            Because Christ lives within the believer’s heart, we have the one and only Person helping us “from the inside” who has successfully been through the cross and resurrection experience ahead of us. 

            Whichever way we interpret the many sides of the agony of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, in trying to understand the limitlessness of the divine love of God, one important lesson stands out.  If God is going to ask me to give my all, and He is offering His help in this regard, then I must have confidence that He has actually been there Himself ahead of me. 

            I must have absolute confidence that my Guide through this adventure of faith truly knows the best possible route to take. 

            In some way that we can only begin to discover through our own God-composed biblical walk of faith, both the human and the divine sides of Jesus Christ gave His all in Gethsemane and at Calvary, in exhibiting unselfish love and pure righteousness in the face of enormous opposition in order to pre-qualify Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).

            One of the accounts of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is recorded in Luke 22:39-46:

39 And he came out, and went, as he was accustomed, to the Mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.

41 And he was withdrawn from them a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow.

46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye?  Rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

            Luke 22:44 says that Jesus prayed “more earnestly.” 

            This is a remarkable statement. 

            We would naturally think that the initial earnest prayer of Jesus regarding any issue would always be entirely adequate the first time, seeing that He is the eternal, perfect Son of God. 

            The fact that Jesus (the Son of God) had to go back a second time and pray more earnestly tells us just how difficult it was to absorb within Himself the huge mass of the sins and transgressions of mankind. 

            We see in the divine approach that Jesus takes in the Garden of Gethsemane toward this great challenge, a pattern for how we are to confront the difficulties and challenges in our own lives. 

            Jesus was spiritually battling and overcoming the world’s sin, which is based upon rebellion and self-autonomy in mankind, by using the opposite, counter-balancing weapons of surrender, dependence, and reliance upon God the Father’s way instead of His own way (Lk. 22:42). 

            It took the direct opposite attitude of living for oneself, of putting one’s own interests first, of side-stepping a difficult situation, of saving one’s own skin, and of running away from a challenge…for Jesus to cancel-out the sum total of mankind’s sin and to fulfill His role as the Lamb of God sacrifice for sin. 

            This is the part of the first-advent, messianic scenario that the self-absorbed Satan totally miscalculated. 

            This is how God used the short-sighted blindness of evil, rooted in self-centeredness, to turn the lowliness of the cross into the exalted glory of the resurrection for our benefit.  

            This is precisely why the cross of Christ, for man, is the way back to God (Isa. 53:6). 

            The way back to God is not through self-autonomy or self-direction, using our God-given natural gifts and abilities independently apart from God.  These are the fallen tendencies of “self-realization” that got us into trouble to begin with in the Garden of Eden, that actually separated us from a relationship with God and that Jesus is redeeming us from on the cross. 

            In Isaiah 14:13-14, it is the “I will” portions of Lucifer’s statements “I will ascend into heaven” and “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” that is the official start of sin in the universe. 

The Perfect Savior 3

               Redemptive salvation is operative today as much as any time in human history.

            The blood that Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary covers my sins past, present, and future.

            This enables me to step-into a risk-filled adventure of faith following the God of the Bible, in which I am certain I will make many mistakes along the way, but absent the threat that I can jeopardize my eternal salvation as a result of my imperfect performance.

            The God of the Bible is so brilliant that He has proactively crafted the redemption through the cross and resurrection of Christ so as to provide impunity from the condemnation that should accrue through my blunders and mistakes.

            The precise purpose of redemptive salvation is to guarantee upfront a safe-conduct through the God-composed journey of faith life-script He has written for me. 

            This allows me the God-sanctioned and authorized freedom to experience a first-person exploration of the knowledge of good and evil, within the approved vehicle of an imperfect yet redeemed moral nature (Rom. 7:15-8:4).

            Atheists criticize Christians for not being perfect.  But we are not supposed to be perfect, just better than we were.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”          (2 Cor. 4:7)

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”                                                                                 (Jn. 8:36)           

            The only way we could discover and understand the knowledge of good and evil is for us to take it out for a test-drive, within the research vehicle of a redeemed yet fallen imperfect nature.

            The hypothesis that the God of the Bible is trustworthy, truthful, loving, has own best interests at heart, and that we can know Him on a personal basis is something that can be tested and found to be either true or false.

            A God-composed journey of faith life-script having the upfront impunity of redemptive salvation leads to factual findings that are as empirical as it gets, being in importance far above the findings of modern science in discovery of the workings of the natural world.

            God flips our imperfect moral natures into the microscopic and telescopic lens needed to see into the mysteries of the knowledge of good and evil, while engaged within a God-guided journey of faith that also infuses more virtue and goodness into our characters through the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13).

            This answers in large part the fundamental question of the purpose of this life and why we are here.

            Only the real living God could set this all up.

            In The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:6, Jesus does not say blessed are the morally perfect, but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

            By becoming born-again (Jn. 3:5-6, 10), the people of faith in the Old and New Testaments are given new spiritual hearts and minds that can comprehend the knowledge of good and evil, while still inhabiting imperfect characters, through the deliberate preplanning and foreknowledge of God (Prov. 3:5-6; Isa. 55:8-9; Jer. 29:11; Eph. 1:7, 2:8-10; 5:8).

            This is one of the many reasons why the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are the most important events in all of history. 

            This is far above Jesus as Messiah expelling the Romans from Israel in the first-century as was popularly expected at the time.

            If God Himself is not internally consistent in this fundamental moral concept of freely choosing God-sovereignty over self-sovereignty, in Gethsemane and at Calvary, within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit…then justifiably God could not ask us to make the difficult, Holy Spirit assisted transition from self-sovereignty toGod-sovereignty in the course of our lives (Jn. 3:14-21).

            This is the fundamental issue under consideration for all human beings.

            The God of the Bible is telling us through the life-script of Jesus Christ that He was willing and able to get out in front of us in this regard of the bond of unity, tested within a human life incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God, within the personal interrelationships of the Trinity.

            This is why Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.

            This is why there is no other way to come to the Father except through Him (paraphrased from John 14:6), because Jesus is the perfect bridge of God-sovereignty that connects us in the right way within a personal walk with God in our own lives. 

            Allowing God to displace our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 46:9-10; Jn. 12:24), to achieve in some measure in our lives this same divine unity-of-purpose (Jn. 17:21), sets in motion God flipping our imperfect natures into fully redeemed, 4-wheel drive vehicles.

            This enables today’s Christians to venture-out into empirical research programs of lessons-learned traversing through the rough terrain of the knowledge of good and evil in a fallen world.

            God identifies for us in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus Christ is operating at the apex, at the highest pinnacle of morality and virtue, when God reveals with incredible honesty and candor His own difficulty at the far outer-edge of virtuosity, counterintuitively in the unexpected area of God-sovereignty (Lk. 22:42).

            This unbroken fidelity to God-sovereignty restores our severed relationship with Him on the highest terms of true and right justice yet at the greatest cost to Himself, being the cost of the unprecedented death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection three days later.

            In my opinion, this answers the question of how we would know today with certainty that Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for mankind’s sins, being morally perfect and having sinless virtue to qualify as the Messiah in the first-century and now.

The Perfect Savior 2

            The actions of Jesus highlight unerring fidelity to the one right course of action no matter how difficult it is or how high the cost in the Garden of Gethsemane and at Calvary the next day

            All of the other moral concepts and virtues are secondarily derivative to the primary concept of God-sovereignty, of following God’s leading in our lives rather than going our own way as autonomous independent agents (Isa. 53:5-6).

            The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is not just to improve our moral performance in the areas of honesty, integrity, tolerance, and the capacity for unselfish love.

            The ancient, primary reason for the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice is to focus and home-in on the remedy and removal of rebellious sin, of going our own way apart from God. 

            When I became a Spirit-born Christian at age 18 in 1970, I was not instantly transformed into a morally perfect person, possessing sinless virtue incapable of making any mistakes from that time forward.

            After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and after the Day of Pentecost the early church Christians went-out into the Greco-Roman world with the Great Commission gospel message that eventually conquered the world. 

            Yet they do so while exhibiting imperfect virtue and fallen yet redeemed natures.

            I have never heard anyone ask the question why this is so, of why salvation through Christ does not instantly produce inner perfect virtue and flawless character.

            Why would it be the case throughout the Old and New Testament journeys of faith life-scripts of Abraham (not discounting Enoch and Noah) through Paul, that God works His “magic” of blessing mankind through people having imperfect characters?

            The answer is that God uses His divinely timeless foresight matched with the creative insight of being an ingenious master strategist, to be able to turn mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden into a positive.

            This is a profoundly unexpected validation of the brilliance of God equal to the fine-tuning of the physics in the universe and the nanotechnology of the molecular machinery we now discover in living cells.

            Humans were simply outwitted in the Garden of Eden, ill-equipped to divide and parse genuine truth from cleverly disguised disinformation (Gen. 3:1-6). 

            I was outwitted by the strong pull of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, in choosing to go the culturally acceptable wrong way of humanistic self-sovereignty, of trying to self-validate my worth and value through personal achievements, until I was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.     

            The God of the Bible is so brilliant He can take the imperfection of human beings and in an instant of time flip this into a positive asset.

            Through the ingenious program of redemptive salvation, the God of the Bible enlists our fallen nature and transforms it into the high-quality of the perfect vehicle to take us through an in-depth research program into the knowledge of good and evil.

            Without the lens of an imperfect, moral character we would not be able to decipher and understand the subtle nuances of the broad array of moral concepts involved within the knowledge of good and evil.

            This remarkably places Old and New Testament believers in the sweet-spot of humility regarding the flawed nature of this human research vehicle. 

            This safely precludes the self-inflated pride of self-righteousness, the very character trait that kills the ability to take the salvation message of the gospel out to the world-at-large in the spirit of love (Jn. 15:13).

The Perfect Savior

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”                                           (Heb. 4:15)

            In all of the accounts of the intense opposition from the religious and political leaders the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers that Jesus responds to as recorded in the four New Testament gospels, we see what we would expect to see in the moral attributes in a person claiming to be the divine Son of God and long-awaited Messiah (Isa. 11:1-5, 35:1-8).

            In His miraculous healings of the blind and the lame, of inspired preaching to hundreds and sometimes thousands of people (Matthew chapters 5-7), and in His personal interactions with His disciples and the common people, we see the traits of virtue we would expect to see actualized through Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), meaning God with us.

            We see truth, honesty, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and uncompromising courage, to name a few positive attributes that give Jesus a grade of A-plus, of perfect 100-percent test scores across-the-board within the broad array of moral concepts we can use as standards for judgment.

            We can agree with Pilate the Roman governor in Jerusalem after examining Jesus: “I find in him no fault at all.” (Jn. 18:38).

            But what we do not see today looking back in hindsight into first-century Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, is why the Passover sacrifice of Exodus 12:26-27 had no connection with the Old Testament Judaic understanding of the anticipated, coming Messiah.

            How is it that nearly everyone in and around A.D. 27 in Israel were looking hopefully and expectantly for a Joshua or King David type warrior/priest as Messiah who would expel the loathsome Romans out of their country as had occurred with numerous other enemy invaders in their past national history, and fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy of 9:6-7 of God setting-up His eternal kingdom in Jerusalem? 

            No one expected the coming Messiah to also be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice, offering His own body and life for mankind’s sins, according to the obscure and little understood scriptural passages of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

            This is where God’s ways and our ways sharply divide, differentiating the life-script for Jesus Christ as being above and beyond human literary invention.

            God’s higher ways lift the biblical narrative above other contemporary worldview narratives in today’s modern marketplace of ideas.

            But the one area where we canwith solid confidence through the benefit of hindsight today conclude that Jesus Christ is operating at the cutting-edge of divine perfection, is that Jesus Christ is living-out His God-composed life-script to be the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin to the outer limits of absolute perfection.

            The life-script mission of Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb of God would require perfect adherence without any gaps of inconsistency to the uniquely biblical, moral concept of God-sovereignty, Jesus Himself being the Second Person of the Trinity. 

            Self-will to go His own way apart from God the Father and the Holy Spirit is inconceivable at the high level of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness (Lk. 22:42).

            This level of sacrificial love to do the optimum right thing for others would be humanly impossible for anyone other than the messianic God/man Jesus Christ to perfectly actualize.

            Every positive person of faith in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, other than Jesus Christ, have God-composed life-scripts that take into account a built-in allowance for human error (Rom. 4:6-8).

            All of these positive people of faith are nonetheless morally imperfect and are not perfectly virtuous. 

            The great men and women of faith in the Bible are morally imperfect like the rest of us in the many categories of the broad array of moral concepts, but also in their inability to perfectly follow-through within their God-composed life-scripts, without stumbling and bumbling at certain points along the way in pursuit of their divinely created callings and destinies.

            The biblical narrative stories of faith can be described as God’s attempt to give us something of Himselfto enable us to experience first-hand the expression in-and-through-us of some portion of His divine character.  This is actualized through the events of God-composed life-script storylines.  But we can also see that this extraordinary program entails our imperfect performance.

            Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Esther and Mordecai, Ruth, Hannah, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…none of these people are morally perfect and sinless. 

            Their life-scripts are based upon Holy Spirit empowered grace-through-faith, and proceed according to their individually exceptional gifts and abilities, plus the creative imagination of God their Creator as life-script Writer.

            These biblical life-scripts are not based upon the self-realization of autonomous individualism built upon the attempt to save ourselves through the self-performance of good-works.

            Programs of self-salvation based upon self-reliance are by definition human-driven and therefore fall short of moral perfection and sinless virtue.

            But the God-composed life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God intentionally exploits and utilizes to the fullest His uniquely divine nature to the maximum extent to be able to perfectly succeed in the one area wherein God knows we will have the mostdifficulty.

            This is the area that is the definition of sin and that the cross on Calvary Hill focuses upon…the area of God-sovereignty versus self-sovereignty…of following God’s leading in our lives compared instead to going our own way in shortsighted self-rulership (Isa. 53:6).

            God singles-out and highlights this key element within the broad array of moral concepts, honestly and candidly revealed in the difficulty that Jesus has in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion.

            Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46 record that in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest and preliminary trial that Jesus asked His disciples to “watch and pray.” 

            Jesus said that His soul was “exceedingly sorrowful.”  The scriptures record that He received the assistance from an angel from heaven to strengthen Him, and that He went back a second time to “pray more earnestly.” 

            Luke 22:44 records that Jesus sweat “great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” a condition known to modern medical science called hematidrosis.[1]

            The remarkable words of Jesus spoken that night: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: never the less not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42), tells us that God has brilliantly written a life-script for Himself, for our benefit. 

            The life-script for the second Person of the Trinity living in a human body manages to challenge Himself in the one humanly unreachable zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue, of making perfect choices and doing the right thing every time.

            Yet this humanly unreachable zone of perfection is still comprehensible within our capacity for moral reasoning, in the test-case scenario in the Garden of Gethsemane ofGod-sovereignty consistent, unified, and indivisible within GodHimself, within the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

            If Jesus does not say in perfect faith without skipping a beat: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” but instead decides to go in another direction other than the cross the next day, at that precise moment in time God-sovereignty would have been split in two

            This would have introduced autonomous individual rebellion into the God-head of the Trinity, of Jesus the Son of God going His own way apart from the Father and away from His ancient destiny as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8).

            This unprecedented development of the testing of divinely sinless unity-of-purpose consistent between God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, highlights God-sovereignty as the central issue in all of reality, the top-shelf “queen” of the virtues.


[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 195.

Progressive Gradualism

            In formulating his theory of macroevolution, Darwin threw purpose, meaning, and intelligent agency overboard in order to embrace atheistic materialism within his proposed mechanism.  In my opinion, in so doing he made the huge miscalculation of relying upon gradualism as the ruling paradigm in nature…a reliance that cannot bear the weight of scientific fact-based evidence.

            In his 1996 book Climbing Mount Improbable, Richard Dawkins offers a theoretical mechanism by which innovative features like the eye could be reached through entirely naturalistic processes. 

            Mount Improbable has one face that is a sheer vertical cliff, metaphorically representing the difficulty of reaching an innovative feature in one giant step.  Such marvels in nature as eyesight, winged flight, and upright bi-pedal walking cannot come into existence in large steps of anatomical progressions called saltations…being single leaps up the face of this cliff  equivalent to miracles.

            But there is a gradual uphill slope going up the other side of the mountain, which can be traversed to the top of the mountain through small incremental steps.  Thisis one of the fundamental axioms of Darwinian evolution…that the only plausible explanation for how a purely naturalistic process could work is through the use of infinitesimally small, random, undirected, and beneficially progressive accumulated steps.

            This is all well and good.  Except this hypothetical explanation in the book did not mention that if true this concept would require a near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios in various stages of completion. 

            In addition to the example of eyesight, any snap-shot in time slicing through the natural living world would show these enumerable developing features in mid-ascent all traversing up the gradual slope sides of millions of Mount Improbable scenarios in progress.  This would be an obvious and a prolific reality visually apparent to everyone…scientist and layman alike.

            The number of innovative “creations” using this naturalistic model does not improve upon the difficult-to-swallow large number of individual creations by divine fiat of the tens of millions of living species by an intelligent designing agent God. 

            The difficult concept of God creating each individual species is one of the things Darwinism was in 1859 and still is today trying to replace with a purely materialistic mechanism. 

            Both a theistic and an atheistic mechanism must account for the numerical reality of the vast biodiversity of life and the large volume of beneficial physical features this entails.

            The gradualism central to Mount Improbable does nothing to simplify this reality, but merely chops the overall ascent up the mountain into smaller, random, and undirected steps.      

            In a talk given by Philip E. Johnson entitled Grand Metaphysical Story of Science,[1] on the Internet…Dr. Johnson…a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of the book Darwin On Trial…gives an account from the Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker, which describes again a hypothetical way by which an ancient prototype squirrel climbing in a tree could over time and many iterations morph into a flying bat having wings.  This is paraphrased here by me from Johnson’s talk.

            The general idea is that by adding progressive genetic mutations of the variant trait of larger and larger flaps of skin between the fingers of the prototype squirrel…this enables slower, more aerodynamic, non-lethal accidental falls from the branches of tall trees. 

            This innovative invention for survival could then eventually combine with other coordinating features that would over long periods of time create the capacity for winged flight, the flying bat immerging at the top of Mount Improbable as a completed functional new creature.  All this occurs through the ruling paradigm of progressive gradualism by naturalistic processes.

            The massive evidentiary problem here again is that this same fictionally imaginative methodology for explaining the vast diversity of life cannot be merely confined to a single example of the theoretical sequence of events that might transform a tree-climbing squirrel or small rodent into a flying bat.          

            These same types of hypothetical arguments must be extended-out to apply gradualism in action to every living organism on earth.  This would catch and record in our current snap-shot of time an unmistakably large number of these organisms in various stages of progressive development.

            Not only does the obvious question arise here of why a squirrel would “want” to morph slowly into a bat through a series of incremental steps, but also is this the true reality of the phenomena we see in the natural world?  Clearly, it is not.

            The squirrels I observe in the neighborhood where I live can nimbly run along the top of one-inch wide sections of five-foot high property-line plastic fence panels…without falling off.  These squirrels nimbly climb part-way to the top of 40 to 60 foot high palm trees planted along the city street sidewalk… using the claws on their hands and feet that capably grip the sides of the palm trees as they expertly climb upward to a safe height as I approach on foot.

            Squirrels carelessly falling-out of tall trees to their injury and death is not observationally an optimum choice as an illustrative hypothetical example of the motivating force for macro-biological change through mutation/selection.

            Of equal importance in the talks by Phillip E. Johnson accessible on the Internet, one of which is footnoted above, is the brilliant insight that merely chopping-up a larger problem into smaller pieces does not improve the positive probabilistic case for random chance.

            Dr. Johnson asks: Is it easier by chance to win one single lottery of one-million dollars…or to win separate lotteries of one-thousand dollars…one-thousand times?  Obviously, the chances of winning one-thousand separate lotteries of smaller dollar amounts is considerably improbable compared to the chances of winning one single lottery of a large dollar amount.

            Chopping-up a complex feature like eyesight into smaller incremental steps, gradually traversing up the gently sloping side of the theoretical Mount Improbable explanation for achieving the innovative marvels of nature, does not make the initial problem of achieving finalized function easier…but instead much more difficult. 

            If we take the vast biodiversity of the ten-million different living species on earth and chop-up each organism into their varied defining characteristics of architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits, and then throw into the mix the incredibly rich and varied ecosystems on earth…that this could all be the mindless product of enumerable Mount Improbable scenarios…is illogically nonsensical.

            As will be repeated over and over again in this book, if the pure naturalism of Darwinian macroevolution was true we should see some portions of the living world still “in-progress” in the major development of new architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits.  This universal momentum towards future end-points of finalized function in terms of survivability and enhanced reproduction would observably showcase today an incomplete and ongoing process still exhibiting macro changes.

            Genetic information has limiting boundaries.  This is why we cannot breed dogs through artificial selection to be as large as elephants, and why multitudes upon multitudes of complex living organisms universally appear to have reached their developmental end-points…”like producing like” year after year.

            The main point here again is that if gradualism is to be used as the ruling paradigm in all of the natural world…including the “evolution” of earth, our solar system, and the galaxies in the universe…as some Darwinists do today in defending scientific materialism…then the brand of universal gradualism that supports materialism must be visually obvious and noticeably prolific as fact-based evidentiary reality, recognized and accepted by everyone.

            A near infinity of Mount Improbable scenarios would be obvious in nature long before Charles Darwin came along with his book The Origin of Species.

            As I began in the 1970’s and 1980’s to think about the arguments for and against evolution…the counterintuitive idea struck me that if the macro half of Darwin’s theory was in fact true, then the natural world at the present time should be like looking from a distance at a growing city.  Several new skyscraper buildings of various heights would be under construction, all topped with cranes rising upward to reach definitive end-points that show the dynamic energy of progress moving towards some future as-yet unreached destination in time. 

            Over the following decades, in the books I read for and against Darwinian evolution, I saw that the rationale that scientific materialists gave for the lack of our ability to detect evolution in action in the present time, was that the infinitesimally small incremental steps of mutation/selection occurred so slowly as to not be discernable over a human lifespan.

            This always seemed to me to be a clever deflection that did not have the clear bell-ring of truth…an “evolution-of-the-gaps” that did not “hold water”…a futile attempt to explain-away the evidence until some future better explanation could be found.

            If gradualism plus chance is the ruling paradigm in the natural world, then no matter how slowly it was moving forward at any snap-shot in time, invariably there would still be enumerable life-forms caught mid-course in their development. 

            We do not have to possess a PhD in science to flatly see that the natural world does not display works-in-progress in mid-course, transitional change according to the mechanism of gradual progressive development.  We do not see this reality functioning anywhere as the singularly controlling, explanatory paradigm.

            If all we see today in the living and non-living natural world are a few examples of gradualism, of gradualism not being the ruling paradigm explanation for the development of all of natural phenomena, then the biological theory of macroevolution based upon atheistic materialism falls apart as a workable hypothesis.


[1] Grand Metaphysical Story of Science—Phillip E. Johnson…published on April 21, 2012, by Izzy Invasion.

Scientism

            When a person today objects that they cannot believe the Bible, because they live in the modern Age of Science, they are voicing a storyline narrative that is based upon a 20th-century philosophy that is obsolete and no longer currently credible.

            The false narrative of scientism that is still popularly shared in our culture…blocks people from being able to enter into their highest created destinies. 

            Unfounded skeptical unbelief blocks people from entering into the essence of their fullest worth and value, of experiencing their God-composed journeys of faith life-scripts.

            Faith in the God of the Bible is undermined at the very outset by a skeptical unbelief in the existence of God…a fundamental by-product of scientism widely accepted in the modern Age of Science.

            In reality…we now live in the Age of Science and in the new Age of Information

            During the previous three or four decades, information has now joined matter and energy as the third fundamental element in the universe, making scientism too narrow of a viewpoint. 

            In our modern understanding of the breadth of information, scientism is now a non-relevant argument…an evasive distraction in the ongoing evolution/creation debate over the origin of the universe and the purpose of life.

            What is this philosophical worldview of scientism that we find still strongly and profusely embedded in modern-day cultures?

            The worldview of scientism says that we should only reach a consensus over what we can agree-upon as established and empirically verifiable truth, through the means of the hard sciences alone.  Only phenomena that can be quantified and tested through science…that is observable…that is amenable to being testable by repeatable experiments in a laboratory, and therefore is “in theory” falsifiable by neutral, experimental verification…qualifies as reliable truth.

            The materialistic component of scientism by definition excludes the agency component of intelligent design…agency being the moderated, choice-making discretion inherent in the intelligent design of anything complex and specified. 

            Agency by definition falls outside of the reach of hard, bench-science analysis in a laboratory in terms of being measurable and quantifiable.

            But we do not have to look any farther than beyond ourselves to see that agency exists.

            It is an irrefutable fact that well-defined, moderated choice-making exists in the creative origination of varied laptop computers, in a segment of the field of engineering called constrained optimization.

            The screen size, weight, battery-charge capacity, screen resolution, processing speed, and price of laptop computers are multiple competing objectives differentiated by design engineers and marketing considerations.  This creates inescapable decision-points to produce the optimum ranges of laptop computers available for purchase by consumers.[1]

            This intelligently designed differentiation of the well-defined, moderated choice-making of constrained optimization is also evident in the essences of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of living organisms.

            Living organisms require discrete design choices made upfront.

            This intelligence-driven creativity produces complex systems of information that fall outside of the narrow, explanatory reach of scientism, outside the reach of measurable quantification and test-tube validation alone.

            The existence of well-defined, moderated decision-making inherent in cognitive design, admitted into the realm of genuine knowledge, expands the boundaries of reality beyond what can be discovered through the limited scope of scientism.

            The philosophical worldview of scientism actually reduces the boundaries and the reach of the human capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning to discover truth.  It excludes the obvious evidence of well-defined, moderated choice-making prolific and universal all around us in nearly every reality we see and experience.  It sets a high-bar standard for truth that not even scientism…by its own definition…can achieve.   

            Here I am borrowing heavily from a recent podcast[2]…I listened to on You Tube entitled: Science and Faith in a Secular Society with J. P. Moreland, hosted by Think Biblically, through Biola University…downloaded by me on 3/24/2020.

            It turns out that scientism is a concept that is self-refuting

            Examples of concepts that are self-refuting might be: “No statement is longer than three words”…or “I can’t utter a word of English”…or “There are no truths”…each of which makes itself false…is self-refuting.

            To quote Dr. Moreland from this podcast: “The statement: ‘The only way that you can know truth is through the hard sciences,’ is not something that itself could be known to be true through the hard sciences.”

            In this sense, scientism makes itself false, is self-refuting…by its own definition.

            It also turns out that scientism, as a worldview adopted uncritically and for the most part unknowingly by many people in our modern world, is as false a narrative as can be.  Upon closer inspection it is actually an enemy of science, undermining the very field of science it purports to defend.

            It is widely understood that scientific discovery is dependent upon several general assumptions, essential to conducting science, that do not meet the high definition test that scientism itself cannot reach.

            These fundamental assumptions are: that the natural world is orderly and intelligible, that the laws of mathematics and logic are true, that truth has a correspondence to reality, and that human beings are endowed with the mental capacity to be able to understand things external to ourselves…paraphrased by me from this podcast.

            Without first accepting each and every one of these fundamental assumptions as being true, assumptions themselves lacking formal proofs, the empirical enterprise of human scientific investigation of the natural world…cannot proceed forward…does not exist.

            This is part of the gaping hole of inconsistency in the modern narrative of naturalistic materialism that makes the untrue and unscientific suggestion to modern mankind, to rely solely upon the hard sciences as the only sure standard by which to identify truth. 

            The fact is that all of science is built upon the foundation of philosophical assumptions we accept “by faith” to be true, without hard scientific, backup proofs of their truth-value.

            One of Dr. Moreland’s main themes of this podcast is that scientism is one of the most corrosive and destructive ideologies in our modern social culture.  Scientism erroneously contributes to the post-modern relativism regarding truth, which attempts to reduce all of the things we know to be true, down to the narrowly limited database of only those things that can be demonstrated as true through hard-science alone.

            This then downgrades everything else asserted to be true to the relative opinions of my truth or your truth, neither one being able to rise to the standard of repetitive laboratory testing for truth as defined by scientism, including all philosophical assumptions.

            Because the fundamental underlying assumptions that form the basis for all scientific research are philosophical in nature, and therefore cannot meet the standard of verification through the hard sciences, the narrow worldview philosophy of scientism ironically undermines by definition the very foundational assumptions of science itself.

            This narrowly crafted approach to categorizing genuine knowledge would also reduce the obvious existence of well-defined, discretionary choice-making down into the inconsequential category of scientifically unsupportable data… not amenable to being quantified or tested physically in a laboratory.

            Scientism is therefore a logically incoherent philosophical program that dissolves itself by being self-refuting, and by undermining the very edifice of the science it purports to defend.

            The irony here is that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information in the natural living and non-living world point towards the need for intelligent agency.

            The skeletal explanatory frameworks that define the distinctive essences of these systems of information are similar in character to the four basic assumptions underlying science listed above…being abstract, intangible, philosophical realities needed to conduct science.

            A reasonable argument could be made that if scientific materialism insists upon excluding intelligent agency based upon the abstract nature of some of the implications of its findings…then much of science should also be abandoned because the scientific method itself relies upon informational assumptions that are abstract and intangible…assumptions that are conceptually philosophical in nature.


[1] Paraphrased from the DVD Darwin’s Dilemma (2009), by Illustra Media, from the Bonus DVD Features of Questions and Answers, the topic of constrained optimization discussed by Jay Richards.

[2] https://www.biola.edu/blogs/think-biblically/2018/science-and-faith-in-a-secular-society

God of the Gaps

            Borrowing from the two Socrates in the City interviews of John Lennox in Labastide, France[1], the interviewer Eric Metaxas makes the point that the atheistic worldview of naturalistic materialism creates a false zero-sum game in science.

             Each new discovery made by science adds to the increasing database of valid human knowledge on one side of the ledger sheet, and creates an equal and opposite subtraction of human ignorance on the other side of the ledger sheet.  This beneficially decreases the number of explanations of the phenomena in nature based upon old-wives tales, superstition, black magic, witchcraft, unfounded speculation, and the unfathomable whims of the ancient gods.

            Human scientific investigation is the one and only research methodology that can move the innumerable mysteries regarding the phenomena in the natural world…from the ignorance column over to the knowledge column.

            But for atheists, in a closed-system worldview consisting only of material things, the more we know about the workings of the natural world discovered through the reliability of the hard sciences, the less our need by default to ascribe the things we do not yet understand to the random serendipity of unknown causes. 

            This artificial, zero-sum dynamic from ignorance to knowledge has created the erroneous concept of a god-of-the-gaps explanation…of a god that does nothing else…but exists to perform the role of a temporary placeholder for ignorance.  The contrived god-of-the-gaps fills-in as a “nothing burger” explanation until scientific investigation can uncover the real, empirical truths underlying the particular phenomena in nature.

            Until we scientifically understood the physics of lightning, for example, in ignorance mankind historically ascribed the mystery of lightning to be an act of God…which in one sense it is…for the Christian theist lightning being a creation of God.

            During the past four to five centuries of the Scientific Revolution, in the finite, closed philosophical system of naturalistic materialism, the god-of-the-gaps explanations for what we do not understand have been steadily decreasing in number.  As scientific investigation solves the mysteries of the natural world one-by-one…the forward progression of empirical knowledge steadily erases the hypothetical utility of the god-of-the-gaps.

            But in these two episodes of Socrates in the City…Lennox and Metaxas arrive at the brilliant observation that the God of the Bible is entirely unique amongst other gods…is not a material entity.  The God of the Bibleis not like the gods of the ancient world descended from the primeval “stuff” of the universe, but instead is an eternal, immaterial Spirit Being (Jn. 4:24).

            One problem with a zero-sum approach to judging the advancing achievements in science is that it requires a materialistic universe having a finite total number of available, objectively knowable facts that can be moved from the ignorance side of the ledger sheet to the knowledge side of the ledger sheet.

            But a universe having a transcendent Creator God…an eternal Mind…being a living Spirit, radically differs in that this theistic worldview infinitely broadens the possible diversities of the architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits of the ten-million living species on earth. 

            A non-material God who is a living Spirit broadens beyond human imagination the possible scope and diversities of the life-scripts that can be composed and orchestrated for human beings, from Abraham through Paul recorded in the Bible, and into our present-day…one of the outstanding features exhibited in the biblical narrative stories of faith.  

            An Intelligent Spirit Being is a superior explanation for the origin of information in our universe, because both the Bible and modern science tell us that all of the universe-related matter, energy, and information all came into existence at the Big Bang.

            Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1-3 tell us that God invented the information and created the physical matter and energy through the medium of His spoken words, through information in the form of divinely uttered speech. 

            This is a metaphorical medium not currently amenable to scientific investigation, but has outcomes that can be empirically recognized and appreciated through its complex, specified, and coherently integrated function…a concept commonly referred to as organized complexity.

            Paraphrasing John Lennox, the Bible has the priority of creation in the right sequential order, in saying that immaterial, universe-building information generated by the Word of God Jesus Christ…is primary…and matter/energy in the universe is secondarily derivative.

            Naturalistic materialism has it backwards, saying that matter/energy comes first…is primary…and information is derived secondarily from matter and energy.

            This brings up again the fundamental question: Is the universe it before bit, or bit before it?

            The naturalistic materialism approach is illogically nonsensical, because information cannot come from purely physical, material things.  This is like the information conveyed in the New York Times headlines mentioned above that cannot be derived or attributed to the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper.

            One of the most brilliant takeaways I got from watching these John Lennox interviews is that for much of the phenomena in the natural world, the best that science can do is to offer descriptions only…but not full explanations.

            Isaac Newton’s mathematical descriptions of motion and gravity…called the laws of gravity…can get us to the moon, but Newton himself admitted that he had no idea what gravity actually is.  Newton attempts to offer no explanation of gravity beyond his description of it.

            Even today we do not understand what gravity, energy, and many other things in the natural world actually are, even though we can describe them in terms of mathematical equations and the laws of physics.  

            John Lennox tells the story about his 2008 debate with Richard Dawkins, who asked Lennox the question: “If God created you…then who created God?”

            In answer to which John Lennox asked the question: “If you believe that the universe created you…then who created the universe?”

            The Bible tells us that God is not a created Being, but is eternal.

            This seemingly paradoxical dilemma becomes easy to answer, if we simply jettison the notion that the dimension of time created at the Big Bang must apply to God going backwards for an eternity.  A more straightforward explanation is that God lives in a timeless reality, rendering the question of a moment in time when He Himself would have been created or come into existence…as being mute and inapplicable.

            Unlike the ancient fertility gods that humanity invented…derived from material things like the sun, the moon, the sky, mountains, and wild beasts, that can be reduced to idol-gods of wood, stone, or precious metals…the God of the Bible is the Creator of the universe (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1-3).

            The God of the Bible was not created by the universe, and therefore is transcendent and outside of the zero-sum reality that scientific materialists have limited themselves to…through their closed-system philosophy.

            John Lennox goes on to say that the God of the Bible is far above being a mere placeholder for temporary ignorance…for mankind the invented god-of-the-gaps…who can be displaced by the empirical findings of science.

            Lennox gets a laugh from the audience when he recites a materialistic revision of the first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God created the bits of the universe that we do not yet understand.”

            Then he recites the correct first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1)…which says that God created everything.

            The materialistic zero-sum approach leaves out the Intelligent Designer who invented the information content of the phenomena we investigate through science.


[1] Socrates in the City with John Lennox…in Labastide, France…Part One on Jan. 12, 2018…and Part Two on Jan. 23, 2018…interviewed by Eric Metaxas, on You Tube.

Our Brain is a Mind

            In the Socrates in the City interview “Has Science Buried God?”…conducted by the questioner Eric Metaxas[1]…the scientist and author John Lennox makes the critical point that modern science has not buried faith…but that modern science can bury atheism.

            Oxford professor of mathematics Dr. Lennox tells the story of some of his world-famous scientist friends and colleagues asking the question why he is not an atheist. 

            His telling response is to ask them that if the computer and equipment they use in their scientific research was produced…was designed and manufactured through a random and undirected process…could they have a reasonable and consistent confidence in the data the computer and lab-equipment generated.  Their answer every time is no.

            If, according to materialism, the human mind/brain is likewise the product of the random and undirected process of Darwinian evolution, this undermines our sure confidence in the accuracy of human rational thought.  When extended-out to its logical end-point…this radical materialism dissolves rationality…even dissolves the philosophical thinking of atheism itself.

            Atheism thought-out all the way through to its end-point…dissolves the reliability and credibility of its own thought process, because the accuracy of a computer, lab-equipment, or a human brain that is the materialistic product of a random and undirected process…cannot be absolutely trusted.

            Atheism based upon naturalistic materialism, when extended-out logically, destroys rationality in every field of science.  Materialism sweeps away our reasonable confidence in the human mental capacity to accurately take advantage of the fundamental assumption underlying all scientific research, that the natural world is both orderly and intelligible. 

            But most importantly and insightfully recognized…the natural world is intelligible to human beings alone…amongst all other living organisms, an extraordinary capacity I do not believe we want to give up so easily to misleading philosophy.

            The reliability of our mental capacity to differentiate truth from error, and our ability to place value upon trustworthy research methods, enables the pursuit of modern science in the first place.

            One of the ingeniously insightful apologetic arguments in recent times for the existence of God…is the differentiation between matter and mind…the contrast between “concrete” material things as opposed to the abstract, conceptual nature of information.

            The classic case is made that the information conveyed in the daily headlines of the New York Times newspaper…is not explainable by means of the physics and chemistry of ink bonding to paper.

            The information conveyed in the newspaper headlines is the product of the intelligent arrangement of the ink on paper…in this instance in the English language.  This reality transcends above and is completely detached and independent from the mechanical explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Physics and chemistry alone are incapable of the abstract thought process of arranging ink on paper to convey intelligible information.  The arrangement of anything complex, specified, and coherently integrated…like the intelligent design of the headlines of the New York Times newspaper…requires a mind.

            In the Socrates in the City interview noted above, John Lennox makes another critical point by saying that information is not a material thing.  Information is correctly defined to be an abstract, intangible entity that has a non-materialistic essence, quite apart from the material explanation of how ink bonds to paper.

            Dr. Lennox gives a beautiful illustration of this.  On a mountaintop in the state of Washington, he sends up a message using smoke signals, which are read by Native American Indians who telephone this information to someone in Oxford, England, who types-inputs this into a computer that can be emailed to friends and colleagues of John Lennox at Oxford University.

            In this illustration, the information/message remains the same…but the mediums used to convey the information…smoke signals, telephone, computer, and email…are different. 

            This means that the complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information discovered in the natural world by modern scientific investigation cannot be the product of naturalistic materialism. 

            The information cannot be the product of the smoke signals, the telephone, or the computer, but instead originate from an intelligent mind, because information correctly defined is not materialistic…but abstract.

            The fundamental questions about human life: “how did I get here, who am I, and where am I going?”…are in essence non-material questions, and therefore require non-material answers.

            These questions cannot be answered through the mathematics, physics, and chemistry of empirical, bench-top, hard-science.  Their defining character, like the essence of the abstract information in a newspaper headline or in a Chopin Etude, is not materialistically amenable to measurement, quantification, and qualitative testing in a laboratory. 

            I would theorize here that the instinctual part of the lifestyle habits of the lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, water buffalo, wildebeest, Thompson’s gazelle, giraffe, zebra, hippopotamus, and other large mammals on the African savanna plains…are also immaterial…but different from the intellectual and moral reasoning capacity of human beings.

            The point has been raised by Christian apologists that if the human mind is a brain only, produced solely by the random and undirected processes of materialism, then the mutation/selection process of Darwinian macroevolution would home-in exclusively on those attributes supporting only survival and reproduction. 

            The origin of the additional attributes that define the human experience beyond mere survival and reproduction are not explainable by the process of Darwinian macroevolution.

            This raises the question of just how is it that humans can identify the existence of a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and decipher the unimaginably complex chemical code of the DNA molecule, being the longest word in existence. 

            These are intellectual attributes that have little or nothing to do with the instinctual lifestyle habits of basic survival and reproduction (Gen. 1:27).

            This differential between an immaterial, instinctual mind in animals and an immaterial, intellectual mind in humans…may be a puzzle partially solved by scientific investigation in the future. 

            But the definitional question at the fundamental level of what is instinct, and what is intellect, in my opinion will not be answered by the study of matter and energy…because instinct and intellect are non-material.

            The physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper cannot explain the intelligently specified arrangement of that ink on paper that formulates the information conveyed in the headlines of the New York Times newspaper. 


[1] Socrates in the City: “Has Science Buried God?” Aug. 21, 2019.

A God-Composed Journey of Faith Transcends above the American Dream 2

The narrative stories of faith…as recorded in the Bible…are so different from worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that they invent an entirely new frame-of-reference for human life.

This frame-of-reference has as its goal the establishment of a personal relationship…between people and God…set-up through the creative mind of God…and on His terms…that must be the new reality if our life-stories are to be elevated up and out of worldly conventional, popular normalcy and thinking (Jn. 8:36).

The biblical narrative stories of faith are not for or against the aspirations of ancient and contemporary versions of the American Dream. 

The biblical narrative stories of faith simply transcend above these universally popular goals, dreams, and aspirations in a way that makes them curiously inapplicable, unimportant, and no longer the chief desire of our hearts and minds.

The life events and circumstances…the goals…and the end-point outcomes in the storylines of the biblical people of faith…have nothing to do with making a success of ourselves in terms of worldly conventional standards…according to the American Dream as translated backwards into every century of time and every cultural setting from the ancient books of Genesis through Acts…in the Bible.

In the Bible…the people who become caught-up in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script mission…discover along the way that their personal relationship with the living God becomes more important and more valuable than anything else in life…even the attractiveness of the American Dream of material wealth, the culturally acceptable validation of ourselves, and achieving through our own efforts a sense of personal security.

The acceptance and validation coming from God…in valuing us enough to call us by His Spirit into a unique and individual life-plan…of having faith in us to the point of calling us individually into a specific mission that only we can perform…with His assistance and partnership…is entirely different from the self-satisfaction of achieving the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the American Dream according to the Frank Sinatra song “I did it my way”…of self-autonomous individualism…that is typically found within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking (Phil. 3:4-10).

The parable of the nobleman away on business…and the instruction of Luke 19:13 to “occupy till I come”…is the commendable, baseline guide for all Christians to be about our Father’s business in whatever capacity we may be assigned in the caretaking of the estate…in this parable…of trimming the walkway shrubs, sweeping the exterior walkways, picking the fruits and vegetables from the orchard, caring for the livestock, preparing the meals for the staff, and the general interior and exterior cleaning and up-keep maintenance of the estate buildings and grounds.

Realizing the American Dream…can be achieved entirely through self-effort…through the application and exploitation of our natural, innate abilities…through autonomous individualism.

Experiencing a biblical-quality journey of faith…by intentional design…requires the direct participation of the living God…within a personal relationship.

These two realities for life are not the same…although they can and do overlap…along the way in a journey of faith…in some areas and in some cases.

What this means…in a practical applied sense…for Christians today is that God can guide and channel life-events and circumstances …inserting unique and individualized life-scripts into the lives of plumbing contractors, stay-at-home moms, auto mechanics, high school teachers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, professional athletes, journalists, small town mayors, church pastors, Christian foreign missionaries, Bible college professors, and Christian book writers…after the pattern of the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible.

For some people…their individual gifts and talents are either outwardly apparent…or internally revealed to them.

Some people know early in childhood that they want to become a medical nurse, or that they possess the athletic ability to play professional sports, or that they have the gift of exceptional intelligence to be able to earn a PhD in mathematics.

For these people…the addition and inclusion of an actively interested and participating God into the mix…enhances the life experience of pursuing their goals with their very best effort…giving it their all…because these unique gifts and talents derive from their Creator God in the first place.

A personal relationship with God can actualize…can come to life…can translate into any conceivable career path, geographical location, personal circumstances, political environment, and economic situation…having enumerable choices and pathways leading to the optimum successful life…at the pinnacle and peak of our intended destiny.

Jesus famously said that He came to earth…that we might have more abundant life (Jn. 10:10).

This more abundant life is based upon the strength of the foundation of a fulfilling relational walk-of-faith with Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit…and not on the satisfaction of the self-works of achieving the American Dream on our own…apart from God…and outside of a brilliantly unique, divine calling for our lives (Mk. 8:36).

God created within us this strong drive to succeed.

This actualizes into the optimum life when it is lived within a joint-venture walk of faith…with Jesus Christ…occupying His correct relational position as King and Ruler in our lives…utilizing His qualities of timeless foresight and divinely unselfish love…perfect in His elevated estimation of our value and worth…demonstrated in His self-sacrifice on the cross at Calvary for our sakes.

This is a key element of the real Christian life…as articulated for us throughout the biblical narrative stories of faith (Rom. 15:4).

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