Anchored by Truth from Crystal Sea Books - a 30 minute show exploring the grand Biblical saga of creation, fall, and redempti

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This is a 30 minute show that begins with either a humorous or inspirational segment that links directly to the scripture, followed by a focused discussion of how the scripture relates to Christians of all ages today.

R.D.Fierro


    • Jan 3, 2023 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 29m AVG DURATION
    • 193 EPISODES


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    Latest episodes from Anchored by Truth from Crystal Sea Books - a 30 minute show exploring the grand Biblical saga of creation, fall, and redempti

    Eternal Information – Part 1 – What is Information?

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 3, 2023 30:00


    Episode 193 – Eternal Information – Part 1 – What is Information Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 and 2, Good News Translation ******** VK: Hello and Happy New Year! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re excited to be with you at the start of this New Year and we pray that this year will bring joy and blessings to all our listeners, especially the joy of having a closer fellowship with our Lord Christ Jesus. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re going to start the new year with a new – and frankly novel series. As just about everyone knows, the Christian faith in America has been subjected to more challenges in the last decade than probably in the first two centuries of the country’s existence. So, as we open up this New Year we want to discuss a subject that has particular relevance in our day and time –being able to demonstrate that the Christian faith has a firm basis in reason and evidence. RD has entitled this series “Eternal Information.” So, we have RD who is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books, in the studio today. RD, why did you decide we need to take a special look at the topic of “information?” RD: Well, I’d also like to say Happy New Year to everyone who is joining us here today. I wanted to spend a few episodes of Anchored by Truth focusing on information in part because of a book I came across not too long ago called In the Beginning was Information. The book was written by a German information specialist named Dr. Werner Gitt. VK: Dr. Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology and he was the head of the Department of Information Technology there. Obviously, Dr. Gitt knows a thing or two about information. RD: Obviously. And just obviously the title of Dr. Gitt’s book is a play on Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 and the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 1 which we heard in our opening scripture today. VK: In the New International Version, Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Those are certainly two of the most famous verses in the Bible. RD: Yes, they are. So, when I heard about Dr. Gitt’s book I became intrigued because just hearing the title made me look at those two verses in a different light. It’s not just the title calls to mind Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1 and John, chapter 1, verse 1. It’s that it made me start thinking about how the undeniable existence of information gives us a whole new way of demonstrating to the unbelieving world that it is impossible to form a coherent view of life and the universe without acknowledging the existence of God. VK: And helping spread the awareness that you must acknowledge God to have a coherent worldview is one of the ideas that we focus on here at Anchored by Truth. And it’s become increasingly important even with the church. We live in an age where our historical cultural consensus has shifted. Some commentators have said that we are now living in a “post-Christian” world. For people who are not believers this means that they live in a world that has gone “beyond” the constraints and “narrowness” of Christianity. Fewer people, as a percentage of the population, belong to churches than in generations past, and many of the mainline churches are experiencing declines not only in membership, but in influence on society, government, education, family, and the culture as a whole. As we look around us we see that young people are far more consumed by the death of an entertainer than the death and resurrection of Jesus. We also see that more people are consumed by concern for temporary pleasures than their eternal destiny. This is obviously is dangerous to individual destinies but it is also dangerous to the destiny of our communities and nation. RD: Exactly. People within the church have been warning of the danger we’re facing for decades but the danger has only grown during those decades. We want to point people back to the eternal truth that there is a God and that God has a plan not only for people but for communities, nations, and the world. But we don’t want to just proclaim the truth, though that is obviously where we must start. We also want to explain the evidence and reasons behind our belief. And it turns out that the concept of information forms an extremely powerful line of evidence that points to the fact that God existence can’t be reasonably denied without abandoning any claim of living a life guided by logic and reason. You know it’s not enough to simply point out the danger that comes from abandoning God. We have to do what we can to turn people away from the danger. VK: And the danger posed by abandoning God has been recognized for quite a while now. Almost 3 decades ago, in their 1994 book, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli [TA-CHEL-EE], who are both professors of the philosophy of religion at Boston College, said the following: “Western civilization is for the first time in its history in danger of dying. The reason is spiritual. It is losing its life, its soul; that soul was the Christian faith. The infection killing it is not multiculturalism – other faiths – but the monoculturalism of secularism – no faith, no soul. Our century has been marked by genocide, sexual chaos and money-worship. Unless all the prophets are liars, we are doomed unless we repent. . .The church of Christ will never die, but our civilization will. If the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, this world certainly won’t. We do apologetics not to save the church, but to save the world.” VK: Well, before we go too much farther we want to acknowledge someone who has been very important to our show, Dr. Gregg Alexander. Dr. Alexander practiced medicine in Tallahassee, Florida for over 4 decades but more importantly for us, he led a Sunday school class in his church for more than 25 years. Dr. Alexander is extremely thoughtful and insightful. We are indebted to him because his counsel and insight especially about apologetics has been extremely valuable and elements of it are going to appear throughout this series. We may not always have time to acknowledge a particular example of his contributions so we just want acknowledge his importance and value right up front. So, how do you want to start? RD: Well, let’s take a look at a seemingly innocuous example of something you hear every day that actually has profound implications. How often do you say to someone or have someone say to you “Send me your information.” VK: I imagine that phrase “send me your information” is probably said thousands or millions of times a day all around the world. RD: But what does it mean? VK: For most people it means send me your “contact information” such as phone number, email address, possibly your job or office information and – these days rarely – your mailing address. In other words, “send me your information” is another way of saying tell me how I can get a hold of you. RD: I agree. We ask for people to give us their information without a second thought. And similarly we don’t think very much about the way they are going to send that information. These days it will probably be electronically more often than not but even with electronic transmission the actual media will vary. Some people might use email, others text messages, and in some cases the two people won’t have to do anything at all. If they are close enough some cell phones might automatically exchange information with other phones. VK: And, again, rarely people might send a card, business card, or even a letter to a physical address that would provide the information. RD: Agreed. But the key thing to notice about any and all of these possibilities is that the thing that everyone wants, the information, has nothing to do with the form of transmission. The information will remain the same regardless of whether it’s emailed, sent via the post office or messenger, or even whether someone sent it using smoke signals, Morse code, or carved it on a clay tablet and dropped it off? The information, the object of the transmission, is completely independent of the mode of transmitting it from one party to another. VK: So, what you’re saying is that the content of the information has nothing to do with the method of transmission. And, to carry that thought a little further, the information content has nothing to do with the matter or energy that goes into its production, transmission, or retention. We can type one set of characters on a keyboard and say one thing, and we can type another set of characters on that same keyboard and say something completely different. The same set of plastic, copper, and glass can produce a recipe for tiramisu or the instructions for building a nuclear bomb. We can use a pen and paper to send someone our address and phone number or to give them the location of buried treasure. RD: Exactly. The nature or content of the information has nothing to do with the chemistry or physics used to produce, transmit, or store the information. The same chemistry or physics can produce treasure maps, diagrams for building houses or airplanes, or a formula for a life-saving medicine. You get the idea. So, the question arises then – exactly what is information? VK: I see where you’re going. Information is real. Information has content. Information tells us what is going on in the worlds of chemistry, physics, or biology. But information is not dependent on any of those things. Information can affect chemistry or physics but it is not arise from chemistry or physics. I suppose another way of saying the same thing is that information is not dependent on the matter or energy but matter and energy are used in the transmission or reception of information. When you start to look at it closely information is a tricky sort of thing. RD: Information is a tricky sort of thing because the information itself is non-material but we can perceive it, record it, store it, and transmit it by material means. The fact that information is non-material is a very important attribute to note. Information may be transmitted, stored, and received by material means but none of that affects the information itself. Nor does the type of material being used to transmit or store the information matter. The same chemical formula can be written on paper, appear on a computer screen, be etched into stone, or simply memorized by a person but the formula, the information, remains the same. The non-material nature of information is going to be key fact that we will revisit frequently during this series. VK: Well, here is an obvious question. If information is non-material does that mean it’s spiritual? Christians, of course, acknowledge the reality of the spiritual realm. Ephesians, chapter 6, verse 12 is one of the best known verses in the Bible and it says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.” RD: When we say that information is non-material we are definitely not saying that it is spiritual. By saying it is non-material we are noting that information as a component of the created order is present and evident in what we might call the natural world. It’s just that in the natural world information cannot be measured by any one of the same units that are used to measure and express the attributes of matter or energy. VK: According to one of the articles that Dr. Gitt wrote for Creation Ministries International a physical magnitude is a “System of units that has seven base units: mass, length, electric current, temperature, amount of substance, luminous intensity and time. All physical quantities can be expressed in terms of one of these base units (e.g. area = length x length) or by a combination (by multiplication or division) of several base units (e.g. momentum = mass x length / time). This is not possible in the case of information and therefore information [does not possess] physical magnitude!” RD: Exactly. Speaking precisely, information does not have any mass. It is massless. All matter involves mass which can be weighed in a gravitational field. Similarly, information, though it can be transmitted by energy, is not created by energy nor does it interact with energy. Thus, information can be distinguished from other massless entities such as photons, which are massless but which can be generated by matter and do interact with matter in the physical domain. We know from Einstein’s famous formula that matter and energy have a direct relationship with one another. VK: You’re referring to Einstein’s famous formula from the Theory of Relativity “e=mc2.” RD: Yes. But, so while information is non-material it is present and an integral part of the observable universe. But the spiritual realm that Bible recognizes is not part of the observable universe. In effect, there is a veil that separates the spiritual portion of God’s creation and the physical portion. We would not know about the spiritual portion if God had not chosen to reveal its existence in His special revelation, the Bible. This is quite different from information where we cannot avoid acknowledging its presence in the observable universe. VK: In fact, if someone wanted to deny that information exists they would be using information to try to make their denial. Denying the existence of information is itself a form of information. As we have discussed at other times on Anchored by Truth the concept of information is self-affirming. It cannot be denied without at the same time being used. So, that answers the question of how information – even though it is non-material – is not the same as a spiritual entity. Information’s existence is easily, and non-deniably, discernible from observations of the physical universe. The spiritual dimension can only be known by a revelation from a spiritual being which God is. The Gospel of John, chapter 4, verse 24 tells us that “God is spirit.” So, where do you want to go from here? RD: Well, I always think a good place to start when you’re looking at a concept is with defining some terms. So, let’s take a look at a couple of definitions for the term “information.” Why don’t you start by reading the definition of information from the Merriam Webster Dictionary? VK: The online Merriam Webster Dictionary defines information as (1 ) knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction; or (2 ) the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (such as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects. RD: Right. That second portion of the definition is particularly intriguing because even the Merriam Webster Dictionary takes notice of the fact that DNA, which is a component of the cells of all living creatures, contains information. One of the episodes that we are going to do during this “Eternal Information” series is going to focus on the information present in biological entities – in living creatures. But for now let’s note that Merriam Webster notes that information is “inherent in and communicated” by “sequences” or “arrangements of something” and that those sequences or arrangements “produce specific effects.” Now let’s take a look at a definition for “information” that Dr. Gitt has expressed. VK: In an article that Dr. Gitt produced for Creation Ministries International Dr. Gitt stated this: “…we developed an unambiguous definition of information: namely an encoded, symbolically represented message conveying expected action and intended purpose. We term any entity meeting the requirements of this definition as “universal information” (UI).” We’ll put a link to this article in the podcast notes that are available on certain podcasting apps. RD: So, immediately we see some common elements between the Merriam Webster definition and Dr. Gitt’s definition of information even though Dr. Gitt is being more technical for purposes he comes to later in his discussion. Merriam Webster talks about “alternative sequences or arrangements of something …that produce specific effects.” Dr. Gitt speaks about an “encoded, symbolically represented message.” Merriam Webster says that the sequence or arrangement of something is intended “produce specific effects.” Dr. Gitt says that the symbolically coded message is “conveying expected action and intended purpose.” So, both of these definitions are pointing to some essential elements that are inherent in “information.” Information contains specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols. And those specified sequences, elements, codes, and symbols have been arranged or encoded for a specific purpose to produce specific effects. So, in addition to the non-material nature of information another overarching concept that leaps out at us about information is that information is ordered, organized, and specified. We can be certain, then, that information is an expression of intelligence. It has to be. Information cannot be the product of mindless, random, or undirected activity of anything. Organization and randomness are the opposites of each other. Nothing random or chaotic is going to produce a sequence of codes or symbols that it intended to produce a specific effect. VK: Your cat might walk across your computer keyboard and generate a series of letters on the screen and might even hit a button that generates a print command. But that does not mean that the series of letters or characters you see on the screen or the printed piece of paper constitutes information. The product of your cat’s activity on the keyboard is gibberish or nonsense. If the cat does enough walking on the keyboard it might by chance generate a recognizable word like “eat” or “to.” But that still does not make the cat’s production information. Information, as a component of the physical universe, possesses order, structure, specificity, and meaning. So, we’ve covered some important concepts today but is there anything else we need to discuss before we close for today. RD: Yes. The big reason we are undertaking this series on information is not just to have a philosophical discussion about information but to point out that information points undeniably to existence of the God of the Bible. As we’ve been discussing information is always the product of intelligence. So, if information is present as a component of the observable universe that means that intelligence must be also. Let’s say this a little differently. Much of the time our contemporary culture views the universe as being a construct composed of matter, energy, time, and space. The most radical among us say that that is all that is present anywhere and by doing so they are trying to exclude the possibility of God’s existence as a reasonable proposition. VK: One of the most common objections to acknowledging God is that if God can’t be seen or heard or touched then there is no evidence of God’s existence. That’s a common assertion today and is the attitude, usually unspoken, that underlies the assertion, “you have faith, but I have science.” RD: Yes. Christians, by contrast, point out that not only do logic, reason, and evidence – and science - affirm God’s existence but the notion that God doesn’t exist always runs into irreconcilable conflicts and logical fallacies. This discussion of information is simply pointing to another one of those conflicts and fallacies. If it could be shown that the universe were the result of just matter, energy, time, and space ideas like the Big Bang theory and the General Theory of Evolution might be sensible. But as we have been discussing the universe cannot be reduced to being the product of just matter, energy, time, and space. The universe as we see it around us contains, and must contain, information. VK: In effect, you’re saying that the observable universe goes beyond the material elements in its composition. That’s very similar to the question you sometimes ask about whether physics plus chemistry can produce biology. That’s the notion that undergirds the entire idea of evolution. The basic idea is that some chemical components eons ago randomly collided with each other. There was an energy source, though no one knows quite what it was, that somehow activated the chemical elements and voila – life started. But as you point out so frequently, chemistry plus physics does not equal biology. Chemistry plus physics plus information equals biology. RD: Yep. The universe we see around us is more than just matter, energy, time, and space. Matter and energy are material components of the universe and the space-time continuum defines the boundaries within which matter and energy interact. But, at a bare minimum, those four components by themselves could never give rise to life, even if they could somehow explain all of the inanimate elements of the universe. VK: So, the big idea that we wanted to introduce today is that information and its presence in the universe is another line of evidence that proves that if God did not exist the universe would not appear as we see it. Information is non-material and information always exhibits order, organization, specificity, and purpose. And those things require intelligence. Well, sounds like we’re in for quite a thought-provoking journey. Hopefully, not too many headaches. This sounds like a great time to pray. Today let’s listen to a prayer of praise of Adoration for the Creator God who set the cosmos into motion and established a home on the earth for His people as He prepares them for an eternity with Him in heaven. ---- PRAYER OF ADORATION FOR THE CREATOR VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the Good News Translation) The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 and 2, Good News Translation Laws of information 1 (creation.com) Laws of information 2 (creation.com) We are less than dust (creation.com)

    Jesus and the Great Commission

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 27, 2022 30:00


    Episode 192 – Jesus and the Great Commission Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: The devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, verses 8 through 10, New International Version ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author and founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time event lighting technician. He straightens out the cords on the Christmas lights before we put them up. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re going to finish up our current series where we have focused on the life and historicity of Jesus. And we’re going to hear the last installment of our seven part, epic Christmas poem The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. When we left off last time the koala bears who live in the arctic village that surrounds the Golden Tree had just encountered the Frost Lion for the first time in their history. The bears have lived in the valley surrounding the tree for many generations and had heard of the Frost Lion but this is the first time they have ever seen him. And they have only seen him now because the lion has chosen to come to their village. Why did the Frost Lion choose to come to their village now, RD? RD: Well, the biggest reason that the Frost Lion has chosen to enter the bears’ village at this time is because something else has happened to the bears for the first time in their generations around the tree. For the first time since the bears have lived in the village they have had visitors from their ancestral homeland. A bear named Roleb and his travelling companion had made an arduous journey to the north because they were concerned about the state of their village’s faith. Roleb’s travelling companion died just before they could reach the village. Roleb himself was almost at the point of death. They had known that their quest to travel to the great far north would be dangerous but they had made it because their homeland had lost its faith in the bears’ creator who they thought of as the Great White Koala Bear. To try to preserve their own tribe’s faith the two bears from down under had gone searching in the arctic even though they were mocked for doing so. Fortunately for them, two teenage bears from Golden Tree village had spotted Roleb just as he collapsed on the snowy wastelands outside their village. This had kicked off a search for Roleb’s friend. With the aid of a Great Ice Eagle, Gabriel, they had found the friend but he had just died. But when they brought the friend back to the village the Frost Lion was there. But no one knows what the Frost Lion can do – and no one knows what the Frost Lion will do … VK: So, it’s time to find out what happens to Roleb, and his travelling companion in this Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part 7 VK: So, the Frost Lion was able to raise Roleb’s friend from the dead. But I hope that most listeners noticed that the Frost Lion didn’t just stop with restoring the life and health of the two bears down under. The Frost Lion began the process of addressing the deeper need – the fact that the bear clan down under was losing its faith. So just like Jesus did after His resurrection the Frost Lion commissioned missionaries from the Golden Tree village to carry the good news back with Roleb and his friend. Obviously, the message you are sending through this poem is that we live in a day and age when many people in our own clans are losing, or have lost, their faith. And we need to be missionaries to our family and friends. Because if we aren’t who will be? RD: Yes. And for any listeners who haven’t heard the previous episodes of The Frost Lion, they need to know that for the last six weeks we have been playing one section of The Frost Lion during each episode of Anchored by Truth. And since Anchored by Truth is available on most major podcasting apps listeners who want to hear those episodes can do so at any time. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time today to repeat those portions of the poem. But listeners who would like to hear all of the action and adventure that led up to today’s conclusion can listen to those episodes from their favorite podcast app or on our website, crystalseabooks.com. VK: And just as a reminder as of the time of the production of this broadcast and podcast in late 2022 The Frost Lion has not yet been made available for commercial release but that will happen in the early part of 2023. RD: That’s a good note. So, let’s amplify on the reason that the Frost Lion has now chosen to visit the bears, his disciples, in the village around the Golden Tree. For the first time since the bears had come to live near the Golden Tree they had now been presented with a missionary need. In other words, the Golden Tree village bears now knew that their ancestors had actually been saved generations ago for a reason – and that reason had now been brought to their attention in an unmistakable way. VK: Well, if we went back to the first part of the Golden Tree Tales which is The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest we heard the heroine, Komari, say something significant which was quoted by Kodan in The Frost Lion. In her confrontation with the Demon Lord Komari said, “ For if not for the tree, which of us Would ever have even been born? The tree saved our forebears When they came upon it that morn. Ever since then, we’ve not been our own, Our lives bought for a price. This tree that was sown for you and me Was the Great White Bear’s sacrifice.” So, that’s part of the point you’re making with this whole epic saga. Those of us who know Christ as our Savior have been saved for a reason. RD: Right. So, in answer to the question of why did the Frost Lion appear now it was because the Frost Lion wanted to commission the Golden Tree village bears to begin what is sometimes termed “The Great Commission.” The Great Commission is the mission that Jesus gave to His followers in Matthew, chapter 28 and which we heard repeated in the section of the poem we heard today. After His resurrection Jesus told the followers who had been with Him throughout His earthly ministry that the time had come for them to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and [teach] them to obey everything I have commanded you.” That’s from the New International Version of Matthew, chapter 28, verses 19 and 20. VK: So, the reason that the Frost Lion appeared in the Golden Tree village at this time reminds us that there came and a time and place in history when the Lion of Judah entered world history to conduct His earthly ministry. And as we have talked about in other episodes of Anchored by Truth the time that Jesus entered world history as the God-Man wasn’t a random time. It was the time that had been chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world. Up to that time the world was being prepared for the arrival of the Messiah, the Anointed One, because it was at that time that the good news of salvation was going to be made available to a much larger audience. RD: Right. Before the incarnation it’s not that there weren’t Gentiles who had worshipped the One True God – there were. But up to Jesus’ arrival on the earth the primary audience for God’s message that He was going to provide a Savior had been the Jews. All that changed with Jesus’ life. After Jesus’ earthly life, death, and resurrection not only did Jesus issue the Great Commission to His first followers but we see other evangelical and apostolic giants such as the Apostle Paul come on the scene and begin a concerted outreach to the Gentile nations as well as continuing the spread of the gospel among the Jews. But, this outreach was not going to be easy. Jesus knew it wouldn’t be which is, I believe, He made it so plain that this was a mission He was now assigning His followers. It would have been easy, more natural, for them to want to just speak to their countrymen in Israel or even just to other Jews. The outreach to the Gentiles was going to be hard – but it was the right thing to do because that’s the reason God had preserved His chosen people for thousands of years. VK: That calls to mind a line out of the West Point cadet prayer that you mentioned to me a long time ago. The line says, “O God, our Father … Make us choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.” RD: Exactly. God had selected and preserved a people for Himself because it was through that people that He was going to bring a Savior for the whole world. Jesus, of course, was that Savior. But even after proving that He was the Son of God and the Messiah through His earthly ministry Jesus still had to complete His mission and send His followers to carry that message to the rest of the world. Until the message of salvation was sent to the rest of the world the rest of the world was still under the burden and curse of sin. But the message of salvation could and did change that. VK: And that calls to mind Jesus saying in Matthew, chapter 11, verses 28 and 29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus’ promise is to help us bear our burdens not merely to dismiss them from our lives but we have to hear that good news for it to be effective in people’s lives. RD: Exactly right. So, living near the Golden Tree had brought many blessings to the bears in the arctic village. But it wasn’t enough for them to enjoy those blessings. They had a responsibility to share their blessings with others. VK: So, that brings us to another question. Couldn’t Roleb and his companion just go back to their village and told their friends and neighbors they had seen the Golden Tree, the Frost Lion, and the northern bears? RD: They could have but it would strengthen their witness to have others from the Golden Tree village support their testimony. That’s something anyone who has ever testified to their friends and neighbors will tell you. We all have a responsibility to give a reason for the hope that lies within us. That’s 2 Peter 3:15. But our witness is strengthened when we have others who will go with us and add their voices to our testimony. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to always engage in Christian fellowship with other believers. Sometimes we can put too much emphasis on that old admonition that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Well, of course, we must do our part. But we should also seek the help of others in our own missionary activities. VK: That’s a really important point. As Christians we can get so caught up in struggling to be good believers, good workers, or good parents or family members that we can forget to turn to other believers for support and help. And we must always trust the Lord to support us and depend on the Lord to provide for us. There’s nothing wrong with hard work but ultimately if we think that our lives and destinies on this earth are all about us we are in danger of relying on our strength rather than the Lord’s. RD: Right. And again our model in how to approach struggles is Christ in his confrontation with Satan. Even Jesus didn’t depend on Himself to when He responded to the temptations presented by Satan. When Jesus needed strength to repel Satan Jesus went to scripture. VK: And most people may not realize that all of the scriptures Jesus used came from probably one of the least well-known books in the Bible, Deuteronomy. Christ quoted Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 3 in response to the first temptation Satan presented. He quoted Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 16 in response to the second temptation, and Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 13 in response to the third temptation. This certainly reinforces the need to study the entire Bible. Jesus certainly knew all of the Old Testament and used it in his life. RD: Right. Part of us fulfilling our role in the Great Commission is recognizing that the Lord is sovereign and we are not. Even Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Father’s will to be done and not his own. We must be willing to witness and testify to others, kindly and gently, but ultimately the results are up to God. Only God can bring change to a human heart. VK: And that calls to mind James, chapter 1, verse 17. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” So, in essence what you’re saying is that Jesus is not only the One who issued the Great Commission but Jesus is the One who enables us to fulfill it. We dare not try to undertake any part of the Great Commission or any other aspect of the Christian life on our own. We must always turn to, and trust in, Jesus to guide and provide. RD: Yes. Jesus is both the source of the instruction and the strength for the obedience. Turning to Jesus should be our first response but all too often I fear it’s our last resort. I always wince a little when I hear people say “the only thing I can do for you is to pray.” VK: Because as you say in your book Purposeful Prayers “the whispered prayer that stirs the hand of God dwarfs the most powerful force in the universe.” RD: Yes. The one big advantage that the bears who lived in the Golden Tree had over their southern relatives was that they had learned that ultimately the supply for their needs came from a source outside themselves. They had lived near the Golden Tree for generations. They knew there was a source of blessing outside of their own effort and that’s where they placed their trust. Anyone or anything that tempts you to place your trust in anything other than God cannot be of God. It’s not that we should not work hard to develop our own skills and abilities but we must keep them in proper perspective. VK: The Apostle Paul essentially affirmed this sentiment in the one of the best-known verses from the Bible: Philippians, chapter 4, verse 13. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” RD: Exactly. We should learn from Golden Tree village bears’ example to be discerning when the world presents us with challenges or opportunities. Jesus is our sure and certain guide in this world and the primary way Jesus imparts wisdom to us is through the Bible. That’s why we must become so familiar with the Bible that we can immediately discern things or events in our lives that tempt us to depart from its teaching. There are a lot of things that will come our way that may not seem to be harmful, in and of themselves, but we can see that it what they offer or tempt us to do will not be consistent with scripture. At my age I’ve learned that the most important skill we can develop is spiritual discernment and we can only get that from the Bible and developing a strong network of mature Christian friends. VK: And while The Frost Lion doesn’t get into that level of detail it’s obvious from the poem that the bears had a strong regard for genuine wisdom and Kodan, Kojon, Koest and all the reset developed even more wisdom after their encounter with the Frost Lion. Christ came to bring us not only joy and peace but “life more abundantly.” But how can we enjoy that abundant life if we don’t ensure that as we travel through life we stay as close as humanly possible to the author of all life, peace, and joy. Staying close to Jesus means reading the Bible, developing a strong prayer life, and staying connected to other believers who can bless us and who we can bless in turn. Sounds like a great time for a prayer. Today since we’re so close to New Year’s Day let’s listen to a prayer for blessings to come to us in the new year. ---- Prayer for NEW YEAR’S DAY VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on our website or your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” Also, we’d like to remind listeners that copies of the first part of the Golden Tree saga, The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest, is available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the New International Version) The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, verses 8 through 10, New International Version

    Jesus' Birth – The Dividing Line of History

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 20, 2022 30:00


    Episode 191 – Jesus’ Birth – The Dividing Line of History Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, verses 1 and 2, New International Version ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author and founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time event librarian. He straightens up the books on the book shelves when one falls over. Today on Anchored by Truth we’re going to begin finishing up our current series where we have focused on the life and historicity of Jesus. And we’re going to hear the next-to-last installment of our seven part, epic Christmas poem The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. When we left off last time a group of small koala bears that lives in a valley in the arctic north was trying to save the life of a bear who had gotten lost. This bear had journeyed to the arctic not knowing that a group of koalas already lived in the far north near a Golden Tree that had saved a group of their ancestors. To find the lost southern bear the village bears had enlisted the aid of a great ice eagle. Unfortunately, by the time the village bears found the lost bear the southern bear had died? So, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a happy Christmas for the Golden Tree villagers, does it RD? RD: No. It does not. As our last installment of The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion ended two of the villages’ teenage bears, Koest and Kopaul, had flown with Gabriel, the great ice eagle. They had gone looking for the bear because earlier in the story Koest and Kopaul had saved the life of Roleb, another bear from the south. Roleb and his friend had made the journey to the north because their own village was in desperate trouble. Their fellow villagers in the south were in danger of losing their faith in their Creator, the Great White Bear. These southern bears knew that many generations ago a group of bears had travelled north but their legends had said that ancestral group had died. The southern bears had no idea the first group that travelled to the north – while they didn’t find the Great White Bear – they had found the Golden Tree. Now the question is whether salvation is still available? VK: So, it’s time to find out what happens to Roleb and his travelling companion in this Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part 6 VK: Wow. So, now the village bears have met the great Frost Lion – the One who actually created the bears and the ice eagles. But Roleb’s friend is still dead. And we still don’t know what Roleb’s fate is going to be. Is it just too late for the Frost Lion to do anything to help Roleb and his friend? Seems there are still a lot of unanswered questions. RD: Well, hopefully we’ll get the answers to all these questions next week since next week is part 7 and there’s only seven parts to this part of the Golden Tree saga. But part of what listeners should be listening for is why did the Frost Lion choose to appear at this time in the village bears’ history. After all, they had lived near the Golden Tree for many generations? What was it about this situation that made the Frost Lion arrive in the village? Maybe we’ll hear something about that next time too. VK: And that’s a great lesson for why listeners should grab some friends and family and encourage them to tune in. It would be a good starting point for a discussion in a family setting, or a church youth group, or a home-school study project. The story can help kids learn about poetry as a form of literature, and also see how their imagination can be an important tool in getting immersed in the Bible. RD: Right. Classically some of the greatest poetry ever written like Milton’s Paradise Lost was written under the inspiration of the Bible. We’ve lost some of that awareness but I firmly believe it can be reclaimed by again striving to honor the Lord in everything we do. VK: So, what’s on tap for today as we are right on Christmas’ doorstep? RD: I thought as our closeout topic for this series on Jesus it would be fitting to talk about the reason for the season: Christ’s birth. It’s been celebrated on December 25th for centuries, but unfortunately today even that fact has become a source of either criticism or else an outright attack on the historicity of Jesus. For instance, some critics will claim that the celebration of Christmas was an adaptation of the Roman festival of Saturnalia and that as such it casts doubt on the historicity of Jesus. VK: And it is true that the Roman celebration of the Roman god Saturn did occur around the same time on the Julian calendar. The celebration originally started on December 17th but it was eventually expanded so that it lasted until December 23rd. And there are certainly elements of the Roman celebration of Saturnalia that correspond to how we celebrate Christmas. Saturnalia included parties, giving gifts, and plenty of food and drink. Though, it did differ markedly in certain ways. A lot of the time Saturnalia probably resembled Mardi Gras more than Christmas. RD: And that’s because the Roman god, Saturn, was the god of abundance and plenty but he was also thought of as the god of dissipation and dissolution. And it’s also fair to say that some elements of the Christian celebration of Christmas were influenced by Saturnalia. In the fourth century AD, Pope Julius I (337–352) decided that Christ’s birthday should be celebrated on 25 December, around the same time as the Saturnalia celebrations. Some commentators have speculated that part of the reason why he chose this date may have been because he was trying to create a Christian alternative to Saturnalia. Another possibility may have been that in 274 AD, the Roman emperor Aurelian had declared 25 December the birthdate of Sol Invictus and Julius I may have thought that he could attract more converts to Christianity by allowing them to continue to celebrate on the same day. So it’s fair to say that the way in which we celebrate Christmas was probably influenced by Saturnalia, but that is quite a different thing from saying that just because the Roman god Saturn was mythological or fictional that Jesus was also. That would be the classic example of a non sequitur. VK: Non Sequitur: a conclusion that does not necessarily follow. In other words it’s a logical fallacy to conclude that just because the god Saturn was a myth that Jesus must be a myth also just because there are some common elements in the way the two different figures were or are celebrated. RD: Exactly. VK: But, of course, that does raise the question of whether Pope Julius picked December 25th just because that was a time when there were already pagan celebrations going on, or whether there were other reasons for selecting that day? RD: And that is a great question. VK: I’m so glad you agree. So… RD: We need to start out by saying that the Bible does not tell us exactly when Jesus was born. As one scholar put it, “the early Christians were not so much concerned with the date of Christ’s birth, as the fact of his birth.” And for those people who would like to take an in-depth look at when Jesus was born, there’s a great little book called Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ by Harold W. Hoehner. Much of what we’re going to talk about now comes from his book. The first question we need to address is not the day Jesus was born but the year. VK: I think most people generally think that Jesus was born in 1 AD. Doesn’t AD stand for anno domini meaning the “year of the Lord?” RD: Yes, it does. And that was the original intent when a Scythian monk named Dionysius originally prepared a calendar for use by the Western church at the direction of Pope John I in 525 AD. Before that time the Alexandrian system of dating was being used but it used as it base the reign of Diocletian who was a persecutor of the early church. Dionysius did not want the reference date for the church to be based on a persecutor. So Dionysius used the Julian system, which had been established by Julius Caesar, for the organization of the year which ran from January 1st to December 31st. And the year 1 AD was set on January 1st of 754 A.U.C. – anno urbis conditae – from the founding of the city of Rome. At the time Jesus was thought to have been born on December 25th of the prior year. Remember that there is no “zero” year. The calendar goes straight from 1 BC (before Christ) to 1 AD. VK: But… RD: But subsequent scholarship has determined that Dionysius didn’t get the translation between the AUC system and the system based on Christ’s birth year right. As our scripture today from Matthew noted, King Herod was still alive when Jesus was born. At the time it was thought that Herod died in 754 AUC but we now know that the latest date for Herod’s death was 750 AUC. VK: So that would mean Jesus was actually born 4 or 5 years earlier than previously thought. So he was born in 4 or 5 BC, not December 25th of 1 BC. Interesting. RD: Yes. But it’s worth noting that scholars are not even agreed on that. VK: Because…? RD: Because we have two scriptures that serve as the outer boundaries for Jesus’ birth. According to Matthew Jesus could not have been born later than Herod’s death, but according to Luke Jesus was born after a census that had been taken by a Roman official named Quirinius. In Greek Quirinius would have been Kyrenius. Luke says that this was “This was the first census that took place while a Quirinius was governor of Syria.” One of the issues was there aren’t any clear records about when this census took place. Josephus does not mention a census that took place during Herod’s reign but he does mention one that took place in 6 or 7 AD. So scholars are not unified on the date that this previous census might have taken place. This is one of the more puzzling questions that still linger about the birth of Jesus. VK: So, does Dr. Hoehner discuss this question in his book? RD: He does and there is actually a wealth of discussion available from many sources on this first census of Quirinius. Here are a few things we know for certain. The Romans were well known to take censuses throughout their empire to establish what we might call the basis for taxation and it was common for them to take them about every 14 years. Second, the text from Luke that says that Quirinius was the governor of Syria does not actually use the normal word, legatus, that is translated as “governor.” It uses a more generalized term for being in charge or leading. Third, we know that Quirinius was in the mid-East from 12 B.C. to 2 B.C. successively suppressing rebellions taking place in modern day Turkey. Apparently, Quirinius was well known as a successful military leader. VK: So, it would make sense that he was given charge of an important task of taking a census even if was done as an extra duty. Also, it would make sense that Augustus would want a census taken in that part of the empire because Herod had fallen out of favor with Augustus around 7 or 8 BC and by then it was known that his health was failing and that his sons were quarrelling over who would succeed him. Herod changed his will 3 times in the year before his death, each time naming a different son. Augustus knew about the changes and the quarrels because Herod had to get Augustus’ permission before making the changes. RD: Or executing one of his sons which Herod also did – again with Augustus’ knowledge and consent. VK: So that helps show that Herod was the kind of a king who would order the murder of all boys, 2 years old and under, in and around Bethlehem to get rid of a child the Magi had described the “king of the Jews.” So, it looks very much like Quirinius might have been in charge of a census sometime in the latter part of Herod’s reign around 5 BC. Herod died in 4 BC. But, what about the specific day? Did Pope Julius just pick that day because it roughly corresponded with Saturnalia? RD: We can’t be entirely sure why Pope Julius picked December 25th but the traditional date for Jesus’ birth had been around for at least 100 or 150 years before he set it officially within the church calendar. At a minimum an early church father named Hippolytus of Rome (ca 165-235 AD) had proposed that date. It is thought that Hippolytus might have had some greater insight about Jesus because he was associated with one of the early disciples of the Apostle John. There’s not a lot of information in scripture itself to pin down the date, but the tradition of a midwinter date for his birth does date back to the very earliest of the church fathers. Also, it’s fair to note that December 25th is the traditional day of celebration in the Western church but the Eastern church has traditionally used January 6th as the birthday and arrival of the Magi. VK: But some people object to the December date because a part of Luke that we didn’t listen to today says the shepherds were keeping watch on their flocks which were out in the fields at night. It is generally known that the shepherds brought their sheep into enclosures from about November through March. So the thinking is that if the sheep were out in the field it couldn’t have been December. RD: And that’s a reasonable observation but it’s not conclusive. First, it might have been a mild winter so there would have been less reason to keep the sheep enclosed. Second, the sheep were apparently in and around Bethlehem as opposed to being out in their spring and summer feeding grounds in the wilderness so this makes it far more likely the birth was in the winter. The shepherds had to be close enough to be able to get to family who were lodged in the stable in Bethlehem fairly quickly. Third, there are Jewish texts that say that the sheep that were going to be used for the Passover celebration were to be out in the field for at least 30 days before the celebration. Passover could have been as early as February so this would again reinforce a midwinter date as early as late December or early January. VK: The bottom line is that - again – when you look at the details of history and the gospel accounts it dispels completely the notion that even if there are superficial resemblances between the Christian celebration of Christmas and some pagan winter festivals that somehow diminishes the historicity of Jesus as a person. Or his birth in Bethlehem on a night over 2,000 years ago. Sounds like a great time for a prayer. Today since we’re so close to Christmas let’s listen to a prayer about that special day. ---- Prayer for Christmas VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of the first part of the the Golden Tree saga, The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest, is available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not famous but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the New International Version) The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, verses 1 and 2, New International Version

    Jesus' Attributes Were Not “Borrowed”

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 13, 2022 30:00


    Episode 190 – Jesus’ Attributes Were Not “Borrowed” Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” The Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 25, New Living Translation “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” The Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 6, New Living Translation ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author and founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time event planning consultant. He rearranges the chairs in the conference room when we have meetings. Today on Anchored by Truth, as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, we want to continue our series where we focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. And we want to continue listening to Crystal Sea’s epic Christmas poem The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. Frost Lion is the third part of the Golden Tree trilogy. The first installment of the Golden Tree saga was The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest and copies of it are available from our website which is crystalseabooks.com. Even though we’re playing Frost Lion on our broadcasts and podcasts it has not yet been released for people to get their own copy but that will happen in the near future. Today we’re coming to part five out of seven of the poem. So, we’re getting close to bringing it home, right RD? RD: We are indeed. For any listeners who weren’t able to be with us for our last couple of episodes we should tell them that The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion is a poem that is written in the style of some classic Christmas stories. It was written in seven parts and each part ends in a sort of cliffhanger. So, now that we’re at part five we’re pretty deep into the story. But just as a quick refresher The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion is about a group of small koala bears who live in the Artic in valley that’s green and warm because in the middle of the valley is a Golden Tree that keeps the valley warm and fertile. They’ve been there for several generations but just as Christmas season is approaching two teenage bears, Koest and Kopaul, were on a high hill near their town when the spotted a dark shape crossing the snow and ice. The strange shape turned out to be a bear named Roleb. Roleb came from the village their ancestors had left many generations ago and had travelled with a friend who got lost. Roleb and his friend were travelling to the arctic to search for help for their village which had lost its faith. Thanks to the wisdom of the village elders, Kodan and Kojon, the bears have been able to summon an ice eagle. But what can this ice eagle do? What will this ice eagle do … if anything? VK: Sounds like we’re getting to the good part. So, let’s continue with the story. Here’s part five of Crystal Seas’ Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree, The Frost Lion. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part 5 VK: Ok. So, the bears from the village have now found Roleb’s lost friend. But it’s too late. Roleb’s friend has died from the cold. So, it seems as if Roleb’s whole journey to the north has been for nothing. That seems very sad – if that was how the story ended. But, of course, it hasn’t ended yet. So, maybe all hope isn’t lost. And, knowing you, the answer to finding out whether anything can be done for Roleb and his friend is …to tune in next time. RD: That sounds like a brilliant suggestion. And maybe listeners could gather some family members to join them ... VK: Sounds even better. Listening to Golden Tree as a family could be a great way for parents or grandparents to connect with their kids and help them develop their faith. It would also make a great centerpiece for a home school study group or church youth group discussion about the role that courage and commitment play in the Christian faith – something that’s particularly relevant as we get closer and closer to Christmas. RD: Right. Somebody once said that the Christian faith is so simple that even children can comprehend enough about it to understand the plan of salvation. But even though we can begin with the faith of a child we should pursue the goal of developing a truly mature faith. God will meet us and help us wherever we are in our faith journey but He isn’t satisfied with leaving us at the starting line. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus doesn’t just initiate our faith. He also wants to perfect it. And part of perfecting our faith is ensuring that we understand what the Bible tells us about Jesus. VK: Well, so far we’ve seen that there are extra-Biblical sources that confirm that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived and died in Judea during the time period described by the Bible. But we’ve also seen that as helpful as it is to know that there are secular sources that confirm Jesus’ life that those sources aren’t enough to tell us everything that we need to know about Jesus. We can only get a complete revelation about Jesus from God’s special revelation to people, the Bible. And as we saw in our last episode, and again in today’s scriptures, Jesus’ statements about himself tell us something pretty important: that Jesus is not only fully human but also fully divine. RD: Yes. And so that takes us to the next subject that we need to talk about as we are focusing on the life of Jesus in preparation for celebrating his birth at Christmas. VK: And that is... RD: And that is - that because Jesus is the central figure not just of Christianity, but also the entire Bible, one of the criticisms that’s sometimes directed toward Jesus is that the attributes that the Bible assigns to Jesus were borrowed from other cultures or religious sources. So, Christians need to be familiar with some of the assertions that Jesus’ deeds, especially his miracles, were simply drawn from other religious myths or pagan characters. VK: Can you give us an example of what you’re thinking about? RD: Sure. It is has been alleged that Jesus’ miraculous conception isn’t a unique belief. For instance, critics will say that the mythological figure, Hercules, was also supposed to be the son of a divine father – in this case Zeus - and a mortal mother. VK: But, of course, there are significant differences between Hercules purported conception and Jesus. In the Greek legend Hercules mother was named Alcmene (ALK-MEN-EE). Zeus was supposed to have taken on the human form of Alcmene’s husband and deceived Alcmene and slept with her. And that’s how Hercules was conceived. That’s not nearly the same thing as Jesus being born of Mary while Mary was literally still a virgin. RD: The differences are even more pronounced. Hercules was actually the Roman name of a hero the Romans adapted from the Greek Heracles. According to the Greek legend, Heracles’ mother Alcmene was simultaneously pregnant with Heracles by Zeus and his half-brother Iphicles by her husband. And that’s only the beginning of the legendary aspects in Alcmene’s pregnancy with Heracles. So, as soon as you get beyond the superficial similarity and look at the details, the notion that Jesus’ conception was somehow an adaptation of the Heracles/Hercules myth falls apart. But this is a good example of one kind of obviously fallacious attack that’s directed against the historicity of Jesus. VK: So, what you’re saying is that one form of attack that’s leveled at Jesus has to do with a particular attribute of Jesus and then trying to find a parallel somewhere else in a different religion that is obviously false. The critics then try to discredit the life of Jesus by saying that if story A is false, then story B must be false also. RD: Right. But that makes as much sense as saying that if there are two $5 bills on the table and one is counterfeit, the other one must be also which is just silly. So, sometimes the supposed pagan origin of the details of Jesus earthly life and ministry are concerned with specific attributes of Jesus, such as his virgin birth. But sometimes the copycat thesis is less concerned with the specifics of Jesus life and more concerned with generalities that might be associated just about any supernatural figure. VK: Again, do you have any specific examples in mind? RD: For instance, since sickness and disease are obviously a plague on human existence... VK: No pun intended… RD: No pun intended… anyway, the ability to bring miraculous healing would be expected to be a staple of myths or legends. And it is. For example, Asclepius or Asklepios was a Greek demi-god who was the god of medicine. He was supposed to have raised Hippolytus from the dead, though he was killed by Zeus for doing so. Asclepius was supposed to be the son of the god Apollo and a human mother. Buddha was also supposed to have been able to cure the sick. VK: But again, these kinds of general miracle workings of mythological characters vary considerably from the information we have about the miracles that Jesus performed. For instance, in the case of Jesus curing Peter’s mother we have precise details of the location where the miracle was done, the people involved, and even a pretty close approximation to the timing. And many of Jesus’ healings involved specific details that conform to the religious and cultural conventions known to exist. Such as when he healed the lepers and then told them to go show themselves to a priest which was required by Jewish law. And Jesus’ healing miracles weren’t always the cause for celebration the way you would expect of a miracle like when Jesus restored the eyesight of the man born blind. The blind man was rejected by the religious leaders and cast out by them. RD: Exactly. The descriptions of Jesus’ miracles read like historical accounts because they are. Again, the key to drawing distinctions between Jesus’ miracles and those general sorts of miraculous powers that are associated with the pagan sources is in the details. The Bible accounts provide the details and in the majority of cases there are multiple eyewitness accounts. But the case of Buddha provides another way of refuting the claims that the Bible’s descriptions of Jesus are drawn from other sources. The earliest known account of Buddha’s life was written in the 2nd century AD so it came after Jesus and not before it. That’s also true for another supposed religious figure who supposedly served as the source for many of the details of Christ’s life, Mithra. In Mithra’s manifestation during the Roman period he was supposed to have been born on December 25th, had 12 disciples, performed miracles, had a final meal before he died, and rose from the grave after 3 days. VK: And since Mithra was a religious figure that was known to come from the Persian culture, modern day Iran, supposedly he was the inspiration for much of what the disciples taught about Jesus. Right? RD: Right. The earliest mention of Mithra is around 1400 BC so as a religious figure Mithra would pre-date Christ by a considerable time period. But the problem is that the attributes of the Iranian version of Mithra do not correspond to the Roman version. The Roman version of Mithra is best known for slaying a bull whereas there is no known connection to bull slaying in the Iranian version. And a lot of the supposed correspondences between Christ and Mithra appear in the Roman version and the dating of the correspondences is after Christ. VK: So, many scholars believe there might have been some cross pollination between Christ and the Roman version of Mithra but given the timing of the appearance of the similarities it’s far more likely that the legends of Mithra borrowed from Christianity and not vice versa. RD: And that would have been fair because there was one way that Christianity did borrow from Mithraism, in art. In the early part of the 3rd century AD (313), the Roman emperor Constantine issued the edict of Milan which accepted Christianity. Before then the Roman emperors had generally been very hostile to Christians. Within 10 years Christianity had become the official religion of the empire. But by then Mithraism seems to have also gained a strong foothold within the empire as well. In the third and fourth centuries, the Roman church officials seemed to have embarked on an effort to prove that their faith was the superior one, embarked on an advertising campaign. One commentator said their efforts were “reminiscent of our soft drink wars. Mithra was depicted slaying the bull while riding its back; the church did a lookalike scene with Samson killing a lion. Mithra sent arrows into a rock to bring forth water; the church changed that into Moses getting water from the rock at Horeb.” VK: That sounds suspiciously like the law of unintended consequences. The church officials in the 3rd and 4th century went on a campaign to prove that Christianity was superior to Mithraism and 1,600 years later the church now has to defend itself against the claim that Jesus’ life and ministry were the copycat version. RD: I think that’s an excellent observation. And let’s close out with one more, quick example. In Hinduism Krishna was also supposed to have had a miraculous conception so some critics point to that legend as a possible inspiration for the Christian tenant. VK: But in that case, Krishna’s ‘miraculous conception’ is his mom being impregnated by ‘mental transmission’ from his completely human father. Again, not remotely similar to the Bible’s description of how Mary became pregnant. RD: And to add to that – how credible is it that the first Christians, who were largely Jews from Palestine, would have borrowed a legend from a thousand miles away. At a minimum the Jews were fiercely monotheistic whereas Hinduism is distinctly polytheistic. So, this again points to the need to not only examine the varying details of alleged instances of borrowing but also consider the cultural factors that would have been in play. Often either chronological or cultural factors alone will be enough to refute the alleged possibilities. To go back to our earlier example with the money, when new bank tellers are being taught to spot counterfeit dollars they aren’t given lots of counterfeits to study. They’re given lots of real bills to feel and handle. The idea is that if the tellers get so used to touching and handling the real thing, the fakes will become instantly recognizable. That same approach will work when it comes to being able to answer many of the criticisms that are addressed at Christianity and Jesus. VK: And that’s a good lesson for all of us. The more time we spend studying scripture – and developing familiarity with the details of the people, the nations, the geography, the culture – not only will we be able to be confident in our own faith. But we will also be able to point other people to the truth. RD: Precisely. Myths and legends read like myths and legends. They have fantastic details that have little or no correspondence to things in the real world. Good common sense enables us to quickly see elements that don’t make sense in our experience. By contrast, the history contained in the Bible reads like good histories that we see elsewhere. There are specifics about people, places, times, and events and quite often either archeological finds or extra-Biblical records will provide information that helps confirm the Biblical record. VK: Sounds like a great time for a prayer. Today since we’re so close to Christmas let’s listen to a prayer about that special day. ---- Prayer for Christmas VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” We hope you’ll be with us next time as we continue our discussion of the reality of Jesus’ life. We hope you’ll take some time to encourage some friends to tune in too, or listen to the podcast version of this show. Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest are available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not famous but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the New Living Translation) The Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 25, New Living Translation The Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 6, New Living Translation The Gospel of John, Chapter 15, verse 5, New Living Translation (Sources used for this episode or other in this series) https://creation.com/pagan-copycat-thesis-refuted http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/pagint.php http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.php

    Jesus: Man and God

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 6, 2022 30:00


    Episode 189 – Jesus – Man and God Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” The Gospel of John, Chapter 6, verse 35, New Living Translation “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” The Gospel of John, Chapter 8, verse 12, New Living Translation ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author and founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time pastry consultant. He buys the cookies we keep in the kitchen. Though to be fair I’m the one who makes sure we don’t run out of animal crackers. Anyway, today on Anchored by Truth, as we start to celebrate the Christmas season, we want to continue our series where we focus on Jesus. And we want to continue listening to Crystal Sea’s epic Christmas poem The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. Today we’re coming to part four of the poem where we now hear about the seemingly unsolvable quandary that is confronting our bears. So do you want to tell us where we are in the story, RD? RD: I’d love to. For any listeners who weren’t able to be with us for our last few episodes we should tell them that The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion is a poem that is written in the style of some classic Christmas stories. It’s the third of the Golden Tree series. The first segment is called The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest and the second part was called The Golden Tree: Eagle Enigma. Both of these earlier parts of the saga were also written using the model of the old-time movie serials that they used to play when I was a kid and you went to the theater on Saturday afternoons. Before the movie they’d give you the latest installment of an ongoing saga. Each episode would end with the heroes and heroines left in a precarious position so next week you’d come back and plunk down another quarter or two. So, to get ready for part four listeners need to know that the epic is all about a group of small koala bears who live in the arctic. Even though they are in the arctic they live near a Golden Tree that creates a peaceful and fertile valley. The bears’ ancestors discovered the Golden Tree after they had left their homes down under and went searching for their Creator that they called the Great White Koala Bear. The bears have lived near the Golden Tree for generations. In all that time they had never met another bear from the land their ancestors left – but that has now changed. A new, strange bear named Roleb was rescued by a pair of young bears, Koest and Kopaul, and brought to Koest’s home. Once there, Roleb told the bears he had friend who was traveling with him but that friend is now lost in the arctic wasteland. Two of village elders, Kodan and Kojon are trying to figure out if there is a way to save Roleb’s lost friend before it is too late … which it might already be. VK: Alright then. So, let’s continue with the story. Here’s part four of Crystal Seas’ Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree, The Frost Lion – part four. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part 4 VK: Wow. So, the bears figured out how to summon an ice eagle … but can this ice eagle help them? Will this ice eagle help them? It doesn’t seem like this ice eagle is all that friendly at this point. RD: I guess folks will just have to tune in next week and see what happens... VK: I’m starting to see why the movies played those serial episodes before they played the main feature. RD: Well, as a kid the trick was not to not eat all your popcorn during the serial. Otherwise, you didn’t have any left to enjoy during the feature. It helped if you had enough money to buy a large bag. No buckets in those days. VK: Today I think some of us need to worry about waistlines more than money… RD: No comment. VK: Anyway, maybe one of the lessons we can learn from the bears is that we need to understand that challenges to our faith can come to us at any time. We need to be prepared to intelligently respond to them. And Ephesians 6:17 does tell us that the sword of the Spirit is the Bible, the Word of God. That’s one of the big reasons we try to encourage people to develop the habit of staying in the Word. It’s the best way for us to cope with our own ice eagles. So, where do you want to go today as we resume our study of Jesus’ earthly life? RD: Well, in our last couple of episode on Anchored by Truth we talked about some examples of extra-Biblical sources that confirm that Jesus was a real person who lived and died in Judea during the early part of the first century AD. But, naturally, the only thing that the secular writers could write about was the human dimension of Jesus. If secular writers were our only source about the life of Jesus we could know some important details about him, but we would completely miss the most important fact about Jesus: that Jesus was not only fully human but that he was also fully divine. VK: And here is where a lot of headaches begin. How can one person be both God and man? I think it’s safe to say that many Christians – even serious and devout ones – have trouble with that concept. So, let’s go over some of the basics of historical, orthodox Christian theology – the Trinitarian nature of God and the dual nature of Jesus. A lot of confusion arises because people don’t understand what Christians mean when they refer to the Trinity or the dual nature of Christ. So, let’s start there. RD: Well, let’s acknowledge right at the start the limitations of human language and the incomprehensibility of God. Humans are finite. God is infinite. So, there is no way any human or group of humans is every going to be capable of exhaustively understanding or explaining the nature of the God or the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. That doesn’t mean we can’t know some true things about God and develop an awareness of the miracle of the incarnation, but it does mean that mysteries will always remain. But that the fact that mysteries will always remain doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t apply ourselves to develop a full-orbed understanding of God insofar as we are able. VK: And it also means that we should always approach these subjects in a spirit of reverence and prayer, right? I mean the one Person who can help us grow in our understanding is the very Person we’re seeking to understand. So, what does the doctrine of the Trinity refer to? RD: Orthodox, Christian theology believes that the Bible refers to one God, but acknowledges that God exists eternally as three divine Subsistences or Persons. The classic proof text for the Trinitarian view of the Godhead is Matthew 28:18 & 19 which says: “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” A slightly different way of explaining this is that God is singular in nature but three in person. By contrast, Jesus, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, is singular in person but has two natures. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. And the classic formulation of this that came out of the Council of Chalcedon is : ” Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, having two natures inseparably united in one divine person without confusion, mixture, separation, or division. Each nature retains its own attributes.” VK: So, those views explain why Christians still believe in one God – we’re monotheistic – but we also believe that within the Godhead there are three distinct Persons who have a relationship with each other. Grappling with these concepts is challenging to say the least. RD: And that’s the reason we have to always be willing to acknowledge that even though the church has classic formulations like the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds that help amplify the basics, these doctrines will always contain a certain amount of mystery for men. We’re back to the plain fact that finite man cannot fully understand or explain an infinite, Triune God. VK: So, how do our opening scriptures relate to this who discussion? At least on the surface, while Jesus is certainly providing some really comforting assurances to his disciples – such as that he will provide for them and protect them like a shepherd does his sheep – how do these verses demonstrate that Jesus was claiming to be God? RD: In English, the claim is not as obvious as it was in the language in which John originally recorded his Gospel, Greek. You see the Greek words that are translated as “I am,” in “I am the bread of life,” and in the other scriptures we heard are two Greek words: ego and eimi. And these are exactly the same words that God used when He made declarations about himself in the Old Testament. VK: As in the declaration that God made to Moses when Moses was standing before the burning bush recorded in Exodus 3:14? Let me read that part. But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said that Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.” RD: Exactly. The Septuagint translators when they translated the Hebrew “Yahweh” which came from the word for “I am” translated it by a combination of two different Greek words used for the verb “to be:” ego and eimi. So in Jesus’ time the phrase ego eimi came to be synonymous with the name for God. In Hebrew, Yahweh. In Greek, Jehovah. So, when the Apostle John recorded what Jesus said about Jesus being the bread of life or the light of the world, John used the phrase “ego eimi” for the words “I am.” Many scholars think that when Jesus identified himself with the “I am,” He was directly proclaiming to his followers that he was the same as the one who appeared to be Moses. But there are other references in the Old Testament to which Jesus may have been pointing to make the same point. Michael J. Krueger, who is a New Testament scholar and President of the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, has shown that there are number of “I am” references in chapters 40 – 55 of the book of Isaiah that unmistakably point to God. Let’s listen to a couple of examples, Isaiah 41: 4 and 43:10: Isaiah 41:4 Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he (ego eimi). Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he (ego eimi). Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. The “I am he” in these passages is translated in Greek by ego eimi. VK: So, when Jesus said he was the bread of life or the light of the world he was going beyond simply giving metaphors for the provisions that he was making for his people? He was saying that one of the reasons his followers could have confidence in the promises that he was giving was because he was God. And as God whatever he promised he had the irresistible power to fulfill. I’m starting to get another headache when I think about that. Imagine, listening to someone standing before you who was saying “I am the light of the world,” - meaning he would give you all the light and wisdom you would ever need – and then realizing that the one making the promise was the who made light to begin with. That’s a staggering thought. RD: And it gets even more staggering. Remember that on Anchored by Truth we have often talked about the fact that logic and empirical observations demonstrate that the universe was created by a self-existent Being. We call that Being God. We can arrive at the need for a self-existent Being to explain the existence of the universe and everything in it, just by making some informed observations. In other words, as people we have the ability to deduce the existence of a self-existent Being or God just by exercising our reason and intelligence. Well, when God said to Moses that his name, God’s name, was “I am” he was identifying himself by using the attribute of self-existence. God was simultaneously exalting Moses by saying “you’re standing in the presence of the One who made everything,” and God was condescending to the level of man by communicating to Moses in a way Moses could understand. God was also pointing out that Moses should be aware of His existence because Moses own intellect and intelligence would have revealed the need for God even God had never chosen to communicate with him directly. VK: And the same thing would have been true of the people listening to Jesus, wouldn’t it? Only now, rather than the people listening to a voice out of a burning bush, they’re hearing those words from a man standing in front of them. And many, if not most, of them would have seen Jesus perform miracles so they would have known that when Jesus spoke, he was speaking the truth. But I think you have one more point that you’re making with the line of reasoning aren’t you? RD: Exacatamundo… VK: Exactamundo, again ... RD: Ok. Precisely, if you prefer. Think about it. By making empirical observations and exercising a little logic and reason we can arrive at the conclusion that the universe was created by a self-existent Being – God. But where did we derive the ability to make those observations? Where did we get eyesight that could see the sun and stars? Where did we get the intellect and reasoning ability to design instruments that could amplify our own observational capabilities like telescopes or microscopes? Where did we get the reasoning ability to understand that an effect demands a cause and that the law of non-contradiction is an essential element in reasoning correctly? Where did we get the ability to write and use language and make and retain records so we could pass words and observations down over thousands of years? And not just the records of the Bible but the other records that we examined on Anchored by Truth the last couple of times by secular observers who affirmed that Jesus was a real man who lived in Judea at a particular time in history. VK: So the point you’re making is that the same God who designed and created the universe with all its marvelous complexity and order also created us in such a way that we could perceive Him. And you’re saying that that same God came to various men at different points in history – to Moses and Isaiah in the Old Testament, to Matthew, John and others in the New Testament – to leave us a record of His appearances in this world. So, you’re saying that God designed man so that man could recognize not only the design in nature but also the design in God’s plan for human history. The plan that we call the plan of creation, fall, and redemption. Oh, all that is either super scary or super exciting. RD: Rather like the disciples in the boat when Jesus calmed the storm or Moses when he was in front of the burning bush, an immediate confrontation with the undeniable presence of the Almighty is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling. Unfortunately, today too many people deny themselves that experience of reverential awe that comes from truly grappling with the authentic nature of God. VK: And only the Bible gives us what we need to understand that nature. And we all need to have a better understanding of that nature. Because when we gain it we will find out that God is not only an awesome and mighty God but He is also a loving and merciful God who has made provisions for us to have eternal fellowship with him by placing our faith in Jesus as our Savior. So let’s close with prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of adoration for the first person of the Trinity, our heavenly Father. ---- PRAYER OF ADORATION OF THE FATHER VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” We hope you’ll be with us next time as we continue our discussion of the reality of Jesus’ life. We hope you’ll take some time to encourage some friends to tune in too, or listen to the podcast version of this show. Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest and The Golden Tree: Eagle Enigma are available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the English Revised Version) The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 6, English Revised Version The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 23, verses 44 through 47, English Revised Version (Sources used for this episode or other in this series) https://www.ligonier.org/about/who-we-are/what-we-believe/ https://www.michaeljkruger.com/why-does-jesus-use-the-phrase-i-am/ https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/10-things-yahweh-means

    Jesus Beyond the Bible - Part 2

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2022 30:00


    Episode 188 – Jesus Beyond the Bible Part 2 Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. ... And Joseph also … to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. …while they were there… she [gave birth].” The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 6, English Revised Version ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author and founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time health consultant. He buys the cough drops we keep in the studio for people to use during recording. Today on Anchored by Truth, as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, we want to continue our series where we focus on the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. And we want to continue listening to Crystal Sea’s epic Christmas poem The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. Today we’re coming to part three of the poem where the action starts to get a little more intense. Is that a fair statement, RD? RD: I think so. For any listeners who weren’t able to be with us for our last couple of episodes we should tell them that The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion is a poem that is written in the style of some classic Christmas stories. It was also written using the model of the old-time movie serials that they used to play when I was a kid and you went to the theater on Saturday afternoons. Before the movie they’d give you the latest installment of an ongoing saga. Each episode would end with the heroes and heroines left in a precarious position so next week you’d come back and plunk down another quarter or two. So, to get ready for part three listeners need to know that the epic is all about a group of small koala bears who live in a valley in the artic. A group of the bear’s ancestors settled in the valley because in the center of the valley is a golden tree that transforms the valley into a place where they can live and thrive. They’ve been there for several generations but in the current Christmas season an unexpected challenge has come to their valley, the tree, and their lives. Two of the town’s teenage bears, Koest and Kopaul had gone to a hill to look at the northern lights. While on the hill they saw a new, strange bear staggering through the snow. At first they weren’t sure if this new bear posed a danger but since the new bear was so close to death they brought him back to Koest’s home where Koest’s mother, Koray, began attending to the bear. But they still don’t know anything about the new bear. Where did he come from and why is he here? And what does he want? VK: Alright then. So, let’s continue with the story. Here’s part three of Crystal Seas’ Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – part three. ---- The Golden Tree: Eagle Enigma – Part 3 VK: Ok. As the old timers … RD: Like me... VK: Right… used to say, “the plot commences to thicken.” The bears who live near the Golden Tree have found out that they have distant relatives who don’t know about the Golden Tree or even the Great White Bear. But a couple who still did believe in the Great White Bear decided to attempt the quest that others had tried long ago. But now their quest is in danger because one of them has almost died and the other one is lost in a vast arctic wilderness – a wasteland for anyone who’s not near the tree. RD: Right. And sometimes those of us who live in today’s post-modern culture can feel that way – that we are living in a wilderness that has lost sight of our true Creator. That’s why it’s such a good idea for mature believers to listen to or read stories to the kids or grandkids because they can introduce those kids or grandkids to the real struggles that life contains and help prepare to them to be overcomers. And of course the best strategy for being an overcomer is to be so familiar with the truth that lies and deception become immediately identifiable. VK: And of course that’s why we do Anchored by Truth – to remind people that the Bible, in the words of Psalm 46, is a “very present help in time of trouble.” But people aren’t likely to turn to the Bible to help them in times of trouble if they aren’t confident that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy. So that’s why we focus on using evidence and logic to demonstrate that we have very good reasons for believing that the Bible is the very Word of God. RD: Yes. Everybody, at some point in their life, is going to ask the question, “Why am I here?” It’s one of the most obvious questions that arise from the human experience. But, whether most people realize it or not, the answer to the question, “why am I here,” is inexorably tied to three other questions. Is there a God? If there is a God, does He communicate with people – or said slightly differently, “Is the Bible the Word of God.” And, if there is a God and the Bible is His word, can I learn about my life, my needs, and my purpose by studying the Bible? Of course at Anchored by Truth we think that the answer to all three questions is a resounding “yes.” But we would just as quickly admit that, unless people are convinced that the Bible is more than just an aggregated collection of fairy tales and myths, they are unlikely to find the Bible relevant to their lives. VK: I notice that you said “study the Bible” not just “read the Bible.” What you’re observing is that understanding the Bible, confidently and contextually, demands effort. Right? I mean that sort of runs against the old method of letting the Bible fall open and then reading the first verse that comes to your attention. RD: Well, I wouldn’t try to restrict the Lord’s ability to communicate to any particular person any way He chooses. But randomly or haphazardly reading selected portions of the Bible isn’t likely to help people answer the question, “Why am I here?” I am fully persuaded that the Lord will reveal Himself to anyone and everyone who seeks to truly know Him. But our relationship with the Lord – who is after all first and foremost a person – is just like our relationship with others in our lives. The quality of our relationship will be dependent on the quality and quantity of time we spend with the Lord. And because the Bible was written in a different time and era we need to do some study on the times, customs, and cultures that form its setting. And, unfortunately, because so much misinformation circulates in our own culture today about what the Bible is or isn’t, contemporary Christians need to arm themselves by being able to respond to certain common errors. VK: Such as the erroneous assertion that Jesus wasn’t a real person. That he didn’t live a real life, eat, walk, and sleep like normal human beings. And that, despite being fully human, he didn’t also demonstrate that he was fully divine by rising out of a stone tomb after being killed by the most powerful empire on the earth at the time. So, that takes us back to our review of some examples that Jesus’ earthly existence is confirmed by sources outside the Bible. Last time we took a look at two examples of other ancient historians who mentioned Jesus in their histories: the Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Josephus. Both are considered reliable historians. Both wrote their histories within a relatively short period after Jesus’ earthly life. And both wrote accounts that confirmed some of the details in scripture. Where do you want to start today? RD: Well, let’s take a look at another Roman historian, Suetonius. Suetonius was a Roman historian and annalist of the Imperial House under the Emperor Hadrian. His writings about Christians describe their treatment under the Emperor Claudius (41-54AD): “Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city [Rome].” (Life of Claudius, 25:4) This expulsion took place in 49AD. In another work, Suetonius wrote about the fire which destroyed Rome in 64 A.D. under the reign of Nero. Nero blamed the Christians for this fire and he punished Christians severely as a result: “Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” (Lives of the Caesars, 26.2) So from these quotes we can see that the awareness of Jesus had spread all the way to Rome less than 20 years after Jesus died. The awareness was so strong that the emperor had taken personal notice of Jesus’ followers and apparently felt the need to try to minimize their influence in the capital city. VK: And again, just to remind everyone of what we mentioned last time the fact that Roman historians and even Roman emperors would take notice of Jesus is remarkable. It wasn’t as if Jesus had led a conquering army that was threatening to lay siege to Rome or even one of his outlying provinces. And Suetonius’ observation that the Christians had a “new and mischievous religious belief” is particularly fascinating. When you think about the pantheon of gods with which the Romans were thoroughly familiar – not only their own gods but also the Greek gods and the gods of all the people they’d conquered – when you think about the vast variety of religious beliefs with which they were acquainted what could be considered “new and mischievous?” RD: Well, of course, many scholars believe that Suetonius was likely referring to the physical resurrection of Jesus. Obviously, the Romans were well familiar with various beliefs of life after death, but those belief systems never included a person – a flesh and blood man – walking around, talking, eating, and even touching other people after being crucified. That was new and novel. VK: Still is. I’ve never seen it though I thoroughly believed it happened. Who’s next? RD: Well, take a look at two sources who wrote about Jesus but for whom we don’t have any copies of their writings: Thallus and Phlegon. VK: Well, if there are no existing copies of their manuscripts how can we know what they wrote? RD: Because just like today, there were other writers who did read what they wrote and preserved some of their material by quoting it in documents they were preparing. Just like someone may not have attended a political event, but they can know part of what the speaker said by reading quotes in articles written by people who were there. In Thallus’ case, parts of his histories were preserved by Julius Africanus who wrote around 221 AD. In Phlegon’s case, not only did Julius Africanus record some of his material but so did Origen who was an early church scholar and theologian. VK: So what observation did Julius Africanus preserve from Thallus’ writings that pertain to Jesus? RD: Well let me read a quote from Julius Africanus: “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun.” (Julius Africanus, Chronography, 18:1) So Thallus had written more than one book of history but in at least one of his books he took note of the darkness and earthquake that accompanied Christ’s crucifixion. This parallels precisely the account that Matthew gave us in Chapter 27 of his Gospel. VK: And Luke also wrote about the darkness. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 23, verses 44 through 47 say: “And it was now about the sixth hour, and a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun's light failing: and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said this, he gave up the ghost. And when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly, this was a righteous man.” So, it is very interesting that a secular historian like Thallus would mention the same detail that is present in Matthew and Luke. And if I remember correctly Thallus’ observations are particularly important because many scholars believe he wrote around 52 AD. In fact, he may have been the earliest secular writer to comment on the events surrounding the crucifixion. Well, what about Phlegon? RD: Well let me read three quotes. This first is one preserved by Julius Africanus and the second two were preserved by Origen: “Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (Africanus, Chronography, 18:1) “And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place … ” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 33) “Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (Origen Against Celsus, Book 2, Chapter 59) So in these quotes we several things of significance. First, Phlegon confirms the darkness mentioned by Matthew, Luke, and Thallus. Second, he confirms that Jesus was crucified and he gives us a specific time reference: during the reign of Tiberius. And third, he confirms the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus including that he showed the marks of his crucifixion to those to whom he appeared. VK: Well, that’s even more amazing because now we know that the secular historians of the 1st and 2nd century AD were not only aware of Jesus’ life and ministry but they were also familiar with many of the details that surrounded his death and resurrection. But that does raise a question. Since Julius Africanus and Origen were both admitted Christians is it possible that they fabricated the quotes they attributed to Thallus and Phlegon? RD: It’s not impossible, but why would they have done that? VK: I think critics would say they would have fabricated the quotes to make their case for the truth of Christianity stronger. RD: Well, if they had attempted to do that it would actually have had the opposite effect in their day and time. First, remember that even though copies of the writings from Thallus and Phlegon are no longer extant today, they were in existence at the time Julius Africanus and Origen wrote and quoted from them. So if they had fabricated quotes or deliberately misquoted them their fraud or errors would have been easily detectable. Second, Africanus and Origen were writing at a time when there was substantial official opposition to Christianity. In other words they were writing in a hostile world. As such, they would have taken even greater pains to be sure that they wouldn’t be subject to easily refuted assertions. Third, Origen’s quotes of Phlegon came from a work entitled Contra Celsum or in English Against Celsus. So Origen was writing a work to refute the claims of Celsus who wrote a work entitled The True Doctrine. The True Doctrine was likely written under the authority of a Roman emperor was critical of Christianity. Since accuracy was essential to his refutation of Celsus’ book, most scholars agree that Origen is a reliable source for what Phlegon said. Why would Origen have handed his opponent an easy method for dismissing Origen’s criticisms? VK: That all makes a lot of common sense and it points to a broader implication of the extra-Biblical sources that you’ve been citing. None of the observers themselves, including Thallus or Phlegon, were friendly to Christianity. So theirs were essentially the observations of hostile witnesses. As such, when they confirm details of the Biblical account their testimony of Jesus’ life has even greater weight. If they thought that Jesus was a fraud or a fabrication it would have been very easy for them just to not mention him. RD: And one more point to note before we close. In these episodes we haven’t been able to cover all the extra-Biblical sources that there are that confirm Jesus’ life, ministry, and death. There’s a book called The Historical Jesus by Dr. Gary Habermas that contains a much more exhaustive treatment of this subject. VK: And – again – we wanted to point listeners to all these resources, including the links we put on our podcast notes, to enable them to continue their own studies about the life and ministry of Jesus. As we said at the start of this episode, to answer the question “why am I here,” we need to understand why any of us are here. And how we got here. Those questions are directly related to what we think about God and Jesus. So let’s close with prayer. Today let’s listen to a prayer of the One who leads into a knowledge of truth, the Holy Spirit. ---- Prayer for Adoration of the Holy Spirit VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” We hope you’ll be with us next time as we continue our discussion of the reality of Jesus’ life. We hope you’ll take some time to encourage some friends to tune in too, or listen to the podcast version of this show. Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest are available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not famous but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the English Revised Version) The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1 through 6, English Revised Version The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 23, verses 44 through 47, English Revised Version (Sources used for this episode or other in this series) https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/ https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/the-evidence-for-jesus/ https://alwaysbeready.com/extrabiblical-historical-sources-corroborate-the-bible/ https://crossexamined.org/why-should-we-trust-the-extra-biblical-references-to-jesus/

    Jesus Beyond the Bible - Part 1

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2022 30:00


    Episode 187 – Jesus Beyond the Bible Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf. Micha, Chapter 5, verse 2, New Living Translation Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, verse 1, New Living Translation ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, author founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time barista. He turns on the coffee maker and puts in those little cups. Today on Anchored by Truth, as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are continuing our series where we focus on the earthly birth and life of Jesus. In today’s culture, it seems as though just about everybody has heard about Jesus, but fewer and fewer people actually know much about him. Do you agree with that RD? RD: Yes. Jesus’ name is certainly well known in modern culture but unfortunately there is as much or more misinformation that circulates about him than there is actual fact. I’m afraid that more people get there information about Jesus more by watching television specials or dramatized movies than they do from reading the Bible or studying the many fine, well-documented books and articles that have been produced by excellent Christian scholars through the years. That’s the bad news. The good news is that for those who are truly interested in knowing the actual, historical Jesus it’s probably easier today than any time in history to get accurate information. But you do have to be careful about the sources you use. VK: So, today we want to continue to provide the listeners to Anchored by Truth with a head start on doing their own study about Jesus. As you have so often said, Jesus is the centerpiece of both the Bible and the plan of redemption. So, to be confident not only in our own faith but to help those who are still looking for anchors for their own lives it’s imperative we know the real Jesus of the Bible. But before we get too deep into our discussion how about telling us a little about the Christmas poem that we’re going to continue today? RD: I’d love to. As I mentioned in an earlier episode of Anchored by Truth, years ago when I worked in one of those big state agency buildings that are so common here I wanted to give Christmas presents to some of my co-workers but doing that in a state agency can sometimes be tricky. So, I decided that one present I could give was a little entertainment so I wrote this piece that was inspired by some of things that used to entertain the kids of my generation: Christmas poems and the short serial stories you used to see in the movie theaters before the main feature. Each of those film pieces would always leave you hanging so you had to come back every week to see what happened. So, I wrote a Christmas story in six parts and each part left you wondering what would come next. That story became The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest. It was about a group of koala bears who had gone on a quest to the far north to find their creator that they called The Great While Koala Bear. The bears never found their creator but they did find a golden tree in the artic that made a valley a perfect place for them to live. Well, later on I created a new story that I called The Golden Tree: Eagle Enigma and we’ve followed that up now with another Golden Tree story – the Frost Lion. In part one of Frost Lion that we heard on our last episode we’ve learned that there are two young bears confronting a dilemma they believe might threaten their village. From a vantage point at the top of a tall hill near their town they have seen a strange shape out on the distant snow – but they don’t know who or what the shape is. VK: Alright then. So, let’s continue with the story. Here’s part two of Crystal Seas’ Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part 2 VK: The drama is now building. What we’ve heard is that bears have enjoyed the peace and plenty in the valley for generations but now a new bear from a strange land is in their midst – and that bear is very near death. Worse this new bear has a friend who is still lost in the deep winter snow and may already have died. So, the bears are learning - just like in the real world – that there are always unexpected events in this world that may require us to respond. And it may take real courage to confront those events … RD: And commitment and sacrifice... VK: And it’s hard to have those virtues if we don’t know why we’ve been sent on our own quests, isn’t it? I mean, God’s grace has saved us just like the Golden Tree saved the bears. But as the Apostle Paul said to the Philippians they had to. “work hard to show the results of [their] salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in [them and us], giving [them and us]the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God’s grace saves us but our sanctification requires effort on our part. RD: Right. The old song there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to “trust and obey.” Part of that obedience is to be able to tell others why we believe that Jesus was qualified to be our savior. And that starts with us being assured that Jesus was a real, historical figure – not a myth or some kind of pious concoction. In our day and age one of the semi-criticisms that’s hurled against the Christian faith is that the Jesus that Christians worship is either a mythological figure or – if he even existed – that we can’t trust the gospel accounts for information about him. VK: But the truth is that Jesus was a real person. And we see that from passages like the ones we used for our opening scriptures. In these passages we can see that the Bible tells us specific facts about Jesus like where he was born – in Bethlehem – and when – during the reign of a king named Herod. But beyond even what scripture tells us Jesus life is a fact that is even confirmed by sources outside the Bible isn’t it? And that’s what you wanted to focus on today, right – the fact that we have historical sources besides the Bible that confirm Jesus’ historicity and even confirm many of the details contained in the gospels about his life, death, and circumstances? RD: Right. In some earlier episodes of Anchored by Truth we’ve discussed the fact that you can use the existence of the physical universe and apply logic and reason to come to the conclusion that there is a self-existent being responsible for the creation of the universe and of living creatures. But that line of reasoning can only carry you so far in an understanding of God and it would give us almost no information about other attributes that are essential parts of the Christian faith such as the plan of redemption or Jesus’ role in it. For that, we need a special revelation from that self-existent being – God – and fortunately we have that in the Bible. But we need to be persuaded that that revelation is true and reliable and once again logic, reason, and evidence can play a role in validating the Bible’s claim that it is the inspired Word of God. And that’s where extra biblical sources can be helpful. Such sources don’t add anything to the Bible, but they can add to our individual confidence that the Bible is describing history accurately when it speaks of historical events. VK: So, today you want to take a brief look at some other historical sources that also confirm that Jesus was a real historical figure. You know when you think about it, it’s remarkable that there would be any other surviving sources outside the Bible who would mention Jesus. In his day and time – if Jesus hadn’t been the Son of God – he would have been just another obscure and unimportant itinerant preacher that had a brief public ministry in a distant Roman province. He never led an army, held a prominent government or political position, or even wrote a book. Plus, his public ministry only lasted about 3 years and he didn’t travel all that widely. His public ministry was all conducted within 100 miles of his home. And he died the death of a common criminal. So, if Jesus wasn’t who he claimed to be – the Son of the Almighty God – he should have faded from the pages of history as just another local crank. But he didn’t. He’s mentioned by some of the most important historians of his age, men who had far more earthly distinction that he did. Where do you want to start? RD: Let’s start by talking about a few examples of well-known Roman historians who are widely regarded as having written important histories of the Roman Empire and conquests. The examples that we’re going to use today came from an article available on the website coldcasechristianity.com entitled “is there any evidence for Jesus outside the Bible.” We’ll put a link to the article on the notes that accompany the podcast version of this show. But these examples are all widely known and can be found in any number of historical reference sources. So the first example we want to use is a quote from Cornelius Tacitus was well known for his analysis and examination of historical documents and is among the most trusted of ancient historians. He was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and was also proconsul of Asia. In his “Annals’ of 116 AD, he describes the Roman Emperor Nero’s response to the great fire in Rome and Nero’s claim that the Christians were to blame: “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” So, in this account, Tacitus confirms that there was a man who lived in Judea, was known as Christ, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and who had followers who called themselves by his name and were persecuted for following him. VK: Well, this account is helpful because it directly confirms a number of details directly about Jesus. But it’s also important for another reason, isn’t it? A few episodes ago we talked about the fact that Luke and the other gospel writers were meticulous when it came to their historical recording and reporting. So much so that they got some obscure details right, even when other ancient historians got them wrong. So, this quote from Tacitus helps illustrate that point too, doesn’t it. RD: Very good. That’s pretty impressive. You noticed that Tacitus called Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea not the prefect. VK: Thank you. I try. RD: And you’re absolutely right. As good a historian as Tacitus was he was human and in this case he did make a mistake. He got Pilate’s title wrong. For many years there were questions about the existence and the actual title of Pontius Pilate—the Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus. Later Roman writers, as well as almost all Bible reference works, referred to Pilate as the “procurator” of Judea but Luke and the other gospel writers called Pilate a “governor;” not a procurator. The fact that “governor” was the correct title was confirmed in 1961, when a two by three foot stone was discovered that had a Latin inscription. The translation of the inscription reads as follows: Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, has presented the Tiberieum to the Caesareans. This find was not only archaeological confirmation for the existence of Pilate but it was also confirmation that Pilate was the Prefect, or governor, of Judea. VK: In fact, we now know that the title “Procurator” was not used at the time of Jesus’ trial for the Roman governors. This title only came into usage at a later time, during the reign of the emperor Claudius, A.D. 41-54. During Claudius’ reign the title of the Roman governors shifted from Prefect to Procurator. So although Tacitus was correct about the title in use for the Roman governor of Judea at the time he wrote – about 60 years later - strictly speaking that was not Pilate’s actual title when he supervised the trial and execution of Jesus. Pilate was a prefect, a governor, not a procurator – a fact the Bible writers got right. So, who’s next on the list of extra-Biblical writers? RD: Well, before we close for today we should probably take a quick look at one of the most famous of the ancient historians, Josephus, because he lived so close to the time of Jesus and during the period of early church’s formation. Josephus lived from 37 AD to 101 AD. The most widely accepted year for the crucifixion is 33 AD so he was born just four years after the crucifixion. He wrote an extensive history of the Jews in 93 AD called “the Antiquities of the Jews.” So today when you see people referring to it you often just hear people call it “Antiquities.” Josephus wrote about Jesus in more detail than any other non-biblical historian and Josephus himself was a really interesting character. He was a consultant for Jewish rabbis and became a Galilean military commander by the age of sixteen. He was an eyewitness to much of what he recorded in the first century A.D. As a Jewish military leader he initially fought against the Romans but later surrendered and he eventually became an adviser to the Roman emperor Vespasian. Under Vespasian, Josephus was allowed to write a history of the Jews. This history includes three passages about Christians, one in which he describes the death of John the Baptist, one in which he mentions the execution of James (and describes him as the brother of Jesus the Christ), and a final passage which describes Jesus as a wise man and the messiah. There is some legitimate controversy about the writing of Josephus, because of the timing of the discovery of his writing but why don’t you read a conservative scholarly reconstruction of one of Josephus’ most famous passages. VK: “Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared.” RD: Now there are some other ancient versions of Josephus’ writing which are even more explicit about the nature of Jesus’ miracles, life and his status as the Christ, but from even this conservative version we can conclude: Jesus lived in Palestine, was a wise man and a teacher, worked amazing deeds, was accused by the Jews, crucified under Pilate and had followers called Christians. Josephus’ observations are particularly compelling because at the time he wrote he was very close in terms of timing to when Jesus lived. Even though he wasn’t like the apostles who actually walked with Jesus he could see around him the effect of the early church’s spreading and he may even have had the opportunity to talk to Jews who had been in and around Judea when Jesus had his public ministry. VK: Well, those two examples are a good introduction to the fact that Jesus’ earthly life has confirmation outside the Bible. Next time we can take up a few more examples but before we close for today a few general observations would seem to be in order. And you said that the early church itself is a confirmation that Jesus was a real, historical figure? RD: Exactly. VK: I’m surprised you didn’t say what you do in some of the Life Lessons with a Laugh - exactamundo … RD: Ok. Exactamundo. Anyway, there is no dispute that in the first century AD Christians and the Christian church began to be an issue within the Roman Empire. They were so widely known that the emperor Nero blamed the great fire of Rome on them. Well, it would be impossible to explain the spread of a movement if there wasn’t something or someone who started the movement. Remember that the Romans weren’t known for being timid administrators of their provincial empire and in the first century AD they certainly weren’t friendly to Christians. So, something remarkable must have happened in the early part of the first century AD in Judea that animated so many people to continue carrying the same message throughout the empire despite the official opposition they encountered everywhere. There are two simple reasons for this phenomena. First, they were persuaded something truly remarkable had happened. A dead man had risen from the grave and walked around for 40 days. And second, they had a source of support and strength – the Holy Spirit – who sustained them as they carried their message to a world that needed it but didn’t want it. VK: Well, all that makes perfect sense. As Paul said to the Romans the same power that raised Jesus from the dead also empowers us and gives us the ability to carry on in his name. Sounds like a perfect time to go to prayer. Since we’re approaching Thanksgiving how about if today we listen to a prayer for that special day when we turn our attention to the goodness that God has shown to us. ---- Prayer for Thanksgiving – VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” We hope you’ll be with us next time as we continue our discussion of the reality of Jesus’ life. We hope you’ll take some time to encourage some friends to tune in too, or listen to the podcast version of this show. Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest are available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not famous but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the New Living Translation) Micha, Chapter 5, verse 2, New Living Translation The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, verse 1, New Living Translation (Sources used for this episode or other in this series) https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/ https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/the-evidence-for-jesus/ https://alwaysbeready.com/extrabiblical-historical-sources-corroborate-the-bible/ https://crossexamined.org/why-should-we-trust-the-extra-biblical-references-to-jesus/

    A Necessary God

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2022 30:00


    Episode 186 – A Necessary God Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script Notes: The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. Psalm 19, verses 1 through 4, New Living Translation ******** VK: Hi! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. I’m here today with RD Fierro, founder of Crystal Sea Books, and part-time poet. Today on Anchored by Truth, as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are going to begin a new series where we focus on the central figure of the entire Bible: Jesus. That seems appropriate as we come to the time of year when we celebrate the Lord’s birth, doesn’t it RD? RD: Well, Christmas is certainly a time of the year when people begin to more naturally think about Jesus because the reminders of him start to appear more and more around us every day. But, of course, it’s important to remember that we really should focus on Jesus every day of the year. For Christians, Jesus should be the focus of our daily lives. And actually throughout our lives we should be on a quest to get to know God better each day that is granted to us. VK: I agree with that. So, today we’re going to start listening to a new Crystal Sea story. This time it’s one of our rhymed pieces that you wrote as a Christmas epic poem. This is actually the second installment of a story that you began a long time ago. You said you originally wrote the first installment because you wanted to give it as a gift to some co-workers? RD: I did. Years ago when I worked in one of those big state agency buildings that are so common here I wanted to give Christmas presents to some of my co-workers but doing that in a state agency can sometimes be tricky. So, I decided that one present I could give was a little entertainment so I wrote a piece that was inspired by some of things that used to entertain the kids of my generation: Christmas poems and the short serial stories you used to see in the movie theaters before the main feature. Each of those film pieces would always leave you hanging so you had to come back every week to see what happened. So, I wrote a Christmas story in six parts and each part left you wondering what would come next. VK: And then a few years ago you decided that the story needed to continue so you wrote the next installment of what is going to be, when completed, a poetic trilogy. The story began in Crystal Seas’ Christmas epic poem: The Golden Tree, Komari’s Quest. The story continued in The Golden Tree, Eagle Enigma. Today, we are beginning the final part of the trilogy. Here is part one of The Golden Tree, The Frost Lion. ---- The Golden Tree: The Frost Lion – Part I VK: I really like some of the lines from that part. “Where the lights soared in the vault overhead and proclaimed indescribable glory as if the heavens could not but proclaim their omnipotent Creator's story.” Not only are the lines lyrical but they also evoke such clear imagery. I can imagine kids sitting around their mom and dad … RD: Or grandmother and grandfather... VK: Or grandparents and listening to this recording with them - just like families used to sit around and listen to someone read The Night Before Christmas. Of course, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to put this poem out there. To give families an entertaining story that also would allow parents to discuss their faith with their kids. RD: Exactly. There are so many questionable choices these days that are advertised as being “family friendly” but they are based on a secularist view of the world. We wanted to be sure that there was a story that was available for “fireside” listening that directed everyone’s attention to the real “reason for the season.” VK: Well, there are a total of seven parts to Golden Tree: The Frost Lion. So, for the next six weeks we’ll be letting the story unfold as we continue to unpack insights into how the Bible is such an integral part of being able to frame a coherent world view. I mean the two fundamental attributes that you believe would have to characterize any book that would constitute a genuine special revelation of God are that that revelation would have to be consistent with the created order as it is observable by creatures within it – essentially us. And that revelation would have to display supernatural origin. RD: Right. As hard – or as exciting – as it may be to comprehend empirical observations, combined with logic, tell us that the visible universe does not – indeed cannot – provide an explanation for its own existence. The universe, as grand and vast as it is, has all the fingerprints of having a beginning in space and time. Also, the second law of thermodynamics, the law of entropy, tells us that it will have an ending. Anything that has a limited life span, no matter how long some people might conceive that light span to be, cannot be self-existent. Only a self-existent being or entity can account for its own existence or the existence of anything else. Some philosophers use the terms Necessary Being and Contingent Beings to describe the difference between the two. VK: And since the universe is not eternal it looks very much like it is contingent on something or someone outside itself to account for its existence – a Necessary Being upon which it is dependent. And we call that Necessary Being God. So just like the bears in our story when we see the northern lights or stars twinkling in a deep night sky we can know that that the starlight - and the night sky and especially our ability to see and understand all that grandeur - points to the need for a Creator. And we’ve seen that the bears we’ve just met aren’t the first bears who have lived in this land. It was actually their ancestors who left their home and shortly we’ll learn they were searching for the lair and throne of their Creator – who they thought of as the Great White Bear. RD: Yes. I think the symbolism for the story is already pretty plain but I would like to point out one thing - and that’s what I want to spend some time on today – is that the bears who set out on their quest wouldn’t ever have started out if they weren’t convinced that the Great White Bear existed. And that’s one of the problems that we see reflected so clearly in today’s very relativistic culture. Too many - far, far, far too many people today, both inside the church and out, are defeated in their own quests because they have been misled to believe that there is no Creator – no Great White Bear if you will. As a result, they see the world as fundamentally being either chaotic at best or outright meaningless at worst. VK: I think you need to expand on that thought a bit. You’re saying that God isn’t just a logical necessity to explain the existence of a contingent universe, but that an awareness of God is an essential component of us being able to comprehend our place in that universe? RD: To quote what I say in some of our humorous Life Lessons with a Laugh - exactamundo. VK: So you’re quoting yourself. Sounds like something only a writer would do… RD: Again, exactamundo. Anyway as the eminent theologian RC Sproul used to say, “Ideas have consequences.” The idea that the universe was framed by an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and holy God carried with it the inextricable notion that the universe has been created intentionally and for a purpose. As such the universe would display design and order and the intelligent creatures within that universe – us – could perceive that design and order. VK: And that very concept formed the foundation for what we think of as science today. And that’s why many of the founders of modern science – like Sir Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur were strong Christians. They were convinced that there was design, order, and logic in universe because the universe had been made by a being that was supremely purposeful and logical. As such, they were encouraged to go and discover that order and use the results of it to improve the lives of the people around them. Or said a little differently they were encouraged to go on their own quests to discover more about the creation and thereby appreciate even more the Creator. RD: So all that made perfect sense. If the universe had been created by a God of order, logic, and purpose then creation would be comprehensible. Those early giants of science took seriously the Biblical statement that man had been made in the image of God, so they felt sure that God would bless their efforts at applying themselves to understand what he had created. But one of the tragic effects of the success of their work and the amazing results they achieved is that over time – and now we’re talking about centuries not decades – the work of science became divorced from the original source of the inspiration for them to do the work. Scientists – not all, but a great many – became convinced that it was possible to understand creation while ignoring the Creator. VK: Or said slightly differently, they sought the blessing without regard to the Blesser. So, one of the points you’re making is that somewhere along the journey – the quest – for discovery, a lot of people forgot why the journey was begun in the first place. And that is reflected in our society and culture today. RD: Yes. And Christmas is a great example of that same phenomenon happening in our calendar and celebration of the common understanding that was the foundation of our communities. The word “Christmas” obviously derives from the words “Christ” and “mass.” And one of the big reasons that gift exchanges became a part of the celebration was in commemoration of the great gift that God had given the world in the birth of Jesus. And, of course, the whole reason that God gave us the gift of Jesus was because after the fall in the garden of Eden God had begun his great plan of redemption. So, in a very real way the history of all of mankind gives evidence of God’s plan unfolding in exactly the way God intended. VK: And you believe that even some of the more tragic of the things that we see around us provides evidence for the existence of God and the truth of scripture? RD: Yes. C.S. Lewis noted that one of the things that convinced him to become a Christian was that he couldn’t get over the idea that some things were right and some things were wrong. But then he realized for that idea to make sense – that there’s a difference between right and wrong – he had to have an explanation for where that idea came from. Why did he think that there was a real distinction? Of course, the only logical conclusion was because there was a Being – a God somewhere – who had established the whole moral and ethical scheme to begin with. That’s just as true today as it has ever been. VK: That’s a pretty remarkable idea when you think about it. The very notion that we have ethical sensibilities to begin with is dependent on there being a real difference between right and wrong. And not just a matter of personal convenience like preferring squash to broccoli. When people begin to assert that something is wrong they don’t just mean that they find it inconvenient. They mean that there is a determinable ethical distinction that compels – or should compel – our behavior. And we all know that. Anyone who doesn’t know that there is a difference between right and wrong we would describe as a sociopath. RD: And we would have good reason for doing so. Now in saying this we’re not saying that there is universal agreement on the precise details of what’s right or wrong and different societies at different times have arrived at varying conclusions about the specifics. But there’s never been a society that didn’t make some kind of a distinction regardless of what they did with the specifics. In some cultures the distinctions might have been ones that we would consider trivial – like acceptable dress for women and men. In other they would have been more profound or serious – like the relationship between a government and its people or whether private ownership of property is permitted or prohibited. The rules have varied but every culture, tribe, and nation has had rules of some sort. VK: And pretty much all people everywhere know that they have – at one point or another – violated those rules. Written or unwritten. Government or cultural. Religious or secular. We have an inherent awareness that as moral and ethical agents we have certain obligations that we are subject to. So we see that not only is there a physical order to the physical universe there is also an ethical order that applies to us as people. But without there being a God, a holy and purposive God, we would have no reasonable explanation for the existence either of the obligation or the sense that we need to be accountable the obligation. And that same sense that tells us that we are subject to the obligation tells us that we have all fallen short. RD: Right. We all know that we’re not perfect, but to know that means we know that somewhere there is a standard against which that determination can meaningfully be made. That’s why Jesus had to come and why the Christian claim that Jesus was perfect, was sinless, is so essential. Again, to refer to Sproul again, RC used to say that if he was in a discussion with someone who just refused to acknowledge the existence of God, one of the final questions he would ask such people is what they did with their guilt. VK: And we all have guilt. And some of us feel it far more keenly than others. If we don’t have Jesus, if we don’t know Jesus, then we’re the only ones who can shoulder that guilt. But the moment we understand that the Perfect Man, Jesus, has willingly taken our guilt onto his own shoulders, we can start to become free of that guilt. And that’s one of the keys to beginning and completing our own quests through life. As we talked about a long time ago on Anchored by Truth, understanding the Bible provides context and meaning to our lives. Knowing that God himself made a provision for our imperfection removes the need for us to continue to feel guilty forever. Knowing that Jesus is our savior is the truth that sets us free. RD: And that’s one of the things we really want to focus on as the days unwind toward Christmas. We want to take a close look at how we can be sure that Jesus isn’t a mythological figure, but instead is a real person who was born, walked and lived at a specific place and time, and died. But then he demonstrated that he was God’s atoning gift by walking out of the grave and appearing to a group of women first and then to his disciples. If Jesus wasn’t a real person who did those things we would have absolutely no hope for being justified before a perfectly holy God. A mythological figure, no matter how charming, couldn’t save anyone. But Jesus did and does. So, as we conduct our own quests through life, if we’re pursuing worthwhile ends we can be confident that they aren’t futile. There is a meaning to our individual lives even when those lives are set against the backdrop of an unimaginably grand cosmos. The Bible and Jesus give us that meaning. As Augustine famously said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” VK: Sounds like it’s a great time to have a prayer. Since we’re approaching Thanksgiving how about if today we listen to a prayer for that special day when we turn our attention to the goodness that God has shown to us. ---- Prayer for Thanksgiving – VK: We’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” We hope you’ll be with us next time as we continue our discussion of the reality of Jesus’ life. We hope you’ll take some time to encourage some friends to tune in too, or listen to the podcast version of this show. Also, we’d to remind listeners that copies of The Golden Tree: Komari’s Quest and The Golden Tree: Eagle Enigma are available from our website. If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Bible Quotes from the New Living Translation) Psalm 19, verses 1 through 4, New Living Translation (Sources used for this episode or other in this series) “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine, Confessions https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/media/articles/ourheartisrestlessuntilitrestsinyou/ https://www.proginosko.com/2019/07/reforming-apologetics-common-notions/

    10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know - Part 13 - The Chicken Came First

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2022 30:00


    Episode 185 – 10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know 13 – The Chicken Came First Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: … God made … every kind of bird. God looked at what he had done, and it was good. Then he gave the living creatures his blessing—he told the ocean creatures to increase and … the birds to increase everywhere on earth. Evening came, then morning—that was the fifth day. Genesis, chapter 1, verses 20 through 23, Contemporary English Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very glad to be with you. Today we are going to conclude the series we started several weeks ago on Anchored by Truth. We called this series “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know.” To help us close our series, in the studio today we have RD Fierro, author of a well-known set of Christian allegories called Doors of Destiny and Prodigal’s Advocate. Doors of Destiny is a great way to begin a discussion with family members and friends about their faith and Prodigal’s Advocate is for anyone who is serious about their faith and wants to develop Christian maturity. RD is also the founder of Crystal Sea Books. RD, this “10 Facts Every Christian needs to Know” series has covered 13 episodes. That’s the longest series we have every done on Anchored by Truth. Why did we spend so much time on it? RD: Well, I’d also like to welcome everyone joining us here today and just to remind them that anyone who missed a previous episode in this series can find episodes of Anchored by Truth on their favorite podcast app or our website, crystalseabooks.com. The reason we have been so diligent in working out way through 10 facts every Christian needs to know is simple. There’s a lot of disinformation and misinformation that circulates within our culture today. We are constantly being bombarded with narratives about abortion, marriage, politics, social concerns, financial concerns, etc. It can be overwhelming. But most of the narratives that are jammed at us are what I call secondary narratives. We talk about these secondary narratives but we hardly ever talk about the primary narratives that underscore these secondary narratives. Three of these primary narratives are Deep Time, evolution, and uniformitarianism. VK: Deep time is the idea that the universe is 14 Billion years old and the earth is 4.5 Billion years old. You have said “Deep time is the root of the evolutionary weed.” Evolution needs deep time because without it the whole idea that the random collision of unintelligent atoms and molecules could have produced the biodiversity we see around us – let alone biologists that can study life – is ridiculous. Without deep time evolution dies as an hypothesis even worthy of contemplation. Uniformitarianism is the idea that “the present is the key to the past.” In other words, everything we see going on around us today is the same as what has been occurring during that Deep Time. Geological uniformitarianism explains why the surface of the earth looks the way it does. Biological uniformitarianism explains why living creatures look like they do. But in this series we have pointed out that there are scientific observations that dispute Deep Time. These observations point out that the universe and earth are thousands of years old, not millions or billions of years old. In doing so, these scientific observations are a death knell for the evolutionary and uniformitarian hypotheses. RD: Well said. Most of our attention gets focused on the secondary narratives. But it is important to note that the secondary narratives emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. Primary narratives are the overarching paradigms so embedded in the culture that they are not even noticed any more. As we have said in this series, these primary narratives are like the framed art prints on your wall. Initially you see them and think about them, but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only notice them when a visitor comes in and makes a comment about them. Deep time, evolution, and uniformitarianism - among others - are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. VK: What these primary narratives have done is to displace the need for God. Without the Big Bang/Deep Time narrative we would all look to God as the creator of the physical universe. Without evolution we would all look to God as the creator of life. And without uniformitarianism we would all look to God as being necessary to sustain the operation of the created order. We wouldn’t think creation was some kind of self-sustaining animatronic that just keep going because that’s always the way it has been. So, the net result of these primary narratives has been to displace the common sense notion that God is necessary to explain our universe, our world, and our own existence. And of course, once these narratives do away with the need for God they have also done away with trust in the Bible as being God’s word. RD: So, in the first five facts we discussed we pointed out – just scratched the surface really – a few of the empirical observations that point out that these primary narratives have major problems that are rarely acknowledged. And in the next four facts we moved on to demonstrating that there is evidence not only in the physical creation but also in human history, language, and geography that confirm that the book of Genesis is reliable. Then, the 10th fact every Christian needs to know to ensure that they can be secure in their confidence in the Bible is this: while the secular world has doubts about the historicity of the book of Genesis, the book of Genesis has never been disproven and indeed it cannot be disproven. Conversely, while the Big Bang Theory and Deep Time, the evolutionary hypothesis, and the uniformitarian hypothesis are widely accepted they have never been proven to be true, and indeed, they cannot be proven to be true. VK: And today you said you wanted to move on to another observation that you believe helps put the big picture into perspective. And you said you wanted to call this episode of Anchored by Truth “The Chicken Came First.” That’s a pretty strange title isn’t it? RD: Well, actually I wanted to call this episode “The Chicken Came First, Silly,” but you objected to me using “Silly.” VK: Yes. I did. The title “The Chicken Came First” is pretty … strange all by itself. RD: Maybe. At any rate, the final observation I wanted to make to conclude this series is something my wife pointed out to me on a walk not too long ago. She pointed out that a lot of people don’t understand the fact that when God made the physical creation and life that He created everything in a mature state. That uncertainty or ambiguity is illustrated pretty well by the old question: “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” That question is supposed to be a sort-of philosophical puzzle. You can’t have a chicken without first having an egg. But of course you can’t have an egg without first having a chicken. But for people who are familiar with the Bible it’s not a puzzle at all. God created everything to be fully functional from the moment He brought it into existence. So, the answer is simple. The chicken came first. Or speaking specifically, the first chicken kind came first. VK: But the Bible says that on day one after God created the heavens and earth that the “earth was formless and empty [and] darkness was over the surface of the deep …” That doesn’t sound like the earth was necessarily functional at that point. RD: Well, it might be better to say that God initially formed the matter and energy that comprised the heavens and earth. Then, He immediately began conforming the earth so that it would be fully functional to perform its intended purpose – to support living creature including man who would be the pinnacle of God’s living creatures. Let’s not forget that the Bible no sooner tells us that darkness was over the surface of the deep that the Bible tells us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Said a little differently, right from the beginning God set about conforming the earth for man. On that day one God made light and brought the day/night cycle into existence. VK: And then on the next five days God began bringing about further changes that would be necessary to make man’s existence on the earth possible. On day two God created waters on the surface of the earth and separated them from those that would make the atmosphere suitable as a protective and supportive covering. On day three God made dry land and brought forth the first vegetation. On day four He made the sun, moon, and stars to give definition to the cycles of time He was planning. Then on day five God populated the sea and skies with living creatures. We heard about part of that in our opening scripture. But I think I see what you are getting at. At each stage when God finished that step in the creation process the product of that step was ready to go. When God created the fish they were ready to swim. When God created the birds they were ready to fly. And both the fish and the birds already had plants available for nutrition and a sun and moon by which to know when it was time to move and when it was time to rest. That’s what you mean when you say “the chicken came first.” RD: Exactly. And just to finish the thought both the fish and the birds were immediately able to reproduce. Remember God told both the creatures in the sea and the creatures that were to inhabit the sky to begin increasing. And God pronounced the creatures He had created “good” which would mean they must have had the capacity to reproduce. This in turn answers another question that is a real problem for the evolutionary hypothesis – the origin of biological sexes. VK: What you’re saying is that the evolutionary hypothesis has no real answer of how a gradual, mutational process can produce two different genders both of which are necessary for the continuation of the species. After all there living species on the earth that reproduce asexually. Asexual reproduction is a mode of reproduction that involves the offspring being produced by a single parent rather than two. RD: The supposed evolutionary answer to why there are a great many species on the earth that require two different, but compatible genders, for reproduction usually attempt to explain how the operation of sexual reproduction is beneficial to the species. But explaining the benefits of the operation of something is quite different from explaining the origin of it. The origin and maintenance of two different genders, the sex process, and recombination of compatible components of separate cells is not easily explained by natural selection. Evolutionary biology hasn’t discovered why animals would abandon asexual reproduction in favor of more costly and inefficient sexual reproduction. In sexual reproduction not only must each gender must possess its own unique physiology to make the process work but the physiologies must match each other. VK: After all, if there is one thing that is certain, it is that malfunctions or mistakes in reproduction are pretty much guaranteed to eliminate a species. Thinking about what would have to have happened for gender to arise without design or planning pretty much boggles the mind. Random mutations would have to have produced two biologically complementary entities that were both formed at the right time and right location. Those two entities would have to find each other – just in time – and know what to do. Then the cells from each would have to be able to combine in such a way that they would create an entity similar to their parents but also possess a new ability. And if anything goes wrong along the way the existence of that species either goes away or at best this new found regenerative function disappears and the earlier asexual process continues. As I said, the likelihood that all that occurs from random mutational changes boggles the mind. RD: Yes. And you’re only speaking about what we might term the level of gross morphology. Biological life doesn’t begin with morphology and structural function. It starts at the biomolecular level. Living creatures are similar to computers in many ways. We, they, don’t just have hardware. We have software – our programming that’s contained in our DNA. And, of course, the hardware and software don’t work if there’s not a reliable source of energy that is available in just the right forms and amounts to allow all of the components to work together. And sexual reproduction is just one example of biological systems that must be complete at the point of origin or they are no good to anyone or anything. VK: Even Charles Darwin admitted in a letter to American botanist Asa Gray in 1860 that "The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder … .” Darwin knew that eyes don’t function without a lot of moving parts all of which must operate together. There has to be a clear outer covering that holds all the parts together but admits the light. There’s a pupil that opens and closes to control the amount of light that enters and a lens that focuses the light. And there have to be a set of pretty finely tuned muscles and ligaments that will allow the eye to have motion within a socket that was specially prepared to hold all the parts. There has to be a receptor pad to receive the photon and generate a chemical signal to be sent to the brain. But that signal doesn’t do any good without an optic nerve to carry it and a part of the brain that has been configured to generate an image. And none of that does any good if the creature doesn’t know what the images mean about its surroundings. When you think about all that it’s pretty amazing that anyone thinks that all that arose by chance. RD: Yes. And, again, you’re only speaking about the gross morphology. There are dozens of chemical changes taking place at the molecular level that permit all the various functions to occur. When speculating about how eyes could have developed gradually I’ve heard some evolutionists speculate on “light sensitive spots” that became dimples in the skin and were gradually covered by a thin membrane and so forth. But all of that misses the point. Even to have a “light sensitive spot” would have required dozens of biochemical mutations to have occurred simultaneously. And even the evolutionists will admit that half an eye or three-quarters of an ear doesn’t do the creature any good. Biological systems must function all together or they don’t function at all. VK: So, back to the chicken and the egg. The reason that it’s not a problem for Biblical creationism is because the Bible straightforwardly tells us that God completed a complete creature to start with. The fish in the sea were ready to survive in their environment. The birds were immediately capable of flight. They were immediately able to launch, land, maneuver in flight, and avoid trees. They were also able to lay eggs and they had been programmed with DNA that told them what they needed to do to get those eggs to hatch. The first birds to hatch from eggs had to go through a maturation process but their parents didn’t. RD: And that’s why, in a simple but powerful way, the Biblical explanation is superior to the evolutionary hypothesis. The Bible explains the puzzle of the complete functionality that must be present for biological systems to work at all. And all evolution can ever provide are pieces and parts that are somehow useless today, but will one day turn into something like an eye, a circulatory system, a flight feather, or the avian lung. VK: One of the biggest challenges to the idea that dinosaurs turned into birds is that the breathing systems of dinosaurs are completely different from those of birds. Dinosaur lungs work like ours do. They are a sort of bellows where air goes in and out of the same opening and through a series of branching tubes that finally terminate in tiny air sacs. But the breathing system of birds is completely different. In birds the major air passages break down into tiny tubes which permeate the lung tissue that are called parabronchi [PAIR-AH-BRON-KAI]. These parabronchi eventually join up together again so the air only flows in one direction through the bird lungs. Birds are vertebrates because they have a spine but their lungs are unique among the vertebrate world. It’s hard to see how this system could have developed gradually because if an animal can’t breathe that animal is not going to survive very long. And a respiratory system going through a change isn’t going to work very well if it’s only halfway through the change. RD: Simply put, biological systems don’t work unless they are complete. Now the system may be simple or complex compared to another biological system but biological systems are all enormously complicated when compared to any non-living system. The simplest bacterial cell without a nucleus contains 100 Billion atoms and they are all organized with exquisite precision into a flotilla of protein machines each performing its own specialized function. If one part goes missing the bacteria dies. Same thing with higher order animals. Eyes only work if the entire system is present. Hearts are no good without complicated networks of blood vessels. Birds don’t fly without the feathers that allow them to generate lift, the muscles to move the wings, the brain to make minute adjustments at a speed no human could manage, and lungs that keep air flowing continuously. But evolution is supposed to work with no mind or design. And the problem is that when pressed on how random mutation could produce evolutionists must resort to speculation and guess. They can never say for sure how a complex biological system came into being so that it functioned immediately. VK: Here’s how Dr. Colin Patterson, the senior paleontologist at the British Natural History Museum described his realization that the evolutionary hypothesis was speculation, not settled science. “… I had a sudden realization. For over twenty years I had thought I was working on evolution in some way. One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night; and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That’s quite a shock, to learn one can be misled for so long … So, for the last few weeks I’ve tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people … Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, any one thing that is true? … All I got was silence.” RD: The chicken and egg question points out something very significant. Eggs will turn into chickens when they are kept in the proper environment but only because they have been programmed to do so. And at each stage of development the developing chicken is still functional at that stage. The system is changing but functioning at every step throughout the transformation. But evolution as a process, by its own rules, is never going to be allowed to know that function is necessary for life – much less the brilliant complete complexity that is present in all living creatures. Evolution holds to the core idea that random, undirected, purposeless atoms collided chaotically and somehow produced protein machines that populate and power each cell. But these purposeless atoms didn’t just produce the protein machinery they went on to organize those machines into a cooperative collective that is more sophisticated than the factory that builds passenger airplanes. VK: So, the chicken and the egg points out what Michael Denton who wrote Evolution: A Theory in Crisis the “puzzle of perfection.” Living systems must be complete to live at all. Living systems cannot operate with half formed hearts or bits and pieces that may one day become a lung if that mutation survives another five hundred generations. Christians are sometimes criticized as inserting “God in the gaps.” The criticism is that when Christians cannot explain all the intricacies of how a particular thing happened we insert God into that gap. But as we pointed out in our last episode when the math for the Big Bang doesn’t work out secular physicists insert Dark Matter into the gap to explain the need for more gravitation. When evolutionary biologists can’t explain how a permeable cell membrane enclosed a DNA molecule that just happened to be close by enough other protein machinery to make the first cell they say “well, we don’t how it happened but we know evolution was responsible.” So, physicists and biologists insert Dark Matter, evolution, and Deep Time into their gap and then tell us that is what science demands. RD: Charles Darwin speculated about his now famous “warm little pond” where life must have first emerged. Now some scientists tell us that it wasn’t a warm pond but a deep ocean vent. For Darwin and the others warm ponds and deep ocean vents are like Star Trek replicators that magically convert energy and matter into living molecules that can proceed on their own to craft ever more complicated and sophisticated living creatures. VK: Warm little ponds are Star Trek replicators – really? RD: Yes. The idea that undirected, inanimate matter can produce the specified and irreducible complexity of living creatures is like believing a chimpanzee can bang rocks together and produce the space shuttle. There’s a famous story of a woman challenging a evolutionist who was giving a lecture on how evolution works. The woman asked how a single cell could ever turn into a human being. The evolutionist responded, “You did it yourself madam, in nine months.” The evolutionist thought he was being clever but he actually eviscerated his own thesis. A fertilized human ovum grows into a human being because it contains the programming that tells it what to do and guides its growth at every step of the process. Furthermore that developing human must be protected within the mother’s womb and supported by the mother’s body until it is able to function on its own. Any failures along the way and life doesn’t continue. Far from pointing out how evolution could have produced a human from a single ancestral cell the evolutionist pointed out that life would be impossible if it were not designed, protected, and sustained until it can function independently. The chicken had to come first – and it did – because an omnipotent, omniscient, purposeful God sovereignly decided to make it. And He didn’t need any help from warm ponds, deep ocean vents, or Star Trek replicators. VK: The point of this series and today’s discussion is to help Christians begin to grapple with the narratives that circulate so widely today. As we said in the first episode in this series Christianity is a faith of facts. The culture tells us that the universe sprang into being from nothingness and then life arose without the benefit of direction or intelligence. Those assertions are refuted by facts and logic. But that truth won’t do any Christian any good if they don’t take the time to arm themselves with the facts and learn how to apply those facts to sort out the barrage of false claims that are directed against their faith. To close, since Veterans Day is right around the corner today let’s listen to a prayer for the veterans of our armed forces whose sacrifice built and preserved this nation for almost 250 years. ---- PRAYER FOR VETERANS DAY VK: Before we close we’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes in this series or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the Contemporary English Version ) Genesis, chapter 1, verses 20 through 23, Contemporary English Version Dark matter in trouble again - creation.com Stars don’t form naturally - creation.com Satan’s Strategy • Cast doubt on God’s goodness • Deny God’s truth • Elevate self-importance • Establish a replacement in the mind and heart for God’s truth Cultural Narratives One way to look at narratives is that there are primary and secondary narratives that circulate in our culture. The primary narratives are so embedded in our culture that they are not even noticed any more. They are like the framed prints on your wall. Initially you see them but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only know they are there when a visitor comes in and remarks about them. Deep time, evolution, uniformitarianism, and the equality of all religious viewpoints are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. The narratives we notice (such as the prominent social and political narratives) are secondary ones - the acceptability of abortion, same sex marriage, the difference between "green" energy and fossil fuels, "public" education, increased government control and regulation, etc. The secondary ones emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. • The Big Bang/deep time does away with the need for God as Creator. • Evolution does away with the need for God as the Author of life. • Uniformitarianism does away God as the Administrator of justice (become evil continually and God will wipe you off the face of the earth). Since we've done away with God we now create our own standards for what constitutes "personhood," family, man's dominion over the earth, etc. The problem is, of course, we didn't do away with God or His truth. And the house built on intellectual sand falls when the river of reality hits it. So, we will proclaim the truth to try to save some and maybe by God's grace many or most. People who doubt the inerrancy of scripture never think about any of this but they should. The line from that which they doubt the Word to a life they don't want to live is very straight. The line grows even more straight as it uncoils - just like the hangman's rope.

    10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know - Part 12 - Genesis Withstands the Doubts

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2022 30:00


    Episode 184 – 10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know 12 – Genesis Withstands the Doubts Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 37 through 39, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very glad to be with you today as we continue the series we started several weeks ago on Anchored by Truth. We are calling this series “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know.” In the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. Today we are going to cover the last – the 10th of the 10 facts that we are discussing during this series. RD, we have typically been doing a short review of where we are in the series before we start of the new fact. But you said that today you wanted to just jump right into fact 10 because we have so much material to cover. RD: Well, I’d like to start by also saying hi to the listeners joining us here today but – yes – today I just wanted to get right into our discussion. Listeners who want to hear the discussion about any of the first 9 facts episodes of this series can find the episode where we discussed them on their favorite podcast app or from our website: crystalseabooks.com. VK: So, what is the 10th fact that every Christian needs to know? RD: The 10th fact every Christian needs to know to ensure that they can be secure in their confidence in the Bible is this: while the secular world has doubts about the historicity of the book of Genesis, the book of Genesis has never been disproven and indeed it cannot be disproven. Conversely, while the Big Bang Theory and Deep Time, the evolutionary hypothesis, and the uniformitarian hypothesis are widely accepted they have never been proven to be true, and indeed, they cannot be proven to be true. VK: Wow. Those are seemingly remarkable statements. Yet, you are saying those are facts. So, just to be sure that we’re being clear I want to restate our 10th fact. The secular world may have doubts about the historicity of the book of Genesis, but the book of Genesis has never been disproven - and indeed - it cannot be disproven. Conversely, while the Big Bang Theory and Deep Time, the evolutionary hypothesis, and the uniformitarian hypothesis are widely accepted they have never been proven to be true - and indeed - they cannot be proven to be true. I think that you’re right that we do need to get straight into the discussion. Where do we begin? RD: Well, let’s focus on the first part of our fact first. It’s sad to say but we cannot avoid noting that there are widespread doubts today about the historicity of the book of Genesis – not just by unbelievers but also by some Christians. That’s sad but it’s true. Many Christians have felt the need to surrender their belief in the Bible’s record of 6 literal days of creation that occurred just over 6,000 years ago. These Christians have been so bombarded by the narratives that circulate in our culture, especially our educational institutions, that the universe and earth are billions of years old that they have tried to reach an accommodation with those ideas. So, a number of seemingly acceptable alternative ways of interpreting Genesis such as the Day-Age theory or the Gap theory. VK: The “Day-Age” idea is that the creative days described in chapter 1 of Genesis are not normal 24-hour days but rather simply creative periods of an indeterminate length. The Day-Age theory argues that the Hebrew word translated as “day” in Genesis, chapter 1, can simply mean a long period rather a regular day. They sometimes appeal to passages like 2 Peter, chapter 3, verse 8 which says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” That’s the New International Version. RD: Yes. But as we pointed out in our Truth in Genesis series the Day-Age theory is not consistent with the ordinary rules of interpretation of the Hebrew words and grammar which clearly point to that part of scripture as being history and not some sort of poetic construction. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati who was our guest in that series makes that point very clearly in his Genesis commentary The Genesis Account. VK: And the “Gap theory” postulates that there was somehow a long gap between verse 1 of chapter 1 of Genesis and verse 2 of chapter 1. Gap theorists believe that during this gap millions or billions of years of uniformitarian development and evolution occurred in the universe and on earth. They further believe that from verse 2 onward Genesis describes the recreation of the earth to restore it from a great war that occurred between the followers of Satan and God’s forces. This war devastated the original creation and therefore God had to repair the damage. Both the Day-Age theory and the Gap theory are attempts by Christian interpreters to harmonize the supposed billions of years conventional science says happened and the seemingly incongruous record of the 6 days of creation found in Genesis. RD: But the truth is that there is no need for Christians to adopt strategies such as the Day-Age theory or the Gap theory. There is abundant scientific evidence that supports the accuracy of the 6 day creation account of Genesis as well as other events described by Genesis such as a worldwide flood. VK: And we have covered some of that evidence in this series because we want people to begin to realize that they do not have to surrender their belief in Biblical inspiration and infallibility yet also trust science – real science that is. RD: Exactly. Real science casts considerable doubt on the alternatives that are postulated to the history contained in Genesis – and that’s what we want to focus on with this 10th fact. The secular world has come to doubt Genesis largely because of the idea of uniformitarianism that was popularized by Charles Lyell and the biological extension of uniformitarianism, evolution, which was popularized by Charles Darwin. Neither Lyell nor Darwin were the originators of the ideas with which their names are now prominently associated but they did write books that brought their ideas into widespread public consciousness. Lyell wrote Principles of Geology in the early 1830’s and Darwin wrote On the Origin of the Species in 1859. Over time these books and the ideas contained in them continued to gain a greater foothold in western thought. That foothold has progressed to such an extent that today their ideas are taught in virtually every educational classroom and textbook in much of the developed world. VK: And it is largely owing to the spread of the ideas of geological uniformitarianism and biological evolution that many Christians have felt compelled to try and find a way to keep one foot in so-called science and the other foot in believing in the Bible. But this attempt has never achieved the desired aim. Christians hoped to preserve the Bible’s acceptability by seemingly finding within its text reasons that the Genesis creation account was consistent with the alleged spread of a science that demanded billions of years. But that never happened did it? RD: No. Starting in the latter part of the 19th century Christians began trying to embrace what was a blatant contradiction in their belief system – a manufactured harmony between deep time and the 6 creative days of Genesis. But the only thing since they began the attempt is that the Bible has seen its influence on society consistently shrink. Lyell’s and Darwin’s ideas require billions of years of Deep Time in which to accomplish their work. We need hundreds of millions of years for a trickle of water to turn a rut into the Grand Canyon. And the hope is that with billions of years the random collision of inanimate hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms could turn into heroes, warriors, and champions. But, of course, the idea the earth and universe have been around for billions of years is in direct conflict with what we learn from Genesis. So, many Christians surrendered the truth of Genesis and placed their trust in human pronouncements. This has had a predicable effect. Rather than those Christians influencing the culture the culture influenced their faith. In the process both were compromised. VK: The truly tragic thing is that there was no need for Christians to make this accommodation. Ironically, as real science has progressed we have seen more and more empirical observations that actually affirm the historicity of the book of Genesis. For instance in Darwin’s day there had been no discoveries of soft dinosaur tissue that was so well preserved that red blood cells were still identifiable as such under a microscope. That happened in the 1990’s. In Lyell’s day geologists began to think that enormous river valleys such as the Grand Canyon were the result of erosion that occurred over millions of years. But in the 1920’s an American geologist, J. Harlan Bretz, became convinced that many of these river valleys weren’t due to erosion but were created by truly epic floods. Bretz proposed that the river valleys of eastern Washington were caused by such floods. When he first proposed his idea in the 1920’s he was met with widespread disbelief. Yet acceptance of the truth of Bretz’s observations is so widespread today that, at the age of 97, Bretz was awarded the Geological Society of America’s highest honor. Said differently, disbelief was transformed into belief. RD: Yes. And in the case of the book of Genesis widespread belief in its truth in the early part of the 19th century was gradually transformed into widespread disbelief by the latter half of the 20th century. A great many Christians came to, and are still under, the mistaken impression that the book of Genesis has either been disproven or at least that we cannot accept it as literal history. They thought and think that Deep Time, uniformitarianism, evolution, the Big Bang, etc. had rendered Genesis a sort of poetic origins story at best or outright wrong at worst. In any case they came to believe that the creation account of Genesis was irrelevant to the weightier matters of their faith like sin, salvation, and eschatology. But the book of Genesis was never disproven and, in fact, it cannot be disproven. VK: Why not? RD: Well, the biggest reason it can’t be disproven is because it’s true. VK: Touché. But I think we’re going to need more than that. RD: Well, also because you can neither prove nor disprove particular explanations for events of the distant past. All anyone can do with respect to events of the distant past is to look at the evidence that is currently available and then provide an explanation for why that evidence appears the way it does. This will always fall short of a complete “proof” because there will always be a second, third, or more possible explanation for that evidence. But in saying this we are not saying that some explanations may not be more reasonable than others. Some explanations certainly can be more reasonable than others. And that is what we have pointing out throughout this series. This 10th fact helps summarize what we have learned in this series. VK: So, the secular world may doubt the historicity of Genesis but doubt is not disproof. Doubt is just that. Doubt is a subjective opinion about the truth of a particular proposition but doubt does not prove anything. Nor does the doubt of a collective body of people prove anything. When J. Harlan Bretz first proposed his idea that the river valleys of eastern Washington were carved by monstrous floods his idea was widely doubted. But over time as more evidence came to light his idea gained widespread acceptance. The initial doubt did not mean Bretz was not correct. Today, most geologists believe Bretz is correct. But widespread acceptance does not automatically mean that Bretz is correct either. It simply means more people simply believe his explanation than the alternative. RD: Exactly. So, let’s reinforce that idea by turning to the second part of our 10th fact. VK: The second part of our 10th fact is that while the Big Bang Theory and Deep Time, the evolutionary hypothesis, and the uniformitarian hypothesis are widely accepted they have never been proven to be true - and indeed - they cannot be proven to be true. RD: Right. Today the most widely accepted theory of how the universe came into existence is the Big Bang theory – the idea that at one time all the matter and energy of the universe were present in a singularity that exploded one day and began a formation process that resulted in our current universe. This idea is so prevalent that many people, including many Christians, believe that it must have been proven to be true. But that is not the case at all. Again, in part because the only thing any current observer can do is to look at current evidence and try to provide an explanation for that evidence. And there is evidence that is helpful to the idea of a primordial Big Bang such as the expansion of the galaxies and the presence of universal cosmic background radiation. VK: Observations of the universe indicate that the galaxies are not simply in a static holding pattern. Instead they seem to be moving outward as if they were moving away from a central point of origin. Moreover, scientists have now detected what is sometimes called a background microwave radiation “echo” that seems to come from the entire universe. This echo was first thought to be malfunctioning instruments but it has now been verified so some scientists see it as the radiation that must have come from a giant fireball or explosion in the past – hence the term “Big Bang.” RD: And there are other lines of evidence that proponents of the Big Bang point to. And you hear affirmations about the theory so much it seems that it must almost have been proven to explain the origin of the universe. Yet, very few people focus on the fact that the Big Bang theory is far from having proven to be true. There are lots of scientific observations that do not support the Big Bang hypothesis such as the need for so-called Dark Energy and Dark Matter. VK: According to Wikipedia “Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe. Dark matter is called "dark" because it does not appear to interact with the electromagnetic field, which means it does not absorb, reflect, or emit electromagnetic radiation like light and is, therefore, difficult to detect. Various astrophysical observations – including gravitational effects which cannot be explained by currently accepted theories of gravity unless more matter is present than can be seen – imply dark matter's presence. For this reason, most experts think that dark matter is abundant in the universe and has had a strong influence on its structure and evolution.” RD: Simply put, the Big Bang cosmological model needs dark matter to work. Without dark matter there is not sufficient gravitational pressure to cause stars to form with the known laws of physics. And it goes without saying that without stars the universe does not contain galaxies, planets, and ultimately life. But physicists have been looking for some way to confirm the existence of dark matter for decades and have come up empty. Dark matter is neither seen nor detected yet – as the Wikipedia article stated - it supposed to make up to 85% of the material of the universe. Dark matter is also needed to solve other puzzles that astrophysicists know about. But some scientists are starting to acknowledge the elephant in the room. A theoretical physicist Mordehai Milgrom has proposed an alternative to dark matter, called Modified Newtonian Dynamics (or MOND) wherein he slightly changes the law of gravitation on the very large-scale of galaxies to solve the problem of galaxy rotation curves and dynamics of galaxies on larger scales. VK: According to a 2014 New Scientist article1 Milgrom was asked by reporter Marcus Chown: “Why is now a good time to take an alternative to dark matter seriously?” Milgrom replied: “A host of experiments searching for dark matter, including the Large Hadron Collider, many underground experiments and several space missions, have failed to see anything convincing. This comes on top of increasing realization that the leading dark matter model has its failings. Among other things, it predicts that we should see many more dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way than we actually do.” RD: There are a great many problems with the Big Bang theory but that does not mean it is not widely accepted. It is. But the Big Bang theory, like all theories that depend on deep time are based on assumptions that are unproven and unprovable. They all require the user to make assumptions about the initial conditions of the universe or matter, a consistency of processes for indeterminate time periods, an absence of intervening external factors, etc. Yet none of these assumptions can be proven. And all of these explanations to Biblical creationism are necessary because of an unwillingness to simply acknowledge the presence of God and the truth of the Bible. VK: And some scientists have become willing to admit that they do so. Harvard evolutionary biologist and geneticist Richard Lewontin wrote: “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failures to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” But some people might say that this is just a case of “he said, she said.” RD: They can certainly say that but as we have pointed out throughout this “10 facts every Christian needs to know series” there are not only problems with the widely accepted explanations of secular scientists there is affirmative evidence supporting Biblical creation – supporting the Bible’s record that the earth and universe are thousands of years old, that God intelligently used the matter He created to create living creatures, and that the events of Genesis still reveal their presence in language, geography, geology, etc. So, it’s not just a matter of “he said, she said.” One side brought not only their claims but also pictures, recordings, forensic evidence, supporting eye witness testimony, and rigorous analysis that did not suffer from the need to keep creating, as Dr. Lewontin put it, ”just-so stories.” VK: In other words, the Biblical explanation makes better sense about a lot of things. It makes better sense about how the sun makes the amount energy the earth needs to sustain life, how the earth-moon operate together to create the conditions for life, and why marine fossils are found on the highest mountains on earth. The Biblical explanation makes better sense the number and type of languages we see in existence today, the number of people we see around the world, and why regions, towns, and rivers are called by certain names. Yet, despite this, it is fair to say that doubts about the Bible remain. RD: Yes. And that’s why I chose the opening scripture I did. Jesus told us that in Noah’s day people were pretending that everything was okay, but it wasn’t. It will be that way when He comes back. The doubts are not proof of anything and despite the repeated attacks against it the Bible remains defiant. The Bible displays the two characteristics that any book claiming to be the word of God would have to meet. It is consistent with what we know about the history of the earth and universe and human history and it displays evidence of supernatural origin. These attributes are demonstrated by the 10 facts that we have covered in this series and, of course, thousands or hundreds of thousands of others. We’re not suggesting that we expect the narratives that have been gaining force and acceptance for over 150 years are going to be set aside overnight. But we do think that it is high time for Christians to arm themselves with the facts that will enable them to sustain their own faith and effectively pass it along to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. VK: The point of this series and today’s discussion is to help Christians guard against the narratives that circulate so widely today. One of those narratives is that the Bible cannot be trusted. So, to push that narrative the critics must cast doubt on the reliability and authenticity of scripture. But reality pushes back on the claim that the Bible can’t be trusted. The evolutionary, uniformitarian, and deep time explanations that are offered all come with significant problems. Moses wrote Genesis 3,500 years ago. Humanly speaking, he could not have known what the population of the earth would be in 2022, what languages would be spoken, or how the names of Noah’s grandsons would continue to be found in the names of rivers, cities, regions, and cultures. He didn’t know the moon was slowly moving away from the earth or how fast carbon-14 would radioactively decay. He didn’t know there were mollusk fossils on Mt. Everest. But God did. Moses just recorded the history God gave to him. He did so faithfully and accurately and we see the fidelity of his account all around us today. To close, for today let’s listen to a prayer of corporate confession. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations and we should confess that regularly. But we must always combine our confession with the gratitude that he tells us in 1 John that even as we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive those sins. Truly we serve a gracious as well as a mighty God. ---- PRAYER OF CORPORATE CONFESSION VK: Before we close we’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes in this series or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the New International Version ) The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 24, verses 37 through 39, New International Version Dark matter in trouble again - creation.com Stars don’t form naturally - creation.com Satan’s Strategy • Cast doubt on God’s goodness • Deny God’s truth • Elevate self-importance • Establish a replacement in the mind and heart for God’s truth Cultural Narratives One way to look at narratives is that there are primary and secondary narratives that circulate in our culture. The primary narratives are so embedded in our culture that they are not even noticed any more. They are like the framed prints on your wall. Initially you see them but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only know they are there when a visitor comes in and remarks about them. Deep time, evolution, uniformitarianism, and the equality of all religious viewpoints are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. The narratives we notice (such as the prominent social and political narratives) are secondary ones - the acceptability of abortion, same sex marriage, the difference between "green" energy and fossil fuels, "public" education, increased government control and regulation, etc. The secondary ones emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. • The Big Bang/deep time does away with the need for God as Creator. • Evolution does away with the need for God as the Author of life. • Uniformitarianism does away God as the Administrator of justice (become evil continually and God will wipe you off the face of the earth). Since we've done away with God we now create our own standards for what constitutes "personhood," family, man's dominion over the earth, etc. The problem is, of course, we didn't do away with God or His truth. And the house built on intellectual sand falls when the river of reality hits it. So, we will proclaim the truth to try to save some and maybe by God's grace many or most. People who doubt the inerrancy of scripture never think about any of this but they should. The line from that which they doubt the Word to a life they don't want to live is very straight. The line grows even more straight as it uncoils - just like the hangman's rope.

    10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know - Part 11 - Babel Then and Now

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2022 30:00


    Episode 183 – 10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know 11 – Babel Then and Now Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, … now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, ... Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. Genesis, chapter 11, verses 6 through 9, New King James Bible ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very glad to be with you today as we continue the series we started several weeks ago on Anchored by Truth. We are calling this series “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know.” In the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. Today we are going to cover the 9th of the 10 facts that we are discussing during this series. For any listeners who want to hear the discussion about any of the first 8 facts episodes of Anchored by Truth are all available on their favorite podcast app or from our website crystalseabooks.com. RD, can you give us a brief overview of what we have covered in this series to this point. RD: Well, I’d like to start by also saying hi to the listeners joining us here today and thanking everyone for their interest. As you just mentioned this series is all about giving listeners a solid factual foundation for being assured the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. People need that today because so many of the narratives that circulate in our culture today not only don’t acknowledge the Bible as the word of God but they actively promote the fallacious notion that science, archeology, and history “disprove” the reliability of scripture. This notion is countered by the facts but frankly those facts won’t do anyone any good if they are not aware of them. In this series we want to highlight some those facts. So, the first 5 facts we covered demonstrated that the popular narratives of Deep Time, evolution, and uniformitarianism don’t possess nearly the quality of scientific support that they are normally assumed to possess. In short, these narratives aren’t trustworthy as a basis for forming a coherent worldview yet these narratives are often used as the basis for doing away with the need for God to explain the physical universe and life. Now, with fact number 6 we moved on to beginning our demonstration that the foundational book of the Bible, Genesis, is, in fact, a trustworthy foundation for our understanding of the universe, life, and human history. And that’s the theme we are continuing as we move through these last 5 of the 10 facts. We are showing that the most disputed book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, is a reliable record notwithstanding the many attacks that are hurled against it. VK: So, thus far, we saw from fact 6 that the available evidence demonstrates that Moses was the author of Genesis and the other 4 books of the Pentateuch – the name given to the first five books of the Bible. Why is it important that we know that Moses wrote Genesis? RD: Because it helps us date when Genesis was written. The traditional date assigned to Moses writing the Pentateuch is in the 15th century B.C. Many scholars place the composition starting around 1445 or 1446 BC which is the so-called “early date” for the start of the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt. But even the scholars like the supposed “late date” for the exodus would place the composition of the Pentateuch in the 13th century BC. VK: In other words Genesis and the other books of the Pentateuch were written about 3,500 years ago. So, it is a reasonable question to ask whether we have evidence from those 3,500 years of human history that we can point to as validating the record that Moses gave us. RD: And the answer to the question is a decided “yes.” So, we began our demonstration of the fact that the events described in the book of Genesis have left their imprint on today’s world with facts 7 and 8. Fact 7 was that there is not only geological and paleontological evidence the flood of Noah occurred as described by the Bible (which we covered with fact number 3) but also that there is geographic, historical, and linguistic evidence of the reliability of the text. Said slightly differently, there is considerable evidence that the names of Noah’s grandsons have been preserved in remarkable ways on at least 3 different continents – in the names of cities, regions, rivers, tribal names, and in languages. Fact 8 that every Christian needs to know is that the Biblical time periods and population sizes are far more reasonable when it comes to explaining the current size of the world’s human population than the alternatives that are commonly believed. We pointed out that to go from 3 reproducing couples to 7 to 8 Billion people in a period of 4,500 years you don’t need an outlandish population growth rate – one-half of one-percent a year will do it. VK: So, with facts 7 and 8 we can see that we can still see evidence all around us of the truth of the book of Genesis. You do need to know where to look but it’s not all that hard. And Genesis fits the world as we know it far better than the evolutionary and Deep Time alternatives. Last time we pointed out that if humans had been around for a million years, as the evolutionary hypothesis would have us believe, the current population of the earth is far smaller than would be expected. To explain this discrepancy those who support the evolutionary hypothesis say that famine, disease, plague, etc. simply kept the earth’s population greatly suppressed for most of our history. But this would mean the human population of the earth was literally on the brink of extinction for 99.9% of the time of its existence. That seems to be at odds with the idea that we are the “fittest” creature on the earth when it comes to survival. If we were so “fit” we should have been reproducing a lot more. RD: Yes. Genetic researchers have found by comparing DNA from different humans around the world that humans share roughly 99.9% of their genetic material. In other words humans, no matter where they live on the earth, are almost completely identical, genetically. Geneticists tell us that human beings exhibit very little polymorphism, or variation. VK: Polymorphism, as related to genomics, refers to the presence of two or more variant forms of a specific DNA sequence that can occur among different individuals or populations. Simply put, the absence of polymorphism means that a given cohort of living creatures displays very little difference genetically. Species that have existed for hundreds of thousands or millions of years would be expected to show some amount of polymorphism because mutation in individuals would gradually lead to perceivable differentiation. But studies of humans don’t show this. RD: The lack of a significant amount of polymorphism is consistent with a recent human origin. It is also consistent with a global flood where everyone on earth except for one family died. Evolutionary models of origins would not predict such low human genetic diversity. Mutations should have produced much more diversity than 0.1% over millions of years. Again, this means that pretty much the entire population of humans on the earth provides testimony to the accuracy of the first several chapters of Genesis. VK: Let’s remember that Moses wrote Genesis about 1400 years before Jesus lived. He would have had very little knowledge of civilizations and peoples outside of Egypt and Palestine. Yet far away from where he was writing people were living and developing in exactly the way we would expect if the account he was writing was true. We still see that today. The size of the earth’s population is consistent with a significant bottleneck that occurred about 4,500 years ago. Moreover, the names of nations, rivers, and even languages give testimony to the first generations that emerged from the ark after the flood waters receded. The lack of genetic diversity among human beings today testifies to a common ancestor. And as we have covered on other Anchored by Truth shows even the bit of DNA contained in human mitochondria gives evidence that people today can trace their ancestry back to 3 female ancestors. RD: So, we can demonstrate that Moses gave us an accurate record of the creation of the earth – and its subsequent destruction by a global flood – by taking a look at the current population of the entire earth. But we can also verify that the Bible’s description of what happened after the flood is also validated. Today, we want to consider the famous episode of God’s confusion of the language that occurred at Babel. So, the 9th fact that every Christian needs to know is that we see evidence of the Bible’s accuracy through the study of linguistics and languages. Let’s start this discussion by noting that it is not easy to study the differences or commonalities in languages. VK: Scholars often say that there are two major ways of classifying languages. All languages exhibit certain characteristics. They obey certain rules and constraints that apply to word order and other conventions. These rules are referred to as syntax. In addition, of course, all languages have vocabularies of their own. Each assigns meaning to particular sounds or collections of written symbols. In other words each language has its own vocabulary and its rules of grammar and syntax tell the users how to arrange that vocabulary to communicate. RD: And, interestingly enough, this construction pattern for language is innate in human beings. In his book, The Genesis Account, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati notes an instance where a group of about 500 deaf children in Nicaragua developed their own unique sign language. One behavioral neuroscientist from Rutgers, Judy Kegl, described what happened as “the first documented case of the birth of a language.” Dr. Kegl reported that the sign language invented by the deaf children displayed all the characteristics of other languages such as noun and verb agreement, subject-verb-object sentence construction, and distinct hand shapes and movements that were the building blocks of their communication. Dr. Kegl said, “It’s clear evidence of an innate language capacity.” VK: So, the two ways of classifying languages look at these two different aspects. Typological classification looks at grammatical structures and classifies languages accordingly. But in the middle of the 20th century Dr. Joseph Greenberg came up with a new way of classifying languages that is often referred to as the genetic approach. The genetic qualification of language uses ‘core vocabulary’ to classify a language. Core vocabulary are words that don’t change much over time. The method aims to see how many of these words are similar in different languages. Core vocabulary includes words that every vocabulary would be expected to contain such as words for body parts, numbers, and personal pronouns. When clear patterns of similarities between languages are observed, then those languages are said to be related. Greenberg’s method has become the most commonly used way of comparing languages because it works well for languages that don’t have an abundance of historical written material that can show changes in language structure over time. Greenberg developed his method after noting that several African languages which had puzzled linguists had similar sounding words for similar things so he concluded those languages must be related. RD: Core vocabulary between related languages is never identical, but similar, or ‘cognate’. An article from Creation Ministries International on this subject, entitled “The tower of Babel account confirmed by linguistics” says this about cognate words. “Words are cognate when they are shown to be consistent to the pattern of phonetical change that has taken place in the past. For example, the word tahi in Tongan might not look like kai in Hawaiian, even though they both mean ‘sea’. But, if you also compare Tongan tapu to Hawaiian kapu (both meaning ‘forbidden’) and Tongan tanata to Hawaiian kanaka (meaning ‘man’) you begin to see a pattern: Where Tongan has an initial ‘T’ Hawaiian has an initial ‘K’, and one begins to see that the words might be related. They are cognate.” VK: So, linguists can compare languages by their structure and by their vocabulary. But how do linguists decide that languages are “different?” RD: A common definition of a different language is mutual unintelligibility. In other words languages are different when speakers of one language cannot understand speakers of another language. Of course, there are instances where speakers may be using different dialects of the same language. The speakers may be able to understand one another by there are still distinct differences in pronunciation, word usage, vocabulary, etc. VK: George Bernard Shaw once famously said that “The British and the Americans are two great peoples divided by a common tongue.” His observation was pretty clever but speaking precisely British English and American English are probably best described as being different dialects that had their origin in the same tongue. So, how does all of this help us with our 9th fact that we see evidence of the Bible’s accuracy through the study of linguistics and languages? RD: Because of what we see in language variance around the world. For the reasons we mentioned briefly above there is no precise count of the number of the world’s languages. But it is commonly thought that there are 6,000 to 7,000 different languages spoken around the world. That seems like a lot but that number becomes a lot less daunting when you consider that those 6,000 to 7,000 languages are usually grouped into about 20 or so language families. For instance, the language family that includes English is the Indo-European family. The Indo-European family covers most of Europe plus a part of south west Asia. In northern Europe there is the Uralic Family, which includes Finnish and Hungarian. In north-east Asia we find the Chukchi-Kamchatkan family. Central Asia and the rest of northern Asia host the Altaic family, which also contains Turkish. Southern Asia is considered to have another 3 or 4 language families and the Caucasus region may have two further families. The Pacific region has three or four families. The languages of the Australian Aborigines are usually grouped as one family, as are the languages spoken on mainland Papua. There is no agreement on the treatment of Tasmanian, which is now extinct. The Austronesian family includes languages spoken on Madagascar, the Southern part of the Malaysian Peninsula, the Indonesian Islands, the Philippines, and the Maori languages. And Africa and America each have another 3 or 4 major families. VK: So, what all that means is that even though there are thousands of separate languages worldwide there are far fewer so-called language families. And languages are grouped into families because linguists can tell that those languages are related to one another. For instance we sometimes hear of the Romance Languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. They are called Romance Languages because they are all derived from Lain which was the language of the Roman Empire. Languages such as German, Dutch, and English are often grouped in a group called the Germanic Languages. Languages such as Russian, Czech, and Polish are grouped into the Slavonic Languages. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that all of these groups share a similarity with some languages you wouldn’t expect such as Sanskrit and the languages spoken in India. So, all of these groups are part of the Indo-European Language Family. RD: Exactly. And the fact that the languages spoken in such diverse places as England, Spain, Russia, and India all bear some similarity might surprise us until we think back to what we learned from our 7th fact – that Noah’s sons and grandsons left an indelible mark on history. So, harkening back, we remember that Noah’s oldest son, Japheth, had descendants that settled in territories that spanned the Eurasian territory from England to India. VK: And all of this is very consistent with what we heard from our opening scripture today about God confusing the language at Babel. In Genesis chapter 8 God had told Noah and his sons to “reproduce and spread over all the earth.” But we see from Genesis chapter 11 that the people had not obeyed that command. Instead they had remained together and begun to settle in a “plain in Babylonia.” And once there they decided to build a huge tower which seemed to be an expression of pride and arrogance. Genesis, chapter 11, verse 4 says the people said, “Now let's build a city with a tower that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.” RD: So, rather than spreading all over the earth as God had commanded they wanted to create a tower that would be a reason to not “be scattered all over the earth.” VK: Given that the Babel incident is only decades after the flood it seems like those people had a pretty short memory. And at that point at least one of Noah’s sons was still alive. You might have thought they would have been more attentive to God’s commands given there was a rather stark example in the recent past of the consequence for disobedience. That’s a good lesson for today. RD: You might have thought that – but no. At any rate, God decided to enforce his command by going down and confusing their language. This effectively forced the people to begin to separate and spread. It also gave birth immediately to several new languages which over the intervening 4,400 years or so have continued to transform into the thousands of languages that are spoken around the globe. And we have distinct evidence of the truth of the Babel account because there is no evidence of a common point of origin among the many language families. We can see that within the families there was most likely a common ancestor that is now lost – but there is no indication that there was a common ancestor for all the families. Linguistically, at least, the various families stand separate and distinct. This is not what you would expect if the evolutionary hypothesis were correct and there was a single point of origin of all the languages on the earth. VK: Moreover, the Biblical explanation makes better sense about the number of languages in existence today. Let’s just say that God divided the language in such a way that there were several new languages. If there were 10 new languages present after Babel, then as time went on the languages would begin to change. New languages would come into being and some languages would fall into disuse or become extinct if the speakers all died from war or tragedy. In general linguists know that it takes hundreds of years to create a new language but languages can arise in very small populations. Today there are over 800 languages spoken in the country of Papua [POP-OOH-AH] New Guinea. For simplicity’s sake let’s just say that the number of languages present on the earth doubled every 400 years. That would mean that there would be over 5,000 languages present now after 4,200 years. That’s pretty close to the number of languages estimated to exist right now. RD: Linguists also know that languages tend to get simpler through time, not more complex. Dr. Sarfati notes that “For example, in the Indo-European family, Sanskrit, Classical Greek and Latin had many different noun inflections for different case, gender, and number, while verbs were inflected for tense, voice, number and person. Modern descendants of these languages have greatly reduced the number of inflections, i.e. the trend is from the complex to the simpler, the opposite of evolution. … English has also lost 65 – 85% of the Old English vocabulary, and many Classical Latin words have also been lost from its descendants …” VK: So, does all this discussion prove the truth of the Babel account in Genesis? RD: It’s not correct to say that a linguistic analysis “proves” the Genesis account but it’s correct to say that it is consistent with Genesis. There’s really no way to prove that a particular event happened in history because alternative explanations are always possible. It is also fair to say that the Biblical explanation for the languages we hear all over the earth makes far more sense that the evolutionary alternative. The number of languages that are present, the linguistic relationship within language families and the lack of relationship among language families are all consistent with the Genesis account. It is yet another example of where accepting the historicity of Genesis allows us to form a coherent view of the world we see and hear – whereas the evolutionary hypothesis just leads to more and more questions. VK: The point of this series and today’s discussion is to help Christians guard against the narratives that circulate so widely today. One of those narratives is that the Bible cannot be trusted. So, to push that narrative the critics must cast doubt on the reliability and authenticity of scripture. But reality pushes back on the claim that the Bible can’t be trusted. And that’s what these 10 facts that every Christian needs to know points to. Furthermore, the evolutionary explanations that are offered all come with significant problems. As we discussed in our last episode of Anchored by Truth if humans had been around for over a million years we should have countless numbers of additional people alive today. We should also find billions of remains and the artifacts of those who came before. We don’t find either. Moses wrote Genesis 3,500 years ago. Humanly speaking, he could not have known what the population of the earth would be in 2022, what languages would be spoken, or how the names of Noah’s grandsons would continue to be found in the names of rivers, cities, regions, and cultures. But God did. Moses just recorded the history God gave to him. He did so faithfully and accurately and we see the fidelity of his account all around us today. Sounds like a good time for a prayer. To close, for today let’s listen to a prayer for our friends. God meant for us to live in communities where we share the joys and trials of this world – giving each other mutual strength and receiving mutual comfort. We should all pray regularly for those friends and praise God when He gives us friends who pray for us. ---- PRAYER FOR FRIENDS VK: Before we close we’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes in this series or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the New King James Bible) Genesis, chapter 11, verses 6 through 9, New King James Bible The Tower of Babel account affirmed by linguistics - creation.com The development of languages is nothing like biological evolution - creation.com Satan’s Strategy • Cast doubt on God’s goodness • Deny God’s truth • Elevate self-importance • Establish a replacement in the mind and heart for God’s truth Cultural Narratives One way to look at narratives is that there are primary and secondary narratives that circulate in our culture. The primary narratives are so embedded in our culture that they are not even noticed any more. They are like the framed prints on your wall. Initially you see them but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only know they are there when a visitor comes in and remarks about them. Deep time, evolution, uniformitarianism, and the equality of all religious viewpoints are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. The narratives we notice (such as the prominent social and political narratives) are secondary ones - the acceptability of abortion, same sex marriage, the difference between "green" energy and fossil fuels, "public" education, increased government control and regulation, etc. The secondary ones emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. • The Big Bang/deep time does away with the need for God as Creator. • Evolution does away with the need for God as the Author of life. • Uniformitarianism does away God as the Administrator of justice (become evil continually and God will wipe you off the face of the earth). Since we've done away with God we now create our own standards for what constitutes "personhood," family, man's dominion over the earth, etc. The problem is, of course, we didn't do away with God or His truth. And the house built on intellectual sand falls when the river of reality hits it. So, we will proclaim the truth to try to save some and maybe by God's grace many or most. People who doubt the inerrancy of scripture never think about any of this but they should. The line from that which they doubt the Word to a life they don't want to live is very straight. The line grows even more straight as it uncoils - just like the hangman's rope.

    10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know - Part 10 - Right Time, Right Number

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2022 30:00


    Episode 182 – 10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know 10 – Right Time, Right Number Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: For if God did not spare … the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; …— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 2 Peter, chapter 2, verses 4 through 9, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very glad to be with you today as we continue the series we started several weeks ago on Anchored by Truth. We are calling this series “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know.” In the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. So far we have covered 7 of the 10 facts and we have done 2 other episodes to talk about what those facts mean. RD, the purpose of this series is to give listeners 10 solid facts that they can turn to when they encounter narratives in the world that try to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible. It would take quite a while for us to go over all 7 of those facts, but why don’t you catch us up on our last couple since they relate to our discussion today? For those listeners who want to listen to any of episodes might have missed they are all available on their favorite podcast app or from our website crystalseabooks.com. RD: Well, I would also like to say hi to the listeners joining us here today. And as you mentioned today we are going to build on facts number 6 and 7. Just as a brief review the first 5 facts we covered that every Christian needs to know demonstrated that the popular narratives of Deep Time, evolution, and uniformitarianism don’t possess nearly the quality of scientific support that they are normally assumed to possess. In short, they aren’t trustworthy as a basis for forming a coherent worldview yet so many people today, including Christians, have accepted them without question. So, our first 5 facts gave Christians a solid basis to begin questioning these narratives which are so often used as the basis for doing away with the need for God to explain the physical universe and life. With fact number 6 we moved on to beginning our demonstration that the foundational book of the Bible, Genesis, is, in fact, a trustworthy foundation for our understanding of the universe, life, and human history. Fact number 6 showed that Moses was the author of the Genesis and the other books of the Pentateuch VK: The Pentateuch is a collective name for the first five books of the Bible. They are also sometimes referred to as the Torah or Five Books of Moses. By reaffirming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch we are establishing when those books were written. Right? RD: Right. The traditional date assigned to Moses writing the Pentateuch is in the 15th century B.C. Many scholars place the composition starting around 1445 or 1446 BC which is the so-called “early date” for the start of the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt. But even the scholars like the supposed “late date” for the exodus would place the composition of the Pentateuch in the 13th century BC. VK: And those dates are in conflict the dates some liberal Bible critics have tried to assign to those books which has the books being written as late as 400 or 500 B.C. And the reason the critics want to assign those dates is that it allows them to claim that many of the prophecies contained in the Pentateuch weren’t prophecies at all. But instead the alleged writers were writing a sort of pious history to encourage the Jewish people who were then under the dominion of foreign powers. RD: Again, right. The liberal critics can’t stand the thought that Moses, as well as other inspired prophets, wrote accurate prophecies hundreds of years before certain event occurred. Fulfilled prophecy is a powerful argument that an all-powerful, all-knowing God supernaturally inspired the human authors. If the liberal critic can perform literary alchemy and turn prophecy into history they can argue against the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible. VK: I like that phrase – literary alchemy. The critics do that a lot, don’t they? They have to. If Moses correctly predicted that the Jews descent into idolatry would result in them being conquered and deported from their “promised land,” it is a powerful indictment of those who attempt to dismiss the Bible’s authenticity. RD: So, our 7th fact, that we covered on our last episode, was that we can see from the genealogies contained in chapter 10 of Genesis that Moses gave us an accurate record insofar as the repopulation of the earth is concerned. The Bible tells us that the ark settled on the mountains of Ararat. It doesn’t say Mt. Ararat as sometimes is said, but the mountains of Ararat. Most commentators place that range somewhere in modern Turkey. Since that’s where the repopulation of the earth began you would expect to see the tribes and nations that descended from Noah to fan out from there. VK: And indeed that’s what human history shows us. There are 16 names of Noah’s grandsons contained in chapter 10. And in our last episode of Anchored by Truth we traced the names of several of those grandsons and how their names are embedded in geographic sites or regions as well as in the names of nations. For instance, we pointed out that the descendants of one of Noah’s grandsons, Tubal, began settling the country to the north of Turkey. Today Tubal’s name is commemorated in various places in both the nations of Georgia and Russia. RD: The prophet Ezekiel mentioned Tubal along with Gog and Meshech (Ezekiel 39:1) who are generally regarded as also having settled in territories to the north of Turkey. Meshech is the ancient name for Moscow. Moscow is both the capital of Russia, and the region that surrounds the city. To this day, one section, the Meshchera Lowland, still carries the name of Meshech, virtually unchanged by the ages. Tubal’s name is preserved in the name of the capital city of the nation Georgia whose capital to this day is called Tbilisi. Tubal’s descendants also crossed the Caucasus mountains, migrated due north-east, and gave their tribal name to the river Tobol, and hence to the famous city of Tobolsk, Russia. VK: So, knowing that Moses actually authored the Pentateuch, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, establishes when the book of Genesis was written – most likely in the 15th century BC but certainly no later than the 13th century BC. As part of his record Moses gave us the name of Noah’s sons and grandsons. We can trace the expanding population of the post-flood period by following the names of those grandsons in history and geography. Tracing the settlement patterns of Noah’s grandsons and their descendants shows that Moses’ record was accurate for nations and regions throughout Europe, western Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. We’ve established that through facts 6 and 7 of the 10 facts every Christian needs to know. But you said that today you want to show that the Genesis record Moses wrote is reasonable even when you consider the entire earth. How is that possible? RD: We can demonstrate that Moses gave us an accurate record of the creation of the earth – and its subsequent destruction by a global flood – by taking a look at the current population of the entire earth. The 8th fact that every Christian needs to know is that the Biblical time periods and population sizes are far more reasonable that the alternatives that are commonly believed. By taking a look at the earth’s population we can see not only that the Genesis history is an accurate history but also that the alternate explanation, evolution, is deeply flawed. Bear in mind that the Bible tells us that the universe and earth were created about 6,500 years ago. The deep time and evolutionary hypothesis tell us that the universe is 14.5 Billion years old and the earth is 4.5 Billion years old. The evolutionary hypothesis also tells us that the first human beings came into existence at least a million years ago. There are some historians that will tell us that the earliest humans were using stone tools over 2 million years ago. VK: Well, let’s start with the fact that the Bible tells us that there were 8 people on the ark: Noah, his wife, their 3 sons and their wives. Genesis, chapter 5, verse 32 tells us that Noah had 3 sons – and interestingly they were all born when Noah was over 500 years old. Then Genesis, chapter 7, verse 1 tells us that God told Noah to take his whole family into the ark. And Genesis, chapter 8, verse 18 says, “So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.” So, we can be very confident of the number of people that were available to begin the repopulation of the earth. There were at least 3 surviving couples and it is possible that Noah and his wife might have had more children. This number is reinforced by what we heard in our opening scripture from 2 Peter. Peter tells us that God “protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven other [people]…” That gives us a very firm starting point. And a quick internet search says that the world’s current population is expected to cross 8 Billion during 2022. So, the question is – can 6 or 8 people grow into a population of 8 Billion in 4,500 years? RD: And the answer may be surprising but it is a firm “yes.” To see why let’s start with the time periods that we get from the Bible. For our purposes today I am going to use the time periods calculated by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, the lead scientist for Creation Ministries International. These periods are available in his commentary on the first 11 chapters of Genesis entitled The Genesis Account. I like this as a source because Dr. Sarfati is not only very detailed in his description but he “presents his work” as they used to say in math class. Dr. Sarfati believes the earth was created in the year 4178 BC plus or minus 50 years. I’m just going to use round numbers and say 4,200 BC. VK: Dr. Sarfati also believes that the flood occurred 1,656 years after creation. That would mean the flood occurred a little more 2500 years before Jesus was born. We live more than 2,000 years after Jesus was born. So, it’s fair to say that we have those 4,500 years since the flood in which to achieve the necessary population growth. RD: Right. The question then is what growth rate is necessary to achieve that level of population growth. And as I mentioned the number may surprise you. VK: So surprise me. RD: In financial management there is a well-known rule called the “rule of 72.” The rule of 72 tells you how long it will take your money – or anything else for that matter – to double. For instance, if you invest your money at 6% per year it would take 12 years for $100 to become $200. You divide 6 into 72 and you get 12. VK: By the same token if you could invest your money and get a 12% return ... RD: Oh, I wish... VK: … yes, you do. Anyway, if you could invest your money and get a 12% return it would only take 6 years to double your money. At 12% interest $100 becomes $200 in just 6 years. All this tells you why people are always seeking a better rate of return – especially in today’s inflationary environment. RD: Exactly. Well, the rule of 72 doesn’t just work for money it also works for people. So, if the world’s population since the flood had grown at an average rate of 2% per year it would have doubled every 36 years. In 4,500 years that means that it would have 125 times. And here’s where the surprise comes in. At an annual average growth rate of 2% today you would have way more than 8 Billion people on the earth. The actual annual average growth rate that you need to go from 6 people (assumes Noah and his wife did not have any more children) to over 7 Billion people in 4,500 years is less than one-half of one percent. VK: Let me repeat that – because as you said that is a surprise. To go from 6 people to over 7 Billion people in a period of 4,500 years you only need a growth rate of less than one-half or one percent. That is a bit of a surprise – and it certainly doesn’t seem impossible. RD: And it’s not. The Encyclopedia Britannica claims that by the time of Christ, the world’s population was about 300 million. It apparently didn’t increase much up to AD 1000. It went up and down in the Middle Ages because of frequent wars, invasions, plagues etc. But the world’s population is thought to have reached 800 million by the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1750. That would have been an average growth rate of 0.13% in the 750 years from 1000–1750. By 1800 though it was thought to be one billion while the second billion was reached by 1930—an average growth rate of 0.53% annually. This period of population growth cannot be due to improved medicine, because antibiotics and vaccination campaigns did not impact till after WWII. But from 1930 to 1960 the population reached three billion. The growth rate during that period was 1.36% annually. By 1974, the fourth billion was reached, so the average growth rate was 2.1% from 1960 to 1974. From 1974 to 1990, when the mark hit five billion, the growth rate had slowed to 1.4%. World population reached 6 billion in 1999 and 7 billion in 2011. The increase in population growth since WWII is most likely due to fewer deaths in infancy and improved health care which leads to reduced loss from disease. VK: In other words during those time period for we have much more accurate data we can see that a population growth rate of one-half of one-percent per year is not at all out of the question. At times we seem to have had periods of slower growth in population but at times we have had much faster growth. RD: Right. So, let’s step back and take a look at what this means. Let’s focus on our 8th fact. The 8th fact that every Christian needs to know is that the Biblical time periods and population sizes are far more reasonable that the alternatives that are commonly believed. We have already seen that to get from 3 reproducing couples to 7 to 8 Billion people in a period of 4,500 years you don’t need an outlandish population growth rate – one-half of one-percent a year will do it. So, that raises a huge problem for the evolutionary hypothesis which is the alternative to the Biblical contention. Evolutionists believe that the human race is a million years old or older. So, that raises a big question – where are all the people? VK: What you’re saying is that if the human race really were a million years old the human race would have had a lot more time in which to reproduce. If the human population could go from 6 people to over 7 billion in a period of 4,500 years there should be a lot more people on the earth now if the human race were hundreds of thousands of years older. That’s not an idea you hear being discussed. RD: No. It’s not. Evolutionists claim that mankind evolved from apes about a million years ago. Here are some interesting numbers from an article on the Creation Ministries International website entitled “Where are all the people.” If the human population had grown at just 0.01% per year since then (doubling only every 7,000 years), there would be 1043 people today—that’s a number with 43 zeros after it. To try to put this number of people in context, say each individual is given ‘standing room only’ of about one square meter per person. However, the land surface area of the whole Earth is ‘only’ 1.5 x 1014 square meters. If every one of those square meters were made into a world the size of ours, all these worlds put together would still ‘only’ have a surface area able to fit 1028 people in this way. This is only a tiny fraction of 1043 (1029 is 10 times as much as 1028, 1030 is 100 times, and so on). Those who adhere to the evolutionary story say that disease, famine and war meant the numbers remained constant for most of this period, but that would mean that mankind was on the brink of extinction for over 99.9% of its supposed history. VK: Talk about asking someone to exhibit faith in a proposition that stretches credulity. The Biblical concept is an absolute certainty compared to that. And that of course doesn’t end the problems with the evolutionary hypothesis. We supposedly routinely unearth fossils and bones from tens or hundreds of millions of years ago. The dinosaurs were supposed to have perished 65 million years ago when a giant meteor struck the earth yet we find their bones all the time. And we don’t just find bones from T-Rex sized dinosaurs. We find bones from dinosaurs the size of deer or chickens. So, if mankind had been in existence for a million years –and even if the population was nowhere near current levels – there should be lots of bones of humans lying around. But we don’t find them. I guess besides the question, “where are all the people” we can ask the question “where are all the bones?” RD: Evolutionists claim there was a ‘Stone Age’ that lasted about 100,000 years when supposedly between one million and 10 million people lived on Earth. Fossil evidence shows that even people from primitive ages buried their dead. They often buried them with artifacts. Cremation was not practiced until relatively recent times (in evolutionary thinking). If there were just one million people alive during their supposed Stone Age time, with an average generation time of 25 years, they should have buried 4 billion bodies and a huge amount artifacts. If there were 10 million people alive, it would mean 40 billion bodies buried in the earth. If the evolutionary timescale were correct, then we would expect the skeletons of the buried bodies to be largely still present after 100,000 years, because, as we’ve discussed, many ordinary bones claimed to be much older have been found. And even if the bodies had disintegrated, those artifacts should still be found. But we haven’t found those treasure troves of either bodies or artifacts. VK: Again, the purpose of this “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know” series is to enable people to put a solid intellectual foundation beneath their conviction that the Bible is the inspired word of God. In our day and time we need to ensure that we have that foundation because the Bible is under attack from just about every quarter. We are told by popular culture that the Bible is not relevant because it is not accurate. But as we have been discussing here today the Bible’s continuing relevance is established by the abundant evidence that it is accurate. RD: Yes. Again, let’s step back and see why these last three facts are so important. Our 6th fact, the fact that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, including the book of Genesis tells us when Genesis was written. And a reasonable date for that is the mid 1400’s B.C. Our 7th fact which is that we can trace the lines of descent of Noah’s grandsons through history and geography confirm that the flood story in Genesis is true. So, we can confirm the truth of the Genesis account in the history and geography of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa such as Egypt and Ethiopia. VK: And the fact that the population of the earth is easily achievable from 6 people starting 4,500 years ago shows that, in effect, the entire human population around the world testifies to the accuracy of the book of Genesis, especially the flood account. RD: Yes. One researcher who studies genetics, CW Nelson, has said this. “By comparing DNA from different humans around the world, it has been found that all humans share roughly 99.9% of their genetic material—they are almost completely identical, genetically. This means that there is very little polymorphism, or variation. …” VK: Polymorphism, as related to genomics, refers to the presence of two or more variant forms of a specific DNA sequence that can occur among different individuals or populations. Simply put, the absence of polymorphism means that a given cohort of living creatures displays very little difference genetically. Species that have existed for hundreds of thousands or millions of years would be expected to show some amount of polymorphism because mutation in individuals would gradually lead to perceivable differentiation. But studies of humans don’t show this. RD: The lack of a significant amount of polymorphism is consistent with a recent human origin and the global flood. Evolutionary models of origins would not predict such low human genetic diversity. Mutations should have produced much more diversity than 0.1% over millions of years. Again, this means that pretty much the entire population of humans on the earth provides testimony to the accuracy of the first several chapters of Genesis. Let’s remember that Moses wrote Genesis about 1400 years before Jesus lived. He would have had very little knowledge of civilizations and peoples outside of Egypt and Palestine. Yet far away from where he was writing people were living and developing in exactly the way we would expect if the account he was writing was true. We still see that today. The size of the earth’s population is consistent with a significant bottleneck that occurred about 4,500 years ago. The names of nations, rivers, and even languages give testimony to the first generations that emerged from the ark after the flood waters receded. The lack of genetic diversity among human beings today testifies to a common ancestor. And as we have covered on other Anchored by Truth shows even the bit of DNA contained in human mitochondria gives evidence that people today can trace their ancestry back to 3 female ancestors. VK: The point of this series and today’s discussion is to help Christians guard against the narratives that circulate so widely today. One of those narratives is that the Bible cannot be trusted. So, to push that narrative the critics must cast doubt on the reliability and authenticity of scripture. But reality pushes back on the claim that the Bible can’t be trusted. And that’s what these 10 facts that every Christian needs to know points to. Furthermore, the evolutionary explanations that are offered all come with significant problems. If humans had been around for over a million years we should have countless numbers of additional people alive today. And, at a minimum, we should find billions of remains and the artifacts of those who came before. We don’t find either. Moses could not have known what the population of the earth would be in 2022. But God did. Moses just knew to record the history God gave to him. He did so faithfully and accurately and we see the fidelity of his account all around us today. Sounds like a good time for a prayer. To close, for today let’s listen to a prayer for the missionaries that God sends to bring His word to a world that needs His encouragement. We may not all be called to go to distant lands but we can all be missionaries to our families and communities. ---- PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES VK: Before we close we’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes in this series or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the New International Version) 2 Peter, chapter 2, verses 4 through 9, New International Version The Date of Noah’s Flood - creation.com Where are all the people? - creation.com Population growth since Flood - creation.com Biblical human population growth model - creation.com The sixteen grandsons of Noah - creation.com Satan’s Strategy • Cast doubt on God’s goodness • Deny God’s truth • Elevate self-importance • Establish a replacement in the mind and heart for God’s truth Cultural Narratives One way to look at narratives is that there are primary and secondary narratives that circulate in our culture. The primary narratives are so embedded in our culture that they are not even noticed any more. They are like the framed prints on your wall. Initially you see them but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only know they are there when a visitor comes in and remarks about them. Deep time, evolution, uniformitarianism, and the equality of all religious viewpoints are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. The narratives we notice (such as the prominent social and political narratives) are secondary ones - the acceptability of abortion, same sex marriage, the difference between "green" energy and fossil fuels, "public" education, increased government control and regulation, etc. The secondary ones emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. • The Big Bang/deep time does away with the need for God as Creator. • Evolution does away with the need for God as the Author of life. • Uniformitarianism does away God as the Administrator of justice (become evil continually and God will wipe you off the face of the earth). Since we've done away with God we now create our own standards for what constitutes "personhood," family, man's dominion over the earth, etc. The problem is, of course, we didn't do away with God or His truth. And the house built on intellectual sand falls when the river of reality hits it. So, we will proclaim the truth to try to save some and maybe by God's grace many or most. People who doubt the inerrancy of scripture never think about any of this but they should. The line from that which they doubt the Word to a life they don't want to live is very straight. The line grows even more straight as it uncoils - just like the hangman's rope.

    10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know - Part 9 - Noahic Names Remain

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2022 30:00


    Episode 181 – 10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know 9 – Noahic Names Remain Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The goal of Anchored by Truth is to encourage everyone to grow in the Christian faith by anchoring themselves to the secure truth found in the inspired, inerrant, and infallible word of God. Script: The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras. … The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. … The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram… Genesis, chapter 10, verses 2, 6, and 22, New International Version ******** VK: Hello! I’m Victoria K. Welcome to Anchored by Truth brought to you by Crystal Sea Books. We’re very glad to be with you today as we continue the series we started several weeks ago on Anchored by Truth. We are calling this series “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know.” In the studio today we have RD Fierro. RD is an author and the founder of Crystal Sea Books. So far we have covered 6 of the 10 facts and we have done 2 other episodes to talk about what those facts mean. RD, the purpose of this series is to give listeners 10 solid facts that they can turn to when they encounter narratives in the world that try to cast doubt on the reliability of the Bible. And in our culture people trying to do that is pretty common isn’t it? RD: Well, I would also like to greet all the listeners joining us here today. And yes, our culture constantly feeds us messages that conflict with the Bible. A great deal of the time these messages are dressed up to make us think that they possess some kind of dispositive authority with which we disagree at our peril. Usually, the costumes these messages wear is the garb of supposed science. For instance, in our culture we are told that science tells us that the universe and earth are billions of years old whereas we learn from the Bible that they are really only thousands of years old. We are told that the geological features we see on the earth’s surface result from uniform factors that have been operating these billions of years. And we are told that the living creatures we see all around us were produced by slow and gradual mutational changes that have been going on during that vast pool of Deep Time. These narratives are so pervasive and so compulsive that even many Christians have begun to believe them. But just because they are pervasive doesn’t make them true. And that’s what we are showing in this series. VK: For instance, the presence of detectable carbon-14, which is the radioactive form of carbon, in diamonds is directly at odds with the assertion those diamonds were formed hundreds of millions of years ago. Carbon-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years. Every 5,700 years or so, the amount of carbon-14 present in anything decreases by 50%. If the diamonds were really hundreds of millions of years old, any carbon-14 present during the formation of the diamond would have long since have turned into ordinary carbon. RD: Correct. So, the 1st fact that we covered in this series is that the scientific evidence for Deep Time is not nearly as compelling as we are regularly told. There is an abundance of scientific observations that cast doubt on the conventional contentions. Similarly, we are routinely told that the features of the earth are the result of uniformitarian processes that have been going on during this Deep Time. But our 3rd fact in this series showed that there are marine fossils found on the highest mountains on earth. That shows that the Himalayas were at one time covered by water. Well, if the Himalayas had been formed by a slow, gradual uplift that lifted those fossils out of the water which took tens of millions of years – then during the those tens of millions of years erosion would have worn away the fossil containing layers if not the mountains themselves. Well, today we want to introduce our 7th fact that Christians need to know. And our 7th fact goes hand in hand with that 3rd fact. Today we are going to show that there is not only geological and paleontological evidence the flood of Noah occurred as described by the Bible but also that there is geographic, historical, and linguistic evidence of the reliability of the text. VK: Today we are going to talk about the considerable evidence that the names of Noah’s grandsons have been preserved in remarkable ways on at least 3 different continents. So, just by way of background, let’s remind everyone that the Bible tells us that when the ark came to rest after the flood waters receded, it landed in a region that is part of modern day Turkey. The Bible also tells us that Noah had 3 sons and 16 grandsons. But the Bible does not tell us that Noah had any daughters or granddaughters, does it? RD: No. It doesn’t. But we do know that Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth were all married before they got into the ark. Undoubtedly, those couples also had daughters as well as sons and the grandchildren intermarried. Remember that this is a time when the human gene pool had not suffered the deterioration that it would later. We have to also remember that this is a time long before the later prohibitions on close family members intermarrying. At any rate, the Bible has preserved the names of Noah’s 16 grandsons and we know from history and geography that those names have been indelibly carved on the ancient world. VK: And we know that because as Noah’s grandsons began to have their families and spread out several things happened. First, people in various areas called themselves by the name of the man who was their common ancestor. Second, those expanding families of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. began calling their land, and often their major cities or rivers by the name of their common ancestor. And, third, in some cases the various nations that were now forming fell into ancestor worship. They abandoned their focus on the True God who had saved their ancestors and began revering the ancestor who was most prominent in their memories. This was particularly true because the first generations after the Flood lived to be very old, with some men outliving their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This set them apart. When this happened, it was natural for their descendants to almost regard them as being more than human. In some cases, the descendants began to claim their long-living ancestor as their god. What all this means is that the evidence of Noah’s sons and grandsons has been preserved in a way that can never be lost. God ensured that human history would contain evidence of the authenticity of the Biblical account. There is a very good article about this evidence on the website for Creation Ministries International which is creation.com. RD: Let’s take a look at some of this evidence. First, let’s note that Noah’s son Japheth had seven sons: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Ham had four sons Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. Shem had five sons: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. So, let’s start with an easy example – Shem’s son Aram. VK: Noah’s grandson Aram’s [A-RAHM] name is preserved in the history of the people and nation of Syria which is where Aram’s descendants settled after the dispersal that followed the tower of Babel. Aram is the Hebrew word for Syria. Whenever the word Syria appears in the Old Testament it is a translation of the word Aram. In fact, the Syrians call themselves Arameans [AIR-AH-MAY-UNS]. Their language is called Aramaic [AIR-AH-MAY-ICK]. Before the spread of the Greek Empire following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Aramaic was used as the international language. 2,500 years after Aram’s birth Aramaic was still in widespread use. In fact, it was still in use in Jesus’ day as the language of the common people. RD: Here’s another obvious example of how the names of Noah’s grandsons have been preserved by secular history. Asshur is the Hebrew word for Assyria. Assyria was one of the great ancient empires. Assyria is mentioned frequently by the Bible most often as one of Israel’s most dangerous enemies. Because Assyria was an enemy of Israel the prophet Jonah did not want to go and preach in the capital city of Assyria, Nineveh, as God had instructed him. VK: And we all know how that turned out. Jonah’s experience in the belly of the whale – though the Bible just calls it a “big fish” – came as a direct result of his disobedience. Despite the big-fish episode Jonah still wound up going to Nineveh and the whole population converted as a consequence of his preaching. So, in an ironic, providential way, Jonah was converting his distant cousins because both he and the Assyrians were descendants of Shem. RD: Yes. Every time the words Assyria or Assyrian appear in the Old Testament, they are translated from the word Asshur. Asshur’s descendants became a mighty empire and probably because of this he became an example of the ancestor worship that we mentioned. Asshur was worshipped by his descendants. As long as Assyria lasted, which was for many centuries - until 612 BC - accounts of battles, diplomatic affairs and foreign bulletins were daily read out to Asshur’s image. It was said that every Assyrian king held that he wore the crown only with the express permission of Asshur’s deified ghost. VK: So, Asshur [AH-SURE] and Aram were sons of Shem and grandsons of Noah. They founded tribes and nations that are well known even by secular history. And the fact their names are so well known authenticates the accuracy of the text of Genesis chapter 10 where their names appear. This reinforces the fact that there is strong linguistic and geographic evidence that favors the Bible’s description of the Genesis flood and its effects on humanity. How about if we move on and discuss some of Noah’s grandsons that were born to Japheth [JA-PHUTH]? RD: Ok. Let’s start with the very first of Noah’s grandsons that the Bible mentions: Gomer. Gomer is the first listed of Japheth’s seven sons. And Gomer is a great illustration of two things. First, that the geographic spread of Noah’s descendants is exactly what you would expect of a human population that was being rebuilt starting in or around Turkey. Shem’s sons Aram and Asshur founded nations that are both located to the south and east of modern Turkey. Japheth’s son Gomer founded nations that spread to the north and west. VK: The prophet Ezekiel located the early descendants of Gomer, along with one of his sons, Togarmah, in the north quarters (Ezekiel 38:6). In modern Turkey is an area which in New Testament times was called Galatia. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus [FLAY-VEE-US JOE-SEE-PHUS] records that the people who were called Galatians or Gauls in his day (c. AD 93) were previously called Gomerites. RD: Right. And the Gomerites did not remain in Turkey. They migrated westward to what we now call France and Spain. For many centuries France was called Gaul, after the descendants of Gomer. North-west Spain is called Galicia to this day. Furthermore, Some of the Gomerites migrated further to what is now called Wales. The Welsh historian, Davis, records a traditional Welsh belief that the descendants of Gomer ‘landed on the Isle of Britain from France, about three hundred years after the flood’. He also records that the Welsh language is called Gomeraeg (after their ancestor Gomer). Other members of the Gomerite clan settled along the way, including in Armenia. The sons of Gomer were ‘Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah’ (Genesis 10:3). The Encyclopedia Britannica says that the Armenians traditionally claim to be descended from Togarmah and Ashkenaz. Ancient Armenia reached into Turkey. The name Turkey may well come from Togarmah. Others of them migrated to Germany. That connection is supported by the fact that Ashkenaz is the Hebrew word for Germany. VK: But Japheth’s sons didn’t just spread north and west from Turkey. They also spread far to the east. One of Japheth’s sons was named Madai [MAH-DIE]. Along with Shem’s son Elam, Madai is the ancestor of our modern-day Iranians. Josephus tells us that the descendants of Madai were called Medes by the Greeks. This makes perfect sense because every time the Medes are mentioned in the Old Testament, the word used is the Hebrew word Madai (maday). Initially, the Medes were a separate people and nation but after the time of Cyrus, the Medes are always, with only one exception, mentioned along with the Persians. After Cyrus, the two nations became one kingdom with one law. The Bible will often refer to the law of the Medes and Persians’. Later on the combined entity was simply called Persians. Since 1935 they have called their country Iran. The Medes also moved even further east and are thought to have settled India. RD: Another one of Noah’s grandsons and also a son of Japheth’s sons was Javan. Javan is the Hebrew word for Greece. Greece, Grecia, or Grecians appears five times in the Old Testament, and is always the Hebrew word Javan. The prophet Daniel refers to ‘the king of Grecia’ in Daniel 8:21), but what Daniel literally says is ‘the king of Javan’. Javan himself had 4 sons named Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim (Genesis 10:4), all of whom have connections with the geographic region of the middle or eastern Mediterranean region. The Elysians were an ancient Greek people and obviously received their name from Elishah. Tarshish or Tarsus was located in the region of Cilicia which is part modern Turkey. Most people know that Greek and Turkey are located very close to each other geographically. Turkey is just east of Greece. VK: And Tarshish [TAR-SHISH] is famous because the Bible tells us that that was the destination of the boat that Jonah caught before he wound up in the Mediterranean Sea and the belly of the fish. And after the name evolved into Tarsus the city became famous as the hometown of the Apostle Paul. In the book of Acts, chapter 9, verse 11 we hear God telling a man named Ananias [AN-NA-NEYE-US] to go seek out Paul, who at that time was still called Saul. God said to Ananias “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.” RD: Right. And the geographic connections with Javan continue. The Encyclopedia Britannica says that Kittim is the biblical name for Cyprus. Cyprus is an island that is south of Turkey and near the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Javan’s 4th son, Dodanim is connected to the famous city of Troy. The people who initially settled around the area of Troy worshipped Jupiter under the name of Jupiter Dodonaeus, possibly a reference to the fourth son of Javan. Jupiter may be a derivative of the name Japheth. Jupiter’s oracle was located at a site called Dodena. The Greeks worshipped this god but called him Zeus. VK: So, thus far we see that the geographic territory occupied by Japheth’s [JA-PHUTH] descendants has covered a pretty wide range. We have seen that the descendants of his first son Gomer have been found as far to the west of Turkey as Wales and as far to the east as India. This seems like a remarkable confirmation that God honored the prayer that Noah uttered in Genesis, chapter 9, verse 27, part of which said “May God extend Japheth’s territory … .” RD: Well, let’s take a note of one more son of Japheth: Tubal. Ezekiel mentions Tubal along with Gog and Meshech (Ezekiel 39:1). His name is preserved in the name of the capital city of the nation Georgia whose capital to this day is called Tbilisi. From there, Tubal’s descendants crossed the Caucasus mountains, migrated due north-east, and gave their tribal name to the river Tobol, and hence to the famous city of Tobolsk, Russia. So, this expands the territorial reach of Japheth even more. His descendants stretched over most of the continent of Europe and deep into the continent of Asia. By contrast, the descendants of Noah’s other son Ham are primarily found in the continent of Africa. VK: Ham had 4 sons: Cush, Mizraim [MIZ-RAY-UM], Phut [FHUT], and Canaan. Ham’s descendants are so prominently identified with Africa that the Bible often refers to Africa as the land of Ham. For instance, the name of Noah’s grandson Cush is the Hebrew word for old Ethiopia. The Ethiopia of the Bible is not in the same place as the nation currently called by this name. Biblical Ethiopia is located more in the region of the modern Sudan. This is obviously still on the African continent. Without exception, the word Ethiopia in the English Bible is always a translation of the Hebrew word Cush. RD: Noah’s next grandson mentioned was Mizraim. Mizraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt. The name Egypt appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament and with only one exception is always a translation of the word Mizraim. For instance, at the burial of Jacob, the Canaanites observed the mourning of the Egyptians and so called the place Abel Mizraim (Genesis 50:11). Phut, the name of Noah’s next grandson is the Hebrew name for Libya. It is translated three times in the Old Testament that way. The ancient river Phut was in Libya. By Daniel’s day, the name had been changed to Libya (Daniel 11:43). Josephus tells us that, “Phut also was the founder of Libia , and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself.” Ham’s final son, Canaan, of course, gave his name to land that we call Palestine. When God encountered Moses at the burning bush, God told Moses that he was sending Moses to bring his people into the land of the Canaanites. For a long time the name Canaan was synonymous with the territory we call Israel. VK: By the time of the Romans that territory was being called Palestine. But even the term Palestine has a connection to Noah’s grandsons. Many scholars see a connection between the Hebrew word that is translated in our Bibles as Philistines. Philistine, in turn came from one of the term “Philistim” [PHIL-IS-STEM] who is one of Ham’s descendants. RD: So, a brief look at Noah’s grandsons reveals several things. First, we see that as Noah’s grandsons founded tribes that grew into nations those nations fan out from the part of the world where the ark is traditionally thought to have landed: modern day Turkey. Some of Noah’s descendants, especially the families descended from Shem, settled reasonably close by in ancient Assyria (modern Lebanon) and Syria. Ham’s descendants moved south into Africa first settling along the Mediterranean coast but ultimately moved further into the interior. Japheth’s sons moved more northerly but they spread widely to the east and west just as Noah had prayed for. Noah prayed that God would enlarge Japheth’s territory and He did. VK: And, of course, it makes sense that it would take longer to reach more distant places but there was another consideration, wasn’t there? In the aftermath of the global flood the conditions were perfect for the Ice Age. The volcanic eruptions beneath the sea had put a lot of moisture into the air and the increased particulate matter would have brought on cooler-for-longer conditions. So, as Noah’s descendants spread they would have been more likely to go south first and waited for improvement in the conditions in the northern parts of Europe and Asia. But once the conditions did improve it would have been ideal for settlement. The plants and animals would have made a comeback and there would have been no competition. RD: The point of all this is that the geographic names that in many cases remain with us today point to the accuracy of the Noahic genealogies that are contained in the book of Genesis. This is confirmation that when Moses made the record he was writing history not some sort of poetical look back at the early history of mankind. VK: This is one of the reasons that we took pains in our last episode of Anchored by Truth to point out the fact that Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible. Moses obviously wasn’t around when Noah’s sons and grandsons were so God may have given Moses the history He wanted Moses to record or Moses may have worked from oral or written histories still in circulation – likely a combination of both. Moses wrote in the 15th century BC – over a thousand years after the repopulation of the earth had begun. By that time the tribes and nations that found their origination in Noah’s grandsons had been well established but Moses would not necessarily have possessed all the information that we do. We can rely on information sources that Noah did not have access to like the treasures of clay tablets that would be found thousands of years later in Babylon, Nineveh [NIN-UH-VUH], and other sites. RD: So, again this points to the reliability of the record that Moses prepared. Moses probably had very little, if any information about how far the Gomerites had spread into France or Germany or the fact that Javan’s descendants were forming city states in what we call Greece. Moses was recording names that were relevant to tribes and peoples of which he was completely unaware. But the accuracy of his record would be confirmed by a great many later historians, even ones from other nations, and archeological finds that would only emerge into widespread view 3,500 years later. Through far-away names and places God would leave an indelible imprint of the accuracy of the record the Holy Spirit was inspiring Moses to write. That’s a pretty phenomenal thought. VK: Again, the purpose of this “10 Facts Every Christian Needs to Know” series is to enable people to put a solid intellectual foundation beneath their conviction that the Bible is the inspired word of God. In our day and time we need to ensure that we have that foundation because the Bible is under attack from just about every quarter. We are told by popular culture that the Bible is not relevant because it is not accurate. But as we have been discussing here today the Bible’s continuing relevance is established by the abundant evidence that it is accurate even to such small details as the names of one man’s grandsons who lived thousands of years ago. RD: Yes. People sometimes chafe at the Bible’s genealogies. I suspect most people skip right over many of the lists of names of who begat who when they read the Bible. Even faithful Christians may think that it is more important to read the chapters on family relationships, doctrinal proclamations, or subjects such as love and peace than it is to spend any time on the genealogies. But the simple truth is that the genealogies give us strong evidence that the Bible is the inspired word of God and help us make sense out of God’s actions within world history. Without that evidence we would have no good reason to invest our trust in what the Bible tells us about the other things like salvation, financial matters, family relationships, etc. The big takeaway here is that God gave us each and every part of the Bible for our benefit. We can learn from and benefit from even the parts of the Bible that at first glance may seem to be less relevant to the heart of our faith – the salvation available through Christ alone. VK: The point of this series and today’s discussion is to help Christians guard against the narratives that circulate so widely today. One of those narratives is that the Bible cannot be trusted. So, to push that narrative the critics must cast doubt on the reliability and authenticity of scripture. Only an almighty, omniscient God could have enabled Moses to provide the genealogies that are validated by history, linguistics, and geography. By doing so God gave us powerful evidence that even those genealogies are inspired revelation. To close, for today let’s listen to a prayer that God would sovereignly bring the renewal and restoration so greatly needed by our churches and our hearts. ---- PRAYER FOR RENEWAL OF THE CHURCH VK: Before we close we’d like to remind our audience that a lot of our radio episodes are linked together in series of topics so if they missed any episodes in this series or if they just want to hear one again, all of these episodes are available on your favorite podcast app. To find them just search on “Anchored by Truth by Crystal Sea Books.” If you’d like to hear more, try out crystalseabooks.com where “We’re not perfect but our Boss is!” (Opening Bible Quote from the New International Version) Genesis, chapter 10, verses 2, 6, and 22, New International Version The sixteen grandsons of Noah - creation.com Satan’s Strategy • Cast doubt on God’s goodness • Deny God’s truth • Elevate self-importance • Establish a replacement in the mind and heart for God’s truth Cultural Narratives One way to look at narratives is that there are primary and secondary narratives that circulate in our culture. The primary narratives are so embedded in our culture that they are not even noticed any more. They are like the framed prints on your wall. Initially you see them but as time goes by you notice them less and less. Eventually you only know they are there when a visitor comes in and remarks about them. Deep time, evolution, uniformitarianism, and the equality of all religious viewpoints are now primary narratives in our culture. Only fools and the suspect disagree with them. The narratives we notice (such as the prominent social and political narratives) are secondary ones - the acceptability of abortion, same sex marriage, the difference between "green" energy and fossil fuels, "public" education, increased government control and regulation, etc. The secondary ones emerge from and are dependent on the primary ones. • The Big Bang/deep time does away with the need for God as Creator. • Evolution does away with the need for God as the Author of life. • Uniformitarianism does away God as the Administrator of justice (become evil continually and God will wipe you off the face of the earth). Since we've done away with God we now create our own standards for what constitutes "personhood," family, man's dominion over the earth, etc. The problem is, of course, we didn't do away with God or His truth. And the house built on intellectual sand falls when the river of reality hits it. So, we will proclaim the truth to try to save some and maybe by God's grace many or most. People who doubt the inerrancy of scripture never think about any of this but they should. The line from that which they doubt the Word to a life they don't want to live is very straight. The line grows even more straight as it uncoils - just like the hangman's rope.