I understand. And I’m not posting this video to win any of these arguments. I’m posting this because THIS is Christianity.
If you’re like me, you hear American government officials and experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Ebola and you wonder if they just don’t want us to panic. It spreads like HIV (and even then for only a few days) and therefore is highly controllable. Most fears are overblown, fear-mongering, especially if Donald Trump says it.
And then you watch the news, hear the doctors talk about it being out of control, and well… c’mon it sure seems like Ebola spreads a bit easier than HIV. Like one comment tweeted to the CDC, I feel like asking:
“We are told it can only spread through contact with bodily fluids-similar to HIV. But seems more contagious than HIV? Why?”
The CDC assured the tweeter that yes Ebola is spread like HIV and you need close contact with bodily fluids, and then only in a certain window of time. Ok. Granted.
That’s not exactly like HIV, which takes more than mere “close contact.”
HIV is NOT spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. So says WebMD anyway.
Ebola evidently is.
The bodily fluids that do transmit HIV -like blood for instance- “must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (by a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.” So says the government. I added the italics.
The CDC, however, makes no mention of Ebola needing to come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue. To catch Ebola, the CDC says you need only come in “direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.” They go on to explain that it spreads in hospitals where people are not wearing “protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.”
Then when you go to the Canadian Health Department, it gets scary. They add that people are at risk when, and I quote: “handling the bodies of deceased humans in preparation for funerals, suggesting possible transmission through aerosol droplets.” That explains the need for gloves and “protective equipment.”
Then shockingly, they follow up with, “In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.”
Again I added the italics because I was sitting there going “whaaaat???”
They end by saying poor hygienic conditions can aid the spread of the virus.
Ok, maybe the Canadians are fear-mongering despite the fact they are not named Donald Trump. I don’t know. I’m not a researcher or any sort of an expert on Ebola or other pathogens. Neither is it surprising that there is conflicting information about a disease we haven’t fully understood yet.
Nevertheless, it seems a bit obvious that Ebola is spread, and is spreading easier and faster than HIV does. The amount of close contact it takes to spread Ebola is much more casual, which is one reason why doctors don’t have to wear spacesuit-looking gear when taking care of a patient with HIV.
Hopefully, we will get all of these things ironed out, and the US government is not just trying to make us feel better. Although, between you and me, don’t you just feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone in America gets carried into a hospital and tests positive? I hope not. I’m probably just thinking like this because I’m trying to quit diet soda.
So onto the big question:
Why God? Why did you ever invent anything like HIV or Ebola? Or E Coli for that matter??
If Genesis is correct and God created everything, then one would predict in the beginning everything was “good” like the Bible said. Since then, however, everything would be breaking down. The Bible says this started when sin entered the world. The universe might have been created in perfect balance at one time, but when death and decay became part of the equation, we started to get more and more out of balance. So a creation point of view would predict viruses or bacteria would get worse over time because they would break down, mutate, or get out of where they were supposed to be.
There’s an article on this you might be interested in, so I won’t go into as much detail, but suffice it to say that many viruses actually serve purposes, or at least didn’t kill us. One virus was recently discovered that almost every human being has, which scientists theorize is meant to keep the bacteria inside our gut (we need bacteria) in balance. In fact without bacteria, the world would die. Turns out at least some viruses play a bit of symbiotic role with them and thus… are actually necessary. The implication is originally, before mutations took their toll, or the environment changed for the worse, that all these things were in balance, living where they were suppose to live, and doing what they were supposed to do. You have “good” E coli inside you right now, but there is one strain which lost some DNA somewhere that will make you sick now. Creation would predict that sort of thing.
Which means that if Genesis is right, then Ebola would be expected to have had some purpose, or some place where it could exist and not harm humans. For instance, the ocean is full of viruses but sharks and sea life still exist. (However, mutations or changes in that balance could also cause once harmless viruses or bacteria to cause problems. Like with the starfish dying off.)
So why did God create Ebola? I have no idea, but I bet in the beginning it didn’t harm anyone. I bet eventually we will discover it played a helpful role somehow. And ironically, if people followed God’s instructions on life, food, etc… We would have avoided many of those viruses. Weird, huh? It’s almost like he knew….
See, HIV didn’t wipe out the primates where it originally lived, and syphilis wasn’t killing sheep right and left either. Originally, things were in more balance.
Or as the Bible said, it was good.
Since sin entered the world, however, the earth is slowly “wearing out like a garment”. (Psalm 102:25-26 and Isaiah 51:6)
I’m convinced God is letting the ship sink slowly (the earth) so people will look for the lifeboats.
Although I haven’t taken an official poll, it seems most professors, skeptics, media, and those who comment on the Bible would say the disciples of Jesus expected him to come back within their lifetimes. This is often used as another reason not to take the message of Jesus all that seriously, but that is a sweeping judgment that lacks perspective. In fact, when it comes to the return of Jesus according to the Bible, Christians and skeptics alike may be guilty of missing key details.
For instance, many pastors and evangelical Christians today, (of which I qualify as both) maintain that Jesus can come back at any moment. We commonly speak and write in ways that give the distinct impression Jesus could return any moment in our lifetimes. In that respect, we aren’t much different than those early Christians.
It makes one wonder what people might conclude if, in the distant future, someone were to find the writings of Christians from today. Would they pick up a worn copy of “Left Behind” and conclude we believed Jesus would return in the next few years and that Kirk Cameron was our prophet? Couldn’t they also use that as evidence that since Christ did not return, he must not be real? Of course, ask almost any of those Christians or pastors of today and their views are not so simplistic. I have often said Jesus is coming soon, but I am not so certain he is coming in my lifetime.
Perhaps, we Christians should speak and write more carefully using more perspective in the first place? Probably, but that’s not going to happen. There’s never going to be a shortage of writers or speakers making exciting claims, no matter whether they are Christians, secularists, or global warming/climate change alarmist/deniers.
Besides, it’s more fun to talk about Jesus coming in the next few minutes. Come on.
Anyway, as it turns out and despite the fact this is often ignored for the sake of arguing, the writers of the New Testament DID write with perspective. Shockingly, they never Continue reading “How Soon Was Jesus Supposed to Come Back?”
Thirteen years ago when you got home from your first day of kindergarten, most of us parents picked you up and asked, “How was your first day of school?” A lot has happened since then. You tried to make good grades, you excelled in sports, in music, in art, or maybe in science. It’s really amazing the talents you have developed.
This past week I picked up my daughter from school and this time my question was, “How was your last day at school?” You have reached the last day, and just like that first day, we are excited for you and proud of you as we cheer for your success in life.
Did you know God cares about your success, too? The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Knowledge can help you achieve the desires of your heart, of course, but God can do things no one else can. He has ultimate control over our success or failure.
I don’t know if you believe that or not. The Bible predicted “scoffers” would come in the last days and they’re here. People will make fun of you for believing in Jesus. Religion is old-fashioned. We are evolving past it they say. Bill Mahr says religion is the source of all our problems, and Bill Nye seems to think you can’t be a scientist or help the human race advance if you believe God created everything.
They can sound convincing, but that road doesn’t end well. The Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it’s worth noting that it should have been Abraham, Isaac, and Esau. Esau was the oldest son and should have been the next in line. His father loved him, wanted to pass everything down to him, but Esau just didn’t care.
He only cared about the here and now, and agreed to sell his birthright to his brother. The Bible says, he “despised” his birthright. That decision destroyed his future. That’s why we remember Abraham, Isaac, and his younger brother Jacob instead of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.
You’ve heard people say God has a plan for your life, but you don’t have to care either. The world will tell you not to worry about it. The world cares more about the here and now, but I believe if you go down that road, like Esau, you’ll miss out.
So here are three old fashioned things to hang on to no matter what the world says: Continue reading “Dear Senior Class 2014…”
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
When it comes to advances in science regarding the brain and our understanding of where our thoughts, emotions, consciousness, perceptions, choices, and more come from, some of our religious notions like the idea of the immaterial soul, or free-will, or sin might be shaken. That shaking however, so far seems to involve religious traditions and a few interpretations of the Bible, but not the Bible itself. Turns out the actual Scripture is holding up just fine.
Neuroscience, thanks to the use of brain scan technology, is a rapidly growing field of science that is in the process of revolutionizing psychology and our understanding of ourselves, but ironically Jesus and the Bible seem to have been saying similar types of things.
Some logical premise building first: If God is real, and the Bible was truly inspired by him, then it stands to reason that it would remain consistent with much of our own science. That’s not the case with church traditions or some interpretations of the Bible. Those things change all the time. In fact, discovering the truth about most anything, means also discovering what was not true. So while Christians may have to wait until reaching heaven before some arguments over interpretations are settled, it may be that some new scientific discoveries could actually help resolve some long standing debates.
Yeah, that’s probably wishful thinking, but at least the discoveries make the debates more interesting.
For instance, if neuroscience could prove (and some research makes a strong case) that our brain makes a decision BEFORE we are conscious of it, that seems to take away our ability to have free will over our own actions. If we have no real choice, then what about sin? How could God judge us? Continue reading “Neuroscience and the Bible”
Despite the protests of leading atheists who didn’t want to treat scientists and human beings who believed in God as worthy of anything other than to be ignored, Ken Ham and Bill Nye nevertheless faced off for an in-depth, internet broadcast, and CNN-hosted debate over creationism, evolution, the Bible, the flood, naturalism, and definitions of science. It was enlightening at times as even Bill Nye the Science Guy noted after Ham’s opening presentation. The Saturday morning television science teacher started his own presentation by looking at Ham and admitting he had “learned something.” At other times, it left multiple questions begging for answers and more time. The demand by Nye at one point that Ken Ham answer a list of four important questions was comically followed by the debate moderator’s (CNN’s Tom Foreman) formal announcement that Ham had one minute to respond. All of the proceedings, taking place last Tuesday, February 4 at the famous Creation Museum in Kentucky, provided both the benefits of sincere, polite discussion, and the limitations of dealing with such a huge subject in a mere two hours. I simultaneously wanted more to be said, while getting tired of hearing it.
And you might be tired of hearing about it too! So I’ll try to at least be concise.
I loved it when Bill Nye talked about how much he loves science. Obviously I wish he understood how much I love it, too, and many other creationists, but you can’t help but enjoy his passion for discovering things. What so many miss is how many Bible-believing Christians are science buffs. It’s why we can’t get enough of Louie Giglio. And yes, we do go to secular universities and ace those tests too. Those decorated scientists who provided Ken Ham with statements via video clips did not have Theology degrees.
I loved that Ken Ham used the opportunity he had to keep coming back to the Gospel, the good news that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. Sometimes, it seemed Ken sacrificed debate time to do this, but sharing the actual Gospel to a worldwide audience was beautiful. I’m sure it didn’t come close to convincing the most hardened atheist, but God knew who needed to hear that last night and they did. Awesome, awesome, awesome thing Ken.
I love the fact that we had a real, and polite, debate between diametrically opposed world views. We can’t even debate tax policy anymore without competing to see who can roll their eyes the most, but last night we saw something we don’t often see in the world lately, and that is respect for another human being. Judging by the comments and articles following the debate, atheists are quickly trying to put a stop to this nonsense, but for a brief moment yesterday, both sides argued their case on the merits and appealed to people with reason. That’s pretty cool, and as one of the news organizations noted in an article this morning, that’s worth something at least.
I loved that the two men both used power point demonstrations that seamlessly integrated into the broadcast. It reinforced that this debate wasn’t just a name-calling contest that we generally see on the internet or the dismissive disdain from a Dawkins’ column. We all learned something because we weren’t turned off immediately. Instead, the audience was respectfully taught, whether they were in the “choir” or not.
I loved the fact that Ken Ham included video statements, and references from other decorated scientists who didn’t just believe in God, but believed in young earth creationism. Bill Nye in particular has taken up the atheist effort to portray anyone who believes in creation as anti-science and the sort of people who will destroy America’s competitive edge because they are incapable of becoming engineers. Nye continually went back to this caricature at the end of the debate, but his effort was largely diffused by the irony of several famous scientists who evidently were able to engineer important inventions and discoveries despite the fact they believed in God. Ironically, the famous scientists from history that Nye mentioned were often very devout Christians as well, so it doesn’t seem that much of a hindrance after all. Here’s another scientist’s take on that very issue (and several others Nye has brought up). This is important stuff because modern day atheism is dishonestly propagating a lie in their efforts to win people to their side. Why would they do so? I believe the real cause is the spiritual battle. There is a father of lies, and this is what he does.
Hmmm…. that started sounding negative.
Ok, a couple of times I wanted to jump through the screen, besides the times Nye started talking about how anti-science all these God believers are.
They are called polystrate fossils. This is in the category of “Well Someone Should Mention This….” Ok. So in the debate, Bill Nye said he would change his opinion, and Ken Ham could change the world, if Ham could show evidence of a fossil that went from one layer to another. Ham never responded, but …ummm… Bill, there are so many of those particular fossils they have a name: Polystrate fossils. Mostly trees and at least one whale. You know, just in case you ever need this for trivia. One question I wish Ham had countered with was how come we don’t find meteorites in those lower levels? Did it quit raining occasional meteorites for billions of years?
Ken Ham’s answers on radiometric dating were incomplete. He kept going back to the “we weren’t there” statement, but everyone knows it should be possible to study evidence today and make some educated guesses about how it got here. We do the same with crime scenes as Bill Nye noted. What atheists don’t often note is that there can be more than one theory as to how things got this way, just like there is often more than one theory on what happened at a crime scene. Ken Ham was correct to say we all have the same evidence. I just wish the topic of radiometric dating had been delved into a lot more because most people simply accept it as Gospel.
Seriously, most of you reading this have never dated anything yourself and weren’t with the scientists who did. We all usually just believe what they tell us. At the risk of totally shaking your worldview built on your trust that radiometric dating is incredibly accurate, you should read this article. Don’t worry, it was written by a real scientist with four degrees and a lifetime membership in Mensa. You’ll find it interesting.
Finally, I thought Bill Nye had a couple of good questions concerning people who had never heard of the Bible and where the Bible came from. He didn’t really ask the last one, but referred to it a lot. I wish Ken Ham had taken the time to answer those more, because there are real answers for both. Ken did say that eternal life with God doesn’t depend on what someone thinks about the age of the earth or evolution or something like that. You don’t have to be a young earth creationist to be right with God. Lots of Christians believe heartily in evolution. They may be right or wrong about that, but it doesn’t condemn anyone either way.
We are saved based on where stand with God. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, even those who had never heard about him, both past, present, and future. The Bible teaches that God reveals himself to the whole world through his creation. Someone might not know much about God, might not know anything about the Bible or Jesus, but they can still reach out to God because “the heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” That’s from Psalm 19 and it’s quoted in Romans when Paul was talking about how they had “heard” the message from God. If that’s the message-just the creation-that’s not a lot to go on. Evidently though, it’s enough. They might not have ever heard about Jesus in ancient China, but I believe God reached out to each person, and worked in their hearts and in their lives based on what they did know. Jesus is preached of course, because Jesus is the message that God wanted the entire world to hear before the end, but God worked historically and works today on people who haven’t heard yet.
Like I said, It’s a good question and I don’t blame atheists for wanting to hear a fair answer to it. My answer is way too brief, but there it is.
I’m just thankful for the debate. I learned stuff too, and as we all hash through it and argue amongst ourselves, we’ll keep learning. That ain’t all bad.
Rabbi and Pastor Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” rocketed onto the New York Times Best Seller list last year, and garnered Cahn some national attention and several appearances on television and radio. The book, which is written in the form of a conversation between a writer and publisher, AND the same writer and a mysterious prophet, suggests that an ancient prophecy in the book of Isaiah is repeating itself in the United States beginning with the attacks of 9/11. It suggests there are nine harbingers of God’s judgment on the United States and all nine have already happened through events during and since those attacks. In the book, Cahn warns that unless the United States returns to God and repents, that a much larger judgment is inevitable.
Speaking along the same lines at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC last January, Cahn brought up many of the same points he made in his book, portraying America as a nation that had fallen away from God and was in danger of judgment. It should be noted that President Obama was not a part of the prayer breakfast, and judging by the reaction of those in attendance, the audience was largely of the same mind as Rabbi/Pastor Cahn. Early in the sermon he said, “A thousand apostate ministers swearing on a thousand Bibles will not change one jot or tittle of the word of God,” and the audience erupted with approval. Once again, the words that Cahn spoke received media attention again, and the video of the sermon landed on Youtube.
So what of the book and the claims that were made in it? For many Christians who study the Bible and Bible prophecy in particular, there is nothing new or radical in the Harbinger’s conclusions. The idea that the nation is falling away from God as it pursues agendas such as same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, and forces faith-based organizations to comply with these values- is a conclusion shared by many. The problems of materialism, carnality, and immorality are also seen by most Christians as rampant and getting worse, mirroring the prophecy of II Timothy 3:1-4. The idea that God may be threatening the nation with judgment, is a common opinion and worry.
Therein lies my view of what reading the Harbinger is like. It’s the claims, the information, and the conclusions that grab your attention. They will cause discussions at church or at work, and occasionally make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. No matter how skeptical you go into it, there are several points he brings up and several instances of events that have occurred since the tragedy of 9/11 that are at least somewhat eerie. And once you get to those parts of the book it becomes hard to put down.
Getting there might be your battle. Michael Crichton was one of the best at using a fictional story to convey information, and many others including the Harbinger have tried the same idea. Crichton, however, was a master storyteller who included lots of action and story to go with his information. His books often became movie blockbusters as a result. The Harbinger, while borrowing from the idea, doesn’t include much of an actual story with action and drama, but instead reads as a conversation between a writer and a publisher at the publisher’s office. Even then, the writer named Nouriel is recounting in great detail other conversations he had with a mysterious figure who he calls “the prophet.”
The book, therefore, reads as one giant dialogue between two people, alternating between Nouriel and the publisher, and Nouriel and the prophet. As a piece of literature, I often found the dialogue to be tedious, and the characters weren’t always believable. The publisher for instance, seemed too accepting of a Christian worldview which isn’t very common in this culture anymore, especially in the media. Likewise I thought the main character Nouriel would have had more objections to what he was being told by the prophet since he was not a believer in Jesus. (He did become one at the end. Don’t they always?) Nevertheless, you don’t read this book for the story the way you might a Michael Crichton novel. You read this book because of the message. You read it to discover, just like Nouriel did, what exactly those 9 Harbingers are and what they mean.
Without spoiling the book for you, the Harbingers center around a passage from Isaiah 9. It reads like this in the King James Version: “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. -Isaiah 9:10″ The Bible described this as a statement made by Israel “with pride and arrogance of heart,” in verse 9. Instead of repenting, in other words, the northern nation of Israel was making bold proclamations of rebuilding after an attack.
Cahn applies this to America, correlating the Assyrians who came against Israel with the terrorists who attacked on 9/11, and making several other correlations as well. The bricks that had fallen down represented the destruction of the Twin Towers, the hewn stones represented the memorial stone that was laid at Ground Zero several years later, the sycomores represented the sycamore tree that was cut down next to Ground Zero by the church where George Washington and others had prayed for our nation in 1789. The rebuilding with cedars was represented by the large pine that replaced the sycamore at that site.
For most of us, correlations like this are a bit of a stretch because you can almost always manufacture a correlation, at least a vague one, with a poetically written Scripture like Isaiah 9:10. Isaiah 9:10 was a rather obscure sentence in the midst of the entire Bible, and as some have said, there’s nothing in the Bible to indicate God was talking to anyone there besides Israel. Cahn however, makes the case that this follows a pattern of how God calls a nation to repentance, and what God does in leading up to judgment. He goes on to show some hair-raising “signs” that have happened since, such as the stock market crashing 7 years later, on the last day of the 7th Jewish month, and dropping 7 percent, or 777 points in one day. That particular Jewish Day also happened to be the day of reconciling debts, and naturally it was our debt problem that crashed the stock market after the Congress initially rejected a 700 billion dollar bailout deal. Yep, there’s that number 7 again.
That IS a little curious, but if there is a pattern this precise every time God judges a nation, one would expect a sycamore tree to be cut down somewhere every single time. We should expect memorial stones to replace buildings made out of bricks, and cedar trees to replace the sycamores. It’s hard to believe that God always does it this way, with this much detail, such as the idea that terrorism always comes first, or someone related to the Assyrians always starts things off. It seems more reasonable to believe that the circumstances of God judging a nation, may change, depending on a host of different conditions and different times. So a bit of skepticism is in order. Having said that, there are… well…. eerie things.
Cahn brings up some instances that correlate so well, that you are left with the thought that history may be repeating itself. Remember, that’s not a good thing. For instance, while it is true that the Bible was talking to Israel in Isaiah 9:10 and describing what Israel said in the arrogance of their hearts, as it turns out, leaders of the United States said the exact same things after 9/11. In fact, they didn’t just say similar things, they QUOTED Isaiah 9:10 as if it was a good thing.
On the morning after 9/11, Tom Daschle began a speech by saying “there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that I think speaks to all of us at times like this… “the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the …...” You get the picture. Three years later, vice-presidential candidate John Edwards gave a speech in remembrance of 9/11 and began with the exact same Scripture. Then he tailored his entire speech around the words of that verse. Generally, if someone wants to apply a verse to themselves or their country in a good way, they don’t use a verse of the Bible that was proclaiming judgment and condemnation.
Yet that’s exactly what happened. This doesn’t necessarily mean of course that Cahn is right, or that the verse really applies to the United States. It’s just spooky. Obviously the verse applied to Israel when it was first spoken, but many other prophecies have come true in more than one time period, in more than one set of circumstances as well. The virgin birth for instance, or the abomination that causes desolation, or the destruction of Jerusalem, etc… It is certainly possible in other words, for history to repeat itself. It’s happened before, and the fact that leaders of the United States quoted the words of Israel when they were in direct rebellion to God, hmmmm…. poor choice of words. Those were famous LAST words for the Israelites, we probably shouldn’t repeat them verbatim. Just saying.
The conclusion of the Harbinger as I mentioned, leads us back to the same message that many others have spoken concerning our nation. It’s a call to repent and turn to Christ. The apologetics and salvation message in the closing chapter were strained, almost like Cahn’s character, the prophet, was afraid to be too blunt and turn people off. I wish Cahn would have been as straightforward and blunt in those pages, as he was when speaking at the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast. The gospel isn’t complicated, it’s Jesus. He died to pay for the sins of the world, so that we might have forgiveness. For those who turn to God, Jesus is the reason we are forgiven, and the Lord who we follow from that day forward. Cahn would have been well-served to have quoted the apostle Paul:
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” -Acts 17:30-31
Easy for me to say, though. I didn’t go to all the work to write a book.
The Harbinger. It’s an interesting read once you get going.