Friday, December 28, 2012

Does God Exist - Apologia Pt. 1



Apologetics
  • Systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine).
  • A branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.
  
The word ‘Apologetics’ comes from the root word – apologia (ap•o•lo•gia) – which means a defense; especially of one's opinions, position, or actions.

As a young man, I most energetically believed and felt as if I had my world on a string. Being young and a bit na├»ve; I charged ahead after everything that seemed fun, exciting and what appeared to be the right things to do. By the age of 21 or 22; I came to a realization that I was totally messing up. Without giving you the sorted details of my youthful past – let’s just say I found myself in a very bad place and realized I had brought it all on myself.

I realized that I believed certain things, but I could not defend why I believed them. This was in part because I simply had not educated myself on how to defend my ideas and opinions; and secondly – in some conversations I had backed away from defending my ideas because deep down, I knew they did not square with common sense or reality. I would blindly cling to what I thought was right or felt right, because it “felt” like the right thing to do. However, this left me with a sense that I was a bit blind, more than a little bit stupid and simply out of touch. I actually felt that I was basing my life’s decisions and personal opinions more on gut feeling rather than basing them in concrete evidence or facts. This left me feeling wholly inadequate.

I came to an impasse of great internal turmoil. I knew that life was supposed to be about something else; something more, and I needed to know what it was. The idea that life is all about having fun, making money and partying lock a rock star; had lost its luster. I started asking myself some pretty serious questions; many of which I was unwilling to share with my party-hardy friends – because they just would not understand; or they would laugh at me. Questions like – Why am I here? What is life all about? How did our world and universe come to be? Is there a god? If there is a god, how do I find him or know him?

In my infinite stupidity, I did not reach out to others with these questions, because the questions made me feel very uncomfortable. Instead; I quietly set upon a quest for knowledge. I began reading books and researching. Fortunately, I had a healthy appetite for reading and learning.

What happened over the next 2 years was nothing short of a miracle. I did not set out looking for a particular god I could devote myself to. I did not set out looking for Christianity or religion in particular either. I just wanted answers to some fundamental or basic questions about life and the physical world we live in.

What I found is that some of the things I had been taught growing up, were not necessarily correct. For example, in public school I learned about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. My research revealed that it did not square with the findings of science for the last 30 or 40 years. I also found there is physical evidence of evolution within individual species, but yet no physical evidence of one species evolving into another. I learned after reading Darwin’s book, ‘On the Origin of Species’;  that Darwin himself had said that if no fossil evidence was found in the next 50 to 100 years physically showing an evolutionary process of one species to another – that his theory would likely be proven incorrect. Somehow – that small detail was left out from the public school curriculum.

This is just one of dozens and dozens of realities I discovered as I spent more and more hours reading, researching and learning. For instance; I learned about Irreducible Complexity (IC) and Specified Complexity – which clearly show that the complexity within nature; cell structure; function of individual living cells; the structure of DNA – etc. provide an overwhelming evidence that Darwin’s specific theory of evolution is just not possible.

In addition I ended up researching the subjects of Morality and Ethics. While there are a myriad of sources out there for these subjects – my goal was to understand a basic history or timeline of morals. Which have changed or evolved over time? Which have existed in all societies? I found concepts and subjects such as; Aims and Methods of Moral Philosophy, Good Will, Moral Worth and Duty, Duty and Respect for Moral Law, Categorical and Hypothetical Imperatives, the Universal Law of Nature, the Humanity and Autonomy Formulas, Virtue and Vice, etc.. I found the writings of John Locke (who was a huge influencer on our Nation’s Founders and their beliefs). I found the writings of Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Hobbes author of Leviathan and many other writings.

The following short video will serve as a foundation or platform in exploring why we would want to ask basic questions about life and why we would want answers.


I soon found out that the physical universe, space, earth, the structure of our galaxy – nature, science, botany and other biological studies – all screamed overwhelming evidence that there is some intelligence that must be separate from the creation; that designed it and created it.

Intellectual confirmations of an intelligent designer or a creator lead me to wonder if any of the world religions were correct. Which, if any, of the world religions align with and are supported by the evidence in nature?




Resources:

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Good News Publishers. Geisler, Norman L.; Turek, Frank (2004).

True U; Does God Exist? – Focus On the Family

Irreducible Complexity (IC) and Specified Complexity -
 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS!



And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
(Acts 20:32-35 ESV)

Well, we are finally there—Christmas day—the climax of our twenty-five-day odyssey to the heart of Christmas. And although at first blush it may seem an odd one, I want to ask you a question: Do you have the Christmas spirit? I mean, do you really have the Christmas spirit? Better yet, what is the Christmas spirit? Is it the warm and familiar feeling of being with family and friends around a soothing fire and flickering candlelight? Is it the joy of seeing anticipation in the eyes of a child? Is it the satisfaction of un-wrapping a special gift? Or is the spirit of Christmas something else? The answer is found in Christ, who for our sake came that Christmas morn over two thousand years ago. Who for our sake condescended to cloak Himself in human flesh. Who emptied Himself. Who “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man” (Philippians 2:7–8). Who, far from grasping the prerogatives of divinity, “humbled himself” (v. 8).
That, I would argue, is the spirit of Christmas. It is not the rush we experience when we get—get a gift, get a feeling, get a bonus. All these are wonderful in and of themselves. The real spirit of Christmas, however, is found not in what we get, but in what we give. It is becoming ever more like our Savior in the spirit of selflessness. And not just during the Christmas season or on Christmas Day, but rather throughout the remainder of our lives. This Christmas season, my family and I have a prayer for you just as we have a prayer for ourselves. It is that as we see images of the poor standing in soup lines on our television screens, we might see ourselves placing a piece of bread in the hands of the hungry. As we remember those in nursing homes, we might envision ourselves dispensing a hug. As we remember the widows and the orphans, we might imagine ourselves healing their hurts. Ultimately, doing so is in the service of dispensing the bread of life. “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus. “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. . . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” ( John 6:35, 51). So, as you see, the spirit of Christmas is not a once-a-year experience. It is a spirit to be embraced throughout the coming year. It is the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge who experienced a complete metamorphosis after his encounters with the spirit of Christmas past, the spirit of Christmas present, and the spirit of Christmas yet to come. It is the spirit I want reborn in my soul as each Christmas my family and I watch yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. So this year, as you and I wish each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, you and I know exactly what we mean! Merry Christmas, dear friend . . . and to all a Happy New Year!

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  
(Matthew 25:35-40 ESV)

Hanegraaff, Hank - The Heart of Christmas. Thomas Nelson, (2009)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Twas' 11 Days Before Christmas



Found this online today – Some degree of comfort as I wrestle with desperate feelings regarding the Connecticut school tragedy.

God’s Blessings to these families.



Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38,
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We’re spending Christmas at God's house."
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
Those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had,
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe...
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA
— with Andrea Marie.