Friday, May 27

Is The Intelligent Design Movement a Christian Movement?

It can be said that the Intelligent Design movement (ID) was first formulated by William Paley (1743-1805), who developed an analogy about a watchmaker. Paley proposed, "the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use."[1] Regardless of attempts to try and refute this example, the concept itself has continued to grow, particularly in recent years under the likes of Stephen Meyer and Michael Behe of Discovery Institute. But is ID necessarily Christian? (Photo credit: LeisureGuy)

The concept of ID affirms that all living things are designed and also demonstrate what is known as irreducible complexity. Behe originated the term irreducible complexity, which he defines as, "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."[2]  Biochemistry of vision, mammalian blood-clotting pathway as well as the heart, lungs, and brain serve as examples of irreducible complexity.

Whether or not an organism displays design can be demonstrated through what we call an "explanatory filter." Dr. Georgia Purdom provided such a filter: "1. Necessity - did it have to happen? 2. Chance - did it happen by accident? 3. Design - did an intelligent agent cause it to happen? This is a very logical, common-sense approach used by individuals every day to deduce cause and effect. For example, consider the scenario of a woman falling: 1. Did she have to fall? No, but she did. 2. Was it an accident? 3. Or was she pushed? If we apply this explanatory filter to living organisms, a feature must be designed if the first two answers are no."[3]

Behe, in his explanation of irreducible complexity, cites the e coli bacteria's flagellum motor as an example of irreducible complexity. The flagellum is "an incredible microscopic outboard motor which e coli use to move around in their environment. It is made up of 40 individual, integral parts including a stator, a rotor, a driveshaft, a u-joint, and a propeller. If any of these parts are removed, the entire system will fail to function. Some of the flagellum's components exist elsewhere in the microscopic world. These parts also function as part of the Type III transport system. Thus, they could have been borrowed from a Type III transport (a process known as cooption). However, the majority of the e coli's flagellar components are unique."[4]

The anthropic principle and the teleological argument have been used by proponents of ID, however, most of ID's arguments are scientific in nature. But is the Intelligent Design movement actually Christian? Not necessarily, no. It is only creationist in that the theory posits that the complexity of living as well as non-living organisms indicates an intelligent cause. For this reason, many tend to group ID with creationism. William Dembski succinctly points out, "ID is three things: a scientific research program that investigates the effects of intelligent causes; an intellectual movement that challenges Darwinism and its naturalistic legacy; and a way of understanding divine action."[5] The theory of ID focuses on what has been designed as opposed to who, what, when, how, or why it was designed. It is important to note that the ID movement also does not rule out evolution as a possibility, it does not attempt to explain all designs. The movement also claims to not be religiously motivated, but scientifically motivated, thus the reason that what has been designed is focused on rather than the designer. There are atheists who do not deny the strong evidence for design, but are unwilling to acknowledge the existence of God. 

Some who accept Intelligent Design interpret the scientific data under the assumption that the earth was actually seeded by an extraterrestrial race, ancient astronauts or distant explorers. This theory is gaining more and more adherents in recent years, yet has very little data to support it. Regardless, ID does not address either God or aliens. It necessitates a Designer, but does not specify the Designer. The Young Earth creationist organization, Answers in Genesis, points out:

Flagellum Motor (Click to Enlarge)
"The Intelligent Design Theory is not biblical creationism. There is an important distinction between the two positions. Biblical creationists begin with a conclusion that the biblical account of creation is reliable and correct, that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent—God. They then look for evidence from the natural realm to support this conclusion. Intelligent Design theorists begin with the natural realm and reach the conclusion that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent (whoever that might be). This is not a completely accurate assumption, however, as those in the IDM do not specify a creator and do not necessarily accept the Bible as historical.."[6]

ID is careful not to associate itself with Christianity. While it is true that several advocates and promoters of ID are Christian and do utilize their research to benefit Christianity in terms of Creationism, for the most part, the ID movement tries not to associate itself with any particular religion. ID is based upon the presupposition that the supernatural do exist, whereas naturalism presupposes that the supernatural does not exist. Though ID claims to be neutral science, it still works on the basis of presuppositions. Paley's natural theology movement in the 1800's did not continue as well as it should have because it failed to answer, if the universe and everything in it are designed, then who designed the universe and everything in it? Likewise, the ID movement does not specify a Creator, which consequently opens the door for Hindus, Muslims, etc. to use Intelligent Design arguments as support.

For the Christian, Romans 1:20 relays, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse." All men know and can clearly see the evidence of God through His creation, but whether or not the individual chooses to accept or deny this is a personal choice. 2nd Peter 3:3-6 and Colossians 1:15-20 describe the link between God as Creator and God as Redeemer. The ID movement does not specifically recognize the God of the Bible as the Designer nor does it recognize Him as Redeemer. God's role as Creator is foundational and essential to His role as Redeemer.

Is the Intelligent Design movement specifically a Christian movement? No, the ID movement does not specify the God of Christianity as the Creator of the Heavens and the Universe. Again, for the Christian, the Creator, or Intelligent Designer, will remain the Abrahamic God. Nehemiah 9:6 says, "You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you," and we conclude with Isaiah 44:24, which conveys, "...I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself."

Troy Hillman

Sources
[1] Paley, William. Natural Theology: or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature, reprinted in 1972 by St. Thomas Press, Houston, Texas. 3. Print.
[2] Michael Behe. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. 1996. Print.
[3] Purdom, Dr. Gerogia, and Ken Ham. The New Answers Book 2. 5th ed. 2. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2009. 136. Print.
[4] "What is Irreducible Complexity?." Got Questions. Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. April 2011. .
[5] Dembski, William. "Science and Design." First Things. 86 (1998): 21-27. Print.
[6] "Forms of Creationism." Answers in Genesis. Answers in Genesis, n.d. Web. 27 May 2011. .

Monday, May 23

Does God Exist? (Part Two)

In the previous entry of this two-part series, we examined several different arguments for the existence of God. In this entry, we will expound upon some of these arguments and bring up a few others. Does God exist? This may be one of the most important questions you will ever face in life. If God does exist, and if He is the God of Christianity, this means that what we decide about Him determines our eternal destiny, which is not something to take lightly. (Photo credit: Michelangelo, Village of Joy)

Consider the universe. We live in an immeasurable universe, a "temporal" universe defined by time, space, and mass/energy (or simply "matter"). Time, space, and matter - a triune universe. Regardless of what hypothesis we put forth concerning the cause of the universe, it is merely that: a hypothesis. None of us were there at the beginning to observe, test, record, and bear witness to the creation, therefore whatever we believe about the beginning of the universe is based on beliefs, called presuppositions. Essentially, when it comes down to it, two presuppositions exist: 1) that there is an uncaused first cause which was outside or transcendent to the universe caused by something not bound by time and space, or 2) that there is an infinite series of causes extending into infinite time with no ultimate cause.[1]

It is evident that many scientists begin their work and research based upon the presupposition that the natural world - what can be seen around us - is all that there is, that there is no God, and thus no ultimate cause. However, science indicates that time is finite, not infinite, which would contradict the second presupposition, rendering it not useful. Time is not eternal by any means, it was created. To inquire as to what transpired before time was created would be to create a "false paradox," since there was no "before" prior to the creation of the triune universe. If this is so, it indicates that whatever caused the universe to exist must not be bound by time, must be timeless.

As put by scientists at the Institute for Creation research, "Applying the principles of cause and effect, it is clear that scientific logic indicates that the Cause for the universe in which we live must trace back to an infinite First Cause of all things. Random motion or primeval particles cannot produce intelligent thought, nor can inert molecules generate spiritual worship. The First Cause of limitless space must be infinite. The First Cause of endless time must be eternal. The First Cause of boundless energy must be omnipotent. The First Cause of universal interrelationships must be omnipresent. The First Cause of infinite complexity must be omniscient. The First Cause of spiritual values must be spiritual. The First Cause of human responsibility must be volitional. The First Cause of human integrity must be truthful. The First Cause of human love must be loving. The First Cause of life must be living. We would conclude from the law of cause-and-effect that the First Cause of all things must be an infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, spiritual, volitional, truthful, loving, living Being!"[2]

Every effect must have a cause, and the universe is the effect of something, therefore, it must have a cause. Logically, it can be determined that, as noted, only an uncaused first cause by some source could possibly cause the universe to begin to exist, suggesting an uncaused Causer, or a being who set the universe into motion. But if we cannot see this being, God, how do we know He exists? Consider: have you ever met George Washington? Have you ever seen him, heard him, or felt him? (I sure hope not.) Rationally, you would have to answer "no." Likewise, have you ever seen love? How can we know that love exists?

Apologist Ray Comfort points out, "Have you ever seen your own brain? We all believe in many things that we have never seen. Have you ever seen the wind? Have you seen history? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but it is by faith we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence."[3] If we believe in these things yet have not seen them, yet we can clearly see their effects, why is it so difficult for us to accept the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, perfect Creator God? If God did not exist, it would be difficult to explain how personality could arise from non-personality, or how order could ever result from chaos. Similarly, do you believe in love?

Humans are driven by love. Animals, however, are unable to provide assistance to other creatures which they are unrelated to, and seemingly do not recognize the needs of other creatures. While some animals, such as horses, dogs, and cats appreciate affection, it is only humans who can receive, give, refuse, and reject love. Humans are able to use love in an entirely different fashion. Humans love their children when they disobey, we love our enemies and will sacrifice our lives for friends - and enemies. Soldiers sacrifice their lives for others, including other soldiers, even though, according to a Secular worldview they should have no reason to, and in fact should allow the other soldier to survive, as he would be nothing more than competition - yet the soldier saves the other regardless. Self-sacrificial love does not make sense in an atheistic worldview.

ICR succinctly states, "Of course, if God did not create us, how would we ever know what real love is, much less learn to practice love ourselves? The very fact that we can love and be loved (by God and by others) is yet another proof of a Creator's love. Because of His own nature of infinite love and grace, it was God's good pleasure to create things in whom He could bestow His love and grace and who, being made in His image, would be capable of reciprocating and responding to that love."[4] The meaning of life is also called into question when considering the existence of God. Humanity is always seeking its purpose, the "reason for existence," believing that there must be something more than simply using our resources and dying off, one by one.

In an atheistic worldview, based upon the presupposition that God does not exist, or that man is his own god, or even that god is nothing more than the energy or forces of nature around us, the belief is that there is nothing supernatural (though some believe in the extra-terrestrial), the belief that there is no evidence for the Bible's God, and thus there is no plan for anyone's life. It would mean that there is not afterlife, NDE's and OBE's notwithstanding, and there is no eternal life. Essentially, the belief is that when you are dead, you stay dead, and that is the end. If this was true, then what caused life, what caused meaning?

Those kind of beliefs have led to an increase in more and more suicides, studies show, with those who believe they are accountable to a Creator God less likely to commit suicide. As you can easily determine, your presuppositions and worldview are the basis for the way you live your life, and it is best to know what you believe, why you believe it, and whether or not God exists. If an individual believes that there is no meaning to life, that he or she is nothing more than a chemical accident, what would be the point in living, what would be the point in doing anything? Yet humans tend to feel as if they have a greater purpose in life, which can only be explained by a Creator who imbued humanity with meaning. 

What about wisdom? Wisdom is defined in the dictionary as, "the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight."[5] Essentially, wisdom is effectively using and understanding information. Wisdom has allowed humanity to further develop itself a set of scientific and natural laws which evidently dictate the universe, which were already set into place, we simply had not yet discovered them. The source of wisdom that was able to invent and program the universe is an unfathomable intelligence. 

"In particular, the cause of our universe coming into being, and of its continuing to operate as it does, is a dynamic display of the Creator's wisdom, some of which we can scientifically understand and effectively apply. When we do, we are (as Kepler) 'thinking God's thoughts after Him.' To the extent that humans have any wisdom at all, much less the wisdom necessary to understand a meaningful amount of the working of the universe, the very fact that we can understand at all is more amazing than the marvelous physics of the universe!  How can an immaterial mind, residing inside a human body, made mostly of water (along with other constituent elements of the earth), comprehend anything, even this sentence? It is only by God's creative grace that human being can think any thoughts at all, much less thoughts that are logical and analytical enough to be called 'scientific.'"[6]

The specific design of the universe also necessitates a Creator, a Designer. Consider the human eye. As noted by author C.W. Eddy, "The human eye is so complex and sophisticated that scientists still do not fully understand how it functions... Our eyes have 137 million light-receptive pixels in their retinas. The cone receptors in our eyes have chemicals sensitive to different wavelengths of light that our brain represents to us as colors. Even color is a God-given representation to us in our brains. The only scientific differences in light are the measure of its wavelength. The chemicals in the cones stimulate an electrochemical response that is transmitted over the optic nerve to our brains. This information is transmitted at least thirty times per second. In the brain, the information is reconstructed into a three-dimensional hologram of our surroundings replete with depth, color, brightness, and texture."[7] It is difficult to imagine that the human eye could be the product of time + chance + matter, it appears more rational to believe that the human eye was the product of an intelligent designer. 

The human body itself seems to evidence a designer. The adult body is comprised of about 206 bones, which are covered by twice as many muscles, which could not move without bones. Our body has systems which allow us to breathe, systems which circulate our blood, systems which digest our food, and will also heal us when we are injured. Our skin is the largest organ of our body - it is waterproof, it is self-repairing, and it is constantly shedding and renewing itself. Interestingly, your body is creating - and killing - 15 million red blood cells per second. Your fingerprints are your built-in identification card. It is unique for each person, even for identical twins.[8] Everything in the body serves a purpose, even things such as mucus, sweat, and earwax.

Sweat, for example, is very helpful for the human body. Your body functions at around 98.6°F (or 37°C). When it is too cold, your pores "perk up," and keep the heat in. If it is too hot, your sweat glands kick in, and helps to cool your body. It can help cool your body when you are working out, playing basketball, or at the office on a hot day.[9] The body is evidently a product of intelligent design. Living things show evidence of design. Consider the Great Wall of China, the faces of the U.S. Presidents at Mt. Rushmore, the stone heads at Easter Island, Stonehenge, the Pyramids at Giza. Each of these demonstrates evidence of an intelligent designer.

This can be likened unto a chair or even a building. When you look at a building, you recognize that it did not merely evolve over time, you recognize the markings of some kind of a designer. You may not know or what designed and built that building, but you recognize the signs of a designer, because it bears the markings of a designed structure. It would be difficult to belief that Mt. Rushmore was subject to millions of years of erosion and thus became what we see today, in the likeness of the four presidents. It would be logical to believe and accept that something intelligent designed Mt. Rushmore. It would be illogical for us to assume that brick, left alone long enough, would eventually turn into a brick building, or that metal, given enough time and chance, would become a Boeing 747.

The argument used above is usually associated with William Paley, who wrote on this topic in the eighteenth century. He is perhaps most remembered for his example of the watch and the watchmaker, "the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehend its construction, and designed its use."[10] Design implies a designer. For a Christian, the design which we see all around is is best explained by the explanation given in the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

Richard Dawkins, a leading atheist, argued against Paley's watchmaker argument, "All appearance to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with future purpose in his mind's eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind's eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker."[11] But is Dawkins correct in his assumptions?

He insists that natural selection and mutations provide a mechanism for the evolutionary process. He essentially believes that evolution itself is the designer. However, there are theological explanations - such as theistic evolution - which include evolution as the vehicle by which God created, similar to Michelangelo using a chisel to create. Indeed, Dr. Gary Parker says, "Natural selection is just one of the processes that operates in our present corrupted world to insure that the created kinds can indeed spread throughout the Earth in all its ecologic and geographic variety..."[12] Natural selection only operates with the information that is already contained within the genes - it does not produce new information. We can observe great variation within a kind (such as wolves, coyotes and dingoes all the same kind: a kind of dog), but all of which still operated in the information the genes already contained. They were produced from the sorting out, or rearrangement, of this information in the original dog kind. Natural selection and mutations both do not work as a mechanism to produce the information and design of living organisms, therefore, another source must be discovered. God is this source. Information cannot arise from non-information, something cannot come from nothing. Information cannot arise from disorder by chance. It always, without exception, requires greater information to produce information, leading us to the conclusion that information is the result of intelligence.

Since DNA is full of information, and natural selection works on the basis of existing information, what is this source of information? Michael Behe explains why secular scientists do no readily accept creation, "The fourth and most powerful reason for science's reluctance to embrace a theory of intelligent design is also based on philosophical considerations. Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don't want there to be anything beyond nature. They don't want a supernatural being to affect nature, no matter how brief or constructive the interaction may have been. In other words... they bring an a priori philosophical commitment to their science that restricts what kinds of explanations they will accept about the physical world. Sometimes this leads to rather odd behavior."[13]

For those in the Abrahamic traditions, the attributes of the universe indicate that the Creator, Designer, unmoved mover, Judge, the God who made the universe, is the God of the Bible. 
Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] "Time, Space, and Matter ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. .
[2] "The Logical Implications ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. 
[3] Ray Comfort, quoted by Ken Ham. "Does God really exist? How can we know? If God made everything, who made God?." Christian Answers. Christian Answers Network, 2003. Web. Feb 2011. .
[4] "God Caused Love." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 22 May 2011. .
[5] "wisdom." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 May. 2011. .
[6] "God Caused Wisdom." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 21 May 2011. .
[7] Eddy, C.W. The Power of I Will. 1st ed. New York: Pilgrim-Way, 2011. 10-11. Print.
[8] Campell, Stan, et al. "only human?." Inside the Mysteries of the Bible: New Perspectives on Ancient Truths. 2010: 17. Print.
[9] UpChurch, John. "Getting Closer to Gross." Answers Magazine. March 2011: 47. Print.
[10] W. Paley. Natural Theology: or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. Reprinted in 1972 by St. Thomas Press, Houston, Texas. 3. Print.
[11] Dawkins, Richard. "The necessity of Darwinism," New Scientist. 94:130, 1982. Print.
[12] Dr. Gary Parker. Creation: Facts of Life. Master Books: Green Forest, Arkansas, 1994. 75. Print.
[13] Behe, Michael. Darwin's Black Box. 243. Print.

Sunday, May 22

Does God Exist? (Part One)

Does God exist? This is one of the most important questions an individual has to consider at some point in their life. If God exists, what is He? How did He get here? Why did He create us? While those questions have been addressed in other entries, in this entry, we will seek to examine some of the evidence for God. Although absolute proof for the existence of a Divine Creator cannot be realized by any one of us, the compelling evidence, when it is logically and rationally evaluated, indicates the existence of a Creator God. (Photo credit: Hubble, 1234rf)

Understand that you cannot conclusively prove nor disprove the existence of God. As Hebrews 11:6 conveys, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." It is then a simple matter of faith. Paul defines faith in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Faith is not limited to religion. We cannot prove much of human history, yet we accept it regardless. We cannot prove that love exists, we cannot see it, hear it, smell it, or taste it - yet we can feel it. Likewise, God can be felt. Simply because you do not see something does not mean it does not exist.

First, there is clear evidence of supernatural creation all around us. Just as Paul writes in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." From the complexities within our cells to the vastness and wonders of the universe, as well as each planet, each individual's function, God's divine nature and invisible qualities are clearly seen. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reveals that “…He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” Each of us recognize, somewhere deep within ourselves, that God exists. Whether we choose to accept that or not is another story entirely.

The rock thrown off a bridge cannot choose whether or not it will obey the law of gravity, it is bound by the law of gravity, and therefore must follow it. However, each individual is bound by a moral law, whether they realize it or not, but unlike the law of gravity or other natural laws, the individual can choose whether or not it will obey or adhere to the moral law. Each of us deep within recognizes that we should not steal, should not murder, should not commit adultery, should not lust, should not dishonor our parents, should not lie, should not curse, yet we do anyway. Note the behavioral inconsistency of the atheist college professor.

An atheist college professor sits in a classroom all day long and teaches his students that they are nothing more than chemical hiccups, or accidents, and have no purpose except survival - survival of the fittest, only the strong survive, he tells them. He proceeds to go home after work, kisses and hugs his wife and children, and continues to sit down and watch the news on the television. He is appalled at the violent deaths and crimes he sees, and is angry at the man who murdered another man, whom he had never met. This is called a behavioral inconsistency. The professor believes he is nothing more than a chemical accident, yet seeks justice for the murderer, and loves his wife and children. However, this is inconsistent with his worldview.


Credit: Hubble
Everyone has a worldview whether or not they realize it. "A worldview is what we assume to be true about the basic makeup of our world. A worldview is like a mental map of reality. We believe certain things about ourselves and God and life, and then we interpret our experiences through them."[1] In the case of the atheist professor, he believes that he is nothing more than a chemical accident, yet his actions - his behavior - is inconsistent with his beliefs. Seeking justice for the murderer would make no sense in an atheistic worldview, because there would be no absolute morality, it could be likened unto a lion killing an antelope, a bear eating a fish, a bird eating a worm. In the atheistic worldview, the individual should be more happy than appalled, because the loss of one indicates a possible increase in food for him, less competition. 


People could assert that a moral code, a moral law, exists, however, what defines this moral law? The typical response is, "myself. You cannot impose your own morality onto others." However, this is a self-refuting statement. By stating, "You cannot impose your own morality onto others," the individual who stated that is attempting to impose his own personal morality onto other people. In reality, morality is not merely a subjective, there is some kind of absolute morality somewhere that we all adhere to in some fashion, one that would make sense if given by a Creator. If God exists, and is the God of Christianity, it would make sense to love others. It would make sense to seek justice, because these are attributes of the Divine Creator. Consider now the laws of logic. Laws of logic reflect the attributes of the creator: immaterial, universal, invariant, unchanging. 

As conveyed by Dr. Jason Lisle, "How could there be laws without a lawgiver? The atheist cannot account for (1) the existence of laws of logic, (2) why they are immaterial, (3) why they are universal, (4) why they do not change with time, and (5) how human beings can possibly know about them or their properties. But of course, all these things make perfect sense on the Christian system. Laws of logic owe their existence to the biblical God. Yet they are required to reason rationally, to prove things. So the biblical God must exist in order for reasoning to be possible. Therefore, the best of God's existence is that without Him we couldn't prove anything at all! The existence of the biblical God is the prerequisite for knowledge and rationality. This is called the 'transcendental argument for God' or TAG for short. It is a devastating and conclusive argument, one that only a few people have even attempted to refute (and none of them successfully.)"[2]


Another arguments used to lend credence and support to the existence of God is the Cosmological Argument, also known as the first-cause argument. The argument was first stated by Aristotle but was later developed by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). James L. Christian, in Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering, writes, "We live in a world of matter-in-motion. This is an obvious empirical fact. Aquinas observed that if an object is at rest, then it is not in motion; but any object at rest is potentially in motion. Motion is the actualized potential of a particular object. All objects at rest are potentially in motion, but no object will be activated into motion unless it is caused to move by something that is actually moving. No object at rest can be activated by another object at rest, nor can an object at rest set itself in motion. This means simply that every object in motion was set in motion by something else; but that something else must have been set in motion by something before it, and so on. Therefore we are the potential motion of the next series."[3]


Christian continues, "But if we attempt to account for motion by going back in our minds in an infinite regression, we find ourselves in a logical contradiction - a dead end. Something must start the series, and this something, from a purely logical standpoint, must be something without an antecedent activator. Such an activator must necessarily be pure actuality and not potential. Whatever this pure actuality is, it is the 'unmoved mover' which, writes Thomas, 'everyone understands to be God.'"[4] Essentially, everything which begins to exist must have a cause. The universe began to exist, as evidence by such things as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, therefore, the universe must have a cause.


However, by attempting to logically go back in our mind, we are faced with an infinite number of causes. If cause and effect should cease to exist, so too would science. Inevitably, we are faced with one of two choices: either there is an infinite chain of nonprimary causes (nothing ultimately responsible for all observable causes and effects) or there is an uncaused primary Cause of all causes (the One absolute Cause that initiated everything).[5] When we examine the 1st and 2nd Laws of Thermodynamics, we understand that there is no new mass or energy in the universe, energy cannot be created or destroyed (by natural means, not supernatural), but it can change its form of matter. For example, a log from a tree can be burned, and turned into ash. The energy is still there, but it has changed its form.

The second law of Thermodynamics essentially states that the amount of usable energy in the universe is winding down - every time an event takes place, some energy becomes unavailable. In other words, all phenomena (mass and energy) continually deteriorate into lower and lower levels of usefulness.[6] Why is this important? Every cause must be at least as great as the effect which it produces, and will produce and effect which is less than the cause itself. When we logically go back in our minds, as noted, we are faced with an endless cycle of causes, of motion. What is more likely - that many uncaused primary sources are the cause of all sources - or that the universe began to exist because something caused it to exist, something set the universe into motion? This would be the first cause, and the source of that cause would be the unmoved mover: God. This can be likened unto a domino: one of the dominoes must be moved first before the others are set into motion, and something must set the first domino into motion.



Credit: 123rf
Note that everything which begins to exist must have a cause. I did not say that everything which exists must have a cause, only what begins to exist. Mathematical truths and laws of logic did not begin to exist, they are uncaused, and would still be true even if the world had not been created. God does not need a cause because He is uncaused. This is not special pleading, but a rational fact. The third argument we will examine is the Teleological Argument. This is the argument for intelligent design, and as these entries are written for the layman to read, we will not be going into technicalities. Essentially, the argument states that life, the natural laws, as well as the entirety of the universe display and demonstrate enormous specified complexity, bearing the mark of design, necessitating that the universe came from a Designer.


Assume that you are walking along on a sidewalk in the middle of winter and you happen to glance at the snow as you are passing by. You notice that there are words in the snow, and as you lean in you make out, in clear format, "E=mc²." Someone comes along as you are examining the writing in the snow, and you note to the person that someone must have come along recently and written the formula in the snow, because it exhibits the markings of intelligent design. You recognize that it did not happen given enough time and chance, but was the product of something intelligent. In Understanding Intelligent Design, William A. Dembski and Sean McDowell write:


"Let's briefly look at a cell magnified a billion times. On its surface we find millions of openings, like portholes on a ship. But these are not mere portholes. They regulate the flow of materials in and out of the cell. Cells exhibit nano-engineering on a scale and sophistication that scientists have hardly begun to scratch. Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of DNA's structure, described the cell as 'a minute factory, bustling with rapid, organized chemical activity.' That was in the early 1980's. Scientists now think of the cell as an automated city. Inside the cell we find a host of raw materials maneuvered back and forth by robot-like machines all working in unison. In fact, many different objects move in perfect unison through seemingly endless conduits. The level of control in these choreographed movements is truly mind-blowing."[7] 


Dembski and McDowell continue, "And this is just one cell. In larger organisms, cells must work together for the proper function of organs such as hearts, eyes, livers, and ears, and these in turn must work together for the life of the organism. If we peer further inside the cell, we find coils of information necessary to construct proteins. Proteins themselves are remarkably complex molecular systems. A typical protein is composed of a few hundred amino acids arranged in a precisely ordered sequence that then folds into a highly organized three-dimensional structure. That structure enables the protein to perform its function inside the cell. Biologists today cannot even describe the activities within the cell without comparing it to machines and other feats of modern engineering. The reason is that nearly every feature of our own advanced technology can be found in the cell."[8]


Information is the key feature to life. The DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) in even one cell of the human body holds the equivalent of about 8000 books of information. Note that the human body is made up of about 100 trillion cells, each with a DNA strand that could be, when uncoiled, three meters in length. In fact, if the DNA in an adult human were all strung together, it could stretch 70 times from the earth to the sun and back.[9] Atheists provide that given enough time, chance, and matter, anything could happen, however, probability statistics illustrate otherwise. Information cannot rise from non-information. You cannot get something from nothing. The needed information for life has to be assembled somehow, by something. Life itself requires too much information to have arisen by mere random chance. The information in the cell necessitates an Intelligent Designer. As noted by W. Gitt, "There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this."[10] 

Also, "...the earth in orbiting the sun departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every 18 miles—a very straight line in human terms. If the orbit changed by one-tenth of an inch every 18 miles, it would be vastly larger and we would all freeze to death. If it changed by one-eighth of an inch, we would be incinerated. The sun is burning at approximately 20 million degrees Celsius at its interior. If the earth was moved 10% further away, we would soon freeze to death. If it was moved 10% closer, we would be reduced to ashes. Are we to believe that such precision 'just happened'? Think about it: the sun is poised at 93 million miles from earth, which happens to be just right. Did this happen by chance or by design? It’s no small wonder that the Psalmist alludes to God as the grand designer when he declared: 'The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other' (Psalm 19:1, 6)."[11]


Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and now Dawkins, Hawking, and other atheists assert that anyone who believes in God is intellectually unwarranted, a fool, an unstable. Their claim, however, is without warrant. To state that "there is no God" is a universal negative: they are stating something they cannot possibly know. Outside of the Bible, a case could be made for the existence of a Divine Creator, and it is rational, it is logical, it is a warranted belief. Another evidence to consider is beauty. Aesthetics is the study of beauty, typically associated with modern forms of art. However, to judge something by its beauty would indicate that a universal concept of beauty exists. This would suggest that, though judgment is unique to each individual, attempting to determine the aesthetic value of something would require rational judgment on an emotional level.

If beauty exists, and the ability to judge beauty most certainly exists, then the Source of this mental acuity of imaginative appreciation would also be both rational - and emotional. As noted by the Institute for Creation Research, "The vast differences between individual tastes and between cultures, both in time and in location, speak to the enormity of such possibilities and to the unfathomable wonder of the hunger for "beauty" in every human being. That such a hunger exists only in the human being is a wonder in itself! The flower is not impressed with its own majesty; it merely exists with no conscious awareness. The chimpanzee does not gaze longingly on the enigma of the Mona Lisa, nor do the stars muse on the heavens they themselves grace. In fact, all humanity eschews destruction and random chaos as "ugly" and attempts to mask death with various levels of cosmetic disguises, and this speaks to the realization that some sights and sounds are not beautiful, and thus there must exist a standard of perfect beauty."[12]


The world and everything in it would be nothing more than the product of "an accidental collocation of atoms," as put by Bertrand Russell, if God did not exist. If we are nothing more than chemical hiccups, or accidents, than what we call "beauty" is nothing short of a neurologically hardwired response to a particular set of processed data. Timothy Keller, author of The Reason for God, states, "Doesn't the unfulfillable longing evoked by beauty qualify as an innate desire? We have a longing for joy, love, and beauty that no amount or quality of food, sex, friendship, or success can satisfy. We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill. Isn't that at least a clue that this 'something' we want exists? This unfulfillable longing, then, qualifies as a deep, innate human desire, and that makes it a major clue that God is there."[13]


In the next entry, we will examine, elaborate, and expound upon several other arguments for the existence of God. We recognize that none of these arguments necessarily prove that God exists, but it is our hope that they will lead to to conclude that God exists, that He loves you with a perfect love, only wants the best for you, and is waiting for you to seek Him. "The LORD is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, he will forsake you." (2nd Chronicles 15:2b) We also recognize that the reader may not draw the same or even similar conclusions that we have, and we ask that you remain civil in your comments nonetheless, if you do choose to comment.


Thank you for reading this entry of "The Truth." You can reach us at vexx801@yahoo.com or The Truth Ministries team at thetruth.ministryweb@gmail.com, visit us at our facebook page, or visit The Truth Ministries main ministry website. Take care, and God bless you, reader. Troy Hillman


Sources:
[1] McDowell, Josh, and Sean McDowell. The Unshakable Truth. 1st ed. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers , 2010. 17. Print.
[2] Lisle, Dr. Jason, and Ken Ham. The New Answers Book 3. 3rd ed. Greent Forest, Arizona: Master Books, 2009. 268-269. Print.
[3] Christian, James L. Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering. 3rd ed. New York City, New York: CBS College Publishing, 1981. 377. Print.
[4] Ibid.
[5] "Everything Has a Cause ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. .
[6] "The Effect Problem ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 19 May 2011. .
[7] William A. Dembski and Sean McDowell. Understanding Intelligent Design. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest Publishers, 2008. 122-123. Print.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Hill Roberts and Mark Whorton. Holman Quicksource Guide to Understanding Creation. Nasville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing, 2008. 323. Print.
[10] W. Gitt, In the Beginning was Information. Bielenfield, Germany: CLV. 79. Print.
[11] "Is there any conclusive proof of God?." Got Questions. Got Questions Network, n.d. Web. 22 May 2011. .
[12] "God Caused Beauty ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. 20 May 2011. .
[13] Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. 1st ed. New York City, New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. 138-139. Print.

Thursday, May 19

Book Overview: Ezra

The Book of Ezra, written after the Babylonian exile of the Jews, conveys the account of the Jewish return to Jerusalem and subsequent attempts at rebuilding the great city. The book itself is ten chapters long. The first half concerns the return of the exiles under Zerubbabel, and the latter half deals with the return of exiles under Ezra, the high priest. Ezra details the rebuilding of the Temple, as well as the revealing of the Law to the people, and the subsequent conviction and confession. (Photo credit: Marriage Papyrus - Diggings Online, Second Temple - Levitt)

This is the fifteenth Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. If we do not stand on Biblical truth, our starting point for all areas of life. Now, onto the Book of Ezra.
Title: Book of Ezra (English). Ezra and Nehemiah were once one book, at an early stage. Since the time of Origen in the third century-BC, they were divided into two books, as we see them today. Also, the Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah theory states that Chronicles contains material that was set aside from the rest of the book of Ezra, which was canonized before Chronicles. Though heavily debated, some scholars believe that Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1st/2nd Chronicles were originally part of one work. It ought to be noted, however, that this view is not held by all, and many scholars believe this is highly improbable.
Marriage Papyrus
Authorship/Written: Ezra wrote the book of Ezra between 433-400 BC. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were both one book in the original Hebrew Bible, and as such, are really Ezra-Nehemiah. The evidence seems to indicate that Ezra the priest was the author of this book, and there is no reason to suggest otherwise. Much of Ezra (specifically Ezra 7:28-9:15) is written in first person (the "I" point of view). Also, when considering Nehemiah 1:1-7:5, we find itself quoting "the words of Nehemiah," no doubt compiled by the priest, Ezra, from the firsthand account of Nehemiah, as Ezra had access to records and documents in the library of Nehemiah, from which he could glean information and events which he was not there to witness. Ezra 1:1 connects itself with the final verse in 2nd Chronicles, which, as we illustrated in the previous book overview, was also written by Ezra. The vividness and continuity of both Ezra and Nehemiah tend to indicate the writer was Ezra. Lastly, the Jewish Babylonian Talmud (Baba Bathra 15) credits Ezra as the author of this book. Ezra was likely the author of this book, though as with most Biblical accounts, scholars disagree on exactly who wrote it.


The book itself is post-exilic, indicating that it was written after the return of the exiles to Jerusalem, as this is the book's focus. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem after 458 BC, in the "seventh year of the king" (Ezra 7:8), and Nehemiah in 445 BC, which was the "twentieth year" (Nehemiah 1:1). Nehemiah returned to Babylon in the "thirty-second year" (Nehemiah 13:5), which is around 433 BC, providing that this book was likely written after 433 BC. Ezra and Nehemiah were written during the reigns of Artaxerxes I (Longimanus), who lived 464-423 BC, and Darius II (the Persian). He is not to be confused with Darius the Mede (Daniel 6) or Darius I (Hytaspes), who loved from 521-486 BC. The Babylonian captivity lasted seventy years, just as Jeremiah had predicted.


There is an objection raised typically regarding Nehemiah 12:11's mention of Jaddua, who Josephus (first century historian) mentions was priest during the time of Alexander the Great, ca. 330 BC. As author Norman L. Geisler points out, "There are two possible solutions: 1) Jaddua's name in Nehemiah 12:1 may be a later addition included in order to complete the genealogical listing. 2) If Jaddua was very young, say twenty, in 400 BC, then he would have been ninety in 330 BC. This is not an impossible age span. Note also that the 'Darius' mentioned in Nehemiah 12:22 was not the Darius of Alexander's day (c.330 BC), but Darius II (432-404 BC). Likewise, the phrase 'the days of Nehemiah' (Nehemiah 12:26) is not a reference to a long past event but an allusion by Ezra to the chief contemporaries of his day (the references to Joiakim, Ezra, and Zerubbabel in Neh. 12:26 are of the same manner). We conclude, therefore, that there is no substantial reason to doubt the evidence that Ezra wrote the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah before 400 BC." (Geisler, 160-161)

Summary: "Ezra tells of how God kept His promise to restore the Jews to their homeland. It records how the prophet Ezra led the first wave of Jews back to Israel and initiated the process of rebuilding their nation." (Source: NIV)

Overview 
Ezra 1-2 - The first exiles return to Jerusalem
Ezra 3-6 - The rebuilding of the Temple
Ezra 7-10 - The return of Ezra

Breakdown:
Ezra 1 - King Cyrus orders the exiles to return home after 70 years in captivity
Ezra 2 - A list of the exiles who returned
Ezra 3 - The temple's foundation is laid
Ezra 4 - Opposition to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, Work comes to a halt
Ezra 5-6 - Tattenai's letter to Darius, decree of Darius, completion and dedication of the Temple, Passover
Ezra 7 - More exiles return along with Ezra the priest
Ezra 8 - List of the heads of family returning with Ezra, the Return to Jerusalem
Ezra 9-10 - The mixed marriages among Israelites, Confession of sin


The message of Ezra is essentially the place and power of the Word of God among the religious, social, and civil life of His people. Ezra can be broken up into seven sections:
1) The Return of Israel
2) The Re-Erection of the Altar
3) The Rebuilding of the Temple
4) The Restoration of Temple Rituals
5) The Student of the Word of God
6) The Great Trembling
7) Repentance and Reform

Ezra 1-6 deals with the return under Zerubbabel, with about 50,000 people, and Ezra 7-10 deals with the return under Ezra, along with about 2,000 people. From the end of chapter six until the start of chapter seven there is a blank spanning about sixty years. Zerubbabel was heavily influenced by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and thus resumed the building of the Temple with the permission of king Darius. The temple was complete in 515 BC, under Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel and the high priest Jeshua are both mentioned in Haggai and Zechariah, in both of which Jeshua is called Joshua. When Ezra came to Jerusalem, as mentioned, it was about sixty years later.
Points: Ezra was actually a descendant of Hilkiah, who was the high priest during the reign of King Josiah. Hilkiah was the one who found a copy of God's Law (see 2nd Chronicles 34:12). Ezra himself was not able to exercise his priestly duties during the captivity in Babylon, but instead gave himself to the study of the Word of God. Ezra read and expounded upon the Word of God to the Israelites after he had returned. The law was utilized by Ezra as a platform to discipline the Israelites and at the same time, provide them with something tangible to cling to in times of trial and tribulation.


Though the book of Ezra is not quoted in the New Testament, it is still considered canonical, as it pasts all Scriptural tests.


Geisler points out, "One of the main teachings of these books is the faithfulness of God to His covenatal promises to Judah. God had promised them a land and religious center in Jerusalem as well as a return after seventy years of captivity (Jer. 25), and He kept His promises. Further, as in Chronicles, Ezra the priest reflects here the centrality of the Temple worship to the whole life of the Jewish nation. Another obvious lesson in these books is the power of prayer (Ezra 9; Neh. 9) and of the Word of God (Neh. 8)" (Geisler, 161).


A simple reading of the book of Malachi reveals that there was much social and moral abuse abounding in this period. Stealing, divorce, foreign marriages, violence, and cheating occurred frequently. However, when Ezra exposed the people to the Law by the Word of God, the people were convicted, and subsequently confessed and repented. This led to a revival in the Jewish nation, and served as a platform for social and spiritual change.


Model of the Second Temple
The Jews were under five Persian rulers between the decree of Cyrus and the time of the restoration of the Temple: Cyrus (559-530 BC), who decreed that the Jews return to Jerusalem, and lived at the end of Daniel's life. Next came Cambyses (530-522), but is not mentioned in either Ezra or Nehemiah. Darius I (522-486 BC) followed, reigning while the temple was rebuilt. Haggai and Zechariah were prophesying during his reign. Xerxes I (Ahasuerus, 486-465 BC) was the next king of Persia. He was the king who made Esther his wife and Mordecai his gran vizier. He was succeeded by Artaxerxes I (465-423 BC), who sponsored the return of Ezra and Nehemiah to Jerusalem. During his reign, Jerusalem's walls were rebuilt, reforms were made, and Malachi was prophesying during his reign.


Clifford Wilson illustrates how archaeology supports Ezra (and Nehemiah), "1. Elephantine papyri, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Targums of Job, etc., show that Aramaic was then in use, as Ezra indicates. 2. Sanballat was, as the Governor of Samaria (Nehemiah 4 and 6), though it was claimed by many writers that Sanballat was much later than Nehemiah. Several Sanballats are now known, and recovered letters even refer to Johanan (Nehemiah 12:13). Geshem the Arab (Nehemiah 6) is also known. Despite longstanding criticisms, Ezra and Nehemiah are accurate records of an actual historical situation. 3. The letters about Sanballat clear up a dating point regarding Nehemiah. Nehemiah's time was with Artaxerxes who ruled from 465 to 423 BC, not Artaxerxes II. This illustrates the preciseness with which the Old Testament dating is very often established by modern research."


Archaeology-wise, there are also several other evidences that support Ezra. For example, the decree of Cyrus found at both the end of 2nd Chronicles and beginning of Ezra can be verified through an object called the Cyrus Cylinder. In fact, the tomb of Cyrus the Great has also been found. He was buried in a gabled stone tomb outside of the captial, Pasargadae, in what is now modern Iran. According to the historian Strabo, this inscription once graced the structure, "Oh man, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument" (Geography xv.3.7). The likeness of King Xerxes I of Persia has also been found, further lending credence to the Biblical account. Excavations at the southeast corner of the Temple have also shown stonework which allegedly dates to the time of Zerubbabel, who led the first group of exiles.


Ezra details the rebuilding of the Temple, yet there was still much work to accomplish within Jerusalem itself. Without the rebuilding of walls, Jerusalem would be wide open to enemy attacks and invasion. It was Nehemiah's job to step up and see this task carried out...


Next Book Overview: Book of Nehemiah
Previous Book Overview: Book of 2nd Chronicles

Sources:
Geisler, Norman L. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978. 159-163. Print. 

Various. Zondervan Handbook To The Bible. Zondervan, 1999. 3rd ed. 329-333. Print.

Kohlenberger III, John R. "Read Through The Bible In a Year." Moody Publishers, 1986. 45-46. Print.

Wilson, Clifford and Ham, Ken. The New Answers Book 1. 12 ed. Master Books Books, 2006. 316. Print.

Lee, Robert. "The Outlined Bible." London Pickering & Inglis LTD. 1st ed. 15. Print.

Metzger, Bruce M., and Michael D. Coogan. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. 1st ed. New York City, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 219-221. Print.

Monday, May 16

The Uniqueness of Scripture

The Bible is an extraordinary book. For some, it is merely another "great book" which sits on their shelf with other books, or with other religious texts. For others, it is recommended reading, while yet others scoff at the very idea of ever reading the Bible, let alone owning a copy. What makes the Bible unique? What makes the Bible stand out among others? What is so special about this book? In this entry, we will not be attempting to prove the Bible's divine inspiration, but to explore the uniqueness of the Bible. (Photo credit: 1 -ICR, 2 - ICR)

It was written between ca.1445 BC-90 AD, a period of approximately 1500-1600 years, by over forty authors. These forty authors were from many walks of life: kings, farmers, fishermen, philosophers, statesmen, tax collectors, scholars, poets, historians, peasants, priests, military generals, cupbearers, doctors, herdsmen, the like. Having been written over sixty generations, the Bible covers a wide range of history. The Bible was also written in different locations. For example, Moses wrote in the wilderness, Daniel wrote in a palace and on a hillside, Jeremiah wrote in a dungeon, Paul wrote inside prison, Luke wrote on his travels, John wrote on the island of Patmos, and many other situational locations.

The Bible was also written at different times: times of peace and times of war, as well as different moods, as in sorrow and despair to joy and happiness. It was written on three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe. As for its language, the Bible was written in three different languages: Aramaic, which was the language of the Near East until the time of Alexander the Great (6th-4th century BC)[1], Hebrew, and Greek, which was the language the New Testament was written in. By the time of Jesus, Greek was the international language.

Credit: Institute for Creation Research
Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are about one central being: Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God Himself. He appears throughout the Hebrew Bible in various forms, often as the angel (meaning messenger) of God, as He did to Moses in the burning bush, or the Commander of the Lord's army to Joshua before the march around Jericho, even appearing in the flames with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to save them. Jesus is clearly seen in prophecies concerning his Incarnation all throughout the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 53, for example), and metaphors directed toward the Messiah were used all throughout as well.

The New Testament shows the fulfillment of these things: prophetic fulfillment, end of the Old Covenant and initiating of the New Covenant, as well as the meaning - and consequences - of the coming of Jesus, and a look into the future, when Jesus will return. The Bible is His story. The Bible explores many controversial subjects, one which should create opposing views and opinions among its forty authors. However, all forty or so authors spoke in harmony and unity, from the very beginning (Genesis) to the very end (Revelation). The central theme is that of the redemption of man through God.

F.F. Bruce, in "Archaeological Confirmation of the Bible," notes, "The Bible, at first sight, appears to be a collection of literature - mainly Jewish. If we enquire into the circumstances under which the various Biblical documents were written, we find that they were written at intervals over a space of nearly 1400 years. [Closer to 1500-1600] The writers wrote in various lands, from Italy in the west to Mesopotamia and possibly Persia in the east. The writers themselves were a heterogeneous number of people, not only separated from each other by hundreds of years of and hundreds of miles, but belonging to the most diverse walks of life. In their ranks we have kings, herdsmen, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests and prophets, a tentmaking Rabbi and a Gentile physician, not to speak of others of whom we know nothing apart from the writings they have left us."[2]

Bruce concludes, "The writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distinctively Biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic."[3] The Bible itself is not merely an anthology, there is, as aforementioned, a unity and harmony which runs all throughout. It is clearly the most influential book in all of history. It is the most read, the most sold, the most loved, but at the same time, the most hated by skeptics and critics, generally because of its implications.

Though its composition ended nearly 2000 years ago, it is still read regularly read, one that is relevant to every period and people in history, one that is read by people from all walks of life and age group, the most quoted, it is published in more languages than any other book (over 2287 as of 2002),[4] and more copies have been produced of its entirety as well as sections and portions than any other book in human history. About 60-70 years ago, Hy Pickering of the British and Foreign Bible Society stated that to meet demands, the Society had to publish "one copy every three seconds day and night; 22 copies every minute day and night; 1369 copies every hour; 32,876 copies every day in the year. And it is deeply interesting to know that this amazing number of Bibles were dispatched to various parts of the world in 4583 cases weighing 490 tons."[5]

Now, again, none of this proves that the Bible is God's Word, but it does prove that the Bible is unique. It can be argued that every book is unique in its own way, however, no book is more unique in so many ways as aforementioned than the Bible itself, regardless of language and translation. In terms of translation, the Bible was actually one of the first books to be translated, ca.250 BC, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint. The Bible was also the first book printed on Gutenberg's press, in the form of the Latin Vulgate. The longest telegram ever sent was the Revised Version New Testament sent from New York to Chicago, another impressive curiosity.[6]

The Bible has more manuscript evidence to validate the veracity and accuracy, as well as its authenticity. In consideration of the New Testament alone, there are around 24,000 copies According to the Institute for Creation Research, "Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written in the first century B.C. There are only 10 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,000 years after the original.Aristotle’s Poetics was written in the fourth century B.C. There are only 5 manuscripts in existence. The earliest textual evidence we have was copied 1,400 years after the original. There are many more writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture; we could reconstruct the entire New Testament from their writings alone."[7]

ICR concludes, "There were millions of man-hours spent in cross-checking the manuscripts. There remains only 1 percent of all New Testament words about which questions still exist; no questionable passage contradicts any Bible teaching. The Hebrew Bible has been more accurately transmitted to us than any other ancient writing of comparable age. The textual evidence is greater for both the Old and New Testaments than any other historically reliable ancient document. The ancient scribes were very meticulous."[8] The Bible has survived through centuries of persecution and skepticism, as well as criticism. 

The Bible was originally written on perishable material (papyrus, parchment, vellum, etc), and had to be copied by hand for several centuries before printing was finally invented, however, as history, archaeology, and the Biblical text clearly shows, the Bible was meticulously copied, both by the priests and by the Greeks, and it has not changed one bit, nor has it suffered under the constraints of time. No other book has been subjected to so many attempted bans, burnings, outlaws, as the Bible has, because of its content, its message, and its implications, namely that if it is all true, it implies that there is a Creator God we are accountable to, and many do not wish to accept that as a fact.

According to Arthur Brisbane, who is a non-Christian, the Bible contains various types - and brilliant examples - of great literature in many forms: lyric poetry in the Psalms, dramatic poetry in Job; historic narrative art in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles; rural idyll in Ruth; patriotism in Esther and Daniel; practical wisdom found in Proverbs; philosophy in Ecclesiastes; moving depth in Isaiah; short stories in the Gospels; letters in the various Epistles of the New Testament; and thrilling mysticism in the book of Revelation.[9]

1st Samuel through 2nd Chronicles spans about five centuries worth of history concerning Israel. Wilbur Smith, citing Professor Albright, in his essay, The Biblical Period, states succinctly, "Hebrews national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal and family origins. In Egypt and Babylonia, in Assyria and Phoenicia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar, since their earliest historical memories are literary deposits of distorted dynastic tradition, with no trace of the herdsman or peasant behind the demigod or king with whom their records begin. Neither in the oldest Indic historical writings (the Puranas) nor in the earliest Greek historians is there any hint of the fact that both Indo-Aryans and Hellenes were once nomads who immigrated into their later abodes from the north. The Assyrians, to be sure, remembered vaguely that their earliest rulers, whose names they recalled without any details about their deed, were tent dwellers, but whence they came had long been forgotten."[10]

Credit: Institute for Creation Research
Even if all copies of the Bible were destroyed, you could still piece it all back together by the many quotes. Historical evidence, archaeological evidence and textual evidence all give credence to the fact that the Bible we have today is accurate and authentic. Prophecy helps accomplish this means as well as providing us with a good evidence for the truth of the Bible. In their latest issue, Answers in Genesis Magazine points out, "...despite this marvelous array of topics and goals, the Bible displays a flawless internal consistency. It never contradicts itself or its common theme. From Genesis to Revelation, we see man's repeated rebellion against his holy Creator... Both the Bible and history weave together in seamless harmony, as though the Creator ordained this plan and recorded it in Scripture even before it unfolded in history. And that's exactly what the Bible claims took place! God says that He alone can declare the future (Isaiah 42:9), and hundreds of His prophetic predictions have been fulfilled with absolute precision, while others await fulfillment."[11]

Philip Schaff, a historian, in The Person of Christ, illustrates the uniqueness of the Bible's central figure, "This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens into motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men and women of ancient and modern times."[12]

The Bible is certainly unique. More books have been written on it, more time has been spent studying it, more time has been spent trying to prove and disprove it, than with any other book in history. The Bible is unique in its composition, in its preservation, in its unity and harmony, and in many other ways. 

Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. 1st ed. Arrowhead Springs, California: Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972. 18. Print.
[2] Bruce, F.F. "Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament." Revelation and the Bible. Edited by Carl Henry. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1969. Print.
[3] Ibid.
[4] "Why Is The Bible Unique?." The Way to God. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. .
[5] Ibid, [1].
[6] Ramm, Bernard. Protestant Christian Evidences. Chicago: Moody Press, 1957. Print.
[7] "The Manuscripts ." Institute for Creation Research. Institute for Creation Research, n.d. Web. April 2011. .
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid, [4].
[10] Smith, Wilbur M. The Incomparable Book. Minneapolis: Beacon Publications, 1961. Print.
[11] Chaffey, Tim. "Can We Prove the Bible is True? (3 - Unity of the Bible)." Answers in Genesis Magazine. March 2011: 58-59. Print.
[12] Schaff, Philip. The Person of Christ. American Tract Society, 1913. Print.