Archive for May 2014
Our inquiring band of scientifiic/philosophical researchers had a really scientific way of determining our journey. We threw questions in a bowl and asked a small child to draw them. We numbered them and decided to investigate them in that order. Because they had included me, I had a question in the pool and mine was drawn first.
“Is there sufficient evidence of Jesus’ historical existence?”
We found that there was. I used Josh McDowell”s Evidence That Demands a Verdict and other materials. David used a variety of sources. We presented our papers and Rick the researcher asked his wife, who was a history professor, to judge our sources and arguments. She ruled my sources to be more historicallly accurate. David had used John Dominic Crosson, Kenneth Davis, and members of the Jesus Seminar. Kate checked them for scholarship and use of primary sources. My research was more solid.
When we look at The historicity of Jesus almost all scholars agree that someone named Jesus lived and died in Jerusalem. They may argue with the miracles and the ressurrection, but the essential fact of Jesus’ existence hasn’t been in question.
Twenty-five years is a long time. We research topics in order and we have three months to present our arguments. Sometimes we seek outside judging. One of the professors at the Geophysical Institute attends my church. Rick knows a lot of medical researchers. Bai and I both use the theologians we know. We’ve wandered widely in our inquiries, but we can always count on David to keep us circling around the topic of science and the metaphysical.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot of science and I’ve been called upon to defend my faith often. So has Bai. David and Rick have agreed that Bai is not distorting science. He convinced David that the presuppositions of paleontology are not as solid as he originally believed. The lack of transitional fossils (those that link species) bothers him. He now calls himself an agnostic because he admits atheism is a hard core stance that he can no longer validate.
“Atheism says there is no god and shuts the door there. It gave me permission to mock believers, but I’ve come to realize that believers can be rational and intelligent and view the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions. I don’t agree with the conclusions, but I’m not sure now if I am always right. Agnosticism is a more honest stance.”
Rick has become a Christian. As an agnostic he was always honest in not ruling out what he couldn’t see. His team’s would renown breakthrough in neurochemistry had been based on a leap of logic that worked out – someone who saw something the rest of the research world did not. He sees his decision to accept Christ was the logical progression of reasonable analysis of the evidence.
Bai is now a science teacher because the prejudices of the scientific world against scientists who are believers frustrated him to the point where he decided to stop fighting it. He loves his second career where he can teach students that a scientist’s greatest tool is a mind that questions authority – including scientific dogmas.
More later on our individual stories and some of our conclusions.
The extended Markham clan is loosely based in Seattle. They’re a prolific lot. A bunch of us cousins were standing around on my aunt’s deck during a family reunion about 25 years ago. Two were brothers – David and Bailey, there was Rick, myself and a couple others who do not play roles in the rest of the story.
David was an atheist working toward becoming a paleontologist. Bai was a biochemist getting a second masters in theology. Rick was a research doctor whose team had recently made a huge discovery in neurobiology.
Bai and David had each had a couple of beers and were starting to get on each other’s nerves. Young men, brothers and beer – not surprising.
When the insults got deep enough, I appealed to Bai’s Christian ethics to cool him down. David appealed to Rick, as the “real” scientist didn’t he agree that faith hopelessly tainted science? The agnostic Rick did not want to take sides, so he proposed a research project. He told me later that he thought they’d be uninterested, but somehow we all threw questions into a bowl. I am not even sure how I ended up included in the group. I’m not a scientist. Rick said that if I could understand their arguments, then they would be making sense. I was their control.
The 25-year journey of this group has strengthened my faith immensely because what I’ve learned is that God uses the arguments against Him to reveal Himself.
I will explore this in future posts.
I do enjoy discussing my faith with nonbelievers because I find that at least 80% of the people I interact with know very little of what faithful Christians actually believe. How can you judge something you know nothing real about?
Most people, even those raised in church, have never read the Bible. They know what they think they know from snatches of conversations they’ve overheard, media discourse on television (usually by people who are as ignorant of the Bible as they are, but pretend not to be) and a televion show or movie. Even many churchgoers learn their theology from these sources.
I came to Christ as a young adult and I started my journey toward faith by having my presuppositions challenged. If I really believed that God could not be known or proven, on what did I base my belief? I’d learned it from adults who had never questioned their own presuppositions – my mom, teachers, a whole Alaskan culture that was highly secular. I knew some people who went to church, but I learned later, once I knew what to look for, that I had never known anyone who had faith … until I happened to reluctantly read Francis Shaffer’s “The God Who Is There.” What can I say? It was the only English I language book in a remote Alaska cabin hemmed in by fog. I recognized it later as a God thing.
The point is, if someone hasn’t challenged their own presuppositions, one way or another, I don’t think they have any claim to “truth” or freedom of thought.
Ignorance of any subject is no crime, but people who see their ignorance as a virtue and accuse me of closed-minded fundamentalism are displaying incredible arrogance.
Yes, I subscribe to the fundamentals of Biblical Christian faith. There’s nothing wrong or stupid about that. Without Newton’s fundamentals, physics would not be where it is today. Knowledge of the fundamentals of electricity allows my husband Brad and his fellow electricians to do their jobs without killing themselves. Beware the man who wants to build a great structure without knowing anything about foundations.
Belief does not close one’s mind. Jesus said “You will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” He later claimed to be that Truth. I know the Truth and it has given me freedom of thought as well as assurance that I will never learn anything that will disprove Jesus as God. So I read books, talk to atheists, challenge my presuppositions occasionally (about yearly) and review my foundations because I can and because it’s a really good way to strengthen my faith.
How do I do this? Let me introduce you to my family.
Just because something is in the Bible does not make it Biblical.
Cain killed his brother Abel in the first generation of natural born humans. That doesn’t give us permission to kill our brothers.
When we talk about sexual immorality, it is easy to focus on homosexuality, because it is the current culturally-acceptable sin. But our world today knows plenty of other sexual immoralities.
- Fornication – sexual outside of marriage, which could include prostitutes
- Pornography – the sin in your mind is the same as the sin with your body, and ladies, this includes romance novels
- Divorce and remarriage – it’s not actually the divorce that is a sin. It’s remarriage that is the problem
- Polygamy/polyamory – three or more is definitely a crowd
- Incest – sex with your child, your parent, your siblings, and even your former inlaws
- Adultery – yes, God really does care if you cheat
Some of the Old Testament patriarchs practiced polygamy. Today, you can find many reportedly “christian” websites promoting the idea of Christian polyamory. The message boils down simply to “all God’s children ought to love one another, right now, regardless of marriage, regardless of gender, regardless of …” well, God’s plan.
Polygamy/polyamory was practiced by some of the men in the Bible, but it was never honored by God. You doubt that?
Abram married Hagar when Sarai failed to give him an heir. The union produced truly tragic results. God promised Hagar that her son would become the father of a great nation because he was Abram’s son, but He also promised that Ishmael would be a “wild donkey of a man” and a warrior hostile to his brothers. Those brothers hadn’t been born yet and Sarai was past bearing age, so both Hagar and Ishmael developed a haughty attitude. Then Sarai became pregnant in her old age and Hagar and Ishmael were forced to leave the family because they were a risk to Isaac’s very life. Ishmael became the progenitor of the Arab nations that today show such hostility to Jews and Christians alike – as promised.
All the other polygamous relationships in the Bible show a similar pattern. Lamech (Genesis 4), Essau (Genesis 28) and Jacob in Genesis 29 show that polygamy is wrought with favoritism, fighting, jealousy and mistreatment (Genesis 35 and 38, 2 Samuel 3, 13 and 15, 1 Kings 11). David’s multiple wives led to multiple children, one of whom raped his half-sister, another whom avenged that sister’s rape and set off the rebellion of a third brother. Solomon’s multiple wives led him off into idol worship.
Polygamy existed in the Bible, no doubt, but at a high cost to the families involved and often to the nations surrounding them. Joseph, though living in very polygamous Egypt, took only one wife. It appears that was the standard during the Hebrew slavery in Egypt. Moses’ father appeared to have only one wife and Moses himself had only one wife, though unlearned critics try to argue otherwise based on a mistranslation in the King James version. Joshua’s wife is never identified and we don’t know if he had children. Some of the judges were polygamous and it rarely worked out well for them. Think of poor Samson, blinded and abandoned, pulling the Philistine temple down on himself because it was his last option after being betrayed by his lover.
Just because a mouse is in the jar does not mean he’s a cookie. Just because sinful human beings who played important roles in God’s plan for mankind acted in sinful ways does not mean the Bible (or God) approved the sin.
My Turn: Some view progress as a distraction | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper.
The ongoing saga of the Juneau Access Road. The writer makes good points, even though I think the road is really a longer road to a more distant ferry terminal that will often be inaccessible due to avalanches.
A happy medium for city size: When it comes to populations of Alaska cities, less can be more – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.
I don’t know who wrote this, but it’s definitely a different writer than the usual editor. Maybe it’s the new publisher.
And, I agree with her. Fairbanks should fight to maintain its more frontier Alaska zeitgeist and a lower population makes that easier to do — except ….
Fairbanks already is at a gross disadvantage in the Legislature against Anchorage. The entire state is balanced against that behemoth and that’s not a good thing for the state or our community. What the editorial doesn’t mention is that we are also losing population to the Mat-Su, which is very much aligned with Anchorage.
The resources of this state are controlled by the Legislature. Anchorage gets it all even though the resources constitutionally belong to everyone in the state. Fairbanks needs the natural gas pipeline, we need it to come from the North Slope because if it comes from Cook Inlet, Anchorage will control the supply. We need roads. We need to maintain the main University campus here, and trust me, Anchorage would like to dismantle it and move it to Anchorage.
So, the population standing of Fairbanks against Juneau and the Mat-Su matters for funding needed projects, not just here but throughout non-Anchorage Alaska, and for not forcing the values of Anchorage — a big city — on the rest of our more rural state. Juneau and Mat-Su are a great deal more cooperative with the Interior when they aren’t in the cats-bird seat, but as Fairbanks slides in population (driven by insane space heating and electrical costs), it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain any sort of coalition of smaller communities against Anchorage.
The solution would be to turn our resources over to the boroughs or to start sending every Alaskan an $18,000 check for our share of the royalty oil and then charging us a state income tax. It would put all communities on an equal level, but that’s not going to happen, so population matters.