Monday, March 18, 2024

Evidence for the Authenticity of Daniel

The book of Daniel in the Bible is an amazing book! It contains hundreds of very detailed prophecies, most of which are known to have been fulfilled. They include such things as the sequence of world empires from the Babylonians through the Medo-Persians, Greeks, and Romans as well as many specific events like the premature death of Alexander the Great at the height of his power, the division of his kingdom into 4 main empires, and the squabbles of the Seleucids and Ptolemies in the centuries afterwards. This presents a problem for skeptics of the Bible, which they resolve by claiming Daniel was written after most of the events it describes, and thus that the prophecies weren't prophecy. They were just history.

Because Daniel clearly describes the events of the mid-2nd century BC when the Maccabees revolted against king Antiochus of the Seleucid empire and cleansed the temple, the date assigned to the book is right around 164 BC when these events took place. This is in contrast to the traditional date for Daniel around 603-536 BC when the prophet Daniel lived. This earlier date was during the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people and during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar of Babylon and Cyrus of Persia. In other words, the traditional date assumes the book is authentic, written by the actual prophet Daniel during the time the book describes. The late date assumes the book is a fraud, written in the time of the Maccabees but pretending it was written by the prophet Daniel hundreds of years earlier. The fraudulent author was thus writing known history as if it was prophecy. 

These two views of the book of Daniel are in stark contrast. Defending the Bible requires defending the early date of Daniel. There are many other lines of evidence for the Bible, of course, but Daniel plays an important part in showing the supernatural inspiration of scripture through accurate, fulfilled prophecies.

As it turns out, there are many lines of evidence that support the earlier date for Daniel while the late date is mostly wishful thinking and bias against the supernatural. If someone rejects the inspiration of scripture or the existence of God, they need Daniel to be written late. It's the only option. Daniel's prophecies are too detailed and too clearly shown in history to deny unless they were written after it all happened. So the late date exists because skeptics need an explanation. In contrast, the earlier date relies on the evidence.

Here are some major reasons to accept that Daniel was written in the 6th century BC when it claims to have been written.

1) The book of Daniel recorded history that wasn't known at the time of the Maccabees.

The book of Daniel has been mocked and ridiculed for its supposedly false claims, yet newer information has vindicated Daniel. For example, skeptics claimed for many years that King Belshazzar never existed. The book of Daniel records a King Belshazzar who was ruling in Babylon at the time the Persians conquered it. However, secular historical records, such as the list of Babylonian kings compiled by Herodotus, did not list any ruler named Belshazzar. The last Chaldean king of Babylon, according to Greek historians, was Nabonidus. He was king when the Persians conquered Babylon. So this was widely used as evidence that Daniel contained errors, probably because it was written much later by someone who wasn't familiar with that time in history. 

However, in the late 19th century, the Nabonidus Cylinders were discovered which identify Belshazzar as the oldest son of Nabonidus. Further information has revealed that Nabonidus was away from Babylon during much of his reign. Thus, it is now believed that Belshazzar was acting as ruler of Babylon while his father was away, but without holding the official kingly title. He reigned in his father's name, but he was the acting ruler. 

This information is good evidence that the book of Daniel was written by someone who was living in Babylon in the 6th century BC. A later writer in the 2nd century BC would have known the Greek history with the official king list that didn't include Belshazzar. Thus, a later fiction pretending to be written by Daniel would have said that Nabonidus was ruling in Babylon when the Persians invaded. Only someone living there at the time would have known to write about Belshazzar. 

Not only does Daniel include Belshazzar, who was unknown to secular history until fairly recently, but the details are accurate. In Daniel 5, the prophet Daniel intepreted the writing on the wall during Belshazzar's party. This prompted Belshazzar to promote Daniel to third highest ruler in the kingdom. Why third? Because Nabonidus was the official king, Belshazzar was under his father, and so the highest honor that Belshazzar could give was third place. These are details we can fill in now, but a writer in 164 BC could not have known them. This shows that Daniel really was written in the 6th century BC, as it claims.

2) The language and customs recorded in the book of Daniel are accurate to Babylon in the 6th century BC. 

There are many details under this one heading. I can't go into all of them here, but I can give some examples. Daniel records that the laws of the Medes and Persians could be issued by the king, but the king was then unable to alter them. This is extremely unusual in history. Usually, kings are able to issue and rescind decrees as they choose. Yet King Darius was unable to change his decree that those who worship anyone other than the king would be thrown into the lion's den. He tried to change the law to save Daniel, but the law could not be changed. This has been found to be true of the Medes and Persians during this time period. Kings could issue laws, but the laws applied to everyone, including the king, and could not be changed. So Daniel accurately reflects the customs of the correct period that later writers are very unlikely to have known.

One of the main criticisms of the early date is that the book of Daniel contains some Greek words. Since Greek influence and language spread around the world with the conquests of Alexander the Great, some 200+ years after Daniel lived, the inclusion of Greek words seems to support a later date. However, the Greek words in Daniel are of musical instruments. Musical instruments tend to retain their original names without translation, and they often spread to other cultures without requiring conquest or force. That's why we still refer to a ukelele by its Hawaiian name, even for those of us who don't speak Hawaiian. It's not because we were conquered by the Hawaiians and adopted their language. Thus, it is not surprising that the kingdom of Babylon in the 6th century BC would have musical instruments from the Greeks which retained their Greek names. 

3) The book of Daniel was included in the Jewish scriptural canon in time to be translated as part of the Septuagint.

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The Torah portion was translated about 280-250 BC in response to a request from King Ptolemy II Philadelphis of Egypt since he desired to add all the books of the world to his great library in Alexandria. The rest of the Hebrew scriptures were translated after that, but the exact dates are not known for sure. It is certain that they were translated by the end of the 2nd century BC (around 100 BC) because we have copies from that time period. 

In the best case for skeptics, there is, at most, about 60 years between the late writing of Daniel and its inclusion in the Septuagint. This essentially rules out a late date. While it's theoretically possible, in the real world, it takes a lot of time for a new document to be copied, disseminated, accepted, and canonized. Sixty years is not enough time. It wouldn't become widely known in that time frame, much less accepted as part of the Jewish canon that would be included in the Greek translation.

The short time frame is further complicated by the fact that the Jewish leaders would never have accepted a late forgery as scripture. A book of known authorship, written by a proven prophet like Daniel in the 6th century BC, would be revered and added to the canon of scripture. A much later document from the 160's BC pretending to be written by the prophet Daniel some 400 years earlier would have been easily identified as a fake. As a comparison, suppose someone writing today were to claim to have found a previously unknown document from the Jamestown colony in Virginia back in the early 1600's. Everyone would be immediately suspicious. How could such a document lie undetected all this time? Wouldn't it be obvious that the writer sounded recent and not like someone writing in the 1600's?

Further complicating this issue is the location. An authentic book of Daniel would have been written in Babylon in the 6th century BC and brought back to Israel with the returning captives. There would be a known history among the Jewish people. Yet in the 2nd century BC, at the time of the Maccabees, they were living in Israel. A forgery would be written in the land of Israel. You can't simply "discover" a previously unknown, 400-year-old Babylonian document in Israel. How would it arrive in Israel without anyone knowing about it? The Jews were not stupid. They would have recognized the forgery. 

4) The book of Daniel was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls date from the late 2nd century BC to the middle of the 1st century AD. Among the documents discovered are 8 fragmentary copies of Daniel. Daniel is the third most represented book, after Psalms and Exodus. The oldest copy of Daniel dates to around 100 BC. If the late date of origin were true, then this copy of Daniel is only a few decades removed from the original writing, which would be extremely unlikely. The entire collection of Daniel manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls also argues against a late date. Why would there be so many copies of this one book if it's a late forgery that had only recently been written and had not yet circulated widely? How did this one fringe sect of Essenes living in isolation in the desert get such an early copy of the book if it had just been written? These complications argue strongly against a late date. 

5) Josephus records that Alexander the Great was shown a copy of the book of Daniel when he arrived in Jerusalem.

From secular history, we know that during Alexander's conquest of Tyre, he sent a letter to the Jews in Jerusalem asking for troops to help him in his conquest. The Jewish leaders refused, claiming they had vowed not to take up arms against King Darius of the Persians and could not aid Alexander. Alexander was a hothead. In fact, he was attacking the island of Tyre because they had refused his request to worship in their temple and had killed his messengers. He was so angry that he set his soldiers to throwing the remains of the mainland city of Tyre into the sea to build a causeway out to the island. In doing this, he fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 26 that Tyre would be thrown into the sea and made bare like the top of a rock. The location of Tyre is a peninsula to this day because of the actions of Alexander's army.

Everyone knew that Alexander was coming for Jerusalem next. It was only a matter of time. Yet history also records that Alexander became a great friend of the Jews, left Jerusalem unconquered, and gave Jews equal rights with other citizens in Alexandria, Egypt, which he founded. This seems like a very strange outcome. Here we have the greatest military leader the world has ever seen, who conquered the entire Persian empire and more in just 13 years. He had just come from conquering the island city of Tyre, which had stood for over 2000 years, because they insulted him. He had been denied by the Jewish leaders when he asked for their aid. Yet when he arrived in Israel in 332 BC, he didn't attack. He made peace instead. Why?

Well, as it turns out, the story recounted by Josephus explains this strange turn of events. The high priest received a dream that instructed him to wear white robes and take a procession out to welcome Alexander as he approached. Alexander was stunned and said that he had seen the high priest in white robes in a dream back in Macedonia where he had been encouraged to take over the Persian empire and assured of victory. Alexander went into the city with the Jewish leaders and sacrificed at the temple. He was shown a copy of the book of Daniel which prophesied that a king from Greece would destroy the Persians. Alexander made peace with the Jewish people and granted them a reprieve from taxes every 7th year. He then left Jerusalem intact and moved on southward toward Egypt.

This account has been dismissed as false, mainly because the late date for Daniel is so widely accepted, and that would mean that the book of Daniel would not have existed yet. However, the account does explain some otherwise inexplicable known facts, and we have no other reason to believe it is false. On the contrary, the Talmud agrees with the account, suggesting this was a well-known story in ancient Israel, not an invention by Josephus.

It also makes sense that Alexander, as a student of Aristotle, would have been aware of his teacher's view that the Greek pantheon was false and there must be some Creator who was an uncaused cause of the universe. This may have made him more open to hearing about the Creator God of the Jewish people and more sympathetic to their monotheistic religious views, which most other peoples found very offensive.

If this story is indeed authentic, it proves definitively that the book of Daniel existed at the time of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, some 170 years before it was supposedly written at the time of the Maccabees. This would then require the early date for Daniel and prove its prophetic nature.

6) The book of Daniel still contains prophecy about later events, even if we accept the late date.

Even if we assume that Daniel was indeed written in 164 BC and all the events before that were actually written as history and not prophecy, Daniel offers prophecy of events after that time which have been fulfilled. As I mentioned earlier, the oldest manuscript of Daniel that still exists today dates to about 100 BC. Yet Daniel prophecies the death of Jesus which took place in 33 AD and the destruction of the 2nd temple in 70 AD.

In Daniel 9, a prophecy is given that there will be 70 sets of 7 (sometimes translated as 70 weeks) which begin with a command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. These "weeks" are simply the word for a set of seven, and the context shows them to refer to years because of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity that are mentioned. This was in turn because of the refusal of the Jewish nation to keep the Sabbath years by refraining from plowing and planting the land every 7th year. They had not kept 70 Sabbath years, and so they were punished with 70 years of captivity in Babylon so that the land would lie fallow and receive its Sabbath years while they were away. It is in this context that Daniel is told about this set of 70 sevens. 

The 70 sevens would be composed of 7 sevens and 62 sevens and then a final seven. The temple would be rebuilt and the wall. After the 7 and 62 sevens, then Messiah would come. So this places a timeline on the coming of the Messiah. Daniel's prophecy says that the Messiah would be cut off after the 69 sevens, but not for himself. Being cut off is a judicial term, meaning a legal sentence of death, not death from injury or disease or war or old age. Yet He will die for others, not for his own crimes. After that, a prince will come to destroy the city of Jerusalem and the temple. All of this is prophesied in Daniel 9, which we know for sure predates the time of Christ. All of this happened, which we can verify from historical records.

The exact date of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem is debated as there are a few possible options, but regardless of the exact date, the 69 sets of seven years (483 years) put the Messiah somewhere in the early 1st century AD. By one way of counting, where the years are 360 days (suggested by some Biblical passages) and the command is the one in 444 BC at the time of Nehemiah, the end of the 69 sevens lands in the spring of 33 AD, exactly when Jesus was crucified. 

Not only was the Messiah cut off exactly as prophesied, but the temple was also destroyed after that, just as Daniel said. The Roman army was led by Titus, the son of the reigning Emperor Vespasian (and thus a prince, just as Daniel prophesied). They destroyed the Jewish temple and the city in 70 AD. 

So even by the late date, Daniel still contains accurate prophecy. Since it contains accurate prophecy, it must have been written by a true prophet, not a lying forger who pretended to be writing during the Babylonian captivity and who falsely claimed to be Daniel. The accuracy of the known prophecies of Daniel argues for an early date by a true prophet. Either way, the prophetic nature of the book of Daniel is evident.


In conclusion, the Bible contains information that could not have come from the mind of man. It demonstrates its divine inspiration with objective evidence. The book of Daniel provides many of these evidences that show the God of the Bible exists, that He is active in history, that He knows the future, and that He has revealed His word in the writings of the Bible.

Friday, July 7, 2023

The Hawaiian-Emperor Chain Provides Evidence for Catastrophic Plate Tectonics

Here's a breakdown of just how explanatory the Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT) model is in comparison to both slow and gradual plate tectonics and the Hydroplate model. Let's take a look at the North Pacific. You'll need a map which shows the sea floor. Here's a link for your convenience. Bring up this link in a separate tab or browser and follow along here or reference these pictures:

The first thing you will notice about the sea floor in the north Pacific is that it shows a long line of seamounts and islands stretching from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, toward the south, and then going southeast to the Hawaiian islands. These are a long chain of volcanic mountains known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, formed from lava flows on the sea floor.

The conventional explanation for this chain of volcanoes is that there is a hotspot in the mantle which sends up heated plumes of magma in a particular location due to convection cycles in the mantle. The Pacific plate, one of several tectonic plates that together form the crust of the Earth, is moving across this hotspot, and this forms a series of volcanic mountains that may or may not reach the surface of the ocean to form an island.

This conventional explanation is a good one. The Hydroplate theory does not even have an explanation for volcanism in the middle of a plate, as far as I am aware. The Hydroplate model suggests crustal plates with water chambers underneath that broke up catastrophically during the global flood and which may have moved sideways as the water was expelled from below. In that model, volcanoes occur at the margins of plates as they collide with each other. I have yet to find any reasonable explanation within this model for the existence of the Hawaiian-Emperor chain at all. The conventional model, in contrast,  does fit a number of lines of evidence and at least explains the existence of this chain.

However, there's more to this explanation. The CPT model involves rapid plate movements during the Biblical flood. In particular, at least one crustal plate subducted down into the mantle in a very short time (several weeks), setting off a catastrophic chain reaction around the globe and rapid tectonic movements that produced global flooding. The plate movements we observe today are remnants of these movements, but much slower than in the past. The conventional plate tectonics model, unlike CPT, assumes that current plate movements have been more or less constant for many millions of years at today's very slow rates.

How could we test which of these models is more explanatory? Well, here's one way of doing that. And you can do it from your home by looking at a map.

You have to understand that we can use the size of a volcanic mountain to estimate plate speed. If we assume a relatively constant rate of heated magma rising from this hotspot in the mantle, then the slower the plate moves, the more magma will accumulate in that spot. This forms a larger seamount. If magma continues to accumulate in the same spot, the seamount will reach the surface and become an island. If it continues even longer, the island will become larger and larger. If the plate is moving more rapidly, the seamounts will be smaller because lava did not have time to accumulate before that location on the plate moved away from the hotspot in the mantle. So how large these volcanic mountains are, and how far apart they are spaced, can tell us about the speed the plate was moving when they formed. There are going to be variations, but we want to look for overall trends.

We know where the hotspot is today. The largest and easternmost island of Hawaii is still experiencing lava flows today. It is still over the hotspot. If you move backwards along the volcanic chain, you are looking backwards in time. Not only do current measurements of plate movement indicate this, but radiometric dating concurs (though we can debate about the exact ages).

So let’s take a look at the chain. This is where the Google Earth link is handy because you can zoom in and rotate in order to look closer. Where the chain begins, the seamounts are all fairly small. If you compare them to the size of the largest Hawaiian island, there is a huge difference. This implies that the Pacific plate was moving much more rapidly than it does today when these sea mounts were formed. In fact, the entire chain of seamounts is much smaller than the Hawaiian islands at the end of the chain. This seems to imply rapid plate movements for most of this history, and then a profound slowing of the plate toward the end.

The most interesting feature of this entire chain is the very abrupt change of direction. The volcanoes were forming in a southward line (indicating that the plate was moving northward) and then they abruptly begin to form toward the east and only a little south. It's a very distinct inflection point. The seamounts immediately get smaller at the same time the direction changes. Not only are these first eastward seamounts smaller, but they are farther apart. All of these indicate an increase in speed. This tells us there was an impact on the east side of the Pacific plate that accelerated it toward the west. The plate increased speed and changed direction due to this impact. The plate which impacted the Pacific plate must have been the North American plate. So we can see evidence, in the seamounts, that the North American plate has crashed into the Pacific plate and altered both its speed and direction.

As you go from west to east (i.e. forward in time) after this impact, the seamounts grow gradually larger and closer together and then, as the speed of the Pacific plate drops off considerably, they begin to form islands. The islands grow larger and larger until you reach the largest island of all where there are still active volcanoes and slow plate movements and you have caught up to the present day. But this chain of volcanoes tells a story of much faster plate movements in the past.

Notice that I told you this assumes a constant rate of magma rising from the mantle hotspot. We can examine our assumption here. Is it reasonable? There are only three options: Either the hotspot is growing hotter, it is growing colder, or it is staying the same. If the hotspot is staying the same, we naturally come to the conclusion that the Pacific plate was moving much faster in the past and is now moving much slower. If the hotspot is growing colder over time, then the deceleration is even greater. If the Hawaiian islands are successively larger and larger even though the hotspot is now cooler than it was, then the speed in the past was even greater and it has slowed even more than we expect from a model in which the hotspot has remained unchanged.

The other possibility is that the hotspot is growing hotter and thus sending up more and more magma over time. This would make it possible for the plate movements to have been very slow the whole time. This is essentially the mainstream view. If the plate has been moving at a constant slow rate, then we would explain the increasing size of the islands by appealing to increasing temperature in the mantle hotspot. But that has a problem of its own. If the hotspot is growing hotter, what is causing that? And should we be concerned that it appears to be growing so much hotter than it used to be? In any event, it does not appear that these processes have always been occurring at a constant rate. Either the plate has slowed considerably or the hotspot has grown much hotter. I find the former much more reasonable for several reasons.

In this one volcanic chain, we have evidence, not only that the crustal plates are moving, but that they moved much faster in the past. But there’s more. We saw that the North American plate crashed into the Pacific plate and changed its speed and direction. This affects not just the Pacific plate, but the North American plate as well. This is most likely the impact that pushed up the Rocky Mountains. Conservation of momentum says that if the Pacific plate accelerated rapidly due to this impact, then the North American plate must have decelerated rapidly. This abrupt stop would crumple the North American plate along its western side. Not surprisingly, there’s a mountain range there.

These features are a lot easier to explain in terms of acceleration and deceleration of plates than if they were the result of slow, gradual processes with unvarying rates. This is just one piece of the puzzle for the CPT model. Yet it forms a handy side-by-side comparison of the competing models. 

The explanation commonly offered by mainstream geology for the larger size of the Hawaiian islands compared to the older seamounts is that the older mountains have shrunk over time due to erosion and subsidence. This explanation fails on multiple points.

1) There's no experimental evidence for this explanation, as far as I know. It is just thrown out there as a possibility.

2) It doesn't make sense of the similarity in size of most of the chain of seamounts. Do they shrink until they reach a certain size and then stay the same forever? Subsidence and erosion might be a potential explanation if we had a nice gradual increase in size all along the chain. Instead, we have what is supposedly tens of millions of years of seamounts that are roughly the same size, then a fairly rapid transition to much larger islands. The older north-south section is not significantly smaller than the younger east-west section.

3) The greatest erosion should take place on islands, not seamounts. Erosion forces should be stronger for the land above the water due to wind and rain and wave action. Once an island drops beneath the waves, that should slow its shrinking considerably. This should, again, result in a more even chain. That's not what we observe.

4) If we're suggesting that all of the islands and seamounts in the Hawaiian-Emperor chain were originally of similar size and some merely shrank due to erosion and subsidence, that simply doesn't work. If you take any of the Hawaiian islands, its footprint would cover several of the smaller seamounts in the chain. If the small volcanoes were widely spaced, it might make sense to suggest they had once been sizeable islands. But most of them could not have been that large initially because they are too closely spaced. A large mountain doesn't erode away into several small mountains. Subsidence might work if a tall mountain with several peaks sank until it appeared to be several smaller mountains, but it really doesn't look like that happened. Especially for the smaller seamounts, the ocean floor around them does not show signs of a larger mountain sinking. It appears relatively flat and undisturbed.

5) The older seamounts are not all that eroded. They're not gently sloping and rounded off. They don't appear to be the small remnants of eroded islands, in other words.

6) The erosion/subsidence hypothesis still doesn't account for the sharp change in direction or the drop in seamount size and increase in spacing afterward. The CPT theory accounts for all these facts at once.

Because of these lines of evidence, the Catastrophic Plate Tectonics theory has more explanatory power than either the mainstream Gradual Plate Tectonics view or the Hydroplate Theory, at least when it comes to explaining the Hawaiian-Emperor volcanoes. This is just one way of comparing and testing models. Creation science actually does offer testable models that hold up to scrutiny.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Homemade Granola Cereal

This is a super simple recipe that makes awesome granola cereal, and then you can jazz it up with all kinds of extras. This tastes way better than any granola I have ever bought. I might be slightly addicted. It's also cheaper than store bought and very healthy, with no corn syrup or preservatives. It can be easily made gluten free (use GF oats). It takes less than 5 minutes to mix it up and then it bakes. 

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons flax meal (optional)
1 cup sliced almonds
3 cups rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the coconut oil and stir in the honey and maple syrup until well mixed.

(You can use all honey or all maple syrup, but a 50/50 combination seems to get the right flavor and texture. Honey tends to make it chewier and maple syrup tends to make it crunchier. Plus, honey has a more intense flavor, so I find the taste more balanced with half honey and half maple syrup.)

Add the salt, cinnamon, and flax meal. Stir in the almonds and oats until all are coated evenly. Spread on the parchment paper and bake about 20 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the pan from the oven and gently stir again, then let it cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

For extra flavor, you can mix in all kinds of things like extra nuts (walnuts, peanuts, pecans, almonds, brazil nuts, etc), dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, apples, cherries, apricots, raisins, dates, pineapple, and more), shredded coconut, or chocolate chips. I prefer to add extras when eating rather than stored in the granola itself. That way, everyone can choose the mix they like best. It also prevents the moisture in dried fruit from turning the granola stale or sticky.

There are so many ways to enjoy this. Bon appetit!

Note: This lower picture is a double batch, just out of the oven. The upper picture has dried cranberries added. That's my favorite version so far.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Online Church is Not Being the Church

Having online church services is not all bad, but it does have some major potential problems. In our impersonal, consumeristic society, it is too easy for people to stay at home on the couch and watch a screen for "church" instead of taking the trouble to actually go to church. This has become a significant issue in the last couple of years. Many of those who stayed home from church during the pandemic have not come back even though it is now mostly over. Too many have gotten lazy and no longer gather together with other believers at all.

Of course, there are positive uses of online services too. Having sermons available for those who can't be physically present is a generally good thing. Shut-ins or people who are traveling can still watch the service. People who are looking for a new church can view some services before they attend to help them know if the teaching is Biblical. These are valuable uses of our technology.

However, pastors and church leadership should be careful to explain that watching online services is not the same thing as being physically present in church. They need to call the people to actually attend in person, if possible. Watching church is not the same as being the church. It's better than nothing, but it's not a substitute for the corporate worship, fellowship, and accountability that actually going to church is meant to provide.

We are physical creatures, and God has called us to physically gather to worship Him together. There is something that happens when the people of God gather together in one place, in one accord, to worship their Savior as the body of Christ. God is present in a distinct way when we gather, when we sing in praise, and when we pray together. Staying home and watching church online is a little like watching heaven remotely on a screen. Nobody wants to do that! It's just not the same experience as being there. The Bible tells us that when any two or three gather in His name, He is there in our midst. He is in that place. There is a glorious, awesome presence of God in the physical place where believers have come together to bring Him praise and honor. We have to gather together to get those special benefits. We come together as the church to do corporately what we cannot do alone. Alone, we are believers. Together, we are the church. And that's a powerful thing. It's not just about hearing the message or singing the songs. It's about being the body of Christ. 

In addition to that, we need the church family, and the church needs us. All of us. We need to pray for each other, bear one another's burdens, and sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron. God has a right to have our full participation and to use our spiritual gifts for the benefit of our local church body. We are not called to be consumers, but givers, encouragers, servants, teachers, and exhorters of our fellow believers. We used to have a saying in church circles that being a pew sitter is not one of the spiritual gifts, but so many people aren't even sitting in the pews any more. They're withdrawing from the body and leaving all of us poorer for it. I don't just mean monetarily, though that is also a challenge for many churches, but we're lacking the talents and labor and fellowship that those missing believers were meant to be investing in us. And they're missing what we could be investing in them.

There's also another reason that we should be gathering physically as the church. God commands us to do so in scripture. It wasn't just a suggestion.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

Lacking a valid reason that one cannot attend, it is disobedience to sit at home and consume content instead of gathering as the church. Disobedience to God is sin

God calls us to leave our comfort zone and come together as the church, messy and uncomfortable though it may be at times. Without the church, we will be anemic Christians -  weakened, impoverished, and prone to spiritual attacks. Just as the predator wants to separate the prey from its herd, our spiritual enemies want us divided, isolated, and vulnerable. This is why God instructs us to gather together and lift one another up. He knows what we need and has provided the church to meet those needs. If we neglect the provision of God, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

It's time to get back to church.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

If Resurrection is Impossible, so is Abiogenesis

A resurrection from the dead is much more likely than abiogenesis (generating life from non-life by natural processes). After all, a dead body has all of the necessary parts for life present already. It already has many proteins produced and folded correctly. It already has a genetic code built within DNA. It has phospholipid membranes already in place. It has cellular machinery. By far the biggest problem for abiogenesis is producing all of these things by chance. Just getting any functional protein without guidance would take billions of years of chance chemical reactions. A dead cell already has many proteins in place as well as all the other chemicals and parts needed for life.

So why don't we observe resurrections all the time in nature? Why don't bacteria, for example, spontaneously return to life after dying? That's many orders of magnitude more likely than abiogenesis, yet we have never observed it. That ought to tell you that abiogenesis is impossible. Generating life from non-life, like rising from the dead, requires supernatural activity.


Note that this is a very straightforward and obvious logical argument. It will always be easier to do one step than to do that same step plus extra steps. Both abiogenesis and resurrection require turning non-life into life. That part is the same for both. But with abiogenesis, you don't have the parts present yet so you also have to build and arrange them. Thus, it is necessarily true that resurrection is easier and more likely than abiogenesis.

What continually boggles my mind is how hard the atheists fight this very straightforward logical deduction. I've posted this argument in multiple online groups, and I continually get atheists who deny that this is true. They consider abiogenesis a "scientific" pursuit and resurrection the crazy ramblings of religious people. They refuse to consider that it is necessarily easier to animate a dead organism with all the needed parts already present than to build the parts, get all of them present at the same time and properly arranged, and then animate it. They laugh at the idea of even a microbe coming back to life and accept abiogenesis as necessary in order to avoid God as Creator. And they think they're being the rational ones.

I can only conclude that rebellion against God forces people to descend into absurdity to avoid the obvious truth that there is a Creator to whom we owe honor and obedience. Rejecting God eventually means rejecting rationality.