Monday, December 03, 2007

Atheists Tree of Knowledge?

This morning, there was a segment on Fox and Friends where a debate ensued between a Catholic priest and an atheist regarding the placement of an atheist symbol called a "tree of knowledge" amongst the traditional Christmas tree and Hanukkah menorah as symbols of this holiday season.

I tried to locate a video clip of it at the Fox News website, but was not able to find one.

In brief, the atheist claimed that her "tree of knowledge" is there not for the purpose of countering Christianity, but because atheists like to celebrate winter and this holiday season, too.

The Catholic priest attempted to make the counter-argument that it was, indeed, a "tool" being used by atheists to undermine the Christmas tree, (apparently, the "tree of knowledge looks just like a Christmas tree with atheistic messages/ornaments on it) as well as the faith and traditions of Christianity.

I wasn't sure if he made his case. Plus, I wasn't able to read the messages that were hanging on the tree. Therefore, I can't make a judgment about the claim for "undermining" Christianity and/or Christian faith.

Of course, we know that most atheists reject Christianity outright, plus, many are often antagonistic or downright hostile towards Christians as they tend to mock our faith in Jesus Christ, adherence to the Bible, and our worldview, in general.

How apropos that the atheist organization being represented in the interview decided to label their tree "the tree of knowledge." It brings to mind the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" as described in the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis. We all know how badly that turned out!

In the Some Evangelicals Dumping Sola Scriptura?? thread, commenter Matt W. had some insightful points:




What I got out of it was that we should not, as some Christians do, assume that there is nothing to be learned or gained spiritually if it is not contained in the pages of the Bible, but that it is still critical for us to remember that the Bible is the ultimate authority, and anything that contradicts it should be discarded.

The only place where I'm thinking he may have been wrong was in saying that "giving close scrutiny" is the same as discarding. I would say that, while there could certainly be things to be learned that are not contained in Scripture, we need to be wary of those things, and approach them carefully, and prayerfully, so as not to be duped by some false teaching, or false wisdom.


Although that thread was discussing the topic of Sola Scriptura for Christians, I also think that it could be applied towards atheistic beliefs, as well.

My reply to Matt's comment brought this up:




VERY well said! Perhaps you made Moreland's point better than he did!

I don't think that most Christians believe "that there is nothing to be learned or gained spiritually if it is not contained in the pages of the Bible."

A "secular-humanist" education is crucial in this life as well. It allows us to discern truth from error. Christians have a reasonable faith, and don't need to discard logic and/or rational thinking.

Of course, atheists, skeptics, and agnostic might disagree. In my conversations with them, they often think that I, as well as all Christians, don't have open minds. But I try to point out that their "faith" in logical reasoning is not an absolute law that governs the universe. Nor, is it to be considered a set of rules which govern behavior.

What are they often missing?

Godly wisdom.

The only place they can get that is through the Bible, the Person of Jesus Christ, and believers who share the gospel and God's Word with them.


I would also like to add the fact that atheists often disparage Christian beliefs through claiming that we believe in "fairy tales" and "myths." They typically make mocking remarks like saying that belief in God is equal to a silly belief in the "flying spaghetti monster" or "pink unicorns." I have often wondered why they use such absolutely silly terms? They claim to believe in "nothing" created the universe; yet borrow from our creation, and our Creator, all the time in stating that a "mechanism" will eventually be found to explain how we all got here!

Particles-to-people evolution is an unsubstantiated conjecture. Particles-to-people evolution requires changes that increase genetic information, but all we observe is sorting and loss of information. We have yet to see even a "micro" increase in information, although such changes should be frequent if evolution were true.

Perhaps I did such a segway into the realm Darwinism, which atheists hold dear in their lives, because I wanted to combine what was said on the Fox News show with some insight from a portion of a booklet about Creation vs. Evolution. Of course, most atheists believe that Darwinism is not just a theory, but a well-substantiated explanation of data that they consider a proven scientific fact. They have to believe that because the alternative would allow that "Divine foot in the door." Can't have that now can we??!!

If atheists had open minds, then perhaps they might do well to consider alternatives to their, apparent, "set in stone" anti-God beliefs.

I can recall the days when Darwinists would willingly come into the churches to debate Creation vs. Evolution. Unfortunately, (for the Darwinists!) the attendees often came out of the debates perceiving the Creation hypothesis as more believable than Darwinism! With the added knowledge of today, Darwinism is more improbable than ever! The astronomical statistical odds against life arising from non-life without an Agent of design, even make Darwinism impossible. Therefore, the evolutionary process is unknown to us. But that doesn't stop the true believers of Darwinism. they will hold onto their beliefs no matter what! They will cling to their long-held beliefs no matter how far the evidence has now been showing that Darwinism belongs on the trash heap of history.

Hmmm...What's that called when a belief is so strong that even hard evidence against such belief won't sway them? Oh yeah...FAITH! So, atheists have their own "flying spaghetti monster" and "pink unicorn" type of faith, too! Don't they?

In Ralph Muncaster's booklet entitled, "Creation vs. Evolution," he defines the Creation hypothesis:




Creation is the belief that someone (or something?) created the universe and life as we know it. In essence, through a process unknown to us, God "spoke" (made to occur) all uniquely created objects into existence. Pre-programming by God (within DNA) allowed for reproduction of variations within "like kinds."

There is no evidence of life beyond what we know. There is, however, evidence of the existence of spiritual beings in dimensions beyond space and time - as described in the Bible.

Creation, by definition, implies the existence of a "God" outside of our time-space dimension. Understanding dimensions beyond time and space also makes it easier to understand how God could create things in a seemingly miraculous way...and helps us recognize our childlike view of "God" and "miracles".


Recently, a young man did a scientific experiment which evidenced how God could have "spoken" the universe into existence. I was able to locate a rough draft of Sam Hunt's paper. Though it's not complete, I think that what is shared in the draft will fascinate readers!

[Note: However, a quick glance at the links to the left of the page and the message board topics there indicate to me that it is a more "spiritual, new-age type" community rather than a Christian-oriented one. I didn't see any mention of Jesus Christ. It also appears to be connected to BeliefNet which is a site that generally presents a smorgasbord of interfaith "spiritual" beliefs. Not my kind of site...except when researching information about false religions, cults, and heresy/apostasy.

With that said, my second reason for being hesitant to post the link is because I also wonder how accurate this "rough draft" really is. It appears to have been written (or posted) in 2005. Hunt's finished paper debuted in late 2006 (from what I've read).

At the end of the page, is a link to purchase the entire, 84 page finished paper. I'm sure that the rough draft probably doesn't completely do the finished product justice. But I decided to include the link so that readers here will get an idea about what Hunt discovered through his research and how he applied it to the Genesis account in the Bible.

I know that the critics and naysayers will probably have a field day with this. So be it. I found it refreshing, fascinating and quite interesting! It is important to remember that Sam labels his finding as an hypothesis. I think it's nice to see a new hypothesis for a change, that supports the Biblical account in Genesis.]

What is sad to realize is the fact that many high school teachers and college professors will never share this young man's experiment and paper with their students. Why? It's that old, tired, apriori adherence to materialism, that's why. You know...that "do not question evolution" mentality in academia.

Muncaster:



The Bible is not a book about creation or science. The important issue is not the mechanism or how long...but who? The Bible refutes evolution since it clearly states that GOD created all species "out of nothing" (Hebrew: bara). It does not deny, however, scientific mechanisms (e.e., physics, chemistry, or biology).


Understanding the Creation Miracle

A miracle is defined as something unexplainable by the laws of nature, thereby requiring a supernatural cause or God. Miracles generally fit into two categories:

1. Miracles of circumstance - Something that works within the laws of nature that we know, yet is of miraculous timing or effect. Example: Hail decimates only the enemy during Joshua's battle of Gil gal (Joshua 10:6-11).

2. Miracles beyond known physical laws - When something happens outside the known laws of physics. Example: turning a staff into a snake (Exodus 4:2-4) or water into wine (John 2:1-11).

The key to understanding miracles is recognizing that we are limited by the knowledge of dimensions of time and space that we live in. Except in mathematics, we can only speculate about dimensions outside the four - length, width, height, and time - in which we live. Obviously, it's impossible to observe any scientific laws in dimensions beyond our own. Perhaps all miracles follow some "natural laws" in dimensions beyond time and space. Perhaps they don't. In either case, a God that could create the laws in the first place would certainly know how to work "outside of" or "around" them.


In a sidebar, Muncaster shares that Quantum Physics finds "extra-dimensions." The latest breakthroughs in quantum physics indicate at least seven dimensions beyond time and space. Scholars also calculate at least seven extra dimensions in the Bible. source: Ross, Hugh Ph.D., Beyond the Cosmos, Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1996

To help us understand what these extra dimensions could represent and why we can't see them, Muncaster asks us to:



Imagine a "3-D God"

One way to relate to the impact of extra dimensions is to imagine a world reduced to only two dimensions (like a tabletop). Imagine further, the existence of several tiny, "flat" human beings. The "flat people" would view each other as only a line. They could get an idea of the total shape of each other only by moving around each other. They would not have the total view of a three-dimensional observer.

Let's call such a three-dimensional observer "3-D God." Such a "3-D God" would be able to view an entire flat person at once. Likewise, the "3-D God" would be totally invisible in the world of two-dimensions, unless he chose to insert himself into it. By placing a finger on the two-dimensional plane, "3-D God" would appear as one line to the flat people. Placing three fingers on the plane would make him appear as three lines. In either case, the flat people would have very little concept of the entire "3-D God." They might even be puzzled at how such a "3-D God" could exist as both one and three lines at the same time.

Likewise, the "3-D God" could know much more about a flat individual than the flat person would know about himself. "3-D God" could also observe the totality of all flat people at once, even when the flat people were far apart. And "3-D God" could do things that would be considered miracles in the two-dimensional space.

Such a simple illustration provides some insight into the impact of adding only one dimension. A real God existing in many dimensions outside of time and space could presumably produce incredible miracles far beyond our understanding.


Yet, our God...the God of the Bible has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. As both God and man, he was brought into the world both supernaturally as the Holy Spirit caused Mary to conceive the Messiah in her womb, and into our the physical realm to live among us for 33 years. The miracle of His sinless birth, life, and death all culminated towards His purpose...to save mankind from sin and be reconciled back to God the Father. We are saved through repentance for our sins by Christ's sacrificial death at the cross. He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day over 2,000 years ago. Another miracle in our lesser dimension view of the world. Yet, Christ's birth is as hope-filled for us today as when that miraculous birth happened over 2,033 years ago!

This is the true meaning of Christmas. Christ's destiny on this earth was to change ours!

I hope and pray that if you don't know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life yet, you won't let another Christmas pass without making the most important decision you will ever make in your lifetime.
O Holy Night is an absolutely beautiful song with awesome lyrics that describe our hope in Jesus Christ. It is one of my favorite Christmas songs:

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

O Holy Night Lyrics
The words and lyrics of the old carol 'O Holy Night' were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. Cappeau was a wine seller by trade but was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn. He then realised that it should have music to accompany the words and he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams(1803-1856). He agreed and the music for the poem was therefore composed by Adolphe Charles Adams. Adolphe had attended the Paris conservatoire and forged a brilliant career as a composer. It was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1812-1893).


Celine Dion - O Holy Night
[Note: You can also view renditions of the song by Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban and others by clicking on the arrow to start the Dion video, then click on the menu button, then click on the small right (or left) arrows to see the other choices. Find the music video box of the artist you want to hear, click on it and enjoy!]

P.S. Happy now Mark? heh heh Love ya my brother in Christ....

Oh Holy Night

9 comments:

Mark said...

loving this post Christine....until Celine Dion. Make her go away please! ;)

Christinewjc said...

Awww...Mark! Not a fan of Celine's I take it.

Well, you can make her go away...

Just click on "menu" on the bottom right and select Josh Groban's version of "O Holy Night!"

:-)

Christinewjc said...

P.S. You might need to click on the Dion music video first, then click on the "menu" tab. There are several different artist's renditions on the menu, including Mariah Carey's. To get to more versions (including Josh Groban's), click on the small arrow on the right to find it!

Christinewjc said...

I was just correcting a misspelled word in the following paragraph and noticed something:

In a sidebar, Muncaster shares that Quantum Physics finds "extra-dimensions." The latest breakthroughs in quantum physics indicate at least seven dimensions beyond time and space. Scholars also calculate at least seven extra dimensions in the Bible. Source: Ross, Hugh Ph.D., Beyond the Cosmos, Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1996

Hmmm...seven represents the number of perfection in the Bible!

ebsfwan said...

Heh...in the words of God:

Jeremiah 10

" 1Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

2Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

3For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

4They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

5They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good."

Soundslike Christmas trees are the way of the heathen.

Christinewjc said...

Andrew,

Nice try.

But...ummm...you were just kidding...right?

If you were serious, then I must ask - do you even own a Bible?

If not, next time you wish to quote Scripture (and, unfortunately, take it out of context) perhaps you might want to see what Biblical scholars have said about the passage.

Henry's commentary is long, but it is good and thorough. If you don't want to take the time to read it all, allow me to summarize.

The passage is talking about God and idols. Those who put their trust in a chunk of wood, even though it is carved well and clothed beautifully (i.e. with gold and silver), are foolish.

The simplest person who worships God is wiser than the wisest person who worships a worthless substitute, because believers in Christ have discerned who God really is.

Moral of the story: No matter how well made or how beautiful idols are, they can never have the power and life of the true and living God.

Merry Christmas!

The Orchard Christian Church said...

Clearly there is a rising tide of godlessness in the world, but what else should we expect from unbelievers? It seems to me that many people have heard the Gospel, but they haven't seen it or felt it from a local church. I think that the love of many, including Christians, is growing cold. Maybe people aren't looking so much for an explanation of the Body of Christ, they are looking or a demonstration.

I think there is a lot of solid impersonal biblical teaching around for those who are seeking- Megachurches with famous pastors, Christian blogs, TV, radio, bookstores, etc. But the great commission is not just "get decisions for Christ", although He is the only way to be saved. The Great Commission is to "Make Disciples" in the contect of relationship.

ebsfwan said...

Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

Christinewjc said...

Hello Orchard Christian Church,

Good points!

It is true that the Bible tells us "the hearts of men will grow cold" the closer we get to the end times. Sometimes, Christians can be guilty of that as well.

However, the good news is that the Bible informs us that the Gospel will be preached to all nations - before the end comes.

Personally, I think that the internet plays a significant role in the accomplishment of this. People who would ordinarily never walk into a church (either alone or even with a friend) are willing to read a blog, or listen to a sermon online.

As far as TV goes - yes - there are charlatans out there. But I think that many of the good preachers (like Charles Stanley and Dr. David Jeremiah) do quite well in their efforts at reaching the unsaved.

My dad is just one example. You can read that story here.

My mom is Catholic. My brother, sister and I (now, a born again Christian) were brought up in the Catholic church. My dad was raised Methodist. He hardly ever attended church with us. I always worried about him for that reason; especially when I turned 7 years old and made my "first Holy Communion." It was only many years later that I discovered the fact that while we were at church, he was watching Charles Stanley on TV during the baseball/football commercials!!

I truly believe that a seed for Christ was planted in his heart through Stanley's preaching.

Little did I know that 34 years after my first urgent prayer to God to help my dad know Jesus Christ, he did just that three months before his death from lung cancer. Little did I know that He would use me as a vehicle to share Christ with my own dad! Most Christians know that our own relatives are oftentimes the hardest to reach with the Gospel message.

God's timing is always perfect.

We may not think so because we only see part of the picture at any given time in our lives. But God's perspective is the entire picture. We see "as through a glass, darkly."

I once heard the culmination of history being described as seeing the underside of a tapestry. From our vantage point, it's just a bunch of threads that appear to have no pattern or beauty. But when it's turned over into full view - God's vantage point - it is then that a beautiful tapestry is revealed.

This may be a weak analogy, but it reminds me of the fact that God turns all things for good.

Sometimes we concentrate too much on the bad stuff here. I know that sometimes I let it get to me. But knowing that God can turn the ugliest, terrible, most evil thing towards good snaps me out of my negative feelings about this fallen world we live in.

The cross of Christ is the greatest example of God turning the evil of sin and death into good...the redemption of our souls.

You wrote, "The Great Commission is to "Make Disciples" in the context of relationship."

This is very true and an important point to remember and follow!

However, we must also remember the two thieves on either side of Jesus at the cross. Both originally mocked Christ. Then, one had a change of heart. He repented for his sins; realizing that he was guilty and "this man (Christ) had done nothing wrong." That thief then asked Christ, "remember me when you enter into your kingdom." Christ replied, "this day, you will be with me in paradise."

There wasn't much time to build discipleship there. But what was important was relationship (as you also had stated) and that thief, in the 11th hour of his life turned to Jesus for salvation.

We can only hope and pray for the lost to turn to Christ. Once the gospel is preached to them, they need to repent and accept that gift of salvation.

Thanks for coming by and posting your excellent comment! I hope you will continue to visit here!

In Christ,
Christine