Category: APOLOGETICS

WHO MADE GOD?

To me, the idea that the universe created itself and ended up producing Beethoven’s Sonata NO.14 in C is the most ridiculous, preposterous idea that could be imagined. But a common question which believers in such ideas ask, in order to stump Christians, is “Who made God? Where did he come from?”

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When I was eight years old my fourteen year-old brother, who had a mechanic’s mind and not a scientist’s, asked me what I thought was at the end of the universe, and what was on the other side. If there was a brick wall, he said (jokingly) what would you see if you looked over it? We came up with some funny ideas, not knowing the current scientific understanding that there is no outside to the universe. There is no outside! Beyond the boundaries of our universe, there’s no space, no matter, and no time. There’s not even a McDonald’s restaurant!

The secular view until the 20th century was that our universe was eternal. The advent of the Big Bang theory brought a beginning, but it still sounded a little too much like creation, and with the knowledge that conditions had to be more than perfect in a multitude of ways to create life, multiverses have been invented. But not only is there no evidence of them, this isn’t even science, because a scientific fact is something which must be observable and which can be reproduced by experiment. This is philosophy; hypothesis; faith; hope; speculation. We can’t even see to the end of our own universe, let alone see outside of it, and we certainly can’t create a universe in the lab.

However, even if we imagine a multiverse scenario where a multitude of universes exist simultaneously, outside of those there’s nothing-not even space. So we might ask just how far this “nothing” goes on, and the strange answer is that it doesn’t go on, because nothing cannot go on. We can’t conceive this: surely even nothing is something, if only emptiness! And how far does that nothing go on-and what’s at the boundary of that? Does it go on endlessly? Considering an end to all material things; a boundary or a beginning, is a little like asking where God came from. We’re all up against….well…a brick wall.

If we imagine that there is an infinite number of universes, we should perhaps ask ourselves the question, “Where did the infinite number of universes come from?” If they were born from each other, where did the first one come from?  We’re now back to square one, wondering how that first universe came into being, and where it came from. Into what did it come to be, if there was nothing at all, not even emptiness? What exactly became our universe: nothing? Really? I can barely pick up one large rock, and that came from nothing? Surely, there must always have been something there, wherever “there” was.

We’re faced, then, with the fact that it’s no more logical to our minds to have a natural beginning to all things than it is to declare the following:

God is infinite, and never had a beginning! Nobody made God!

As limited as we are in our concept of infinity, we cannot escape it. Descartes, the famous French philosopher reasoned that we must have an innate; a built-in sense of infinity, because we do not experience it in our limited world.

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Humans have become very clever in many ways, but no matter how clever we become, there will always be some things we don’t know. If we did know everything, we would be God. Then, believing in evolution from nothing, we would have to declare that God came from nothing…! There’s the answer for you determined atheists out there!

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To the atheist, the universe created itself and expanded to its current size and shape. X billion years later, here we all are wondering where we came from (hence the multitude of religions, including evolutionism) composing symphonies, producing babies with billions of functional brain cells, and killing each other.

The first verse of the Bible states that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. In that one verse, written many centuries before Hubble and Einstein, we can see time, space and matter having a beginning. This God obviously had to be outside of space and time, and therefore infinite. This is the claim of Scripture: God had no beginning, and will have no end. It’s no more difficult to accept that than to accept that there was once nothing existing-or rather not existing-for ever.

The Bible also declares in many places that God “stretches out the heavens”. The Bible, which claims to be the word of God, was well ahead of the big-bang theory.

People have asked me, “Who made God?” or “Where did God come from?” in such a way as to expect me to drop my jaw in speechless consternation, and to proclaim in contrite submission that there must not be a God after all, we must have all evolved from nothing. However, the atheist is no nearer to understanding the origin of all things than I am to understanding the origin of an eternal God. Both atheist and theist alike are stuck with the twin questions of eternity and a first cause.

When I’m asked “Who made God?”, I first acknowledge that eternity is one thing I do not understand, and an eternal being is out of my league entirely. I don’t really understand where I came from, let alone an eternal God. He has not attempted to give an account of Himself to me, and He has no obligation to do so. If God tried to explain himself to me, I would not understand.

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Imagine attempting to explain to an ant how Einstein’s relativity works, or how an F-18 can fly at twice the speed of sound, or what inspired and enabled Beethoven to compose his Sonata No.14 in C. The ant, as far as we can tell, would probably not understand the answer, or even notice that we’re trying to tell him something, as he busily tugs on a twig or a grain of dirt. Our thoughts, words and activities are entirely beyond his little world. Similarly, there are things we humans just can’t comprehend, whether we like it or not. Eternity is one of those things. Perhaps that little ant would not be any more interested in what we’re trying to tell him, than we are interested in what God is already trying to tell us now…

Imagine also how the first century Jews felt when Jesus Christ said,

“Before Abraham was born, I AM…” (John’s gospel chapter 8).

 

(This post is a greatly edited version of the original, published February 4th 2011).

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SETTING DATES FOR THE FULFILLMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY

Here’s the article which many ministries-benefiting from your desire to know, and living an exciting life on your money and their speculation-aren’t giving you…

THE WESTERN WALL

One of the worst things a student or teacher of Bible prophecy can do is to set dates for its fulfillment. Having said that, I think there’s a place for asking if what we’ve been believing about end-times events is really true. This question, I think, affords and even requires a little ball-park speculation on the matter of timing. Yes-I’m going to set some dates! This article has few Bible references. I’ve listed relevant references elsewhere, and will do so again soon.

When we think about the possibility that we’re near the time of the return of Jesus Christ, the most compelling reason to believe that we are is the modern state of Israel. No, I’m not one of those fooled by replacement theology.

In 70 AD the legions of Rome destroyed Judea and Jerusalem, and expelled any Jews they didn’t kill from the ancient homeland. Against all odds and with no conscious intent to fulfill prophecy, but only to avoid another holocaust, the modern state of Israel was established officially in 1948. In 1967 Israelis regained control over all Jerusalem. Mirroring Bible prophecy, Israel since 1948 has very quickly grown and prospered. Its population has increased, with Jews immigrating there from all corners of the world. Its determination to hold on to the capital against the will of the world has been successful.

REMAINS OF THE SECOND JEWISH TEMPLE, WITH ISLAMIC DOME OF THE ROCK BEHIND IT

Also in line with prophecy the foretold enemies of the nation have been claiming the land belongs to them and not to Jews. Only the election of Donald Trump has temporarily halted the world’s schemes to remove Israelis, or at least professing Jews, from their ancient capital. Once he’s gone from power, for whatever reason, you can expect the pressure from all sides-including and perhaps especially the U.S., to continue apace, eventually culminating in a military assault as predicted in such Bible books as Zechariah.

Some commentators have mistakenly had the opinion that the current regathering of Israel cannot be the predicted one because, they assert, the Bible says Israel must be spiritually cleansed and holy as a prerequisite to restoration. To the careful reader, the Bible tells a different story: cleansing will not take place until the Messiah shows up to defend the nation at a time of extreme crisis.

TIME LIMITS, TIME CLUES

However, there are two potential problems with the entire Israel regathering “scenario” (to use a prophetic cliche). Perhaps they aren’t problems at all-perhaps they are in fact further indication that the time of fulfillment is very near.

1: THE “SECOND” RETURN FROM EXILE

The first problem concerns a Biblical limit to the number of returns of the nation from total exile. Isaiah wrote:

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people…he will assemble the scattered people of Judah
    from the four quarters of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12).

In the Bible only two returns are allowed from total exile. The first occurred when ancient Israel and then Judah were invaded and carried off by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. The second return began officially in 1948.

The idea that the current return is bogus and the real one is yet future just doesn’t make sense. If the miraculous events of the past several decades and the struggles between Israel and their neighbors and the world are not those prophesied, they are an incredibly realistic dress-rehearsal. Also, believing that the real return is yet future, we would have to expect the current inhabitants of the land to be driven out by some huge war or other disaster. The land would have to be invaded and claimed by enemies again, and then left empty and waste for a long period of time. Israelis there now would once again have to be dispersed to all corners of the earth for a long period of time.

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WEST BANK AND GAZA

How many times in the course of human history can the incredible set of events prophesied actually play out, in such an amazing series of what would have to be “coincidences”, as they have over the last several decades? It seems to me that either the 20th C restoration of Israel-the current one-must be the second regathering spoken of in Isaiah, or we would have to accept that the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel and others were wrong, and therefore didn’t speak the word of God at all. In that case, no Biblical scripture could be trusted.

Also, when you consider other conditions in our world at this time in relation to Biblical prophesies, it’s clear that there’s much more than just coincidence at work here.

2: THE INVASION OF A LAND RECENTLY REGATHERED

The second time-issue concerns a Biblical limit on the time which can transpire between the regathering of Jews to the land and the judgment of the nations. Prophecies in Ezekiel foretell an international assault on Israel and the Middle-East in general ending in God’s clear and decisive intervention, after which the whole world will know there is a God who is still the Protector of Israel. This assault is said to come:

…against a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate (Ezekiel 38:8).

This and other passages indicate that Israel will be invaded by nations who recognize that its regathering is recent. So the vital question is, just how long a time period, scripturally-speaking, could be considered “recent”? Here’s my theory.

First, Israel, says the prophecy, would boom in population and in economic success. This would naturally take some time, but it has happened in just a few decades.

Israel, (that is, Jews and those from the northern tribes who had joined with Judah) were expelled from the land for seventy years (Ezra 1:1). God had told Isaiah many centuries BC that Ephraim was “about to” be judged by Assyria (Isaiah 8:7 NIV). That “about to” period was sixty-five years (7:8). We Bible students know that to the Lord “a thousand years is as a day”, so using that scale of what time seems like to God the “recent” period from the regathering of Israel to the invasion could be many thousands of years.

However, those two terms-“recent” and “thousands of years” don’t fit together well to us mortals, and the invading force of end-times certainly wouldn’t see an event thousands of years previous as being “recent”. God’s words, “sixty-five years” were just about meaningful as a short time period to Isaiah. The “recent” time period in Ezekiel must be seen as being truly recent to humans.

I’m not setting dates by saying that sixty-five years is the time period we must look for, but it seems logical that it’s a “ball-park” number. It could actually be fifty, or seventy, eighty, or more. At what point would the regathering of Israel not be considered by its invaders to be “recent” any more? And when exactly would the “prophetic clock” start ticking: 1948? 1967? Perhaps it would start when the majority of Jews had returned from the nations-perhaps the year 1990, or 2000, or 2010.

We could create a maximum time of fulfillment so that, say, seventy-five years from the dwindling of returnees to the land from the nations would take us to the year 2085. This would be the very latest date we could reasonably expect the prophecies of Ezekiel to be fulfilled. Alternatively, If we add sixty-five years to 1967, the year Israelis regained their ancient capital which figures so highly in last-days prophecy, we get the year 2032…only thirteen years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW MANY GODS?

In the last post of this series about the existence and nature of God, I wrote that there must be a supreme God, or the universe could not function in perfect order as it does. You only have to take one look at our “democracies” in the West to see that when you have several parties and people all attempting to govern, you have discord, lack of direction, division, arguments, corruption, and failures by the day. If there were a thousand presidents at once, we would have even more discord than we have now…

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If there were more than one God, or god, they would have to be in perfect accord to run the universe, in which case they would essentially be One God. The theology of all the different religions tells us otherwise: they are very different in character, personality and intentions. Even if all these gods exist, they cannot all be telling the same “truth”.

There’s a huge effort going on to convince all of us that all “gods” are equal and of equal value, and that they all are leading us essentially in the same direction. The logic goes like this:

“There are many different gods in the world, and many different philosophies, therefore it’s wrong to try to claim that your idea of God or your way to life and enlightenment is the right one or the only one. There are many roads to enlightenment, or to heaven, or to spirituality, or to God, and we are all on our own path to the same destination, whatever that may be”.puzzle

When you really reason that claim through you can only come to the conclusion that it’s nonsense! All the “gods”, isms, philosophies and religions of the world are very different, and can no more be describing the same entity and path to the same destination than can all the political parties in the world be describing the same policies and the same societal outcome. What about the group of 39 people known as “Heaven’s Gate”, who in March of 1997 beamed themselves up to a space ship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet by killing themselves: were they on a valid path to life, heaven and enlightenment? And if you attempt to dismiss just that one group, you’re contradicting your own criticism that we mustn’t judge or discriminate.

What about those who murder others brutally in order to receive direct entrance into the presence of their god, with attendant submissive virgins and other abundant blessings- are they on a valid and acceptable path to life, heaven and enlightenment? If they are, I for one don’t want to go to there to be with them.

Reason says that some philosophies must be wrong, because they are mutually contradictory. Some atheists and agnostics have attempted to deny believers the dignity of reason. On the contrary, reason works hand in hand with faith for the true believer, and reason tells us that there cannot be at the same time one god, two gods, ten gods, a million gods, and no gods: only one of those options can be true.

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What is “heaven”? Is it freedom from rebirth and oneness with Brahma, bringing the end of your distinct person-hood, or is it enjoying the company of seventy-two perpetual virgins, or hanging out on some distant planet with hyper-intelligent aliens, or being present and in continual worship of Jehovah, or joining the ranks of battle heroes in Valhalla?

Picture yourself on a road in Japan. You’re on highway 197 going west. You want to go to London England by car and you’re convinced that all roads lead to London. But you’re on an island, and twenty-five miles after passing the city of Yawatahama your car falls into the sea…plop! It doesn’t matter how much you sincerely believed that that road leads to London: it does not. You need to catch a plane or a boat, no matter how averse you are to the thought of flying or sailing. And if God is real, there must be similarly clear-cut lines between what is factual despite your sincerely-held beliefs, and what isn’t.

Getting to the point of this post, the Bible, the divine message I am personally totally convinced by, and which is supported by History, archaeology nature and reason, is very clear on the subject. God through the prophet Isaiah said:

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6b).

Jesus Christ said:

“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Peter the apostle, speaking of Jesus said:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

And Jesus said:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

A couple of weeks ago I discussed very briefly the three main theories humans use to attempt to explain our existence. A fourth, one which I dismissed from consideration, is that we aren’t really here at all-we only think we are. If we don’t exist, you’re not really reading this post, so there’s no point in imagining that you’re reading it, because it doesn’t exist anyway…

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I concluded, based on tangible evidence, that we do exist and that we’re here because God created us. We didn’t get here on this planet because aliens “seeded” us here, and we didn’t develop in some fantastical evolution from nothing. We were created, by a being far above our own abilities and perception. Today I’ll consider what that God must be like.

For such a universe to exist, God must be a sovereign being. There could be no order and consistency if there were many gods vying for supremacy and having different ideas about how things should be. Just look at the mess of our political scene as a contrary example, or at the Greek Pantheon and its constant quarrels and childish actions and reactions. The real God is One, and is supreme.

The farther astronomers look into space, the more they see. The closer researchers look into cells and living systems, the more mind-boggling features, processes and detail they discover. The longer we as individuals live, the more beauty we recognize. There seems to be no end to what we can discover and experience in this incredible world and universe-there’s only a limit and an end to the time we have to explore and enjoy it.

Since the universe is this way, and since things do not create themselves and do not arise and develop from disorder, we must conclude, if we’re honest with our reasoning and logic, that what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and otherwise spiritually detect with our senses comes from what God has created. The fact that we have the ability to test, enjoy and benefit from the world around us is one evidence that God is gracious, generous, kind and loving to enable us to experience these things, and to interact with our environment and with each other. We would not even know that the universe outside our immediate surroundings existed if we didn’t have the eyes to see, the bodies to move, and the brains to comprehend what’s there.

The creator must be eternal and unlimited by time. He created time along with other things. Einstein concluded that time and space are inseparable, and that you can’t have matter without time and space also. Perhaps unwittingly, he was confirming the first verse of the Bible, which states that “In the beginning (time) God made the heavens (space) and the earth” (matter). The three had to come into existence simultaneously, and of course, secular scientists have had to incorporate the three together in their “big-bang” theory. But the Bible said it first-a long time ago. So to create time, space and matter, God must be outside of it all: apart from it and above it, and not subject to it.

God must be able to control  the universe and all it its constituent parts. That makes him omnipotent-all powerful, and omnipresent-everywhere. And so all the order we see in the universe-the precise order of the planets and their movements in our galaxy, all depending as they do on the order and consistency of the sun’s power, is evidence, as Isaac Newton concluded, that God is unfathomably intelligent, ordered and powerful, and is in fact The master mathematician and The master scientist.

The integrity of God’s design speaks of the integrity of his character. He is faithful, consistent and committed. Just as the universe hasn’t changed in its operations, laws and principles, so God must be unchanging.

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When we look around at our own world, we see beauty which constantly astounds and amazes us. This makes God not only the master of beauty, but beautiful in his nature. Beauty can only be created by beauty.

When we consider the terrible things that man inflicts on his own kind, we see the patience and mercy of God in action, because the all-powerful God, who created what we damage and destroy, endures it all- at least, for now.

As we know, large numbers of people deny the existence of God, or they twist and deny his character as expressed in creation. The apostle Paul wrote about the clear evidence for God all around us. He declared that there’s no excuse for denying His existence and His nature:

“For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

The real truth is that God is far above any words we have available to us, and any power of imagining we can conjure up. God is great. Glory to his Name.

There will be a part 2 to this post, coming soon…

WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEING A WORLD CITIZEN ANYWAY?

Someone famous said not too long ago, if you don’t have borders you don’t have a nation…

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That, of course, is the goal of many now in positions of power: they don’t want nation states anymore. They want us all to be “world citizens”. For the most part, their goal up to now has been worked toward surreptitiously, by maintaining the outward appearance of nation states but by demolishing the sovereignty and independence of those states. Just look at the EU, already a pre-global governance power, with some in its sway only now waking up to what’s been going on.

This dream of removing the “ancient boundary stones” and founding a supreme power over all assumes that the ultimate human authority will be a just and fair one: a very large and very optimistic assumption. But if it’s not just and fair, who would we go to to remedy the situation? Most of us already see our governments as being out of touch, out of reach and uncaring, and making a lot of wrong decisions. We think that because for the most part it’s true. And even when we do get a politician who cares about the people and who isn’t self-serving, he’s smothered by other politicians and media people who want to maintain the status quo and the direction dictated by their own agenda.

There’s one thorny little problem in the whole idea of achieving a just and fair society: human nature. From the very first spat and assertion of one man’s will over another, as imagined in my previous post, “WHERE FREEDOM IS”, human government has been attempting to consolidate power and influence: what good has it done us up to this point? When do we ever, ever ever ever ever, ever ever ever…(for any length of time) get a government which is fair and just? The answer is “never”. So what makes anyone think a world government is going to be any better?

We’re told by those who would benefit-so they think-from consolidation, that just and enlightened elites, with a little help and guidance from the media who are now really another branch of government, not elected and unaccountable, will choose leaders who will be just and wise and fair and beneficent, and so everything will work out. Plato had that idea-2500 years ago. He said that a just society should be controlled and led by an elite band of philosophers, all-wise and all-knowing decision makers, while the rest of us -essentially the working rabble-carry out their will and roll around in unending joy, satisfaction and ecstasy. Kant and Hegel also were convinced that humanity would eventually come up trumps. I intend no pun here, because our current president, bravely battling the movement towards world authority almost alone, is definitely not what they hoped for, hence the frenzy of hatred and falsehoods against him.

Has it happened yet? Have the elites come up trumps-ever? Do you really think it will happen? Some people of the John Lennon variety actually do. They think that humans are basically good, and that we only need to have the right conditions and the right leaders, and Utopia will be achieved. Good luck with that.

If we think government is out of touch and out of range and out of control now, what makes us think that a world body will be any less so? Surely, it will be more out of touch, more out of control, more monolithic, more elite and aloof? Not only so, but huge decisions will be made by those totally out of our reach which will not be in our interests.

Scripture envisions, predicts and prophesies just such a world authority in which the enemy of society (there always has to be an “enemy” to deflect criticism of government) will be the Christian, and the Jew. Such a view is already present within the United Nations, and within the movement pushing for an end to borders and national sovereignty.