Time, eternity, and the creation of the universe
Published: 30 December 2012 (GMT+10)
ESA/Hubble & NASA
Jason D., from the USA, a doctoral student in ‘biblical studies’ at Harvard, commented on the article Who created God? The article argues that from the principle of causation (anything that begins to exist needs a sufficient cause), the universe must have been caused (created) by an entity with the attributes of God as described in the Bible. Jason’s series of comments and responses from Dr Don Batten illustrate some important points, not the least of which is how corrupt the theological teaching is at one of America’s biggest name universities.
The question is not what caused the universe. The question is what caused Causality? Nothing can “intentionally act”, unless absolute temporarily is in place. “Existence” itself requires time. Your god cannot have created the structues in Reality “necessary” for its own existence. You have nether answered the question, nor even asked the right questions.
This is answered here: Does the universe need a cause? Note particularly the part about simultaneous causation.
Something had to be non-material (supernatural) and therefore capable of being eternal or timeless that brought the universe into existence.
Your assertion that existence itself requires time assumes a material existence and the argument is that something had to be non-material (supernatural) and therefore capable of being eternal or timeless that brought the universe into existence.
Jason D. responds:
This is just proximate cause. An omnipotent god could have created a universe maker.
That might be so but it does not change the thrust of the argument one iota, that there must ultimately have been a non-created, eternal and very powerful/intelligent cause for the universe.
The Bible tells us that Jesus the Messiah was the agent of creation (Colossians 1:16). But then it also makes it clear that He was ‘God in the flesh’ and indeed the eternal Son of God with the Father and Holy Spirit, so He was not created. See: a biblical defence of the trinity.
Jason D. responds:
The very idea of “intelligent designer”, and “creator” all involve *action* verbs. Action require time. One cannot use an “action” verb in the context of an environment in which time does not already exist. It’s linguistically meaningless.
BTW, posting Bible quotes to support an argument is circular. The Bible was written by believer about what they already believed to remind themselves what they already believed. The Bible does not “tell” us anything, except what the believers already believed. Either language has linguistic integrity, or it doesn’t. Action verbs “before” time are meaningless.
I have already answered you about time and causation, above, by the principle of simultaneous causation, which is not a new idea, known to philosophers for hundreds of years. Your objections are nothing new and have been answered (see the explanation under “Is creation by God rational?”) This might also be helpful: Infinity through dark glasses.
As for using the Bible being circular, see: Are biblical creationists guilty of circular reasoning?
The Bible is largely a book of history; records of events in space and time. The theology connects with the historical events.
Your view of the Bible merely being the writings of believers telling us what they believed suggests that you have never read the Bible. The Bible is largely a book of history; records of events in space and time. The theology connects with the historical events (such as the Resurrection). Archaeology confirms many of the historical events (where evidence has been found). When skeptics have attacked the Bible it has had a track record of later being proved correct. See Archaeology Q&A.
Jason D. responds:
You may have *attempted* an answer but it is no answer. For the wor *causality* to have linguistic integrity, the INTENTION MUST precede the act. The nonsense of “simultaneity by philosophers is nonsense . It has never been observed, and you know it. “Infinity through dark glasses” is just meaningless.
As for my not having read the Bible, that’s preposterous. I am a PhD Biblical DStusies student at Harvard, and I knkow more about it than you do. Whatever it is, the Bible is NOT a book of history. In archaic Hebrew there is not even a wrod for “history”. It’s “literature”, not “history”. It’s a compilation of various forms of “literature”. As Dr. BB Scott from the Tulsa seminary says, in “The Problem with Resurrection”, it has NOTHING to do with “history”. The modern American Fundamentalist literalism is WAY off the rails, secondary to ignorance, and a lack of real education. Archaeology confirms some events, and also, in many cases confirms that the so-called historical events could not have happened the way they were presented in the Bible. For example camels were not domesticated until 1000 BCE. Do you get wht that means for ALL the dating in the Old Testament ? We also know that the Torah of Moses was written during the Exile, when they conbined J, E, P, and the Babylonian myths. All og Genesis 1 is myth, taken directly from Babylonian/Sumerian myth. Scholars don’t even debate that any more. Where did you get your education ?
So, you don’t like the answer that specialists in philosophy find satisfying (simultaneous causation)? You apparently don’t like your ‘gotcha’ objection being answered. That is, you are not looking for answers, but looking to justify an anti-Christian worldview. Yes, I know you are a theology student, but you are anti-Christian because you do not believe what Jesus the Christ said about the real history of events in Genesis—the creation of Adam and Eve and the Flood (Luke 17) for example. Furthermore, you don’t believe God the Father either, because Jesus only spoke what the Father told him to say (John 12:44–50). So, you stand opposed to God, which is a rather dangerous thing to do.
If you have read the Bible as you claim, then you have no excuse for your unbelief; none whatever. That makes your situation even direr.
And because you are a biblical studies student at Harvard you know more about the Bible than I do? I don’t see how being a student at Harvard (or anywhere) shows that you know more about anything than someone else. The logic escapes me. The most important thing I learned when I was a PhD student was that I didn’t know much! It should be a humbling experience. But let’s look at some of your claims and see how much you have learned at Harvard that is actually true or defensible.
Of course the Bible is not just a book of history, but its overarching framework is a claim about history; the history of the universe from the beginning to the end.
You say, “Whatever it is, the Bible is NOT a book of history.” So, you don’t know what it is, but it’s not history? You say that it’s “‘literature’, not ‘history’”? What type of literature? Of course the Bible is not just a book of history, but its overarching framework is a claim about history; the history of the universe from the beginning to the end. Genesis in particular is meant to be understood as history, as the Oxford University Hebrew Professor James Barr stated. See Should Genesis be taken literally?
You claim that biblical Hebrew has no word for ‘history’, as if this proves they did not know what history was (another non sequitur). They had no actual word for universe either, but clearly understood the concept, coupling ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ together (e.g. Genesis 1:1) to convey the concept (a construction known to grammarians as a merism). But according to Edward Robinson’s translation of a complete index to Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon, published in 1877, the Hebrew word for history is toledot, usually translated as ‘generations’ (e.g. Genesis 2:4, 5:1, 10:1, etc.).
Since there are many archaeological confirmations of the events recorded in the Bible, if the Bible is not about history in these areas, then neither is archaeology, which would be rather bizarre! You even admit that archaeology confirms events in the Bible, then claim the Bible is not about history. That does not seem at all logical.
Yes, I know that you are a theology student at Harvard, but have you ever actually read Kings or Chronicles? Often theology students read more works about the Bible rather than the Bible itself. I fail to see how you could read these and not see the historical nature of this ‘literature’.
And there is plenty of evidence that the Resurrection of Jesus happened in time and space (i.e., real history). And if the Resurrection did not actually occur, there is no point to Christianity and I don’t know why you are bothering to even study theology; what a waste of time! See The Resurrection of Jesus and the related reading. Many a skeptic has set out to disprove the historicity (reality) of the Resurrection and ended up convinced it happened and converted to be a follower of Jesus Christ (e.g., lawyer Frank Morison, who wrote Who Moved the Stone?).
You claim “modern American Fundamentalist literalism is WAY off the rails, secondary to ignorance, and a lack of real education.” Wow! Firstly I am not an American. Secondly, this ‘literalism’ as you call it, is nothing more or less than the view of Bible scholars for 1850 years before the modern era of so-called ‘liberal’ theology, which is nothing more than the same lie that the serpent said to Eve in the beginning, “Did God really say?”. “American Fundamentalism”, as you label it, was kicked off by the publication of The Fundamentals in 12 volumes, in 1909, written by various prominent Christian scholars. This was a detailed re-affirmation of historic Christianity, necessitated by the rise of the new kid on the block, 19th century liberalism, originating with the ‘higher critics’ in Germany. It is liberalism that is the modern invention, not ‘fundamentalism’.
You claim that archaeology disproves some historical claims of the Bible. I could ask how archaeology could do that unless the Bible was about history. As your (best?) example you offer the domestication of camels being supposedly much later than the Bible claims. However, this is a very old claim that has long since been shown to be wrong; see the short article about camels on About.com, which puts their domestication a long time before Moses.
And then you claim, “We also know that the Torah of Moses was written during the Exile, when they conbined J, E, P, and the Babylonian myths.”
I do wonder how you would ‘know’ this when there is not a skerrick of evidence for the existence of these supposed scribes at the time of Ezra, a thousand years after Moses! This 19th century idea has also long since been discredited. The JEDP idea (documentary hypothesis) absolutely disregards the large-scale structures in Genesis that we simply wouldn’t see if it was simply cobbled together—the genuine indications of prior sources fit very well with Moses acting as a sort of editor with pre-existing sources. Indeed there are large-scale structures in the text that show it had one author/redactor. And Genesis 1 couldn’t have been taken directly from Babylonian or Sumerian myth—did you miss the distinctive Jewish monotheism and thinly-veiled polemic against sun and star worship? Even scholars of a liberal bent have debunked the documentary hypothesis. See also, Did Moses really write Genesis?
Might I suggest that you broaden your studies to include the work of some of today’s best evangelical scholars, such as D.A. Carson, Grant Osborne, and Douglas Moo, among others? If what you have written here is any indication, you are not being trained to think at Harvard, but just to parrot the rather out-dated ideas of your liberal professors.
Dear Don Batten, thank you for your bold and well-informed response to Jason D's criticism. Sadly, his sweeping arguments are all too typical of those who know very little but think they know so much; as you say, just parroting the rather out-dated ideas of their liberal professors. Please be encouraged that there are many of us who appreciate the insights from responses such as the one you have just written. May God continue to give you wisdom in the face of the opposition.
Excellent response to Jason D. firm, but keeping the faith "winsomely attractive" (Del Tacket).
Unfortunately, Jason, & many others have been taken captive to the lies of Satan in classes taught by those who should have been helping them to avoid capture!
The same thing happens in many supposedly evangelical colleges & universities.
Thank you, and the others at CMI for holding forth the WORD of LIFE so faithfully.
Thank you Dr. Batten for showing us an excellent example of a proverbial "fool". His polemic remarks actually made me feel sad, especially the poor spelling, grammar, and logic. Right from his opening remarks he sabotaged himself, such as using the word "temporarily" when he probably meant "temporality" (maybe a spell check error?). This is a Harvard student of today? I think your best response was asking him why he is studying theology in the first place - why waste one's time if the Bible is not true?
I find the 'critics' or 'scholar in training' of this articles 'attitude' wide spread not only in Theology but in Science and most other disciplines.
From 'running across' such it occurred to me that 'Attitude' or a person's attitude toward what they are doing or 'investigating' is just about the most important 'tool' in their investigation, because with out the 'right attitude' they will not see 'evidence' even if it's 'sitting there' staring them right in the face.
Attitudes rarely change and without the 'right attitude' Truth seems not to be 'find-able' even if looked for!
Thanks for the article.
What I think this pompous fool needs to do is get on his knees and bow to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father . His attitude of intellectual superiority is astounding and is debunked by the 'primitive' ethnic group outlined in one of your articles which commented on the 'toledoth' of Jesus in Matthew. They believed because they saw the 'writing on the wall', the hand of God in the Bible. Thinking himself wise he has become a fool.
Wow, Jason D. is nothing if not dedicated, a Phd in Biblical studies apparently for the express purpose of proving the Bible is not a historical book.
An excellent series of responses Dr Bratten, well done.
For a theology student, Jason doesn't seem to have a very firm grasp of the single most important theological book in existence. I think more studying is in order for him before he attempts to reply again.
Well done, Don
Brilliant responses to the usual liberal nonsense that non-believers spew thinking:
1) that they are the first one to ever think that particular thought
2) that by declaring their (erroneous) thoughts they will stymie the poor Christian, who according to their wishful thinking, has suspended all, or completely lacks, intelligence in order to remain a Christian.
Very best regards and please keep up the good work!
Nice article Don Batten. However, I think we need to define the definition of "time". Personally, I do not think time exists. Or the fact that time only exist in our minds at the least, not a universal dimension. It's like sound... sound isn't a dimension, but we experience it. Just like we experience waiting in long lines. If that makes any sense.
It all depends on what a person mean when he says "time".
Definitions are important, for sure, but just as sound is real, a physical phenomenon that occurs independently of whether someone is there to hear it, so also time exists independent of mind. Both can be measured by machines. If time did not exist, or was only an epi-phenomenon of your mind, GPS would not work (for example).
I am thankful that God has created me with a simple mind and the measure of faith that He has given is more than adequate. He has proved His existence in my daily life on more than one occasion and I do not see the necessity to go into microscopic detail on evidence that shatters evolutionary thought.
I have read your transcript Mr. Batten, and although I get the gist of what is said, the words used baffle me. I have to sit with a dictionary next to me and by the time I have found the word that required clarification, I had lost the reason why I was looking it up in the first place. Does this mean that I have not evolved properly? No. It means that the words used in the beginning of time were adequate. I believe 'black and white'. But because of translations and re-translations, mixed with personal angers, frustrations, pride and self notoriety by the transcriber, plus the inevitable invent of more words, transcripts are loooonnnnng and time consuming. Thus distortion prevails. I have a vision of satan rubbing his grubby knobbily hands together sneeringly saying 'Lucifer.. You're doing such a good job'.
I applaud you and your team Mr. Batten. Thank you for exercising God's gift of Literature expansion and your understanding of who God is. And being able to remember stuff.
Meanwhile I shall continue being me in my simple little world. [No I am not down on myself. I am just one of God's cog in another wheel, somewhere in His Mighty engine]
Thank you for reading this. I feel better now.
Concepts of time and eternity are mind-stretching, for sure, especially when the opponents of God try to confuse matters, but not everything is so difficult or confusing, so hang in there, Ingrid!
Time cannot be required for existence, because our experience of moving through time is an effect of the design of our minds. A good analogy is an old-style film reel. You can pull out a part of the film and look at it, and see all the frames at once. It isn't running, so the "time" within it is frozen. Yet all those frames do exist. "Time" only moves in a film once you start playing it and now the characters in it can move, speak, seem to think, etc. Even while the film plays, all the frames exist at once from the outside perspective. And Einstein showed that time flows at different rates under certain circumstances and can even come to a complete stop; this doesn't affect existence itself.
To ask what "caused causality" is self-defeating, especially if you're going to try to base your arguments on being a stickler for grammar, because of that verb there, "caused". In order to cause causality, causality has to exist uncaused, which is contradictory. Clearly, causality must be absolute.
Incidentally, it seems a bit odd to see so many typos even while Jason is trying to argue that he's standing up for integrity of language. A little time to proofread is always helpful, though sometimes a typo or two might slip past the best of us. :) If he is really a Harvard student, he'll need to be more careful when he submits his papers...
Finally, the Prophets are an example of something in the Bible that doesn't fit Jason's depiction at all. They wrote down the words spoken to them by God directly, often with an actual audible voice. And they proved it since so many unfakeable prophecies came true. This isn't at all just believers jotting down what they've come to believe.
I have found that oftentimes those who are from the supposed "best" universities have a serious problem with arrogance and self-importance. And it seems to me that this would almost automatically and naturally make it more difficult for them to engage in genuine and honest intellectual self-reflection and questioning. I mean, after all, if they are already considered among the "best and brightest", surely they can trust their own judgment over that of "lesser" intellects? This seems to be a fairly regular problem for those from such lofty realms when it comes to others critiquing their views.
I would support the understanding that causality can predate creation which is the beginning of time as we know it, because time as we know it is only one dimension of time, and that one dimension of time can be formed out of the greater dimensions of time (at least 3) that is eternity. The 'before' creation time is not timeless as is often assumed, but has greater properties than our one dimension.
Good on you Don!
"I don’t know why you are bothering to even study theology"
Exactly! I was thinking that the entire time I was reading Jason D's feedback. It seems like it would be a HUGE waste of time for him to major in a field that he believes is a myth. I mean, what a waste of time and money.
Thank you and thanks to God for you to not only hold the line but also to be an able target. Only God can open Jason's eyes, but it's good that you can help. I seem to sense that Jason's arguments come from an anger towards God rather than knowledge. You made another important point...my degree is not from HARvard, but I can think on my own as God gives me the light.
Excellent reply at the end of the article by Dr Don Batten. Most that comment on CMI seem to not search the site first for materials relevant to their question before posting. It seems to be more about venting anger than coming to the truth. This is a dangerous way of thinking: Just like how you cannot see the whole picture of an incomplete jigsaw, a person with partial knowledge will not possess sufficient information to draw an informed conclusion.
Instead of presenting something of substance, Jason seems to hinge his entire argument on ‘I’m a PhD student at Harvard, and therefore know more than you’ – thus logically implying that he must be infallibly correct, and any opposing argument must be that of ignorance.’
I note a case of double standards in his text. Jason states that “Nothing can “intentionally act” unless absolute temporarily is in place. “Existence” itself requires time.” However, in response to Dr Batten’s answer about simultaneous creation, he says: “It has never been observed, and you know it. “Infinity through dark glasses” is just meaningless.”
What about Jason’s first assertion, that existence requires time? Such an assertion means Jason is saying that a non-material entity requires time to exist. However, has Jason observed that the non-material requires time in order to exist? We, material beings, are bound by the dimension of time. It is in fact meaningless to apply our concepts of time to a being who exists outside of it. It is shoddy logic; reality exists independently of one’s own mind, no matter how much you want it to be a certain way.
If he really wanted to engage CMI in a productive argument, why did he not bring forward any examples to support his claim?
Good article. You refer to The Fundamentals (1909) as a detailed re-affirmation of historic Christianity. On Googling for "The Fundamentals", I found a site which said, "writers of The Fundamentals (1910-1915), including Torrey, proposed harmony between science and Christianity by accepting the standard geological ages". Is that true?
It is true that not all who subscribed to The Fundamentals at the time were ‘on the page’ regarding the full historicity of Genesis 1–11. See the Addendum to Russell Grigg's article on fundamentalism.
The principle of causality is based on a sequence of events within the stream of time as we know it. However. God exits from before time as we know it. Therefore, it is difficult to say how the principle of causality operates within the framework of the universe in which God exits which is external to ours.
There is just too much anger and hostility to be found here. Education is not wisdom and WISDOM comes from God. He will not become wise because he is attending Harvard or any other institution of learning. Because he has put his trust in man he is unable and/or unwilling to listen to God. It brought me to tears because this man is passionate in his beliefs and could be such a wonderful believer if he just spent some time listening to the Almighty and less time listening to the "fool who has said in his heart that there is no God." These people are really NOT the problem; the problem is the body of knowledge being served to them, and these servers are accountable.
I say to him: Ps. 46: 10
"Be still and know that I am God."
Also, I am a brilliant mind, in case he needs to know. But, my wisdom comes from God and for that I thank Him daily!!!
Well done Don. I also, have an earned doctorate in Biblical Studies, though not from Harvard! My studies included lengthy consideration of JEPD. The more we looked at it, the more obvious the assumption based bias against a conservative view of scripture became. Your reply was gracious, well informed & scholarly. Keep on keeping on.
I love it that Don Batten says: “The most important thing I learned when I was a PhD student was that I didn’t know much!”
Would that all of us could find such humility, instead of standing in ignorant and arrogant judgement on the Word of God!
Perhaps you can bear one more comment, in the form of a poem? It adds nothing to the science, but I think it well expresses the paradox of God, time and eternity.
It’s called "In Praespio" but I was unable to find the source or author. An internet search only gave a different poem with the same name:
Midnight, the moving stars
And running sands confess;
Now God steps into time
O small, O weak, O poor!
Where is He, Lord of might?
This human child is He
Even the Infinite.
Only the bleat of sheep
And breathing cattle heard –
That is enough of sound,
This is the Word.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”!!!
Thank you for your well rounded debate Mr. Batten. I am glad that I don't have to pay for his university loans! In regards to time, isn't it real? Didn't God divide day and evening, making for us time because of the rotation of the earth around the sun. Tangible by light and darkness. We are to look at everything from His perspective and I believe that time was created by Him. I too am not a scholar Ingrid! I often get lost in the biiig words that are used on each side of the debate but I know that God loves our hearts:->
I argued for weeks with a man like like this, hoping to do the right thing.
It is just waste of time and effort. Those people just want to fight, put a Christian into the defense position and constantly wetting their pans knowing the Christian is digging for justification. Isn't it degrading to respond to mockers full of evil with no way they would turn to Christ, aren't they condemned already?
1 Peter 3:15,16
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
(this is in the context of being insulted for what we believe).
Only God knows the hearts of those we interact with; it is not ours to judge them for eternity.
This sort of published interaction is also an opportunity to help thousands of readers to defend their faith; to be confident in the face of skeptical attacks on our faith.
On the other hand, because time is short, there is a principle that Jesus put in place: that of 'dusting off one's feet' and leaving those who are not willing to receive our message of hope. This suggests that it is a matter of wisdom to decide that it would be time better spent telling those who are willing to receive.
Don Batten, I congratulate you for keeping your cool when replying to such an obnoxious attack. Why on earth has he taken so much trouble to study something which he does not believe in the first place (or did he?) He clearly has not read the Bible with understanding, but has read, heard (and believed) more commentary against it. Extraordinary and very sad. What a waste of time.
Thank you for the patient, and clear explanation which you have offered here and in so many other articles.I find it encouraging to continually see what I have accepted by faith being confirmed by science. I would not accept a contrary 'scientific' view. I know that the 'scriptures cannot be broken' as Jesus said, but it is none-the-less satisfying to have sometimes even insignificant seeming details of scripture proven to be of great significance in their truth.
I applaud what the team at CMI is doing.
Thanks for your encouragement, Harvey; much appreciated!
Thank you very much Don for the time and effort that went in to compiling this article.
Totally agree with your last comment about being ready to give an answer and in the manner that you did so.
Responding directly to so called experts also helps to tear down their strongholds and great encouragement for believers to know that what we believe in cannot be torn down but stands the test of time and reason.
God bless all of you at Creation Ministries.
I love reading email replies like this one. It is so encouraging to see the Bible being defended. I went to public school and I always was preached to about an unspecial and naturally created universe. Even in college I was bombarded with evolution while in business classes!! I think organizations like yours are the key to winning back the lost. People I knew that were Christians have turned away because of the atheist religion. I have had family members stop talking to me because of my firm Christian beliefs. I see attitudes like this 'young man's' from many people in college or just graduated. It really is sad to see such blatant indoctrination at the 'elite' learning institutions. My wife and I have decided to homeschool our two sons because of this secular culture. Just know that the hardwork you guys are doing is GREATLY appreciated!!
Excellent response, giving a reason "with meekness and fear". Anger is often deep-seated, and only God's grace can heal the broken-hearted and melt the heart of stone. I hope the young man will cry out to God and let Him speak to him through His word.
That is certainly my hope also.
Jason D wrote: The Bible does not “tell” us anything, except what the believers already believed. Either language has linguistic integrity, or it doesn’t.
However, the Bible frequently states "And the Lord said" or "The word of the Lord came to..." or other such pointed declarations. I cannot comment on Jason's integrity, but I do know that I as a young Bible School student was concerned about the integrity of Scripture enough to realize that if the Bible was not trustworthy that my "faith" was misplaced. So I took the time and the effort to study the question. One of my fellow classmates was convinced that JEDP was the definitive answer and so switched from a fundamentalist church to a more liberal one. For ONE class we were required to read and comment on 1000 pages of New Testament theology. I was CONFIRMED in my belief in the trustworthiness of Scripture. But I still took another opportunity to specifically study in a self-directed reading course the question of the authority of Scripture. I digested approximately 1000 more pages of theology on this question from different positions and again found that the Bible IS the Word of God....and it stands (or falls) on its historicity.
I return to Jason's comment regarding the "linguistic integrity" of Scripture. The words clearly state that "God spoke", even to the point that the writer of Hebrews states "In these last days, God has spoken through His Son..." Do you, Jason, believe this or not? I have read your comments and understand that you do not BELIEVE this. No matter how much support, logical, archeological, linguistic or other that you may read, it still comes down to a position of "faith." God is seeking believers who will follow Him. Will you? I ask this of all seekers, including myself.
I enjoyed your responses, they remind me of the fact that the world is full of really smart people.
I too have been having a discussion with an Atheist. I have come to the conclusion from my conversation and others, like yours with Jason, that I have read, that it really is not about the facts. I believe that Atheists really don't want to be accountable to a higher power, God. I could be wrong, but it seems no matter how much evidence you give them, they will never concede a point. I am not sure anybody really wants to be accountable, probably due to the fall, but the evidence overall points to there being a God, and most likely that Jesus was his son.
Keep spreading the evidence, hopefully all of us can keep spreading the Love. God did not send his Son to condemn us, but to give us everlasting life. God Bless!
I wanted to add in my personal thanks for your posted responses.
It most certainly helps those of us who choose to have an answer for those who question us.
To Derek, and any others considering home-schooling, it is absolutely the single greatest thing you can do for your kids and family.
It was not easy for my wife and me to do, financially speaking, but it was well worth it.
Our oldest has been taking college classes while still in home high school, and our youngest is doing the same, and both are excelling with their God-given talents.
The discipline, and values are those that we instilled, and are humbly the values God instilled in us.
We were entrusted by our Lord with the upbringing of these children, and in our opinion, the single most important thing we as parents can do is bring them up in the ways of the Lord.
There is nothing in this world more important than this.
Many personal family tribulations in 2012, yet we are all still here with a focus on our Lord stronger than ever.
May all be blessed in 2013!!
This article really is wisdom answering stupidity. Seems that a prideful spirit in one's approach to learning, particularly if learning Biblical Studies at Harvard apparently, means the more you learn the dumber you get. Is this what Jesus was saying in Luke 8:18 NLT "So pay attention how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them."
Jason wrote, "posting Bible quotes to support an argument is circular. The Bible was written by believer about what they already believed to remind themselves what they already believed. The Bible does not “tell” us anything, except what the believers already believed."
My degree was not from Harrrrvard, Jason, so pardon me, but surely your epistemic logic could be applied self-referentially and see, on that basis, if we should continue to listen to you. Geese and ganders, yeh?
I feel so sad about Jason. He seems to be a victim of Modernist Theology. I rather hoped that these basically atheistic studies were now on the way out. Their strength has been in demonstrating to us how truthful the Bible actually is.
Is Jason a victim of modernist theology or did he seek out modernist theology to affirm his pre-existing unbelief, and/or to use it to undermine the Christian faith of others?
Well done!!! Nothing more need be said!
In Praesepio is by Charles O'Donnell, CSC. I can't find another copy of the full text online but copies of his works are available (edited or published by a Klawitter), including from Scribd.com. I think I must have seen that poem in some collection or course in the past. It is wonderful and I think from some of the other snatches on Scribd that I'd like to read more.
One of the problems in the Harvard student's discussion is the assumption that time itself is constant. It isn't. We already know from Einstein that as we approach the speed of light, time slows down (from the viewpoint of onlookers). Another problem is the sequentiality of causality. History orders events in terms of Event A preceded and/or resulted in Event B, which in turn preceded and/or resulted in Event C, etc. We already know that the universe began as a singularity at point in time. Time began at the same moment as "The Big Bang." We are at this time ignorant of any causality preceding that singularity. All our Harvard student does is replace one miracle (Divine First Cause) with another (the sudden existence of the unfolding universe for no known reason at all). We assume that time as we now "experience" it is what time has always been. However, this is an unproven assumption. Time changes relative to our speed relative to light -- the only known constant. Given our present experience of time, the universe seems to be about 14.5 billion years old. However, depending upon our speed relative to the speed of light, the universe could be much younger (or older). We face, also, the problem of the "red shift", indicating that the universe is not only expanding, but accelerating (which has all kinds of implications regarding time). As for the Bible as history, there are just too many coincidences between the Bible's description of events and known events from the ancient past. Our Harvard student obviously has not examined the evidence of these coincidences which can only be explained as being contemporary to each other in time. But that's another subject; I'm running out of characters for this discussion.
Some good points. We know that there was a beginning and that the big bang model recognizes that is good, but I would not take the big bang as a 'given' as it has lots of baggage that is decidedly inconsistent with the Bible's history. I recommend Willams' and Hartnett's Dismantling the Big Bang: God's Universe Rediscovered and the reading at Astronomy Q&A. There is also lots of good reading about the meaning of red shifts, expansion of the universe (or otherwise) and how relativity can help us understand the timeframe of creation in six days (Genesis 1 and Exodus 20). The bottom line is that all observations (such as red shifts) are interpreted; we need always to separate observations from interpretations (such as the universes appears to be about .... years old or that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, etc.).
Thank you for your thoughtful and polite response Dr. Batten. I find it difficult to be so generous to someone like Jason D. who clearly has an agenda. I do note that he could benefit from a college level grammar course though (even one offered by Harvard :^)
Jason D. writes One cannot use an “action” verb in the context of an environment in which time does not already exist.
Verbs not only have tense (past, future, and present), they have ASPECT (simple, perfect, and progressive) and all 3 are employed at various points in the Bible. For his edification, simple tense denotes the absence of distinction of time where there is either a lack of a distinct time or time is meaningless the action.
Perfect tense denotes the time of the completion of the action (be it past, present or future) is known.
Progressive tense shows that the action has either no clear beginning or no clear end or even both.
A few hours of learning on his part would reveal that action verbs CAN be presented without regard to time!
Another commenter stated that time is a matter of perception. I agree in part. Time does surely exist despite our perception but we do not all necessarily perceive it the same. God perceives time but He alone is not SUBJECT to it as we are. I believe God created time as a function of the universe He created. The Creator cannot be subject to the created.
Thank you Don for your well reasoned and calm answers for Jason. Speaking from experience as a creation believing Christian with a PhD in chemistry, I have had many encounters with people that were hostile to God and the Bible. In my early years, I tried to convince people with 'logic that was irrefutable" only to discover that these conversations usually ended up in loud arguements with people yelling at me and calling me names. As I grew older and more experienced, I realized that these people had anger issues with God, and thus I changed how I answered their questions. It is hard for most people to stay on topic, and when they feel they are losing the 'fight' they bring in so many extraneous topics to try to confuse the situation and cower the Christian. Again, thanks for your reasoned responses.
Thanks for sharing. Yes, if the person is open to sharing, finding out why they are angry at God is a good place to start. In terms of answering the objections, a good strategy to employ is given by one of my colleagues: Anyone for tennis?
How difficult it is to rebut the statements of one who is certain and certainly wrong. It sometimes is possible to redirect the conversation away from the particular starting question. I'll recommend to others this conversation about matters of extreme importance.
We are fortunate to have been blessed with so many highly-educated "Jason D's" in the world, and I say that sincerely. Unfortunately, however, "an education does not a wise man make" and a majority of those who enroll believing "the lie" will, in my opinion, graduate believing "the lie." The Apostle Paul asks “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
A truly wise man does not believe "the lie" and those who do believe the lie, it seems, invest an inordinate amount of time in defending "their faith" because they do have enough wisdom to recognize the consequence of being wrong. It is encouraging that Jason is making an effort to defend his faith because that suggests to me that he, at least, thinks he is might be on shaky ground. Maybe what is required of us is more prayer to the One in whom we believe rather than more words to the one who does not.
Wow! Amen!!!!!!!! Dr. Batten you really gave a beautiful, wisdom-filled, KIND, response to this man...awesome, awesome, awesome...may God continue to use you and bless you! :)
great reply. I especially like your comment about what you learned from your PhD. I always referred to my PhD as standing for "Piled Higher and Deeper", because you sometimes feel your bit of knowledge/research is so insignificant "piled" under the weight of knowledge of that which is out there. If anyone working on a post graduate degree doesn't get a sense (even in a small way) that their little world of knowledge/research is only an infintesmal part of a much bigger picture.......then they've missed the point.
Blessings to the CMI Team, keep up the great work.
Thank you for your brilliant and humble (1 Pt.) defence of your (and ours) faith as Christians. The Lord God does still have His agencies on this planet to confound the unbelievers (2 Pt.); and you all at CMI are doing a wonderful job.
Many words may be said in defence of the historicity of the Man Jesus and His divine resurrection. If one reads the whole Bible and ponders on it, one may realize that, even though it is claimed by some that its writers were not the 'historical real ones', the Plan of salvation, by itself alone, has been so accurately and timely planned, activated and realized through the whole Scripture (which surpasses every human extra-talented playwriter) that its source loudly betrays its Author: our Triune God, inviting all of us humbly to recognize His Word's authority!
I invite other readers to participate with a small donation of $5. I subscribed with $30, wanting to see more responses like this one!
Thanks so much for your encouragement and your practical support, Gennaro.