Wednesday, August 28, 2013

King David's Palace Found?

I heard a joke one time about an old lady who boarded a plane clinging to her oversized Bible. She sat down next to a young business man. When he saw her Bible, he snickered cynically under his breath. During the flight, he turned to her and asked, “Do you really believe that book?” She responded, “Of course I do, it is the Bible, written by God!” He could not help himself, “So, you actually believe that story about some guy surviving inside a whale for three days?” She replied, “You mean Jonah. Of course I do. It is in the Bible.” He pressed further, “So tell me, how exactly can a man survive inside a whale’s stomach for such a long time without suffocating?” She paused to consider the question. “Well, I don’t know. But, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah himself.” He then quipped, “Well, what if you find that he is not there.” Without hesitation she replied, “Then you can ask him.”

Aside from the fact that there are modern examples of humans surviving long periods of time after being accidentally swallowed by whales, this story subtly illustrates a deeper truth regarding the Bible. And, that truth is that if there ever was a book deserving the least amount of disrespect on matters of history, it would be the Bible. It still stands today as the most affirmed book of historical antiquity known to man. At some point, naked cynicism turns to blinding disgust, as displayed by the business man in the above joke.

An actual and modern display of this was recently observed regarding discussions over the archaeological finding of King David’s palace. On July 18, 2013, it was announced that archaeologists in Jerusalem had unearthed the elusive structure. It was identified after over a year of excavations at the site believed to be the fortified city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, which is also believed to be the site where the boy David vanquished Goliath. According to Professors Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor of Hebrew University, “This is indisputable proof of the existence of a central authority in Judah during the time of King David.” Garfinkel and Ganor identified one structure as David's palace and the other as an enormous royal storeroom. Also according to Garfinkel and Ganor, “The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of about 1,000 square meters was revealed at the top of the city…The wall enclosing the palace is about 30 meters long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found -- evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt.” In addition, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) told The Times of Israel that they are confident the site can be attributed to the time of King David’s reign.

But, as always this was professionally opposed by several outspoken cynics. They questioned the existence of David’s Kingdom and even the existence of a King David. And, their chief criticism is what they referred to as an overreliance “on the Bible itself as evidence.” Since the first criticisms are easily dismissed, let’s focus on the last of the criticisms. Did the archaeologists and the IAA rely too heavily on the Bible? Is the Bible worthy of reliance? And, is the Bible relevant to archaeology surrounding King David? Can the Bible be referred to as evidence? Is the Bible all we have to rely upon on this subject? Do other sources confirm the Bible and this archaeological find?

First of all, as we discussed in many earlier posts, the Bible still stands today as the most vetted and affirmed work of historical antiquity known to man. It is more supported by archaeology than any other work of history. It is the gold standard in such measures. If the Bible can’t be relied upon, then no other book can be. Further, it goes without saying that if the most reliable book of historical antiquity speaks at length about King David and the details of his life, then it is also relevant to the subject of this archaeological find. In fact, if the Bible is not reliable regarding King David's palace, then again, what book is? Therefore, since the Bible is the most reliable book of antiquity and specifically addresses the life and times of King David, then, of course, it stands as a piece of evidence on the matter. On what reasonable argument can anyone conclude that it is not? On what reasonable basis can anyone dismiss the Bible from the discussion regarding King David? Lastly, while the Bible is the best source of reliable evidentiary information on King David, it is not the only source. King David is also a central figure in Judaism, Islam and other faiths, and is also documented in their books of antiquity. And, yes, all of the many other sources are entirely consistent with the Biblical account of King David’s palace. This is precisely why the IAA, which is not a Christian organization, affirmed the find, and authoritatively so.

The critics in this case actually presented no evidence at all supporting their cynicism. All they did is make general claims that the conclusions are not true. However, when archaeology proves the cynic wrong, and he or she persists on arguing without evidence, then it is the cynic's argument that is most worthy of being met with cynicism. It is intellectual dishonesty to dismiss archaeological evidence just because you don’t like it. It is also intellectual dishonesty to begin to claim that the Bible is not reliable historically when it stands as the most reliable book of history that we know of.

As archaeology continues its march through the sands of time, be encouraged in your faith in God’s word. The archaeological evidence stands behind you. And, so does God.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

“4-Billion-Year-Old Fossil Proteins Resurrected”?

I grew up during the 1980s. So, naturally I am a fan of the popular music of that era. One of my favorite 1980s songs was released by Thomas Dolby titled, “She Blinded Me with Science.” The song is about a male scientist who is overwhelmed by his beautiful girlfriend. But, he is only able to think in scientific terms. So, he reduces her blinding attraction into pure “science.” However, he was blinded not by “science” in a lab as we know it, but by sexual attraction. He missed the point that it was erotic love that is blinding. And, science should never be blinding. But, unfortunately, today “science” is more blinding than any other force that we know.

For a great example, the title of this post, “4-Billion-Year-Old Fossil Proteins Resurrected,” was the headline of a lead article published in LiveScience on August 9, 2013. It was then re-posted by various national news outlets. Given the source (LiveScience), and based upon the headline, what would you expect to be reading about? Surely such an article would be discussing a ground-breaking fossil find. Surely, they have scientific evidence that this fossil is 4 billion years old. Given the use of the word, “Resurrected,” we might even assume that they found some way to bring this fossil back to life through cloning. Sadly, none of the above are the case.

Instead, the article went on to reveal that no such fossil exists and, therefore, it was also not resurrected either. In fact, there is no fossil involved in any aspect of this article nor in the underlying study. Rather, what they did was assemble a modern-day protein using assumptions about the differences between proteins of each domain of organisms. They took certain differences that we have identified between each of the selected proteins and mapped them backwards to the dates that they are believed to have diverged from each other. From these selective data points and selected assumptions/beliefs about divergence dates, they designed what they believe is the first of proteins which they claim “spawned all other versions.” That leaves us not only disappointed following such a headline, but, it also leaves us with more hilarious questions than affirmative answers.

First of all, why the headline? This is not a fossil and it was not resurrected. It is clear to see the agenda in the headline and in the research methods. But, agenda should stop before hypothesis. Agenda is bias. And, the Scientific Method forbids bias. Agenda should not carry over into the methods of research and ultimate reporting of the results. This is not a display of science. This is fabricated fiction. It does not even rise to the level of opinion. And, to call a non-fossil a fossil is deceptive fiction. To claim it was resurrected when we can’t even prove it existed, is incoherently titled fiction. We don’t even have a single shred of evidence that this protein ever existed. In fact, it is most likely that it never did until they designed it.

Second, reporting that a “fossil” is 4 billion years old implies that they have some evidence from the “fossil remains” or its surroundings to estimate its age. Wrong again. There were practically no dating methods employed in these experiments. Simply, the scientists (and I use that term loosely) in question wanted to claim it existed 4 billion years ago, so they did. Again, that is not science. That is likely more fiction.

Third, divergence (separation of species) over billions of years has not been proven either. Similarities between two proteins does not prove they diverged from a common ancestor. Therefore, assuming unproven divergence does not make for scientific data. In fact, look how many times in the above summary that the words, “assumptions,” “believed,” “certain,” and “selected” are used in various forms. This sounds more like selective reasoning than science, doesn’t it? All these scientists did is design and assemble a protein with predetermined characteristics. That is all they did. So, what did they prove? Absolutely nothing, except that intelligent beings can design and assemble proteins. But, that conclusion would support Intelligent Design Theory, not evolution.

Fourth, to display the lack of scientific discipline of the report, they even went as far as claiming this protein “spawned all other versions.” Proteins don’t spawn. Only living organisms spawn. Proteins are like building blocks of organisms, not organisms themselves.

As an insult to the intelligence of the readers, it is only at the very end of the article where they finally made actual semi-scientific conclusions, as follows:

  •  “There are no traces of these ancient proteins.” That is admission that there are no fossils and no existing traces to even support the conclusions reached. In other words, in light of everything else we know, this is fiction.
  •  “There is no way to make absolutely certain unless we invent some kind of time machine.” Finally, some honesty that exposes as fabricated this study's central claims.

I Corinthians 8:2 says, “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” In other words, actual knowledge of a known reality is required for someone to “know” something. Imagining something that may not be true, is not a basis for knowledge. To claim that imagination is primary proof of knowledge, is the beginning of intellectual blindness.

It is extremely sad how far “science” has drifted away from The Scientific Method towards incoherent philosophy. It is even sadder how science is actively blinding the masses with deceptive fiction. The lack of applied critical thinking displayed in this article is astounding. Even more astounding is the lack of applied critical thinking displayed by the willing masses who digest it. If an advocate for Intelligent Design Theory were to similarly display such amazing hurdles of faith disguised as science, they would be publicly stripped of their dignity in scientific circles. But, as long as you are aligned with the politically correct agenda, you can make any distorted and unsupported claim you desire without challenge. After all, the new agenda it seems is to blind the willing with science.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Are Humans Animals?

On July 25th, 2013, US News re-published an article excerpt from the Northern Colorado Gazette titled, “It Begins: Pedophiles Call for Same Rights as Homosexuals.” In the predicted wake of recent effective arguments made by the “gay” rights activists in the public arena concerning marriage, this article identified several respected international psychologists similarly claiming, “Pedophiles are not simply people who commit a small offense from time to time but rather are grappling with what is equivalent to a sexual orientation just like another individual may be grappling with heterosexuality or even homosexuality.” In addition, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) in San Francisco lists, on its website, “basic sexual rights” that includes “the right to engage in sexual acts or activities of any kind whatsoever, providing they do not involve nonconsensual acts, violence, constraint, coercion or fraud.” Another “right” is to, “be free of persecution, condemnation, discrimination, or societal intervention in private sexual behavior” and “the freedom of any sexual thought, fantasy or desire.” The organization also says that no one should be “disadvantaged because of age.” Do many of these arguments sound familiar? How did we come this far? Well, it began with a distorted world view often referred to as naturalism.

Naturalism is the belief that nothing exists beyond the observable natural world. In other words, there is no supernatural. And, therefore, there is no intangible, invisible human soul. Humans are merely random but well-organized molecules. And, therefore, all moral law should be based upon this foundational “truth.” From there, we would conclude that there is no unseen God. It would then also follow that man is just another animal. But, does that match what we know to be true?

The dictionary has several definitions of the word, “animal.” The main definition is, “any member of the kingdom Animalia.” This is followed by, “any such living thing other than a human being.” The word gets its ancient roots from various words in related languages all pointing to the function of breathing. In other words, an “animal” is a living thing that breathes. And, until fairly recently, for obvious reasons, this definition was meant to exclude humans. The turning point in the evolution of the word’s use was the mid-1800s. It was in 1857 when the philosophy of animalism, an offshoot of naturalism, was credited as being born. Animalism, at its foundation, holds that man is a mere animal. And, its birth as a philosophy was merely two years before the publishing of Darwin’s “Origin of Species.” This is no mere coincidence. In fact, it is Darwin’s flawed work and man’s undying worship thereof that has led to the foundationally cemented conclusion today that man is simply an animal that should be allowed to follow his genetic instincts.

The end result of this flawed reductive thinking of diminishing the identity of humans to mere animals is that we adopt the morality of animals. The next time you are watching a nature channel that observes the unedited activities of wild beasts, imagine substituting humans in the scenes and approving of what you imagine. If humans are animals, and their seeming “inappropriate” behavior can be loosely linked to genetic instinct, then a new atheistic moral law can be established. And, that moral law is no law at all. Isn’t that where we are foolishly headed in our culture today? If we are merely animals, then what moral law compels us to honor marriage? Why honor family? Why honor decency? Why honor children? No such honor truly governs the animal kingdom.

In helpful contrast, Christianity offers truth as an alternative to these grotesque distortions. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Further, human breathing is very distinct from animals’ breathing. Humans are the only living things in which God personally breathed (Genesis 2:7). And, God never wastes His breath. Whatever He does or creates ultimately returns to Him one way or another. In man’s case, God’s breath is the fiber or our very souls. Therefore, we have an eternal soul. And, we who call Him “Father” are destined to reign in the Kingdom of God upon our immortal resurrection. If you are a Christian, you are certainly nothing less than that, and you are so much more than a mere animal.

Over time different definitions of “animal” have emerged. Under certain definitions, humans are animals. And under other definitions (like God’s definition) humans are so much more. Given the danger intrinsic to naturalistic thinking, coupled with the slippery slope that it has already pushed us down, and the amazingly dangerous things we have already approved of thereunder, we should refuse to allow the word, “animal,” to describe us or any other bearer of God’s image. In fact, there is one set of definitions that is above all others, and that is God’s set of definitions. After all, He invented language. So, He ultimately gets to decide what words actually mean. Therefore, we should refuse to accept any definition, any identity or any attempt to explain man that does not begin with God. He is the true Origin of all species and everything else that He created. With what other foundational philosophy can you reasonably respond to those defending gross sexual perversion as appropriate?

Therefore, in conclusion, let’s re-ask the question, “Are humans animals?” Well, if you are reading this, pondering it, or simply feeling any emotion invoked by it, you are easily proving that the answer is clearly, “No!”