Monthly Archives: February 2009

Human Beings – Accidental, Coincidental, or Designed by an Intelligent Designer

Let’s say for a moment that there is a creature from another planet. And even though this creature is not a human being, he/she/it does have the ability to investigate, reason, analyze, love, appreciate beauty, and blush (By the way, these facts alone are enough to prove that we are made in the image of an Intelligent Designer. What other living creature has this ability?).

But for illustrations sake, a mechanical machine from another planet – whom we’ll call TOFU, discovers earth and finds living here, human beings. What would TOFU discover about human beings that would prove that they had to be designed by an Intelligent Designer? TOFU would discover that there is no way that the complex human system called man and woman, evolved over time to form this living human body.

DNA
You would have to conclude that at the cellular level, you have a very complex thing called DNA. One author has shared how that human DNA contains more organized information than the Encycolopedia Britannica. The languge of life is stored within it. The organism accesses the information that it needs from DNA so it can build some of it’s critical components. The DNA stores more information in a smaller space than the most advanced supercomputer on the planet. States one author: “300 different proteins, a source of sugars, nucleotides, amino acids, and fatty acids all placed together in working order.” Each cell is like a miniature factory town, humming with power plants, automated plants, and recycling centers. The nucleus houses the cellular library, where blueprints are copied and sent to the factories. These manufacture the immense array of products needed within the cell, with the processes all regulated by enzymes that function like stopwatches to ensure that everything is perfectly timed. The outside surface of the cell is regulated with sensors, gates, pumps that regulate traffic coming in and out. It’s like a complex train system where things are so precisely timed, that no crashes happen (Behe, summarized by Nancy Pearcey). And how does evolution know where to take us as humans? Who codes the new DNA? Each cell has a specified message (specified complexity). Think about what evolution would have you to believe. A simple single cell creature… spontaneously generated from primordial soup… the cell mutated and survived a very harsh natural environment… evolved into a species that could swim… then evolved into a species that could fly… all the while surviving while scales are not feathers and feathers are not scales… and gills are not lungs and lungs are not gills… finding food… avoiding predators… and self-assembling new DNA… and reproducing these mutated changes….etc…etc… DNA. Design or accident/coincidence?

Reproduction
You would have to conclude that all the reproductive parts of the male and of the female had to arrive simultaneously together, not over millions of years. Otherwise, every significant development in the male reproductive system would have had to been matched by a female development concurrently, a very unlikely scenario. If evolution is true, the fossil record should reveal millions of intermediate sexual beings and congenital freaks. Human genitals fit snugly together and always have. Everything about the act of fertilization is reciprocal. Design or accident/coincidence?

Brain
Every body function is controlled by the brain. If you need energy, the brain tells the stomach. If you need oxygen, the brain tells the lungs. If you drop in blood pressure, the brain tells the heart to beat faster. The body is covered all over with sensory receptors. It computes millions of computations with just a walk in the park: adjusting to temperature, sensing balance via the inner ear, and taking in audio/visual aids to compute a human response. But most of the brains work happens underneath conscious awareness: a heart that beats, every breath, an eye-blink when the eye is getting dry, light waves and sound waves, every moving joint or muscle – triggers physical, hormonal, and chemical responses that are handled by the brain automatically. It lets you know if something doesn’t taste right, or smell right, or look right, so the human can be freed to pay attention to other things. The brain regulates growth, the endocrine, respiratory, gastrointestinal, circulatory, musculoskeletal, and excretory systems, all of which fit together into a wonderfully designed, interactive living being. Design or accident/coincidence?

Eye
The eye is placed at the top of the head, and gives distance vision. We can also see where we’re going and what we’re touching. Both eyes are set back inside a bony protective socket, but they protrude enough for a wider plane of sight. The eyes are spheres so they can roll around easily. They are set just enough apart to allow for depth perception. Eyebrows protect from glare. Pupils dilate. Eyelids close during sleep and are thin to allow for an awakening at dawn. They water when irritated and wash out irritants. And only humans summon tears in profoundly sad times or extremely happy times. The eye is not a survival organ or a random mutation. There are a minimum number of parts that are necessarily for it to work. Irreducible complexity is an argument made in the discussion on evolution. This concept says that the origin of complex organs must be explained. How do you account for the complexity of the human eye? Some living mechanisms are too complex to arise by the short steps required by evolution. There are many things that evolution cannot explain. Irreducibly complex organs is one of them. The eye has more than two million working parts, and can discern a candle light from miles away. Several well-matched interacting parts contribute to basic function and if one part is removed, the whole part is jeopordized and in many cases ceases to function. What good is a retina by itself? Or ocular muscles and no lens. The eye is a package. Yet Darwin would assert that the eye could not come as a package; that the eye parts each must be useful in some way by itself and performing a function in order for it to evolve in small, incremental steps. Accident or Design?

Ear
The ear catches sound waves like a satellite. It converts it into electrical impulses and sends it to the brain for processing. Even as we age, the ear gets larger to offset the loss of hearing that comes with age. Inner and outer hair cells allow for fine-tuned hearing: cracks of a floorboard, a single instrument in an orchestra, and the sounds of someone breathing, and yet somehow, they tune out the blood splashing through our veins. Speech and sound would have had to evolve together in an evolutionary system. So, you would have had the simulataneous development of the vocal chords. Accident or design?

Nose
It’s really the brain that smells thousands of odors and millions of combinations. It impacts what we eat, when we make love, who just walked into the room, and when we should get out of the house. It filters dirty air and permits us to breath without having to have our mouths open. The nostrils point downward and are placed to receive aroma input, especially before ingesting. Accident or design?

Mouth
The mouth does so much: speaking, tasting, communicating, kissing. The teach allows for consuming food. The tongue allows for taste and swallowing. It also senses texture, helps create an appetite, and aids in digestion. Accident or design?

Touch
Millions of sensory receptors line the human body. Touch tells us when our clothes are too tight or the water is too cold or a blister is developing on our heel. Touch provides comfort and closeness. Many areas are ready to fire off responses when touched – they are hyper-sensitive and chemicals are released when these places are stimulated. Accident or design?

Skin
Skin protects us. It is waterproof, antibacterial, elastic, and flexible, self-repairing, washable, and self-replaces. It makes us look better too. Accident or design?

Our “from another planet – called TOFU” creature will also recognize, upon further investigation, that humans are built for something more than just survival. Humans are overbuilt for the world. We just needed a stick and drum but we have orchestras and Beethoven. And Spielberg and Mozart, and Celine Deion and Einstein and Van Gogh. They take us far beyond mere survival, beyond “competition”. They celebrate each others accomplishments and paint murals to capture beauty and use body language to convey a message. They laugh at each other and write poetry about people and things they love. They are not just trying to “survive”; they are celebrating something – something called life. They can imagine things and display morals. They have a sense of pride in their work. They love to create great scultures or simply doodlings. The coordinate colors and textures and mimic people and animals. They smile and plan for the future. They set priorities and gather food. They dance and perform, write and create. They reason and teach complex ideas. They pray and worship and reach out to a Someone. They show facial expressions and feel regret. They seek justice and long for grace. They deceive and are embarrassed when caught. They remember and hope, taste and touch, see and hear, eat and digest, hold and make love.

And if this “from another planet – TOFU” creature would read the documents of Atheistic Man and Christian Theism Man, he/she/it would theorize that…

Humans are either…
a descendent of a tiny cell of primoridal protoplasm…an arbitrary product of time and place, chance and natural forces…a grab bag of atomic particles, genetic substance…who exists on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in a corner of a meaningless universe, only slightly different from a banana or an amoeba…coming from nothing and going no where…

Or humans are…
a special creation of a good and powerful Intelligent Designer… who made them in His image…with a unique capacity to think and feel and know things…set above all other life forms…to observe all of the rest of creation…discovering how a world works…all the while, engaging this Designer in relationship… encountering His love… and changing the world for the better… and fulfilling a God-given purpose, minus the suffering eventually…on a new earth…

Advertisements

16 Comments

Filed under Anthropic Principle, Anthropology, Atheism, Atheist, Beauty, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Desire, First Cause, Human Being, Imago Dei, Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, Pleasure, Sex, Worldview

Atheism – The Ultimate God Flip-Off (The Atheist Does Not Fear God)

If one does not believe that God exists, then naturally there is no “fear of God”. With no “fear of God” there is no true wisdom according to the writer of the Book of Proverbs. Lacking wisdom, the atheist flips God off, and lives as if He doesn’t exist.

The Book of Proverbs talks a lot about getting wisdom. Wisdom means seeing everything in the light of God. It’s a healthy respect for God and His Word and His Ways. If you flaunt them, the consequences are very, very real. The fear of God also would include a relational aspect. One is drawn into the mystery of God, to know Him and obey Him.

In the book of Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is mentioned nearly 20 times. It’s the motto for the whole book. God has self-disclosed, that is, He has revealed some things about Himself – what He loves, what He hates, who He loves to bless, and how He likes to see us live our lives. Wisdom is loving what God loves, hating what God hates, and actually living like God has asked us to live. God is bigger than me; He’s more powerful than me and I ought to listen to Him. You step back in awe when you fear God. That is one aspect of the fear of the Lord. In other words, don’t be ripping life from the womb. Don’t be trampling on sacred marital ground. Don’t be redefining the family. Be careful when you assert that God does not exist. There is even a contingency within liberal Christianity that rejects all the central doctrines of the faith. A God without wrath brings men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a Cross. Pure heresy. Be careful.

But the fear of the Lord doesn’t stop with just stepping back in awe. The fear of the Lord also includes drawing close in relationship. God is not temperamental. You can trust Him and He wants you to be close to Him. Jesus makes this very clear. God is awesome and wants to catch you up in sacred romance. God is beautiful and warm. He is mysterious. He can make your life complete and worth living. You will be fulfilled in ways you never were before when you decide to come to him. So, to fear God is too stand in awe of him, but it is also and desire to know Him and be close to Him, even though He is totally Other than us.

Look at what the Proverb writer has written:

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. The assumption is that many people will not fear God. They’ll flip God off.

Proverbs 1:28-31 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. So many live any way they want and when that way of life all but destroys them, they finally cry out to God, “I’m ready to listen to you now God.” But this cry comes too late. The damage is done. Sin will take you further than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keep you longer than you want to stay.

Proverbs 2:1-5 1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. This is not something we do a few times; wisdom is the pursuit of a lifetime.

Proverbs 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Someone who is proud, arrogant, characterized by evil behavior and speech have no fear of God.

Proverbs 9:10 10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 10:27 27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. This is not a promise; it’s a probability. The genre of proverb simply states probabilities, not promises.

Proverbs 14:26 26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. If you have good godly parents, your family will reap the benefits of it.

Proverbs 15:16 16 Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

Proverbs 15:33 33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Proverbs 16:6 6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil.

Proverbs 19:23 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Again, a probability. You live for God and you will eliminate a lot of trouble because you’ve stayed out of trouble.

Proverbs 22:4 4 Humility and the fear of the LORD bring wealth and honor and life. This is a probability.

Proverbs 23:17 17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. You’ve got to live with the long view in mind.

The fear of God is not the terror that sends us running in horror, and on the other hand, it is not simply a quiet respect. The fear of God is living with an acknowledgement that we live in relationship to the God who created us, who even created the universe. It is the sobering reality that teaches us that God is vastly superior to us and must be placed first in our lives. We could say then that wisdom is full of awe for God.

A fully educated mind not in awe of Him may know all sorts of things, but they will not be truly wise and have the skill they need in life. The fear of God is not so much fear, but awe and total respect. Awe and reverence is the experience of being overwhelmed, of confronting someone or something much more powerful than ourselves. Where fear makes us want to run away, awe makes us want to draw closer to the mystery, even though we hesitate to get too close. Instead of resenting our own smallness or weakness, we stand in appreciation of something greater than ourselves. And we want to linger and even more important, obey Him (Parrott, Relationships). To fear God is to put Him first, above all things and to obey Him in simple trust. To fear God is to know that a moment of existence without Him is hell.

Donald Miller said, “I realize it isn’t a big deal to fear God these days, but I do. By that I don’t mean I have just a deep respect for Him or a healthy appreciation for Him; I actually get a general sense of terror. It isn’t because I think He is a bad guy, because I don’t. The sense of terror comes more from the idea that He is so incredibly other… (Searching…37).” It takes metaphor and analogy to try to describe God. Eyes of fire. Voice like rushing wind. He speaks a word and nature jumps. Angelic beings fall to their faces in His presence. The most powerful telescope cannot reach the end of the cosmos that He created. There is a God and He’s very big and He understands everything. He made all this and He understands it’s physics. He is so incredibly other.

You see the Biblical God is dangerous, but He’s good. He shakes me from my complacency. He is about holding you accountable, making you whole and holy, confronting your sin, knocking you down, standing you back up again, calling your name, and winning your heart so that you will align with His broad purposes for our world.

“Course He isn’t safe” says the Beavers in Narnia. But it’s the only God that would be worth believing in, living for, and dying for. God doesn’t tap the window pain with his cane and says to those who flaunt His ways: “Go away. Shoo! You’re getting close to the edge” and sometimes they back away from the edge and sometimes they don’t. That kind of a god is of little help in a world that is cruel and evil and where bad things happen to those who don’t deserve it – where wives are stolen, people we love are murdered, our most prized possessions destroyed, our true God is belittled, our loved ones die in accidents and families are falling apart.

You and I need Somebody who can do more than just “Shoo” away his enemies and principalities and powers of darkness, and merely have them come back once His attention is turned in another direction. I need Someone who has the power to ultimately and finally deal with evil, and hurt and misfortunate and heartache and genocide and abortion and infanticide and atheistic regimes and forsaken and abandoned families. “Course God isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you” says Beaver in the Chronicles of Narnia. So we can obey and trust him without fear, even when He asks us to do some really hard things, unsafe things, like forgiving someone who had done evil and harm toward us.

What does it mean to fear God? To fear God is to stand in awe of Him, to be drawn into the mystery of Him, and to pursue relationship with Him with a desire to obey Him fully. To do all of these things is to be declared truly “wise”. It means to be anxious and eager to meet Him. It means to build our lives around the call of being His Bride, to anticipate the pleasure of obedience. To fear God is to be lost in His presence and to orient all of life with God at the center.

Atheist, stop flipping God off. Instead, fear Him and you can be truly wise. Stop living your life as if God does not exist. He does exist and you don’t want to mess with Him.

Steve Farrar in one of his books was talking about the fear of God. He said a few years ago his then 14 year old son was telling him about his friend that had gotten into big trouble. As Steve and his son discussed it, Steve’s son said,

“You know what the real problem is Dad?”

“No,” Steve replied. “What is it?”

“When you get right down to it, he has no fear of his father. He knows that his dad doesn’t mean what he says. His dad has never followed through and disciplined him. That’s the real reason he’s in trouble.”

God exists. He means what He says. Don’t flip Him off. Stop droping His name like an ace card (even though you don’t believe in Him ironically enough) and stop making these ridiculous claims like “God doesn’t exist.” Read the proverbs I’ve quoted above to see what eventually happens in the lives of those who flip God off.

55 Comments

Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Fear of God, Theism

“Do You Think I’m Beautiful?” (For Women Only)

This question has attached itself to the feminine soul. She wants to know if you think she is beautiful.

Is there anything more beautiful than a valiant, mysterious, godly, moral woman? She is captivating, dazzling. Can you imagine a world without women?

C. S. Lewis, the great academic and bachelor for most of his adult life, said, “Even to see her walk across the room is a liberal education.”

I’m not just talking about physical appearance or even about the way she moves across a room. A woman is an aloneness fighter. She brings companionship, a gentle touch. She’s wise in creating safety zones where people can relax and open up and not feel judged. She knows how to affirm the men in her life and yet she has a life of her own. She offers a nurturing disposition and a nice decorative touch.

The essence of femininity is found in Eve (Genesis 1-3). Females are the crown of creation. Everything just keeps getting better and better in Genesis 1, more sophisticated, more intricate, until finally woman appears, and only then does God rest. She is a work of art. She is the crescendo. Creation was brought to completion with Eve. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. There’s something about her that is mesmerizing.

Of course, the Fall has impacted how we see women and how women go about being beautiful. Our masculine sinful nature wants to reduce women from something beautiful, lovely, graceful, intriguing, and charming to something that is merely consumed or conquered or scored on. And Fallen Eve is many times ready to oblige this mentality.

“Fallen Eve” struggles with this issue of attention. “I want somebody paying attention to me and telling me how beautiful I am. And if I don’t get that, I’ll take it out on everyone else, hold grudges, never forgive, and medicate my loneliness.”

Women have an ache to be beautiful, cherished and pursued in at least one other person’s eyes. If they are not, they turn to what Brent Curtis call “little affairs of the heart.” They are the things that women give their heart to instead of giving her heart to God. “I’m not feeling appreciated, therefore, I’ll go buy something nice.” “I’m lonely, so I’m going to eat three bowls of ice cream and super-size something.” “I want to be loved and caught up in romance, so I’ll buy romance novels and place myself in the story.” “I’ll lose myself in a soap opera.”

Your “little affairs of the heart” help you for a while, but they only increase your need to indulge again and again – to adulterate yourself with these other lovers, and shame all the men in your life for not meeting all your needs.

Don’t be ashamed of your ache for love and for beauty. God may provide a man who is able to soothe this ache in a measure, but even he will eventually disappoint you. Stop taking the entirety of your ache to the man, and bring it to your God. God, not your marital status or your man, defines your life.

Here’s something I read ladies: “Taking joy in life is a woman’s best cosmetic.” There is a mesmerizing power that entices and attracts through personal, sincere charm and mystery. When you have joy, not dependent on whether or not a man tells you that you are beautiful, you become beautiful. Every man takes note of the woman who lives for something other than the male. That’s part of the mystery.

But still, there is this longing, this desire in Fallen Eve. Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

According to Gary Thomas, respected Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch suggest that the Hebrew language here evokes a “desire bordering on disease.” It comes from a root word connoting a “violent craving” for something, a ravenous absorption. In her loneliness, Fallen Eve will desire to absorb, to swallow the man to fill her emptiness, and the implication is that he will fail her.

There’s this sinful propensity inside a woman to define herself according to her likability or acceptance by men. There is an obsession with how a man makes her feel. “Tell me I’m beautiful!” while gritting her teeth in demand.

For a man in a Post-Fallen creation, this male-female relationship is just a part of his life; but for a woman it’s the entirety of her existence. It’s all she can think about.

A woman’s greatest need is the need for intimacy. She wants to be known at the deepest levels and she wants to know at the deepest levels. But this is twisted now. Intimacy is the demand of the woman. Fallen Eve demands that people come through for her, that they compliment her on her terms, not theirs. Others must fulfill her expectations. And if they fail, Fallen Eve will lash out with a flurry of words, filled with shame.

Women, do you want to be truly beautiful? Then don’t demand that men tell you you’re beautiful. Take your question to your Creator who made you the highlight, the crescendo of a creative week that God pronounced good.

And to answer your question: “Of course you’re beautiful.” God said so.

3 Comments

Filed under Beauty, Christian Worldview, Femininity, Marriage, The Fall, Women

Atheism is Really Meism – “I Can’t See Anyone Greater than Me”

What is “meism”? Simply stated: it is pride. Pride speaks of entitlement: If God exists, He owes me big-time. God should serve me; He should pay homage to me. God is the one who should be asking me for forgiveness for placing me in this mess.

“Pride is the delusion that God, if he exists, is awfully lucky I’ve shown up and should mind his p’s and q’s lest I change my mind (Buchanan, Rest of God).” What’s even worse in a broken world filled with broken people, is that pride has the audacity to say “Not even God is good enough or big enough or smart enough to sort out the mess I’ve made or stumbled into.” Therefore, I will conclude that He does not exist.

C. S. Lewis called pride the “Great Sin.” We have come up against something which is immeasurably superior to ourselves in God. Self becomes the center. A smug sense of self-righteousness hides the fact that we are totally obsessed with ourselves. Says Lewis: “Someone who is so proud and so wrapped up in himself and so capable of rationalizing anything could not possibly see something greater than himself.” If we are a prisoner of our pride, confession to God’s existence is impossible. There is no greater need than when we think we have no need.

Pride is conceit, arrogance, an inflated opinion of one’s own importance, power and ability. It fosters the idea that we’re self-sufficient and don’t need anyone, not even God. Some even have an air of superiority, a win-at-any-cost determination, a pursuit of glory, power, and control over people, especially those they are prejudiced against. Self rules.

Frank Sinatra’s chart topping song is not the right foundation to approach the deeper questions of life, but atheists choose to live it out anyway. “I Did It My Way” “Now, the end is near, So I face the final curtain – My friends, I’ll say it clear, state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, And traveled each, and every highway – And more, much more than this I did it my way.”

The only problem? It’s Meism. Madeleine L’Engle, calls it “serpent hissing pride.” It’s flamboyant and it will never lead you to a new life where God answers the deeper questions on which your life can be based.

88 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Idolatry, Pride

What Does It Mean to Be a Man Today?

What is masculinity? Is it tattoos, Harley’s, head-bands, or neck chains tangled in your chest hair? What is a man? What should he believe? How should he behave? What should he try to achieve? Boys and young men are adrift today, wearing pants that hang around their knees, hats that are crooked, and merely respond with “Whatever?” to the deeper questions of life.

Men themselves don’t know how to answer this question. Masculinity is not always looking for a fight, walking with a swagger, and giving people those “make-my-day” stares. Being a man is not the same as living like an animal ready to pounce and conquer half of Vietnam.

There’s a book I am anxious to read entitled, Missing From Action: Vanishing Manhood in America, by Weldon Hardenbrook. From what I’m understanding from others, the author talks about four different types of false images of males.

First there is the Macho Maniac — Dirty Harry, Rambo, Charles Bronson. These guys deny all their feelings; they ignore the law. They never worry, they never complain, they never apologize. They just sweat. They accomplish the impossible every eight minutes and take whatever they want and they bully people.

The second is the Great Pretender — the Archie Bunkers of the world who try to build up their self esteem by belittling everybody else, particularly his wife and family. He imagines that he rules his family but really behind his back every is just ridiculing him. He is frightened by the world so he keeps it at an arm’s distance by talking tough and being critical.

The third type is the World Class Whimp. These are the Dagwood Bumstead’s of life. They are so inept that they are constantly outwitted by their children, wives, their dogs. Nobody takes them serious. Their motto is “Blessed are the passive for they will avoid conflict at all costs.” Kind of like Hal on Malcolm in the Middle.

The fourth image is the Gender Blenders. They are the Michael Jackson’s and Boy Georges that don’t even pretend to be masculine. They have a complete reversal of roles and identity. I often have to ask, “Is this person male or female?”

Our culture is in trouble because we have lost our vision of true manhood. We don’t know what it means to be a real man anymore. Manhood is not a calling today; it’s more about a problem to overcome. Men are depicted as clumsy buffoons on sitcom after sitcom.

What is a man? If you have a certain anatomical part, does that make you a man? And when do you become a man? When you start shaving? When you get your first buck? When you drink your first beer? Does manhood come with a driver’s license or a diploma or joining the Army? Does it take intercourse with a woman to become a man? We say, “Be a man” but we don’t know what that is.

I wrestled with how to define a man. Here’s where I’ve landed for now: “A man is a creation of God, born to fill a task-oriented role with a mental and physical, and chemical disposition that uniquely enables him to lead, work, explore, conquer, provide, protect, love, create, play, discover, compete, and bear the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of family, government, and church.” What this definition assumes is that in order to be a man, you have to reject passivity, to rise up and lead in love and self-sacrifice.

A man should be the corner post of society, leading families, rejecting passivity regarding spiritual things, and living a God-honoring worldview. And when something pushes against the fence, the corner post holds true. A man is the marker of boundaries, the moral compass, the ethical benchmark. But this has been lost. We have lost the truly honorable male distinctives. We no longer “act like men.”

Paul says it best: 1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Be a corner post, true north, the shaper of boundaries. Play the man. God made you male, and he’s called you to be a “corner post.” True masculinity calls for discipline, character, and courage. Authentic men show affection, release their feelings, hug their children, admit when they’re wrong, ask for help when they need it, and treat women with utmost respect. A true man can lead their family spiritually, praying for them and offering observation on spiritual truths. A man will engage others in conversation on the deeper questions of life. A true man will fight for justice, appreciate beauty, and stand for truth.

So boys and men: Pull up your pants, turn your hat around, and stop saying “Whatever” all the time. Be a man. Lead your generation.

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Worldview, Family, Father, Femininity, Masculinity

The Sovereignty of God Does NOT Obligate the Free Will of Man

Can God limit his knowledge? Can He choose to exercise his omniscience and omnipotence within self-limited restraints? Can God create a world where He allows humans the freedom to make decisions, even decisions that He has not willed or desired? Is it tenable to think of God as creating a world and voluntarily limiting Himself in terms of what He chooses to know and do in that world? Can God limit his power by delegating some to human creatures?

Of course, God can make this kind of world. When we talk about God’s sovereignty, we don’t just mean that there’s nothing that God can’t do or know. We also mean that He can create any kind of world that He wants. And this would include a world where free human agents are involved.

While God has committed himself to accomplishing some broad purposes in our world, I do not believe that we have to conclude that every last detail of life has all been pre-determined by God. He created that kind of world where humans are to co-create the future alongside Him. And even though humans would choose to rebel, declare that He doesn’t exist, God is still able to work things toward His broad purposes and toward the fulfillment of what He has promised. All the atheist in the world will not prevent His kingdom from coming. God has promised that it will happen.

But while we may not thwart God’s broader purposes for the world, there is legitimate free will in the decisions that we make within these broader purposes. And even though God works things toward His broader purposes, as humans with free will, we CAN destroy his purposes for our lives as individuals. We can even do the ultimate deed – declare that God Himself does not exist.

God does not push people around. He takes a step back and allows us to go our own way if we want. He does not immediately punish wickedness in most cases, nor does He immediately reward righteousness in most cases. But He does honor our free will. God partners with us to create a preferable future. He listens to our prayers and they actually mean something to Him. Prayer proves that the future is open with God; that everything has not already been settled.

Some would have you to believe that everything was frozen into place before history ever got started; that God is not really responsive to our input, nor flexible to change His mind. That God is a Chess Player God, playing both sides of the board, moving His pieces and our pieces too. Don’t believe it.

God is not some aloof deity, living in some solitary place, contemplating only Himself. He has created a dynamic world, is open to free will human creature input, and is constantly working in light of the decisions that we make. He experiences sadness when atheists and the rebellious turn away from Him and He experiences incredible delight when they come Home to Him (Luke 15).

God is omniscient in that He can know everything that can be known. But when he made our kind of world, He voluntarily limited himself, such that, we co-creators can make decisions that surprise and delight God. In this self-limited world that God made, free will actions are entities that God can choose not to know.

Some would even argue that free will actions are entities that even God doesn’t know, because He has self-limited Himself, working with us free will creatures. This does not make Him any less God, they would argue. If God knows every detail of the future exhaustively, then conditional prophecies lose their integrity would be a legimitate logic. But this might be a bit of a stretch for some to ingest. So rather than affirm it as absolutely true, I would suggest stopping just shy of it, and instead, consider that God can self-limit or choose not to know some things, including what we humans are going to do about certain things. God can exclude from his foreknowledge the things that are undecided by human creatures. Of course, God knows what is best for us and woos us toward that always. But the choice is ultimately yours. God is still Sovereign. And we can’t create situations for Him that He cannot handle. But he allows us human freedom to make our choices and waits to see what we will do with anticipation.

God created mankind because he loves story, said Elie Wiesel. I would modify and say that “God created man [with free will] because He loves stories [with surprise endings.]” How about creatings a surprise for God? Turn away from atheism. Embrace the One true God. Partner with God to create a new and better future.

I think I will partner with God in prayer, and requests that each atheist will exercise their free will and say “Yes” to God’s invitation to write a better chapter in their story – a God chapter.

11 Comments

Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Free Will, Sovereignty of God, Theism, Worldview