Sunday, April 1, 2018

Examining the Witnesses of the Resurrection

Using science, psychology, and years of refinement, investigators have developed some rather impressive systems at determining the truth of "Who did it" and "How it happened". This can apply to horrendous criminal cases, reasoning to a conclusion, and other applications.

From a legal perspective, the witnesses of the Resurrection are entirely reliable.
Credit: RGBStock / Robert Linder
Circumstantial evidence can only get you so far. Forensic (historical) science involves determining past events with evidence that exists in the present, so it gets mighty difficult when a significant amount of time passes. Eyewitness accounts are extremely important, and when hitched to a team with circumstantial and forensic materials, you are likely to reach a logical conclusion.

People who have watched courtroom dramas (on the screen or in person) may have encountered attorneys putting some hard questions to witnesses. This is to establish credibility or discredit the witnesses. In police matters, never let witnesses sit together. Separate them. Why? So there's less chance of them "getting their story straight", because it will take longer for legal folks to get to the truth. They can tell this when there are too many details that match exactly. Small discrepancies or disagreements actually help validate the truthfulness of the witnesses.

I have had furious atheists that have lied, misrepresented biblical creation science and people, tried to defame us with other Christians, had their logic refuted, pretended to be experts in theology, and more. They have no credibility, and thinking people do not take them (or their claims) seriously.

We have the ultimate eyewitness, because God is the guiding hand behind the men who penned Scripture (1 Peter 1:19-21, 2 Timothy 3:16). Although Adam was not there for the first days of creation, he probably wrote a manuscript that Moses used later. God directed men to write the rest of Scripture as well — including those eyewitnesses who wrote the four Gospels.

Are there discrepancies in the Gospels? Yes. People have their own minds and perceptions, and they were not always standing at the same corral gate, so to speak. This, too, lends to their credibility, and the main points that they discuss are still supported.

Let's take a look at a discussion of the Gospel witnesses from a legal perspective in more detail.
The truth of the Resurrection stands or falls on the truth of the witnesses. Are they reliable? Of the New Testament writers, there are six witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if we include the apostles Peter and Paul. These people have left us writings in the form of historical documents which give us their testimony concerning the resurrection.

The question is—are these historical documents reliable? Can we trust them? One way of determining whether the documents are reliable is to put the people who wrote them through the test a good magistrate or judge would put them through. The accuracy of these witnesses depends on five things: their honesty, ability, their number and consistency of their evidence, the conformity of their testimony with our own personal experience, and lastly, the coincidence of their testimony with other circumstances and facts.
To read the rest of this very interesting article, click on " Can we believe the Gospels? — A former chief magistrate examines the witnesses to the resurrection".

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Thoughts on the Passing of Billy Graham

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

On February 21, 2018, a man beloved by millions of Christians died. Billy Graham was 99 years old, and spent decades preaching the straightforward gospel. I am not going to give you a mini biography since many other people have already done that. However, I have some things to say about him. Interesting that my father, a pastor in the ever-increasingly liberal United Methodist denomination, was fond of this Baptist preacher.

Billy Graham (on the right) and his son Frankly. Billy taught the straightfoward gospel.
Franklin (left) and Billy Graham, 1995, photo by Paul Walsh
People packed out entire stadiums to see Billy Graham crusades, and many of those were supporters, some excited about his celebrity status, Christians bringing friends, the curious — and those who didn't know why, but were drawn by the Spirit of God. Although I had never attended a formal crusade, I think I was taken to see an associate of Graham, Leighton Ford. Back when I was a youngster, I was taken to see a movie from World Wide Pictures, the cinematic division of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Not sure which one it was, but I suspicion it was For Pete's Sake. That came out in 1966, so that's probably the one.

Those movies were shown in cinemas. I went forward for the invitation to receive Christ, but looking back, I think I was more interested in getting the free literature. There were lessons involved, and I had a subscription to their Decision magazine. Many years later, I was involved as a counselor of sorts to talk to people who came forward at another movie. I think it was Cry from the Mountain.

We were instructed to do something that I did not like: if people had a church background, send them to that kind of church. (One guy said, "Well, I never!" Apparently, he thought it would be a proselytizing free-for-all.) If they came from Catholic, send them there. Methodist? Back to that one. And so on. But I was more interested in sending people to Bible-believing churches instead of apostate mainstream denominations.

I think it's a no-win situation, someone is going to be upset. If Billy said, "The Roman Catholic religion does not teach the true gospel" and actively opposed them, then that huge organization would have easily been able to make trouble for his crusades, movies, and so on. I'm guessing, but perhaps he was hoping that if people knew the gospel, repented, and read the Bible, they would leave false religious systems.

Some folks called Graham a "false teacher", but those seem to come from folks who adhere to specific religious beliefs, including legalism. Where? This fiery preacher believed in the Trinity, clearly taught that Jesus is God the Son, believed in the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, and held to basic Christian tenets. (I have heard the "false teacher" claim made against other people, including myself, who also hold to the truth of Scripture.) Graham's ecumenicism was unfortunate, even harmful, and angered people. I do not know what I would have done in similar situations. Also, he did not use his status for many social causes, and primarily focused on the gospel, though he did preach against Communism and racism. Graham met with many world leaders as well, and some were rather unsavory characters. It's easy to criticize him without knowing all the details, and not having any experience of being in his rather unique position.

Also, I was not happy with how he was unconcerned with the foundation of the Christian faith, which is found in Genesis and special creation. Some anti-creationists milked that view in a weak appeal to authority, using his death to advance their own agendas. Essentially, "Since the famous Billy Graham wasn't concerned about creation, then it must not be important". (Interesting that creationary organizations did not worry about his views in their tributes.) There are several teachers who are solid on Scripture but weak in that area, and there are others who hold proclaim special creation.

Views on ecumenism, creation, and so on are causes for concern, but do not negate the faith of a teacher or other individual. As I have written several times before, people often do not think about what the Bible says about origins, or the importance of Genesis. Those who have been shown the truth of biblical creation science teachings and persist in old Earth or theistic evolution, however, are actively rejecting the clear teachings of God's Word. I view theological teachings of people like that with suspicion at best.

Remember when leftists were angry because Mike Pence would not dine alone with any woman other than his wife? The reason for this is to avoid potentially compromising situations. I first heard of that from Josh McDowell. This principle is something that should not only be common sense, but was in place by Billy Graham decades ago!

His son Franklin was carrying on the work from 2001. Franklin was a prodigal son for a few years before giving his life to Christ at age 22. He is more socially and politically involved than his father.

Billy Graham taught the straightforward gospel message. He was also known as a man of integrity and high morals. When the US Congress was honoring him, viperine atheists were honoring their father down below and complaining. It's who they are and what they do.

Yes, he had some failings, what with being human and all. Graham had a big job to do, and was a very public figure. There were people who detested him because he did not to things, teach, or believe their way. However, I am certain that he heard, "Well done, good and faithful servant". 

Here are some links that I thought you may find interesting, and below them is a short tribute video.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Question Evolution Day and My First Video Interview

Although it is unlikely that anyone is interested, it is kind of fun for me to give background on some things that are old hat to many people. I seldom use Skype, and installed it in the first place for a media interview — if I recollect rightly. Bryan Melugin runs the site A Bit of Orange and posts videos under that name. I had posted several of his videos and articles at The Question Evolution Project, and we had corresponded a few times.

Late in 2017, he contacted me about doing a video interview. He had done several others, and he takes them, splits them into smaller bits, does some editing, and presents them to the world. When he asked me, I was going through some rough patches and had things to deal with, so I said it would have to be later. We also had some scheduling conflicts, as both of his have jobs.

It worked out that I had Monday, January 29, 2018 off from work so I could take care of some medical stuff in the morning. (It involved fasting, which I learned later was unnecessary, but that spoils the first part of my day.) We were able to connect two hours after my appointment, and had a good discussion.

Where am I supposed to look? My video camera is attached to the top of the monitor, but I want to look at the person I'm talking to out of habit. The image you see above is similar to what I had on Skype, but reversed; Bryan was large, I was small and on the right. But there was another small video of Bryan as well, and I moved it to the top so I could look at him instead of giving the camera a Bill Nye Death Stare®.

In the past, the interviewer would tell me when we're starting to record. Bryan was recording all along, so that is why you can see me being rude by fiddling around, finding things, getting situated. You can tell later on in the video that I was aware that we were doing the thing for real, and not just setting up. Also, my usual shakiness was more pronounced because of the fasting and pre-video session hassles.

Not my best moments, and I don't know what will be included in the additional segments, but we all have to start somewhere, you savvy? Maybe Bryan will use my funny voices, including my Clint Eastwood impression, "The good and the bad left town. You got me". Or something like that. It didn't work, though, Clint was the "good", not the "ugly" in the movie. I have no illusions about myself.

We had fun and it was a good discussion — much more than he can use in the video series, I'm sure. EDIT: My articles for this year's Question Evolution Day are below.

Evolution, Discrimination, and Freedom from Thought
Genetic Tampering, Ethics, and Evolution
Ten Lies Satan Tells to Biblical Creationists
Question Evolution, Face the Fury

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mike Rowe Faces Intolerance of Opposing Views

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

People who watched the television show Dirty Jobs that highlighted people who perform unpleasant and often hazardous work that allow the rest of us to keep our clothes and fingernails tidy know the host Mike Rowe. (The camera crew deserves high marks for getting involved as well!) If they doin't know him from the show, they may know his voice but not his name: this former opera singer uses his fabulous voice to narrate many documentaries and such. He is a professing Christian and an outspoken political Conservative, and uses his intelligence and wit to discuss his views. Someone may say that he's not a "real" Christian because he uses the occasional profanity, but I don't have such insight into someone's soul.

Some tinhorn wanted Mike Rowe fired from "How the Universe Works" because of his personal views
Mike Rowe image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Sklmsta
I did not know that he also narrates a show called How the Universe Works, which promotes secular views on that subject, until a reader of The Question Evolution Project flagged me about a recent attempt to get him fired from that show. No, it wasn't the current trend of sexual misconduct, nor was it involving poor job performance. Rather, some tinhorn does not like his personal views. Among other things, he was called a "science doubter". Listen, people who use epithets at Christians, Conservatives, Darwin doubters, global climate change doubters things like "science doubter/denier" are liars. Such accusations are not made with evidence. Those tactics are used by people who want contrary views suppressed, as you can see by their track records.

There are several popular narrators who are involved in documentaries that do not necessarily reflect their views. I've seen material narrated both for and against the Bible done by the same narrator. Same with movies. Anthony Hopkins did an outstanding job as Paul the Apostle in the 1981 miniseries Peter and Paul, and he is not even a Christian.  Was there an objection? Hopkins also played the part of Benito Mussolini, and I don't rightly recollect hearing about protests by Italian Fascists because Hopkins was not one of their own.

The fatuous complaint against Rowe is actually quite common when atheists and evolutionists ostracize Christians and especially biblical creationists from scientific research. The claim that atheism is required to be a scientists is risible even on the surface, and has been refuted many times. Arbitrary assertions of worldviews are not facts, nor are they evidence. Evolution, climate change, and other controversial subjects are protected by secularists. The most frequent way to do this is to keep contrary views out.

To read the article about Mike Rowe and his great response to his critic, click on "Mike Rowe Destroys Woman Who Wants Him Fired For Being ‘Ultra-Right Wing Conservative’". Watch for where he calls for evidence and relevance. I suspicion that Mike would be a very good creationist if he examined the material from the sources. Also, I think I'll set up the DVR and check out his new show.