Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pluto, The Planets, Thomas Kuhn, and Apologetics

Cathy, a Biology major at Concordia University Wisconsin, and one of the smartest people I know just recently told me something interesting. Apparently, over the summer, scientists said that Pluto was not a planet. For years since the discovery of Pluto, most people have considered it a planet, however, according to Cathy, this was the first time they sat down and actually discussed what a planet was and what it was not.

Now, I as a layman am not convinced by the arguments against Pluto being a planet. However, that is not what I wish to address here. I do want to say that I find it really odd that people for many hundreds of years used the term "planet," but it didn't have any meaning. I think that what is really going on here is a shift in paradigms as described by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Now, I need to be right upfront and say that I think Thomas Kuhn is wrong in his relativistic conclusions, but I think he has accurately described how scientific theories come and go.

Of course, we are already seeing what has happened in the scientific community as there have been fits of outrage from people who still hold the prevailing view that Pluto is indeed a planet, and it has been preceived as a scientific advancement by the other side to say that it is not. I am sure the next thing will be that those who still believe that Pluto is a planet will be marginalized, and will be considered unscientific.

Aside from dissuading people from thinking that science is a modern religion that should be followed, it should also point out that science divorced from a belief in God is something totally irrational. Without a creator who created the universe so that it has uniformity, laws of logic, and morality, science cannot exist. That is why I appriciate all of my Christian scientist friends, as they are doing science by looking to their creator.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell Crazies
If you have high blood pressure, don't listen to it. However, here is the link to a webpage where you will find a video of Rosie O'Donnell claiming that "radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam."
I think that, while her statements are certainly uncalled for, and an apology to the Christian community is in order, I understand what she is saying. To the those on the left, who are trying to make secular humanism the religion of the state with the ahistorical definition of "separation of church and state, radical Islam and radical Christianity are just as threatening to the secular humanistic worldview. Radical Islam is not a relativistic, secular humanistic system, and will push their viewpoints with blood and violence against that system. In other words, if radical Islam has control of things, there goes secular humanism.
However, the same thing can be said about "radical Christianity." The word of God is so powerful that the irrational, illogical beliefs of secular humanism cannot stand to the word of God. Hence, we try to not even allow it to be debated by redefining things such as "separation of church and state," so we never have to defend our own religious commitment to secular humanism.
So, yes, both radical Christianity and radical Islam are distructive to the secular humanistic worldview. The only difference is that radical Islam destroys the secular humanistic worldview with the sword, while the radical Christianity destroys the secular humanistic worldview with the sword of the spirit.
However, it is easy to see that she was using it to smear Christians, and hence, I would say she owes the Christian community an apology. I know she is not going to give it, but that is liberalism for you.

We had a really sad church service on Sunday. A young, 26 year old man who had only been married for two years died of cancer. It was very somber, and it was all I could do to keep from crying myself, even though I didn't know him.

I think that, as hard as it may seem, we should think of death as something joyful, as well as sad. We mourn for those loved ones who have gone to be with the savior, but we should also think that they have gone to be with Christ.

It is hard as a human being, but we need to be satisfied with death at any time if that is what God gives us. I think of the people at school I spend time with like Cathy, Jenna, and Katie, as well as my father, sister, mother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and realize that if God wants to take me, I will have to give up seeing them again until they die. Yet, that is what our ultimate desire is to be-that is, to be with Christ, and honor him forever. Consider David and his psalm:

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.

Sometimes we become so selfish when we think that God cannot take us whenever he wants to do so. We should be ready to go to be with God at any time and willing to leave all of the things we love in this world, for the greater state of being perfected, praising God for all eternity in heaven. This should really hit home to people our age as we are not too much younger than this man. What do we ultimately seek? God's perfect will that might involve our death any second? Or our own selfish desires. There is everything right about loving people and caring about them. However, when we place our desire and love for another human being above our desire and love for Christ, we have just commited the sin of idolatry. If God tells you that you will die the night before you were planning to go out with that one special girl, then you need to be ready to go and be with Christ. If you haven't seen friends and family for years, and you are going to visit them, and God comes to take you away, you should desire that the most.

We all have to die someday. What it will be like on that day, I don't know. When I see my friends and loved ones before passing for the last time into eternity, I can imagine it will be sad in many ways. However, what a blessed thing the death of a Christian is! We go to be with our Lord and our savior to sing his praises for all eternity! I pray that we as Christians will not be willing to trade that desire in our hearts for anything this world has to offer.

My grandmother informed me that she was thinking of converting to Eastern Orthodoxy. It is really interesting that someone who is reformed like myself would have a grandmother considering Orthodoxy.

Anyway, I went to one of their Bible studies with her, and was given some literature to read. It is a book called Becoming Orthodox by Peter E. Gillquist. I must admit, I had only read one other book on Eastern Orthodoxy, that being Timothy Ware's book The Orthodox Church.

I have to say that I think Ware's book is far better. While Ware is Orthodox there is at least some semblance of scholarship and thought from him. I honestly cannot say the same for Gillquist's book. Here is an example of a really sophamoric mistake in exegesis on the part of Mr. Gillquist.

Gillquist writes with regards to liturgy:

When I do specific Bible study or prepare for sermons, I use the New King James Version (NKJV) as my text. But times like these late night sessions, I'll usually select another version for a fresh look at a familiar passage. On this night, I chose the New American Bible (NAB), a somewhat chatty and engaging translation done under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church.

I was moving through Acts and got to chapter 13, which opens with the Church in Antioch when they were sending out Paul and Narnabas. And then I came to verse two: "On one occasion, while they were engaged in the liturgy of the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them." (NAB). Hold it! I thought to myself. Everybody knows the text says that they were "ministering to the Lord and fasting." There can't be liturgy as early as Acts 13.

So I grabbed my Greek New Testament from the bookshelf next to my desk. Right there, in Acts 13:2, for all to see: leitourgounton was the Greek word. You don't even need to know Greek to figure out the meaning! There is liturgy in Acts 13. It was the Protestants who had altered the translation. [Becoming Orthodox pgs. 75-76]

Now, I certainly would not say that you are not a Christian if you do not hold to the Reformed structure of services, but this is obviously not what is meant here. My first question is "where does the text say that this is the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox church?" For all we know, what is meant by liturgy here is the reformed regulative principle. That is something that Mr. Gillquist does not prove.

Second, Mr. Gillquist is committing a fundamental exegetical fallacy known as the Root Fallacy. He says that "You don't even need to know Greek to figure out the meaning." Why? The unstated assumption that is being made is that one can determine the meaning of a term in terms of its etymology into English. That is fundamentally false. For instance, we get our English word "polemic" from the Greek term polemos. Does that necessarily mean that "polemos" means "polemos" means "polemic?" Absolutely not. "Polemos" means "war." Our English word "pomp" comes from the Greek word "pempo." However, does that mean that "pempo" means "pomp?" Absolutely not! It means "to send."

However, Mr. Gillquist has also fallen into the fallacy of semantic anachronism. He assumes that the meaning of terms in todays time in a totally different language is going to be constant. That is simply untrue. For instance, the Greek term martrus originally simply meant "a witness in a court room." After the time of Christ, it meant "a witness for the gospel," and in the early church, it meant "one who gave their lives for their faith." Words change in their meaning, and it is sophomoric at very least to say that 2000 years later in an entirely different language we have the same word with the same meaning.

That certainly may be the case that the etymologically related words that are far apart in time have the same meaning [Our English verb "to pause" comes from the Greek verb "pauo," and both mean "to pause"], but to just make the assumption that they automatically mean the same thing is sophomoric.

Worse than that, he says this is the translation of the NAB. If you have Bibleworks, you happen to have a copy of the NAB. Here is how the NAB translates Acts 13:2:

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." [NAB]

Where is liturgy in this passage? I don't know if Mr. Gillquist had drowsy eyes or what, but even the NAB doesn't give that translation.

If the rest of the book is this bad, I almost wonder how anyone would ever convert to Orthodoxy because of this.