Tag Archive: Noah’s Flood

An Argument Against the Existence of God: The Suffering of Animals

animal suffering

One of the biggest problems Christian apologists face is the fact that there is suffering in the world; that violence, bloodshed, famine, disease and death ravage all living things. The existence of these things suggests, at least to atheists and agnostics, that the Christian God of the Bible either doesn’t exist or he is an absentee creator who have no interest in these things.

When pressed on these issues, apologists usually take one of three approaches:

  • God’s ways are not our ways; his thought are not our thoughts. Humans are finite beings who cannot understand why God does what he does.
  • Humans are sinful, thanks to the fall of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. Suffering is the result of mankind’s fallen nature. Want to blame someone, blame man!
  • Suffering is a problem that cannot be totally understood in this life, but its existence does not negate the existence of God. There are other evidences for God which prove his existence.

If you have engaged Evangelical zealots on the issue of suffering, you will always hear one or more of approaches mentioned above. Simply put, God can do whatever he wants to do, and humans are to blame for whatever befalls them, not God. If God is the divine creator, as Evangelicals say he is, then an argument can be made for him doing whatever he wants to do. However, Evangelicals further assert that their God is moral and just, and that his revealed morality and justice is found within the pages of the sixty-six books of the Protestant Bible.

Once appeals are made to the Bible, Evangelicals have a big problem on their hands. According to the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, nothing happens apart from God’s decree, purpose, and plan. Calvinists and Arminians alike believe that God is sovereign and that he alone controls the universe. Thus, if Evangelical theology is taken to its logical conclusion, this means God is ultimately culpable for everything that happens — including sin, suffering, and death. When backed into a theological corner, Evangelicals will use all sorts of arguments in their attempts wiggle out of the obvious: that God, the first cause of all things, is culpable for everything done on planet Earth.

Some Evangelicals will argue that God created humans with free will. This means, then, that humans are responsible for their actions, not God. What a minute. Are Evangelicals saying that human will trumps the will of the Almighty; that humans can subvert what God desires to do; that God is forced to stand by and do nothing while humans exercise their free will? I thought God was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent? Are Evangelicals saying that God is the biggest bad ass in the universe, yet he is powerless to stop humans from doing whatever it is they want to do?

Other Evangelicals — usually Calvinists — will use various lapsarian (the order of God’s decrees) arguments to extricate God from the vice of culpability.  Here’s a chart that details the various lapsarian views:lapsarian views

Wikipedia

These arguments, of course, are not found in the Bible. They are philosophical arguments used to justify various theological beliefs. Some Calvinists, realizing the huge problem the origin and existence of sin and suffering causes them, will take their theology to its logical conclusion and say that God created sin; that the fall of the human race was decreed by God; that God from before the foundation of the world only purposed to save a remnant of people; that the overwhelming majority of humans will die and go to hell, all because of the sin nature God gave them. Other Calvinists, denying the aforementioned logical conclusions, put their dancing shoes on, and with salsa-like motions attempt to dance around the problems of sin and suffering.

Regardless of the arguments made for humankind’s sinfulness and the subsequent fallout, none of them adequately answers the problem of non-human animal pain and suffering. Animals do not have a will or a soul. Animals have no ability to make moral or ethical choices — at least not in the sense that humans do. Thus, animals, in a Biblical sense, are not sinful. Yet, animals face untold violence, suffering, and death. As anyone who has watched Animal Planet or the National Geographic channel knows, the animal world is violent. Darwin’s theories of adaptation and survival of the fittest are on glorious display as animal species fight to live.

If animals are not sinners and God created them, why did God create animals to be so violent? Why do animals suffer through no fault of their own? Why are billions of animals annually raised and slaughtered using violent, torturous methods by humans who supposedly bear the imprint of God? Why do these same image bearers, hunt down animals for sport, causing untold terror to the hunted? What, if anything, in the animal world says to rational humans that the Christian God of love, mercy, and kindness exists?

In recent weeks, a hawk has been frequenting our back yard. He has developed an appetite for the pigs of the feeder — starlings. Starlings tend to be bullies, forcing other bird species to feed elsewhere. These starlings think they have nothing to fear, so they drop their guard as they voraciously scarf down bird seed. The visiting hawk takes advantage of their carelessness, swooping in and grabbing a starling dinner. One day, I watched him nail two starlings in the space of half an hour.

Now, I am not a big fan of starlings (or grackles). They love to raid our feeders, at the expense of other birds we feed. That said, their death at the hand of this hawk is a reminder of how violent the animal world is. Since sin and free will are not issues, why then did God create animals to be so violent? Why is there so much suffering and death? Billions and billions of animals annually die horrific deaths, sometimes suffering for great lengths before dying. What in this arrangement says to us that the Christian is who and what his followers say he is? From my seat in the atheist pew, it seems to me that there is no God.

Some Evangelicals will agree that animal suffering is problematic; that the violence and death is regrettable and troubling. But, that doesn’t mean the Christian God is a myth. There are OTHER arguments for the existence of God, so no one should reject God without considering these other arguments. God will, in eternity, explain everything to us, but, for now, we must trust that God is working out all things according to his purpose and plan. The problem, of course, is that God’s indifference to animal suffering and death points to the fact that if the Christian deity exists, he is lacking moral character; that he is willing to do nothing while animals suffer; that he has the power to end their suffering, yet he turns a blind eye and says, make my steak rare.

smile god loves you

I can accept, from a theological perspective, that, thanks to sin, humans suffer and die. Their suffering is recompense for their disobedience. However, animals never sinned against God. They’ve done nothing to warrant suffering and death. Thus, a God who created animals knowing they would suffer and die is not a deity worthy of worship. This same God not only killed the entire human race — save eight — by drowning them, he also slaughtered all living things save the few animals gathered up by Noah (and birds capable of continuous flight for a month or longer and sea animals able to live in fresh water). What in the story of Noah says to us that the Christian God is kind, loving, and good? Nothing. God not only killed millions of men, women, and children, he also killed countless innocent unborn babies. He also killed who knows how many animals. Why? Because he could.

Some Christians will ignorantly argue that animals don’t feel pain, so it is impossible for them to, in the classic sense, suffer. Those of us who have spent time around animals, either as pet owners, farmers, or observers in the wild, know differently. Animals can and do feel pain, and they can and do suffer (so much so that we have them euthanized).

Peter Singer writes:

We can never directly experience the pain of another being, whether that being is human or not. When I see my daughter fall and scrape her knee, I know that she feels pain because of the way she behaves – she cries, she tells me her knee hurts, she rubs the sore spot, and so on. I know that I myself behave in a somewhat similar – if more inhibited – way when I feel pain, and so I accept that my daughter feels something like what I feel when I scrape my knee.

The basis of my belief that animals can feel pain is similar to the basis of my belief that my daughter can feel pain. Animals in pain behave in much the same way as humans do, and their behaviour is sufficient justification for the belief that they feel pain. It is true that, with the exception of those apes who have been taught to communicate by sign language, they cannot actually say that they are feeling pain_ but then when my daughter was a little younger she could not talk either. She found other ways to make her inner states apparent, however, so demonstrating that we can be sure that a being is feeling pain even if the being cannot use language.

To back up our inference from animal behaviour, we can point to the fact that the nervous systems of all vertebrates, and especially of birds and mammals, are fundamentally similar. Those parts of the human nervous system that are concerned with feeling pain are relatively old, in evolutionary terms. Unlike the cerebral cortex, which developed only after our ancestors diverged from other mammals, the basic nervous system evolved in more distant ancestors common to ourselves and the other ‘higher’ animals. This anatomical parallel makes it likely that the capacity of animals to feel is similar to our own.

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Andrea Nolan writes:

The nature of pain is perhaps even more complex in animals. How pain is sensed and the physical processes behind this are remarkably similar and well conserved across mammals and humans. There are also many similarities in pain behaviours across the species, for example they may stop socialising with people and/or other animals, they may eat less, they may vocalise more and their heart rate may rise. The capacity of animals to suffer as sentient creatures is well established and enshrined in law in many countries, however we don’t understand well how they actually experience pain.

Some aspects of the experience and expression of pain are not likely to be the same as in humans. First, animals cannot verbally communicate their pain. Dogs may yelp and you may notice behaviour change but what about your pet rabbit, cat, tortoise or horse? Animals rely on human observers to recognise pain and to evaluate its severity and impact. Without the ability to understand soothing words that explain that following surgery to repair a bone fracture, their pain will be managed (hopefully) and will subside, animals may also suffer more when in pain than we do.

The debate around animals’ capacity to experience pain and suffer raged in the 20th century, but as we developed a greater understanding of pain, and studied its impact on the aspects of animal life that we could measure, we veterinary surgeons, along with many behavioural and animal scientists, recognised the significant impact of untreated pain, and we now believe this experience causes them to suffer.

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The World Small Animal Veterinary Association established the Global Pain Council and released a document detailing the existence of animal pain and how it should be treated. The document’s introduction states:

The ability to experience pain is universally shared by all mammals, including companion animals, and as members of the veterinary healthcare team it is our moral and ethical duty to mitigate this suffering to the best of our ability. This begins by evaluating for pain at every patient contact. However, and despite advances in the recognition and treatment of pain, there remains a gap between its occurrence and its successful management; the inability to accurately diagnose pain and limitations in, and/or comfort with, the analgesic modalities available remain root causes. Both would benefit from the development, broad dissemination, and adoption of pain assessment and management guidelines.

….

The science is clear on the matter: animals do feel pain and suffer. Only those wanting to protect God’s character and moral virtue deny their existence. Thus, because innocent animals can and do suffer, feel pain, and die violent deaths, I am left to conclude that the Christian God is not loving, kind, or good. He is not, for this reason alone, a God worthy of our fealty, devotion, and worship. Animal suffering, then, is yet another reason I doubt the existence of said God. And since there’s no God that can intervene, it is up to humans to do all they can to lessen animal suffering and pain. How we treat the least of these says much about our character and values. Show me a man who mistreats animals and kills for sport, and I will show you a man who is lacking in character. The path to peace requires love and compassion for all living things, not just those who agree with us or who offer some benefit to us.

Let me conclude this post with several quotes from Gandhi:

Strictly speaking, no activity and no industry is possible without a certain amount of violence, no matter how little. Even the very process of living is impossible without a certain amount of violence. What we have to do is to minimize it to the greatest extent possible.

It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.

There is little that separates humans from other sentient beings — we all feel joy, we all deeply crave to be alive and to live freely, and we all share this planet together.

A good read on the issue of suffering is Bart Ehrman’s book, God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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God Plans to Kill Billions of People — Every Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, and Atheist

end of the world

According to Richard Schmidt, the founder of Prophecy Focus Ministries, with the worldwide flood recorded in Genesis 6-9, God killed every living thing on planet earth save Noah, his family, the animals on the ark, and the little bitty fishes in the sea::

The voice of God reached the ears of Noah declaring the most severe judgment ever proclaimed since God created the universe in a literal six-day period (cf. Gen. 1:31). God instructed Noah by providing, in exact detail, the specifications of a massive ark that would provide the only escape from guaranteed judgment. Think about it—out of millions of people, only eight survived the catastrophic judgment of the universal flood. Why were these few people the only ones that God saved?

What did the inhabitants of earth (and their puppies and kitties) do to warrant God opening up a can of whoop ass and killing millions of people? Schmidt says:

The Creator and ultimate judge of the world, made the judicial determination that the ungodly actions of the world’s population in the days of Noah forced Him to condemn the people to death.

Schmidt warns that God’s genocidal cleansing of the earth is a precursor of what God plans to do at some point in the future:

Does God have a plan that will mimic the horrific judgment of the universal flood, resulting in a massive number of people losing their lives and, worse yet, an eternity separated from God Himself? The Bible provides the answer. The facts are startling and require every person to consider very seriously their relationship with the Creator of the universe.

….

What is the lesson of Noah, the ark and the flood for those living in the present dispensation? First, God warns all people of judgment for those who refuse to hear and accept His plan for salvation. Second, God’s justice demands a reverence, or godly fear, that results in listening to and heeding God’s Word. Third, all people stand condemned to eternal punishment for refusing to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the complete and only payment for their sin. Finally, all who come to the Lord Jesus by faith and accept God’s gift of salvation will live for eternity in the presence of God. Those who rejected God in Noah’s day suffered condemnation, and those who reject the gospel, or good news, of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ likewise stand condemned. Lesson learned or rejected? What will you do with Jesus today

The second time around, all the Christians will be raptured from the earth before God literally fulfills the horrors recorded in the book of Revelation. While Christians are busy in Heaven schmoozing with Jesus and the Apostles, untold violence, carnage, bloodshed, and death will be poured out by God upon earth’s inhabitants. Billions and billions of unborn babies, children, teenagers, and adults will be tortured and slaughtered by means best suited for an episode of Criminal Minds or a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre — Tribulation Edition.

Most of our planet’s inhabitants aren’t followers of Jesus, and I suspect that for those who say they are, Schmidt likely believes that many of them are not True Christians®. After all, only eight people out of millions were given a bunk on Noah’s floating zoo. Humans are just as sinful, if not more, as they were in Noah’s day (though, to be fair, I haven’t heard any reports of demonic angels having sex with human women, producing hybrid offspring).  Matthew 24:37-39 states:

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

In other words, people were so busy sinning and living that they had no time for God. What did God expect? His only spokesman was a crazy old man who was saying it was going to rain and people needed to get on the big boat he was building in the middle of the desert.

In Noah’s day, according to Genesis 6:5-7:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

God became so angry over the “wickedness of man” that he decided to do a master reset, destroying every human being except Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. What happened to Noah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Wasn’t there room for them and their toys on the Ark? What about Noah’s daughters? Were they the ones screwing around with demonic angels? So many questions.

dexter killing tools

According to many Evangelicals, we are living in the last days. We should expect Jesus to return to planet earth at any moment to rapture away the people with advanced reservations, leaving behind billions of Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and Pagans, along with every other non-Christian. Then God will unwrap his Dexter-like tools of torture and homicide, slaughtering everyone who doesn’t remember the date, time, and place where Jesus saved them. Billions of people will die for no other reason than having the wrong religion or being born in the wrong country. Worse yet, when God is done killing everyone, he is going to resurrect them back to life, judge them, and toss their sorry asses in the Lake of Fire. God is so bent on making non-Christians pay for all the shit that went down over the past four or so thousand years, that he plans to give the people in the Lake of Fire new bodies that will withstand being roasted for eternity. Ain’t God awesome?

Tell me, dear Christians, why would anyone ever want to worship such a moral monster? Out of fear? Is that the best the Schmidts of the world have to offer — fear God, get saved, or he is going to roast you (or drown you)? No thanks. Even if such a God exists — and he doesn’t — who would want to worship him? Is such a deity worthy of my love and devotion?

Perhaps Evangelicals love their Jonathan Edwards’ version of God. Being part of the elect — God’s special, chosen people — means God picked them over billions of other people. God made sure they were born in the right country to Christian parents who would make sure that their children didn’t have sex with demon angels, never masturbated, and sincerely asked Jesus in their heart at age twelve. (Please read Why Most Americans are Christian) Again, ain’t God awesome?

It is hard not to conclude that the Evangelical God created most humans just so he could kill them for sport. If the Calvinists are right, that God is sovereign, and nothing happens apart from his perfect plan, pray tell, how does God twice slaughtering the human race resemble anything close to a “plan”?

 

Thoughts About Life and Death: God Kills Aspiring Model by Hitting Her With a Train

fredzania thompson

Last week, aspiring model and college student Fredzania Thompson was tragically killed when a train hit her while she was standing too close to the tracks. CBS News reports:

The mother of a 19-year-old Texas woman says her daughter was killed when she was struck by a train while having photos taken of her on the tracks in a bid to launch a modeling career.

Hakamie Stevenson told The Eagle newspaper that her daughter, Fredzania Thompson, attended Blinn College in Bryan, Texas, but wanted to put her education on hold to begin modeling.

Authorities say Thompson was standing between two sets of tracks on March 10 in Navasota when a BNSF Railway train approached.

She moved out of the way of the train but was apparently unaware that a Union Pacific train was coming in the opposite direction on the other tracks and was struck.

In this post, my objective is not to focus on the nature of Thompson’s death as much as the reason given for her demise. Sambreia Glover had this to say about her 20-year-old cousin’s death:

Everyone knew the real Zanie … very free-spirited, just goofy. Everyone loved her. She never met a stranger. She was just very friendly and sweet. it’s tough, but God makes no mistakes. It was just her time, but she will be truly missed.

According to Thompson’s cousin — who is likely an Evangelical Christian — God — who supposedly makes no mistakes — killed Thompson because it was just her time to die. She’ll be missed, Glover said, but hey the Giver and Taker of Life knows what he is doing.

What reason could the Christian God possibly have for killing a bright, energetic 20-year-old girl? Does God assign death dates to every human life at birth? If so, and if, as pro-lifers say, life begins at fertilization, that means God assigns a death date to every aborted fetus. This also means that children who died of cancer did so because it was their time to die. According to many Evangelical pastors, everyone has a divine appointment with death. The Bible seems to be on their side. Hebrews 9:27 says:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment

This verse can be interpreted several ways. One way is to say that the appointment in question is the death of all humans, not anyone in particular. After everyone is dead and the events of the book of Revelation are fulfilled, everyone will be resurrected so they can stand before God and be judged. Another way this passage is interpreted — the one most commonly used by Evangelical preachers — is that everyone has a set-in-stone death-day. In Thompson’s case, March 10, 2017, was her day to die.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that the notion of everyone having a set-by-God death-date is true. What does this say about God? Think of all the various ways humans die. Think of all the suffering, pain, and agony people go through before drawing their last breaths. Think of all the bizarre ways people die — wrong place, wrong time, BAM! you’re dead! What kind of monster is God with his macabre, psychopathic, torturing-kittens ways of strangling the life out of those whose creation was supposedly his crowning achievement? If death is a divinely ordered necessity, why not let people on their death-day die in their sleep? Surely that would be good not only for the dead people, but also their families. Instead, God — the First Cause of everything, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last — throws people off cliffs, murders them in dark alleys, blows them up in crowded bazaars, drowns them in swimming pools, fries them with lightning, and, as in Thompson’s case, hits them with trains.

Some Evangelicals will argue that God, as creator, can do whatever he wants to do. The Apostle Paul makes this very argument in Romans 9God is the creator, Paul said, and we are the created. How dare we challenge God’s right to do whatever he wants.

Another argument made for God’s chosen methods of human-killing is that the more graphic, violent, and awful the death, the more likely it is that people will pay attention to it. Who wants to watch the Hallmark Channel when you can watch HBO, right? Since heaven or hell awaits everyone and this is determined by whether people are Christian or not, news-worthy deaths are warning signs from God. On Sundays, countless Evangelical pastors use this very approach in their sermons, giving graphic illustrations of people who died horrible, untimely (from a human perspective) deaths. The goal is to scare people into getting saved. I used countless such illustrations, hoping that congregants who consider their frail mortality, soon death, and eternal destiny. Such illustrations in the hands of skilled emotion manipulators usually lead people — with tears streaming down their faces — to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Thompson’s cousin also said that “God makes no mistakes.” I wonder if Christians, in light of the Bible, consider whether statements such as this are true. According to the Good Book, God created Adam and Eve. How did that work out? If God is the First Cause, isn’t he responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve into sin? If God knows E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, he must have known Adam and Eve were going to eat of Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and, according to orthodox Christianity, plunge the entire human race into sin. Think of all the evil, violence, and suffering on display in this world of ours. Evangelicals trace all of these things back to our sinful nature. Surely, it is fair to say that God screwed up big time when creating Adam and Eve as he did. In other words, God made a colossal mistake.

Several thousand years later, humans had procreated themselves into a six-million or so species. Also roaming the earth were fallen angels. These angels were having sex with human women, resulting in the birth of angel-human hybrid children. Bizarre TV show from the SyFy channel? Nope, straight from the Bible, Genesis, chapter six:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Note carefully what the Bible says: And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart…. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. This sure sounds like it is saying that God is admitting that he made a mistake in creating humans, and that the only way to fix his mistake was to kill everyone (save Noah and his family, eight in number) and start over.

The most humorous part of this story is that after God flushed the earth and started over, the first thing that Noah and his sons did was commit some sort of sexual sin (Genesis 9:19-24). Poor God, he can’t seem to get it right. He should have killed Noah’s family too.

Evangelicals are fond of saying, PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! Implied in this statement is that through prayer God can be moved to act on their behalf. Need something from God? PRAY! Need a job, home, money, car, a wife? PRAY! Need deliverance from alcohol, heroin, or porn? PRAY! Pray long and hard enough, the thinking goes, and God will come through for you, giving you that which you ask for. God, then, is some sort of divine vending machine. Keep putting quarters in the slot and pulling the handle, and God will sooner or later drop a package of Peanut M&Ms from Heaven.

If prayer can indeed change things, wouldn’t this mean that God changing his mind about a matter is him admitting that his first plan of action/inaction was wrong? If God is perfect, the same yesterday, today, and forever, doesn’t the very act of answering prayers say that God is NOT any these things?

If God is all that Evangelicals say he is, shouldn’t we expect God to get it right each and every time? What does it say about a supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful God that he is neither? What it should say to anyone who is paying attention is that this God is a figment of human imagination. People desperately want to believe that there is some sort of higher power controlling the universe. They also want to believe that their life matters to God and has meaning and purpose. Life isn’t worth living, Christians say, if these things are not true.

Of course, the mere existence of atheists, agnostics, pagans, humanists, and countless other non-Christians, suggests otherwise. Earthly, godless life can be and is filled with wonder, meaning, and purpose. Evangelicals may not be able to wrap their minds around this fact, but that doesn’t mean it is not true. Millions and millions of people live in the present, acknowledging that death lurks around the next corner. Today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now, death — the great equalizer — will claim us all. The difference, of course, is that unbelievers know that to some degree they can control when and even how they die. Yes, genetics, environment, and luck play a big part, but we are NOT passive players in the drama called life.

Every day, all of us make decisions based on the evidence at hand and probabilities. Living on Earth is both wonderful and dangerous. Having lived for almost 60 years, I can say that I am lucky to be alive. Forty-five years ago, 15-year-old Bruce was walking home from the YMCA one evening with his friends when a stopped train blocked his path home. After 10 or so minutes, the daredevil boy with flaming orange hair decided he had enough and started to climb underneath the train. My friends laughed and cheered me on, but none of them was willing to following me across the tracks to the other side. Perhaps their reason for not doing so was the train lurching forward as I made it halfway to the other side. My friends’ laughs and cheers turned into screams, fearing that the train was going to crush me or cut off my legs. Fortunately, I safely made it to the other side. (And astoundingly, I waited until the tracks were clear so my friends could praise me for my bravado, forgetting that my reason for doing this was to save time.)

The story of Fredzania Thompson’s tragic death and my story of keeping my legs for another day have much in common. Both of us foolishly thought that it was okay to play on train tracks. Both of us, filled with youthful life, had no thoughts of death. Thompson just wanted a picture, and I just wanted to get home. Thompson’s roll of the dice resulted in her death, mine became a story to tell forty-five years later. The difference between the two stories? Luck. I could just as easily have been killed or turned into a legless example of youthful stupidly.

At the time, I thanked God for saving me from the train, but now I know that I was one lucky boy. Had my life ended that night, none of what I have experienced since them would have happened. Surviving many such experiences has taught me the importance of carefully considering possible outcomes. Not that I still don’t make stupid decisions. I do, and perhaps one day I will die, the result of one stupid decision too many. (Please see Death by Duck: The Photograph that Almost Killed Me.)

I certainly empathize with Thompson’s family. Her death came way too soon, long before it should have. She should have had a full life ahead of her, including a modeling career and perhaps a husband and family. So much potential, snuffed out in an instant because of a thoughtless choice to have her photograph taken on busy railroad tracks. God is not to blame (or credit), because he doesn’t exist. The blame squarely rests on Thompson, and to some degree, the photographer — who should have assessed the risk involved in taking the photograph. All of us know that train tracks are dangerous, yet every year hundreds of Americans are killed by trains. We KNOW, yet we allow the thrill of the moment or lateness to override our thinking, resulting in death and serious injury. One thing is for certain, future Thompsons will be warned about the danger that railroad tracks present to them. This is how we survive as a species. Not by attributing everything to God, but by learning from our ignorant, foolish, ill-advised decisions. Much of life and death rests with us. If we want to live long, fulfilling lives, we must learn to assess danger, weigh probabilities, and act accordingly. We still might end up dead, but it won’t be because we threw caution to the wind and put ourselves in harm’s way.

Nancy Campbell says to Pregnant Women: God is INTERESTED in Every Minute Detail of Your Baby’s Life

nancy-campbell

Maybe you’ve been longing for this day. Or maybe it’s a surprise! Maybe it wasn’t the news you wanted to hear! Whatever the reason, I want to remind you that it is a MIRACLE FROM GOD. God is the author of this life. He destined this child. He has plans and purposes for this precious one. Let’s contemplate on the MIRACLE.

God chose you to be the MOTHER of His child.  God is INTERESTED in every minute detail of your baby, from creating every part of his/her body in the womb to His plans for his/her life in the future

— Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies, It’s a Miracle!, March 13, 2017


If, as Nancy Campbell believes, the Bible is a Christian-God-inspired and inerrant text, and everything found within its pages is true, what can we can conclude about God and his supposed interest in every minute detail of the lives of infants? What conclusions can we come to about God’s love for children? Is God who Campbell says he is? Is God really pro-life? Is he really L-O-V-E?

I agree with Campbell in one respect: women becoming pregnant is quite an event. One might wonder, though, if the God who created this process failed human engineering class. Surely, there are better ways to bring new little humans into the world. God impregnated Mary without Joseph’s sperm and the messy act of sexual intercourse. Why couldn’t God do that for all women? And while he’s at it, why can’t God make sure every fertilized egg implants in the endometrium. Campbell and other Evangelicals rail against abortion, yet God’s inability — he is the First Cause, he who opens and closes the womb, right? — to ensure implantation make him the number one abortionist in the universe. It seems, based on the evidence, that God is one shitty miracle worker.

Campbell says that God has a destiny and a plan for every child — what that plan and destiny is, Campbell does not say. So, we must let the Bible and history tell us God’s wonderful, awesome plan for every miracle child. Can anyone reasonably conclude that God means good for children, that he loves them, and as he does for the sparrow, cares for their every need? In Genesis 6-9, we find the story of Noah and the flood. By Noah’s day, millions of humans lived on planet earth. All of them were the descendants of Adam and Eve and their children’s incestuous relationships. These descendants began having sexual relationships with fallen angels, producing what the Bible calls giants. God became so incensed over this (Why didn’t God kill off the angels instead of killing everyone?) that he decided to kill everyone save Noah, his wife, sons, and their wives. (No children?) Out of the millions of living people, God chose to save only eight. Left to drown were millions of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, hamsters, guinea pigs, and lots of children and pregnant mothers. If God is pro-life and deeply interested in the welfare of babies, why did he drown countless babies and fetuses in the flood?

How about the story of Moses and the Israelites in Egypt? Let my people go, Moses said to Pharaoh. Using ten plagues to make his point, God:

  1. Caused the waters of Egypt into blood
  2. Caused frogs to inundate Egypt, including their cooking ovens and beds
  3. Caused a plague of lice
  4. Caused flies to swarm the land of Egypt
  5. Caused the cattle to become diseased
  6. Caused the Egyptians to be infected with boils
  7. Caused large hail to fall on Egypt, killing countless people
  8. Caused a swarm of locusts to destroy Egypt’s crops
  9. Caused three days of darkness to fall on Egypt

and — drum roll please — number 10: God killed the first-born child of every Egyptian family (and any Israelites who didn’t put blood above the doorposts of their home).

Who killed these babies and children? God did. The very same God that Campbell says is pro-life and the very same God who has a destiny planned for every baby. I guess being murdered in your home is a “destiny” of sorts, but I suspect Campbell is using the word “destiny” in a positive sense. Wanting to pump pregnant women full of Jesus, Campbell wants these women to know that the awesome God of the universe has a wonderful, super-duper plan for their fetuses.

Everywhere you look in the Old Testament, you see God smiting and killing people for their sins. Some of those who got on God’s bad side were non-combatants and innocent civilians. Did God give them a pass, punishing instead those who actually pissed him off? Nope. On multiple occasions, God commanded men, women, children, and fetuses be killed, regardless of their culpability. Can it really be said that God is interested in the minute details of the lives of babies — or anyone else for that matter?

Well that’s the Old Testament, Bruce. Fine, let’s talk about the slaughter of all the children under the age of two by Herod at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod did it, not God, Campbell might say. What a minute. I thought God has a divine plan for every baby? Was his plan for these children to be born to loving parents only to have them hacked to death a year or two later?

And what can I say about the book of Revelation, one of the most anti-human, anti-children, anti-babies books in the Bible. Campbell, a Bible literalist, believes that Jesus will one day judge and destroy the human race — except for those who are Christians, of course. Revelation is the script for God’s upcoming horror show. Will pregnant women or children get a pass and escape God’s violent, bloody temper tantrum? Not according to the Bible. Again, how can an honest reader of the Bible conclude that God is the least bit interested in babies and children?

Consider modern history for a moment. Think of all the wars, genocides, famines, and plagues. If the Christian God holds the world in the palm of his hand, and nothing happens apart from his purpose and plan, what conclusion must we come to about God’s actions throughout human history? Does the evidence at hand suggest that God is loving and kind, and, as Campbell implies, has an awesome plan for EVERY baby? I wonder what Nancy Campbell would say to this mother and child:

starving mother and child

Pray tell, exactly what is God’s wonderful plan for this woman and her child? This child had only known suffering and pain. Where is Campbell’s wonderful, action-figure God?

I urge mothers to steer clear of the Nancy Campbells of the world. They are snake-oil salesmen, selling a God that does not exist. There is no God who has a plan for your children. There is no God who has a wonderful destiny for your children. Your children’s futures depend on you and your fellow humans. It’s up to us. We are the only gods who can love and care for children. Surely, this is good news, yes? Imagine how it would be for mothers and their children if Campbell’s God is real? Imagine how awful it would be if the “kind, loving” God of the Bible acted today as he did in the Bible and throughout past human history. Thanks be to the gods, he is not real. We, collectively, hold the future of our progeny in our hands. It is up to us to build a world where love, kindness, and peace provide a foundation for children to grow and mature. The God-sellers have had their day, Time for us to, as John Lennon so wonderfully wrote:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Liberal Redneck Hilariously Explains Ken Ham’s Monument to Human Ignorance — Ark Encounter

Ken Ham

By now, everyone knows that Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, has opened his latest monument to human ignorance — Ark Encounter. Countless articles have already been written about Ham’s Ark Park, so there is no need for me to write another one. I do, however, want to post a  video by the Liberal Redneck that hilariously explains Ark Encounter. I hope you will widely share this post/video, especially with your Fundamentalist friends. Enjoy!

Video Link

Ken Ham’s Latest Monument to Human Ignorance

genocide incest park

A letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News, submitted July 11, 2016

Dear Editor,

Four or so hours away from Defiance, a man by the name of Ken Ham has built a $100 million monument to human ignorance — The Ark Encounter. This monument is a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark. As one who was raised in the Evangelical church and pastored churches for 25 years, I heard and preached countless sermons about Noah and the Ark. Regrettably, I was in my forties before I learned that this story and many others were myths, having no basis in historical or scientific fact.

According to Ham and his fellow Evangelicals, the universe is 6,021 years old. Everything we see, both on earth and in the skies, was created by God in six literal 24-hour days. According to creationists, the book of Genesis is a science textbook, one that emphatically teaches young earth creationism. Indeed, the entire Bible is infallible and without error, and should be, with rare exception, interpreted literally.

I am sure, just as Muslims who make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca, Evangelicals will flock to Kentucky to Ham’s monument to scientific ignorance. Adults will pay $40 for the privilege of touring Ham’s Ark, children $26. While there, Evangelicals will be taught “truths” about the historicity and reliability of the Bible and young earth creationism. I am sure most visitors will be awed by Ham’s Ark, ignoring that much of what Ham has constructed is built upon speculation. If Ham built a boat according to Biblical specifications, I highly doubt Kentucky officials would grant it an occupancy permit, and it is doubtful such a boat would safely float.

Ken Ham also operates the Creation Museum, another monument to ignorance. When it first opened, Evangelicals flocked to Kentucky to witness the wonders of the young earth creationism lie. Once witnessed, Evangelicals moved on to other entertainments, resulting in decreasing revenues for Answers in Genesis. Following the script of Field of Dreams, Ham built his Ark believing Evangelicals would visit if he did. And they will, for a time. The problem for Ham lies in the fact that Evangelicals easily bore. Once Evangelicals have seen the Ark, will they return? Probably not, especially if Ham continues to charge King’s Island-like admission prices. Perhaps Ham knows this, and this is why he is already planning a new entertainment venture — a replica of the Tower of Babel. Those who love reason and science can only shake their heads.

Bruce Gerencser

Ney, Ohio

 

Is God Impartial?

open arms of Jesus

Church of Christ preacher Al Shannon believes that the Christian God is impartial. Quoting Acts 10:34 and Romans 2:11, Shannon states:

Our God is impartial. “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom.2:11); “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Since all men are his creation, he must make no difference in them.

Shannon goes on to give seven examples of God’s impartiality:

  • He has declare all under sin.
  • God has provided a common Savior and gospel for all.
  • God extends the same invitation [of salvation] to all men.
  • God requires the same conditions of pardon be met by all men if they are to be saved.
  • God has given one standard [the Bible] to be followed.
  • God has provided one church [Church of Christ] for all.
  • God will judge all as individuals and upon their own life.

Is Shannon right? Does the Christian God act impartially towards people, giving everyone the same opportunities to believe in and worship the right God? Is God really an equal opportunity deity, dispensing to one and all the wonders of his grace?

Calvinists, of course, would reject Shannon’s proofs out of hand. In the Calvinistic scheme of things, the Christian God, through a divine lottery, predestined certain people to be saved. These “winners” — also known as the elect — are the only people who will be saved. Before the first humans were created, God, through a process known only to him, chose to save certain people. Over the thousands of years humans have lived on planet Earth, this God has been regenerating (giving spiritual life) only the people on his will call list. These lucky winners will, at some point in their lives, be given eyes to see and ears to hear the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, and upon hearing it they will — without fail — repent and call on Jesus to save them from their sins. And if they are truly saved, these elect people will persevere until they die. Failing to persevere to the end means that those who failed were not part of the elect. (See Can Anyone Really Know They Are Saved?)

For Calvinists, then, God is quite discriminating. God only chooses to save some people. Thus, when Jesus died on the cross for human sin, his atonement was only on behalf of the elect. No true Calvinist will ever say that Jesus died for everyone. There are “Calvinists” who adopt Amyraldianism, believing that Jesus’ atonement was “sufficient” to save everyone, but only “efficient” for the elect. Realizing that particular redemption/limited atonement makes God look bad, these four-point Calvinists attempt to put a better face on their deity’s partiality towards a very small portion of the human race — past, present, and future. Regardless of how the atonement is viewed, ALL Calvinists believe that only a certain number of people will be saved. All others need not apply.

Shannon, of course, is not a Calvinist. In fact, as most Church of Christ preachers do, Shannon considers Calvinism to be heretical — a cult. (Calvinists return the favor, saying that the Churches of Christ are a cult that preaches works salvation.)  According to Shannon, every person that has ever been born has an equal opportunity to be saved. Shannon’s God makes an indiscriminate offer to all: repent, be baptized, persevere in good works, and you shall be saved.

While there are certainly Bible verses that suggest that God is impartial, there are other verses that suggest otherwise. As I mentioned above, Calvinists can make a strong case for the notion that God’s love, grace, and salvation is discriminating, reserved only for those whom God has chosen to bestow his favor upon. Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike spend significant amounts of time and energy challenging each others Biblical interpretations — proving that the Bible can be used to prop up virtually any system of belief.

We don’t have to get into the theological minutia of this internecine war to conclude that Shannon’s claim — God is impartial — is false. In fact, the Old Testament provides overwhelming proof for the partiality of God. For those of us raised in Sunday School, we heard numerous stories and lessons about God choosing Abraham and his seed to be his chosen people. Abraham’s seed was later was named Israel (the Jews). According to Deuteronomy 7:6-8:

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

A special people. So much for the impartiality of God. Showing that he indeed had a favorite, God commanded the Israelites to commit genocide, killing countless men, women, children, and unborn fetuses. So much for God being pro-life! God wanted ethnic and theological purity, going to great lengths to ensure that the only people left living were his “special” people.

In Genesis 6 through 9, the Bible records the mythical story of Noah and the Ark. It is likely that millions of people lived on the face of the earth at the time God opened the windows of heaven and flooded the earth, killing everyone save Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. Out of millions of people, God only found eight people he was willing to save. So much for the impartiality of God. Imagine the poor sinners living on the island of what is now called Japan. One day it started raining and in a matter of days everyone on the island died. On judgment day, these people, having never heard of the Christian God will stand before Jehovah and be judged for their “sins.” I can only imagine their confusion. Born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, these resurrected drowning victims will be told that they should have known what they could not possibly know: that there is one true God and Jesus is his name. Off to hell they go without ever clearly understanding why. Perhaps a Calvinist will pipe up on that day and say, Ha! You weren’t chosen by God! Burn motherfuckers, burn! Oh, sorry, Lord about saying motherfucker. I forgot about that “thing” with you and Mary.

Even in the New Testament, we see a Jesus who had no interest in anyone save his chosen people — the Jews. It was not until the writing of the Apostle Paul that we hear of non-Jews being saved and made a part of God’s family. Jesus’ disciples, all of whom were circumcised Israelites, spent their time preaching the gospel to only the Jews. Deeply versed in the teaching of the Old Testament, the Apostles knew that the Jews were God’s chosen people. While Christianity (Paul’s version) certainly spread to the outposts of the Roman Empire, it is clear that Jews were the intended target. In Romans 11, Paul reminds Gentiles that the Jews were God’s original chosen people. Gentiles were, according to Paul, grafted into the Jewish branch. Gentiles should feel lucky that God became upset over Israel’s unbelief and decided to let them in on salvation and eternal life. In other words, God is similar to a jilted lover. Spurned by his one true love, he seeks out and marries another person.

Most of the people who have and yet will grace the pages of human history will die in their sins without ever knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Born at the wrong place and time, these “sinners” will worship the God of their culture, thinking that their devotion will be enough to grant them favor with God and an eventual home in heaven. Most of these people will never “hear” about Jesus or the “right” Christian gospel. (See Is There Only One Plan of Salvation?Does the Bible Contain Multiple Plans of Salvation?One,Two,Three, Repeat After Me: Salvation Bob Gray Style  and Church of Christ Preacher Al Shannon Says There are Only 2 Million Christians in the Whole World). They will die in ignorance, yet Al Shannon’s God and the God of millions of Christians will eternally torture billions of people in the flames of hell for things over which they had no control. For the people God saved, all they can say is lucky me, it sucks to be you. Those who are saved will owe all praise, glory, and honor to Jesus. Every Christian sect believes that God alone saves. Those who find themselves on the winning side of the ledger will have no reason to boast. It is God, through the merit and work of Jesus, who saves sinners. This is, contrary to Shannon’s assertions, the perfect example of partiality and discrimination. It is also one of reasons many people reject Christianity and its God. These unbelievers see God as a capricious deity, a divine bully who is running some sort of cosmic scam — one in which he allows billions of people to think they are on the right path to salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life, only to find out that God was just playing with them. Similar to a cat catching a mouse in his mouth and letting it go, only so he can catch again, the Christian God toys with the human race, knowing that just as sure as the cat eventually will kill the mouse, he will sentence the vast majority of people to a life worse than death — eternal torture in the flames of the Lake of Fire.

As with the idea that God loves everyone conditionally (see Does God Love Us Unconditionally?), the idea that God is impartial sounds good to those who value fairness and justice; actually reading the Bible proves otherwise.

A Pictorial Explanation of How Some Creationists View the Pre-Flood World

Creationist believe the earth is 6,020 years old. Based on a literal interpretation of God’s divine science textbook — the Bible — creationists believe God, 4,000 or so years ago, sent a worldwide flood that killed all life on earth except Noah and his family and the animals on the Ark. Many creationists believe that the world after the flood was very different from the one before. Those of us who came of age in the Fundamentalists churches of the 1960s and 1970s  likely remember preachers and conference speakers waxing eloquently about the “science” of the book of Genesis. Forced to stick to a literalistic interpretation of the Bible, these promoters of the creationist myth said that prior to Noah’s flood the earth was protected by a water canopy that kept the earth in an Edenic state. This perfectly controlled environment kept plants living without rain and allowed some people to have lifespans exceeding 900 years. (See Genesis 1:6-8, Genesis 2:6, Genesis 7:11)

Yesterday, my friend James McGrath posted a graphic that perfectly illustrates the vapor/water canopy theory.

earth before the flood

Enlightened creationists — an oxymoron — will scream foul, reminding me that most creationists no longer embrace the canopy theory. Fine, but I suspect that many older creationists still embrace the theory.  This theory is hardly “ancient” history. I heard preaching on it in the late 1980s. Every Evangelical preacher I knew owned copies of  Henry Morris’ and John Whitcomb’s 1960 book, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implication and Morris’ 1976 book, The Genesis Record, A scientific and devotional commentary on the book of beginnings. These two books, along with a King James Bible, were all Evangelical preachers needed to explain the universe.  What have creation “scientists” discovered that would cause creationists to now abandon the canopy theory? Or is the real issue that believing it makes them look like illiterate hillbillies? Craving acceptance by the larger religious community or desiring validation from the science community, creationists have abandoned a theory that was central to interpreting Genesis for much of the 20th century. Creationists are front and center in the attack on gay Christians who reinterpret the Bible to support their belief that God/Bible does not condemn homosexuality. How is abandoning the canopy theory any different? Did the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God change? How dare creationists abandon their interpretation of the Bible just because it makes them look illiterate!

Once Again, Ken Ham Denies the Sufficiency of Scripture

ken ham

I previously wrote about that fact that Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, doesn’t really believe that the Bible is all-sufficient.  (Please see Ken Ham’s Ark Project Shows He Doesn’t Believe in the Sufficiency of Scripture.)  Evangelicals like Ham supposedly believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God. I say supposedly, because upon closer examination of their orthopraxy (correct practice), Evangelicals are quite willing to ignore the Bible when it suits them.

Take Ham’s latest monument to Fundamentalist ignorance, the Ark Encounter: a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. The Bible records in Genesis 6-9 the mythical story of Noah and the flood. According to the Bible, God, sickened and angered by the sin of human race, decided to use a global flood to kill everyone, save Noah and his family. Out of the millions of people on the face of the earth, only Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, were deemed worthy of God’s grace (evidently Noah’s grandchildren didn’t make the cut).

God told Noah to prepare a big boat, by which he, Jehovah, would save Noah and his family. In Genesis 6:13-16, God gave Noah strict engineering plans to follow when building the ark:

And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

God told Noah to use gopher wood for the Ark’s construction. The word gopher is used only once in the Bible. Some English translations leave the word untranslated, while others, especially modern Bible versions, translate the Hebrew word as cypress or cedar. Knowing these things, imagine my surprise when I read that Ken Ham is using spruce trees (Englemann spruce) to build his replica of Noah’s Ark. Ham writes:

When you visit the Ark Encounter next year, one of the things that will just blow you away is the massive scope of the Ark and the colossal size of the trees that were used to construct it. We’ve heard people ask what type of trees they are and where they came from. The trees were standing dead Englemann spruce that were over 200 years old.

….

They were responsibly harvested from a forest in Utah. There are select forests managed by the forestry service where dead trees, before they begin to rot, are harvested and repurposed; then the forest is replanted for future harvests. What’s really nice about these gigantic 66 foot tall logs that are 50 inches in diameter is the fact that they are already dry, so they won’t move or twist once in place.

Why isn’t Ham using gopher wood? Surely, God meant what he said when he told Noah exactly what wood and dimensions to use in constructing the Ark. Evidently, Ham doesn’t really believe that the Bible is all-sufficient. If he did, he would either scour the earth looking for gopher wood or he would use cyprus/cedar to build the Ark. Instead, Ham chose a wood that met project engineering and cost requirements. In other words, he allowed modern science and mathematics to dictate the construction of his modern-day Ark. It is too bad that Ham can’t do the same when it comes to the creationist story of Genesis 1-3. Why does Ham demand a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1-3, yet ignore this hermeneutic when choosing which wood to use for building the Ark? Ham demands that modern scientists bow to the authority of the Bible, yet he is quite willing to ignore it when it suits him.

Ham presents the Ark project as one that is environmentally responsible. Ham says the project’s spruce trees were “responsibly harvested from a forest in Utah.” What he fails to tell readers is why these trees were available for what Ham calls the “largest timber-frame structure in the world.” According to the The Salt Lake Tribune, spruce beetles have destroyed the state’s once burgeoning Englemann spruce population. In 2011, Brandon Loomis, a writer for The Tribunewrote:

Some three-toed woodpecker in these woods is pleasantly plump on beetles, but the buffet can’t go on forever. It lasts only as long as the trees.

The gluttony is written on and around a stocky spruce that looks green and mostly healthy to the untrained eye, except for the fact that it’s pecked nude from the waist down.

No bird harmed the tree, though. The damage was already done.

“These trees are loaded with bugs,” said Liz Hebertson, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist, down from Ogden to survey this year’s spruce-beetle infestation in south-central Utah. Peeling back a neighboring spruce’s bark confirms that larvae are maturing, readying for the short flight of their lives in search of new pine prey.

It’s nothing new to her. Mountains of Utah’s verdant spruce slopes are gone. If climate scientists are right, they might never be back.

After a rain, Utah’s high spruce forests evoke the misty Pacific Northwest — unlikely lush islands rising from redrock desert and olive chaparral. Now a complex set of threats conspires to take them down.

One is natural — the beetle with a taste for older trees, aided by a decade of tree-stressing drought. Another is a century of fire suppression that built up fuels to the bursting point. Aiding both those killers is a rising thermometer.

Even if a warmer climate can again support Engelmann spruce — the state’s dominant commercial-grade tree — it will be 200 years or more until they grow back to the towering sentinels that 20th-century Utahns knew. In the meantime, subalpine firs may spring up in their place, replacing green for green but not with dollars. Subalpine firs are more brittle — not lumber material.

….

It’s been a losing battle so far, and science suggests it’s a long-run lost cause.

First, there’s the insect’s physiology and its response to increasing warmth. The cold-blooded spruce beetles in these hills once took two years to mature from the egg and fly on to breed in new trees. In the early 2000s, Hebertson said, forest scientists documented a switch to one-year cycles here, which boosted the population and primed a disaster.

Beetles have taken 2 million acres of Utah forest in roughly that time, the largest share of it spruce. The outbreak started in the 1990s around Cedar Breaks National Monument in southwestern Utah, where Hebertson has seen no evidence of spruce regeneration since.

The Forest Service has found that higher temperatures aid and speed beetle production. The Utah Climate Center at Utah State University finds that since 1970 the mercury has risen swiftly when it counts most — more than 3 degrees on average during bug-killing winter lows at a monitoring station at Capitol Reef National Park in southern-central Utah.

A decade of beetles-gone-wild might not spell doom in normal conditions. Big outbreaks have shown up before, and the spruce have rebounded. This time, though, computer models based on society’s carbon emissions aren’t looking good. They show Engelmann spruce practically blinking out in Utah by 2090, limited to a strand in the High Uintas.

….

Global warming is the reason Ham found reasonably priced spruce trees for the Ark project, the very climate change Ham denies is materially affecting the earth. Rod J. Martin, a self-described independent researcher with no stated scientific credentials, explains Answers in Genesis’ official global warming position this way: (link no longer active)

The Bible does not speak directly about what we call global warming. It does, however, provide a framework for evaluating the merits of global warming claims. To reiterate, the global warming discussion centers on CO2 (the atmosphere) and trees (plants). The Bible, of course, addresses the atmosphere and plants. The biblical framework for evaluating global warming is primarily found in Genesis. The RATE study mentioned above established that Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 (the Creation account) was narrative. The study also determined that the Flood account (Genesis chapters 7 to 9) is also narrative (Vardiman et al. 2005, pp. 661 and 667). This paper will also briefly reference the dispersion of the nations at the tower of Babel in the summary. Although the RATE study did not evaluate the Tower of Babel, I believe that if the creation and the Flood passages are narrative then the tower of Babel passage is narrative also. These passages describe real events and real people. The following sections briefly discuss passages related to the atmosphere and plants.

….

The biblical history of the earth, contained in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis, provides a useful and sufficient framework for evaluating the current global warming issue. As we have seen, CO2 is a natural atmospheric gas that is essential for man’s existence. It is not a pollutant. The atmosphere is likely deficient in CO2 compared with the original created atmosphere. Reducing CO2 would definitely create problems, but increasing it will not. Burning fossil fuels merely returns CO2 to its place of origin. Forests are to be used for man’s benefit. They are not needed to produce O2 and they have no intrinsic rights, but should be managed responsibly and effectively.

Basic science is consistent with the biblical history and argues strongly against the global warming hypothesis. Melting glaciers and changing climates are not an indication of man-made global warming. These natural phenomena have been operating for thousands of years. Temperature histories are imprecise and unreliable. Global warming is built on an evolutionary earth history and an evolutionary time scale. Anything built on a faulty foundation cannot stand. Global warming is an offshoot of evolutionary thinking and is needlessly creating mass hysteria. God is in control of the earth, not man.

It can be expected that several trends evident since the Flood, however, will continue: sea level will rise as polar glaciers continue to melt, and deserts will expand. These trends, as we have shown, have little to do with CO2, they are a consequence of a God ordained event, the Flood. Governments with either ocean boundaries or deserts should consider how to efficiently and economically address these trends. There is no viable justification either biblically or scientifically for limiting the generation of CO2 or restricting logging of forests.

….

When it comes to the type of wood to use for his colossal tinker toy project, Ham ignores the Bible and, instead, buys a wood that is affordable thanks to global warming. Yet, when it comes to the warming of the planet and what problems rising global temperatures will cause, Ham, Martin, and the “astute” scientists at Answers in Genesis, demand a return to a strict, literalistic reading of Genesis 1-3. Simply put, global warming is much ado about nothing, because…drum roll please, the BIBLE says. While Ham uses modern engineering practices and cost studies for building the Ark, he reverts to knuckle-dragging, young-earth-creationist talking points when it comes to global warming.

I wish Ken Ham would make up his mind about the sufficiency of the Bible. Either it’s God’ divine science textbook or it’s not. Either God did or he didn’t tell Noah everything he needed to know about building a large boat in the desert. Which is it? Or perhaps Ham, like all Evangelicals, gives lip service to the sufficiency of the Bible. When it suits him he demands literalism, but when necessary Ham is quite willing to abandon the all-sufficient Bible in favor of modern science and technology.

Ken Ham Approves of Brothers Having Sex With Sisters

ken ham incest chart

Not now of course, but young earth creationist Ken Ham thinks that incest before the giving of the Mosaic law was OK.

Ham writes:

…Perhaps no woman mentioned in Scripture has caused more confusion among Christians. Despite the fact that we have regularly addressed this issue in numerous books, articles, and presentations, the issue of Cain’s wife is still one of the most common questions we receive. Who was she, and why have so many believers struggled to give a biblical answer to this inquiry?

The simple answer is that Cain married his sister or another close relation, like a niece. This answer may sound revolting for those of us who grew up in societies that have attached a stigma to such an idea, but if we start from Scripture, the answer is clear.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us that Adam was the first man. Genesis 3:20 states that Eve was the mother of all the living.(NASB), and Genesis 5:4 reveals that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters (besides Cain, Abel, and Seth).

There were no other people on earth as some have claimed. God did not create other people groups from which Cain chose a wife, as we are all made of one blood (Acts 17:26). If He had made others, these people would not have been able to be saved from their sins, since only descendants of Adam can be saved—that’s why it was so important for Jesus to be Adam’s descendant.

Doesn’t the Bible forbid marriage between close relations? It does, but the laws against marrying family members were initially given as part of the Mosaic covenant, approximately 2,500 years after God created Adam and Eve. Due in part to genetic mistakes, these laws were necessary to help protect offspring from mutations shared by both parents.

But that’s incest! In today’s world, this would be incest. But originally there would have been no problem with it. Looking back through history, the closer we get to Adam and Eve, the fewer genetic mistakes people would have, so it would have been safer for close relatives to marry and have children.

Christians who have a problem with this answer need to remember that Noah’s grandchildren must have married brothers, sisters, or first cousins—there were no other people (1 Peter 3:20, Genesis 7:7). Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 20:2). Isaac married Rebekah, the daughter of his cousin Bethuel (Genesis 24:15), and Jacob married his cousins Leah and Rachel. Clearly, the Bible does not forbid the marriage of close relatives until the time of Moses…

Ham’s argument is necessary if one reads the Bible literally. In Ham’s world, the earth is 6,020 years old and evolution is the lie of Satan. However, in the aforementioned post, Ham reveals that he is not really as much of a literalist as he claims to be.

Ham says Cain married his sister or niece. Where does the Bible say this? Where does the Bible say Cain married anyone? Perhaps people didn’t get married in Cain’s day. Perhaps Cain actually had sexual relations with his mother. Why doesn’t Ham mention this as a possibility? Ham repeats the same story when trying to explain where the children of Noah’s grandchildren came from.

According to Ham, a law against incest was not necessary until 2,500 years after God created Adam and Eve.  The reason?  “…genetic mistakes, these laws were necessary to help protect offspring from mutations shared by both parents.” Again, where does the inerrant, inspired, infallible Bible say this? Shouldn’t Ham follow the mantra, where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent?

How is a human behavior not sinful for 2,500 years and then, all of a sudden, it becomes sinful? How can an immoral act be moral? Does this mean God changed his mind? Does this mean God permitted immorality so he could accomplish a greater good? I thought Jesus (God) was the same yesterday, today, and forever? Doesn’t Ham’s explanation lay waste to this “Biblical truth?”

Sooooo many questions…

On the Road Looking for God’s True Church

You can tell a lot about a church without ever attending a service. All you have to do is read the sign in front of the church and it will tell you all you need to know. I love taking photographs of church signs, and now that I have an iPhone, I no longer need to take my DSLR with me every time we go out to eat or shop.

The iPhone camera is quite adequate for snapping photographs of church signs, so I plan to publicize, through my blog, the theology and message of some of the Evangelical churches Polly and I drive by on our trips to here and there.

Tonight, we drove to Findlay, Ohio to eat at Texas Roadhouse. After we finished our meal, we drove over to Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream, an establishment I first frequented in 1970. Here’s three of the signs we saw along the way. Enjoy!

The first sign is from Ottawa Missionary Church 2031 E Main St. Ottawa,Ohio. Marshall Metzger is the pastor. The church is affiliated with the Missionary Church denomination.

ottawa missionary church

Ottawa Missionary Church, Ottawa, Ohio

The sign begs the question, how can we know God, not just any God, but the God of the Ottawa Missionary Church, inhabits our future? No one has ever seen or lived the future, much like no one has ever seen God. All we have to go on is words written down in a book by unknown authors thousands of years ago.

The next church, Faith Assembly of Believers, located at 1604 E Main St Ottawa, Ohio has a double-faced sign that catches passerbys coming and going.  The church has no website.  Larry Bibler pastors the church.

faith assembly of believers 3

Faith Assembly of Believers, Ottawa, Ohio

This sign is believable only if you think the earth is 6,000 years old and believe it didn’t rain for the first several thousand or so years. Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark. Noah’s father Lamech was 182 years old when Noah was born, lived 777 years , and died 5 years before the worldwide flood of Genesis 6-8. Noah and his father account for almost a millennium. And we still have to account for the ages of Methuselah, Enoch, Seth, Cain, and Adam to name a few.  So quit your whining Californians. Your drought? Nothing compared to no rain for over two millennia.

faith assembly of believers

Faith Assembly of Believers, Ottawa, Ohio

While I couldn’t find a church website, God, also known as Google, did tell me a few things about Faith Assembly Believers and its pastor, Larry Bibler.

From a 2009 Putnam Sentinel article:

In George Washington’s farewell address, he declared that two pillars were sustaining the nation, keeping it strong and free; one is religion and one is morality.

Pastor Larry Bibler, of Faith Assembly of Believers, sees this sentiment as absolutely true, yet something the country has gotten away from. That’s why he and his wife Jan, along with other concerned citizens, have formed the Ottawa Patriots and held a Tea Party on the Courthouse lawn July 4.

“People are frustrated about what’s happening in America and this gives them an opportunity to do something about the condition of America,” said the Pastor. “We wanted to come up with something local going out to communities” in and around Putnam County.

Bibler said the whole purpose was to make the people realize that they need to get back the Constitution, back to God and back to prayer…

Bibler says the efforts of the group are based on the principles and values of Glenn Becks 912 project, found at theglennbeck912project.com. The project promotes the sacredness of family, justice, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, faith, and values like honesty, charity, courage and personal responsibility to name a few.

So, if you are lost, Pastor Bibler and Faith Assembly of Believers have just the road map for you. For those who want to freely travel down the road of life without Jesus GPS (gospel positioning system) plotting your way…beware…the road you are on leads to death, judgment, and hell. But, the ride sure is fun.