April 2007

I posted this once before, but no one was willing to bite, so I’m posting it again. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Was human immortality conditional in the Garden? If Adam and Eve would not have sinned, would they have lived forever? I presume that they could have done so, but immortality does not seem to be inherent to their nature even in their sinless state. It was conditioned on them eating the fruit of the Tree of Life—not often, but only once. That’s why God was so concerned about getting Adam out of the Garden after he sinned: He didn’t want Adam to become immortal (the fact that Adam never ate the fruit of the Tree of Life argues for a very short period of time between the creation of man and his fall). It seems that even if Adam had not sinned, he still would have died if He never ate of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Immortality did not inhere within his sinless nature.

The reason I find this topic interesting is because of its application to Jesus. Like Adam, Jesus was sinless. That does not mean, however, that Jesus would have lived forever had He not willingly allowed Himself to be killed. He would have died just like the rest of us unless He ate from the Tree. Humanity needs this tree to become immortal. That’s why it will be in the New Jerusalem.

Speaking of the Tree of Life, what do you think about the whole business of trees in Genesis? We have the Tree of Life (TL) and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE). Were these trees “magical” or symbolic? I would like to take the symbolic interpretation, but it seems inconsistent. It could be said that Adam’s eating of the fruit of the TKGE caused Him to fall—not because of something in the fruit—but because He disobeyed a command of God, thereby coming to know evil. When it comes to the fruit on the TL, however, a symbolic understanding doesn’t seem to work. It appears that there was actually something in that fruit that would have brought Adam immortality. What do you think?

Scientists discovered a planet 20.5 light years away from Earth that they believe may be similar to Earth, and thus hospitable for life. The planet (Gliese 581c) is slightly larger than Earth, and has a climate similar to our own. Scientists speculate that there may be water on the planet as well. This is a significant find, because until now, scientists have never found another planet like Earth. Interestingly, the author of the news in UK’s The Daily Mail wrote, “This remarkable discovery appears to confirm the suspicions of most astronomers that the universe is swarming with Earth-like worlds.”


People who want to believe in evolution and extraterrestrial life seem to jump on anything that bolsters their faith, this being no exception. How does finding one planet, 20.5 light years away, confirm that the universe is “swarming” with Earth-like planets hospitable to life? For one, the article makes it very clear that scientists know very little about this planet yet, including whether it contains water or rock. Second, this is the only potential Earth-like planet we have found, so how can it be scientific confirmation that the universe is swarming with them? This is an exaggerated claim. We should not be surprised at this, however. The church of Darwin requires that its followers believe in evolution whether it be supported by evidence or not. Most Darwinian claims are exaggerations extrapolated from scant evidence open to multiple interpretations.


See Stephen Jones’ post on the topic for reasons to doubt the claim that Gliese 581c is similar to Earth.

Robert A. Gagnon, associate professor of NT theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, wrote a tremendous article on the topic of homosexuality and same-sex marriage titled “Why the Disagreement Over the Biblical Witness of Homosexual Practice?” The article is a response to David G. Myers and Letha Dawson Scanzoni’s 2005 book, What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage.

I must say that this was the single most informative, thoughtful, articulate article on homosexuality I have read to date. It is 130 pages long, so it is no small read, but it is well worth the time. Gagnon does a thorough job debunking the pro-homosexual interpretation of the Bible, makes excellent and articulate arguments against homosexuality in general, and same-sex marriage in particular. If you want to have a well-rounded argument to present to an increasingly pro-homosexual culture, this article is a must read.

Melinda Penner had a terrific post today on the topic of offering prayers in a public, multi-faith setting. Modern notions of pluralism and tolerance, coupled with political correctness have resulted in an assault of criticism against Christians who invoke the name of Jesus in public-lead prayers. Doing so is said to be insensitive, intolerant, and guilty of excluding those who do not share our faith. Penner argues that this perspective is mistaken for the following reasons:


  1. Prayer always involves a recipient. To offer a prayer necessarily entails addressing it to someone, whether that someone is named or not (not “to whom it may concern”). In the case of the Christian, the object of our prayers is Jesus. Speaking the name “Jesus” at the end of a prayer only enunciates to everyone what they already know: that the Christian is praying to the Christian God—“not a committee of generic deities of all faiths present.” No one expects the prayer leader to abandon his beliefs while offering the prayer, so no one should be surprised or offended when we name the person we are praying to.
  2. Offering any prayer at all—even a generic prayer—will exclude atheists. Should we, then, not only be prohibited from addressing our prayer to a specific God, but also prohibited from offering public prayers altogether?
  3. The only alternative is to require prayer leaders to pretend that their beliefs are not true, or only allow religious pluralists to lead public prayers. Both options discriminate against Christians.
  4. It requires that Christians hide their religious convictions in public.
  5. Those who bear the burden of tolerance are the listeners, not the speaker. “Tolerance doesn’t censor, it encourages expression even’t when the belief isn’t shared.”

I would encourage you to read her post.

I was struck the other day by a thought that should have occurred to me many years ago. After Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to His disciples several times over the course of 40 days, until He ascended to heaven. What never occurred to me until now, however, was to ask why the disciples did not proclaim the resurrection of Christ until after His ascension.


I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as odd. Why would they wait? If you saw someone alive who had previously been dead, would you hesitate more than a few moments to proclaim it abroad? Add to this His celebrity, the public nature of His death (many saw Him die), the disciples’ close relationship with Him, and the fact that His resurrection would vindicate His messianic claims, and the disciples had every reason to instantly proclaim to everyone in Israel that they saw Jesus alive. So why did they wait?


N.T. Wright muses that certain unbelieving contemporaries of the disciples must have surely asked this question. It is certainly plausible to think unbelievers would have used this lapse of time between the resurrection of Christ and the disciples’ proclamation of His resurrection as an argument against the resurrection. They might have argued “Why, if you knew Jesus had risen from the dead on X date, did you wait until X+Y date to proclaim it?” Indeed, a delayed proclamation could have been interpreted as time borrowed to fabricate the resurrection story. The longer they waited to proclaim the resurrected Christ the less credible their claim would become.


Wright thinks Mark may have offered an explanation to those critics in his gospel in Mark 16:8: “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.” This does not seem adequate, however, because the verse describes a time prior to the first resurrection appearance (this particular episode was after the angels’ resurrection announcement), and is limited to some women followers.


Did the disciples delay because they were afraid no one would believe them? Remember, Jesus only appeared to His followers and relatives. While His death was very public, His resurrection and resurrection appearances were not. He did not go the temple and show Himself alive to the chief priests or temple-gatherers. He did not walk the streets of Jerusalem showing the people the nail prints in his hands and feet. He only showed Himself to His close associates and relatives.


Did the disciples delay because they were waiting on Jesus to reveal Himself as Israel’s king? We know that right up to the day of His ascension the disciples were waiting for Jesus to restore Israel’s national sovereignty (Acts 1:6-7). With such an expectation, maybe they were waiting on Jesus to make the next move, fearing that any proclamation of their experience may hinder His plans.


Does anyone else have any suggestions for why the disciples might have delayed their proclamation? Does anyone have any suggestions to explain why Jesus chose to show Himself alive to believers and relatives rather than to unbelievers?


Post script: In my Blessed Are Those Who Believe Without Seeing post I argue that John 20:29 shows that the apostles did proclaim the resurrection to at least some individuals prior to Pentecost.

Back in March I published a post about how extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. While atheists often use this to argue against Christianity, the fact of the matter is that it argues against atheism. The claims of atheism are much more extraordinary than the claims of theism.


An individual responded to this post in the comments section, saying, “Yet, believers in GOD(s) forget that all human thoughts are man-made; thus, so is God.” This is so typical of the lazy and convoluted thinking characteristic of postmodern thought. Here is how I responded:


Your statement sounds like a bumper sticker: nice ring to it, but lacking in critical thought. What does it mean to say human thoughts are “man-made”? If you mean humans have the ability to generate thoughts, then what you have communicated is a tautology. The human ability to generate thought (“man-made”) is the definition of “human thoughts.” So saying human thoughts are man-made adds nothing to your original description. Ultimately, then you’re left arguing that since humans have the ability to generate thoughts about God, God must be a figment of our imagination.

But how does that follow? The implicit premise of your argument (that which is needed for your conclusion to follow your stated premise) is that if humans generate a thought about something, the object of our thought must be a figment of our own creation/imagination. Does this premise hold true for objects other than God? Do you apply this logic to food? I would imagine that you have had thoughts of eating pizza. Does this make the object of your thought (pizza) a figment of your imagination? Of course not. How absurd would it sound to argue that “all human thoughts are man-made; thus, so is pizza”? Pizza is an objective part of reality, and your ability to generate thoughts about it doesn’t make it any less so.

As a human thinker, you have the ability to generate thoughts about reality. If God exists in reality, then you would have the ability to generate thoughts about His existence just as you do pizza. I’m not saying the ability to think about God proves that God exists in reality, but rather that the ability to think about God cannot possibly be used to argue for His non-existence anymore than your ability to think about pizza argues for its non-existence. Your observation about the human ability to generate thoughts simply has no bearing on the question of whether God exists or not.

Using your logic, for God to be real we would have to lack the ability to think about Him. For the moment we were able to think about His existence He would cease to be real. That makes absolutely no sense at all.

From the editors of National Review Online:


“Partial-birth abortions are not really worse than other methods of late-term abortion. There is indeed something irrational about concluding that a method [I would add ‘the morality’] of killing a seven-month-old fetus should depend on the location of his foot. But just who is responsible for making a fetish of location in the first place? It is the Supreme Court itself that has declared — with no support in the Constitution — that what distinguishes a fetus with no claim to legal protection from an infant with such a claim is whether it is in the womb.”<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>

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<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–>[1]<!–[endif]–>National Review editors, “Partial Victory”; available from http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NzMxZWQ0ZGM1NjdjYmZlZDBiYjRlMDc3NzAxOGU2M2Y; Internet; accessed 19 April 2007.

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