Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: science

Understanding the language of the Bible

There is a good possibility that using a dictionary of the English language will muddy the waters when it comes to trying to understand a word used in the Bible. The word science found in 1 Timothy 6:20 is a case in point. The Greek word here translated science is gnosis, which in all its 28 other appearances in the New Testament is translated knowledge. That is what it means in this verse also. Science is a word of French origin, derived from the verb scier – to know. In French, science simply means knowledge and that was its original meaning in English. The meaning has shifted in English over the past 400 years, but to understand 1 Timothy 6:20 we need to go back to its original meaning.

Image by Robert C from Pixabay 

Here is what Adam Clarke says on this verse:

And oppositions of science falsely so called – Και αντιθεσεις της ψευδωνυμου γνωσεως·
And oppositions of knowledge falsely so named. Dr. Macknight’s note here is worthy of much attention: “In the enumeration of the different kinds of inspiration bestowed on the first preachers of the Gospel, 1Co_12:8, we find the word of knowledge mentioned; by which is meant that kind of inspiration which gave to the apostles and superior Christian prophets the knowledge of the true meaning of the Jewish Scriptures. This inspiration the false teachers pretending to possess, dignified their misinterpretations of the ancient Scriptures with the name of knowledge, that is, inspired knowledge; for so the word signifies, 1Co_14:6. And as by these interpretations they endeavored to establish the efficacy of the Levitical atonements, the apostle very properly termed these interpretations oppositions of knowledge, because they were framed to establish doctrines opposite to, and subversive of, the Gospel. To destroy the credit of these teachers, he affirmed that the knowledge from which they proceeded was falsely called inspired knowledge; for they were not inspired with the knowledge of the meaning of the Scriptures, but only pretended to it.” Others think that the apostle has the Gnostics in view. But it is not clear that these heretics, or whatever they were, had any proper existence at this time. On the whole, Dr. Macknight’s interpretation seems to be the best.

Sore shoulder

I got a flu shot Monday afternoon, in my left shoulder. By evening any movement of my right shoulder was very painful and I got very little sleep. Who knew a flu shot could do that?

If a man can smile when things go wrong,
He’s thought of something he can blame it on.

In reality, to blame arthritis in the right shoulder on vaccination in the left shoulder makes no sense. There is no cause and effect, just coincidence. Kind of like the anti-vaxxers who blame autism and a whole bunch of other things on vaccination, even though scientific research has never found a connection.

I’ve been troubled with arthritis in that shoulder for years. Most of the time it’s pretty minor, but I must have done something Monday to aggravate it. I’ve been using Voltaren, last night I slept on the recliner and tonight I have almost full movement without pain.

Doctrines of the Humanist Religion


1. Nothing is real if it cannot be explained by the human mind

I may call myself a lover of the truth, but if I am unwilling to believe anything that does not fit the measure of my mind, am I really open to consider what truth is? Scientific hypotheses attempt to fit the things observed and experienced by man into a framework that gives a logical explanation for those phenomena and events. In order to do this, they must reject anything that cannot be measured and counted. Paradoxically, occult and shamanistic beliefs are attempts to do the same thing, only with different rules of evidence.

2. We are inherently good – our failures are due to a lack of knowledge. The best informed person will always make the best decisions.

The knowledge required might be a better understanding of how to appease the pagan gods and spirits. It might mean getting psychiatric counselling to discover the root causes of troubled emotions and relationships. Or it could mean getting a university education to better face the challenges of life. We often hear it said “If only I had known before what I know now I wouldn’t have got myself into the mess I’m in.” Most often the cause of the trouble was not a lack of knowledge but a decision to follow the baser inclinations of human nature.

3. It is a great evil for people to be deprived of the things that could bring them pleasure.

Why can’t my wife, husband, parents, friends, or boss treat me with the consideration that I deserve? If only I had a little more money, a better house, more time for recreation; if only I lived somewhere else, things would go better. Is our happiness really based on things, or other people?

People tend to think they have a right to physical health. Well-meaning Christians sometimes think that admitting their illness would be a lack of faith and live and die in unreasoning fear. Others spend all their substance, travelling over land and sea, in a desperate search for a healer in whom they can trust. Often they leave their families destitute.

4. The evil that men do is caused by factors outside of themselves. If society can only be restructured to remove all the causes of injustice and lack of fulfilment.

The social gospel and other movements that aim to eliminate inequities and provide fair and just treatment for all began with good intentions and great expectations. Are people happier as a result? Or are we just hacking away at the leaves and branches and completely missing the root of the problem?

All of the above ideas shape our thinking about how to raise our children. We have come to understand that children can only develop their true potential when given maximum access to information and the freedom to decide for themselves what to believe and do. Now it seems that many parents to consider their children to be burdens. And when the parents come to their declining years, their children consider them to be burdens.
Everything we do is governed bu our religious beliefs, even when we profess to have no religion at all. There is within every person a longing for answers to the questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? The answers to those questions make up our religion and become the reference point for the choices we make in life.

Man-centred religion makes human wants and aspirations its reference point. Upon this foundation are built myriads of elaborate structures, each claiming to be the best road to true happiness. These structures include everything from rigid adherence to man-made beliefs about God, to mysticism, to atheism. Almost everyone we meet is a missionary for some form of the humanist religion. Businesses, banks, schools and the media do their utmost to persuade us to follow the way of humanism.

Only a few have a truly God-centred religion that makes God the reference point for all the decisions of life. They acknowledge God as Creator, Lord and Saviour, devoting their lives to serving Him

There is no neural point; every person on the planet adheres to one of these two religions. The man-centred religion is built over, and tries to conceal, the pit of hell. The God-centred religion is built upon the eternal and unmovable rock -– Jesus Christ.

In defence of doubt

As Christians, we tend to have this utopian belief that a true believer will never have any doubts about matters of faith. Thus, when a brother or sister has the courage to admit to doubt, we react with something akin to panic.

Why do we react like this? Isn’t it because deep down we ourselves doubt whether there is a satisfactory answer for the doubt expressed by our brother or sister. So we label the doubt as unbelief and tell the doubting person to repent of that unbelief.

In most cases doubt is simply a feeling of uncertainty, a longing for answers and not a refusal to believe. We all have doubts at times and it is not healthy to suppress them. If we go on for too long simply stifling our doubts, they are apt to erupt one day into a major crisis of faith.

We need to look for answers to our doubts, and to the doubts of others. Right here we often encounter the biggest doubt of all: are there really answers to our doubts? How can we even know that God exists?

We should be wary of answers that assume that faith and reason are mutually exclusive realms and that we just need to have faith. Sometimes Christians use a variant of this type of answer by coming up with stories that supposedly prove Creation, the existence of heaven or hell, or some other tenet of the faith and say we have a different kind of knowledge than the world has. Most of these stories do not stand up under close scrutiny and have the effect of confirming the world’s perception that Christian’s aren’t very bright.

Blaise Pascal said “The heart has its reasons, which reason cannot know.” Yet he went on to develop arguments to show the reasonableness of Christian faith. There is no contradiction here — Christian faith does provide the best explanation for things as they really are. Those who rely on reason alone and deny the very possibility of God have created well thought out explanations for the existence of the world and all natural phenomena, including the workings of the human mind. The problem is that new evidence keeps cropping up that does not fit these explanations, so new explanations need to be developed.

There is no absolute proof for any aspect of Christian faith; on the other hand, there is no evidence that contradicts the faith. When looked at objectively, without the blinders created by a refusal to admit any possibility of the existence of God, it becomes clear that God is the explanation that best fits all the available evidence.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith then is really all we need, faith in God and faith in what He has revealed to us in His Word. But questions and doubts will arise, and we need not fear them.

The world has developed supposedly scientific ideas about what is best for the mental and emotional well-being of mankind. Here too, an unblinkered look at the evidence shows that they don’t really work. Having confidence that there really is a God who created the world and everything in it, including us, should give us confidence to trust that His plan for the church and the home are exactly designed to meet our real needs. Let’s not panic when someone expresses doubts. Consider that an opportunity to examine the evidence and have our faith renewed.


That fearsome disease,
The deaths do not cease.
Who can help when such fear
Clutches all who are near?

Disease is a curse,
Fear just makes it worse.
We flee those who would help.
Trust things that cannot help.

Thousands are dying,
Thousands are trying
To arrest the bleeding,
And stop it from spreading.

Has a cure been found?
Will it go around?
Can science stop the curse?
Or will it still get worse?

Ebola will pass.
Leave behind a mass
Of graves, sorrows, questions.
Who can tell the reason?

The sin plague remains;
All mankind it stains.
Science gives us no might
To protect from this blight.

Yet down from heaven
The cure is given;
The fountain filled with blood –
 The remedy of God.

Truth before their eyes
Is hid from the wise.
Then go to those in need,
The way of life to plead.

Though their life be drear
Don’t recoil in fear.
The word of life make plain
Live it, tell it again.

Copyright © August 16, 2014, Bob Goodnough

[I make no claim to poetic skill. My wife is the chief poet in the family, our daughter is second, though for the present her children claim her time and attention. But these thoughts came to me yesterday and seemed to make sense only in poetic format.]

Theory, hypothesis, fallacy

People despise Christian faith.  They hate it and are afraid that it may be true.
-Blaise Pascal

Pascal wrote these words at the beginning of the scientific era.  All attempts made during succeeding years to disprove Christianity by scientific means have been motivated by this fear.  For, if Christianity is true, if there really is a God who created everything according to a divine plan, we are in trouble.  How can we reconcile our egocentric life with His plan for our life?

The public has been conditioned to have faith in science, to the point of accepting without question any statement purporting to be scientific, while scoffing at any statement purporting to be Christian or Biblical truth.  It must be admitted that much nonsense has been spoken in the name of Christianity, giving the public some foundation for scepticism.  Discernment needs to be exercised in both domains.  This article deals with statements which purport to be scientific fact.

The first step in scientific thinking  is to observe a group of facts or events and devise a possible explanation that can be tested by further observation or experimentation.  This possible explanation is called a hypothesis.  If further observation and experimentation support the hypothesis, it then becomes a theory.  If the theory then can be shown to hold true in every possible circumstance, it is considered to be a proven scientific fact.

Unfortunately, the public wants so much to put their faith in science that there is no distinction made between, theory, hypothesis, fact and fallacy.
The big bang is a theory that can never be proven scientifically, because there were no human observers at the time the universe burst into existence.  It is generally accepted as a valid explanation of facts that are observable today.  This theory is basically in accord with Genesis 1:1.  However, the time frames that are generally associated with the big bang theory are only hypotheses.  The estimates of the time involved vary widely, with no evidence for any of the estimates.

Evolution, after all these years, is no more than an unproven hypothesis.  Wishful thinking might be a more accurate term.  There has never been a shred of evidence produced of one species evolving into another.  It is not difficult to accept that a Chihuahua and a Newfoundland are both dogs and probably had a common ancestor, but there is zero evidence that a dog ever became a cow or any other type of creature.  It is inconceivable that a fish could become a dry land creature by means of the small incremental mutations essential to evolution.  A fish that developed legs would be asphyxiated out of water.  A fish that developed lungs would drown in the water.

The DNA found in every cell of the body contains more information than the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Why is it that no one believes that the Encyclopaedia Britannica could appear as a result of a series of unconnected, random events, but so many intelligent people believe that DNA developed that way?  It must be that these people are afraid of the consequences of admitting there was some intelligent force at work in creating the universe and the beings that populate the universe.

In recent years, many highly skilled scientists have taken an honest look at the information provided by science and felt compelled to admit that the evidence shows that there must have been a designer.  These scientists, who have become known as the Intelligent Design movement, did not start with certain religious prejudices and try to make the evidence before them fit these prejudices. They have simply expressed the only conclusion that seemed to fit the accumulated evidence.

Their opponents are found among those who are so fully committed to materialistic hypotheses that they feel compelled to twist and select evidence to make it fit their pre-established belief system.  Such an attitude does not merit the label of “scientific.”  It is really a humanistic religion based on the supremacy of man rather than upon science.  Unfortunately, our public education system, at all levels, is founded upon and infused with this religion.
To put it simply, truth never contradicts truth.  The Bible and science are not in conflict.  Neither are there parallel truths, so that we could accept materialistic explanations of our origins and biblical explanations of our destiny.

The evidence of science shows that all that exists is of a level of complexity that can only be explained by the action of a Designer with intelligence far beyond our own.  The Bible tells me who that Designer is.  With the recognition of an Intelligent Designer there comes inescapably the realization that this Designer must have a plan that includes me.  The Bible tells me what that plan is.

No room for a Saviour in evolution

I have felt considerable disappointment  over the past year to read in both Christianity Today and the Christian Research Journal that they appear to be capitulating to the reigning Darwinian dogma.  Both have published articles upholding the belief that the world is millions of years old and that life existed on earth for a very long time before Adam and Eve, whoever they may have been in such a scenario.

Both publications acknowledge the theological problem this creates.  The Bible teaches that death is the result of sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).  If death was occurring for eons before the first human existed, what then are we left with?  Why do we need a Saviour?  Both publications try to wiggle around this problem, but produce no support from the Bible to support their ideas.

Evolution is considered to be scientific fact by many people, including most educators.  However, new discoveries are continually being made about the nature of both animate and inanimate things and these have become an increasing problem for the defenders of Darwinism.  Many highly qualified and respected scientists are saying that the available evidence does not support the hypothesis of evolution.  The simplest living organisms are far too complex to be the result of random mutations.  Even the most basic parts of these living organisms would have required a number of simultaneous mutations.

The same goes for all the forces at work in the inanimate world.  The workings of the solar system and the conditions that make the earth hospitable for life are so intricate that they cannot be the result of pure chance.  Many scientists believe the evidence points to an Intelligent Designer.

Science is a French word meaning knowledge (from the verb scier – to know).  The scientific method was devised as an orderly means of discovering cause and effect in natural phenomena.  One starts with a question about whether such and such a cause could produce such and such an effect.  A hypothesis is formed based on observations, then experiments are performed to test the hypothesis.  If the results appear to confirm a cause and effect relationship, and if these results can be independently replicated by other scientists, then the hypothesis becomes a theory.  Evolution remains an unproven hypothesis.

The question of the origin of sin and death should give us pause when we think of yielding to the pressures of the intellectual establishment.  Yes, a belief in young earth creationism may lead us to be ridiculed as believers in fairy tales.  Nevertheless, we ought to have more confidence in God’s unchanging Word than in the intricate and ever-changing sophistry of “science, falsely so called.”

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