A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 1

I have decided to expand a discussion I began here so as to give a more comprehensive justification for my understanding of issues surrounding the age of the earth and the origin of life, particularly human life.  I am a so-called “young earth creationist,” which means I understand the opening chapters of Genesis to be (more or less) a literal description of how God created the universe and how humanity came to be and subsequently fell into sin.  Working backwards from Abraham (who lived around 2,000 BC) and calculating back to the creation of Adam based on information given in the genealogies of Genesis 1-11, it has been determined that the earth is somewhere around 6,000 years old.  This is considered young in comparison to the prevailing scientific opinions of today, which posit billions of years for the earth’s existence.  In actuality, “young earth” is a misnomer, because if young earth creationism is true, then it is only young in comparison to a fictional theory based on a misunderstanding.  However, I will not quibble over terminology; for convenience I will use the phrase “young earth creationism” to describe my position.

My purpose in this post is simply to lay out two theological-methodological presuppositions that I operate with in order to approach this issue.  Here they are:

1. The Bible is the Word of God written, given to humanity by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  It is trustworthy on all matters it addresses.  As the Baptist Faith and Message says, it has “truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.”  The Bible is not a science textbook, but that does not mean that it does not have implications for scientific issues.  In addition, many theological issues (such as the nature of humanity and the fall into sin) are directly connected to scientific questions related to the age of the earth and Darwinian evolution.  If we exclude the Bible from scientific discussions, we run the risk of impacting our overall theology in a negative, unbiblical way.  Therefore, the divine authority and trustworthiness of the Bible is what I take as my starting point for all subjects of investigation. 

I understand the common retort: “But there are many ways to interpret the Bible, and you are simply assuming that young earth creationism is the correct way.”  Actually, I have not assumed that.  In later posts I will offer arguments for my interpretation of the Bible.  Let me simply point out right now that I am well aware of various approaches to the opening chapters of Genesis.  I know that devout Christians who hold to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture have come to different interpretations than mine.  For now I simply want to assert that Scripture is my starting point, not autonomous human reason.

2. What one decides with regard to the age of the earth and the origin of humanity is not an isolated fragment detached from one’s overall theology.  It is part of a whole worldview, a framework, a web of beliefs that mutually affect one another.  How one approaches Genesis 1-11 has massive implications for the final shape one’s theology will take.  Therefore, scientific questions that overlap with the material of Genesis 1-11 should not be divorced from theology, nor vice versa.  I have heard the argument that we should allow scientific discoveries to impact our interpretation of the Bible.  That may be true to some degree, but on the other hand, scientific data itself is not self-explanatory.  The way we view the world impacts the way we interpret Scripture, but the way we interpret Scripture also impacts the way we view the world.  Our conclusions about certain matters rarely proceed in a step-by-step argument from indubitable premises to indubitable conclusions.  Rather, we fit things into a whole worldview package based largely on how well they cohere with that total package.  I lay all this out here in order to prepare the way for my main argument, which will be unfolded in the upcoming posts: young earth creationism coheres with the totality of the Christian worldview better than any other view.  When I put all the pieces together, I find that young earth creationism best fits the biblical, theological, and scientific data.  It offers the most natural reading of Genesis 1-11, is confirmed by other biblical passages that refer to Genesis 1-11, coheres with the wider teaching about humanity, sin, and redemption, and can be harmonized with modern science if it is allowed to stand in its own integrity rather than being forced into the mold of naturalism.  I plan to argue these points at length in the upcoming posts.  I hope you’ll stay tuned. 

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14 Responses to “A Case for Young Earth Creationism, Part 1”

  1. Bad Says:

    “I find that young earth creationism best fits the biblical, theological, and scientific data.”

    Two out of three isn’t bad, but I don’t see how you can possibly judge scientific data when you just start off with the answer you believe and set as a primary principle that it cannot be incorrect.

  2. Dan Says:

    Bad,
    Come now, I think that you’re giving Aaron too much credit – the biblical data is circular reasoning, theological data is assertion ad infinitum, and creation science is a fairy tale.

    …I’d give Aaron zero out of three.

  3. fenderpooh Says:

    Bad,

    I would argue that no one judges scientific data from a neutral perspective. We all come to it with presuppositions, and most scientists have decided that naturalistic presuppositions are the only valid ones to use. As a Christian, I disagree. To me it is completely unwarranted for a Christian to allow naturalistic presuppositions to form the context for all scientific discussion. That is another way of starting off with a conclusion already in place. Naturalistic scientists have their own unquestionable premises, such as Darwinian evolution. Well, if you start with the premise that life has evolved more or less the way Darwin argued, then you are forced to conclude that the universe is billions of years old. Darwinism is much more than a scientific hypothesis; it is a religion.

    This is why the conversation needs to be broadened so as to encompass the total worldview package. When discussing a question as big as this one, you can’t just say, “This is what science proves” and then go from there. There are too many pieces already in place that are necessary to get you to that statement.

  4. Daniel James Devine Says:

    Good thoughts, “fenderpooh”, and good response to the above comment. As creationists we don’t claim to approach the subject with no presuppositions, but must point out that Darwinists also have them. Darwinists say they are “unbiased” in order to strengthen their supposed evidence for common descent.

  5. Ali Says:

    I don’t see how you can possibly judge scientific data when you just start off with the answer you believe and set as a primary principle that it cannot be incorrect.

    Maybe I understood Bad wrong, but isn’t Aaron doing exactly what scientific study requires, i.e. beginning with a hypothesis and then proving or disproving it? Beginning with a presupposition that one of his resources (the Bible) cannot be incorrect is radcially different from starting off with an answer (read “hypothesis”) that cannot be incorrect. To say that it is shows a complete misunderstanding of the whole post.

  6. digitalartist Says:

    The 6000 years is a genealogical indication in the Bible not a geological one. Yes it says in the Bible that God created everything in seven days but can we attribute them to human days? It is possible that a day for God can be 1,000 – 100,000 or even a larger number of years so that the creation of the earth itself may have been long ago.

    Also, since they have found civilizations older than your figure of 6000 years for the age of the earth (Ex: the civilization about 8000 years ago on the Iran Plateau) that makes the figure inaccurate.

  7. fenderpooh Says:

    Hi Digitalartist,

    You are correct that the figure of approximately 6,000 years is genealogical and not geological. However, if the creation week is understood as a literal week of seven days (with Adam and Eve created on the sixth day), then genealogical records would closely coincide with geological records. I will discuss the meaning of the word “day” in Genesis 1 in an upcoming post.

    With regard to the civilization on the Iran Plateau, I am uninformed about it. I would like to know what was found, what dating methods were used, and what presuppositions lie behind those dating methods.

  8. Bad Says:

    I would argue that no one judges scientific data from a neutral perspective.

    While this is true, it really doesn’t support what you want it to. Science is a process of weeding out things like bias the best way we know how: by forcing everyone to put their views through the ringer of evidence, retesting, and criticism from all sides.

    The different perspective you are advocating essentially undermines not just the interpretation of evidence, but the very CONCEPT of evidence:

    We all come to it with presuppositions, and most scientists have decided that naturalistic presuppositions are the only valid ones to use.

    I’ve heard this many times before, and each time I have to point out that it is misleading. What scientists do is start from the ground up: we work off the basic principles that underly our common experience of physical reality, and see what working those out can tell us.

    This is not the same thing as philosophically ruling out things outside of what we can establish by evidence, but it is a methodological recognition that once we all agree to an empirical framework in the first place, only testible claims and evidence can really play any sensible role.

    Once you start introducing things like magic into this system, it breaks down because anything becomes possible and justifiable, and there is no way to distinguish truth from falsehood: ad hoc suggestions can save any position at all.

    As a Christian, I disagree. To me it is completely unwarranted for a Christian to allow naturalistic presuppositions to form the context for all scientific discussion.

    If so, then you are not really asking to have a scientific discussion at all. There is no science without empiricism. Period. This is what most Christians in the world recognize, so I don’t see how you can claim anything about “as a Christian” since it must be something peculiar to your sort of Christianity or belief, not Christianity as a whole.

    That is another way of starting off with a conclusion already in place.

    While it’s true that any system of inquiry must start off with certain premises, the premises of science happen to be the very same ones that undergird any discussion of common fact or reality. You can deny those premises if you wish, but in doing so, you instantly invalidate pretty much every piece of knowledge about anything. Worse, it makes very suspicious you even typing into a computer to respond to me: without the basic premises of the natural world agreed to, that action makes no sense at all.

    Naturalistic scientists have their own unquestionable premises, such as Darwinian evolution

    Falsehood. Evolution is not a premise, but rather a conclusion based on the convergence of countless lines of evidence and the non-existence of significant invalidating evidence.

    It could be easily thrown into disarray tomorrow by a single fossil that, say, violates cladistic trait ancestry principles. But somehow, that never happens, and every single fossil found, genome sequenced, and so on, all fit into the same very unlikely pattern that only makes sense if all living things are ancestrally related in a very particular family tree.

    Well, if you start with the premise that life has evolved more or less the way Darwin argued, then you are forced to conclude that the universe is billions of years old.

    Again, that Darwin turned out to be largely correct is not a premise, but a conclusion based on evidence. The age of universe isn’t even directly related, evidentially, to his theories: it too is confirmed by countless different lines of evidence that all converge on the same overall pattern: a convergence that you cannot simply dismiss as “interpretation.” IF you accept the basic principles of the physical reality you and I both live in, and IF you follow the evidence in the exact same way you would follow physical evidence in any other venue, you cannot avoid these conclusions except by misrepresenting the evidence, making faulty arguments, or basically trying to undermine reality and introduce ad hoc magic (but of course, if you can do that, so can anyone, and then anything becomes true or possible).

    Nor, of course, is Darwin directly relevant to modern science in the sense of an ongoing authority.

    Darwinism is much more than a scientific hypothesis; it is a religion.

    Balderdash. This is a common catchphrase, but it doesn’t make a lick of sense. I’m sure evolutionary scientists who are also Christians would be amused by the accusation that they have two religions though.

    This is why the conversation needs to be broadened so as to encompass the total worldview package. When discussing a question as big as this one, you can’t just say, “This is what science proves” and then go from there. There are too many pieces already in place that are necessary to get you to that statement.

    Well yes: you have to assume that the person you are talking to agrees that kicking a solid brick wall as hard as you can will hurt your foot. But, I guess, if that person accepts arguments like “well, you didn’t actually kick the wall: the entire universe came into existence a second ago complete with your memory of kicking and hurting, so therefore you have no grounds to assume that any kicks to any brick walls ever will have that result” then I suppose that we do have to broaden our conversation.

    But if so, those ideas belong in philosophy discussions, since they are no longer scientific in any sense of the word.

  9. fenderpooh Says:

    Good response. Here is where I take issue:

    “What scientists do is start from the ground up: we work off the basic principles that underly our common experience of physical reality, and see what working those out can tell us.”

    On most scientific issues, where you are working in a closed system, that is fine. But here we’re talking about something totally unique and unrepeatable (the origin of the universe itself). If we do not see fit to turn to philosophical/religious convictions on this question (perhaps one of the most important philosophical/theolgical questions out there), then some kind of practical atheism controls the whole discussion. “Bottom up” reasoning can’t lead a person to ultimate truth; our minds are corrupted by sin, and we need divine revelation.

    “Once you start introducing things like magic into this system, it breaks down because anything becomes possible and justifiable, and there is no way to distinguish truth from falsehood: ad hoc suggestions can save any position at all.”

    Not true. I’m not arguing for “magic” or “anything’s possible.” I am not making off-the-wall statements and claiming that, because they are unfalsifiable, they must be true. I am drawing from Holy Scripture, the Word of God written. Remember my first presupposition. That in itself offers some parameters to the discussion and limits it. If you don’t buy my first presupposition, then we need to have another discussion sometime about Scripture itself; I’m quite sure that this one will be fairly meaningless to you because you won’t share my starting place (I say “if” here because I don’t know what view you have of the Bible). If you place Scripture on the same level as someone who claims that the universe came into existence a second ago complete with my memory of kicking a wall and hurting, then I’m quite sure I have no hope of persuading you.

    As for evolution, I know there are a number of difficulties with the theory, such as the problem of irreducible complexity. My hunch is that the compelling nature of the evidence for it (in the minds of most scientists) is only compelling because of the failure of any naturalistic alternative to compete with it. But what if all life exists because God created it the way it is described in Genesis 1? We would be stupid to search for a naturalistic explanation if there is none to be found.

    I suggest that you read C.S. Lewis’s book “Miracles.” It’s an excellent treatment of the subject, arguing that the Christian worldview recognizes the basic regularity of nature but allows for exceptions of divine intervention. This is the only worldview in which science makes sense at all, because if we ourselves are only the products of blind chance, then how can we know anything for sure? What basis do we have to trust our own senses and reasoning abilities? What if my thoughts are nothing more than random molecules banging around in my head according to a blind, deterministic process? I wouldn’t have much reasoning to trust them, then. (If I’m not mistaken, however, I think Lewis did believe in evolution; but even the brightest get some things wrong).

    If contemporary naturalistic scientists want to say that I am not really dealing with science at all because I don’t pursue this question from the ground up, then I will gladly bid farewell to the scientific establishment. I am accountable to God, not to them.

  10. Bad Says:

    But here we’re talking about something totally unique and unrepeatable (the origin of the universe itself).

    Science cannot speak to the origin of the universe: there is simply no evidence to go on. If you have a personal theology that speaks to that question, that’s fine: what’s not fine is to pretend that it is scientific in any meaningful sense.

    If we do not see fit to turn to philosophical/religious convictions on this question (perhaps one of the most important philosophical/theolgical questions out there), then some kind of practical atheism controls the whole discussion. “Bottom up” reasoning can’t lead a person to ultimate truth; our minds are corrupted by sin, and we need divine revelation.

    Again, while you can make that argument, it is not a scientific argument based on evidence, but rather a theological argument based on your particular belief system and presuppositions. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but of course if you have your beliefs, others can have radically different beliefs, and since these are not scientific questions, there is no evidence that can choose between them all.

    Not true. I’m not arguing for “magic” or “anything’s possible.” I am not making off-the-wall statements and claiming that, because they are unfalsifiable, they must be true. I am drawing from Holy Scripture, the Word of God written.

    And anyone else could simply draw from whatever beliefs they have. Again, this has long ago left the realm of science. Introducing absolute assertions of top-down truths is inherently scientific: you cannot reconcile the two methods, because it destroys scientific inquiry to do so. Anyone can introduce any number of other beliefs. I’m sorry that you don’t like being lumped in with “last-secondism” but unfortunately that is

    As for evolution, I know there are a number of difficulties with the theory, such as the problem of irreducible complexity.

    Simply because someone believes that there is a difficulty does not mean that this criticism actually holds water (and in this case, I don’t think it does).

    But even this is a side issue: even the complete failure of evolutionary theory against the evidence validate any particular religious beliefs scientifically. Again, science cannot deal with the untestable and still be science. If science can only get us so far, and cannot reach your “truths” then this is, indeed, a limitation of science. But do not try to corrupt the process simply to jump ahead to the conclusions you want to get to.

    My hunch is that the compelling nature of the evidence for it (in the minds of most scientists) is only compelling because of the failure of any naturalistic alternative to compete with it. But what if all life exists because God created it the way it is described in Genesis 1? We would be stupid to search for a naturalistic explanation if there is none to be found.

    Again, this has to be placed on par with any and all other untestable claims, along with “what if all life exists because it was created two seconds ago for no reason at all?”

    The fact is that the evidence solidly refutes, for instance, creationist beliefs in a young earth. It very very strongly validates ancestral relations between all living things.

    It’s true that if you could simply introduce the ability of a being that could do literally anything at all could explain away any and all evidence of these things. But that’s exactly the point: it could explain away ANY evidence: hence invalidating the very concept of using evidence to establish anything.

    You seem to think that you can introduce such concepts without opening the door to anything but your own beliefs. Even if this didn’t by itself simply destroy the concept of scientific inquiry, this is simply philosophically invalid: you cannot specially plead exceptions for yourself that are not allowed for anyone else.

    This is the only worldview in which science makes sense at all, because if we ourselves are only the products of blind chance,

    This is both a false understanding of what science suggests as well as a classic example of the genetic fallacy, and error in reasoning.

    then how can we know anything for sure? What basis do we have to trust our own senses and reasoning abilities? What if my thoughts are nothing more than random molecules banging around in my head according to a blind, deterministic process?

    Either we consider our senses to provide reasonably reliable (though not infaliable) guides to an external reality which exists whether we believe in it or not, or we reject this idea (and note that science does not offer anything “for sure,” it is based on the best we can work out by using evidence). If we accept it, we’ve accepted everything we need to speak sensibly, in context, about it.

    If you simply reject it, however, then you have no grounds for any particular belief period. Any view is equally likely, and I’m afraid that even applies to your understanding of Scripture or Lewis’ in miracles, as much as you would like to reserve special treatment for yourselves.

    If contemporary naturalistic scientists want to say that I am not really dealing with science at all because I don’t pursue this question from the ground up, then I will gladly bid farewell to the scientific establishment. I am accountable to God, not to them.

    That’s your choice: you can believe anything you want, as can anyone who wishes to believe any other thing. But still, the point you must grasp is that there is no way for you to create a special science that somehow includes your religious beliefs as central premises. Doing so invalidates the scientific method right off the bat.

    Be accountable to God. Just do not pretend that science can be anything other than it is: an inquiry based on evidence that is objectively verifiable to all of us in common, rather than beliefs held only by some.

  11. Bad Says:

    Hmmm… I appear to have botched a blockquote tag somewhere. I apologize: please add it if possible.

  12. fenderpooh Says:

    You wrote:

    “Either we consider our senses to provide reasonably reliable (though not infaliable) guides to an external reality which exists whether we believe in it or not, or we reject this idea (and note that science does not offer anything ‘for sure,’ it is based on the best we can work out by using evidence). If we accept it, we’ve accepted everything we need to speak sensibly, in context, about it.”

    Right on. You continued:

    “If you simply reject it, however, then you have no grounds for any particular belief period. Any view is equally likely, and I’m afraid that even applies to your understanding of Scripture or Lewis’ in miracles, as much as you would like to reserve special treatment for yourselves.”

    Yes, right on. Now let me clarify why I brought up that point. If I adopt the naturalistic worldview, then on what basis can I assume that my senses are reliable? I can’t. My senses are only the products of blind chance. My reasoning ability is nothing more than molecules banging around in my head. I infer things like causality, but who is to say that my inference corresponds to the real world? Science (i.e., “knowledge,” which is what the word means) does not exist without an adequate epistemological foundation. To this point, naturalism has not provided a satisfactory account for how we can know anything at all. It simply borrows capital from the Christian worldview to make its claims about the reliability about sensory perception and human reason. But now that atheism has risen in philosophical prominence (through Nietzsche, Heideggar, Derrida, etc.), the whole framework within which science is done has been questioned. Knowledge itself is now an uncertainty in the postmodern world. Science took root in Christian soil. Now that the soil has largely eroded in western society, the scientific enterprise will begin to crumble.

    Now, I don’t buy into postmodernism. I believe (probably like you, it seems) that our senses are reliable. But I have good reason to believe this. My belief in the reliability of the senses is based on my belief in God, who created human beings in his image to rule the earth under his authority. Given these foundational beliefs, it is quite natural to assume that God gave us mental equipment capable of putting us in touch with the world he made. If I didn’t believe in God, consistency would demand that I abandon belief in the reliability of my senses to put me in touch with the real world. (A few atheistic thinkers who have seen more clearly the consequences of atheism have come to that conclusion; most atheists haven’t because of the absurdity of it. Most atheists continue to live in some ways as though they do, after all, believe in God).

    There is no science (i.e., “knowledge”) without God. For scientists to exclude God from the equation a priori is to cut off the branch on which they are sitting.

    But how shall we arbitrate between competing claims for the supernatural? That goes way beyond my purpose of discussion here, so I can’t give a full treament. But I would take that discussion, again, back to worldview issues. Does the Christian worldview, based on the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, make better sense of the world than all of its competitors? I believe it does. I believe the person of Jesus Christ (who was indisputably a historical figure who has impacted the world enormously) cannot be explained in any framework other than a biblical, Christian framework. I believe my own understanding of myself and of human nature in general cannot be explained by anything but Scripture. We know there is something wonderful about us as human beings, and yet we also know by intution and experience that there is something terribly wrong with the human race. Only the Christian story provides a satisfying account of humanity’s dignity, corruption, and restoration through Jesus Christ.

  13. Rafael Says:
    The source of all evil, the irrational atheist who blatantly impose on families a mechanism of unbelief that leads to murderous intolerance. Without rational force in their views because and atheist will never study seriously the subject of God. Atheists are teaching our children their ignorance which promote crime, lies, and have created today’s system of immorality. Rafael The first subject we are confronted with is God.Let us read a few verses from the Bible. Psalm 14:1 of the Old Testament says, “The fool has said in his heart,/There is no God.” This sentence may also be translated as “The fool does not want God in his heart.” The result of saying this can be found in the second sentence of the same verse: “They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds.”Let us also take a passage from the New Testament. Hebrews 11:6 says, “For he who comes forward to God must believe that He is.”THREE KINDS OF PEOPLEWhether you claim to be a Christian, a non-believer, or a seeker after truth, we will start by examining the subject of God. In this respect the world is divided into three camps. The first is that of the atheists who do not believe in a God. The second consists of the agnostics. They have no sure knowledge about the deity. On the one hand, they dare not say there is no God, but on the other hand, they are not clear if God does exist. We belong to the third category of those who believe in God.PROSECUTIONIs there a God? I will not try to say yes or no to this question. Rather, I will make this place a law court. I will ask you to be the judge, and I will be the prosecutor. The work of a judge is to make decisions, to approve or disapprove the truth of statements; the work of a prosecutor is to present all the evidence and arguments that he can possibly gather.Before we proceed, we have to be clear about one fact: all prosecutors are not eyewitnesses of crimes. They are not policemen. A policeman may personally witness an event, whereas a prosecutor obtains his information only indirectly. He places all the charges, evidence, and arguments collected before the judge. In the same way, I shall present before you everything that I can possibly find. If you ask whether I have seen God or not, I would say “no.” I am reading or demonstrating what I have gathered. My job is to search for facts and to call for witnesses. You are to arrive at a conclusion yourself.QUALIFICATIONSMany people assert that there is no God. As a prosecutor I ask you first to check the qualification of these people. Are they qualified to make such claims? Are those who assert that there is no God moral or immoral? Do not just listen to their arguments. Even robbers and swindlers have their arguments. Of course, the arguments support them as robbers and swindlers. The subject of their arguments may be very noble; they may talk about the state of the nations and the welfare of society, but their opinions cannot be seriously considered. They are not worthy of passing such judgments. If a man is upright in his conduct and moral judgment, we can give credibility to his words, but if not, his words lose their credibility. This is especially true when it relates to the question of deity. It is interesting to note that the moral standards of men are directly related to their concept about God. Those who admit their own ignorance have a passable standard, while insistent atheists invariably have a low level of moral responsibility. I do not claim to know all atheists, but of the several thousand that I know, none of them possess a notably commendable morality. You may tell me that there was once a moral atheist, but if there was one, he is dead. Or you may tell me that there will be a moral atheist, but whoever he may be, he is not here yet. At least we can say that for now, we do not know a moral atheist.NO ATHEIST IS MORALOnce at a gathering at the University of Nanking, I remarked that no atheist is moral. There were many students on the campus who did not believe in God. They were greatly offended by these words. The next day, while I was speaking, they came and shuffled their feet in an attempt to distract me and the audience. The next day when they came again, they made funny gestures and faces at me and carried on continuously throughout the speaking. On the fourth day the vice-president of the university, Dr. Williams, came and said to me, “We had better change the place of meeting. These students are infuriated by your assertion on the first day that atheists are not moral. Today they are not going to use their feet and lips only; they are going to use their fists. I heard that they will be waiting at the entrance of the hallway and will jump on you when you step in.” I went along with the arrangement and conducted the meeting at another place. On the way to the meeting I walked alongside many students and listened to their conversations. Although many did not agree with me and felt uneasy about my preaching, they wanted to come back. One among them remarked, “Mr. Nee said that people who have no God have no sense of moral responsibility. This is perfectly right. How can anyone with moral decency shuffle his feet and jest while others are delivering a speech? Yesterday they caused such a disturbance in the meeting, and today they are going to come to fight. This is surely not what an honorable person would do. There is no doubt that those who do not believe in God do not have moral decency. Let us go to the meeting regardless of what they plan to do.”Once a young man told a preacher, “When I was young, I seriously believed in God. But now that I am in college. I can no longer believe in Him.” The fifty-year-old preacher patted the young man’s shoulder and said, “My son, you do not believe in God anymore! Let me ask you a question: Since you have been converted to be an atheist, have you advanced morally? Has atheism helped you become better? Has it made your thoughts cleaner or your heart purer? Or did it make you just the opposite?” That young man felt ashamed. He admitted that he had gone downhill morally since his denial of God. The preacher pressed on: “I am afraid that you are not really saying that you believe there is no God, you are just hoping that there is no God.”DO NOT JUDGE ACCORDING TO HOPEMany people are not really convinced that there is no God; they merely hope so. They would rather that there were no God in the universe. For them it would be much more convenient in respect to many things.I myself was one of those people. When I was a student I claimed that there was no God. Although I was extremely strong in my claim, something within me seemed to be protesting and saying, “There is a God.” I knew deep in my heart that God exists. But my lips refused to admit this so that I could have an excuse for sinning. By declaring the nonexistence of God, going to sinful places was justifiable. If there were no God, I would become bold to sin. When you believe in God, you dare not do certain things. When you do away with God, you feel free to commit the worst sins without any fear whatsoever. If you sincerely hope to raise your moral standard by asserting the nonexistence of God, then your arguments are still plausible. However, the only reason men claim that there is no God is for an excuse for lawlessness, immorality, license, and indecency. For this reason, their whole argument is not worthy of consideration. The question is, “Are you qualified to claim that there is no God?” If your hope is merely for an escape from justice, you have lost your ground already.IS MAN THE GREATEST?One day a young man came to me and said, “I do not believe in a so-called God. Man is the greatest. He is the noblest among all creatures. There is no God in this universe; man is everything.” We were sitting opposite each other. After hearing what he said, I stood up, went to one side of the room, stooped down, and gazed at him intently. I said, “You are really great!” Then I walked to the other side of the room and looked at him from another angle. “That is right,” I said deliberately; “You are great! In Kiangsu province there are thirty million who are like you. There are at least four hundred million of your kind in China. The world contains only two billion who are the same as you are. Do you realize that during the last few days there has been a flood in the south? The dykes along the river are in jeopardy. The whole population in Hsing Hwa with more than two hundred thousand people have been recruited and rushed to the dykes in a panic. They are carrying earth with them to reinforce the banks. The repair work is still going on.”Suppose that the world is recruited to hollow out the sun. A hole is drilled through the surface, and everyone has to remove a load from the inside. Assuming that no one will be burned to ashes, do you think that they can do the job? Even if all the people themselves were inside, they would not fill up the sun. That is not all. If you put several hundred planets the size of Earth inside and started shaking it, you would still find that the sun would be very empty inside. How many suns are there in the universe? Do you realize that the number of solar systems is in the hundreds of millions?”HOW VAST IS THE UNIVERSE?I then said to the young man, “And here you are! You have not even walked through the whole earth, and yet you consider yourself greater than the whole universe. Let me ask you, do you know how vast the universe is? Take light for example. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Try to calculate how far light travels in one minute, or one hour, or a day, or a year. There are some stars whose light takes three thousand years to reach us. Go and work out how far they are from us! And you think you are so great! I would therefore advise all atheists and young men alike to admit the incompetency of man not only morally, but intellectually and academically as well.”CAN MAN EXTEND BEYOND THE BOUNDSOF TIME AND SPACE?Another time when I was in Kaifeng, I met another one of those young, stout atheists. I walked up to him and patted him on the shoulder, saying, “I saw God today!” He stared at me in curiosity and demanded a further word. I replied, “You are God! If you know that there is no God, then you have to be God.” He asked for an explanation. I said, “Since you are convinced that there is no God, you must have traveled over the whole earth. If God is not in Shanghai, He may still be in Nanking. You must have been to both places. That is not all. If God is not in Nanking, He may be in Tientsin. You must also have been to Tientsin. But you cannot draw this conclusion simply by being in China; God may be in another country. So you must have been to every country on this earth. If God is not in one place, He may be in another. Therefore, you must have traveled throughout the world. One never knows if God is hiding at the North Pole or the South Pole, or in the woods or wilderness somewhere. So you must have combed through all those regions as well. If God is not found on earth, He may be found on the moon. You therefore must have been to the moon. God may also be on other planets or in outer space. This means that you have traveled through space and all the other galaxies as well. If you can say that there is no God, it must mean that you have traveled throughout the whole universe. If this is the case, you must be God yourself.”This is not all. Even though you know that God does not exist in Shanghai today, how about yesterday? Perhaps God will come tomorrow. You say that you know there is no God today, but what about last year? And how do you know that God will not come next year? You say that there is no God this year, but what about a thousand years ago? Very well, you must be an everlasting one who knows everything about the past and future. You have to be a being beyond time and space. You must be in Tientsin and in another country at the same time; you must be omnipresent from the east to the west, from the North Pole to the South Pole. Who else but you can be the very God? If you are not God, you can never be qualified to say that there is no God.”THE EVIDENCESome will immediately step back and say, “I have never said that I know there is no God. One can never tell whether there is a God or not.” Well, if you cannot give a conclusion, I will ask witnesses whom I consider trustworthy to present arguments to you and prove the existence of God. Again let me say this, you are the judge, and I am the prosecutor. I am presenting only the evidence before you. Decide for yourself if there is a God.THE UNIVERSEFirst, look at nature, the world that is before our eyes and every phenomenon in it. We all know that scientific knowledge is the rational explanation of natural phenomena. For example, there is an observed drop in the temperature of a patient. The drop in temperature is a phenomenon, and the explanation for it is scientific knowledge. When an apple falls from the tree, it is a phenomenon. Why does an apple not fly into the air? The explanation for this phenomenon constitutes knowledge. A man with knowledge is a man who has the proper explanations.ONLY TWO EXPLANATIONSThe universe displays countless phenomena of diverse forms, colors, shapes, and nature. We cannot fail to notice these phenomena before our eyes. The explanation for all these phenomena is known as knowledge. All thoughtful persons have only two explanations as far as the origin of the universe is concerned; there is no third explanation. You have to take one or the other of them.What are these two explanations? The first says that the universe came into being through natural evolution and self-interaction; the second attributes its origin to a personified Being with intellect and purpose. These are the only two explanations presented by all philosophers of the world. There is not a third one.Where did the universe come from? Did it come into existence by itself or through chance? Or was it designed by the One from whom we derive the concept of God? You have to think and then make a decision about it. Everything that is by chance has certain characteristics. I would suggest you list all of these in a detailed way, the more the better, and then compare all the phenomena of the universe with your list. Alongside of this make another list of the characteristics which, in your opinion, would be prominent if the universe were created by an intelligent Being. Now by a simple comparison of nature with your two lists, it will be easy to draw a reasonable conclusion.CHANCE EVENTSWhat are the characteristics of things that come about by chance? First, we know that they are unorganized. At the most they can be partially integrated. They can never be totally organized. One can achieve a specified goal by chance once, but he can never achieve a specified goal by chance all the time. Anything that comes together by chance can only be integrated partially, never totally. For example, if I throw this chair to the other side of the room, by chance it may come to rest at a perfect angle. If I do the same with a second chair, it may also lie neatly beside the first one. But this will not keep on happening with the third and the fourth and so on. Chance can only provide partial organization. It does not guarantee total integration. Furthermore, all random interactions are aimless, disorganized, and purposeless. They are without order and structure; they are loose, formless, disorderly, and not directed toward any meaningful purpose. Briefly, we can say that the characteristics of chance events are disharmony, irregularity, inconsistency, purposelessness, and insignificance. We will write down these four characteristics on our list.CONSISTENCY AND ORGANIZATIONNow let us compare the things in the universe with these characteristics. Take, for example, the human being. He is carried in his mother’s womb for nine months and delivered; he grows up and eventually dies. This cycle is repeated for every single individual. Consistency can be observed. It is not a wild game of chance. Again, look at the sun above your head. It does not exist purposelessly. Rather, it has its purpose and significance. Look at the moon, the stars, and the myriads of galaxies through your telescope. Some stars have their own planets. They all follow definite tracks and patterns. They are all organized. Their manner of motion can be calculated and predicted. The calendar in your hand is derived from them. Even next year’s calendar can be printed before this year is past. All these show that the universe is organized, consistent, and purposeful.MICROORGANISMSLet us turn to the micro-world. Take a thin slice of wood. Put it under a microscope and observe its grain and structure, all meticulously regular and rhythmic. Even a blade of grass and the petal of a flower are finely fashioned. Nothing is unorganized or confused. Everything is disciplined and functional. All these things witness one fact to you: the universe, with its macro and micro aspects, is purposeful and meaningful. Can you say that all these came into existence by chance? Surely you cannot.IS IT OCCUPIED?Once I was preaching the gospel with a co-worker of mine in a village. On the way back we were extremely thirsty. There was neither a teahouse nor stream for us to get water. In fact the whole area was uninhabited. After walking for a while we came across a thatched hut. We went to the door quickly and knocked. For a long time there was no answer. We thought that no one lived there. When we opened the door and went in, we found that the floor was swept clean. In one of the rooms was a bed with nicely folded sheets. There was a teapot on the table, and the tea in it was still warm. I said, “Surely someone must be living here. All the arrangements indicate beyond doubt that this place is occupied by someone. We should not drink this tea. We must get out quickly or else people will think we are thieves.” We walked out and waited for the owner to return.By observing the arrangements of the house, we concluded that someone was living there, without having seen the occupant. In the same way, we know that God is there by the arrangement of everything in the universe, although we cannot see Him. Every single phenomenon of nature is so balanced, organized, meaningful, and functional. You may say that they come by chance, but it is impossible for me to believe that chance is its sole originator. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart,/There is no God.” Only foolish people can say in their hearts that there is no God.CHANCE OR DESIGNThe universe has to be created by Someone with profound wisdom, vast knowledge, and intricate design. If you cannot accept the concept of random formation of the universe, you have to admit that it was created by such a God. There cannot be a third explanation. The choice is left to you. You have to decide if the universe came by chance or whether it was created by God.A DEMAND AND ITS OBJECTOne witness may not be enough. I will call in another. This time we will consider man’s heart. Before doing so, we should also observe one fact: wherever there is a desire, there must first be an object for that desire. For example, an orphan who has never seen his father naturally has a desire for a kind of paternal love. I have asked many people who were orphans, and they all have felt this irrepressible yearning. By this we can see that every desire of the heart arises out of an object in the world.As human beings we have a need for social belonging. We need companionship and mutuality. If you put a boy on a deserted island and he grows up alone, he still has the yearning for companions, for beings like himself, even though he has never seen a human being. This yearning or desire is the very proof that somewhere in the world there is something known as “man.” At a certain age, man begins to think about posterity; he starts desiring children and grandchildren. This is not a mere fantasy. This desire stems out of the existence and possibility of offspring. Hence, where there is desire, there is an object for that desire.THERE IS GOD IN THE HEARTDo we have any desires other than social identity and self-propagation? What other cravings do we have? Deep in everyone there is a craving for God. Whether they are highly civilized races, such as those among the Caucasians, or the ancient civilizations, such as the Chinese civilizations, or the African natives and uncultured aborigines, they all have a common craving –God. As long as they are men, they have a yearning for God, no matter what race or nationality. This is a fact. You cannot argue against it. Everyone is seeking after God. Everywhere man is craving for God. This is very clear.By applying the principle that we just mentioned, we can see that since our heart feels the need for a God, there must necessarily be a God in the universe. Since there is a need for God in the heart, there must be the existence of God in the universe. If no God exists, we would never have such a craving in our heart. We all have an appetite for food. In the same way, we all have an appetite for God. It would be impossible to live if there was only an appetite for food but no food. Likewise, it would be impossible to live if there was a capacity for God but no God.NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOD?Once an atheist rudely rebuked me in a loud voice: “You said that a man has the psychological need for a God. But there is no such thing, and I do not believe in it.” I said, “Well, do you mean to say that you never think about God? In fact, even while you were talking, you were thinking about Him. This indicates that you do have a capacity for God. There is no one who has never thought about God. He may try not to think much about Him. Since this thought is in you, there must be such an object outside of you.”THE WORDS AND THE HEARTA young man once came to me to argue about God. He was vehemently against the existence of God. He gave me one reason after another for saying that there is no God. As he was enumerating the various reasons why God should not exist, I listened to him quietly without saying a word. Then I said, “Although you insist that there is no God and support yourself with so many arguments, you have lost your case already.” He said, “What do you mean?” I went on to explain: “Your mouth can say as much as you want about there not being a God, but your heart is on my side.” He had to agree with me. Although one can give all sorts of reasons in the head, there is a belief in the heart that no argument can defeat. A stubborn person may give a thousand and one reasons, but you can have the boldness to tell him, “You know better in your heart that there is a God. Why bother to look for evidence outside?”Now what would you say? After looking at nature and the universe, after checking with your inner feeling, it is up to you to decide whether or not there is a God. But you should not be irresponsible; your attitude must be sober because everyone has to meet God soon. One day you will all stand before Him. Everything concerning yourself will be laid bare. On that day you will know God. But now is the time for you to be prepared. We should all be prepared to meet our God posted by SOWER @ 9:58 AM 0 Comments Links to this post CONSIDER THIS SCIENTIFICALLY AND OBJECTIVLY I shall begin by assuming that the issue of God’s existence is settled. We all believe that there is a God. As those who desire to know the truth, we must go one step further to find out what kind of God He is. God is the greatest Unknown. We must spend some time to find out about this unknown One. The next step now is to know what kind of a God He is.In the past few thousand years man has been inquiring about the nature of God. Is He kind or is He righteous? Is He indifferent towards us, or is He extremely interested in human affairs? These types of questions are the direct cause of all human religions. What is religion? Religion is man’s inquiry about God and his explanation of Him. Through these explanations, different men have arrived at different concepts about God. What kind of God is He? This is a big question. It is also a very serious question. We have all given our thought to this subject at one time or another. The question might even have occurred to our little mind when we were five years old. All men, educated or ignorant, have been intrigued by this question. It comes naturally after some contemplation and observation.But a person trying to speculate about God is like an ant attempting to understand a human being. It is extremely difficult for the little creature to try to realize our life, nature, and mind. In the same way it is impossible for us to try to comprehend God. For this reason, in the past few thousand years, all kinds of people, theologians and philosophers alike, have done much thinking about Him. What has God been doing all this time? Has He been indifferent to us or has He tried to reveal Himself to us? What is God’s attitude? Do you think He would say, “I am God and have nothing to do with human beings. I do not care what you think about Me. I shall stay in heaven as God. Let the mortals be ignorant!” Or do you think He has a desire to reveal Himself to man and visit him?When I was in India, I saw some people lying naked on beds studded with nails. Some walked with bare feet on burning coals. These people devoted a great deal of energy to seeking after God. What has God done to them? Did He hide Himself and take no notice of them at all? Has He not kept Himself as a perpetual mystery? This is a great question. We have to consider it scientifically and objectively in order to find out what God is like.A few years ago I spoke on a similar subject to some medical students in an auditorium in Cheloo University. I said that man is an organism with a life. God also is a life. Man’s life is higher than that of the lower animals, and God’s life is even higher than that of man. I asked the students, “Since we realize that all living organisms have some common laws and express some common traits, can you name them?” Different ones then started to bring up different points. At the end we summed up the discussion in this way: all living organisms contain two common characteristics. You can call these characteristics their common expressions or their common laws. First, every life wants to preserve itself. It tends to reproduce itself. There is the ability to produce posterity, to continue its own life. Second, every life wants to have fellowship with other lives. It cannot stand being by itself. When a man cannot find fellowship with another human being, he goes to dogs, cats, fish, or birds and makes friends with animals. All living creatures desire fellowship.Based on these two characteristics of life, namely, the preservation of itself and fellowship with others, laws of human government are instituted. For example, the death penalty reflects a convict’s desire to preserve his own life; punishment comes in the form of taking away and terminating such a life. This is the way to inflict suffering on a life. Imprisonment, as a less serious punishment, cuts him off from having fellowship with others. This reversal of the life principle becomes then a suffering for him. From this we see that punishment is applied according to the principles of life.With these two chief characteristics in mind, let us turn to the life of God. God is an organism of a higher order than human beings. He is naturally governed by this law of life. We can know God by the characteristics and distinctive features of His life. From this we can deduce whether or not God wants to have fellowship with man.There are two kinds of religion: religion based on natural concepts and religion based on revelation. Natural religion starts with man as the center. He is the one that is seeking after God and studying about Him. What then is revelational religion? Revelational religion comes directly from God. He is the One who comes to reveal things to us. Man’s thoughts are often useless fancies. God’s revelation alone is trustworthy. Christianity is different from all other natural religions in that it is a religion that comes from revelation. Christianity begins from God. It is God who comes to seek out man, rather than man who seeks after God.I will not try to persuade you to believe in Christianity or to read the Bible. I will only make a few suppositions. We will treat the subject in the same way as if we were solving a problem in geometry. We will start from the suppositions and then deduce our arguments step by step. We will examine our reasonings to see if they are sound and if our conclusions are logical. As in mathematics, with some problems we work forwards, while with others we work backwards. At any rate, in the end we should be able to tell whether or not a supposition is justified.We have to make a few suppositions. The first one is that God exists. This in fact has been covered by us already. We have agreed that there is a God. He is a Being who has a purpose.Second, we assume that God has a desire to reveal Himself to man. If God wants to reveal Himself to man and if He wants us to know Him, how does He do it? In what manner can He be made known to us? If He speaks to us through thunder or writes to us through lightning, we will not be able to comprehend His message. How then does God make Himself known to us?If He is to reveal Himself and if He wants us to know Him, He necessarily must do it through human means. What then are the common ways that men communicate with one another? First, they do it through speaking and second through writing. All means of communication, whether telegraph, telephone, sign, or symbols, are all included in these two categories. If God is to manifest Himself, these are the only two means for Him to do so. For the present we set aside the aspect of speaking; we will see how God communicates with us through writing.If God reveals Himself through writing, of all the volumes written by different people throughout the centuries, there must be one book which is divinely inspired. This is a very crucial test. If such a book exists, it proves not only the existence of God, but it contains His written revelation to us as well. Is there then such a divinely written book?In the search for such a book, let us first mention a few basic principles. Suppose I want to order a book from a publisher. If I can tell him the name and author of the book, there will be no trouble getting it. If, however, I forget the name and author of the book, I can describe the characteristics of it to the publisher, such as the contents, size, color, binding, etc. The publisher will then search through all his books and locate the volume I want. God has one book in this universe. How do we find it? We have to know its characteristics first. If there is any book that has been written by God, it must meet certain conditions or have certain qualifications before one can say that it is from God.Let me put forth a few propositions. If there is a book written by God, it must first of all mention God. It must tell you that it is from God and that its author is God. This is the first qualification. Second, it must carry a moral tone that is higher than what we commonly know. If it is a fabrication, it can at the most be on the same level as man. Third, if there is such a divine book, it must tell us about the past and the future of this world. Only God knows clearly what occurred in the past and what will happen in the future. Only by telling us these matters will we know Him as God. Fourth, this book must be simple and available so that all may be able to secure and understand it. If there were only one such book in the world, then only a very few people would be able to see it. It would not pass the test unless it is a book accessible to everyone. In the United States there is a group of people who claim to have a book from God. It is engraved in gold and contains only twelve pages. Such a book then would not be accessible to the Chinese. God would never write to us a book at which we could not look.Now the matter is simplified. Let us repeat these four conditions once more. (1) If such a book exists, it must tell us explicitly that its author is God. (2) It must carry a high tone of morality. (3) It must give a detailed description of the past and the future of the universe. (4) It must be available. Let us pick out some of the more important writings throughout human civilization and check them against these qualifications to see if any meets our requirements.We will start from books that are generally considered to be good. Let us take the Chinese classics of Confucius. They are immediately disqualified under the first requirement, for none of them claims to be written by God. They do have a high tone of morality, but they fail to give the origin and destiny of the world, the universe, and man. This does not mean that they are worthless books; it means that they do not contain the qualifications we want. They are not what we are looking for.Let us go to the classics of other cultures. There are numerous volumes of famous writings, but none of them passes the first test. They are all clearly written by man. They may be masterpieces in philosophy or morality, but they are not written by God, nor are they divinely inspired. We have to set them aside.There is a book in India called the Rig-Veda. It once dominated Hinduism. However, it does not claim to be written by God.Another book called the Avesta, written by a Persian named Zoroaster, is also extremely influential in the Middle East. It does not claim to be from God either. Moreover, its moral tone is not especially commendable.Let us come to the Koran of Mohammedanism. This is the closest one we can find. It tells us that it comes from God; it meets the first requirement. However, it does not fulfill the second requirement, for its moral tone is too low. The heaven it describes is full of lusts and flesh. God could never write a book with such licentiousness and immorality. Hence, this book does not pass the test of morality.After searching through all the books, you have to come finally to the Bible. If God desires to communicate with man, and if He does so through writing, then this is the only book that can pass the four tests. Hence, this must be the book God has for man.What does this book say? In the books of the law in the Old Testament, it says, “Thus saith the Lord,” at least five hundred times. Other books in the Old Testament repeat the phrase about seven hundred times. In addition to the references in the New Testament to the speakings of God, the Bible has more than two thousand claims of divine origin. If God has no intention of communicating with man, we can forget about this book. But if He does communicate with man through writing, then this book has to be of immense value. Can you find another book where God is claimed as its author that many times?We have to see if the Bible meets the second qualification. Let us take a look at its moral tone. Everyone who has studied this book confesses that it carries the highest moral standard. Even the sins of the most noble persons are recorded and condemned without mercy. Once a strong opposer of the Bible was asked by his son, “Why are you so strong against the Bible?” He answered, “If I do not condemn it, it will condemn me.” This book does not let us get by easily. The human concept is that all sexual acts outside marriage are considered as fornication. The Bible, however, says that even an evil thought is fornication. Human morality condemns an act of killing as murder, but the Bible condemns a slight hatred in the heart as murder.We consider a man who lets his enemy get by without paying vengeance as forgiving. But the Bible charges man to love his enemy. How high is its moral tone, and how low we are before its standards! You cannot help but admit that it presents the best ethical code for humanity.Furthermore, this book describes in detail the past and future of the universe. Once a friend told me that he could believe in everything the Bible says except the parts in Genesis and Revelation where it talks about the origin and destiny of the heavens and earth. I told him that if this is indeed a book from God, it must, of necessity, contain these matters. If the Bible did not contain Genesis and Revelation, it would be the same as any other book, and we would have to look for another book; it would not be the one we want. But the past condition of the world and its future destiny are recorded here. Hence, the third qualification is also met.What is the circulation of such a book? Last year (1935), more than two hundred million copies were sold. Can you name another book that has such a high circulation rate? This statistic, moreover, is not limited to just last year; every year the number has remained approximately the same. In one sense this book is very popular. In another sense it is like a thorn in your hand; it pierces you. This book gives you a headache. It creates an unspeakable uneasiness within man. It even causes man to oppose it. In spite of this, its annual sales are still over two hundred million.Furthermore, this book is translated into more than seven hundred twenty languages. In every country and among every race, there is a translation of this unique book. It is extremely easy for anyone to obtain a Bible anywhere in the world. If the Rig-Veda were God’s book, then more than half of the world would perish due to a failure in obtaining it. Even if you put the Rig-Veda in my hand, I would still be unable to understand it. If only the educated ones can contact God, then I am destined to go to hell. If only the Indians have the opportunity, we Chinese, as well as other races, are out of hope. If God speaks through the Rig-Veda, then where can we find that book? Maybe we can only find the original copy in the London Museum. And even that may not contain the original meaning of God’s revelation to man.This is not all. The Bible contains sixty-six books and it is divided into the Old and New Testaments. It was written by no less than thirty people. The span from the time the first book was written to the time when the last book was finished is more than sixteen hundred years. The places where they were written are also different. Some were written in Babylon, some in Italy, some at one end of Asia Minor, others at the other end of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the writers themselves differed in their backgrounds. Some were lawyers; some were fishermen. There were princes, and there were shepherds. All these writings by men of different backgrounds, languages, environments, and periods are put together. The amazing thing is that it is still a complete book.All those who have had some experience of editing know that in order to put together a few articles written by different authors, it is necessary for the authors to be of comparable level of academic achievements and viewpoints. Even when the academic standard and viewpoints are similar, there will still be conflicts and contradictions when you put five or six articles together. But the Bible, though complex in contents, contains history, poetry, laws, prophecies, biographies, and doctrines and was written by so many different ones at different times and under different circumstances, yet when you put them together, they surprisingly run as one continuous volume. There is no conflict or contradiction. They are written in one breath.If you read this book carefully, you have to admit that God’s hand is behind all the writings. More than thirty people of varied backgrounds and ideas in different times and places wrote these sixty-six books. When you group them up, they link together as if they were written by one individual. Genesis was written about fifteen hundred years before Christ, and Revelation was written ninety-five years after Christ. There is a time span of sixteen hundred years. One talks about the beginning while the other projects the end of the world. Yet whatever begins in Genesis is concluded in Revelation. This amazing feature cannot be explained in human terms. Every word of it has to be written by God through man. God is the motivating One behind the whole composition.There is another remarkable thing about this book. In itself it is a book that gives life. Yet countless numbers of people have lost their lives for its sake. There was a time when anyone who held this book in his hand would immediately be put to death. The most powerful empire in history was the Roman Empire. There was a time when this empire summoned all its forces to destroy this book. Everyone who possessed it would be inhumanly persecuted and later killed or burned. They wiped out thousands of people and burned countless copies of the Bible. They even set up a monument at a place where they killed Christians. On it was the inscription: “Christianity is buried here.” They thought that when they had burned all the Bibles and removed all the Christians, they would see Christianity lying there beneath their feet. But it was not long after that when the Bible came back again. Even in a country like England, which has already accepted Christianity as its state religion, you can still find tombs of martyrs for Christ if you visit different places there. Here and there you can find places where the Bible was once burned. Or you may come across a tombstone that tells you that such and such a person tried so hard and wrote so many books in his life to oppose the Bible. One place may tell you that the Bible was once burned there, and another place may tell you that Christians were once killed there. One signpost may point you to a statue of martyrdom, and another may point to a site of Bible burning.Why is it that so many people have tried so hard to oppose this book? Why is it that men would pass by other books, but would either oppose this book with every fibre of their being or would put their whole life to the stake for it? There must be something extraordinary here. Even if you do not believe that this is God’s word, you have to admit that there is something unusual about this book.This book seems to be very simple and easy. If you consider it from the historical point of view, it tells the origin of the universe, the earth, the plants, human beings, how they established their kingdoms, and how they will eventually end. This is all. There is nothing special about it. Yet it has been handed from generation to generation for centuries. Today it is still with us. Moreover, if you do not confess that it is truth, you have to conclude that it is false. You can disregard many books, but you cannot ignore this book. Nor will it ignore you. It will not let you go. It demands a verdict from you. It will not pass you by.Another remarkable thing about this book is that almost half of it is prophecy. Among the prophecies, almost half of them are fulfilled. The other half are for the future and await fulfillment. For example, it predicted the fate of the nations of Moab and Ammon and of the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Today when people talk about big cities, they mention London and Shanghai. Then it was Tyre and Sidon. They were two chief cities of the ancient world. The prophecies concerning these two cities were all fulfilled. Once I was in the Middle East. For some reason I did not visit those two places. However, I bought two pictures of those cities. It amazed me when I looked at those pictures. I could not help but believe in the Bible. It was prophesied that if these two metropolitan cities did not repent, they would be destroyed and devastated. Their land would become hills of rocks and pebbles where fishermen would come to dry their nets. In the pictures that I bought, there was nothing but fishing boats and open nets on the shore. This is only one small fact that proves the reliability of biblical prophecy.If you compare past events with the prophecies in the Bible, you will find that they all correspond one with another. For another example, take the birth of Christ. Isaiah prophesied concerning a virgin with child a few hundred years before Christ actually came. Later, He was born indeed of the virgin Mary. The prophecy was accurately fulfilled. As the prophecies concerning the past have been fulfilled, so the prophecies concerning the future must also be fulfilled.If God desires to communicate with man, He must do so through common human channels of communication. He must use the human language or human writings. In other words, there must be a book in the world that is a direct revelation from God. If such a book does exist, it must contain the four criteria we mentioned. Now we can say that such a book is found. This book tells us that God desires to have fellowship with us. He speaks to us through this book. Through it God is no longer an unknown Being. We can now know Him. This book is the Bible. I hope all of you will read it. posted by SOWER @ 9:55 AM 0 Comments Links to this post THIS IS A SERIOUS, IS HE CRAZY? A LUNATIC?A LIAR? PLEASE YOUR VERIDICT., THIS IS A SERIOUS , IS HE CRAZY? A LUNATIC?A LIAR? PLEASE YOUR VERIDICT., God desires to reveal Himself to us. He does so through means that are comprehensible to man. These are namely written and spoken language. We have seen how God reveals Himself through writing. Now we want to take a look at His revelation through speaking.Suppose that you have had correspondence with a person for many years; however, you have never seen him. Naturally, you would want to know him more by having some direct acquaintance with him. Full understanding of someone cannot be achieved merely through writing. Direct contact gives a better chance. It seems as if communication through speech is of a more intimate and thorough nature than writing. When spoken language is added to written language, communication becomes enhanced. If you take away either of the two, you have a gap. Of course, if you take away both, communication is completely voided. Effective communication is always carried out by these two means.If God’s intention is to reveal Himself to us, He must of necessity do so through speaking. But how does God speak? Does He trumpet from the heavens? If so, we would all be frightened to death. We would all run away. No one would dare to listen. There is a chasm between Him and us. He, being so high and great, would drive us away from His holiness. How then does He speak?THE WINTER ON THE MOUNTAINLet me relate to you a story. One winter I was staying on the mountain Lu-shan, recovering from an illness. It was immediately after the war, and there was practically no one living on the mountain. In the vicinity of my dwelling, one could hardly see anyone all day long. I am a quiet person by nature. This kind of environment was very appealing to me. Not only was it quiet there, but the weather was cold as well. From morning till dusk, all I saw was a boy who came three times to deliver my meals. At the beginning I was quite at ease. But after a while, even a person like me began to feel lonely.One day after lunch I went to take a nap. There was a balcony outside my bedroom window. When I woke up I saw some little creatures gathering around the balcony. Bits of my meal had been dropped there, and the birds were busily chirping around them. As they hopped around, they chirped and made many cheerful noises. I said to myself, “All right. Since I cannot find any human beings, I will try to make friends with these little birds.”I rose up and went out to greet them. But in an instant they all flew away. An idea came to me. I took some of the leftover rice and began to arrange it in rows, with only a few grains in the first row and gradually increased them towards the entrance of the doorway. I hid behind the door and watched them coming. Soon they gathered around again. I said to myself, “This is my chance.” I walked out and began to make friends with them. But the minute they saw me, they all scattered. Some perched on the branches of the tree across the balcony and stared at me, as if trying to determine what my intention was. Every time I approached them, they flew away, and every time I walked away, they came back. This went on a number of times.I wanted to preach to the birds. I wanted to tell them, “Little birds, I have no special intention in doing this. This is winter on the mountain, and food is scarce. I have enough food with me, and I just want to share it with you. Please be at peace and come down. I only ask that as you eat, I can sit among you. I want to listen to your songs and watch you playing. Come. Let us be friends…” But the birds would not come. They did not understand me. I had to give up.Later I had a certain realization within. I began to preach to myself. I said, “This body of mine is too big. If I could shrink from five feet eleven inches to the size of a bird, and even change myself into a bird, they would not be alarmed by my presence. I could then tell them my heart’s intention, and we could spend the winter on the mountain Lu-shan together.”We have a similar problem today. If God remained God, we could never understand Him. If He talked to us in His language, we would be altogether lost. If God wants to reveal Himself through speaking and have fellowship with man, He must shrink Himself to such a degree that He and we are the same. Only then would He be able to speak to us and tell us of Himself and of the mysteries of the universe. Only then would we be able to understand Him.Has God become a man to reveal Himself through His speaking? Let us again use the method of supposition. What if God revealed Himself through the human language? What if He became a man and fellowshipped with man? The implication is tremendous here! It would mean that in this world, among all the human beings throughout history, one person was not merely a man, but God as well! If it is granted that God became a man, there must be a mortal who was also divine. We need to find out about this One.This is a thorny task. But we will employ the effective method we have adopted—namely, setting down a few principles. Then we will search according to these qualifications and directions. We want to base our evaluation on what manner of life a person should possess and what qualifications he must have if he is God.The first condition that this person must fulfill is that he must claim to be God while he is on earth. He cannot be apologetic about it. He must declare boldly that he is God. Only then can we know who he is. Without this declaration, we have no way to guess his identity. Hence, a declaration is our first qualification.Second, the way this person came into the world must be different from ours. If I said that I am God and yet was born in the same manner as every other mortal, my words would carry no force. If on the other hand, I dropped down from heaven, my assertion would be taken seriously. The way this person comes into being must be extraordinary. He must come in an absolutely different fashion; otherwise, his words will not carry the necessary weight.Third, this man must bear a moral standard that is far above that of all other human beings. He must have God’s holiness, and his life must bear the mark of God’s righteousness. For example, if I became a bird and lived in exactly the same way as other birds, without showing them anything extraordinary, I could not convince them that I was actually a man. If God is to become a man, His moral behavior must be of the highest quality. This is the only way that we could identify Him as God.Furthermore, if a person is God, he must necessarily be able to perform things which no mortal can do. If he can achieve what we cannot achieve and know what we do not know, we can say that he is truly God.Lastly, this person must be able to tell us the divine purpose concerning man. What was God’s purpose in creating the universe and man? How does He take care of human pains and sorrows? What is the origin and ultimate solution of everything in the universe? What should our attitude towards God be? All these he must reveal to us. Unless this one shows us what we do not see, we cannot say that he has shown us any revelation.We will set down these five conditions and put the whole of humanity to the test. Let us find out if someone meets the five requirements. Such a person would surely be qualified to be God.The first person to put to the test should be yourself. Of course, you are not God, because you have never claimed to be God. Nor have I ever claimed to be. So that rules out you and me. Very well, now we will introduce Confucius. If you read his books, you will find that he did conduct a very moral and proper life. But he never claimed to be God either. Hence, he fails in the first step.What about Sakya Muni, the founder of Buddhism? Not only was there an absence of the claim of divinity, but his philosophy itself is void of deity. He did not believe in the existence of God. Since he had no God, he cannot be God either.Next, go to Mohammed. He believed in God. But he never claimed to be God. He called God Allah and himself the prophet of Allah. If you go through every person in history, you will discover that no one ever claimed to be God except One. That One was Jesus of Nazareth. He claimed to be the living God. No other person put forward such a claim.How can Jesus of Nazareth claim to be God? Before going on, we have to pause for a moment to seriously consider the matter. It is not a light thing to claim to be God. A person who makes such a claim falls into one of three categories. He must belong to one of these three categories; he cannot belong to all three. First, if he claims to be God and yet in fact is not, he has to be a madman or a lunatic. Second, if he is neither God nor a lunatic, he has to be a liar, deceiving others by his lie. Third, if he is neither of these, he must be God. You can only choose one of the three possibilities. If you do not believe that he is God, you have to consider him a madman. If you cannot take him for either of the two, you have to take him for a liar. There is no need for us to prove if Jesus of Nazareth is God or not. All we have to do is find out if He is a lunatic or a liar. If He is neither, He must be the Son of God. These are our three choices. There is no fourth.What did Jesus of Nazareth say about Himself? In John 10:30 He said, “I and the Father are one.” We need some explanation here. In the Bible the invisible God is called the Father. The Son manifests and expresses the Father. What is hidden is the Father, and what is expressed is the Son. The Son is the One who can be seen and touched. Behind, you have the Father. In front, you have the Son. The two are actually one. They are the two sides of the same reality. When we talk about two, we refer to the fact that one is hidden while the other is revealed. When we talk about one, we say that the revealed One is just the hidden One in manifestation. This is the biblical interpretation of the Father and the Son.Therefore, when Jesus of Nazareth one day said, “I and the Father are one,” it was a statement that no one else could make. This man was saying in reality that He and the invisible God are one entity. He is God and God is He. God is the invisible Father, and He is the manifested Son. The Father and the Son are one! Who can this One be that made such a claim? Is He a madman? Is He out to deceive us?After Jesus spoke such a word, what reaction do we see? “The Jews again took up stones that they might stone Him. Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these works are you stoning Me? The Jews answered Him, We are not stoning You for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, are making Yourself God” (vv. 31-33). The Jews understood very well that Jesus’ words meant that He claimed to be God. After hearing these words they wanted to stone Him to death. A claim was made by Jesus, and an accusation was charged by the Jews, both of which concerned His divinity. Was Jesus insane? Did He speak pure nonsense just to cause people to kill Him? Or was He a swindler setting up some kind of a scheme? If so, what was He trying to gain? Was He trying to gain death?Perhaps we will go back a little bit to the earlier parts in the Gospel of John and see what it says there. John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Why has no one seen God? It is because God is invisible. Jesus said that He was the only Begotten of the Father; He expressed the invisible Father. When you see the only Begotten, you see the Father.Again He spoke concerning Himself, “And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven” (3:13). Have you ever heard anyone say such words? I cannot say, “No one has been to Shanghai, but he who comes from Shanghai to Tientsin, even I, Watchman Nee, who is in Shanghai.” If I say so, I would be gibbering nonsense. But Jesus was speaking a heavenly language. He said that He came out of heaven and is still in heaven. What can a person be if he can be in two places simultaneously? Either he is God or he is a lunatic or he is a liar. If you have not yet believed in Christ, please give a verdict to this issue. Who is this man?Let us read John 3:31-32: “He who comes from above is above all; he who is from the earth is of the earth and speaks out of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of this He testifies, and no one receives His testimony.” He said that He came out of heaven and was above all. After a while He said the same thing again. Let us see what is the purpose behind these words. He came to preach the things of heaven, but no one received His words. He mentioned words like “heaven,” “above all,” “out of heaven,” etc. What kind of man was He? Confucius never said this. Neither did Sakya Muni or Mohammed. Was Jesus of Nazareth a madman, a liar, or the Son of God?John 5:17 says, “But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I also am working.” He always put Himself in the same place as the Father. Verse 18 says, “Because of this therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” When we read His words now, we may consider them to be ordinary remarks. But the Jews knew what He was saying. They knew that He was making Himself equal with God. The words in fact meant that God is His Father and He came to express God. The invisible One is God, and the visible One is He. Therefore, the Jews sought to kill Him. What should we do about such an unusual person?John 6:46 says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except Him who is from God, He has seen the Father.” Here the word is clearer. He said that no one other than Himself has ever seen God. Only He knew what the Father is like. I can only say with soberness and reverence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. Read John 8:18. What did He say? “I am One who testifies concerning Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies concerning Me.” The question in verse 19 is most interesting: “They said then to Him, Where is Your Father? Jesus answered, You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” Have you seen what He was saying? They had seen Him, yet did not know Him. Of course they would not know the Father either, whom they had not seen. If men knew Him, they knew God. Who is He then? If knowing Him equals knowing God, is that not the same as saying that He is God and God is He?Read John 8:23: “And He said to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” The preposition “from” in this verse is ek in Greek. It means “out of.” That is how it should be translated. He said, “You are out of this world, but I am not out of this world.” This man claimed to be from above; He did not come out of this world. Who can He be?The Jews were confused. They were totally bewildered. Who was this man? The ancestor of the Jews is Abraham. They boasted of being the descendants of Abraham in the same way the Chinese boast of being the offspring of Hwang-ti. The name Abraham was highly venerated among the Jews. Now they brought out Abraham. Please read John 8:53: “Are You greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too. Who are You making Yourself?” How did Jesus answer them? Was He greater or smaller than Abraham? In verse 56 Jesus said, “Your father Abraham exulted that he would see My day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” What is this? Even Abraham had to look forward to Jesus! Hence, verse 57: “The Jews then said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Now please pay your attention to Jesus’ answer in verse 58: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I am.” Tell me who this man is. If I told you that before Hwang-ti was, I, Watchman Nee am there, you would immediately write me off as a lunatic. Some of you would say that I am a liar. The words Jesus spoke made Him either a madman, a liar, or God. There can be no fourth alternative.We have to read on. In John 10:37-38 Jesus said, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, even if you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may come to know and continue to know…” Know what? The clause following is very crucial. It is a big statement: “…that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” Who then is this man? He said that He was in God and God was in Him.Passages like the above are numerous in the Bible. I shall mention one more. Read carefully John 14:6-7: “Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and henceforth you know Him and have seen Him.” It says clearly that if you know Jesus of Nazareth, you have known the invisible God. Why is this so? It is because He is God.One of the disciples was confused. John 14:8 says, “Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father and it is sufficient for us.” Philip was asking to be shown the Father who had been mentioned again and again by Jesus. Verse 9 says, “Jesus said to him, Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how is it that you say, Show us the Father?” Here Jesus made it very plain that to see Him is to see God. He made no apology about it. He is God. There is no need to see the Father anymore. If you see Him, you see God!Who is Jesus of Nazareth? What would you say? Is He merely the founder of the Christian religion? Is He merely an example of self-sacrifice and humanitarianism? Is He a social reformer? Is He an advocate for universal love, peace, and freedom? Listen to what He said about Himself. He said that He is God. What is your conclusion? Is He a lunatic or a liar? Is He a hoax, or is He God? This is a vital question.Can He be a madman? If you read His biographies in the Gospels and observe His life and manner, you will realize that not only was He sane and sound, He was very sober and firm. If there is a perfectly sound person in this world, He has to be the One. His mind was clear, and His mentality was alert. If you study His deeds and words carefully, you have to confess that His thoughts are very logical and consistent, and His manners are most comely and appropriate. To opposing ones He only needed to reply a few sentences, and their arguments against Him were defeated. He did not have a trace of madness in Him. A madman could never have done what He did.Then is He a liar? A liar always lies for a profit. If there is no profit to be gained, what is the purpose of lying? Why was Jesus crucified? For no other reason than that He claimed to be God. At the last judgment, the hour when His release or crucifixion was to be deliberated, He was examined as to who He was. What was His answer? He said that the Son of Man would be seen sitting on the right hand of the Majesty on high, descending on the clouds in glory (Matt. 26:64). Even then He claimed to be God. As a result, He was crucified on the cross. Is there a liar who would sacrifice his life for his lie?Once I met a person who wanted to talk with me about our faith. He read some books about Jesus and admitted that Jesus had a high standard of morality. He could consider Jesus as a perfect man, a model for humanity. But he could not believe that Jesus is God. I said, “If you admit that He has a high standard of morality, then He at least is not a liar. If you agree that He is not a liar, then you have to accept His claim of divinity as truth. He repeatedly asserted that He is God. If you admire His morality, you have to recognize His divinity as well. Jesus of Nazareth is God!”Please read John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among
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