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Trinity Foundation

The Reformation at 500 conference will be held in Johnson City, TN on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2017.  For conference registration details, click this link: http://trinityfoundation.org/PDF/TheReformationAt500Flyer.pdf

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Nye_UndeniableThis week’s installment o f our series on Bill Nye continues our review of Chapter 2 of his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

Bill Nye Asserts The Consequent

Suppose for a moment we were having a conversation about my car and I said to you, “If my battery’s dead, my car won’t start.” “Okay,” you replied, “that makes sense.”

So we go out to my driveway; I hop in and try to crank the engine. Nothing happens.

“Alright,” I say, “obviously this is scientific proof that my battery’s dead!”

What would you say about my logic? Well, if you had any sort of mechanical background, or had just a little bit of training in logic, you’d probably point out to me that I was jumping to conclusions. You might say something like, “Not so fast there, Steve. Sure, your battery may be dead, but there are many other explanations why your car won’t start. Maybe you didn’t check your oil and your engine’s locked up (I had this happen once), or maybe your ignition switch is broken. You could have a bad battery cable. In fact, there are probably dozens of reason why your car won’t start that have nothing do with a dead battery. Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself by claiming you know your battery’s dead?”

This little story illustrates a common logical fallacy called asserting the consequent. This fallacy is the result of the misuse of a form of argument called the hypothetical argument. In my illustration above, you can easily spot where I go wrong in my thinking. I conclude that my battery is dead, even though there are many other reasons that can just as easily explain why my car won’t start.

But here’s the shocking part: the logical fallacy of asserting the consequent is foundational to the scientific method. That’s right. All the supposed great “truths” discovered by science, the very ones that Bill Nye and others like to use to try to intimidate Christians, are built, as it were, on the logical equivalent of quicksand.

On pages 14 and 15, Nye attempts to solidify the invincible logical rigor of science by providing the reader with an example of a successful prediction made by science. In Nye’s mind, this example illustrates the validity of science, but all it really does is underscore his own poor reasoning skills.

Nye relates the story of a University of Chicago scientists who, reasoning that there must exist the fossil of an animal showing the transition between fish and land animals, led a an expedition to an area in northeastern Canada where he thought he would find what he was looking for. As it turned out, the expected fossil was found leading Nye to claim that this is sound science, because the scientist’s prediction of the fossil turned out to be true.

The hypothesis the scientist used to make his prediction is left unstated by Nye, but it probably ran something like this: If land animals evolved from fish, then I should be able to find the fossil of an animal in such and such a place that has features of both fish and land animals. Eureka! I did, in fact, find the fossil of such an animal in the place where I expected, therefore it is true that land animals evolved from fish.

This argument is in the same form as my example above about my car and the dead battery. There could be any number of reasons why the fossil – the name of the fossil in question is the Tiktaalik – was found where it was that have nothing to do with the professor’s particular hypothesis or even, more generally, evolution.

It’s remarkable how smart people like Bill Nye can be so easily misled that they mistaken obvious logical fallacies for the truth. Worth noting is that the Bible itself predicts Nye’s fallacious thinking, giving as the reason for it the fact that men, in their unrighteousness, suppress their innate knowledge of God. And refusing to acknowledge God, they will move heaven and earth to drive him from their conscience by erecting their own intellectual constructs, however full or logical errors they may be. The world calls this sort of humanistic reasoning wisdom. But God calls it foolishness.

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Nye_UndeniableIn recent years, Bill Nye has become something of an icon with the humanist, progressive, environmentalist, social justice warrior crowd.

As a result of his popular children’s science show in the 1990s, he may even be thought of as a sort of Millennial version of Mr. Rogers, a trusted fatherly figure who would never lead his followers astray.

But unlike Mr. Rogers – yeah, I’m a Gen-Xer who grew up on Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo – Bill Nye has gone full social justice warrior in his later years, pushing not only evolution, but the climate change and LGBTQ agendas as well.

Nye has been particularly active in recent years having penned Bill Nye’s Comic History of the United States: The Human Side of the Story (2014), Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (2014), Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World (2016). This year will see the release of this latest book Everything All at Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap into Radical Curiosity and Solve Any Problem.

Just this year, Nye served as one of three honorary co-chairs of the March for Science, an organization dedicated to proposition that it is right and just to use government force to take money from the American people and use it to subsidize scientists dedicated to pushing the false narrative of man-made global warming/climate change or whatever new crisis of the day that happens to be popular.

For my part, I’ve only recently begun to pay much attention to Nye. His science show didn’t start until well after I graduated from high school. When I was in school, we had Julius Sumner Miller as our “science guy,” whose programs were educational, memorable and, on occasion, pretty funny too.

As for Miller, I couldn’t tell you what his religious or political beliefs were. For unlike Nye, he didn’t wear them on his sleeve.

Although I had heard of him previously, Nye really didn’t come onto my radar screen in a big way until his February 2014 debate with Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis.

My best summary of Nye’s argument in that debate runs something like this: Evolution is based on the same scientific principles that have brought us electricity, polio vaccines and the internet. You cannot at the same time use and appreciate any of these scientific breakthroughs without also agreeing that Darwinian evolution is true. If you don’t insist and believing in Biblical creation and a 6,000 year old earth, not only are you contradicting yourself by accepting the benefits of science while at the same time rejecting its truth claims about the origin of life , but you’re stupid too. What is worse, if you teach the Biblical doctrine of creation to your children, you’re guilty of making them stupid. And not only that, your insistence on believing Biblical mythology over science endangers the very future of the United States of America.

Well, that’s quite a bit to unpack. Far more than time and space allow in a single blog post. And this doesn’t even touch on the rest of Nye’s body of work. Lord willing, I hope to begin a new series on Nye later this year. But for now, a few short observations on Nye’s thought will have to do.

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First-Amendment

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

It’s fairly easy for Americans, living as we do under the Constitution, to take our freedoms guaranteed under that document for granted. This is certainly the case for me, at any rate.

The whole matter of the importance of the Constitution in securing our liberties was brought to mind just in the past few days with the release of an email cache related to French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

What drew my attention to the release was not so much the question whether the emails were authentic or not, although that’s an important question, or the similarity of the release to what occurred during the US presidential election last year, but the way the French government dealt with the release: It ordered the news media not to report on the content.

According to the Independent,

France’s electoral commission has ordered media not to publish contents of Emmanuel Macron’s leaked campaign emails to avoid influencing the election.

I warned news outlets in France that journalists could face criminal charges for publishing or republishing the material, under laws that came into effect at midnight forbidding any commentary liable to affect the presidential race.

As lawless as things have gotten in the US, at least there’s still enough respect for free speech that there are no laws prohibiting political campaigning up to election day.

The idea that the federal government would have the right to criminally charge a reporter for commenting on publically available information just wouldn’t cut it in America, at least for the moment.

Mind you, there are plenty of American elitist types, both within and without formal governmental structures, who would like to see that happen. But at least for the moment, they constrained from enforcing their will.

That American deep state, master of the universe types hate free speech can been seen from some of the reporting on the Macron emails.

For example, CNBC carried a story by Reuters with the headline “US far-right activists, Wikileaks and bots help amplify Macron leaks: Researchers.”

The article goes on the darkly warn about, you guessed it, Russian involvement in hacking the emails and the responsibility of “far-right” journalists for spreading the news.

Is Freedom of the Press Biblical?

The short and sweet answer is, yes, by all means. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, is certainly a Christian concept.

The press is free to publish. Likewise, the people are free to judge their words.

We can see this principle at work in the way church services were handled. Paul gave directions to the Corinthians to allow two or three prophets to speak, leaving it to the congregation to judge what they said.

The prophets were free to speak, but the people reserved the right to evaluate what they said.

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CIA“Today, Tuesday 7 March 2017, WiiLeaks begins its new series of leaks on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Code-named ‘Vault 7’ by WikiLeaks, it is the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency.” Thus begins the press release on the Wikileaks website.

In light of the “Vault 7” release, and in light of the many other revelations from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, and others, it seemed good to evaluate the covert activities of the US federal government in light of the Word of God.

This is a pressing issue, because more and more it is becoming obvious that we’re living Orwell’s 1984 in real time. What once was the stuff of dystopian fiction is now our day to day experience. According to the Vault 7 release,

  • “Weeping Angel” a hack developed by the CIA and the UK’s MI5/BTSS is targeted at Samsung Smart TVs, placing “the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode” while recording conversations in the room.
  • The CIA can hack your Android or Apple smart phone. According to WikiLeaks, “Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.”
  • The CIA can make their hacks appear as the work of foreign intelligence agencies.
  • The CIA has hoarded, rather than disclosing, knowledge of serious vulnerabilities to US-based tech manufacturers as was agreed upon in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations.
  • “The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware.
  • The U.S. consulate in Frankfurt Germany is a covert CIA hacker base.

For my part, none of this seems terribly surprising. There long have been rumors that the CIA and other government agencies had capabilities of this sort. But now we have reliable confirmation of it.

But Government spying doesn’t end here. For example, in 2013 Glenn Greenwald penned an article that appeared in the Guardian, in which it was revealed that the US government is capturing “every telephone conversation Americans have with one another on US soil, with or without a search warrant.”

In that same article, Greenwald quoted a 2010 Washington Post piece stating, “Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency [NSA] intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.”

Greenwald also quotes former NSA official William Binney to the effect that the US government has “assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens” and that “the data that’s being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want.”

Ah, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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shepherds_illuminationFor the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

“I have no idea why justification is by faith alone,” said the hapless minister in story related to my class by Dr. Robert Reymond. The minister, it would seem, was a well intentioned but rather confused fellow.

“Good grief!,” Dr. Reymond continued, “the Bible tells right in Romans chapter 4 the reason why we’re justified by faith alone. ‘Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed…’ ”

The saints of God of justified – that is, they are declared righteous by God – not on the basis of their works, but on the basis of faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, so that their salvation may be on the basis of God’s grace – that is, his unmerited favor – alone.

The redeemed have nothing to boast in except their great Savior. As the old hymn puts it, “Noting in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling.”

Grace is God’s giving his people, not what they deserve, but the blessings he has purposed for them out of the mere good pleasure of his will.

And nowhere is God’s grace more evident than in the birth of Christ Jesus, who, as Paul tells us, was “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

In Christ, God has made a way to save his people. The law was given through Moses. And the law condemns us, for we all are guilty of violating it. In it, we have no hope. But Christ fulfilled the law perfectly. And those who believe in him are credited with his righteousness, that they may live for God.

And while it’s important to understand the graciousness of God’s grace, it is also important to remember that his grace is never apart from the truth.

Unlike what some modern day theologians would tell you, God does not speak to us through myth or falsehood. Those who say such things impugn the character of God by their words and bring condemnation upon themselves.

God speaks to us through his Word, and his Word is truth. Always.

Jesus declared that he himself was truth, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

How is it that Christ could say “I am the truth”? Doesn’t that seem to be a rather strange way to speak? We might say that so-and-so spoke the truth. But we don’t say of him “he is the truth.” Yet Jesus described himself, not as speaking the truth, but as truth itself.

The answer, I believe, lies in what Gordon Clark taught about truth and persons. Truth, as Clark insisted, is a characteristic of propositions only. A proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence.

For example, “The ball is red,” is a propositional statement, because it states that a certain property, in this case “red”, attaches to a certain subject, “the ball”. Now if we perceive that the ball is in fact red, we would say the proposition “The ball is red” is true. If, on the other hand, the ball appears green to us, we would say the statement is false.

But what do propositions have to do with the person of Christ? It has to do with how one defines a person. A person, in Clark’s definition, is a complex of propositions. Or to put it a little less philosophically, a person is the thoughts he thinks.

Christ could say of himself “I am the truth” because all his thoughts were true. And since a person is defined by his thoughts, it is proper for Jesus to speak of himself as “the truth.”

When Christ was born in Bethlehem all those years ago, it was the birth, not of one who merely spoke the truth, but of truth itself.


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