Forum Posts

ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Jan 11, 2021
In Open Forum
Reading Windar12q’s latest post reminded me that we all look at the world a little differently. We see the same facts but don’t recognize the same meaning in them. I do not believe that this makes it impossible to see accurately. Truth is still out there, and God has made it understandable to us. I believe that our beliefs about God, the world, and ourselves give shades of meaning beyond the obvious to facts, events, and stories. Below, I have consolidated some favorite/recently read books (in no order of favoritism). My faith gives me a certain way of seeing in which I notice Biblical and spiritual themes in books, whether the book was intended as a Christian book or not. I have listed the title, author, and a few words to describe the genre in case you want to read them yourself. The bottom row of each entry describes Biblical ideas that the book expresses or gets me to think about. How do your beliefs affect how you see the books you read? I would like to see some good book recommendations from this! Title Author Genre + Topics Themes Underlands: a deep time journey Robert Macfarlane Nonfiction, science, history, adventure Humanity’s place in time and space, the glory of creation The Simple Faith of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: religion’s role in the FDR presidency Christine Wicker Nonfiction, history, biography 1 Corinthians 13, faith in action Space Trilogy (series, which I have not finished so the list of themes is not complete) C.S. Lewis Fiction, other worlds Fear vs. trust, sinful nature Star Wars: from a certain point of view Ben Acker (and many others) Fiction, short story, drama, action, humor Hope, courage, baptism, purpose Reckoners (series) Brandon Sanderson Fiction, superpowers, science fiction Courage, redemption from the sinful nature (and the lengths that God will go to do it), strength in weakness Mistborn (series, also one I haven't finished) Brandon Sanderson Fiction, superpowers, fantasy Trust, power of faith Warrior Cats (series) Erin Hunter Fiction, animals, fantasy Purpose, contrast between the divine of Warrior Cats and our God The Innocence of Father Brown G.K. Chesterton Fiction, mystery, crime Sinful nature, human ability to reason Harry Potter (series) J.K. Rowling Fiction, magic Sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, good conquering evil Black Beauty Anna Sewel Fiction, animals Kindness, day of rest, responsibility
2
9
50
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Aug 15, 2020
In Open Forum
Hello everyone! I just finished reading The Case For Miracles by journalist Lee Strobel, a surprising and uplifting book. Here are some facts from the book that stood out to me. Although the percentage of people who believe that miracles happen tends to decrease as education increases, a 2004 survey found that out of 1,100 doctors, 55% had seen results in patients that they would consider miraculous and 75% believe miracles can happen (a higher percentage than the general US population). Strobel interviews Michael Shermer, founder and editor of Skeptic magazine, about why he doesn't believe in miracles. His talking points include that miracles aren't well studied and could be a result of misperceptions or biased thinking, and a certain ten-year clinical trial (called STEP) of the effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac bypass patients that failed to show any positive effects (it is interesting to note flaws in this study that are pointed out by professor Candy Gunther Brown, whom Strobel also interviews. The group that the STEP researchers recruited to pray for the patients was a New Age -type group that didn't even believe in prayer. Brown describes two other peer-reviewed studies in which Christians prayed to the Christian God. Patients that received prayer in these studies had less heart failure, fewer episodes of pneumonia, and needed less antibiotic therapy, among other positive effects.) The chapter "A Tide of Miracles" has stories of modern-day miracles that were documented by physicians and occurred as a result of prayer to the Christian God. This is one I think you would be interested in, @windar12q. Strobel interviewed a missionary to the Middle East, Tom Doyle. He reveals that by some estimates, 1/4 to 1/3 of Muslims who have become Christians experienced a dream or vision of Jesus before coming to faith. The dreams often follow a similar pattern of Jesus saying He loves them and died for them, and telling them to follow Him (these would not be things a follower of Islam is already inclined to think about; The Qur'an teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross, that He is not the son of God, and that nobody can bear your sins in your place). It happened so often that Christian ministries have placed ads in Egyptian newspapers offering more information about Jesus to people who have had a dream about Him. One of the most impressive miracles that God has done is creating the universe, and He has done it incredibly precisely. Oxford physicist Roger Penrose calculated that in order for the universe to have the correct state of low entropy (un-randomness that makes life possible) the setting needs to be accurate to 1/(10^(10^125)). This number is impossible to write out as a decimal because it has more 0s than there are particles in the universe! Not everyone who prays for a miracle gets what they ask for. Strobel interviews Dr. Douglas Groothuis, a Christian apologist, about having faith and hope in the midst of illness in his family. He tells about how he learned to relinquish control to God and put his hope in Jesus's death and resurrection for everything to be restored when Jesus comes again. I found this to be a very interesting topic. What do you think about miracles? @ekrause1406 @S.M.S. @cwh @Kirk Peters @agetoage07 @burrawang @T_aquaticus @crtgavrilescu
1
3
23
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Jun 12, 2020
In Open Forum
Hello everyone! I just finished reading a book I checked out from the library, Jesus Skeptic: A Journalist Explores the Credibility and Impact of Christianity by John Dickerson. Dickerson, who is an award-winning investigative journalist, spent years reading primary sources and interviewing modern Christians to find out how Jesus has shaped civilization as we know it. Though he was a nonbeliever when he began his investigation, he was awed by the volume of evidence that Jesus was important and became a follower of Christ. First, he examines the pivotal role that Christ-followers had in what he identified as the five most important advances that make the modern world better than the ancient world. 1. The development and spread of university education 2. The development of modern medicine 3. The end of slavery 4. The rise of literacy 5. The Scientific Revolution Then, he discusses evidence for Jesus' existence and evidence (notably His God-sized influence unparalleled by any famous person in history) that His claim to be God may be true. Dickerson concludes with the evidence of "the parade of transformed lives": modern people who are transformed by Jesus' teachings, including himself. One of the things I appreciated most about the book was it's emphasis on primary sources. In fact, some of the sources Dickerson used and more information about the historical figures he discusses is accessible from the book's website, Jesusskeptic.com (you could even use the website on its own if you can't find the book for some reason). Whether or not you are a Christian, this book is an enlightening read. @windar12q @ekrause1406 @S.M.S. @cwh @Kirk Peters @agetoage07 @burrawang @burrawang @T_aquaticus @crtgavrilescu
1
20
85
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
May 18, 2020
In Open Forum
I came across this excerpt from mathematician Blaise Pascal's book Pensees ("Thoughts" in French). He wrote the argument to show that even though rational evidence does not prove whether or not God exists, one must still choose to believe. His reasoning goes like this: If God exists and you believe in Him the benefits are infinite, but if He doesn't exist and you believe there is nothing lost. I copied it in blue below. What do you think? "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions. Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all." Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite."
0
9
23
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Apr 07, 2020
In Open Forum
Hello everyone! This week is Holy Week (Mandy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter), so I created this board to discuss things like... 1. What do you celebrate most during Easter (I am especially curious about anyone who is not a Christian)? 2. What are some favorite Easter traditions and what are you doing this year? 3. Why do you think Easter is less-celebrated than other holidays, such as Christmas? I read an article that had what I thought was an insightful perspective on this https://www.vox.com/2018/3/29/17168804/why-easter-celebrate-big-secular-holiday-like-christmas-bunny-egg-pagan I know it's not a typical topic for a creation-evolution forum, but I am looking forward to your responses.
2
2
27
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Apr 01, 2020
In Open Forum
Hello everyone. I recently read a book about dinosaurs and was fascinated by them. I was inspired to draw some coloring pages to share. Feel free to print as many as you like (the file downloads onto your computer when you click it). @windar12q @ekrause1406 @S.M.S. @cwh @Kirk Peters @agetoage07 @burrawang @burrawang @T_aquaticus
3
33
190
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Jan 17, 2020
In Open Forum
Hello everyone! I wrote this paper for a theology class, but it was in some ways inspired by discussions on this site. This topic has been debated since the earliest days of Christianity, and if books such as Job are any indication people have been wondering about it for as long as there have been people. It was a blessing to investigate this question, so I hope you will also become intrigued by this topic. I highly encourage reading about it from writers who hold different views, I only present three here. The Goodness of God This summer my church had a vacation bible school. Each year the VBS has a different theme: this one was God’s goodness. At our activity stations we sometimes have shouting matches of which crews of kids can yell the loudest: “God is good!” While I have always liked the little phrase that we use as the theme, this one was a favorite. It had a kind of subtle power to it. Affirming God’s goodness gives a feeling of joy and hope. Sadly, many people do not know God’s goodness; some even see Him as the ultimate evil. It is only natural to wonder what exactly it means that God is good and why a good God would allow suffering. Obviously God’s goodness is one of the foundations of what we believe, but what does it mean that He is good? Goodness has many aspects: righteousness, moral virtue, kindness, grace, honesty, reliability, capability, and worthiness, among others (Dictionary.com, 2019). Let’s take a closer look at how these apply to God. Many psalms praise God for His righteousness, His fair judgements. “let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” - Psalm 98:9, NIV Because God is righteous, we know that He takes sin seriously and rewards good. Even when it seems like people are becoming successful through evil actions or being persecuted for doing good, God will make all things right in the end. He has a uniquely perfect understanding of right and wrong because of His moral virtue. “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” - Psalm 19:7-8 Some people see provisions of Old Testament law, such as capital punishment for cursing parents (Exodus 21:17) or the fact that slavery was allowed (Exodus 21:2-11) as evidence that God does not have perfect morality. Most evangelical theologians agree that there are three types of laws: civil, ceremonial, and moral. Ceremonial and civil laws, usually the laws skeptics find objectionable, were meant specifically for Israel during Bible times; they were fulfilled by Jesus in such a way that we can learn from them but are no longer bound to follow them. The moral laws, most famously the Ten Commandments, reflect God’s character especially well and are applicable in any culture (Lindsley, Nov 2013). God demonstrates kindness and grace to us every day. That believers and unbelievers alike receive the blessings of food, sunshine, community, and many other things is testimony to His character (Acts 14:15-18). The ultimate expression of His grace is Jesus. We do not deserve that God would send His Son, but in love Jesus was sent to us. Jesus chose to suffer and die in our place so that we could have eternal life and forgiveness. Jesus’ life as fully human also proves that God experiences an important part of kindness: empathy. He understands what our life is like because He has lived it, so we can confidently pray to Him about anything. A popular passage expresses God’s grace and kindness wonderfully: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9 How do we know God will always be good? The Bible describes Him as honest and reliable. In fact, God, in these verses Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is called the very definition of truth. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” - John 16:13 We know from other passages that God does not lie, keeps His promises (Titus 1:2), and is always the same (Hebrews 13:8). All of these traits show God’s good character, but to be perfectly good He has to be capable of doing all the good that He intends. There is much scriptural evidence for both the omnipotence (Isaiah 46:9-11, Matthew 19:26) and omniscience (Matthew 6:8, Psalm 139) of God. Psalm 139 describes that God knew every day of David’s life before he was even born and knew David’s prayers before he even spoke. All of these traits and more make God worthy of our worship. His goodness far surpasses ours. People can have the traits that make up goodness, but not perfectly in the same way God does. That’s why Jesus says “no one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) These truths are important to remember when considering what is often called the problem of evil. There are many approaches that attempt to explain why a world created by a good God would be allowed to contain sin and suffering; but I believe that some have more merit than others. It all depends on how well the explanation matches God’s perfect goodness as revealed in the Bible. One of the oldest views, embraced by early church theologians such as Augustine, is termed the classic perspective. This teaching is concerned with solving the problem of how evil is even possible if God did not create it. Multiple scripture passages show that God does not directly cause evil. “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” - James 1:13 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” - 1 John 1:5 If God didn’t create evil, how does it exist? The classic view says that evil is not a thing in itself, but a corruption of something good. An analogy is helpful: evil exists in the same way a hole in a shirt exists, there is no such thing as “pure hole” (with no shirt to put it in) just like there is no such thing as evil existing as a separate, created object (thus God did not create it). Classical theologians believe that Adam’s sin was evil because while he was meant to seek the highest good (God), he instead chose an inferior good (himself) (Cary, 2017). Molinist theologians have a different focus. They emphasize God’s middle knowledge, His ability to know what His creatures would do in any set of circumstances. God values free choice, so He chose to create the best possible world in which humans can choose whether or not to follow Him. God lays out the circumstances knowing what we will choose, but does not force us to make the choice. Because of His middle knowledge God can have good reasons for permitting evil even when we can’t see those reasons. God sees every effect a tragedy will have on the whole future of humanity. We are in no position to claim He is wrong because our understanding of the future is so limited (Craig, 2017). In an attempt to understand why evil still exists in this world, it can be tempting to say that God can’t do everything He wants to (this belief is known as process theology. Process theologians believe that God is constantly changing and learning). The belief of open theism also claim that God does not control all evil (Alcorn, 2009). This view suggests that God does not know in advance what choices His creatures will make, though He knows all possibilities. God follows policies He knows will usually lead to good, and if something bad happens as an unforeseen effect He works to bring good from it. One of the main objections that open theists have to views that affirm the omniscience of God is that if He knows how everything will happen and created the circumstances to make it happen that way, humans do not really have free will (Hasker, 2017). Proponents see passages such as 1 Samuel 15:11, where God said He “regretted” making Saul king, as evidence. However, passages describing God’s regret can be understood in the sense that He does not enjoy what must happen, even though He allowed it for the purpose of greater future good (Alcorn, 2009). Open theism requires a non-literal interpretation of Bible passages such as these: “Who can fathom the Spirit[d] of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?” - Isaiah 40:13-14 “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” - Hebrews 4:13 These are only three of the many explanations of why a good God would allow evil. I would like to point out a few things that are held in common. It is known that God does not enjoy evil or suffering. He hears the prayers of people who suffer, for example, He responded to the Israelites’ call for help in Egypt. “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians” - Exodus 3:7-8a We also know that God brings good out of bad situations. He can use suffering to build character and lead us to know His love more deeply (Romans 5:3-5). Even when it seems pointless, God can still use it for His glory. Perspectives differ on whether or not God intentionally allows specific evils (the issue here is over suffering that seems pointless), but I tend to believe that each thing that happens has been specifically permitted. I agree with the statement that what our minds see and understand about the universe is vastly less than what God understands, so much so that we have no grounds to label something as “pointless” (Wykstra, 2017). When His disciples asked why a certain man had been born blind, Jesus said before healing him: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” - John 9:3 Finally, we all have hope because God will redeem the world and make it free from evil. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” - Romans 8:18-21 Even now God is revealing His redemptive love to us in Jesus. If we did not need Jesus to die for us and rise from the dead, we would not have seen the depths of God’s love for us so clearly. This, I believe, is the highest good and gives God the glory He deserves. Understanding God’s goodness is one of the most joyful things about faith. It equips us to think about important questions surrounding the existence of evil in the world. The many views on this topic are different in their focuses and interpretation of God’s desires or abilities, but they agree on important things: God cares for us, brings good out of bad, and will redeem the world in the end. Remember… “God is good!” References Alcorn, Randy. (2009). If God is good: Faith in the midst of suffering and evil. New York, NY: WaterBrook Multnomah Cary, Phillip. (2017). A classic view. In C. Meister & J.K. Dew (Eds.), God and the problem of evil: Five views (pp. 13-36). Downer Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press Craig, William L. (2017). A molinist view. In C. Meister & J.K. Dew (Eds.), God and the problem of evil: Five views (pp. 37-56). Downer Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press Dictionary.com. (2019). Good: Definition of good. Retrieved from https://www.dictionary.com/browse/good Hasker, William. (2017). An open theist view. In C. Meister & J.K. Dew (Eds.), God and the problem of evil: Five views (pp. 57-76). Downer Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press Lindsley, Art. (Nov 9, 2013). Moral law and the Ten Commandments. Retrieved from https://tifwe.org/resource/moral-law-and-the-ten-commandments/ Oord, Thomas J. (2017). An essential kenosis view. In C. Meister & J.K. Dew (Eds.), God and the problem of evil: Five views (pp. 77-98). Downer Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press Wykstra, Stephen. (2017). A skeptical theist view. In C. Meister & J.K. Dew (Eds.), God and the problem of evil: Five views (pp. 99-130). Downer Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press
0
53
215
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Nov 02, 2019
In Open Forum
Hello everyone! Since our other discussion thread was getting rather cumbersome (I estimate we would have to click through at least 15 "load more replies" buttons before finding the end) I wanted to start a new post. This topic is partly inspired by our previous discussion on slavery, and I think it is fundamental to any of our beliefs: what makes us, as humans, special and valuable? This could include discussions on any of the following, or other questions as they come up: - It has been said that we are "star stuff", and the Bible says we are made in God's image. What do you believe we are made of? - Why are we different than animals? - What is "consciousness"? - Where does our value as humans come from? - How do our beliefs about these questions impact our lives? I look forward to hearing your views! There is something I think God has put on my heart to say. He loves you before you love Him. Wow, that's amazing.
1
101
414
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Nov 08, 2018
In Open Forum
One of my teachers showed this video to us for devotions recently, and I thought that it had such an important message to remind us of - especially when it comes to being a part of the creation/evolution debate. Because of how we are saved (by Jesus, not by our "moral performance") we are not superior to people who believe differently. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQ7TbPPr1AM.
1
2
88
ekrause1406
Commentator
Commentator
Aug 24, 2018
In Open Forum
I recently saw a very interesting news report that relates directly to the creation-evolution debate, so I think it would be good to discuss here. In summary, scientists found a skeleton and tested it's DNA; discovering that it had both a neanderthal and a denovisian parent (two early human "subspecies"). Here is a link to the news report: https://www.cbsnews.com/video/dna-test-of-90000-year-old-bone-reveals-human-hybrid/ When I saw that story, I was reminded of an article I had read in an Answers In Genesis book about how there has only ever been one race of human: human. The story above seemed like a perfect example of that, that humans did not evolve but were created with diversity. One thing I am wondering is, why are neanderthals and denovisians classified differently? I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this report!
1
5
62

ekrause1406

Commentator
Appreciated
Poster Of New Topic
Living Fossil
Welcome!
+4
More actions