Monthly Archives: May 2014

Who Has Abandoned the Scientific Method? — Post by Michael J. Findley

dawkins assumptions bkgrd

Certain people use misdirection when discussing our beliefs and deliberately misstate what we believe. We therefore want to make clear our position on the authority of the Scriptures as God’s Word and how we approach this subject.

  1. Before Isaac Newton, there was no scientific method. He used the theology of the Bible and the orderliness of God’s character and applied those standards to the material world to develop principles that we apply to all fields of science. Christians follow this scientific method faithfully.
  2.  Secularist scientists are the ones who have abandoned the scientific method. Because they have bowed to the pressure of “publish or perish”, there is enough deliberate dishonesty and fraud in scientific journals to warrant abandoning belief in modern science.
  3. The word “believe” in the Bible means to understand. The word “belief” in secularist scientific writing means to trust what cannot be understood. It is modern scientists who have faith in what cannot be understood, not Christians. The scientific method applied to the Bible proves that the Bible is valid and accurate. It was written by the people who claimed to write it at the time they claimed to write it. If you refuse to accept the validity of the Bible as expressed above, then you can know nothing about any fact of history. Thousands of documents validate the Bible including those among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These documents support the truth that It was written by the people who claimed to write it at the time they claimed to write it.
  4. Scientifically, the Bible must be evaluated on its content, statements, and its claims.
  5. Circular reasoning is the realm of the secularist. Assuming present processes were the same in the past, assuming no worldwide flood or recent catastrophic changes , assuming radiometric processes worked in the past as they do today, assuming that there was no change in the way tree rings form – 1 per year—and more assumptions than can be listed here. They use assumptions as the basis for physical examinations and assume they have proved their assumptions. They refuse to examine scientifically valid evidence presented in the Bible.

 

 

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Smashwords Formatting: It’s not “No Sweat”, but it’s also “Can Do”

smashwords emblem

You can get the Smashwords formatting guide free on the site or from Amazon. But here’s a distilled version of those great guidelines. Keeping these basics in mind has helped me get more than twenty distinct titles to work over there.

They recently upgraded to be able to handle 10 meg documents instead of the original 5 meg limit
You can direct-upload epubs (More about that in a minute) which bypass the Meatgrinder and just have to pass a validation check. (more about that later, too).
Their customer service responds much faster than formerly and is very helpful)
Do all your formatting through two menus: Styles and Formatting/Paragraph. Set up paragraph indents, text orientation (left, center, or right), line spacing, and any extra spaces between lines that are recurring. You won’t need tabs, spacebar hits, and you can make page breaks, start chapters mid-page, and other “normal book” features.
You cannot, however, do running heads or footers, or page numbers. Those are not applicable to ebooks, anyway. You can set up page sizes and margins around the text through the page setup menu. Different ereaders will resize text and pages dimensions, but your margins should remain and your text will resize and flow to fit the viewer page.
Stick to a limited number of different fonts and type sizes. Times New Roman, Garamond, and Ariel are all safe. 16 pt to 10 pt is a safe size range.
Make charts, tables, or other graphics separately and insert them as jpeg images, inline, so that they show up correctly at 100% of the size you inserted. If you try to resize them Smashwords meatgrinder likely will get the size wrong. Beware of putting many graphics in the file, though or it will go over the 10 gig limit. Making files into epubs shrinks the size somewhat.
Calibre is a free program that comverts to epubs but I have had Calibre epubs fail the validation check at Smashwords. I even had some experienced HTML people check my files and they said Smashwords was listing error they couldn’t find. There are other free epub converting programs. I have not investigated most of them.
Concerning epubs, I use a program called Atlantis, which is very similar to Microsoft Word, costs $35, and has an automatic epub converter. Just choose “save special” and fill out the metadata form. The program includes a validation step, and I haven’t had one of the epub files fail at Smashwords yet. The epubs it creates are larger size than Calibre, but if Calibre files are rejected, you haven’t gained anything.
You cannot use an auto-table of contents generator to create your linked Table of Contents. You need to bookmark each chapter title, or other element you want linked to the TOC, and then create hyperlinks from the TOC to the chapter title or element. It’s also a good idea to link back to the TOC, using the bookmark/hyperlink settings. This same system allows you to put as many back-and forth links into you text as you wish, so that you can make source credits, appendixes, and any kind of links you wish.
Others who have experience with Smashwords, please tell me what I missed.

style guide
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52

Got You Covered: Proofing, Formatting, Cover Design

Smashwords

You can get the Smashwords formatting guide free on the site or from Amazon. But here’s a distilled version of those great guidelines. Keeping these basics in mind has helped me get more than twenty distinct titles to work over there.
They recently upgraded to be able to handle 10 gig documents instead of the original 5 gig limit
You can direct-upload epubs (More about that in a minute) which bypass the Meatgrinder and just have to pass a validation check. (more about that later, too).
Their customer service responds much faster than formerly and is very helpful)
Do all your formatting through two menus: Styles and Formatting/Paragraph. Set up paragraph indents, text orientation (left, center, or right), line spacing, and any extra spaces between lines that are recurring. You won’t need tabs, spacebar hits, and you can make page breaks, start chapters mid-page, and other “normal book” features.
You…

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I haven’t seen “Heaven Is for Real”, but others have … Post by Mary C. Findley

Heaven_Is_for_Real_(Burpo_book)_cover

A friend shared an article about the book and movie “Heaven Is for Real”. You can read it here: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/heaven.is.for.real.critics.are.pharisees.says.todd.burpo/37192.htm

The father says, essentially, that no one can or should question his son’s experience. This is an old story I have heard time and time again. Our pastor’s wife was leading a Bible study I attended. Someone shared an experience where she believed Jesus touched her on the shoulder while she was in the shower. The pastor’s wife wisely said, “We all have our experiences, but they are not as important as reading, believing, and obeying the Word of God.”

A pastor friend said he has read the book Heaven Is for Real and had these comments. Pastor George McVey has a blog and books on spiritual warfare as well as historical and speculative fiction. http://askpastorgeorge.wordpress.com/

 “I have read the book and I have read scripture. I don’t discount the boy’s account. What I have a problem with is how the father has turned this into the cornerstone of a ministry that seems to be making him money hand over fist.

“The concerns people have are these:

“1. The boy never actually died. Does that mean he didn’t go to heaven or have a vision of heaven? No.

“2. There are a few things the boy says that seems to go against the Biblical account of heaven. For instance, both the boy’s miscarried sister and great grandfather had wings. No where does scripture say we will have wings.

“3. the father says we ‘have to take this account as real’ because his four year old son was ‘too innocent to lie about it’. I’ve raised three children and 4-year-old kids make up stuff all the time.

“Those are the biggest concerns. My own is, of course, how this has become the book people reference when talking about heaven now, not scripture.

 Now on the other side I can understand the father’s attitude to him he see’s these people as attacking his son’s integrity. And we all know how parents get when their children are called liars.

“That and the fact that if it was a vision or a real trip, why isn’t this pastor pushing the fact that entry into heaven comes through relationship with the one whose lap his son sat on in heaven, instead of focusing on all the beautiful benefits of heaven? This would have been a great tool for preaching salvation. Instead they use it to say, not, ‘Hey, Jesus is real’ or not ‘Salvation is real’ but ‘Heaven is real’.

Here is a blog that takes a much more critical view but still expresses necessary truth about people who think Hollywood respects Christianity.

http://gospelspam.com/heaven-is-for-real-review/

My favorite line is this one: “Towards the end of the movie, just before preaching, Pastor Burpo uses a piece of paper with notes about his son’s visions to cover up the pages of the Bible. That scene moved me. I laughed at its apparent self-awareness that Todd has determined not preach the Bible anymore.”

Another friend recommended a book called The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen. It seems to be out of print, but is the autobiography of a former spiritist healer who learned the truth about the verse that says Satan can appear as an angel of light. He can, and does, heal people. He can, and does, give visions. He will, and wants to, distract us from the true God and the true source of goodness.

We need to be Bereans. Keep studying and examining issues according to the Scriptures.  Do not be afraid that others are going to call us Pharisees, as Burpo does in the article he wrote. Keep questioning advice that puts the Scriptures in a secondary position. Scriptures go at the top. Always!

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Answering a blog by Daniel Fincke, PhD, on “God’s Not Dead” — Post by Michael J. Findley

shane

Shane Harper as Josh Wheaton in God’s Not Dead, from the official movie website.

I discovered this blog after posting Mary’s review and my observations. I attempted to comment on his blog twice. Both times my comments were gone the next day.

His very first words; “This post turned out to be not just a movie review but a nearly comprehensive counter-apologetics case that I intend to refer Christians to in the future.”~12,000 words.

His thesis is “I am writing this post for the Christian who wants to know, in-depth, what a real live atheist philosophy professor, with a PhD in philosophy and 93 classes taught at the university level, thought of the worldview in God’s Not Dead.”
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2014/03/a-philosophy-professor-analyzes-gods-not-deads-case-for-god/

We already know, but he begins by saying that this blog is to inform Christians. Remember, that is his stated purpose. The best thing is simply to allow Dr. Fincke’s own words to speak for themselves.

“I write as a former Josh Wheaton to write to all you current or new Josh Wheatons out there to explain in extensive detail what’s wrong with what this movie is telling you.” He begins by calling Christians ignorant. Not a good beginning to attempt to convert someone.

He then quotes Matthew 7:3-5 and says “The logs in these Christian filmmakers’ eyes can probably be seen from space.” Even if you believe this to be true, it should lead with supporting evidence.

“In the real world it is Christian universities that alone in America require of students and faculty that they sign faith statements to attend or teach.” This takes several paragraphs without adding any more information.

This is the “evidence” of hypocrisy? This statement is a lie. Every faculty member of every school has to sign a code of conduct. It is very different from a statement of faith in a Christian University, but it is very much a statement of faith.

The important point is that Dr. Fincke chose to ignore the thesis of the movie and attacks Christianity instead. “… pledge that says ‘God is dead’, I’ve never heard of it. Even if it’s happened, it would be a rare outlier rather than the routine practice of faith statements at various Christian universities. Rare outliers prove nothing about there being an inherent prejudice or persecution of people of faith by secular universities or philosophy professors.”

“Now there is a grain of truth, that the filmmakers misrepresent as a log of hypocrisy,” … “suggests to Wheaton that he may go back to his dorm room ‘sink to [his] knees’ and pray all he wants on his own time and it’s none of his [Radisson’s] business but what goes on in the classroom is his business.”
Once again, where is the hypocrisy in the movie?
“The log in many religious believers’ eyes is that they believe for emotional reasons rather than rational ones. You guys even admit this regularly.”
This is a 12,000 article. However, it is nothing more than a lengthy emotional rant. How sad that he falsely accuses Christians of the very thing he is doing himself.

“Atheists are not misotheists. We don’t hate God. We just don’t believe in God. What some of us hate is that we think Christianity and other religions lie to people, hindering them in their abilities to think for themselves or to think with proper information and make the best decisions for themselves. When we’re mad we’re not betraying that we secretly believe in God. Rather we’re angry with the effects of religious institutions and beliefs we think are harmful. We also may get angry when we hear all the evils that we see praised in the Christian God treated as wonderful things. We assail the deification of traits we have good reason to think are terrible. We assail the perversion of ethics and politics and metaphysics represented by the God concept when we attack it.”

He simply denies the thesis of the movie. However, the movie closes with a list of approximately forty court cases proving his belief to be a lie. I have personally met professors just like Professor Radisson. Dr. Fincke is a hypocrite to deny this.

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Personal Observations On the Movie God’s Not Dead — Post by Michael J. Findley

church-1351868328Qil

J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford should watch God’s Not Dead because it a technical masterpiece, like Regarding Henry. It is a masterpiece in simplicity. It follows the basics: the rule of thirds; three-point lighting; proper composition; well-designed pacing;  fx that contribute to the plot and move the story along (the automobile accident in the rain). That is unlike most Hollywood movies like Battleship where the fx interrupt and distract. This could lead the way back to movies that both make sense and are fun to watch. Like, for instance, the simplicity of the original Star Wars.

If you are interested in an actual review, my wife wrote a good one. It is the blog just before this one. Just scroll back one blog.

Though not perfect, God’s Not Dead has the best pacing that I have seen since the Lord of the Rings. And I personally believe the pacing in God’s Not Dead makes it easier to follow than Lord of the Rings.

As a first-semester freshman standing in front of class, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) shows incredible poise, presence, and knowledge. Some people have complained that the part of the professor is flat. It is a movie with three or four major subplots, so no one character is very well-rounded. Josh has very little time, just like real life, so he must focus on the one or two points he can get across in each of the twenty-minute segments he is allotted. He has a total of three segments. Understand that this is no in-depth analysis. Like a real university setting, these are “think on your feet” questions and answers to the unexpected.

The subplot of Professor Radisson’s (Kevin Sorbo) problems at home and his girlfriend eventually leaving him provide an excellent explanation of why he was not as effective as usual in the later debate.

Professional critics do not like this film because it is predictable and not “original”. Unpredictable and original films are also awful and unwatchable. As Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” A man came out of a different movie at the same time we did. He was shaking his head. He told the friends he was with, “I have no idea what was going on in that flick.” That is not the case with God’s Not Dead.

Probably the most common complaint secularists have leveled against this movie is that it is unrealistic. These critics are either dishonest or live in a cave. This movie lists about 40 court cases against real-life professors. This is the most real-life movie I have watched. Except for requiring students to sign a “God  Is Dead” statement, I have had every one of the other arguments thrown at me personally in an academic setting, though seldom in a class where I was being graded. The forty cases put on screen are only the major cases where a court decision was rendered. If every case that was never finalized with a court verdict was included, the number of cases would be in the thousands.

A review by Ryan Wesley Smith gives a typical Christian response. “I’ll be honest; I cannot really think of anything bad in this film.”
http://www.ryanwesleysmith.org/movie-review/gods-not-dead-court-cases/

I disagree. This movie hit many home runs. But it had two very serious strikeouts. One was like striking out in the bottom of the ninth, one run down with the bases loaded and two out before coming to the plate. For those who prefer football analogies, it was a last second interception run back for a touchdown to lose the game.

God has given to the human race divine institutions to lead us to Himself. The thief on the cross is the usual example of someone who is obviously with Christ in Paradise without either institution. But this movie, meant to glorify Christ, was about people as they lived everyday lives for Christ.

The first recorded human speech was the institution of marriage. “This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one will be called ‘Woman,’ because she was taken from Man.” (Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they will become one flesh.) Genesis 2:23, 24 ISV
There is not a single example of an intact family (husband, wife, children) in the entire movie. That is not because there are not enough characters. The closest is Willie and Korie Robertson doing a very brief cameo, but without children. Reverend Dave or Reverend Jude might be married, but their wives are never shown or mentioned. Certainly their possible children are never mentioned. Marriage in never held up as an ideal, though fornication and adultery are indirectly condemned. This is important because boyfriend/girlfriend and father/daughter relationships are the core of the subplots.

Though the lack of marriage is troubling, the Church is the institution Christ left on earth. God uses his Holy Spirit through the Church. In this movie, a concert replaces the Church. I am not certain of the intent of the producer/director because I cannot find anything which explains that position. However, some of the attempts of others to defend this use of a concert are actually blasphemous. Since this is such a serious issue, we need to examine it in detail and not let ourselves be persuaded by our emotions.

1) The standard God gave to us. Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age. Matthew 28:19,20 ISV
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 ISV
Proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach. I Timothy 4:2 ISV
And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. Hebrews 10:24,25 ISV

2) Every Church is based on families. There are ministries which do not include everyone, such as summer camp, nursery, Christian Schools, nursing home services, and even concerts.

3) The core of the Church is education (teaching, witnessing and meeting together as a Church body, a local assembly).

4) Reverend Dave and Reverend Jude witnessed and counseled, but they never had a service. No assembly of believers was ever shown, mentioned, or even recommended except the concert. For the purpose of the movie, the Church building was empty, unused, and powerless. The power was in a concert. The only teaching was Reverend Dave giving Josh a few verses and leaving him on his own to do the research. While that might be the best course of action for Josh, that was the only opportunity given for Reverend Dave to do any teaching.

Younger people today are claiming to be saved but refuse to be put under a pastor and listen to preaching. They have what the KJV calls itching ears. They refuse to listen to anything from the Word of God that might possibly offend them. They have made their own wants and desires their idols. They are no different in walk and attitude from the atheist except they have added just enough of Jesus for fire insurance. Or so they think.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

 

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Review of the Movie “God’s Not Dead” — Post by Mary C. Findley

Gods-not-dead

Because of the fact that we are on the road all the time, we seldom get to see movies. We did, however, make time to see this one. Very glad we did. Note that the following review does contain some spoilers.

Kevin Sorbo has always been a favorite actor, but he has always played a good guy in the roles I have seen before. He does bad very well. I think Professor Radisson personified the attitude of the secularists whose writings I see and hear and read every day in the course of my ongoing research for our book Antidisestablishmentarianism and our Conflict of the Ages homeschool series. He had his admiring friends, his enviable position, his upscale life, his beautiful girlfriend. It seemed to me that his life must be perfect.

But there’s a topic these people can’t leave alone. Why has Richard Dawkins (a real person, and still living, as the movie humorously noted) written so many books attacking belief in God? If God doesn’t exist, if Christianity is marginal and stupid and a waste of time, why keep wasting time going after it? Radisson essentially seduced his girlfriend away from her Christian roots (while she was still a student and he her teacher, apparently) and did not want her to talk about the subject. Yet he brought it up himself by saying, (my paraphrase) “The silence is getting too loud.” He made his classes sign papers saying “God Is Dead.” He regaled his colleagues with snide remarks about the Christian student’s presentation when he demanded that the young man do this assignment. Why do secularists keep worrying the bone of contention that is Christian belief if it’s so laughable?

Professor Radisson says that many staunch atheists were once Christians. This is also true-to-life. Why do people not only “give up on God” but also go on the attack against God, which is correctly pointed out by Radisson as the real root meaning of the word atheist? One of the reasons is that God is “not fair”, meaning things don’t go the way a person desires or even expects. “Sometimes the answer is no” when you pray with all your heart about something. People cannot accept the verse, quoted more than once in the movie (Isaiah, 55:8), “My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts.” Sin will always be here, until God wipes it away, and its consequences will spill over and ruin lives.

The young Chinese student (from the People’s Republic of China, based on a true-life man who came to America to study medicine) reports to his father that they are “talking about God” in his class. His father warns him that someone might be listening, and he might ruin his brother’s chance to study abroad. In other countries, just talking about God is a punishable offense. This is not a myth or an exaggeration. Governments opposed to true belief attack family members, the ability to hold a job, and do everything to extort obedience to atheism. Our government is becoming one of those, and in many ways is already. The entire education system is set up to indoctrinate in preparation for having obedient secularist subjects. Stepping outside the movie, here is a list of quotes from real psychologists and educators explaining their position. http://www.psychquotes.com/ Please take the time to read this and look up these people if you do not know them or the influence they have had or now have in education.

The Muslim father tries to carefully guard his daughter against “unbelievers” as an interesting divergent viewpoint. He is not an atheist. He is trying to show his daughter love and protect her. His belief is sincere, that his god is the only true one and anything else besides Islam opposes his god. If only Christians would look at their God that way and try as hard to protect the sanctity of His Word and their children’s faith. We are taught to be tolerant, but we have lost the true meaning of “love the sinner, hate the sin” when we accept everything in a very misguided and unscriptural form of “love”.

The character of Josh’s girlfriend interested me. She represented a very real segment of Christianity that is very compromised by secularist thinking. I think such people honestly believe signing a paper saying you don’t believe in God means nothing. They believe it is a necessary compromise in the present that will not affect future service. They are waiting to be fully prepared before beginning to serve God, and they believe that they must not allow anything to interfere with that preparation. The world tells us to have our lives mapped out, to plan every detail and not let anything interfere or we will not realize our dream. Along the way, we are prodded into abandoning the foolishness of family and faith and challenged to network with peers. It is not unrealistic that this girl would declare an ultimatum and break off the relationship. Secular thinking puts self on the throne. It teaches people to always be in control, to achieve personal satisfaction, success, praise from colleagues.

The businessman played by Dean Cain is the counterpart of this girl. Anything that disturbs his routine or interferes with his self-centeredness must be discarded. His girlfriend (the journalist Amy) wasn’t carrying out her part in their relationship. She spoiled his triumphant announcement that he had been made partner by saying she was dying of cancer. There was no difference in those moments between those two couples. Josh’s girlfriend walked away because he was doing something that did not advance her goals. The businessman walked away because Amy was not only spoiling his moment, she was going to become a burden and drag his life down. Do not tell me that Josh’s girlfriend was not every bit as selfish and secularist as the businessman. His visit to his mother and her utterance were so significant. He considered the time he spent with her imprisonment since it was of no benefit to him. She said he did not understand the real prison, the comfortable, appealing one where the door now stood open, when he saw no reason to leave. He rejected the idea of being imprisoned.

Josh’s girlfriend rejected the reality of Matthew 10:33 and denied God before men just as surely as everyone who signed the paper in the class. John 12:42-43 is a key passage for people who think they are all right with God, like this young woman no doubt thought. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. The world system is our synagogue. The church long ago stopped throwing people out because they didn’t have the right beliefs. “All are welcome” doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, or avoid whatever you don’t want when it comes to following Christ.

The pastor whose car won’t start, and who can’t even get a rental to take his missionary friend on a Disneyland vacation, provided some comic relief but also an important lesson. Sometimes it’s not time to go yet. Because their trip was delayed over and over, he had real ministry opportunities, including a climactic chance to tell someone (my paraphrase), “In a few minutes you’ll be getting to know Jesus Christ better than any of us can.”

I asked our daughter a question that has come up often in the recent reviews of movies dealing with God and biblical subjects. “Will unbelievers go to see this movie?” Many sincere believers say such movies to not attract an unsaved audience and will only be “preaching to the choir.” She answered very wisely. “Some people will go to it who only think they are saved.”

 

 

 

 

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