Interview on Us & Them Podcast “The Talk”

http://usandthempodcast.com/podcast/the-talk/

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Commencement Address to Brazos Valley Christian Home Educators Association May 30, 2015

The Role of Your LIfe

Introduction

Thank you. It is a special honor and privilege to address you this afternoon. Congratulations to you graduates, to you Moms and Dads and to this entire homeschool community. High school graduations are special; they mark a major transition in life as one leaves home and steps out into the world. This afternoon, let’s make a few observations about this world that you are entering into and think about the powerful impact you can have in it.

Our “Stage”

Life is like a play in which we are the actors. We control what we say and how we act; we do not, however, create the “stage” on which we act. Our success will largely be determined by how well we understand this world or “stage” which God has created for us. An excellent way to get a profound understanding of this world is to study the significance of the first three uses of the word “created” in the Bible. (Bruce Waltke, teaching tape, ~1970’s)

The word “created” is translated from the Hebrew word “bara” which means “to create out of nothing.” The first “bara” is found on Day One, verse 1; the second on Day Five, verse 21; the third on Day Six, verse 27. Thus, the questions arise, what did God create out of nothing on the first day, the fifth day, and the sixth day and what is their significance? What He created was, simply stated, “the cosmos”, “the breath of life”, and “the image of God”. Now, let’s see if we can understand their significance.

In the beginning we find God creating the cosmos—the space, mass, time universe—out of nothing. On day two, God separates the waters from the waters; on day three, He lets the dry land appear and the earth bring forth vegetation; on day four, we find God making the sun, moon and stars. On days two, three, and four, God had everything He needed—created out of nothing on the first day—to form, shape and mold what He wanted to accomplish.

On day five, God creates the first creature life—the fish and the birds. But not even God could make a living fish or bird with what He had created out of nothing on the first day; He had to create something brand new—out of nothing—the “breath of life.” Imagine a fish out of the water and flapping around on the shore. When it dies; what does it lose? It loses its “breath of life”. This is why you will never see creature life made in a lab; they can’t create the “breath of life.”

On day six, God has everything He needs from what He has already created on the first and fifth day to make the land creatures. But, to create Adam, He again has to create something else brand new out of nothing—this time—the “image of God.” Note again, God could only make an ape-like creature with what He had created on the first and fifth days. Being “created in the image of God” is what separates man from all the other creatures.

A quick check. According to the bara’s, what is the essential difference between you and a dog? You have the “image of God.” What is the essential difference between you and a tree? You have the “breath of life” and the “image of God.”

To complete our basic understanding of God’s world today, we need to take a look at Genesis 3. Here we discover that man is fallen, that man is a sinner. G. K. Chesterton wrote that this “is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” (Orthodoxy, page 7) There is no way to truly understand human nature without accepting this fact. Ironically, when you understand that man is created in the image of God and fallen, you will have a deeper insight into psychology, sociology, and anthropology than some of those professors who may be teaching you next year. But don’t get too cocky; they do know a lot of fascinating information; you can learn a lot from them.

Their “Stage”

Our basic understanding of God’s created world is now complete; however, your success in life will also depend on how well you understand your fellow actors. Not everybody shares our worldview; in fact, many aggressively reject it. This is especially true in academia, the media and in the entertainment industry. These influential segments of our society are dominated by the intellectual elite. For example, even the conservative Wall Street Journal Editorial page rarely challenges elite opinion on evolution. They did last Christmas Day and ran a column by Eric Metaxas on Intelligent Design; from the reaction of the elites, you would have thought that the sky had fallen! The media are not only the vanguard of our cultural-war competitors, they are its protectors; they are very powerful and effective.

We must understand the worldview of these elites. Benjamin Wiker in Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion, (2013, page 184)) asks “What would the world have to be like for the liberal worldview to be true?”

First, their ideology requires a materialistic universe. To get around the idea of a creator, these elites propose that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes. And, without a shred of evidence, they claim it came into existence from nothing! Amazing! Lawrence Kraus, the author of A Universe from Nothing, actually boasted on the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial page (September 8, 2010) “As a scientist, I have never quite understood the conviction, at the basis of essentially all the world’s religions, that creation requires a creator.” Dr. Kraus, I have never quite understood you and your fellow elite’s conviction that Nothing is something!

Second, for their worldview to be correct, man must be a product of the unguided natural processes of evolution; there can be no “breath of life” or “image of God.” A quick question. Do you think they decided on their materialistic worldview because the scientific evidence for evolution was so overwhelming? Or, do you believe they had already decided in their hearts that they didn’t want to believe in God and then looked for some justification for it from science? For them, which came first? It is important to understand, that despite what they say, their acceptance of evolution came second because it is needed to support their worldview. It can’t be based on the evidence because their so-called evidence is basically non-existent. Again, what they have done is find some supposed science to fit their worldview. They will argue their science all day long; they will tout their scientific consensus to the heavens; but, they are concealing, likely even from themselves, that their real reason for believing in evolution is a materialistic universe without God.

Another quick check. For the materialist, what is the essential difference between them and a dog and a tree? Nothing! They must really love “Nothing.”

Remember, for their worldview to be true, there can be no Creator, no “breath of life” and no “image of God.” Now that the “stage” is set, and the actors are in their place, let us now explore our role in this play.

Science

Paul told Timothy to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them…” (2 Timothy 3:14) How can you follow Paul’s advice? Here is one way. They use false science to promote their worldview; let us use real science to promote ours. As you will see, we can use science to strengthen our religious convictions. And then, we can use it to recommend our understanding back to them.

The compatibility of faith and science is one of the hot topics in intellectual circles today. I assume, being as well taught as you have been, that you already know that it is the Christian worldview that has given the world modern science in the first place. Therefore, how can there be a “compatibility” problem? The consensus view of historians of science is that the religious conviction that God created nature led to the development of the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages which then led to the achievement of modern science. (James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, 2009, page 5) The fact that the intellectual elites don’t know this and think that science and faith are incompatible gives us a clue that there’s something wrong with their science or their reasoning. Actually it is both.

What is science? In the opening episode of Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, (2014) atheist, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” Let’s accept! These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.
• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”
Since our convictions are “ideas,” they are the subject of scientific investigation. Let us now test them and the modern liberal’s counter-claims by making some “observations.”

We will first test the idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause and the cause that fits is God. Our conviction has passed the test.

What about their idea that our universe popped into existence out of “Nothing?” If we use Johnathan Edward’s definition of “Nothing” as “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we know for sure that their idea has failed the test.

Was man “created in the image of God?” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as Chesterton observed “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see.” (The Everlasting Man, page 263) Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Our idea has passed the test.

What about the idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes? For this idea, we find no observations. Their idea has failed.

Finally, to prove the idea that man is a sinner so obvious it is hardly worth a comment. Even a 100 years ago, Chesterton observed “Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing.” (Orthodoxy, page 7)

Not even the elites believe man is basically good. If they did, they wouldn’t be wanting a big powerful government to fix everything. (Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph, 2012, page 327)

Thus, our foundational convictions easily pass Tyson’s test of science while our culture-war competitor’s ideas all fail! Remember, build on those ideas that pass the test and reject the ones that fail.

Thinking

We have the winning hand; never forget that! And, not only is true science on our side, but so is simple logic. Because our modern liberal friends reject the existence of God, they can’t even think straight. About 25 years ago, a missionary friend of mine stated that the great hope for America was our Christian young people; he said the reason was because they will be the only ones who know how to think.

Our cultural competitors pride themselves on their intellectualism, yet we find that our society’s finest thinkers are the ones who accept the Bible as authoritative. This makes sense. When one’s reasoning is based on what is actually true—about God, his creation and human nature—your thinking has a chance to be sound. But, when you believe there is no truth, it actually becomes impossible. Christian author, Frank Peretti (Forward from Deliver Us From Evil, 1996, by Ravi Zacharias), observed that for them:
“There is no right or wrong, so no one feels ashamed; all opinions are equal, so no one is allowed to think; religious convictions are private, so they are meaningless in any discussion.”
His observation is correct; when all opinions are equal, one finds himself unable to make judgments, to discriminate—that is to think. This is just as the Bible says “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” (Romans 1: 28) that is a mind void of judgment—again a mind that can’t think.

Have you ever tried to understand why the political left has such a hard time condemning Islamist violence? It is simply because if they judge other religions or cultures as inferior, they will end up destroying their own worldview. Still, they can’t help themselves and do criticize at least one religion—Christianity. But when they do, their reasoning becomes self-contradictory and all their arguments fall apart.

Even my fourth grade Sunday school class understands the problem of self-contradiction. I presented them the modern liberal’s conviction “There is no such thing as truth” and then asked them if it was true? You should have seen their minds and eyes light up as they realized for themselves that the statement is nonsense. One youth wisely observed “That statement doesn’t work.” He is right, but it is not just that statement that doesn’t work, their complete ability to reason is actually broken.

An old Apologetics.com parody of the opening scene of the movie Patton illustrates the point. They have Patton motivating his young apologists; “Christians—have the finest minds, the best thinkers and the clearest understanding in the world. You know, by God I actually pity those poor pagans we are going up against; by God I do.”

Abraham Kuyper

Let us summarize our situation. We have the winning hand; science supports what we believe and rejects what they believe; our reasoning is sound and theirs is self-contradicting. They don’t know it but they need help. The good news is that they are not irretrievably stuck in their position. I know. Like many of us in this room, I used to default to the same materialist views. But, with the help of others and the Holy Spirit, I was “moved” to a Christian worldview. Helping others move is our job—our mission; here is the role we can play on the “stage” God created for us.

Most Christians today think of the Church’s mission in the terms of the Great Commission. Back in 1898, Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian and statesman, stated that the church’s “holy mission” is “recommending to others the superiority of its principles.” (Lectures on Calvinism, SGP, 2001, page 39)

Following Kuyper’s advice is a very powerful way to fulfill the Great Commission. And with what we have already discussed, we are prepared to do it. Remember, we have tested their ideas against ours and have seen that ours are superior. Thus, all we need do is recommend them to others—nicely. Simply state a biblical principle, state the world’s corresponding principle and then ask: “Which is better?” We don’t even need to say ours are superior; their superiority will speak for themselves.

For example, ask someone if they think that our universe just popped into existence out of nothing. Explain that real “Nothing” is “what a sleeping rock dreams of.” Then tell them you find that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a much better explanation. End by simply asking them what they think. No one I have ever talked to has trusted in in a “sleeping rock!”

It is also incredibly easy to tell someone that you have a problem with evolution—that it is hard for you to accept the idea that we are only a bunch of molecules talking to one another. Then, tell them that the idea that we are created in the image of God makes a lot more sense. Now ask them what they think. Again, I have never had anyone agree with the intellectual elite’s position that we are just a bunch of molecules having a conversation. Remember, we have the winning hand.

A Helpful Rubric

Here is another easy way to do some recommending. Use this simple rubric which I have found helpful.
• I believe the Bible.
• The Bible says (here we just put something the Bible says.).
• When I look at the world around me, I find that what I see supports what the Bible says.

Let’s look at another example, this time from Genesis 12. The Bible teaches that the Jews are God’s chosen people. So how would this rubric work?
• I believe the Bible.
• The Bible says that the Jews are God’s Chosen People.
• When I look at the world around me, I find that the survival of the Jewish people over the past 3000 years defies all naturalistic explanations and thus supports what the Bible says.

Conclusion

Don’t forget to use the first statement “I believe the Bible.” When you do, you will feel a level of confidence arise within you that is the result of all “the things you have learned and become convinced of.” God does exists; you are created in His image; the Bible is His Word. What a blessing it is to know that and to have been taught that.

Our cultural competitors ideas are provably false and their reasoning self-contradictory. But remember, they are not the enemy; all they may need is a little help “moving.” Don’t hesitate to give it; they may be sitting with us in our pews next year. This will be the role of your life!

Congratulations again. May the Lord bless you as you make this great transition onto the great stage that God has created for us. Thank you.

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Response to David Ogden’s Letter

The Eagle Letters for May 5

Posted: Monday, May 4, 2015 12:00 am

Religion cannot disguise that discrimination is discrimination

Don McLeroy’s (Eagle, May 1) reasoning in arguing against granting the right of marriage to gay couples is baffling, illogical, and just plain wrong. While he concedes that racial discrimination is wrong because God created all men equal, he claims gender discrimination is not wrong because God created two genders.

Help me understand, did God not create gay people? Or, more precisely, did He not create people as gays? My guess is that He did and I would suspect He would want all his creations to be treated fairly.

McLeroy seems to worry that the husband and wife ideal will be lost if gays marry. I think he should take comfort in knowing that the institution and industry of marriage is alive and well. If fact it’s booming. Thinking that heterosexual couples will marry less often, and therefore not perpetuate the “husband-wife ideal” is worse than ludicrous because it is an intentional red herring with the purpose of inventing something else for people to fear.

McLeroy has illustrated that people who use their religious beliefs as a means to discriminate know that their position is untenable. His arguments, and others, cannot avoid the fact that discrimination is discrimination, regardless if one’s religious beliefs are used as an excuse.

The good news is that using religious beliefs to deny rights to our fellow citizens eventually will go the way of the pseudo biblical arguments that once denied interracial couples to marry. Gay marriages will become a non-event.

DAVID OGDEN

College Station

My response

My letter of May 1st was a response to Lane Fuller’s editorial that argued that same-sex marriage was inconsequential to our nation and/or our individual lives. My argument was that this is not true. I pointed out that this idea is not good for society and would lead to a morally confused world. I also noted the greatest consequence would be that of our nation abandoning its commitment to religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

David Ogden, in his thoughtful response, skips those issues and primarily deals with my claim that we would lose the “husband-wife ideal” and the statement that “Gender discrimination is not wrong.” But, if marriage is redefined, the only politically correct way—as Dennis Prager points out—to ask a kid who they want to marry is “Do you want to marry a boy or a girl?” This is moral confusion.

That “gender discrimination is not wrong” is easily shown to be true. Marriage, same-sex public restrooms, same-sex schools, same-sex camps and clubs, plus same-sex athletics are organized with gender discrimination. It is not wrong to do discriminate by gender; we do it all the time.

Ogden also raises the fairness issue, and cites the example of interracial marriage—both of which I had dealt with. I stated it was not fair and that racism is biblically wrong.

Again, the specter of losing our religious freedom by the de-facto establishment of the state as our church is a scary thought indeed. We must take a stand to defend our religious freedom.

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Letter to the editor on same-sex marriage–revised

Dear “The Eagle” Editorial Board,

Lane Filler is wrong when he states that the approval of same-sex marriage is “not my business,” and that it is “the right philosophy for our nation.” As Dennis Prager argues, while it is not fair to the same-sex couple, same-sex marriage is not good for society. The reason is because it removes the gender distinction. For example, racial discrimination is wrong—“God created man in his own image”; but, gender discrimination is not wrong—“male and female created he them.” (Genesis 2:27)

Even without a Supreme Court decision, our society’s blurring of gender distinctions has resulted in Catholic Charities, because of their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, having to stop adoption services in several states. The loss of the husband-wife ideal destroys the family unit. Woe to our society when this ideal is lost! Again Prager argues, adopting same sex marriage might make us feel good about our sense of compassion and fairness, but it will leave our children and grandchildren in a morally confused world.

All this, and the specter of religious organizations being denied tax exempt status if they take a stand on their religious convictions turns our nation’s protection of religious freedom upside down. Our nation’s philosophy of the separation of church and state is too important for us today to claim same-sex marriage is “not my business.”

Don McLeroy

Here is the link to the Letter to the Editor.
http://t.co/Nul3nQdLNS

Here is a link to a tweet.

Here is the column that was run in my local paper yesterday to which I am responding.
http://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/lane-filler/bruce-jenner-and-same-sex-marriage-ain-t-nobody-s-business-but-their-own-1.10344021

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Address to the Constitutional Coalition’s 26th Educational Policy Conference, St. Louis

Let us Revive America!

I.            Hook

To revive America we must revive her religious convictions. This is a worldview/culture war issue that we can win and we must win. In Texas, we have made some progress; last September a Politico headline blared “Texas textbooks tout Christian heritage.”  But, if we hope to reverse our nation’s decline into chaos and anarchy, more progress is needed. British historian Paul Johnson, in the closing paragraph of his classic history of the 20th century—Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, (1991), lays out the task before us. He writes that the chances for the 21st century becoming an age of hope for mankind depends on the eradication of four underlying evils that characterized the 20th century and that resulted in over 125 million citizens murdered by their own governments. He identifies these evils as “the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility, the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, [and] … the arrogant belief that men and women could solve all the mysteries of the universe by their own unaided intellects….”

II. Our Job
As we will see, the only way these evils can be eradicated is by proclamation of our Judeo-Christian religious convictions. In a way, our task is simple. We are advocating biblical principles—the wisdom of God himself; what does the world have to compete with this? Plus, biblical Christianity has a great historical track record; when properly understood, it sells itself. The embrace of biblical principles and convictions has produced the good life—rich and fulfilling individual lives, strong and vibrant families and some of the freest and most scientifically advanced societies in history—especially the United States. There are reasons for this and people need to know them; we have a great story to tell them.

But, “how” shall we tell them? In 1898, Abraham Kuyper in a series of talks at Princeton University—Lectures on Calvinism, stated the “holy mission” of the church was “recommending to others the superiority of its principles.” So, let us do just that; let us identify some key religious convictions and simply recommend them—first to our own children and then to others. We do not even need to claim that these biblical ideas are superior; if presented clearly, others will see it for themselves.

III. America is a Biblical Nation

Before we begin, let us first establish that America truly is a biblical nation founded on religious convictions. When you stand in the center of the Jefferson Memorial facing the White House and look up to your right, you will read these words of President Jefferson, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our liberty, according to Jefferson, is not the result of our good nature, our intellect or our good intentions; it is the result of a religious conviction that it is a gift from God. Jefferson’s view was the consensus position of our founding fathers. Religiously, they were ethical monotheists; they believed in an omnipotent God who cared about right and wrong. Interestingly, if alive today, they would probably be labeled “religious conservatives.”

Like Jefferson, President Calvin Coolidge understood the importance of America’s religious convictions. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he reflected:
“A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration, not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man, these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

But even beyond the testimony of these Presidents, the best way to establish our biblical heritage is go back to July 4, 1776, to the actual words of the Declaration. Consider: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The modern liberal believes there is no truth, there is no God and that we just evolved. Yet, the Declaration clearly states that truth exists, there is a Creator and that we are created. So, are we a Christian nation? When you define a Christian nation simply as being founded on biblical convictions then the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

As obvious as this appears, why does the modern liberal’s mind shut down when they hear us making this claim? It is because they have been taught a myth. M. Stanton Evans, in his book The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (1994), calls this myth the “Liberal History Lesson.” Evans explains that from their earliest education, the lessons taught to our children are based on the idea that “Our religion and our liberty…have always been in conflict. Freedom, democracy and intellectual inquiry allegedly flourished in the pagan era, only to be crushed to earth in the Christian Middle Ages.” And, “that freedom reappeared when ‘humanist’ scholars of the Renaissance and Enlightenment threw off the shackles of religion of the ancients…”Yet, it is a historic fact that biblical convictions have produced freedom. Evans proves this point by connecting two obvious facts: biblical teaching formed Europe, and Europe was the nursery of freedom—especially England.

IV. Three Religious Convictions

We will now get specific and take a brief look at three foundational biblical convictions and the role they have played in shaping our history. We will also highlight how these convictions would eradicate Paul Johnson’s four evils.

A. God is the Creator

Our foundational conviction is in a transcendent God who God created the heavens and the earth—the God who is actually there. This seems pretty obvious. Jonathan Edwards observed “It would seem self-evident that if God has no competitor but “Nothing” [capitalized], he has nothing [little n] for a competitor.” Amazingly, in today’s intellectual and scientific circles, the universe is considered to come into existence from “Nothing!”

And, because God exists, truth exists. This is also easily demonstrated. Tomorrow, when you go to church, simply ask a youth if this statement “There is no such thing as truth.” is true? Watch their minds and eyes light up as they realize for themselves that the statement is self-contradictory, that it is nonsense. One youth wisely observed “That statement doesn’t work.” Our whole idea of the Declaration’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” is built on this conviction.

And, because truth exists, morality exists. Therefore, holding this conviction, is the only way we can eradicate, Johnson’s 1st evil—the rise of moral relativism—and its evil twin sister—political correctness.

And, it is with the loss of this conviction that Johnson’s 4thevil—man looking only to himself for answers—plays its ruinous hand. As Johnson observes, all that the modern liberal has to offer is “New Deals, Great Societies and always and everywhere, Plans!” They rely, not on God, but on themselves. As T. S. Elliot observed, “They are constantly trying to escape the darkness outside and within; By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one needs to be good.”

Finally, it is this conviction has given rise to modern science. James Hannam, in his award-winning book The Genesis of Science: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundation for Modern Science (2009), states: “Most significantly, the Middle Ages laid the foundation for the greatest achievement of Western civilization, modern science.” Hannam clearly documents the consensus view of historians of science that it was the conviction that God created nature that led to the development of the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages which then led to the achievement of modern science.

And again, with the loss of this conviction, modern science gets in trouble and lets dogmatism—the assertion of opinion as a fact—creep in. Despite all their learned pronouncements, dogmatic evolution is not science. The supposed “fact” of evolution has resulted in more wasted thought and bad reasoning than probably any other idea that is popular today.

B. Man is created in The Image of God

Our second religious conviction is that man is created in the Image of God. It is this conviction that helps explain one of the amazing qualities of the West today—why we value other people. Can anyone dispute the fact that untold millions if they could, would cherish the opportunity to move here; while those who live here and have the freedom to leave, stay? All Americans may not share our conviction, but they do share a common heritage of carrying and compassion for others.

It even explains why people are important to a secular-minded atheist—even though they see them as just as the product of blind purposeless processes—they have inherited the conviction. David Brog explains that “morally they were born on third base and think that they have hit a moral triple.”

Clearly, the source for the moral power on which the foundation of our country is based is the Judeo-Christian idea that all men are created in the image of God. Our whole idea of liberty, of the Declaration’s “all men are created equal”, and of the importance of the individual is grounded in this great truth.

Also, as Benjamin Wiker points out in Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion, (2013) it is this idea—that each individual soul has been created in the image of God— that has led to the distinction between the church and the state. The church can get a soul to heaven but the state cannot. Thus, as the state “establishes” Liberalism as our state religion—as a heaven on earth—then religion and state have joined forces and our “free exercise” of religion is lost.

And, it is the denial of this conviction that leads to chaos and anarchy—as we saw in Ferguson. Man, in the eyes of the modern liberal, is a helpless victim. Policies are then passed—in the name of liberal compassion—that squeeze the humanity out of man and Johnson’s 2nd evil—“the denial of personal responsibility” results. As people take on an entitlement mentality, society disintegrates. Denis Prager observes:
“Next time you assess any social policy, or you think through any issue, ask this question first …Will it increase or decrease a sense of entitlement among people? … And then you will know whether it is something that will bring more goodness and happiness to the world, or less.”

In stark contrast, the strengthening of this conviction favors human flourishing. The free enterprise system is built upon the principles of limited government and personal responsibility—which are built on the belief that man is created in the image of God. The free enterprise system makes better people; it rewards hard work, diligence and competence; it punishes laziness, cheating and freeloading.

C. Man is fallen

Our third foundational religious conviction is that man is fallen, that man is a sinner. This conviction is absolutely crucial to a well-functioning political system.

Our founding fathers had a clear biblical understanding of the nature of man. They not only understood that man was great—having been created in God’s image, they also knew that man was bad—having a fallen nature. Having this in mind, they designed our Constitution accordingly. Clearly understanding the reality of sin, our founders made it difficult to govern—that is, they made it difficult for tyranny to succeed; they adopted the separation of powers doctrine with its numerous checks and balances.

It is not surprising, therefore, that when modern men who deny the thinking behind our Constitution gets thwarted in their dreams, they will wrongly conclude our government is dysfunctional. But, for example, when Congress over-reached and passed an unpopular healthcare bill, the control over the House of Representatives switched parties less than one year later. Our Constitution worked flawlessly!

There is no clearer example of the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values—Johnson’s 3rd evil—than the modern liberal’s rejection of the separation of powers doctrine of our Constitution.

Also, the conviction that we are a flawed people gives insight in understanding Jefferson’s conviction that our liberty is not secure without God. As Dennis Prager points out in Still the Best Hope: Why the World Need America’s Values to Triumph, (2012) “There is, of course, one great risk to a society founded on liberty—anarchy”—a theme of this conference. He asks “Won’t inherently flawed people inevitably abuse liberty?” Yes, of course. Therefore, how did the founders propose to deal with anarchy, since they had rejected using strong government? They simply counted on their citizen’s having a faith in God and then letting God hold them accountable. It is “In God We Trust.”

V. Testing the Religious Convictions

We have now established that America is a Christian nation—having been founded on biblical principles. We have also briefly looked at three foundational religious convictions and seen how they have helped shape our nation. But our job is just beginning. Just having these convictions is not enough; we must, as Kuyper suggests, recommend them to others. To do so, let us use one of Christendom’s jewels—modern science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2014 Cosmos TV series presents a powerful definition of science; he explains that science is just a “simple set of rules” with the primary being “Test ideas by experiment and observation.” Since our convictions are “ideas,” they are the subject of scientific investigation. Let us now test them and the modern liberal’s counter-claims “by making some observations.”

We will first test the idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause and that cause is God. This conviction has passed the test.

What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of “Nothing?” If we accurately define “Nothing” as “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.

Was man “created in the image of God?” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.

What about the idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. This idea has simply failed the test.

Finally, to prove the idea that man is a sinner so obvious it is hardly worth a comment. Even a 100 years ago, Chesterton observed “Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing.”

Thus, our foundational convictions easily pass the test of science while our culture-war competitors all fail!

VI. Texas’ Accomplishments

Texans, simply standing up for these religious convictions were elected to the State Board of Education. Then, with the help of an active grassroots—especially ladies like Cathie Adams, Pat Carlson, and MerryLynn Gerstenschlager—Texas now has textbooks that tout our religious heritage. Texas also has biology texts vainly attempting to explain evolutionary origins for the complexity of the cell. Our new standards painted the evolutionists into a corner; the explanations they have offered are so weak, that all we need to do is to point out this out to our students.

VII. Conclusion

Let us conclude with two final thoughts from President Coolidge’s speech. First, like Paul Johnson, he highlights the importance of personal responsibility:
“The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.”

He then concludes:
“We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed….”

Coolidge said, we must “cling to the things of the spirit;” President Obama, however, mocks those who “cling to their religion.” Nothing describes how America has changed better than this.

Again, according to Paul Johnson, the chances for the 21st century becoming an age of hope for mankind depends on the eradication of four underlying evils that characterized the 20th century. And we have seen, the only way these evils can be eradicated is by proclamation of our Judeo-Christian religious convictions. We actually hold these truths to be self-evident—that God is the creator, that man is created in the image of God and that man is fallen. If we want to stop anarchy and preserve our Constitution, we must be able to make the case for reviving these religious convictions to our friends. We are not asking them to accept our theology or religion; we are only asking them to recognize some obvious and scientifically sound truths about God and the nature of man that have major far-reaching consequences.

We have the winning hand; let’s make our case.

Thank you.
Don McLeroy
Former Chairman, Texas State Board of Education
979-255-2538
donmcleroy@gmail.com

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The Cosmos is Yours

In the opening episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” I accept!

These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.

• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”

We will now test four ideas—two from the Bible and two from the materialist. All these ideas will be tested by observation as they cannot be tested by experiment. We will first test the biblical claim that man is “created in the image of God.” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see. The fish does not trace the fishbone pattern in the fowls of the air; or the elephant and the emu compare skeletons.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.

Now let us test the materialist idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. Physicist Nick Herbert stated “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.” This idea has failed the test.

What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of Nothing? If we accurately define Nothing as, for instance, “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.

What about the biblical idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause. And, since the qualities possessed by this cause describe the God of the Bible, we again find a biblical idea has passed the test.

Therefore, let us begin to build on the two scientifically strong ideas that have passed—the idea that God is the creator and that we have been created in his image. Let us further reject the materialist ideas that have failed—that a universe can come from Nothing and that materialism can account for human consciousness. Join with me and let us question more ideas from the Bible, and question more ideas of the materialist. Then, let us follow the evidence where ever it leads.

Especially, let us build on the idea that overwhelmingly has the most scientific support, with endless supporting observations, the greatest idea ever, that God created the heavens and the earth.

I believe—as already demonstrated by our first four tests—that when we accept the terms presented to us in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, we will find, not only that science and religion are compatible, but that science actually supports what the Bible says. The Cosmos is yours!

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America is a Biblical Nation

This week as the Texas State Board of Education is adopting new history books, liberal academics and activists are claiming that portions of the textbooks overemphasize the biblical religious heritage of our country. These critics are wrong. America was founded on the biblical principles:

  • Truth exists,
  • God exists,
  • Man is created in the image of God, and
  • Man is fallen.

This is an incredibly important discussion to have. For example, read this excerpt from the essay that follows. Here we learn that our government is not broken, as so many today claim, but that it is working exactly as it was designed! And, we learn that the underlying principle that makes it work is the biblical conviction that man is fallen–that man is a sinner.

“Our founding fathers had a clear biblical understanding of the nature of man. They not only understood that man was great—having been created in the image of God, they also knew that man was bad—having a fallen nature. Having this in mind, they designed our Constitution accordingly. Clearly understanding the reality of sin, our founders made it difficult to govern—that is, they made it difficult for tyranny to succeed; they adopted the separation of powers doctrine with its numerous checks and balances. It is not surprising, therefore, that when modern men who do not understand the thinking behind our Constitution gets thwarted in their dreams, they will wrongly conclude our government is dysfunctional. But, for example, when Congress over-reached and passed an unpopular healthcare bill, the control over the House of Representatives switched parties less than one year later. Our Constitution worked flawlessly!”

Not only are these thoughts timely for the Texas textbook adoption, they are incredibly important nationally  as our president is about to take on an unprecedented step of defying our separation of powers doctrine with an executive order on granting amnesty to millions.

Please read the following analysis and see if you do not agree. Thank you.

Don McLeroy

 

America is a Biblical Nation: Let Us Renew America by Reviving her Religious Convictions

 

America is a Biblical Nation

America was founded on her biblical religious convictions; the result has been American Exceptionalism; even as early as 1862 President Lincoln recognized that we were “the last best hope of earth.”  It can be easily demonstrated that religious convictions are the lifeblood of our republic, that they gave it its birth and maintain its health. When you stand in the center of the Jefferson Memorial facing the White House and look up to your right, you will read these words of President Jefferson, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our liberty, according to Jefferson, is not the result of our good nature, our intellect or our good intentions; it is the result of a religious conviction that it is a gift from God. Jefferson’s view was the consensus position of our founding fathers. Religiously speaking, they were ethical monotheists; they believed in an omnipotent God who cared about right and wrong.  Interestingly, if alive today, they would probably be labeled “religious conservatives.”

Like Jefferson, President Calvin Coolidge understood the power of religious convictions. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he reflected:

 “A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration, not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man, these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

A key question is: Will a future president make a similar declaration in 2026 on our country’s 250th anniversary? Already, many secularists insist that the United States is not a Christian nation; they even claim that our nation was not even founded on biblical principles but on secular principles. Frankly, the best way to settle this dispute is to go to the very beginning, to July 4, 1776, to the founding document of our country—the Declaration of Independence. Consider: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Secularism says there is no truth, there is no God and that we just evolved. The Declaration clearly states that truth exists, there is a Creator and that we are created. So, are we a Christian nation? When you define a Christian nation simply as being founded on biblical principles then the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

Biblical Convictions Produce Freedom

So why then is there such widespread disagreement about Christianity and freedom today? The fact is too many Americans have been taught a myth that the mixing of religion and politics is a threat to freedom. M. Stanton Evans, in his book The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (1994), calls this myth the “Liberal History Lesson.” Evans explains that from their earliest education, the lessons our children are being taught are based on the idea that “Our religion and our liberty…have always been in conflict. Freedom, democracy and intellectual inquiry allegedly flourished in the pagan era, only to be crushed to earth in the Christian Middle Ages.” And, “that freedom reappeared when ‘humanist’ scholars of the Renaissance and Enlightenment threw off the shackles of religion of the ancients…” The only problem with these statements is that they are wrong.

It is a historic fact that biblical convictions have produced freedom. Evans proves this point by connecting two obvious facts:

“That biblical teaching was the formative influence in the creation of Europe, and that Europe was the nursery of freedom as we know it, are both established facts of record. Taken separately, these are prosaic statements of common knowledge, hardly worth the trouble of assertion. Put them together, however, and the result is intensely controversial. This is not the linkage, after all, suggested by the usual story; the notion that Christianity equals Europe equals freedom is, indeed, reverse of what should be expected. If Christian doctrine is opposed to freedom, then liberty ought to flourish where Christianity has had the smallest degree of influence, and languish where that influence is the greatest.”

Now consider two more facts. When Nazi Germany rejected Christianity, they became pagan; when Communist Russia rejected Christianity they became atheist. And, both became totalitarian.

I will now take a brief look at three key biblical convictions and the role they have played in shaping history. They are actually simple and obvious truths. When clearly presented, they are acceptable to almost everyone. These convictions are not obtuse theological points but are easily grasped—even by my fourth grade Sunday school students. They are immensely practical and, as we will see, even secular critics unknowingly reason on the foundation which they provide. What we must do is simply teach them to our children—no one else will.

The Religious Conviction That God Is the Creator

God or “Nothing “

Our foundational conviction is in a transcendent God who God created the heavens and the earth—the God who is actually there. This seems pretty obvious. Jonathan Edwards observed “It would seem self-evident that if God has no competitor but “Nothing”, he has nothing for a competitor.” Edwards also defines Nothing as “what a sleeping rock dreams of.”

I can think of no more powerful and practical concept to teach our children than this in today’s anti-supernatural climate. Amazingly, in today’s intellectual and scientific circles, the universe is considered to come into existence from “Nothing!”

Science arose in Christendom

The conviction that God has created the heavens and the earth has many important implications and consequences, but here we will just consider one; it is this conviction that has given us modern science. James Hannam, in his award-winning book The Genesis of Science: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundation for Modern Science (2009), states:

“Most significantly, the Middle Ages laid the foundation for the greatest achievement of Western civilization, modern science. It is simply untrue to say that there was no science before the ‘Renaissance’. Once medieval scholars got their hands on the work of the classical Greeks, they develop systems of thought that allowed science to travel far further than it had in the ancient world. Universities, where academic freedom was guarded from royal interference, were first founded in the 12th century. These institutions have always provided scientific research with a safe home. Even Christian theology turned out to be uniquely suited to encouraging study of the natural world, because this was believed to be God’s creation.”

Hannam clearly documents the consensus view of historians of science that it was the religious conviction that God created nature that led to the development of the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages which then led to the achievement of modern science. He also describes how the Christian theologians of the Middle Ages, whom he refers to as “God’s philosophers,” made the crucial distinctions about how God uses secondary causes or natural laws to affect his will which encouraged the study of nature. Without such distinctions theology becomes fatalistic and no science ensues.

Rodney Stark of Baylor, in his book For the Glory of God: How Monotheism led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery (2003) concurs. He concludes with two points, “First, science arose only once in history—in medieval Europe. Second, science could only arise in a culture dominated by belief in a conscious, rational, all-powerful Creator.”

The result of losing this conviction—scientific dogmatism

And, it is with the loss of this conviction that modern science gets in trouble and lets dogmatism—the assertion of opinion as a fact—creep in. Ironically, it is the secular-minded that become dogmatic because they are trapped by their beliefs. Consider evolution—the idea that all life is descended from a common ancestor as a result of unguided natural processes. The atheist must accept evolution—not a very good position to put in scientifically. For them, evolution has become more than just science; it has become the foundation for their beliefs.

But, a theist is free to accept or reject evolution. For example, many Christians believe God created the heavens and the earth and after looking at the evidence do not believe he used evolution to do it. Other Christians, such as Francisco J. Ayala, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, believe he did use evolution.

Next, we will look at one of the amazing qualities of the West—how we treat other people.  Can anyone dispute the fact that untold millions who could, would cherish the opportunity to move here; while those who live here and have the freedom to leave, stay? We in the West may not all share the conviction that God created the heavens and the earth, but we do share a common heritage of carrying and compassion for others. Let us now identify the source of our Western moral ideals.

The Religious Conviction That Man Is Created in the Image of God

Why people are important

Where did we get this ideal of caring?  More to the point, why are people important to a secular-minded atheist if they are only the product of blind purposeless processes? There is a simple answer; he has inherited it, without even realizing it, from our next religious conviction that all men are special having been created in the image of God.

David Brog in his book In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (2010) convincingly describes how the secularists’ attempts to purge religion from our society would purge the moral high ground from where they preach. In analyzing the secular-minded, he states that “morally they were born on third base and think that they have hit a moral triple;” “they begin life on a high moral summit and believe they have scaled a high mountain.”

Brog’s book makes clear that the force for moral progress in the West is the religious conviction that man has been created in the image of God. He shows that those who stood up against genocide, against slavery and racism were predominantly the strongly religious—for example: Antonio de Montesinos, Bartolome de Las Casas, William Wilberforce, William Lloyd Garrison, and Martin Luther King. Do our children know these names?

Christian principles favor human flourishing. For example, the free enterprise system is built upon the principles of limited government and personal responsibility—both of which are the result of a belief in man as created in the image of God.  The free enterprise system makes better people.  The free enterprise system rewards hard work, diligence and competence; it punishes laziness, cheating and freeloading.

The source for the moral power on which the foundation of our country is based is the Judeo-Christian idea that all men are created in the image of God.  Our whole idea of liberty, of the Declaration’s “all men are created equal”, and of the importance of the individual is grounded in this great truth.

We take for granted that our society is the normal state of affairs, but ours is uncharacteristic of what is found in human societies around the world. That all men are “created equal” and have “inalienable rights” is self-evident to us, but to the people of the ancient world, before the advent of biblical revelation such ideas were not self-evident at all.

Next, we will see how a third foundational religious conviction is absolutely crucial to a well-functioning political system.

The Religious Conviction That Man Is Fallen

Why people cannot be completely trusted

Like the other convictions, the fact that man is a sinner is perfectly obvious. But amazingly, the secular-minded deny it. G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy (1908) observed “Whether a no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But now certain religious leaders… have begun…not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt.”

Our founding fathers had a clear biblical understanding of the nature of man. They not only understood that man was great—having been created in the image of God, they also knew that man was bad—having a fallen nature. Having this in mind, they designed our Constitution accordingly. Clearly understanding the reality of sin, our founders made it difficult to govern—that is, they made it difficult for tyranny to succeed; they adopted the separation of powers doctrine with its numerous checks and balances. It is not surprising, therefore, that when modern men who do not understand the thinking behind our Constitution gets thwarted in their dreams, they will wrongly conclude our government is dysfunctional. But, for example, when Congress over-reached and passed an unpopular healthcare bill, the control over the House of Representatives switched parties less than one year later. Our Constitution worked flawlessly!

Thus, if we lose the religious conviction that man is fallen, we run the risk of a totalitarian state. For a free society, history is everything.  Since the founding era represents the one of the most shining examples of biblical principles in action, we should utilize these illustrations as often as we can. This is especially true with the fallen nature of man.

The Importance of Religious Convictions

Eradicating the Four Underlying Evils

Since one of our society’s greatest needs is a defense and reviving of our importance of religious convictions, I believe one of the greatest threats is their mocking and ridicule. Most who disagree with us are not mean-spirited. Dennis Prager, in his book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (2012), points out they believe that their rejection of religion is most reasonable. They think their way is the only way to think and that what I am describing is anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-reason.

However, esteemed British historian Paul Johnson in his classic history Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (1991), laments the over 120 million citizens murdered by their own nations in search of human progress. Johnson concludes his book with the following paragraph.

“Certainly, by the last decade of the century, some lessons had plainly been learned. But it was not yet clear whether the underlying evils which had made possible its catastrophic failures and tragedies—the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility, the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, not least the arrogant belief that men and women could solve all the mysteries of the universe by their own unaided intellects—were in the process of being eradicated. On that would depend the chances of the twenty-first century becoming, by contrast, an age of hope for mankind.”

Note, all four of the “evils” Johnson identifies are secular values. This is why we need to make the connection between biblical principles and what has actually happened in history known to our children. When they know the fruit of what Christianity has brought into this world they should be better prepared to hold on to these important truths. As Johnson points out, lives are at stake.

If we fail to make this connection, here a quick summary of some of what they lose:

  • They won’t understand their own country.
  • They will lose modern science.
  • They will lose the moral high ground for our compassionate and caring society, and
  • They will not understand how our Constitution prevents tyranny.

Cultivate Reverence for the Things that are Holy

Back in 1926 President Coolidge concluded his speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration with these words:

“We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed….”

Coolidge said, we must “cling” “to the things of the spirit;” We must not mock these ideas. We need to teach our children to easily recognize some obvious and simple truths about God and the nature of man that have major far-reaching consequences. This is very similar to something Moses once said.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-8)

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