Shame And The Cross

One of my most popular sermons. So many people confuse guilt and shame. So much so, that guilt gets the credit when it is shame that is the real culprit. Check out this message, and be prepared to go deep:

Modern Science & The Principle of Causality



"Those who devote themselves to the purpose of proving that there is no purpose constitute an interesting subject for study" - Alfred North Whitehead 

Scientific discovery, determinations, and just plain good logical reasoning to conclusions require that we properly understand and apply the principle of causality. The principle of causality is one of the first principles of science because, after all, science in its most rudimentary definition is simply a search for causes.  When science goes astray, the reason usually has to do with bad reasoning due to a bad philosophy which is either not known or not understood by the scientist who holds it. This is critical so that one avoids confirmation bias when looking for causes and when interpreting results. In short, bad philosophy always produces to bad science.

Since one can get a PhD in science and never take a class on logic and critical thinking it should not surprise us that many scientists have no idea that the philosophy of naturalism/materialism is the worldview that is being smuggled into their work. I was on an apologetics panel at McLean Bible Church with three men who all had advanced degrees and I made this statement. One gentleman, who had two PhD's, confirmed my statement to the surprise to many in the audience.

Image result for basketballSo what is my point? The philosophy of naturalism/materialism has neutered the principle of causality by minimizing it to merely material and efficient causes which is only two of the four causes! The four types or aspects of causality are final, formal, material, and efficient causes. The material cause is the matter or stuff that a thing is made of. The efficient cause is what brings a thing into its form, or to put it philosophically, what moves a thing from a state of potentiality to actuality. The formal cause is the form, structure, or pattern the matter exhibits. The final cause is the thing's purpose or end goal; i.e., why the thing exists in the first place. When you put all of this together, you have a complete explanation of a thing, whatever that thing may be.

The best way to explain it is with a common example. If I was holding a basketball in front of you and I ask you, "What is this and what caused it?" How would you explain it? First, you would notice that it is a basketball. Now, of course prior experience informed you already what a basketball looks like, but let's leave that aside for a moment.


In this example the rubber and leather are the material cause, the machines in the factory running on electricity and controlled by people are the efficient cause of the basketball. The formal cause or design would be the shape that the basketball fills into. Now, the final cause is it's purpose which is to be used to play the sport of basketball. All four causes give you a complete picture of the effect, a basketball, and it's cause, how it came to be, why it has the shape it does, and most importantly, why it exists in the first place. Maybe you can see the philosophical problem of minimizing the principle of causality already. What if you said that you do not know why the ball exists and tried to tell me that it is not designed because your philosophy removes those two causes from the very beginning. How questions are both incomplete and unsatisfying without why questions.

Image result for teapotHow about one more example. Let's say that you are a modern 2-cause scientist, which means you are half baked, and you come over to my house to visit. As you come into the kitchen you see a teapot on the stove and I ask you, "why is the water boiling on the stove?" So, you proceed to tell me that the heat from the stove is causing a reaction (efficient cause) among the H2O in the teapot (material cause), thus this explains the phenomena. Is that a complete answer? No, you left out the big why and only gave me a how. For a complete explanation, you missed it. The complete answer of why includes the fact that I wanted to make you a cup of tea (final cause/purpose) which is why I chose a teapot over a frying pan (formal cause/design).

Let me make it personal with the number one question people ask themselves: Why am I here and what is my purpose? This is internal evidence within you that the material "how" answer is incomplete. God, provides the why.


Until He Returns,

Peter P. Lackey, Jr.

Secular Fundamentalism Pillar #4: "God is Created in the Image of Man"



Pillar #4: "God is Created in the Image of Man"

Well, we made it!  This is the last post in my series of Secular Fundamentalism and I pray that you really learned something about this dangerous religious movement that cleverly disguises itself as a "secular tolerant non-religious" movement. This final post is really important to understand as we get to the emotional reasons for the rejection of Father God which has led to the worship of Mother Earth in His place.

https://www.amazon.com/Faith-Fatherless-Psychology-Paul-Vitz/dp/1586176870/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491494185&sr=8-1&keywords=Faith+of+The+Fatherless


The Faith of The Fatherless

The one thing about humanity that drives the secular fundamentalist crazy is the fact that human beings, in spite of the increase in education, are incurably religious.  If one posits a purely atheistic outlook on life then one would suppose that man created religion for some evolutionary survival purpose.  From a secular standpoint this makes perfect sense given their view that no god exists for any religion to be true about.  Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis and one of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century,[1] provided a psychological argument on why there is the existence of religion that he tied to Darwinian evolution.

Freud argued that the concept of God originated during the ignorant period of human development and psychologically is tied to an illusionary desire to have a cosmic father figure to comfort us during the woes of life.[2]  Freud based this on his clinical observations that showed a child’s ambivalence (i.e., strong negative and strong positive feelings) toward his or her father.  What Freud seemed to miss is that this sword cuts both ways.  If the strong positive feelings toward the father can cause a projection of one’s desire for a protective father figure god to exist, then one can reason that the strong negative feelings could cause a deep-seated wish projection of a cosmic father figure god not to exist.[3]

Moreover, one can more effectively argue that the negative side of this ambivalence is even more influential than the positive side!!!  Imagine if you will the child, especially the boy, who has a physically absent, or sometimes even worse, physically present but emotionally absent father during the critical time in life that we know as childhood.  In addition to the normal emotional needs of children during childhood, there is an early emotional developmental stage that only occurs in boys between the ages of three and five that was not known in Freud’s day.  This first crisis in male child development is known as ‘disconnection and differentiation’ and is the process by which a little boy emotionally disconnects from his mother and begins to move more emotionally toward his father.[4]  In an effort to formulate a masculine identity, the child recognizes during this stage of development that he is not like his mother but more like his father.  It is not at all unusual during this time to find the little boy trying to emulate his father’s behavior and mannerisms.[5]  When the father is absent during this time the boy is left behind to virtually pull his masculine identity out of thin air.[6]  Using Freud’s own theory of the Oedipus complex, the negative consequences of an absent or abusive father during these years would cause an intense desire for a father god to not exist.

Paul Vitz, a professor of psychology at New York University, makes the case that the negative side of this ambivalence is exactly what led some of the most famous atheists in the world to desire that God not exist, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, David Hume, Bertrand Russell, and you guessed it, Sigmund Freud himself.  In his book Faith of theFatherless, Professor Vitz postulates “the defective father hypothesis” as a theory to explain what he refers to as intense atheism:

"Yet in postulating a universal Oedipus complex as the origin of all of our neuroses, Freud inadvertently developed a straightforward rationale for understanding the wish-fulfilling origin of the rejection of God.  After all, the Oedipus complex is unconscious, it is established in childhood, and above all its dominant motive is hatred of the father (God) and the desire for him not to exist, something represented by the boy’s desire to overthrow or kill the father.  Freud regularly described God as the psychological equivalent to the father, and so a natural expression of Oedipal motivation would be powerful, unconscious desires for the nonexistence of God.  Therefore, in the Freudian framework, atheism is an illusion caused by the Oedipal desire to kill the father (God) and replace him with oneself. . . .The belief that “God is dead,” therefore, is simply a Oedipal wish-fulfillment—the sign of seriously unresolved unconscious motivation."[7]

In summary, by Freud’s own scientific model, an atheist who is left disappointed and resentful of his father has an unconscious justification for his rejection of God.[8]  This is the type of atheism that I would say lies under the surface of the Secular Fundamentalists of our day who are trying to "kill the Father" and His views most evident in historical Christianity. So, reflect a moment on a friend, a leader in the world, or even your own view of your earthly father and how that has fueled a possible irrational belief that God does not exist.  The cure is to simply allow God the Father to re-father you all over again.  Begin first by taking the tools of Faith & Reason and check out this letter from me to you.

Click this link to my letter


Secular Fundamentalism Series Conclusion

The atheistic foundation and four pillars of secular fundamentalism hold up the rest of the secular house of our society that is being constructed with the blueprints of the humanist manifestoes.  Furthermore, the media frames the way that the debate is presented to the public because they themselves have been involved in building this secular temple.  The media levies the straw man fallacy by only focusing on the religious beliefs of the theistic scientists and philosophers that are crowded outside of this secular temple.  As an example, Richard Dawkins has never been asked about how his secular faith shapes his scientific views.  After all, Dr. Dawkins is one of the signers of Humanist Manifesto 2000; thus, he has made his faith public.

The four pillars of secular fundamentalism that hold the load of the secular house of our society has severe cracks that are beyond repair.  The shifting in the foundation of atheism has caused enough cracks in them to condemn the house and it is time to begin building again, but this time on a new theistic foundation.  The new fideism of a dichotomy between faith and reason has proved to be unreasonable and begging the question.  The very scientific methods and first principles that the secularists used to propose the ‘death of God’ are the very same tools that are bringing Him back to life, one might even call it a resurrection.  The first principles of all rational thought that science itself relies on have proved useful in reasoning back to a universe that has a beginning; moreover, the Beginner of the universe has been shown by the evidence to be an intelligent cause.  Bringing something into existence out of nothing makes miracles a reality, for creating something out of nothing is the greatest miracle of all.  If that were not enough, the psychological evidence points to wish-fulfillment of the atheist desiring God not to exist.


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Building men of virtue in a culture of vice,
 
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.
Founder, Man's Ultimate Challenge
"It is essential to a virtue to be about the difficult and the good" - Thomas Aquinas


[1] Associate clinical professor of psychiatry Dr. Armand Nicholi lists in his book The Question of God some fascinating facts that highlight Freud’s enormous influence on the secularization of our culture.  The list is as follows: He appears on most lists of the greatest physicians in history; he is ranked sixth in a book on the hundred most influential scientists; and, some scholars refer to the twentieth century as “the century of Freud”; he appeared on the cover of Time next to Einstein for an issue dedicated to the greatest scientific minds of the century; and his photo even appears on Austrian currency.

[2] Geisler, “Freud, Sigmund” in Apologetics., 264.

[3] Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and The Meaning of Life, (New York: The Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 2002), 46.

[4] Dr. James Dobson, Bringing Up Boys, (Wheaton, Illionois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 58.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Paul C. Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless, (Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing Company, 2000), 13.

[8] Ibid., 16.

Secular Fundamentalism Pillar-3: "Miracles Are Impossible"



Secular Fundamentalism Pillar-3: "Miracles Are Impossible"


Happy Easter! Every holiday season millions of Christians around the world will celebrate, the “miracle” of Christmas and the cornerstone of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. For the Christian Christmas represents the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who came into the world because God miraculously fertilized the ovum of the virgin Mary in order to bring forth his Son Jesus Christ—sinless!  Given that the sin-nature passes on to every generation of human beings through the seed of the man, God chose to intervene miraculously, therefore, bestowing upon Jesus two natures united; thus, making Him 100% God and 100% sinless man. Jesus, the God-man, became sin for us by dying on the Cross for our sins, satisfying God's justice while at the same time demonstrating His love for us.  Easter is the evidence of this fact and promise of eternal life when Jesus resurrected from the dead as promised in the bible.
 
Now it should be obvious that both of these events assume that two things are true: (1) God exists, and (2) miracles are possible. Consequently, both holiday celebrations are meaningless if God does not exist and miracles are impossible since the heart cannot really rejoice in what the head rejects. Now the secular "spiritual" person will grasp the Secular Fundamentalists false dichotomy between faith & reason and "believe by faith" in these events which means that they do not really believe it at all.  However, this should not be the case, and the biblical definition of faith does not support this "blind faith" approach to life. This post is going to demonstrate that there is good news in that both the head and the heart can rejoice together because recent scientific discoveries have provided enough evidence that God exists and therefore miracles are possible. This is FAITH & REASON working hand in hand so that you can really celebrate this year--enjoy!

Recent Scientific Evidence Supporting

The Teleological Argument

http://youtu.be/CAc9oNjXe0M
[Click the image above to watch this engineering marvel]

The teleological argument can be stated this way: 
(1) Every design needs a designer; 
(2) The universe and life have highly complex design; 
(3) Therefore there is a designer.   

The reality that the universe came into existence at a single point in time also provides us some information about the cause of the universe itself.  Since space, time, matter, and energy—the four dimensions of our universe—come forth at a single point in time, the cause of the universe must lie outside of the universe itself.  This is exactly what Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking sought to prove when they formulated their space-time theorem of general relativity.  Astronomer and physicist Hugh Ross points out that this theorem proved “that an Entity transcending matter, energy, space and time is the cause of the universe in which humanity lives.”[1]  Additionally, utilizing the principle of uniformity we can reason from the effect—the universe—that the cause must be an intelligent personal Being and not an impersonal force given that intelligence and design are part of the universe.

The topic of design fills many scientific books and has been formulated into what is known as ‘The Anthropic Principle.’  This principle of science states that the universe appears to have been designed for the sake of human life from the very beginning of the Big Bang.  Astronomer and physicist Hugh Ross points out that, “By the end of 2001, astronomers had identified more than 150 finely tuned characteristics.”[2]  Every one of these characteristics of the universe is necessary for human life to exist on earth.  For example, one of the fine tuned characteristics is tied to the very beginning of the universe itself showing that if the rate of expansion of the universe had been smaller than one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have immediately recollapse on itself.  Arguably, science has shown that the universe was created out of nothing by an intelligent being for the purpose of human life.  A purpose or a plan is yet another characteristic of a mind, in this case a divine Mind.

In the fields of microbiology and biochemistry, it has been determined that the living cell is highly complex and shows signs of intricate design. In Darwin’s day, the cell was considered quite simple, nothing more than a simple blob of protoplasm. With advances in microscopic technology that can look intently at the inner workings of the cell, scientists have discovered that the cell is incredibly complicated. As biochemistry professor Michael Behe states:

The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ‘design!’ The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science.  The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein.[3]

If we assume intelligence with simple orders of information in everyday life, how much more so should we assume intelligence when we find volumes of information located within a single cell? For example, if you were walking in the woods with your friends and you saw “Jim loves Sharon” written on a tree, what would you immediately assume: Rain damage? A termite came and did it?  Naturally, you assume that an intelligent being must have made the inscription. Hence, for an evolutionist to claim that a single cell with all of its complexity came into existence by random processes would be like claiming that we got Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary by an explosion in a printing shop.  What is most intriguing is the fact that the December 2008 issue of Science magazine has a cover story celebrating the 2008 scientific breakthrough of the year “Reprogramming Cells”.  Now, does it not seem rational that if one can reprogram a cell, then there must have been an original program?  If the scientist used their mind to discover the program, are they not engaged in the task of trying to think the thoughts of the original Programmer after him?




Mind Over Matter?
 
Since the effect contains minds with the ability to discover laws, mathematical formulas, design, and intelligence, does this not obviously point back in time beyond matter itself to an immaterial Divine Mind in the cause?  Neurologist Michael Egnor lists six salient characteristics of the mind, generally accepted by materialist and non-materialist scientists and philosophers.[4] They are intentionality, qualia, persistence of self-identity, restricted access, incorrigibility, and free will.  These are all properties of the mind that make up what is known as the mind-body problem in philosophy.  With the new evidence that the all of the matter of the universe had a beginning, and it was further designed from the beginning to produce life, we already have established the amazing scientific fact that of mind influencing matter in a similar way that our minds influence us.  Each of these six salient properties of the human mind, which is evident in the effect are by definition implicit in the cause.  Since these properties are immaterial, could it be that this is evidence that there is an immaterial part of us as dualism contends?  Nobel laureate and the father of neurophysiology Charles Sherrington, the father of epilepsy surgery Wilder Penfield, and Sir John Eccles Nobel laureate and pioneer in the study of neuronal synapses are all dualists who believe that the evidence is clear—there is!




Miracles Are Supernatural Events That Are Discernible

Since overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it is reasonable to believe that the universe was created ex nihilo by an intelligent cause, David Hume's famous argument against miracles simply does not stand.  Hume's argument against the possibility of miracles can be summarized as follows: (1) miracles by definition violate natural laws; (2) natural laws are unalterably uniform; (3) therefore, miracles cannot occur.[5]  Hume’s argument falls short because the ability to create something out of nothing is obviously the greatest miracle of all.  What’s more, if it is true that a theistic God exists then his argument violates the law of cause and effect because only those in this space-time continuum are bound by the laws of nature.  The law of cause and effect that flows out of the principle of causality which simply states that the effect can never be greater than the cause.  The universe had a cause, thus, the universe is an effect.  Consequently, the cause of the universe, God, has sovereignty over the laws of nature as its Lawgiver and governing authority.  Hence, the Lawgiver has the authority to intervene any way that He sees fit without violating natural laws, since He is the one who put those laws in place and governs them.  In Hume’s argument, he reverses the roles given that he has God, who is the cause, subject to the laws of nature, which is the effect.  More to the point, this use of the term ‘laws’ when speaking of nature is disingenuous given that these supposed laws simply state how nature operates not how nature must operate.

A recognized authority over the law intervening at times is something that we experience in everyday life, yet we never view this intervention as a violation of the law. For example, every Sunday I approach a stop sign while exiting McLean Bible Church onto Route 7.  As I approach the stop sign, I see a police officer waving his hand directing me to continue through the stop sign, without stopping, onto Route 7.  Is this a violation of the law?  Does this now mean that I can speed through every stop sign that I approach from now on?  I recognize that the answer to both of these questions is—no!  This was simply an intervention by a recognized person of authority who had the sovereignty to intervene at a specific point in time for a specific purpose.  The same principle holds true for God who is the recognized authority over creation.  He has the authority to intervene in His created world any time that He sees fit, and for whatever specific purpose He has for doing so.

Since the weight of the evidence points to a God who exists and has the ability to create the world out of nothing, then the greatest miracle has already occurred—creating something out of nothing.  A God who created something out of nothing can certainly create something—that is miraculous to us—out of something.[6] In addition, given the fact that God created the world, He has the authority to intervene without violating His laws that He placed in nature.  In short, because a God exists who can create something out of nothing miracles are not only possible but actual.

Conclusion

Seeing as we cannot apply the scientific method to the cause of the universe, which lies outside of the universe, we are left with an interpretation of the evidence in the effect to best explain the cause.  Therefore, both atheistic and theistic views of reality require faith and the debate has always been which view requires more of it. In light of the scientific evidence many astronomers, physicists, and philosophers are concluding that they no longer have enough faith to be an atheist.  Furthermore, in a theistic universe one should expect a God who acted in times past to miraculously bring about something out of nothing, to do something that is miraculous to us with the purpose of sending us a message.  Given that human life was part of the original design at the very beginning, and given the fact that we have minds that discover laws and order, we would be able to discern the miraculous when it occurred for it would have to temporarily suspend the natural order.  In doing so, the Divine mind would be once again influencing matter intentionally, with free-will, for a purpose and possibly with the expectation that we have the mind to discover this message.

So during this holiday season when someone gives you the ‘weird eye’ for believing in miracles, remind him or her of the facts above and boldly proclaim "I do not have enough faith to be an atheist!"  As a bonus, you might want to provide this quote by Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow:

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.  He has scaled the mountains of ignorance: He is about to conquer the highest peak: As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (God and the Astronomers, p. 107).

May your heart receive God’s miraculous gift of Jesus Christ this Holiday Season.

God’s gift was wrapped on Christmas morning,

Offered on Good Friday and,

Is ready to be received today
  

Building men of virtue in a culture of vice,
 
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.
Founder, Man's Ultimate Challenge
"It is essential to a virtue to be about the difficult and the good" - Thomas Aquinas


Footnotes:
  
[1] Hugh Ross, “Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity,” Facts for Faith, Qtr.1, No. 8 (2002): 29 [emphasis in original].

[2] Ibid., 26.

[3] Michael Behe, Darwin’s black box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 232-33.

[4] Michael Egnor, “The Mind and Materialist Superstition,” http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/11/the_mind_and_materialist_super.html, (accessed November 26, 2008).

[5] Geisler, “Miracles, Arguments Against” in Apologetics, 458.

[6] Ibid.


Shame And The Cross

One of my most popular sermons. So many people confuse guilt and shame. So much so, that guilt gets the credit when it is shame that is the ...