The 3 Easiest Ways to Get a Christian Book Published

Christian publishing has become quite the money-making field. In order to get a Christian book published you must either be

  1. A celebrity
  2. A heretic
  3. A member of the dominant Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex.

Christians have always been desperate for validation by celebrities. We are so accustomed to celebrities being against Christianity and Christian virtue, we’ll pretty much bend over backwards to not have a problem with any famous person claiming Christ. I’m stunned by the otherwise-level-headed believers who will pontificate about some random celebrity, “Oh, she’s a Christian.”

Celebrities get little criticism if they claim to be Christians. We gladly accept them and all their strange views. Celebrity sells.

Not a well-known athlete, musician, or actress? There’s still hope for you in the Christian Publication Industry!

Be a heretic!

Heretics sell well. Find a new doctrine, make some stuff up, and then write a book about your new-fangled doctrine. Sit back and let the royalty checks pour in!

Or, if that’s too scary for you, write books about other heretics. Write books to attack the books already written.

There are constantly new books and authors that are the latest heretical threat to Evangelical Faith. There are legitimate threats, but who? Rob Bell? Andy Stanley? Joel Osteen? Or is it John MacArthur, John Piper, or Tim Keller?

The problem is in identifying who the heretics are. Heresy is defined as “unorthodox views.” Orthodox views are–what those in power believe. To be a heretic isn’t always bad: it depends who thinks you’re a heretic!

Heresy is usually nothing more than–views held by those who are not in power at the time. This is where we get into group 3 above–the Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex.

Whenever a new book is published that does not match up with the Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex’s doctrine, you will see a multitude of their blog posts letting you know what a horrible threat this new heretical book will be to you.

Observing this trend for a couple of years now, it makes me wonder–is the Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex truly worried about me believing heresy, or are they more worried about losing market share?

For instance, is The Shack or Jesus Calling as bad as “Desiring God Ministries” and “The Gospel Coalition” and “Together 4 the Gospel” and all the other Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex members say it is, or are they just trying to protect market share?

The best way to drive web site traffic is to critique a best-selling book. People are obviously into the book, the market has been proven, readers will do a search and come across your web site. Instant traffic! There is a healthy market for books written to debunk other books. “Why The Shack Will Destroy Your Faith” books sell well too.

It does not require genius to find fault. I am proving that in this post, in fact.

In all honesty, I have reservations about Jesus Calling and The Shack. I’m not defending these books or authors, nor their doctrinal foundations.

What I am saying is this: Market interests are beginning to dominate the Evangelical world. There is good money in being and labeling things “heretical.” I’m not saying that all members of the Reformed-Conference tour-industrial complex are necessarily wrong, I’m merely speculating that their market interests should cause some reservation in walking with them lockstep.

There is a lot of noise in the marketplace these days. Everyone is selling something and promoting their personal brand. It’s hard to hear in the midst of deafening levels of noise. The Christian marketplace is too noisy. As Solomon said, “In the making of books there is no end.”

It’s been a while since I’ve purchased a new Christian book. I want the market to slow. There are good books out there, but you have to read about 25 in between every good one. Markets are driven by popular demand. Right doctrine has never been in popular demand. Be careful out there.

Noah Webster and the Vulgar King James Version

The King James Bible is too vulgar.

This was the opinion of Noah Webster, best known for his dictionary of American English.

Webster thought there were too many vile things not suitable for reading in the King James Version. He wasn’t talking about the stories of rape and murder; he literally meant some King James phrases.

For instance, the King James’ phrase describing men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” Or the people in Isaiah 36:12 who will “eat their own dung and drink their own piss.”

Webster thought this was crude, so he just called them “males” instead of referring to their direction of pissing. Instead of eating dung and drinking piss, he went with “they devour their vilest excretions.”

Webster also eliminated the names of certain body parts and avoided such words as “stinketh” in order to be pure. He said the King James phrases were “so offensive, especially to females, as to create a reluctance in young persons to attend Bible classes and schools.”

Noah Webster’s Bible initially sold for $3. Then for $2. Eventually it sold for $1.50. It was reprinted once before disappearing from book stores.

It was a nice try. I appreciate the attempt. But, in all honesty, this is where Puritan ideals implode. Humans are humans, and humans are gross.

There’s a lot of stuff in the Bible about bodily discharges. We can puritanically pretend it’s not there, or we can be real.

At the same time, there is too much flippancy and stuff done for shock value over bodily discharges. Finding someone who has enough sense to be polite is nice.

The Hebrew text does say those “who pisseth against a wall.” That’s the literal translation. That’s how men were described. It’s life. Should we then go around referring to other men as wall-pissers?

No, there is decency. Ephesians says we should put away from us foolish talking and jesting. There is a line of decency. There are cultural terms that are offensive to the next generations. But there is also a maturity that understands that and goes with it and treats it as maturely as possible.

I don’t think we should edit God’s word. I think we should rejoice that our God understands humanity and that humanity is represented realistically in the Bible. There is no sentimentalism attached to God’s view of your humanity.

Use this realism about humanity, which is gross, to drive us to God who is pure. Let us all anxiously await the day we can put off this body of our humiliation!

Calvinism and a House Divided

If there were a sixth point to Calvinism’s TULIP, it would be Meticulous Determinism. Unfortunately, this would make it TULIPM, which doesn’t sound right. Perhaps TULIMP?

Meticulous Determinism is best defined by The Westminster Confession of Faith like so:

God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.

This includes sin and bad stuff.

One of the particularly bad things that has occurred in the course of human events is demon possession. Demons make people crazy. They throw them into fires and convulse them and all manner of other physically harmful things.

Jesus took the opportunity to demonstrate His divinity by casting out demons.

On one particular day, Jesus was charged with being a tool of Satan. Various Jewish religious leaders said the demons were cast out by the power of Satan.

Jesus said that was silly.

How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

If Satan casts out Satan, then Satan is divided and he will fail.

The Calvinist, who believes God has ordained whatever comes to pass, thinks it’s the exact opposite: God has cast out God.

Satan gets little playtime in Calvinist/Reformed Theology. That’s because in that system, Satan is rather superfluous. God seems to be messing things up quite well on His own, thank you very much.

If The Westminster Confession of Faith is true, then people are demon possessed because God made them be demon possessed. Then Christ came along and cast out the demons God put in them.

Therefore, God is casting out God. God’s Kingdom is divided against itself and His house cannot stand.

If God is ordaining sin, making people do what He Himself says He hates, then God is divided. The Calvinistic skewed view of sovereignty says that if anyone else (Satan, man, etc) is doing things in the equation, then God isn’t sovereign.

Therefore, the only solution (since changing your theology is apparently not an option), is to distort the character of God and contradict the teaching of Jesus Christ.

It seems like a heavy price to pay.

Atheism, Rationality, and Miracles

The Bible calls on us to believe some pretty weird stuff: Creation Week, worldwide floods, pregnant old women, burning bushes, Red Sea parting, resurrection, and on and on.

Does a person have to believe in these miracles? If you think God doesn’t lie and the Bible is God’s Word, then yeah, you do. If you don’t care about God or the Bible, then I guess you are free to ignore miracles.

I recently listened to an interview with an atheist who denies miracles. He wrote an entire book about how irrational it is to believe in miracles.

His underlying assumption is that we only have reason to know things. Rational people can detect what is rational, and the rational is what we should believe.

Rational conclusions include the fact that dead people stay dead, water doesn’t turn into wine, Egyptian armies don’t drown in recently parted seas, etc.

Since miracles are a giant diversion from the norm, believing in them is not rational.

I agree that miracles are a deviation from normalcy, rather than this making them irrational and not worthy of belief, I would say this is what makes them miracles. He is using the very definition of what a miracle is to say there are no miracles. If they weren’t highly unlikely, they wouldn’t be miracles.

Believing in miracles has a touch of irrationality to it, because miracles, by definition, are irrational. But is it irrational to believe that nothing out of the ordinary could ever occur?

The real conundrum for the atheist is that they typically believe we all got here by a series of random, chance mutation. A process of random, chance mutation would have to have random, chance events happening all the time.

If random chance is the process we live by, how is there any rationality? Wouldn’t miracles–random, chance acts–be par for the course?

The evolutionist who believes in random chance evolution would be highly irrational to stake all on that theory and yet eliminate the possibility that something random and chance could happen.

The only way miracles make any sense is if we live in a rational and orderly system, one where we can rationally observe normal, repetitive behavior. The atheist author thinks we do live in a rational system. My question is: where did the order come from for miracles to violate?

The author admits in his interview that he cannot disprove the existence of miracles. To me, the rational step here then would be to believe that miracles could happen. Since they can’t definitively be proven to not occur, rational thinking would leave open a little bit of room that they could.

Rationality would realize that an irrational, chance, random process would eliminate miracles out of hand, because all sorts of irrational, random things (miracles) would happen.

Instead of seeing random chance all around us, the rational mind observes the order and rationality of the world and concludes that there must be a rational mind behind it all.

Once there, the rational choice would be to believe that the rational mind behind it all could violate the order at any time to make a point, maybe to get rational people’s attention, because they are too busy denying the existence of their rational source.

Miracles seem rather rational to believe in.

Great Name in Church History: Mesrop Mashtots

I am reading a book about the history of Bible translation and came across one of the greatest names in all of Church History: Mesrop Mashtots.

I conclude that it is impossible to improve upon this name.

It also reminds me of Napolean Dynamite.

Not only does Mashtots have a great name, he actually was an incredible person, one worthy of emulation, and also one most have never heard of.

Mashtots had a dream to translate the Bible into the Armenian language. Only one problem: the Armenian language had no alphabet.

But this didn’t stop Mashtots. He got on his donkey and rode around Armenia paying attention to the common sounds of their language. He teamed up with a calligrapher who associated Greek letters to these sounds and developed the 36-letter Armenian alphabet.

Alphabetizing the language didn’t solve the problem, because no one knew how to read it! So, get this, Mashtots persuaded the government to establish a nationwide school system!

Finally, after years of effort, Mesrop Mashtots created a literate Armenian nation able to read the Bible. Mashtots also invented the Caucasian and Georgian alphabets! Busy guy.

That my friends, is a life well spent. Makes my life look pretty pathetic.

Let Mashtots inspire you today: Find something helpful to do and go do it.

God’s Determinate Counsel and Other Things People Can Mess Up

A particular branch of Calvinism believes that everything is a result of God’s determinate counsel. Everything that happens, even sin, is a result of God’s ordination.

God said it should happen, therefore it happens.

In this elaborate structure, God, who makes people sin, is also released of blame. I have never been able to figure out why, nor has the Calvinist. “It’s a mystery” is the closest they will come to explaining it.

Which is fine, probably their safest answer, but it may also signify that the initial doctrine is illogical.

“Determinate counsel” appears one time in the Bible in Acts 2:23:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

The “Him” is obviously Christ. “Determinate,” according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means, “to mark out the boundaries or limits, to ordain, determine, or appoint.” Counsel means purpose or will.

Therefore, Acts 2:23 says that Christ’s crucifixion, rather than being a massive mistake in an otherwise pretty fantastic Messianic life, was part of God’s plan.

The Calvinist concludes that the people who killed Christ had no choice. God made them do it because His determinate counsel (His marked out boundary of His will) forced them to kill Jesus.

Continue reading “God’s Determinate Counsel and Other Things People Can Mess Up”

What does the “Goodness of God” Mean?

Romans 2:4 says that people repent because of the goodness of God. To not repent, to continue on your own way, is to despise the riches of God’s goodness.

Goodness means, according to Thayer’s Definitions, “moral goodness, integrity, benignity, kindness.” According to Strong’s Dictionary it means, “usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): – gentleness, good (-ness), kindness.”

God’s goodness is what brings people to Him. If God were bad, if He did morally questionable things where His kindness was fickle and couldn’t be counted on, who in their right mind would take a chance of approaching Him?

Some of you had bad fathers. You never knew what dad you were going to get. You never knew what would set him off next. Living in that situation made you tentative to approach your dad. You probably stayed as far away from him as possible.

We would do that with God too, if He were not good. But He is good. Paul also assumes that we know He’s good, because this is what brings us to repentance. We didn’t see He was good sometime after we repented, but beforehand, which led us to repent. In other words, even a non-believer can see that God is good.

Knowing that God responds to us out of His goodness is what gives us the confidence to approach Him.

In order for people to know that God is good, God must do things that we recognize as being good.

Continue reading “What does the “Goodness of God” Mean?”

Doctrinal Convictions and Spiritual Growth

In my years of listening to Christians, I have become aware of a fascinating phenomena: One person’s heresy was another person’s life-giving doctrine.

Let me illustrate.

Not long ago I saw a couple of Christians rejoicing in their Calvinism. They both claimed that they did not see the power of the Gospel until they were taught Calvinist doctrine. Since that day their faith blossomed.

I also know other believers, myself included, who say that ever since they were shown the errors of Calvinism and were taught non-Calvinist doctrine they saw deeper beauty in the Gospel and their faith blossomed.

I have seen this with churches–one group claims massive spiritual growth due to their church, while other people found growth by leaving that church.

I have seen this with adhering to a pastor or professor or author. I’ve seen this with Charismatic experience and deliverance from Charismatic experience. I could go on and on. Each side worked growth for opposite groups.

So, what gives? Here are some possible answers, solely based on my experience and observation of the phenomena.

Continue reading “Doctrinal Convictions and Spiritual Growth”

Pastor Eaten By Crocodiles While Teaching About Faith

First of all, this isn’t funny.

Secondly, I did laugh.

A pastor in Zimbabwe was killed by a crocodile while trying to walk on water. Here is the quote from a deacon that made me laugh:

“He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by three large crocodiles in front of us.”

One would think this would lead the church members to re-examine their doctrine and understanding of faith. At the very least, it would lead to a search for a new church. But never underestimate the insanity of people in the church.

“We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week.”

It’s a giant mystery.

Come on, church! We gotta do better than this.

UPDATE:
Apparently this story isn’t true. I should have known. That one paragraph was too humorously-expertly written. Bummer, I’ve been had. My typical ironclad confidence in my own brain has been shattered. I may never recover.

Wait, wait. I feel better. I think I’ll go for a walk now.

“Ye Are Gods” and Pushing the Limits of Heresy

Psalm 82:6 says, “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.”

The “gods” and the “ye” here are the children of Israel. Even more directly, they are the leaders of the nation of Israel. He uses the term “gods” in verse 1 of the same chapter, “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.”

He goes on to criticize the leaders of Israel because they are not doing anything to correct the injustice going on in the nation. Clearly then, gods here are the leaders of Israel who are responsible for correcting the people.

The Hebrew word in use is elohim, the very same word used for God Himself. Calling people “gods” seems rather problematic for us! But the Bible does it a number of times. Consider the following just from the Book of Exodus:

Exodus 4:12-16—Moses will be as God to Aaron.
Exodus 7:1—I have made you [Moses] god to pharaoh—he will speak God’s words and do God’s miracles, God’s spokesman
Exodus 21:6—elohim is the Hebrew word translated “judges.”
Exodus 22:28—use gods and rulers interchangeably.

Perhaps this can be traced back to Genesis and the creation of humanity. God made them both, male and female, in the image of God. People were put here to rule and subdue creation. People were God’s representative on earth to take care of His creation. It was our stewardship.

This can then be seen in Psalm 82. Israel is God’s chosen people. To know God in that day you had to know Israel. They were supposed to obey God and receive blessings, this would make them a light among the Gentiles. In the nation of Israel there were leaders chosen who spoke for God–prophets, priests, kings, etc. They were to be elohims for the nation of Israel. God spoke to these people and they were in the place of God for others.

We see the same thing elsewhere in Scripture. Parents need to be careful how they parent as we are the first notions of who God is for our kids. Bosses are to remember that they have a Boss in heaven and rule accordingly. Anytime you are the authority over someone you are in a position to show them what God is like.

This is all heightened even more in the New Testament. Jesus quotes Psalm 82 in John 10. Some of the people of Israel are upset with Jesus because He made Himself to be God. Jesus quotes this verse and says basically, “If they were called gods because they had God’s word revealed to them; how much more should I be called God when I am doing these miracles and revealing more of God to you?”

If you look at the implications of the Gospel–Christ will be in us and we will be in Him, we are members of His Body, etc., we can grasp a fuller conception of being God’s representatives on earth. Consider the following:

Matthew 10:39-42, 14, 20—Christ says if they receive you they receive me, and if they receive me they receive the Father.
Romans 8:17–We are joint-heirs with Christ.
Galatians 2:20–No longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.
2 Peter 1:4–Partakers of the divine nature
Hebrews 2:9-11–We are one and Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers.

Continue reading ““Ye Are Gods” and Pushing the Limits of Heresy”

Trying to Humbly Be Right

Yesterday I talked about being humble in our opinions whether we are scientific, religious, or both, or neither. Not everyone knows everything.

At the same time, some people do know some things! We’re not floating around in an incomprehensible void of mush. Some things can be known.

Science can help us know many things, but not all things. The Bible can help us know many things, but not all things. I think both have their place and the person who embraces both will know more than the one who embraces only one or neither.

But humility is key. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Being humble is how learning starts.

Some people are right and some are wrong. There are times when the person who is right needs to correct the person who is wrong, but that correction must be humble too.

Here is a recent conversation I had on the internet, which did not involve me desiring to be in any argument. The question I responded to was asked by a non-Calvinist on his non-Calvinist web site. Here is his question:

What are the potential effects of teaching the Calvinistic claim that if God wants you then He will make you want Him?

Here is my answer:

Then God doesn’t want everyone, eliminates God being good & not a respecter of persons, Christ not a propitiation for sins of the world etc

Not bad for 140 characters! Of course, being the internet, it devolved into an argument. Here is the flow of what ensued.

ANONYMOUS INTERNET ARGUER: Eliminates God being good????? Even if He chose to not save anyone at all He would still be good! He owes us no mercy!!

ME: You are defending the point that being unmerciful would be consistent with being good?

AIA: Yes because He is God and doesn’t HAVE to be merciful. He is good to give justice. Is He not good to give justice to unbelievers? That’s what mercy is!! Exodus 33:19 Titus 3:5
He doesn’t owe anyone mercy. He could damn us all to hell like we deserve. He would still be good. Sorry you have a poor view of Him.

ME: I’m aware of what mercy is. Your point is that God can still be good if He were unmerciful and I disagree.

AIA: God is not unmerciful……He does however withhold His mercy from some….He is still good though.

ME: thank you for making my point. Been a pleasure.

The conversation was dropped here, much to my surprise. I can only assume it’s because the Calvinist at hand was not male.

Now, I have a certain amount of pride in posting this. I think I have a very legitimate point and I think I made it well without going into personal attacks and diversions. I stuck to the original point and I think I made it.

That’s right, so you might want to back off.

AIA’s point is that God is good, therefore, everything He does is inherently good. So, even if God did something that wasn’t good–if He were always unmerciful–He would still be good. Therefore, His hypothetical mercilessness would be good.

This is very bad logic. This rips the word “good” right out of any common-sensical meaning. In order for someone to be good, someone else must be able to recognize the goodness.

God is good, which is why He’s merciful; and God is merciful, which is why God is good. It’s not like one came before the other.

To claim you are good means you do things that are good in and of themselves. Saying you are good, and then doing all manner of bad things, and yet claiming your bad things still define good, is arbitrary and not very orderly. Language falls apart at that point. Words don’t mean anything, so we might as well figglemunch dasser wooblesnouse.

I believe I am right. I believe I am right based on scripture, logic, and word etymology.

I believe I am right based on the arguments against me. The main issue is not addressed, but verse references are given about mercy that don’t touch on the pivotal point at hand, points that are not essential to the debate are brought up, and then there’s this nugget, “Sorry you have a poor view of Him.”

Anytime such responses are used, you know you’re on to something. I ignored it and went back to the original point.

Again, I’m showing this to you so you can see what flawless arguing looks like. I nailed it! Notice my “Been a pleasure!” At the end? That is one sarcastic “!”! I am now an arrogant jerk bragging about my awesomeness to others, thus showing I did not argue out of love, but rather to show intellectual superiority and frustration with non-sensical Calvinist reasoning.

Knowledge puffs up. That’s what it does. I don’t know how to beat it. I just know it when I sees it. I seens it big time. Good luck out there. Stay humble, my friends.

Science, Religion, and Predicting the Future

In the recent hubbub about science being rational and religion being irrational, the case is often presented that religious people are susceptible to mental crutches and being ignorant.

I tend to believe that religious people and scientific people are both morons. Every single person on the planet is susceptible to mental crutches and ignorant opinions, including me, the author of these oh so right words.

Science has done a fine job of lambasting the idiocy of religion, in fact, religion has done a pretty good job of making that point. But let’s not forget the idiocies of science.

Yesterday I talked about Copernicus and his scientific discovery of a heliocentric universe, which was against the science and religion of the time.

Along with Copernicus’ interest in the “revolutions of the heavenly spheres” came much interest in astrology. Astronomy studies the heavens; astrology thinks you can predict the future by the stars.

Although Copernicus himself appears to have kept himself out of astrological quackery, many of the readers of his book did not (Kepler was in it big time, Galileo was a little bit). Astrology became a big deal. So much so, that many of the words we use today are from this astrological interest.

The days of our week are named for astrological ideas.

Consider the following words:

Consider–from the Latin cum sidera meaning “with the stars”
Disaster–from the Latin dis sidera meaning “against the stars” or “ill-starred.”
Jovial–related to the god Jove or Jupiter, the planet supposed to exert a happy influence.
Martial–being warlike, related to Mars, the god of war
Mercurial–animated, lively, relating to the god Mercury.
Ascendancy–having to do with climbing up, based on the astrological idea of “the point of the ecliptic or the sign and degree of the zodiac rising above the eastern horizon at the time of a birth or event.”

Astrology, using the position of stars and planets to predict the future, used to be considered a kind of science and was taken quite seriously.

Today astrology is in its rightful spot next to the self-help section. No serious scientist considers astrology to be scientific.

Although we may not be using the revolutions of the heavenly spheres to predict the future, scientists do tend to use the state of the planet we’re on to make predictions, most of which are equally faulty.

You can go here or here (not all of these in this list are based on science but many are) for a list of “scientific” predictions that did not come true. So, yeah, bash on the religious types that fail in their predictions too, no problem, let’s just be fair!

Predicting the future is hard. Science people and religious people fail here all the time. No one can predict flawlessly with merely human devices.

My point is this: Science people and religious people are in the end all the same: dumb. We live and learn. We prove all things and hold to that which is good. But be careful of those people, both scientific and religious, who claim to know everything and pretend that their side is never wrong.

There’s just way too much human history for us to be arrogant, know-it-all, jerks anymore. I want Niel Degrasse Tyson and Franklin Graham to both be humble. I think both overstep the bounds of human confidence. And so do you. And so do I.

Which brings me back to one of my favorite verses:

Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

The Flat Earth, Heliocentric Universes, Science and Christianity

Modern Science/Atheism is intent on proving that Christianity, and religion in general, is anti-science. Although I cannot speak for everyone, this is just plain silly.

But, in an attempt to ridicule the other side (a common tactic of insecurity, by the way), the Church is accused of having believed in the Flat Earth and rejecting Heliocentric astronomy, etc.

However, if a person gets past the rhetoric and examines the accusations, you will realize that many of these attacks are fabrications.

The whole Flat Earth thing appears to be entirely invented by later generations to bash the medieval Catholic church. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to bash the Catholic Church, there is no need to invent more.

Many have said that Columbus’ voyage was ridiculed because he’d fall off the end of the earth. This appears nowhere in historical evidence. Rather than fearing Columbus would fall off the end of the earth, they were concerned the globe was too large for him to make it around before running out of supplies.

The Columbus falling over the edge myth seems to have been invented by Washington Irving in 1828. In fact, Professor Jeffrey Russell in his book Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, says “No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the Earth was flat.”

So, what about Copernicus and his Revolution that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth? Yes, the Catholic Church had a problem with him. The Council of Trent, which had a problem with everyone not Catholic, laid down rules to handle heretics. Copernicus was lumped in there with Luther and the rest of the “heretics” of the day.

Having the sun be the center of the universe did shake things up. It would be similar to suggesting today that Darwinian Evolution was wrong. Everyone knew the earth was the center, as sure as we know your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandma was a monkey.

The Catholic higher-ups, who were quickly losing power and influence, freaked. There is an account in Joshua where it says “the sun stood still.” Clearly it is the sun that moves, not the earth. Some also pointed to Psalm 93:1, which says in part, “the world also is established, that it cannot be moved.” A simple understanding of how figures of speech work can explain these phrases.

There is even a supposed commentary by John Calvin that says of this verse, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” Problem is, no one has ever found anywhere where Calvin ever said this.

Andrew Dickson White is the originator of this “quote.” In his book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, written in 1896, is where White makes this accusation. He also, incidentally, invents other myths about Christian hostility and supposed scientific facts. No one takes his work seriously.

However, these lies get told and retold, and after a while they become cited reality. Now, it is true that the Catholic Church tried to censor Copernicus. I will not defend the Catholic Church because the vast majority of their history is entirely insane.

But to assume that the Catholic Church represents all Christians is like assuming Joseph Stalin and company represent all atheists.

The Catholic Church actually never banned Copernicus’ book. They gave out edits that were to be made in copies. The problem is that Copernicus did the church a massive favor. Since he understood orbits and so forth, he more accurately predicted the timing of Easter than even the Catholic system! Their deal was not to ban the book, but to edit it, to tone it down.

For instance, The title of Chapter 11 in Book One of his On The Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres was “The Explication of the Three-Fold Motion of the Earth” was to be changed to “The Hypothesis of the Three-Fold Motion of the Earth.”

I am currently reading a book by a professor who traveled all over the world looking at copies of Copernicus’ Revolutions. He notes that hardly any contain these corrections. Pretty much the only people that took the corrections seriously were a few people in Italy. No one else seemed to bother. In fact, Copernicus’ book made it to China because of Jesuit missionaries (Jesuits are Catholics, incidentally.)

Summing it all up, although the Church is routinely bashed for denying science, the reality is that many who bash the church deny history. They invent ideas and then repeat them so it looks like their statements are adequately cited. But when you trace the sources back, you realize many of the charges are inventions.

Again, the Catholic Church did have a messy history with science. But keep in mind, they also have a messy history with Jews, Muslims, Lutherans, Protestants, Baptists, governments, people who want to read the Bible, and many other supposed enemies. I do not defend them. They have not done us any favors.

But next time you hear an accusation against the church, just like I encourage you to do when someone throws a Scripture reference at you: LOOK IT UP! You might be surprised what you find.

Memorizing Facts is Not the Same as Thinking

The modern atheist/science movement is hostile to religion. That being the case, they don’t bother to learn lessons from the history of religion. Now their atheist/science movement is becoming religious and falling into the same traps.

Increasingly we are hearing about scientists who want to silence people on the “other side” of their opinions. Bill Nye, among others, think climate change deniers should be imprisoned.

As I pointed out yesterday, Neil Degrasse Tyson celebrates the scientific method, which is a process of testing. Science is based on testing, which is based on questions and thinking. As soon as you desire to silence the questioning side, you have fallen from science.

Walter Bradly, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M, testified recently about proposed changes made to science curriculum that in his mind eliminated critical thinking skills. Here is part of his testimony:

When I was in tenth grade I took biology. Biology in those days was taught as sort of a, memorize a zillion details. I memorized all the details and I made a 99 percentile on my biology achievement test and I got invited to go to three different colleges for a summer program.

And I thought, all I could imagine was just memorizing stuff all summer. I ended up not going, I just took a construction job and worked.

The point I’m trying to make here is when you teach science without providing, I think, opportunity for people to see the magic of the scientific method, the discovery opportunities, the conundrums that we have, and to see this is something that we have that’s a very active…it’s not a set of facts to be memorized. It really is a process to be understood.

Science is becoming more about memorizing the proper lines and less about thinking, testing, and analyzing.

Church History is filled with groups who insisted they had the truth. Just memorize our lines. Just repeat what we say. Don’t think. Don’t test. Don’t question. Don’t assume for a second you can figure this out on your own.

Bad things happen in those groups.

Questions are messy. Testing is annoying. It might be possible that if people thought for themselves they will disagree with you. Your power structure might collapse if too many people start thinking!

Not thinking makes everyone’s job easier. You don’t have to ask or answer hard questions. You can zone out as long as you spout the right answer at the right time. Teachers don’t have to do any work and students don’t have to do anything either. Everyone can take it easy and pat each other on the back all day.

Science, now that it’s becoming religion, will increasingly fall into these traps. For all their hatred of close-minded, brainwashed, religious types, science seems to be doing a good job of creating their own.

Don’t be afraid to think. Ever. About anything!

President Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Freedom

President Trump signed an Executive Order regarding religious freedom today. Here is my summation of the act, as far as I understand it. Click here for the full text of the Order.

Section One in my words: The Constitution says we have the freedom to be religious without fear of federal interference. This order lets people know that the Executive branch is on board with protecting people’s religious freedom as stated in the Constitution.

Section Two in my words: The government agencies in charge of taxation will not be allowed to target or penalize religious groups for expressing political opinions.

Section Three in my words: Religious organizations who conscientiously object to various practices will be allowed to conscientiously object without government penalty.

Section Four in my words: The Attorney General will guide the procedures for keeping religious liberty.

Section Five in my words: Something about how if one part is violated the other parts will still stand? Maybe? I don’t know. Too lawyerly of language for me here.

Section Six in my words: Basically this is already the law, this is just an attempt to reassure people this will be enforced. It makes no new laws, nor does it do violence to existing laws.

In summary, I don’t think this makes much difference to anything. I think this was originally created for situations such as the baker who didn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding to be allowed to refrain from so doing without government penalty, which is fine.

Religious liberty has always been a part of American government and this merely restates what has existed. Previous presidents, including Obama and W. Bush, have played around with religious stuff that often looked like interference with religious practice. President Trump is attempting to score points with religious types by passing an executive order that does nothing really except sound nice. He will now be able to tell religious voters he’s “fighting for you.”

There is a chance I am completely misunderstanding this order, but this is my take. It’s one more piece of unnecessary legislation that will be propped up as either 1) Evidence that the Antichrist is coming, or 2) Evidence that Christians are about to take over the world. Neither is true.

Carry on.

UPDATE two hours later:
To confirm my suspicions, the ACLU, which threatened to sue over President Trump’s Religious Freedom Order, has decided not to. Here’s why, in their words:

“Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome. After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process.”

In other words this executive order does nothing except sound nice.

When Wisdom Gets You in Trouble

A couple weeks ago there was a “March for Science.” In the lead-up to this event, Niel Degrasse Tyson made a video about the wonderfulness of science. He explained the Scientific Method–the testing of hypothesis to get repeated results–as the best thing man has ever invented to discover truth.

I have no problems with any of that part. There are problems with his implications though.

Tyson thinks that the Scientific Method is the test for truth, but he also knows he can’t say it that forcefully because Science keeps changing. Old results are replaced with new results due to better equipment and advancements. Therefore, Tyson doesn’t talk about truth; instead he speaks of “emerging truth.” Tyson knows enough to know that for Science, truth is emerging.

Tyson, however, moves quickly past this shifting notion of emerging truth, and says we should let scientists run everything. They are the ones who know the “truth” so we should shut up, hand the keys over to them, and let them drive. Tyson’s main motivation becomes political power. We should let scientists dictate our political decisions.

Except he just got done saying that truth is emerging, so how can we trust his conclusions enough to take action on them if new truth might emerge?

The irony of modern atheistic science is that it is becoming a religion. Since these atheist scientists have such a hatred for religion, they are ignorant concerning religious history.

Continue reading “When Wisdom Gets You in Trouble”

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