Book Plunge For Fun: Rabbi David Small

What do I think of Harry Kemelman’s books published by Fawcett Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am trying to read some more fiction and if there is any kind I especially enjoy, it’s detective fiction. It’s also fun when the main character is not really a detective in the professional sense, such as the Father Brown mysteries, which I have read entirely. Being on Kindle and getting newsletters from them of books on sale, I regularly saw these books on sale and then one day, I saw a combination of four for something like $2.99. That was enough for me.

The rabbi is indeed a rabbi and not a Messianic rabbi, but while I disagree with his religious beliefs, I do like the way he goes about solving mysteries. David Small is the main rabbi in the series and he uses reasoning based on Talmudic principles and the Torah to solve his cases. He is someone who is aloof from the world around him and is not easily swayed. I couldn’t help but like the way his wife described him. “David will change the world before the world will change my David.”

Small does form a good relationship with the chief of police in the town of Barnard’s Crossing where the books mainly take place. The interesting aspect of Small is his nature in that many times he solves mysteries without really setting out to solve them. He’s rather nonchalant in the way he goes about it. The only big exception I have seen thus far is the first book where his wife has to insist he solve the case since he himself is a suspect in the case.

In the other books, it seems to practically come out as just a regular part of conversation. There is no jumping up and shouting “Eureka!” It’s more of “Just follow this piece of evidence here and then look at this and see how it has to be this way” and before too long, the criminal is identified. Small makes no big deal about what he has done.

Not only all of this, but he regularly has to put up with the trials of running his congregation, who too often are not on his side. This is one area where it makes his not solving crimes a big deal interesting. No one in these meetings at least thus far says “The rabbi has his issues, but he is practically a celebrity with the way he has solved so many cases.”

I have read the first four books in the series thus far and then I plan to read the rest, but I am waiting to get the books in chronological order. Small is an amusing character and one who it is fascinating to see the way his mind works. The works do have a lot of Jewish references in them and that could be difficult for some readers to follow who are not in those circles or familiar with that language, Fortunately, there is not really anything essential to the cases I have seen thus far.

If you see this deal on Amazon or see it at the library, pick it up and give it a try. I liked the first four so much that like I said, I am looking forward to reading the rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

To Lysistrata: Your Terms Are Acceptable

Will the move of Lysistrata work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is a Greek play called Lysistrata where the women get sick of the men fighting in wars all the time so they decide to hit them where it hurts. No. I’m not talking about a well-placed kick, but a much harder hit to the body part in reference. They agree to have a sex strike. Now the women are unsure of this idea at first as they don’t want to give it up, but that is what they do. It does get the attention of the men and I leave you to read it to see how it turns out.

And in the world today, that idea is seeming to be popular.

Women are now saying that they will have a sex strike until “Women’s rights” are restored. Not only that, they are including a number of radical ideas.

These include ideas such as being extremely selective about who you have sex with as that person could be the father of your baby. This means practicing abstinence. (That idea that we were told will never work.) This means also not participating in the hook-up culture. This will get men all around the world to champion women’s rights to abortion.

To which many of us pro-lifers to this Lysistrata strategy of something to say.

Your terms are acceptable.

Seriously. For many of us, this is what we’ve been telling women all our lives. Take responsibility for your lives and your bodies. You’re demonstrating to us that abortion has made it easy for men to use you. (And you’re also showing us that all along, abortion has been a form of birth control.) If there are serious consequences to illicit sexual encounters, then strangely enough, people might become more responsible with sex and make wiser choices about who they sleep with.

This might sound strange, but maybe sexual joy could be found in not treating sex as if it was a casual activity.

Now I suppose someone could come along to me and say “Okay. Are you willing to avoid sex too?”

Yeah. Been doing that since I got divorced. Plan to do that until I marry again.

Women have said that sex is practically the holy grail for men. Well you know what? If you make it harder for men to receive that prize, you know who it will eventually go to? It will go to the men who prove themselves worthy. It will go to the men who show that they can provide for you and any children that they have with you.

Maybe also you will find a guy who doesn’t want you for just sex, but wants you for you and has decided that he only wants you. Maybe you will find a guy who isn’t saturated with porn and will treasure every time he gets to see your body. Maybe you will find that real joy doesn’t come from casual hook-ups, but it comes from being in a commitment with someone who really loves you and isn’t interested in using you and doesn’t have to make the consequences go away if you get pregnant.

Abortion is not enabling to women. It’s disabling. It allows women to be used by men who don’t want to take responsibility.

You see, the ideas in this sex strike, they are actually what many of us have told you all along. We have told you to take sex seriously, take your bodies seriously, and take yourselves seriously. We have told you abortion is not your ally. Pregnancy is not a weakness for you. It is what sets you apart. A woman should not want to be equal to a man in every way. She should want to be a woman because being a woman is something unique for her and what sets her apart.

Not only that, but with the transgender movement, women forgot that if they think that they are equal to men automatically, well, that means men are equal to women. This is why we have transgenders winning at women’s sports easily and then using the women’s facilities and locker rooms. Women have not been the victors here but have been the victims. Feminism has not uplifted women but torn them down. Men and women are different, but neither one is superior.

Women. Please take your sex strike. Go super far and declare that you won’t have sex until the man commits to you and provides for you and shows he can provide for a family. If you think sex with you is a holy grail, treat it like that. You’ll find who the real men are. They are the ones willing to do the work because they consider the woman a prize worth fighting for and working for. They will be the ones who are self-sacrificial.

Here’s to Lysistrata!

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Day To Remember

What difference did the 24th make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a hope that someday in the future June 24th will be declared a national holiday. I would be thrilled if it was the day we began to be truly woke, in the sense of woke up from our delusions on sexuality, and began ending the war against reality. When I heard the news, I was thrilled. I was in such a good mood that for awhile, even being at work didn’t bother me.

Now in reality, this doesn’t change a lot honestly. Most Democratic states will stay exactly the same. Most Republican states will stay exactly the same. I am in Tennessee now and I am not seeing anyone going crazy over what has happened. Most people I encounter aren’t saying anything about it.

Still, I’m happy. Life is being honored and upheld. If anything, the reaction I am seeing from people on the left is further demonstrating to me that this is the right decision. For people who have been saying we need more gun control, I have seen them showing images about how a gun could solve the Roe decision and a number of my friends unfriended others who were calling for violence. (Not unheard of. Remember someone tried to assassinate Kavanaugh.)

Also, this is not done. We still need to have Right To Life marches. Even if every states becomes pro-life, we should be having the marches regularly. We must never take the right to life for granted again.

For those on the left also, I am already seeing the posts about how this decision is racist. The more you play this race card over and over, the less seriously we take it. If anything, you are promoting anything as racism which damages the cases of real racism that are out there.

Ideas are already popping up that if those of us on the right did, would be called conspiracy theories. This includes getting rid of apps that track menstrual cycles and ideas about going camping instead of going to get an abortion. The about face I find simply incredible.

Now if you do want to get abortion back through the Supreme Court, then here’s what you really do. Make a case that is stronger than Roe and stronger than Casey. The case was just not argued well.

For those of us on the right, we need to keep reminding people of the importance of life and keep being there for women who are in crisis pregnancies, like we have been consistently already. Also, we definitely need to do something about adoption laws. Adoption costs way too much which is why plenty of people are going to other countries in order to adopt.

I also think we owe a thanks to Trump and Bush both for appointing judges that do uphold the pro-life position. Also, those judges who stood their ground and voted for life are brave souls indeed. These people were facing constant protests and threats and could have easily backed down and they never once did. I don’t know how many of us could have done the same thing.

The other side is right about one thing. The battle is not over. No matter what, life should never be taken for granted. Every life is a precious gift and every life has a right to life.

For now, let’s celebrate!

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Little Change

What difference can one insignificant event make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with two old friends and all of us knew each other. We all worked at the same Wal-Mart, a different one than the one I am at now, and came from different and yet similar places in life. One of them was my friend Roger, who was involved in ministry and had a background of severe severe fundamentalism. It’s so much so that I would say it’s practically cultlike, and he would not disagree. He and I have discussed this before.

We all just happened to work together and then I went to seminary and we fell out and lost touch. Then lo and behold, Roger gets in touch with me one day and says he needs my help. He’s on the verge of losing his faith. I was absolutely shocked, but I told him I would work with him and for months, I did. I didn’t give pat answers and I demanded that he do his own work and study. Today, he is an extremely strong Christian and a devoted husband and father. If you want the whole story, you can find it here along with links to the story from his side.

As I thought about the way our friendships worked together, I thought about how my Dad and I are watching the Flash together and how parallel Earths are a reality in that. In those cases, there are various Earths and there could be minor differences from life here or there could be major differences, such as one Earth where the Nazis won World War II. I have sometimes wondered what life would be like on a parallel Earth where Roger and I never worked together.

Would someone else have been there to reach him? If not, would he have fallen away? What would have happened to his marriage? What would have happened to his kids? How could that affect matters years, decades, or centuries down the road?

There’s no way for us to tell, but it does show me that even small events in our lives can have a great impact. I was just a guy looking for a job and a way to pay my bills. Wal-Mart was definitely not a career and because of my interest in gaming, which Roger and I share, I just happened to be placed in electronics and worked alongside him as he worked in the cell phone area.

Right now, I hate working at a Wal-Mart again, but I try to remember that even here, I can be having an influence. Most of the kids I work are young enough that I could be their father, and so I try to be an older and wiser figure for them and advise them on their lives. The majority I think do know that I am a Christian. I am a respected individual, at least with them.

Who knows? Maybe sometime in the future I will encounter one of them and they will tell me something I did or said made a major difference for them. Now that doesn’t mean I stay there as God can use me anywhere, but it means like I said yesterday that this is His story and not mine and He does have a way of working it together.

So it could be for you. Wherever you are in life, God can use you somehow to have some influence on matters. Even the worst things in your life can be used.

There’s a story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were thrown into a prison camp and they had a smuggled Bible with them somehow and were able to do a Bible study with the women. Hundreds came to Christ. Corrie’s sister was someone who wanted to give thanks for everything, even the fleas in their room. Corrie thought she was crazy in all of this. How can you appreciate things like this?

Thankfully though, the guards never entered their room so they were able to continue ministry to the women and have an impact. It was only later they found out why the guards never came in. No. It wasn’t a major miracle or anything like that.

The guards didn’t want to be around the fleas.

Thank God for those fleas.

I’m sure many times, Corrie and her sister were not happy they shared their room with fleas, but those fleas even served a good purpose. If simple fleas can be used like that, what else can be? It’s not easy to do this. I know this as I do work that really bores me to no end, but I do try to remember that I have my own goals I want to reach outside of that place.

Maybe someone will be reached like Roger.

Reached because of whatever fleas I have to deal with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Not Just Love Is A Choice

What else is a choice in love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When you go through divorce, there are times as a Christian it seems like God is absent. For me, it’s normally when I’m at work and have nothing to keep my mind going and sadly, it goes downhill. Sometimes I think about matters with my ex and how she struggled with the question of love, including if I loved her. It was in some thinking that I reached a conclusion that relates to God as well.

I could always do more to show love. None of us do it perfectly. We are told love is a choice. If you want to love someone, you just do it. You don’t worry about having a feeling or not. You just do it. That is true.

However, it is also a choice to choose to believe that you are loved by someone. This doesn’t mean if you believe someone loves you, they do. Many a man has been disappointed after all thinking that the beautiful woman that he sees is madly in love with him as well. It does mean that if someone has shown you a loving attitude, you have to trust them by a choice that they genuinely love you, even if from a human perspective, and rightly so, that love is imperfect.

I thought about this with God recently as well. If I was someone who was doubting that God loved me, what more could He do for me to show me His love for me? Whatever else was done, if that was my requirement, would I not always ask for more? Would I not always insist that He go a bit further?

This kind of goes along with the problem of evil. We are told often that there is too much evil in the universe for there to be a good God. Okay. Well how much is too much? Is it that if there’s 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust it’s too much but 5 million would have been just fine? Do there need to be 20% less rapes and then it’s okay? 15% less children being abused and God becomes a possibility then? This is something difficult if not impossible to quantify.

Isn’t the problem of evil also when you get to it a trust problem? I don’t trust that God could be a good God or a real God if this is how He runs the universe? Naturally, we assume that we know better and hey, who can blame us. We’ve got a great track record on knowing how best to handle our problems so many times. Right?

If we are struggling with the reality of if we are loved or not at times, the problem most likely lies with us. Now with people, I can understand questioning at times, but with God, it definitely lies with us. We also know if we’re Christians how easy it is to lose sight. One moment, you’re doing great and saying you will never doubt God again and lo and behold a week later…..Or you go through a hard time and think “I have learned my lesson on trusting God now” and yet again a week later….

Going through divorce, I do get it. When a central relationship in your life shatters violently, it does cause reverberations across the board. I notice now that generally, I have a much harder time trusting people than I did before. I look forward to a new relationship with eagerness and fear. In making big decisions, there’s always a tendency to second guess myself now.

The thing I have to realize is that since I am loved by God, if I am loving Him back, which I strive for, all will work out somehow. God knows my desires and He knows how to provide for me. This isn’t my story. It’s His. I just play a bit part in it.

If you struggle with trust, I hope this helps you out also. This realization has been a good help to me as well. Sometimes we in the apologetics community can give an air of having it all together, which I think happens in ministry, but I have made it a point to want to make sure my audience knows I have struggles just like they do. Maybe they’re not exactly the same, but they’re struggles. I’m thankful many of my readers walk with me in them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Big Picture

What do I think of Sean Carroll’s book published by Dutton books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is a book an atheist reader of the blog suggested I should read. Naturally, I jump at such an invitation. (Keep this in mind atheists I interact with who make it seem like you might as well commit ritual suicide before reading any Christian academics.) I found the book to be a good one to read, thankfully not hostile for the majority towards Christianity, and nothing struck me as an emotional rant of any kind.

However, I did not find it persuasive. The science was fascinating, but not being a scientist or playing one on TV or studying in that field, I choose to not debate that point. Generally, when I come across something I’m skeptical of in science, I accept it for the sake of argument and see if it does any damage. Note that this is the science itself and not the philosophical conclusions some atheists draw from the science.

One post I made early on on my Facebook about the book was as follows:

However, I do comment on the other areas. Sean tells us that all that we have ever seen in our lives is material stuff and the material stuff is all that exists and that our knowledge of the world comes through observation.
I can agree to a large extent with the latter, but it doesn’t lead to the former. Let us take one example. As I sit here on my bed, I see to the left of me my cat Shiro. Now note that all I see when I look there is Shiro, one type of creature. I have in my mind the idea of an animal, and that concept of animal includes me in it, but yet the animal I am is not the animal that Shiro is.
Now you could take me to a pet store and I would see several people and several cats. I would not assume that each person is a whole different species or each cat a totally different animal. There are different races of people and different breed of cats, but all would fall under the category of humans or cats. However, I cannot observe the idea of human, animal, or cat. I observe many humans and cats and derive from those observations the idea of human, animal, and cat. Those concepts are immaterial concepts.
In the same way, Carroll can write about how we determine to be good people, and yet while I fully believe goodness is real, it is certainly not something I see with my eyes or detect in any way with my senses. Now we could say those essences aren’t real, but that leads us to nominalism which I think is even more difficult for science.
I could go on and list other concepts. Numbers. Triangularity. Existence itself. We notice things that are triangles and things that exist, but we don’t notice triangularity and existing itself.
Much of naturalism is just reductionism and ultimately, unlivable. Just as when Carroll talks about something being good, it is smuggling in something that is not scientific and trying to include in the rubric. It doesn’t work.
And this is a problem that many scientists have. It’s easy to take an idea like goodness or something and run with it assuming it is real. We don’t stop to think about what cats and humans are. How is it that even a small child can recognize catness in several cats while noting that they are all different? Again, just because knowledge begins with observation, it doesn’t mean it ends there.
Also, as I said later in another post, which I share again because there’s no need to reinvent the wheel:
Still going through Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture.” It’s not a bad book really. There are many parts that I agree with. He talks about events that could lead scientists to think the best explanation is beyond the natural world, such as the Second Coming of Jesus taking place and the dead being resurrected.
He then says it’s not that science presumes naturalism, but it has concluded that naturalism is the best picture of the world. He then speaks of all that we do and weighing out the evidences and then weigh out the conclusion and naturalism is ahead of the alternatives.
But there’s a little bit of sleight of hand going on here. It’s subtle and I think a lot of unwary readers would not grasp it, but here it is.
Carroll is speaking of science as if science is an authority doing its own study and coming to its own conclusions. No. Science doesn’t study anything. Science doesn’t say anything. Men and women who use science study and speak.
Carroll is also assuming that people who agree with him speak for all of science and all scientists. This is not so. I am not saying anything here to shoehorn in ID or creationism or anything like that, but there are plenty of intelligent scientists past and present who see no problem with holding a Christian worldview and agreeing with scientific study.
The same could apply if we replaced science with history, philosophy, theology, literature, or anything else. These are all fields that we study and different people in the fields come to different conclusions. I am convinced a study of history shows that Jesus rose from the dead, but it would be foolish to say that as if all historians agree with me.
Science is a wonderful tool and Christians should support it, but Carroll is speaking beyond science here. Science studies material means and low and behold, that’s the judgment many scientists make. You might as well conclude there is no paper buried on the beach because the metal detector can’t find it.
And this is something that does happen consistently and we must be on the watch for it. It’s too easy to throw out science as if it was speaking for itself. This can happen with any field other than science, such as history or philosophy or economics. Science doesn’t say anything. Scientists say things using science.
Later, I wrote something about what he said about NDEs.
On p. 219-220 of Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture, Carroll is making an argument that there is no soul and he is talking about NDEs. He refers to the book “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven.” Is that book a known fraud? Yes. The boy who was the source said he made it all up. Unfortunately, that’s the only book Carroll interacts with and ignores all the others.
Suppose I said “Now if you study evolution, take a look at Piltdown Man. Piltdown Man was a fraud. What does that tell you about the case for evolution?” That would be a shoddy argument. Even if you disbelieve in evolution and think it’s false, it should be accepted that pointing to one case that is a fraud is not a good way to argue against it.
Someone who does accept evolution would come and rightly say, “Yes. That was a fraud, but what about all this other evidence such as XYZ?” Now at that point, you can argue that evidence and see if it makes the case and that’s not for me to decide, but if you just present one fraud and ignore everyone else, that’s not really being honest.
Carroll also talks about cases where people put objects in a room in case an NDE takes place so that the person can see them. He says this has never happened though. So let’s assume that’s true. So what? That means all the other cases that happen, such as the dentures case You can see about that here: https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/…/an-nde-to-sink…

That’s just one. There are plenty of others. You can pick up most any good book on NDEs and find several documented cases.
Like the problem of evil, it’s easy to make your opponent look weak if you argue and ignore all the positive evidence and just put in all the evidence you want. However, if your opponent is familiar with the data, he can easily show you up. The downside often though is that people don’t fact check what they read if it already agrees with what they want or think to be true.
So could it be still that NDEs are false and there is no soul? Perhaps, but this is not a good way to show it.
No one would accept in science a case where you cite one false occurrence and then throw out all the data on the side of that occurrence. It would be totally invalid to look at just one evolutionary fraud and then say all evolutionary science is bunk. Unfortunately, Carroll has done that here and hasn’t even looked at an evidential NDE at all.
There is also something worth being said about evolution:

Still going through Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture” and reading a lot about evolution. The main point being stressed is that the language is difficult because agency language and intentional language is hard to avoid as evolution acts without intent.
Now you all should know by now I’m not going to argue for or against evolution here. That’s for you all if you want to. I leave that to the readers who want to comment. I am not a scientist and I do not play one on TV and if I tried to speak on a subject I didn’t do reading on, I would embarrass myself.
However, I can speak about the philosophy of science and I do notice that evolution is often spoke of in terms of agency, which is really difficult to avoid as I think it’s part of the human tendency. At the same time, the biggest loss in this is really the removal of final causality. Some of you might be wondering what that is.
Aristotle listed four kinds of causes overall and the final cause was the reason something exists. What is the goal? What is the endgame? That doesn’t have to be an intentional goal. An iceberg floating through water makes it colder and does not turn it into cotton candy. The iceberg is not intending to make cold water, but that is what happens.
And evolution does not make sense without final causation.
After all, what is the point? That the fittest and best might survive and reproduce. This is not saying evolution if real is an intentional agency. It’s saying that that is the result when left to its processes just as the iceberg all things being equal will make the water colder.
For Christians, this is also the way we need to really look at design. You can go with an ID route all you want, but I prefer this route. This route that says there is a way that things consistently act in the universe, so much so that we practically expect it and can build scientific theorems around it. Imagine doing science in a world where one day water boils at 212 degrees F, the next day at 163 degrees F, and the next day at 34 degrees F. The world would be chaos.
And yet, it isn’t. There is consistently order in the universe which needs to be explained. Things act, intentionally or unintentionally, towards ends, and that needs to be explained.
If evolution is true, well that’s just the way God did it and cool. If it is not, God chose another way and cool. Either way, our system is set for working towards an end and for the Christian, even if the system is not intentional in its working, which we do not think it is, the mind behind the system and the rest of the universe is.
Again, I leave it to you all if you want to debate evolution. God bless Christians who do, provided you show it’s false science if it is. That’s not for me to determine. I just don’t want it to be we go to skeptics and tell them to choose the Bible or science. Too many will choose science, and sadly many Christian youth will do the same.
There’s also the section in the book where he said Quantum Field Theory is how we know we can’t bend spoons with our minds.
Just a guess, but I think many of us don’t have a clue about that theory and yet have full confidence we can’t bend spoons with our minds.
On p. 203, he says theists think they have a better explanation of the universe because they root it in a necessary being, but then says that there are no necessary beings.
And that’s it.

Glad we got that settled.

Imagine if I said, “Evolutionists say they have a better explanation based on common descent, but there is no common descent.”
Ridiculous? Yep. True? How should I know? Bad argument either way. It would have to be demonstrated on my part and I am nowhere close to making such an assertion let alone demonstrating it.
Finally, let’s look at one section definitely worth quoting verbatim.
“You’re telling me that judging right from wrong is just a matter of our personal feelings and preferences, grounded in nothing more substantial than our own views, with nothing external to back it up? That there are no objectively true moral facts out there in the world?
Yes, but admitting that morality is constructed, rather than found lying on the street, doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as morality. All hell has not broken loose.
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll pg 409-410.

As I contended in earlier blog posts such as here, this is a highly dangerous claim to make. If morality is not real, why don’t we live accordingly? If we are making it up, we can make it to be whatever we want. Anyone can set their own rules. Nothing is right and wrong. We just hope other people will play the game the same way we do and the only way to back it up is might makes right.

Fortunately, we live in a world where good and evil are real. I suspect we all know it to some extent not by our actions so much as our reactions.
Carroll’s book is good, but I do not find it persuasive. It is a step above many atheist writings, which sadly isn’t saying much, and he does strike me as a reasonable fellow, but I walked away not finding any major challenge.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

No. Jesus Was Not Predicting The Transfiguration

Is the Transfiguration a prophecy fulfillment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Transfiguration shows up in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Before each of them comes another passage.

Matthew 16:

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Mark 9:

1: And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Luke 9:

26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

It makes sense to a lot of people to say that this is predicting the transfiguration. Unfortunately, both internet atheists and Christians often have the same problem. This verse is read in a literal sense often due to modern dispensationalism, but does it really fit to say this event is the fulfillment?

No.

Okay. See you next time!

Oh?

You want more than that?

Okay.

Let’s start with the fact that this event takes place a week later in the Gospels. By that, it’s usually not a great prophecy to predict something happening a week from now. Let’s suppose even if we went with something like the 2024 presidential election which at this point is in the future. Make a prediction a week before it happens and all things being equal, you likely have a 50% chance of being right. Predict something no one thinks is even possible and you might be on to something.

Not only that, but it’s hard to see how this event is the Kingdom of God coming in power. I would have no problem saying that this is a hint of what is coming. I suspect that this is part of the reason these passages are closely tied together.

Another problem with this is saying “Some here will not taste death until they see this.” Not only is it hardly a prediction to say “Some people here will not die before a week passes”, but it’s also not really a lot of some if that some consists of just three people.

This passage is also not about the return of Christ. No one had any thought really of Jesus leaving let alone returning at this point. This is something internet atheists often think is being talked about, yet they never do show where that is in the passage. It’s read into it.

As an Orthodox Preterist, I think the Kingdom of God coming into power being demonstrated was at 70 A.D. with the destruction of the temple. That would make sense also with the prediction of some would not die. It is something to say some would still be alive around 40 years later, especially in an age where most people had short lifespans.

Christians need to realize Jesus is talking about something deeper than the Transfiguration and something that should have given His listeners, and us today, pause. Internet atheists need to realize this is apocalyptic language and not read it so woodenly. If someone thinks it’s about the return of Christ, it’s on them to show it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

This Is Home

Where do you belong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many Christians today have an idea that the Earth is just a temporary place. As someone who used to listen to southern Gospel constantly, I remember those songs well that referred to Earth in such language. Just as I started writing this, I remembered one saying that we were living in our temporary home.

Sadly, a lot of Christians do have this view. I remember a few months ago, my folks kept playing a song about the Hills of Home Calling Me. I never liked hearing it. It always treats this world as just a place we’re at now, but thank goodness that another world is calling me away from here.

Unfortunately for this view, I don’t see it in Scripture. Genesis starts off with God telling us to fill the Earth and subdue it. Is there any reason to think that His plan has changed? If this world is what God made for us to live in and for Him to dwell with us in and that it is to be a temple, why think He is undoing all of that? Did the devil have a victory in making the whole world irredeemable?

It is true that in many places such as 2 Peter 3 and Revelation, we see images of the destruction of Earth, but these I would contend hold to more of a purification. If we were to live in a Heaven forever, for instance, I have to ask why is there a new Earth created? Does the old Earth pass away? Yes, but so does our old self pass away when we become Christians and none of us died and rose again when we became Christians. At least, not literally.

The danger in this is that it moves us more towards a Gnostic form of Christianity where the material world is something bad and thus we have to escape it to go to a spiritual dimension of sorts. Now I seriously doubt anyone singing these kinds of songs are likely thinking that all material things are bad, but this is a bent that too many Christians sadly have. This world is treated as a plan gone wrong and now we have to move on to plan B.

I am not an environmentalist, but I don’t believe in abusing our Earth either and this kind of thinking can lead to that. Who cares what we do to the environment? We aren’t going to be here. For a good conservative look at taking care of the environment, I recommend the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

God meant to dwell on this world forever with us. He wants to redeem all of creation and not ditch it forever. Redemption begins with us and as Romans 8 says, the creation is eagerly awaiting its own turn. Whatever you might think is waiting for us that God has prepared in eternity, we can be assured that what is really waiting for us is actually much better.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 8

How does Bradley deal with liberal theologians? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I suppose it’s good for Bradley to take on liberal theologians. At least he’s taking on some since he’s hardly dealt with them at all in this book. Naturally, I have many issues with several of these theologians as well, but I do want to deal with some of the criticisms that Bradley has.

For one, he does say in response to Tillich that the first cause or contingency arguments are not accepted by any good philosopher he knows, but there are indeed many who do. I find Feser’s formulation of Aquinas’s argument most convincing. Of course, Bradley could hedge his bets on saying what is meant by a “good” philosopher.

He also deals with John Robinson, Don Cupitt, and John Shelby Spong. Most of the criticisms are what we would expect, but it is saddening that Bradley spends more time on these guys instead of the theologians defending the ideas he really wants to go after. I do agree though that if you reject Christianity, there’s really no point in going to this kind of liberalism. It’s more often just secularism with a Christian veneer.

Of course, when he talks about Spong, he does bring up the question of if Jesus even existed. Hearing mythicism always leaves me thinking that one’s skepticism is much more emotional than it is rational. Bradley is to history what he thinks the YECs are to science.

Ultimately, that wraps up this book so I will just give some closing thoughts here. I really found Bradley’s book a sad read to go through and many times, a boring one. I went in expecting a professor who I figured should know philosophy and should know how to debate would have some powerful arguments. What I found was someone who had incredibly weak arguments that left me feeling like I was reading a rant. Many times, I enjoy reading atheist material, but this time I found myself having to drag myself through the book and towards the end, I think I just went on one rush through it so I could say I had read it.

There are atheists out there who can make better arguments. It doesn’t help anyone’s position if it seems to your opponents that you are arguing from emotion to make your case and sadly, rhetoric can often win out over data in our day and age. It could be that your case is rationally the stronger one, but your opponent can pull more emotional strings.

For all of us when we examine the arguments, we must do whatever we can to try to look at the data regardless of how we feel about the subject matter. Maybe you don’t like the idea of Hell. Frankly, I don’t know anyone who does. I don’t like the idea of children starving either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Saying you don’t like Hell so it doesn’t exist, would mean that there should be no starving children either.

I also still think it’s important to read what you disagree with. You cannot be informed on a topic if you do not read both sides. It is part of doing your due diligence. You need to know how to wrestle with ideas, not just what you think, but why you think it and what your opponents think and why they think it.

I really hope the next work like this will be better than Bradley’s though.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Is Morality Constructed?

Is morality a construct? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“You’re telling me that judging right from wrong is just a matter of our personal feelings and preferences, grounded in nothing more substantial than our own views, with nothing external to back it up? That there are no objectively true moral facts out there in the world?
Yes, but admitting that morality is constructed, rather than found lying on the street, doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as morality. All hell has not broken loose.”
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll pg 409-410.
So says Carroll, and he does want to say that this doesn’t mean morality isn’t real, but this depends on what is meant by real. If you mean that there aren’t systems out there that we call morality, that’s false. People who do not believe in any external source of goodness and morality do hold to some idea of morality. If you mean that morality is not something that we discover, that is true though. In that sense, morality doesn’t exist.
Now for my purposes, when I talk about morality, I push it back further and ask about goodness. Very few people bother to even define good when they use the term. I prefer to go with what Aristotle said in the opening of his Ethics.
Goodness is that at which all things aim. Goodness has a being to it. A good pizza is the one that has the attributes a pizza should have. A good squirrel is one that can climb trees and eat nuts. A good book fulfills the purpose of a book. A good human being is one who lives as a human being ought and does actions a human being ought which are good actions.
It’s simplistic in writing it out because the philosophy is much more in-depth. Edward Feser does have a good introduction to it in his book Aquinas. I recommend someone curious go there if they want to learn more.
So now let’s consider what it means to be constructed. Carroll compares it to basketball. Just because basketball is a construct doesn’t mean the rules aren’t real. It used to be played with baskets and the ball would have to be fetched every time it went in, and then we found a hoop with a net worked a lot better. Why can’t morality be like basketball?
It is true basketball was nothing discovered. It was made up by someone. Normally, a shot is worth 2 points, but we could easily imagine a universe where it is worth 3. We can imagine a universe with 7 players on each team. However, imagine if these universes were real and some team from that universe tried to play a team from ours? We would have to bend the format of the game seriously since things were so different.
I’m an avid gamer and I find the history of video games fascinating. One thing I found out recently was that Mario might not have been the mascot of Nintendo. When Donkey Kong was being worked on, Popeye was being seriously considered for the role of the one fighting the big gorilla. We could have had Super Popeye Brothers or something similar. Bowser could have been forever replaced by Bluto.
There is nothing essential to these games, but is morality something like that? It could be I could have grown up in a universe where it was Super Popeye and be thinking, “Wow. I just learned the other day they were going to go with some plumber guy named Mario for a while. Can you imagine how bad that would have been?”
If we try to imagine a world where it is okay to torture babies for fun or where we would praise the Holocaust as a great event in human history or where boys were encouraged to go out and rape women, it sounds like a nightmare. It’s hard to imagine such a world. I can easily picture our scientific theories changing, but I cannot picture some moral principles ever changing.
The question we have to ask is if those principles are discovered or invented by us. If they are invented, then like basketball, we could make them whatever else we wanted eventually. It could happen just like it did with games. The Yakuza series of games went from a fighting style to an RPG style. Breath of the Wild broke the rules for Zelda games by making a truly open world Zelda game and it was the best selling Zelda game of all time. We can say torturing babies for fun is wrong, but we can eventually get to a point where it will be okay and practically celebrated.
If they are discovered though, we can go against the grain all we want to, but we are doing something truly evil if we torture babies for fun. It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks otherwise. The whole planet could think it is okay to torture babies for fun and they would be wrong.
Now Carroll does say if we have moral differences, we can sit down and talk them out, but to what end? We talk about matters that we disagree to come to some truth, but if there is no moral truth, then why talk about it? We can talk about why we like different flavors of ice cream, but we don’t think there’s some eternal truth on ice cream flavors to be discovered, although if there was, peanut butter ice cream of any kind would be marked as the best of all.
Not only that, but why should I care about what you have to say in a conversation? Perhaps my morality that I construct tells me it’s okay to kill you on the spot and take your money and credit cards. You might not like that. Tough. Why should I care? Why should I be working on any goal with you? Why should I not just do what i want?
You want to tell me that’s wrong and that you will throw me in prison? Isn’t that just you enforcing your own morality on me? You want to punish someone for disagreeing with a claim you hold that is not objectively true anyway but is just your personal opinion?
Let’s go even further. The only reason any of us does anything is we think we are achieving some good. In Hitler’s mind, doing the holocaust was a good thing. In Stalin’s mind, murdering millions of his people was a good thing. The reason anyone does anything is they are pursuing what they perceive as a good.
But if nothing is truly good or bad but thinking makes it so, what reason is there to truly do anything? It’s all still just chasing an illusion. This is quite interesting for someone like Carroll who wants to be so scientific and live in reality.
But if reality is there is no good or bad at all, then why should we create a fake system just so we can survive? Do we have to deny reality in order to make it in this world? We could say all hell has not broken out yet, but if people en masse ever did embrace the idea of moral relativism or constructivism, there’s no reason it wouldn’t.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)