Monday, June 23, 2008

The Value of Human Life in the Evolution/Creation Debate

In consideration of the value of human life and how this issue relates to both an evolutionary and creationistic worldview, we come to the case of Carrie Buck. Becoming pregnant at the age of 17, Carrie was committed by her foster parents to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded on the grounds of feeblemindedness, incorrigible behavior and promiscuity (although her pregnancy occurred after having been raped by her own foster parent’s nephew). Carrie’s mother, Emma, had likewise been committed to the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and the Feeble-minded after being accused of immorality, prostitution, and having syphilis. It seems apparent that the sexual deviancy so commonplace in our contemporary society was grounds in the early 20th century to label one as insane, mentally retarded, or “feeble-minded”, regardless of if this deviancy was a forced act by another. Sadly, to make certain the family did not reproduce, Carrie’s younger sister Doris was secretly sterilized after being hospitalized for appendicitis. Doris was unaware of this procedure having occurred, until the 1980’s, after many years of attempted child-bearing with her husband. Amazingly, US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. had this to say in 1927 regarding Carrie Buck:

“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Later in life, and after actual investigation, there was an obvious consensus that Carrie was a woman of normal intelligence. Additionally, her daughter Vivian (the child she bore from the rape) was an average student who excelled in deportment (behavior).

Looking at this background from the practice of sterilization in support of eugenics, it seems Justice Holmes gives a common response from those in favor of evolutionary thought: That it is “better for all” if we prevent those we deem “unfit from continuing their kind” from ever giving birth at all. We see this in the racist sentiments of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, who said, “It is said that a fish as large as a man has a brain no larger than the kernel of an almond. In all fish and reptiles where there is no great brain development, there is also no conscious sexual control. The lower down in the scale of human development we go the less sexual control we find. It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets.” Interestingly, the placement of Planned Parenthood clinics in poor, ethnic minority neighborhoods and the comparable ratios of abortions amongst ethnic minorities (particularly blacks) to those of whites only serve to further support the racist hatred of such individuals as Sanger. We also see the common response of Justice Holmes in the tens of millions of abortions performed in the United States since the US Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade in 1973, especially with regard to the higher percentages of abortions performed upon children with debilitating disease and mental/physical disabilities. Considering all these things, when our presupposition is that all life originated through random mutation, natural selection, and other evolutionary processes, our conclusion can only necessitate a eugenic of sterilization for the weak, the destruction of human life at will (to include abortion, euthanasia, and genocide), and any other means to promote the survival of the fittest.

Opposing all these points, the Biblical view of Creation gives value to human life and necessary order in the world. First, we must understand that there is a hierarchy to Creation. This hierarchy includes human relationships in the family and Church (Genesis 2:21-23, Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, 1 Timothy 2:11-14) as well as the distinguishing of man above the rest of Creation for the purpose of dominion and fruitful multiplication of the human race (Genesis 1:26-28). In light of these Scripture passages, we can also understand that human life has value because murder is a direct assault against the image of God, hence God Himself. This is supported by the existence of the sixth commandment in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. If human life has value as the express image of God, if our existence has a hierarchical order in which we relate to one another and the rest of the created world, and if the destruction of human life is always a sin (whether by means of abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, etc.), than that value which is inherent in human life only comes from a Creator. This view must therefore be diametrically opposed to a meaningless existence grounded in random chance, making certain that the evolutionary and creationistic views of the value of human life are, just as their theory of origins, mutually exclusive from one another.

A recap on Hell in response to annihilation:

Concerning annihilationism, we must consider a few things. First, we can understand that Sheol in the Old Testament was used to mean the place of the dead. This is true for both the righteous and the wicked as we can understand from verses such as Genesis 37:35 (Jacob), Psalm 16:10 (David/Christ), Proverb 5:5 (Immoral Woman), Isaiah 38:10 (Hezekiah), and Hosea 13:14 (Unrepentant Israel/Ephraim/Samaria). Secondly, we must understand that in Christ’s argument with the Sadducees over the resurrection (Matthew 22:23-33), He proved His point by the tense of a single verb (eiÎmið, the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb). Because we understand through this passage that there is life after death, and because we understand that up to this point both the righteous and the wicked were sent to Sheol (Hades in the New Testament; see Acts 2:25-28 and the cross-reference of Psalm 16:8-11), this supports the fact that both the righteous and the wicked endure after death, as opposed to the annihilation of the wicked. Christ’s illustration of the rich man and Lazarus also support this conclusion in Luke 16:19-31 by demonstrating the division in Sheol/Hades up to this point between the enduring righteous and enduring wicked. Reconciling the place of Lazarus (Abraham’s Bosom) with such verses as Ephesians 4:8-9 and Luke 23:43, we find that Abraham’s Bosom is synonymous with Paradise. As a final point, the final destination of the wicked (to include Satan, his angels/demons, the Antichrist/Beast, the False Prophet, Hades, and Death) is an everlasting (both ultimate AND enduring) Gehenna (Hell). We see this truth in verses such as Revelation 19:20, 20:10, and 20:12-15.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Women Pastors?

While postmodern culture said goodbye to Biblical values long ago, this does not determine how Christians are to live out their convictions regarding the Word of God. In light of the past 40+ years of feminism, equality between the sexes has slowly evolved from meaning “equal value” to “sameness”. Although the Bible sees men and women as equal, it does not see us as the same, assigning Biblical roles for both men and women. We see this in the Creation (Genesis 2:21-23, 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, 1 Timothy 2:13-14), the Fall (Genesis 3:16), and church order (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Apart from the differentiation of roles related to the preceding points, men and women are in fact equal as it relates to value and the process of being saved through Christ (Genesis 1:27-28, Galatians 3:26-28). While these Biblical principles seem confusing to those who do not believe the Word of God, no one is confused about the natural principle that only a woman gives birth or that only a man can be a father (unless you implant a secular worldview which has no understanding of gender whatsoever). The Biblical principles only become confusing as individuals approach the Bible with contempt for God and His Word, not believing the plain meaning of what is said, nor understanding through context that even with the removal of cultural issues (such as hair length, head coverings, apparel, etc.) God still demonstrates His plan of gender roles and a Biblical hierarchy in the home and Church. This is accomplished without the degradation of either sex, but rather the fulfillment of their God-given purposes as equally valuable before God.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What is Man?

In spite of all the effort to develop theories of anthropology from those holding a secular or non-Christian worldview, none have accurately addressed the definition and purpose of man as demonstrated by the Bible. Considering this, there are several points one can come to understand regarding the doctrine of man as represented in Scripture. First, due to sin, all men are primarily and absolutely depraved (Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9). This being true, we can in no way please God in and of ourselves: We are not spiritually injured, but spiritually dead (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10-18). An important point to understand about how centrally and completely man is fallen is by considering how holy, perfect, and gracious our God is (1 Corinthians 1:25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:8). Understanding the nature of man and how man is comparable to God his Creator, Biblical anthropology is a two-sided coin which also addresses the fact that man is the crown of God’s creation, having been made in His image (Psalm 8:4-5, Genesis 1:26-27). Realizing how God has created man and how man has demonstrated his capacity and tendency toward sin, this completed picture should cause sinful man to properly view himself in light of a holy God. When this realization is accomplished, man begins to understand his need for a Savior in Jesus Christ and purpose in life to accomplish the plan and will of God for him (Luke 13:3, Romans 6:23, John 14:6, Romans 8:28, 12:2). So then, man is defined by sin, yet redeemed and able to fulfill his purpose in and by obedience to Christ.