Thinking is Either Based on Made-Up Stuff or Divine Revelation
When people go beyond what God has revealed, the only option is making stuff up.
I just finished reading a very good book, Faith & Reason Made Simple by Rick McGough. Rick makes the art of explaining the position of faith easy, although the subject is complex. Truth is simple, but the fallen human mind brings up many questions and makes many untrue statements. Faith & Reason Made Simple shows how we can deal with those questions and untrue statements.
Rick says the following:
“People are looking for something more than just what feels good. They are searching for something that is true and trustworthy.”
Everyone has an opinion, but can we explain how we know what we know? Can we do it in a way that makes people want to listen? We get tired of the bare assertions with nothing backing up those claims. We hunger for the real and the genuine.
I was listening to a Christian brother talking about the problem of understanding. He brought up the three-part human nature: spirit, soul/mind, and body. The human intellect is in the soul/mind part of us, but God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. Often, we will know things, and we would say that we know them intuitively. For instance, we know for certain that the Bible is the word of God without error, but we can’t say exactly how we know that. We know for certain that Christ exists, and we might say that we know this because we know Him. But we have trouble explaining how we know that our experience with Christ is real. We might say that we have faith, but we don’t exactly know what faith is or how it comes. That’s because God deals with our spirits, and He ordained that our spirits would rule over our souls/minds and that our souls/minds would rule over our bodies. Since God imparts knowledge through our spirits rather than our minds, we often know the truth but can’t put this knowledge into rational terms. We know by faith, but understanding comes later.
Rick McGough explains how science and observation confirm faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the rhema (utterance) of God. And God imparts this supernatural belief that we call “faith.” It’s one of many gifts from God. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of this faith, and this faith is substance (reality versus concept) and evidence (absolutely certain proof). When faith comes from God, He supplies many confirmations of that faith through what we can observe. Rick gives an amazingly complete overview of these wonderful confirmations.
We can’t uncouple faith from sound reason, and Rick makes that clear. Without faith, sound reason is impossible. We must base all reasoning on truth, or the reasoning is unsound. In other words, we can’t say, “I made up X. Therefore, X is true.” Whatever X is must be true in the first place. And no one can self-generate a true statement. God must reveal truth, which is why all truth is hidden in Christ Jesus. Without that revelation, we humans are stuck in a brute beast existence where we can only react to our senses and memories. Pragmatic reaction to our senses works for survival and creating technology, but we would never be able to reason beyond our five senses without divine revelation. That is, we couldn’t reason beyond what we can observe and test without God to add the needed information. Both Jude and Peter mention this brute beast existence as a problem that happens without the Spirit of God.
Even those of us who have spent our lives testifying of Jesus can learn from Rick’s book. He gives evidence from the created world, the Bible, and history. Faith & Reason Made Simple is a textbook with many tools to learn how to share the Gospel of Christ, deal with questions and criticisms of skeptics, and deal with present social issues and world religions. It’s a training manual for Christian thinking and witness.
I recommend this book. Read it. Study it. Use it for a Bible study or discussion group. Pastors can use it as a source for many sermons and a way to keep young people from leaving the church. The book is available from several sources. I put a link to the Creation Today site below.
God led Rick to leave his pastoral role and to form a new organization to help with the work of spreading the Gospel and answering the questions and criticisms of the skeptics. He’s preparing people, from the youngest to the oldest, for ministry in our corrupted and naturalistic society. As part of this new work, Rick and his team have created http://localchurchapologetics.org/ to make apologetics materials available for children’s ministries, youth ministries, small group curriculum, sermons, college prep classes, and more. All of these materials are designed to assist local churches in incorporating apologetics into their ministries to all ages. He’s developing apologetics materials that are local church friendly and that simplify complex apologetics materials to help train and motivate believers of all ages.
Doctrine is absolutely important. False doctrine hinders our walk. However, correct doctrine without the Holy Spirit is dead and can’t bring life. We need to be aware that our doctrine may be wrong. We may be interpreting Scripture incorrectly. Some doctrines deny what Scripture says. Some doctrines quietly add human ideas to Scripture but claim to be following Scripture.
How does that affect us as Christians? We may have been taught erroneous concepts during our lives and unconsciously added those false concepts to our Christian worldviews. We may have used confirmation bias to prove that those errors are the truth. If that’s the case, those theologies seem more real than Scripture. By the way, this problem is easier to spot in others than it is to spot in ourselves.
When we read Scripture, we filter it through our fleshly mind. That’s one of God’s messages to us in 2 Corinthians 3 if we take the entire chapter in context. The veil is the flesh. The religious people of the day no longer heard Scripture when it was being read, but they only saw this veil of the flesh in front of their eyes. Then the answer comes at the end: but we, with unveiled (open) faces, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are transfigured into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (I’ve given the literal translation of some words.) God mentions this mirror in three places in the New Testament. James mentions it in relation to the perfect law of liberty. Theology should be based on Scripture, but human interpretations of Scripture lead to many conflicting theologies. The Holy Spirit will always be consistent in His interpretation of Scripture, but we can’t trust human intellect.
God wants us to build on the only Foundation that can be laid, which is Jesus Christ. Eventually, the church will build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone. The letter to the Ephesians mentions this, and it’s part of looking into that mirror. As God speaks to us and leads us in our individual lives, He teaches us in flashes of revelation. We look into this mirror and see ourselves and how we fit into our surroundings. We don’t see after the flesh. Henceforth, we don’t know anyone after the flesh but after the Spirit. We see Christ in us, the hope of glory. (We only see this in glimpses.) He’s showing us who we are in Christ and how we fit into His body. That means that it’s vital that we discern the body of Christ: that we don’t look at our brothers and sisters after the flesh. He knows how to speak in a way that we know it’s Him. We only get confused when our fleshly desires start screaming and jumping up and down. For example, it’s hard to see the ministry/Christ in a brother or sister when we’re angry with that brother or sister. Since we do get confused and have distorted worldviews, we need to hold doctrine loosely and hold Christ tightly. We never want to be so tied to a doctrine that the Holy Spirit can’t correct us in our walk.
God speaks to us about the pragmatism that we call “science” through Peter’s writings and Jude’s writings. Science can be purely pragmatic, dependent solely on observation and testing. As soon as scientists go beyond what can be observed or tested, they have to add information. Peter and Jude refer to this as the brute beast mind. This mind is incapable of rational thought but can only react to its environment like an animal. Attempts to interpret observations or experiments almost always add information in the process of interpretation. That information has to come from somewhere, and three sources of information exist: God (truth), demons (lies), or the fallen human mind (made-up stuff). Useful science creates products that we call technology. Evolutionism doesn’t create any technology.
That being said, any knowledge of truth that comes from science is ultimately from God. It’s a gift from God, and ungodly thinkers often receive this knowledge but take the credit for it and never glorify God or thank Him. That’s the first and second chapters of Romans whether the scientist is an atheist or a Christian. Not all scientists follow the arbitrary made-up stuff known as naturalism. Many of them pray and ask God to reveal reality to them as they go into the lab. One day, God will open the books, and we’ll see how God answered prayers of scientists.
We can apply everything that I’ve written about science to theology or any trade. Whatever you do for a living, you can receive God’s guidance moment by moment if you ask for it. He intends that we would stand in His presence continually and never come out of His presence. He didn’t create the Human mind in a way that it could function rationally without the Holy Spirit. The fact that we haven’t entered into this experience effectively doesn’t mean that we can’t or won’t. That’s why you have a longing in your heart. It’s a longing for love, joy, peace, patience, moral goodness, integrity, kindness, uprightness of heart and life, absolute certainty of truth, genuineness, stability, gentleness, and inner strength.
In 2nd Timothy, chapter 3, God tells us about a time when people will be “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” If they’re learning but not coming to the knowledge of the truth, what are they learning? God calls it learning, but it’s possible to learn lies and evil. It’s possible to teach lies and evil. It’s possible to learn to think irrationally.
Here’s the context of God’s statement about learning without coming to the knowledge of the truth.
In the last days, terrible times will come.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
They’ll have a form of godliness but deny its power.
People will be boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, and conceited.
These people will teach things that aren’t true. That’s happening. God says, “Turn away from such as these!” Teachers are teaching students that each person has his or her own truth, that each one has his or her own reality. They teach a system of reasoning and logic that can’t possibly lead to knowledge of the truth. They teach lie upon lie. False teaching isn’t only in the schools, but every form of media echoes the message as if the schools, media, publishers, museums, entertainers, amusement parks, and every other form of communication are controlled and directed to act as the great false prophet of the Apocalypse.
We want the ability to predict and your assertion that there’s some difference between natural laws that I use to observe the world today and the natural laws that existed 4,000 years ago
So, this idea that you can separate the natural laws of the past from the natural laws that we have now, I think, is at the heart of our disagreement. I don’t see how we’re ever going to agree with that if you insist that natural laws have changed. It’s, for lack of a better word, it’s magical. I have appreciated magic since I was a kid, but it’s not really what we want in conventional, mainstream science. ~ Bill Nye
We discussed Bill’s floating abstraction fallacy earlier, but it’s also straw man fallacy, and Bill repeated the accusation several times. It’s a straw man fallacy since Ken Ham never even hinted that natural laws have changed, yet Bill accused Ken of insisting that natural laws have changed. Making it worse, Bill didn’t merely come out and state his accusation, but he presupposed it into the sentence using phrases like “your assertion that” and “if you insist that.”
Part of Bill’s worldview (his fake-reality) is an assumption known as uniformitarianism. This assumption includes the concept of no Genesis Flood. This assumption also includes the concept that natural laws have never changed. These are two different concepts, but Bill is committing a package deal fallacy by packaging both concepts into one word: “uniformitarianism.” He implies that rejecting one part of this philosophy is rejecting every part of this philosophy. Bill is claiming that rejecting the bare claim that “the Genesis Flood didn’t happen” is also rejecting the continuity of the natural laws. But that’s patently false since we can reject a story that says the Genesis Flood didn’t take place while accepting the assumption that all natural laws have remained constant since the Flood. Here’s how the logic looks:
- Ken Ham said the Genesis Flood took place, which is contrary to the Flood-denialism part of the uniformitarian fake-reality.
- Uniformitarianism also includes the belief that natural laws stay constant over time. (lexical ambiguity)
- Bill says that Ken denies every part of uniformitarianism if he denies one part of uniformitarianism. (package deal fallacy)
- Bill concludes that Ken Ham is claiming that there was a different set of natural laws 4,300 years ago.
In this line of reasoning, Bill is creating a straw man, and then he’s beating up the straw man. We’ve just exposed the method for creating the straw man. Of course, Bill cloaked all his reasoning in innuendo, so he could have a different way of getting to his irrational straw man beyond what we could imagine.
But Ken never claimed that natural laws changed, and the biblical account of origins wouldn’t need a changing set of natural laws after God created them. On the other hand, the ungodly story of origins does need a changing set of natural laws. The scientific laws we observe today wouldn’t allow a big bang where everything springs from nothing. They wouldn’t allow life to spring spontaneously from non-life. They would allow the jumps in order and information that would be necessary if evolutionism were part of reality.
A Christian friend suggested that I read a twelve-page document at this link: https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/rev-henry/1_general-revelation_berkouwer.pdf. That was quite a long read, and it was interesting even though somewhat confusing. It was written as if the person had no relationship with Christ in any real sense, although, he must have some relationship on some level. I tried to digest it and understand it, and I’ll comment on it since it links to The Reason Collection in several ways.
The author mentioned something about what he termed “proofs of God,” but any proof is absolute, or it isn’t proof. If we’re able to prove a thing, it’s because the thing is true and proof is possible. What I’ve seen of many who try to prove God, they try to use inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning can never prove anything. Alternately, they try to use deductive reasoning without true premises, and any reasoning that doesn’t have a true premise is unsound. The conclusion isn’t proved. That’s not to say that God doesn’t prove Himself to every person. From Romans 1, see that He does indeed prove Himself to every person, and He does that through divine revelation. “He has showed it to them.” That’s consistent with what He says as He speaks through Scripture and says, “in whom (Jesus Christ) is hidden all knowledge and wisdom.” So, He reveals reality to every person, but what is the depth of this knowledge? He tells us. He reveals everything that humans can know about God and the Godhead. That’s a lot of knowledge.
We see the word “conscience” comes up. It’s translated from the Greek word “suneidesis.” “Suneideses” has two definitions listed: “the consciousness of anything” and “the soul as distinguishing between what is morally good and bad, prompting to do the former and shun the latter, commending one, condemning the other.” A word study on the word “soul” tells us that the soul is distinct from the body and the spirit, and the same word translated as “soul” is also translated as “mind,” “heart,” and “life.” It seems that the conscience isn’t the mind but rather a part of the mind. Perhaps it’s the intuition. We don’t have enough information to say. And yet, we do know that God speaks to us at times, and we know. He communicates to our minds in a way that we can’t explain. He may give a word of knowledge, a word or wisdom, a vision, a dream, or just a sense that a certain decision is the right decision. Because of our spiritual immaturity, this communication is dim at present, but the path of the just is as a shining light that shines brighter and brighter until the day of completeness.
I found one non sequitur disturbing: “Because of man’s involvement with the goodness of God’s command, it is clear that the Church may not abandon its doctrine of general revelation.” There are a few problems here. Somehow, the author of that PDF came to a conclusion that man is involved with the goodness of God’s command, and that’s so vague that I can’t tell you what he’s trying to say. I hope he isn’t saying that humankind has an inherent goodness that he may be hinting at in his previous statement: “Certainly life is not safe in this haven of humanism, but nonetheless life is still preserved.” We are involved with God’s goodness. Our part is to yield ourselves to His Spirit. When we hear His voice, His utterance, His rhema, His command and stop resisting Him (the definition of yielding or submitting), His faith comes to us and gives us access to His grace. His grace then does His works through us, which is the free gift of righteousness. I can give you the Scripture behind those statements if you aren’t familiar with it.
Whatever the author meant, his premise doesn’t prove his conclusion: “the Church may not abandon its doctrine of general revelation.” He stated his conclusion, but he hasn’t proved his conclusion.
Different theologians define “general revelation” and “special revelation” differently. I’m not sure, from the article, how the author of this article defines it. I disregard the terms since I think they cloud what’s really happening. God reveals reality to every person. Every person also has a deceitful and desperately wicked fallen mind that’s able to counterfeit every gift of God, including prophecy and revelation. Every person also must deal with evil spirits who also counterfeit what God gives. Those are the three sources of information. Some would say that observation and experience are also sources of information. I would say that God reveals reality to us through observation and experience.
When we were born again into the Kingdom, Christ took residency in our beings. We were seated in heavenly places, although our minds aren’t fully aware of this. It seems that our spirits are joined to the Holy Spirit in some sense. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit can make the distinction between our spirits and our minds/souls, but I don’t seem to have that discernment.
In my discussions with hardened atheists, they eventually realize that they can’t reason from a true premise but that they reason from axioms. Axioms are things made up. They consist of made-up stuff that seems real, but the illusion of reality isn’t proof. When confronted with the fact that God reveals reality to every person, they refuse to test that by seeking and finding Christ. Rather, they try to cause doubt. “How do you know that it’s Jesus speaking to you?” “The human mind isn’t capable of discerning between Jesus Christ, an evil spirit, or its own ramblings.” So, I had to pray about that. God assured me, speaking through Scripture and through Christ within me that He is well able to give the Holy Spirit to whoever asks for the Holy Spirit. If the discernment depended on me, I would indeed lose my way. And yet, discernment is our problem. With the deceivers (our own minds and demons) always working at us, we all make many mistakes. The author made some references to the coming day of fulfillment, and that day of fullness will come. But we have many steps on the way to that day. As we all, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are transfigured into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord. This Scripture is speaking of the road to spiritual maturity. With maturity comes discernment.
My Christian friend was defining “general revelation” as something that proceeds from humanity rather than from God. He defined it this way: “General revelation is just looking at the universe and makes us draw a conclusion that someone (God) must have made it.” He was defining “faith” as making ourselves believe in something rather than what the Bible says that faith is. Faith comes when God speaks, so it’s substance (reality as opposed to concept) and evidence (meaning absolutely certain proof). Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith, and we are not. My friend also defined “general revelation” as “a connection of our soul with God – it is a rational questioning of our existence.” That definition seems to consist of two contradictory statements. I don’t know if revelation always connects human souls to God since God gives revelation to both saved and unsaved people, but many unsaved people never connect their souls/minds to God. The second statement seemed to define “revelation” as a human questioning. To say that that questioning is rational is questionable.
He asked me to define Revelation, so I said the following: God speaks. Jesus said that everyone who is on the side of truth listens to Him. He said that His sheep hear His voice. He speaks through Scripture and every means mentioned in Scripture. I would make a distinction between His speaking and our rational questioning. But then, we would have to define “rational,” and I would have to change my statement to take out the word “rational.” I would make a distinction between His speaking and our questioning. My understanding is that we must base rational thought on truth or it isn’t rational. Truth comes from truth just as information comes from information. In other words, rational thought requires a true foundation, and no other foundation can be laid other than that which is laid, Jesus Christ.
I don’t know if this is a widespread definition, but here’s the opinion of at least one person. General revelation is a human activity of questioning what becomes obvious to us about God using inductive reasoning. It doesn’t come from God. It comes from the human mind. Special revelation can only come from the Bible or human witness. I don’t see either of these terms in Scripture, nor do I see any reason to confuse the issue with these extra-biblical constructs.
One of the most challenging questions we face is “How do you know?” We can answer this question, but can we answer it with authority. Can we answer it sanely? If we question a claim someone makes and ask them how they know it’s true, they often give us an insane answer. They may speak louder and slower while repeating the claim. They may use circular reasoning to come to their conclusion. They may give us a reason to believe them, but the reason is a second claim that they can’t prove. They might even call us names or use vulgarity.
We can’t always help others, but we should be able to have a sane answer to the question. We should know why we believe, and our answer should be sound and built on a firm foundation of truth. We should understand how we know that the truth is the truth. For instance, how can we know that the Bible is true and that God is real? We need to be able to answer that question absolutely.
We might say that we believe because we have faith, but then we’re saying we believe because we believe. Faith is belief. In Scripture, we see that faith is a particular kind of belief, a supernatural belief that comes from God when God speaks to us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. The Hebrew uses the term “rhema,” which means utterance. However, if we fail to explain this or fail to understand the faith of God, we may say we have faith because we have faith. We believe because we believe. We may say that we believe because the Bible says, but we can’t explain why we believe that the Bible is God’s word without error. When we try, we can’t get to a reason to believe absolutely because we try to rely on inductive reasoning based on evidence rather than proof. Inductive reasoning never proves anything. It only gives an indication. It can only sound convincing. It can’t bring us to the truth about anything. For instance, science is based on inductive reasoning, and science isn’t about truth. Science is about pragmatic application of observation and testing to find a path to something that works. It’s not about finding the depth of truth except in the religion of scientism, which misuses science and gets into bizarre explanations that are pulled from made-up stuff.
However, we absolutely know that God exists and that the Bible is God’s word. We know it by the faith of God, which God imparts when He speaks His utterance into our minds/hearts. He leads, teaches, and corrects us through the Bible and every means mentioned in the Bible. When we hear His voice, His faith comes to us if we acknowledge Him. However, if we’re double-minded, that is, if we try to have both His mind and our own fallen mind as the basis of our thoughts, we’ll receive nothing from the Lord. We must acknowledge Him in all our ways, and He will then direct our paths. We must trust Him rather than leaning on our own understanding. Our own understanding can never give us a true premise. Jesus Christ is the truth, and everyone who’s on the side of truth listens to Him.
“If we continue to eschew science, eschew the process, and try to divide science into observational science and historic science, we aren’t going to move forward.” ~ Bill Nye
This statement implies that certain relationships exist, but those relationships don’t exist. Dividing science into observational science and historical storytelling is discerning the difference between observation and creative stories about the distant past. As we’ve already seen, the term “historical science” is really just historical storytelling even though the storytelling generally begins with observation or divine revelation. Bill claims that knowing the difference between observation and storytelling will stop progress. He claims that knowing the difference between what scientists have observed and what scientists have made up is the same thing as deliberately avoiding science and scientific method.
The Creation-evolution debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye spent too much attention on a definist fallacy and word games with observational and historical science. We don’t want to return to that definist fallacy, so we’ll stick to what those two terms mean. Ken Ham used the term “observational science” to mean science based on observation, and he used the term “historical science” to refer to the practice of extending observations or divine revelation by telling stories about the distant past. While the all-knowing, Almighty, Creator God reveals the past, scientists can’t reveal the past. They can ask God about the past and wait for God to answer. If they do that, they shouldn’t try to put words into God’s mouth. Scientists can’t conjure knowledge of the past by making up stories or making assumptions. They can’t observe the past. Here’s what Bill Nye was really saying in his appeal to consequence fallacy:
“If we know the difference between observation and made-up stuff, we reject science, and we aren’t going to move forward.”
How can we know that the Bible is true from beginning to end? How can we know that the history in the Bible is accurate? How can we even know that God exists?
God speaks through Scripture and every means mentioned in Scripture. We can’t read the Bible without experiencing the voice of God. Einstein said. “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” And yet, Paul mentions in that the Hebrew people had come to the point where they no longer heard what God was saying through Scripture but only saw the veil (flesh) that was in front of their faces. (2 Corinthians 3) Depending only on theology without the Holy Spirit does that, and we can end up interpreting the Scripture through a fake reality of our individual theological worldviews to the point that we no longer hear the voice of God speaking to us through Scripture.
We automatically interpret Scripture and the physical world around us, but we don’t always agree with the way other people interpret things. Who’s interpretation is correct? Without the Holy Spirit, we can only interpret Scripture and the material reality around us by adding information from some source other than God. Information doesn’t create itself, and both godly and ungodly philosophers know this.
Only three sources for information exist: divine revelation, the human mind, or demonic influence. Demons lie, and the human mind can make up stuff. But God knows all things and can’t lie. We’ll call divine revelation truth since that’s what it is. Those other two things, lies and made-up stuff, we’ll call make-believe since that’s what they are. So, we’re comparing truth to make-believe.
How does that get us to truth?
We can never find truth by reasoning from make-believe. We have to start from truth to determine truth. We can’t reasonably say that making believe proves anything. We can reasonably say that one truth proves another truth. For instance, God reveals that He exists; therefore, He exists. What God reveals is truth. God, being almighty and all-wise, is well able to reveal Himself and reality to anyone who will listen to Him. For anyone who has depended on making believe as a way of thinking, this information is devastating and hard to hear.
If that’s true, why are atheists and agnostics able to survive?
God has provided for a practical existence without rational thought, and we call this pragmatism. It’s how animals from earthworms to raccoons survive. This pragmatic thought can only deal with what it can observe and test. When it tries to interpret Scripture or the five senses, it has to add information, and that information comes from lies or made-up stuff. Therefore, pragmatic thinkers can do science as long as they stick to observation and testing. They can use pragmatic science to find out what works and what doesn’t work. They can use it to find out what exists in the material world. They can’t answer questions about what they can’t observe and test. For instance, they can’t answer questions about morality, God, angels, the origin of the universe, or how we came to be. Only God can answer these kinds of questions if we’re willing to listen to Him.
God determines morality, and He defines it. Only He can reveal the spiritual realm. Only He can reveal the secrets of the origin of the universe, and He says that He created everything in six days.
All of that is obvious when we give it serious thought, but many questions remain unanswered. “The Reason Collection” is a boxed set of five books that answer many questions about how we can know anything about anything. At times, this collection uses the creation-evolution debate as an example, but the books are about reason and how we can know anything about anything. Other than some artwork and recording an audiobook, Petros has the books ready to be published in ebook formats. He estimates that he’ll publish the collection bundled with two audiobooks in two months but adds this reminder, “If the Lord opens the door.” The two audiobooks will be “Reason, Part 1” and “Reason, Part 2.”