Sep20 2010

Is God Simply a “Higher Power”?

There you are, having dinner with uncle Bob, as the conversation suddenly turns toward things of a spiritual nature.  When asked if he believes in God, uncle Bob confidently replies, “If you’re asking me if I believe in organized religion or that kind of God, the answer is no.  However, I do believe in a higher power.”  This type of response has become quite common these days whenever someone is quizzed about God’s existence.

I suppose that there are several reasons why the Biblical view of a personal God has been replaced in the minds of so many by the idea that God is nothing more than an impersonal force or power that is pervasive throughout the universe.  Hollywood and the media have certainly played a significant role in promoting such a view.  The Star Wars trilogies, some of the biggest blockbusters in movie history, introduced moviegoers to the notion that there is a “force” which exists all around us, which we can gain access to and experience for ourselves.  Although this idea was not original, having been borrowed from some of the Eastern religions, it was, nevertheless, popularized by the movie.  A lot of credit for the popularization of this view must also be given to celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey who has used her tremendous appeal and her long-running and much loved TV show as a “pulpit” to reach the masses with her New Age message that god is a force or energy that we can tap into.

It’s not hard to understand why this New Age version of God has been embraced so quickly by so many people.  For one thing, it satisfies our thirst for something of a spiritual nature.  I’m convinced that most people have a natural hunger or thirst for something that is higher and greater than what we are currently experiencing in this present world.  We yearn for some ultimate purpose or meaning to our lives that will take us beyond this fleeting, temporary, earthly existence.  From a Biblical perspective, this longing, this hunger for something transcendent not only bears witness to the fact that the relationship between God and man has been broken, that same hunger encourages us to search out this God who has attempted to restore that broken relationship.

For some people, the Biblical view of God poses a real problem.  A personal God who created us is seen by many as a threat to their personal autonomy and their freedoms.  After all, if I’m hoping to define for myself what is right or wrong, how can I “write my own rules” about life if God is a personal being who “has the final say” in this universe?  Furthermore, a personal God who is holy and righteous means that we will be held accountable at the end of our lives for the manner in which we lived while here on earth.  As you can see, someone who considers this view of God as a threat to them would take great comfort in, and have an ulterior motive for selectively choosing to believe in a vague, impersonal force that makes no demands on their life and which does not hold them accountable at the end of their life.  Taking this approach gives the appearance of allowing them to have the best of both worlds- it satisfies their hunger for something of a spiritual nature, yet frees them from any accountability.  For those reasons and more, many people have opted for a belief in a lesser, “higher power” version of God.  But, as I’ve pointed out on previous occasions, simply believing something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.

The real question, then, is whether there is good reason for us to think that God is nothing more than some sort of force or power.  I don’t think that such an idea is supportable.  I think that such a view of God comes up way short as an explanation and here’s why.  Gravity is a force, yet no one would be willing to say that gravity has the ability to choose anything.  Electricity is a power, but electricity lacks the ability to make decisions about anything.  Yet, in contrast to this, everything around us reveals the work of a Creator who is much more than a force- he must be a personal being who has the ability to decide and to choose.  He obviously had the ability to choose and decide how, why, and what to create.  In addition to this, he must be a personal being in order to create personal beings such as us.  Personal beings cannot come about as the result of random, impersonal forces at work.

This conclusion has certain implications.  It means that many of the world’s religions cannot be true.  The New Age religion, and every other religion which believes that god is an impersonal power, immediately disqualify themselves on the basis that they do not fit with the observable evidence around us.  Furthermore, it means that whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, we will be held accountable to this Creator who is sovereign over his creation.

So, while uncle Bob may wish that God will turn out to be an impersonal power that cannot hold him accountable, reality dictates that wishes don’t always come true.

Sep06 2010

DNA: The Information Molecule

Imagine a setting in the old west.  An old rancher named Gus needs some help on his ranch, so he’s got to try and find a way to contact his longtime friend Benjamin who is now living in a remote area far away.  Gus travels to town where he arrives at the telegraph office.  He
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Aug23 2010

Are Christians Narrow-Minded?

I want to begin by stating unambiguously that I am convinced that Jesus Christ is the only way to God and that there is salvation in no one else.  I’m fully aware of the fact that for me to say something like that is to invite accusations of everything from “hate” to “intolerance”, “bigotry”, “narrow-mindedness”,
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Aug09 2010

Chimp vs Human DNA- The “Ninety-Eight Percent” Myth

As we enter the month of August, it’s time once again for students to head back to school.  That being the case, there’s a good chance that in science classes all across the country, as teachers cover the topic of evolution, sooner or later they will make mention of the “98 percent similarity” between human
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Jul26 2010

Can We Be Good Without God?

The sign on a New York City subway read, “A million New Yorkers are good without God.”   In Boston, there were signs on the city buses and subways that read, “Good without God?  Millions of Americans are.”  Billboards in Chicago carried the same message.  During the Christmas season, buses in Washington D.C. carried posters that
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Jul12 2010

Christianity 101

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a classroom full of bright, young students at one of the local community colleges.  The invitation had come from a good friend of mine who teaches a class on Philosophy and World Religions.  As he covered various world religions, he would invite speakers representing those religions to
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Jun28 2010

The Question of God’s Existence- Why Does it Matter?

Several years ago, I wrote the following words in the flyleaf of my Bible: “If there is no God, then nothing really matters.  If there is a God, nothing else matters.”  I don’t recall where I heard it, but as far as I’m concerned this one statement covers all the bases in very few words-
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Jun14 2010

Does the Problem of Evil Disprove God?

It has been noted by some historians that later in his life Albert Einstein expressed the view, based upon his observations of the universe, that there must be a God Who initially set the universe into motion.  However, those same historians go on to point out that Einstein ended up backing away from a Judeo-Christian
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May31 2010

Playing the Hate Card

I’ve always had a fascination with magicians and illusionists.  When I was a kid, my father would order magic tricks from a mail-order novelty company and I was always anxious to impress the kid next door with my “prowess” as a magician.  Although I never pursued it as a serious career or hobby, I am
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May17 2010

Undermining the Basis for Science

A few years ago, a close friend of mine invited me to join him in attending an afternoon lecture at ASU that was open to the general public. The speaker was a professor of zoology who also happened to be a staunch evolutionist.  His lecture that day was dealing with the topic of Intelligent Design. 
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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.