Christianity in the News

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Ken Ham Declares Aliens Eternally Doomed

Constellation_Fornax,_EXtreme_Deep_FieldKen Ham, a prominent young earth creationist and the founder of Answers in Genesis, recently lamented on his blog about the money being spent on the search for extraterrestrial life in space. Interestingly, part of his objection was that aliens probably don’t exist because they would not be saved:

I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.

That’s correct: according to Ken Ham, we can speculate about whether aliens may or may not exist (though both he and I agree that we think it is very improbable), but we can know for sure that aliens cannot be saved. Keep this in mind through the rest of my post: Ken Ham did not say that aliens may not be saved, but rather that they “can’t” be saved.

Space and Cost

Ken Ham was concerned with the notion that we’re spending so much money on space travel: “I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life.”

I would first point out that the money being thrown at this is hardly exclusively dedicated to the search for ET. Rather, much of it goes to new technology like new telescopes, listening devices, etc. which actually bring benefits for the rest of society. Thus, the money is not being spent in a “fruitless” fashion.

One might come back and say: “What if all that money was instead spent on feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, etc.?” I think that’s a valid point and it is one with some initial force. One wonders, though, about the notion of division of effort. There is a real sense in which not all of human effort may be directed towards one end. As a Christian, I certainly desire to aid those in need, but I would not say that means every dollar I spend should be directed towards that end. There are other evils than need in the world (such as abortion) to direct effort towards, and there are also other goods to promote (evangelization would be one I would list). As such, my activity must be divided. Similarly, on a national level, there are numerous ends to pursue, and an argument which reduces national spending to a single issue is simplistic.

I’m open to disagreement here and would love to hear from those who are either pro-space exploration or con. I lean pro- but I think there is some force to arguments against.

153734main_image_feature_626_ys_4Doomed Aliens

The thrust of Ken Ham’s post, however, was that aliens would not be saved. He acknowledged that “[T]he Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space.” Given his nod to the fact that the Bible is clearly not concerned with the broader universe, it is then shocking to find that Ham asserted without qualifications that “[aliens] can’t have salvation.” I wonder: where is that found in the Bible? Where might I find the notion that: “If aliens exist, they can’t have salvation” implied in the Bible?

Ham’s argument was an implicit one: because “The Earth was created for human life” (an example of the single-end fallacy regarding God’s creation which I discussed elsewhere), and “Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.”

The argument depends upon a number of hidden and explicit premises. First, one must ask in what way Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. Does that mean that intelligent aliens instantly became cursed and condemned by the Fall? It seems Ham’s argument depends upon that premise, but there is surely no bibical data to back that up. Rather, Ham is assuming that the Fall means that any other life in the universe would necessarily be sinful and in a state of rebellion against God. Although the Bible speaks of humans being in rebellion against God, and it speaks of “all creation groan”ing awaiting for God’s coming to reconcile all things, it is surely a massive inference to leap from that to the notion that any aliens anywhere are eternally doomed.

Second, the argument assumes that God did not or would not (can not!?) mediate between other sentient beings and God. Surely it is a major assumption to state that God would not operate in a certain fashion about speculative aliens who have speculatively been included in the Fall and are speculatively doomed for eternity! For Ham to turn around and just assert that God would not save these aliens (or again, perhaps cannot, because he states that they “can’t have salvation), is a major theological error.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the question of how Ham reconciles his first premise with his premise that “because [aliens] are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.” After all, the same proof-texts which may be cited to try to imply that all of creation groans under the Fall (Romans 8) could also be taken, when read with the same presumptions, to mean that aliens will be saved or at least have hope of salvation: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God [Romans 8:20-21 NIV].”

Thus, Ham’s argument has a faulty conclusion: if it is true that all of the universe fell through Adam and is therefore doomed, then it equally follows that, according to the same text, it will all be saved through Jesus as the new Adam (not universalism, but rather the “hope of salvation”). There are no grounds for Ham’s assumptions.

Conclusion

Ken Ham has overstated his case to the extreme. Although he may have some force to his argument about the needless spending of money on various space exploration projects (and again, I think these aren’t needless but that perhaps his side has some a priori power), he has committed some major blunders when it comes to speaking of the possibility of alien salvation.

As always, I’d love to have your thoughts in the comments. What do you think about Ham’s statements? Be sure to check out his blog post to get his side of the argument.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Alien life: Theological reflections on life on other planets- I engage in some [highly] speculative theology related to the possibility of aliens.

Did God Create the Universe for Humans?-Some Thoughts on God’s purposes for creating-  I argue that God’s purposes in creating are needlessly limited when people object that God created the universe [only] for humankind.

Aliens that believe in God: The theological speculations of Robert Sawyer’s “Calculating God”- I reflect on a science fiction book, Calculating God, which has aliens that believe in God.

 

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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On Christian Music

dh-extremistA recent tragedy has forced me to reflect a bit on the notion of “Christian Music.” This recent tragedy was the professedly Christian lead singer of the band “As I Lay Dying” being arrested for plotting to murder his wife. Then, later, admitting that he was no longer a Christian and kept the label as a way to sell records. Now this is a horrible, tragic situation and we shouldn’t downplay it. We should stay in prayer and hope that God leads him back to Christ. We should also learn from it. I simply want to reflect on the category of Christian music and, as a parent (with my first not yet born), think about how I may guide my children’s choices (and my own) when it comes to music.

The Category of Christian Music

One question that comes up from this story and something I’ve frequently thought about is whether the category of “Christian Music” is even a category that should exist. It has been noted by others that this label may serve as an excuse for sub-par musical talent to sell records by having Christian lyrics. As someone who frequents Christian bookstores, I would say this, at times, may not be far from the truth, but there are many extremely talented musicians who carry this label with pride.

I do wonder, however, whether the label just becomes that: a label. It may not reflect the actual content of the lyrics or music (as is admitted in the case of “As I Lay Dying”), but parents feel comfortable picking up a CD from that section simply because it gets called “Christian.” I think that’s not the greatest practice (more on this below). Another problem is that the label of “Christian Music” implies a wholly separate and distinct category of “non-Christian” music, which does not seem to be accurate. So-called “secular” music is often performed by or written by Christians and reflects that.

An ideal world, in my opinion, would be one in which Christian musicians simply played music and had their music on the shelves next to non-Christian music, where someone might get their redeeming lyrics. For now, it’s shoved in the corner of the music section away from all the others. Rather than labeling ourselves “Christian” musicians, why not just play music, and let our worldview flow through it? (I have similar thoughts about “Christian fiction” and the like.)

Doing the Grunt Work

A case like the “As I Lay Dying” scenario brings up another issue. Namely, we should be examining the lyrics of everything we listen to. We need to do the grunt work and examine what we consume to see whether it builds us up as people of God or not. As parents, we should not just assume a so-called Christian artist has lyrical content of value. Instead, we need to do the work and see what the artists are saying so that we can make informed choices. More importantly, we are to raise our children in a way that they make wise choices with what they consume when they get to the age where we feel we let them make their own choices. It’s a huge responsibility, and one I feel very strongly for my child already, even before he or she is born!

Thoughts

I don’t think the label “Christian Music” is going to go away. In some ways that could be a good thing, but I think that we should do due diligence in whatever we consume and assure that it is something that builds us up. I’ve put the album art from a recent album from Demon Hunter up on this post because I think that group exemplifies the character of a Christian band. Their lyrics are a reflection of their worldview. Rather than being praise music, it is music and lyrics which demonstrate the Christian worldview and the struggles of faith. See the links for some more discussion of this.

To sum up, I think we should just examine whatever we consume. Moreover, we should respect Christian artists who are operating on the shelves of “Rock” or “Pop” rather than in the “Christian Music” corner of the store. Why? Because they are letting their faith work through their music without that label. I’m not at all saying those who aren’t doing that are somehow less valuable. Instead, they ought to seek to ensure their content is truly reflective of the label they have received or given themselves. Moreover, all Christians should seek to guard themselves and walk a life of prayer and one of seeking God.

What are your thoughts? I admit I’m no expert in this area, so I’d love to read what you have to say in the comments below.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Engaging Culture: Demon Hunter’s “Extremist” and the Apologetic Task- I discuss the latest album from Demon Hunter and how music may act as an apologetic endeavor.

Ryan Clark Interview- Ryan Clark of “Demon Hunter” discusses one of their recent songs, “The Last One Alive” and how it reflects his faith.

7 Things Christian Parents Can Learn from the Tim Lambesis Story- What can we learn from the tragic story of a Christian band leader who turned atheist and tried to murder his wife? Check out these great insights from Natasha Crain.

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Really Recommended Posts 11/5/11

Over at Hope’s Reason, Steve Bedard wrote a succinct post on the “Roots of Religion.”

A debate between Paul Copan and Norman Bacrac on “Is God a Moral Monster?

Josiah Concept ministries has been featuring a series on “True Christianity.” Great stuff. Check out Part 3.

Philochristos has a great section on Mormon Epistemology that has a number of posts worth checking out.

Why do people hate Tim Tebow so much? Is it a reflection of Christophobia? Check out what First Things has to say on the topic. See also Erik Manning’s discussion.

What do you mean by literal? N.T. Wright makes some great points about interpretation of Scripture.

A serious challenge to Stephen Law’s “evil god” theory is brought up by Edward Feser. For a quick explanation of the challenge, see his posts on the topic.

Many people have been wishing that William Lane Craig had used the ontological argument in the debate with Stephen Law. Why? Well, because it would have really undermined his ‘evil god’ challenge. See Doug Geivett’s thoughts.

Really Recommended Posts 9/23

The World’s First Talking Chair Shows Up in the UK- one of my favorite websites, No Apologies Allowed, has recently featured a comic on Dawkins’ failure to man up and meet William Lane Craig in a debate on the existence of God. Given the absolute trouncing Craig gave to Dawkins’ buddy, Sam Harris, it’s not surprising Dawkins is hiding as far from this debate as possible.

Thinking Christian is another site I follow closely, and he recently had two fantastic posts. The first is a review of the Intelligent Design movie, “Metamorphosis.” I recently purchased the film but have yet to watch it. I anticipate it greatly. The second post points out some pretty interesting aspects about how the “person” status of slaves was revoked–just as people now revoke the unborn’s “person” status. Check out his post, “Non-Persons Yesterday and Today.”

Holly Ordway over at Hieropraxis has another interesting post which reflects on why we should be “Reclaiming Story for Christ.” Holly has a ton of awesome posts, and I highly recommend her site.

“God is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of ‘Love Wins'” by Kevin DeYoung. I think the title says it all.

Randy Everist over at “Possible Worlds” has a fun post reflecting on the “Worst Objection to the Kalam Cosmological Argument.” For some reason I can’t get a direct link, so simply go to his site http://randyeverist.com/ and scroll down.

Readers should recognize that I’ve also been focusing on the Kalam recently, and can check out my more recent posts on the topic: Dawkins and Oppy vs. Theism: Defending the Kalam Cosmological Argument; “The Multiverse Created Itself” and “Who Made God after all?”- The Kalam Cosmological Argument

Do you like Biblical Archaeology? I do! Jason Dulle over at Theo-sophical Ruminations has featured another post in his series on the topic. This one features the ossuary of Caiaphas.

Image Credit:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Fence_Post.JPG

Kamal Saleem: A Muslim Cries Out to Jesus

Check out this awesome video of a former Muslim’s religious experience of Christ our Lord:

http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/AL32v1_WS

Dawkins vs. Craig: Deaf, or blatantly misrepresenting theism?

I stumbled on this video from the recent debate between William Lane Craig et. al and Richard Dawkins et al. which occurred in Mexico. It was via Doug Geivett’s blog (he was another participant in the debate). The video is cut to show Craig’s comments alongside Dawkins’ rebuttals. It seems as though Dawkins either completely missed what Craig was saying, or he is blatantly misrepresenting the case on the other side. I tend to suspect it is the latter, as in the writings of Dawkins which I have read, he doesn’t strike me as the most intellectually honest fellow. Judge for yourself:

The whole debate can be found here.

What a Surprise! Christianity defamed, Islam respected. And, guess what, the Bible likely older than the “experts” thought

Alright, school has started again. I managed to crank out at least a few things over break, and I have a number of 1/4-1/2 completed articles that I’ll hopefully finish some time, but for now back to easy posts, like random news stories.

Before we get into that though, go to Google (or your Google search bar) and [note: some curse words and offensive language will show if you follow these instructions, if you would not like to be subjected to that, simply read my article as I'll describe it] type in “Christianity is…” and check out the suggested searches. Wow, those are some strong terms! “Christianity is b*******” is the first suggestion. Others include “Christianity is not a religion” [what?] and “Christianity is a lie.” That’s some strong stuff. Not very respectful of Christianity, obviously. But now try that same thing for “Islam is” and look at the suggestions. Oh wait, there are none. It’s perfectly fine to defame, attack, insult, and otherwise attack Christianity, but try to talk about Islam and you’ll come up empty. We should certainly not insult Islam. We wouldn’t dare to insult the religion of “peace.”

Google, of course, says it’s a database problem. How convenient. Check out this news story for more annoying facts (and a proof pic, if they ever “fix” the “database problem”).

So, as usual, insulting and attacking Christianity is accepted, but we dare not attack or insult Islam. Why is that?

But I digress. Another news story I found interesting was the discovery of some shards of pottery that suggest the Bible was perhaps written earlier than the “experts” thought! What a surprise! Current “scholarship” attempts to suggest the Hebrew Scriptures were not as old as tradition holds (usually dating them around 6th or 7th century B.C. (that’s Before Christ, by the way), but this evidence shows that, shock of all shocks, Hebrew writing existed longer before than was thought possible (this is, of course, not to mention that it is likely the Hebrew Scriptures were written in an even more ancient form of Hebrew script, but the “experts” are so “spot on” at all times it’s hard not to trust them [massive sarcasm]). The archaeological, historical, philosophical, experiential, and other evidences for theism and Christianity continue to increase in number and veracity. Not that this is surprising to anyone but the so-called experts (note that I’m not trying to insult genuine Biblical scholarship, only the radical, relativistic, super-critical scholarship that the media and anti-theists tend to try to cling to).

Well, back to school work.

Edit 1/17- Another news story on the Bible being older (same thing).

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