Friday, January 29, 2016

The Questions of Faith – Is there any place for evolution at all if God is real? (Part 1)

Below are the notes from the twelfth session of a study entitled "The Questions of Faith." This 15-session series attempts to answer some of the questions raised by participants from our last study. This week we started to work on the question, Is there any place for evolution at all if God is real?  You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page. We'll finish the lesson next week.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

The Very Basics of Evolution
  • Life forms reproduce and therefore have a tendency to become more numerous.
  • Factors such as predation and competition work against the survival of individuals.
  • Each offspring differs from their parent(s) in minor, random ways.
  • If these differences are beneficial, the offspring is more likely to survive and reproduce.
  • This makes it likely that more offspring in the next generation will have beneficial differences and fewer will have detrimental differences.
  • These differences accumulate over generations, resulting in changes within the population.
  • Over time, populations can split or branch off into new species.
  • These processes, collectively known as evolution, are responsible for the many diverse life forms seen in the world.

The Very Basics of Creationism

  • Young Earth Creationism – Young Earth creationists believe that God created the Earth within the last ten thousand years, literally as described in the Genesis creation narrative, within the approximate time-frame of biblical genealogies.
  • Old Earth Creationism – Old Earth creationism holds that the physical universe was created by God, but that the creation event described in the Book of Genesis is to be taken figuratively. 
    • Gap creationism – Gap creationism, also called "restoration creationism," holds that life was recently created on a pre-existing old Earth. 
    • Day-age creationism – Day-age creationism states that the "six days" of the Book of Genesis are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather much longer periods (for instance, each "day" could be the equivalent of millions, or billions of years of human time). 
    • Progressive creationism – Progressive creationism holds that species have changed or evolved in a process continuously guided by God, with various ideas as to how the process operated-though it is generally taken that God directly intervened in the natural order at key moments in Earth history.
  • Neo-creationism – Neo-Creationists intentionally distance themselves from other forms of creationism, preferring to be known as wholly separate from creationism as a philosophy. The intelligent design movement arguably represents the most recognized form of neo-creationism in the US. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Questions of Faith – How should Christians respond to anti-Christian groups that oppose public displays or support for the Christian faith?

Below are the notes from the eleventh session of a study entitled “The Questions of Faith.” This 15-session series attempts to answer some of the questions raised by participants from our last study. This week we worked of the question, How should Christians respond to anti-Christian groups that oppose public displays or support for the Christian faith?  You may listen to a podcast of this session on the Cove Presbyterian PodBean page.

If you found this study meaningful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.


Quotes to Consider

  • Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. 
  • [It] is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America. 
  • As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of [Islam]... 

Considering the question itself
How should Christians respond to anti-Christian groups that oppose public displays or support for the Christian faith? 
Considering the biblical background outlining the relationship between the state and the church

  • Psalm 33:12 ESV - Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
  • Isaiah 60:12 ESV - the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV - If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
  • Proverbs 14:34 ESV - Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
  • Isaiah 60:18 ESV - Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
  • Matthew 28:18-19 ESV - And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  • Timothy 2:1 ESV - First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
  • Genesis 12:2 ESV - And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
  • Daniel 9:3-21 ESV - Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. ... 
  • Micah 4:3 ESV - He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;

Considering the philosophical roots for and the governmental application the separation

  • Many believe the separation of the church and state is grounded in the theology of Martin Luther and the philosophy of John Locke. 
  • Both the American Revolution and government is influenced by this philosophy.
  • The courts have been consist in separating religious expression and the state, even though the line between religious expression and moral action may be difficult to determine.

Considering how people of faith might respond to the separation