The Righter Report

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

In 2003, scientists Arvind Borde and Alexander Vilenkin and Alan Guth published a paper documenting that the universe cannot be infinitely old (the universe is expanding). It had to have a beginning. Dr. William Lane Craig, a doctor of philosophy and theology, quoted Vilenkin in defense of his Kalam Cosmological Argument:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place (that the universe had a beginning), cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

No longer can men argue that the universe has been around forever. Be thinking about a divine Creator.

Jesus is Lord!
– The Righter Report

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May 12, 2016 Posted by | Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Science, Theology, Theology Articles, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible, Pseudoscience, and the Paranormal

by Pete Righter         

                 “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who

                 gains understanding; for wisdom is more profitable

                 than silver, and yields better returns than gold.”

                             (Proverbs 3:13)

In the colleges and universities of this world, truth, knowledge, and wisdom remain the keys to man’s continued search for enlightenment and advancement. Yet there is a wisdom often overlooked by today’s universities – the wisdom of God and the Bible, including prophetic revelation.  Indeed, the words of the prophet Daniel seem to have come to pass in this generation – “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4 – KJV).  Men of God such as the late Grant Jeffrey now estimate that our base of knowledge is now doubling every two to five years.  Yet without the word of God, man’s quest for knowledge and the Utopian dream are limited to defining life and knowledge in the natural realm. Pseudoscience and the Occult, along with Biblical supernaturalism, are normally relegated to the paranormal.  One such book which deals with supernatural and paranormal subjects is Terence Hines’ Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, which does a nice job in discrediting such pseudo-scientific beliefs as reincarnation, psychic healings, ESP, the Bermuda Triangle, ancient astronauts, and astrology.

WHAT IS PSEUDOSCIENCE?

According to Merriam-Webster, pseudoscience is “a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific.”  Basically, it’s counterfeit science.  It cannot be ‘falsified’.  Falsifiability, as defined by the philosopher Karl Popper, defines the inherent testability of any scientific hypothesis.  Pseudo-scientific studies (i.e. previous ‘cold fusion’ studies) cannot be replicated.

A good example of a pseudoscience is astrology, which will be reviewed later on in this article.  But first, a critical look at reincarnation.

REINCARNATION

Reincarnation is the belief that people have lived past lives, and that after this present life there will still be other lives to live.  Hinduism promotes the concept of reincarnation as it relates to spiritual progression.  In Hinduism, people experience both good and evil occurrences –  known as “good and bad karma.”  These are the results of one’s behavior.  If one does good deeds, good karma will follow, but if one’s behavior is evil, bad karma will follow.  Through a progression of incarnations, a person will hopefully achieve an enlightened spiritual plateau whereby good overcomes evil, and one will finally be released from the cycles of reincarnation to achieve union with the highest known spiritual reality they call “Brahman.”

In the 1950’s there was the very famous case of ‘Bridey Murphy’ that perpetuated the notion that reincarnation is real.  Author Terence Hines relates the details:

“The most famous alleged case of reincarnation is that of Bridey Murphy.  In 1952 one Virginia Tighe was hypnotized.  She reported details of a previous life in Cork, Ireland, as ‘Bridey Murphy.’  While hypnotized, she spoke in a distinct Irish accent that she did not have normally and described her life in Cork in great detail.  Her case was reported as proof of reincarnation in Bernstein’s (1956) best-selling book, The Search for Bridey Murphy.  The case was thoroughly investigated several years later.  It was discovered that, as a child, Mrs. Tighe had had a neighbor across the street who had grown up in Ireland and used to tell her stories about life there.  The woman’s maiden name?  You guessed it – Bridey Murphy.  Further, it was revealed that Mrs. Tighe had been involved in a theater in high school and had ‘learned several Irish monologues, which she had delivered in what her former teacher referred to as a heavy Irish brogue.'” (Hines 72-73)

The above was a classic example of human and satanic deception.  The Bible makes clear that there are three basic types of spirits – the human spirit (Proverbs 18:14), the Spirit of God (Isaiah 61:1), and evil spirits (Judges 9:23).  While the Bridey Murphy case was an example of a deception created by the human spirit, it is also clear according to the Bible that Satan is the father of all lies, and as such we can also see his influence and deception behind the scenes – not only in the Bridey Murphy example but also in such false religions as Hinduism.  Because of this, we can look at demonic influences in the lives of deceived individuals to recognize the source behind other reincarnation stories and beliefs.

The Bible makes it clear that Satan has been around since before the Garden of Eden.  He knows what occurred in the lives of such people as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hitler, and every other person who has lived since the creation of mankind.  It is certainly not a “reach” then to believe that he and / or his demonic spirits can place false memories of “prior lives” into the unregenerated minds of modern man, especially when those individuals are making an effort – such as a seance – to establish “contact” with higher spiritual powers.

From a Biblical standpoint, reincarnation is a false doctrine.

 “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that to face the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

In the Biblical story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.  It was to the rich man that Abraham said, “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.”  In this parable – which the Dake’s Bible calls “The Story of Two Beggars” – Lazarus begging on earth, and the rich man begging in the hereafter –  and which many Christian teachers consider to be a revelation of divine truth, both the rich man and Lazarus have a clear, existing consciousness in relation to those who are still left on the earth.  If reincarnation were real, both individuals would likely have been “born again” into a new earthly body.

With reincarnation, man is automatically granted one life after another until he supposedly reaches paradise. Accordingly, there is no need for a savior to cleanse one from one’s sins, so Christ would have died in vain.  That is the danger inherent in the teaching of reincarnation – it makes Jesus Christ and his sacrifice at Calvary superfluous.

ASTROLOGY – A PSEUDOSCIENCE

Astrology is the study of the positions and movements of astronomical bodies – in particular, the sun, moon, and planets – and their supposed effect on life and events on earth.  Astrology was studied among the ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, Etruscans, and the Chaldeans of Babylonia.  The Chaldeans are credited with the origin of astrology in a primitive form, probably as early as 3000 B.C.  Terence Hines states that the first evidences of astrology date back more than 4000 years, and originate in the area of Mesopotamia (Hines 141).  As to the realm of scientific research, astrology is considered a pseudoscience.  It is totally devoid of having any meaningful, verifiable scientific evidence to substantiate its claims.

To begin with, current astrological signs (Libra, Aquarius, etc.) are out of conjunction.  Hines writes:

“Astrology fails to take into account the astronomical phenomenon known as precession.  The assignment of certain dates to certain signs of the zodiac (e.g., Aries ruling the period from March 21 to April 19) was made 2000 years ago, and has been followed by astrologers ever since.  When it is said that the sun is “in” Aries between March 21 and April 19, this means that the sun, as seen from earth, is in the same part of the sky as is the constellation Aries.  The correspondences between the twelve constellations of the zodiac and their assigned dates were correct 2000 years ago – but not today.  The earth ‘wobbles’ slowly as it rotates and because of this the position of the sun relative to the constellations of the zodiac (as seen from earth) changes over the centuries.  By now, the difference is almost one complete sign, so the sun in not in Aries from March 21 to April 19, but in Pisces for most of that period.  Thus, if you are an Aries (born between March 21 and April 19), the sun was almost certainly not in Aries when you were born, but in Pisces!” (Hines 144).

Secondly, early astrologers never predicted the existence of the outer three planets, and never had the slightest hint that the planets existed until astronomers discovered them.  Today, astrologers claim to understand the astrological influences of the three new planets.  Astrologer Linda Goodman (1968) explains astrology’s failure to note the influences of the three ‘new’ planets before their discovery by saying that a planet doesn’t have any astrological influence until it is discovered (Hines 145-146).  How humorous!

Third, scientific research dispels the notion that sun signs influence an individual’s personality.  Hines again relates:

“The characteristic personality of the extrovert seems to be nicely defined in the typical description of Aries: bold, assertive, aggressive, self-confident, determined.  An obvious  astrological prediction, then, is that more extroverts than introverts should be born under Aries.” (Hines 148)

The astrologer’s claim is that a romantic couple’s compatibility is determined, at least in part, by their astrological signs.  Hines cites the studies of Dean (1977) and Culver and Ianna (1984) that revealed, no influence of sun signs on marriage or divorce rates” (Hines 154).  People were getting divorced at a uniform rate no matter what their sun signs were.  Hence, the absence of sun sign compatibility.

From a Biblical perspective, Romans 1:25 comes to mind:

                “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and

                 worshiped and served created things rather than

                 the Creator….”

The sun, moon, and planets are the created things – God is the Creator. Astrology is a pseudoscience and should not be relied upon as a meaningful indicator of astrological influence.

FAITH, PSYCHIC AND HEALINGS OF THE OCCULT

In the world of genuine healing miracles, we need to understand that some practitioners who claim to heal “in the name of Jesus” are out and out frauds.  Hines tells the story of the 1986 investigation of “Faith Healer” W.V. Grant, who years ago operated out of Dallas, Texas.

We arrived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music well before the service was scheduled to start.  During the healing portion of his services, Grant typically walks up to people in the audience, asks them to stand, if they’re able, and announces their name….and what they are suffering from.  How does Grant get this information?  Our investigation confirmed what (psychic investigator) Randi  had reported earlier.  Before the service starts, members of Grant’s staff would walk through the hall and chat with those who had arrived early.  These people are actually being pumped for information, which is then reported to Grant.  Randi, after attending one of Grant’s services in Florida, found crib sheets listing information about people who were “cured” in the trash.  It was also noticed that one of Grant’s staff was using hand signals to let the reverend know what part of the victim’s body was “afflicted.”  (Hines 240)

In a similar manner, “healer” Peter Popoff also conducted fraudulent miracle services.  His staff also pumped information from various people prior to the service, and this information was radioed to Popoff from an outside transmitter to a tiny receiver he had in his ear.  These broadcasts were subsequently picked up and recorded by a communication specialist working for psychic investigator James Randi (Hines 240-241).

From an occult viewpoint, author Kurt E. Koch, a missionary and sincere servant of God, notes numerous instances of occultic healings that he has observed during his life.  In his book, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, he gives the following example as evidence of Satan’s work:

“During my various visits to England I have frequently come across the tracks of one of the most dangerous healers of the Western world.  His name is Harry Edwards. Edwards, who today calls himself a spiritual healer, first visited a spiritualistic meeting when he was in his early forties.  He was soon told at the seances that there were spirit guides who wished to cooperate with him.  It was about this time that he had his first experience of “absent healing” (note Edgar Cayce, later in this work).  He was told by a friend about a person who was suffering from consumption, pleurisy and hemorrhage….he was able to see the patient clearly.  Later he was informed that on the very night he had commenced healing, the victim of consumption had begun to improve:  his fever had abated, his hemorrhage stopped and the pleurisy ceased.  It is quite enlightening to note that Edward’s healing power stems from his spirit guides on the other side….(and) has nothing to do with ‘the Christian theory of vicarious atonement'” (Koch 44-45).

Koch provides numerous examples of occultic healings and spiritual possession, along with their detrimental consequences, in his book, Occult Bondage and Deliverance. He also provides scriptural confirmation that occultic healings can take place, to wit:

“But quite obviously healings do take place.  The question is, what is the force behind the healing?  We have many passages in the Bible recording the ability of sorcerers to work miracles.  We need only think of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses in Exodus 7, or of the demonic signs and wonders mentioned in Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 and Revelation 13:13 and 16:14” (Koch 47).

Biblically, it is clear that true, Godly gifts of healing do exist:

           “To one there is given through the Spirit the message

             of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge….

             to another faith….to another gifts of healing….”

                                                  (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Outside of the practice of medicine, man has no power by his own nature to perform miracle healings.  Miracle healings can only occur through two known spiritual forces – Satan, and God, through His Holy Spirit.  And Koch makes clear, time and time again, that the spiritual healings of Satan come at the expense of one’s spiritual estrangement from God.

PSYCHICS AND PSYCHIC PHENOMENA

 Psychics such as Jeane Dixon, Dorothy Allison, Lou Wright, and numerous others, claim to have a supernatural connection through which they are able to predict future occurrences.  One of the most famous of these from medieval times was a man by the name of Michel Nostradamus (1503-1566).  He was popularized in a documentary hosted by Orson Welles entitled, “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.”  Hines takes note of many of Nostradamus’ prophetic revelations, including the predictions of Hitler, fighter aircraft, the atomic bomb, and even the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Hines notes, “….These prophecies (of Nostradamus) are only seen to be accurate after the fact. No one has ever used them to make correct predictions about what is going to occur before it occurs” (Hines 40).  For instance, it is claimed that one verse (Century 1, verse 64) specifically predicts the advent of fighter aircraft and the atomic bomb:

They will think they have seen the sun at night

When they will see the pig half-man;

Noise, song, battle, fighting in the sky perceived,

And one will hear brute beasts talking.

Hines notes that this is a far cry from any specific prediction of fighter aircraft and atomic weapons (Hines 41).

In my collegiate course on pseudoscience and the paranormal  at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA, we were shown that psychics make many generalized, open-ended predictions.  For instance a psychic may tell someone, “I see an automobile accident in your future.  You will not be harmed though, so don’t worry.”  Here it is noted that the person being given the psychic prediction does not necessarily have to be involved in an accident – they may also witness one and think the psychic hit pay dirt.

Psychics make numerous, assorted prophecies.  People notoriously are guilty of forgetting about the numerous prophecies they were given that were incorrect, and remember instead the one that accidentally came true.  Psychic readers do what is known as “cold readings” – they seem to have no discernible basis other than supernatural insight for the information they give.  For example, a psychic may be seeing a young lady for the first time.  The psychic notes that the woman is not wearing a wedding ring, but notices she is adorned with a lot of very expensive jewelry (indicating a perceived inclination for wealth).  She then prophesies that the young lady will be married in the future and that she will achieve much financial success.  She may also state that the woman is now not romantically fulfilled (if the lady says she was just engaged to the most wonderful person she has ever met, but left her engagement ring at home), the psychic will tell her that not until her marriage will she ever know the true measure of romantic fulfillment).  It was also revealed  that some of the more expensive psychics will use their own staff members to search through a prospect’s garbage looking for insightful information between the time the appointment is booked and the time of the “reading.”  Imagine what information might be gained about a person’s financial status and dietary indulgences, etc., should their garbage be investigated!

Edgar Cayce, the “Sleeping Prophet” (known as such because he used to go into a sleep-like trance during his “readings”), lived in the first half of the 20th  century.  He is famous for not only his predictions concerning the coming second world war, but also for having performed over 7000 “life readings” for individuals, many of which experienced subsequent healings and exhibited a high degree of knowledge not known to mortal man.  Though for religious reasons I have dissolved my literature on Cayce, I recall reading that he believed some of the remains of the lost civilization of Atlantis would be discovered off Bimini in “68 or 69.”  Indeed, in 1968, off the coast of Bimini, near Andros, in about forty feet of water, the remains of an elaborate, man-made walkway was found and photographed.  One historian from Miami duly noted that “Atlantis has been found.”  Today, there is a lot of conjecture concerning the origin of the underwater ruins.

From what I had read, I had no doubt that Cayce had a spiritual gift.  Later, though, upon examining the holy scriptures, I determined that his gift was occultic.  My reasons for this conclusion are as follows:

1.  He never spoke of Jesus in the same light as is revealed in the Bible.

2. He believed in reincarnation, which the Bible teaches against (Hebrews 9:27), and had a vision of himself returning to earth            in the mid twenty-first century.

3.  Many of his prophecies were inaccurate (note Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

4.  There were reports that on his deathbed he confessed to his son that he felt sure he had been under the influence of a demonic spirit during his lifetime.

5.  Cayce didn’t call sinners to repentance, nor did he stress salvation in Christ.

6.  Cayce’s books are generally found in the “Occult” section of bookstores.

Biblically, there do appear to be evil spirits that have the ability to predict certain future events, though I suspect this ability is somewhat limited.  A good example of this is found in Acts 16:16:

            “Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we

             were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which

             she predicted the future.”

Later, in Acts 16:19 the Apostle Paul cast the demonic spirit out of her.

The psychics who are involved with demonic spirits can sometimes be very accurate. However, they invariably leave out some small detail that makes a definite difference, or they predict several things that may later come true and one thing that doesn’t come true, and you won’t know which is which.  One of these psychic predictions cost my late father $10,000 once in a lawsuit concerning medical malpractice.  The psychic (Lou Wright, from Denver) said he should go ahead with his case and that he would win it.  He lost, and had to pay both parties legal expenses in addition to court costs.

Biblically, according to Deuteronomy 18:21-22, if a prophetic word is from the Lord, it will come to pass. Approximately 25% of the Bible contains prophetic revelation, and as far as can be determined God has a 100% accuracy rate.

All too often I speak with friends and/or acquaintances who talk about what this psychic said, or what that medium or spiritist, etc., said.  I suspect in most cases they have no idea which spiritual power (if any) the psychic is deriving their information from – whether it’s from God or the devil.

For the record, the Bible warns against consulting with psychics and mediums.

 “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is detestable  to the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12

I have one rule of thumb if someone is presenting themselves as a psychic, a faith healer, a “diviner of truth,” etc.  I would ask them one or more of the following questions:

  1. “Who is Jesus Christ to you?”  If the answer comes back that Jesus is anyone other than the divine and resurrected savior / Son of God, then I would not continue any further.  Just hearing back, “Jesus was a good man and a wonderful teacher of the truth” is not enough.
  2. Or you could ask, “Who or what is the ultimate source of the information you are going to provide me?”   If they say it just comes to them then ask them the question in # 1.  And don’t let them off the hook until they provide clarification.

THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE

Although the Bible is primarily a theological and historical text, there are scientific principles found in scripture.  Examples of these can be seen in the following article – Science and the Bible:

http://www.clarifyingchristianity.com/science.shtml

CALCULATING THE ODDS

In the late 1950’s, a mathematics and astronomy professor at Pasadena City College by the name of Peter W. Stoner, calculated the odds of just eight (8) Messianic prophecies about Jesus Christ coming true (some theologians point to there being as many as 300-450 prophetic references to Jesus in the Old Testament).  Stoner referenced just eight in his calculations.  The odds that one man (Jesus) could possibly fulfill just these 8 prophecies came out to 1 in 10 to the twenty-eight power.  That’s 1 chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. See link below.  But fulfill those prophecies Jesus did.  That’s incredible, and that folks is the signature of God – fulfilled prophecy at a rate much greater than chance.

The Odds of Eight Messianic Prophecies Coming True

http://www.bereanpublishers.com/the-odds-of-eight-messianic-prophecies-coming-true/

In closing, for more information concerning psychic and pseudo-scientific phenomena (such as UFO’s, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, astral projection, etc.), I invite the reader to review Hine’s text (see below) on these and other related subjects.

As for me and my house, we will praise the Lord!

Works  Cited:

Hines, Terence.  Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.  Buffalo.  Prometheus, 1988.  (Available at Amazon.com)

Koch, Kurt.  Occult Bondage and Deliverance.  Grand Rapids.  Kregel, 1971.

– The Righter Report

May 7, 2014 Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Opinion, Science, Theology, Theology Articles | Leave a comment