Friday, March 30, 2007

Stones 'n Bones

Above the entrance of the so-called recent discovery in Jerusalem of the lost burial plot of Jesus Christ, His family, and extended family, by some Hollywood moguls should be engraved this epitaph: "Why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He isn't here! He has risen from the dead! (Luke 24:5-6)

The whole discovery and documentary fantasy is suspect and bogus by noted scholars and archeologists. This Hollywood blitz and other 'blockbuster' attempts to question the validity of biblical evidence of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is nothing but the resurgence of Gnosticism, an ancient form of 'hidden knowledge' not historically factual.

Modern Gnostics have five defining elements. 1) The removal of God from center stage to off stage. 2) Installing Man (you) from off stage onto center stage. 3) Man becoming God. 4) Man having 'secret' insights unknown by others. 5) Man drawing possibilities to themselves, becoming their ideal selfs and effecting personal redemption.

Such possibility thinking is toted as Truth when, in truth, it is The Lie. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie (Gk.), and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator ... (Rom. 1:25)

Gnostics would have us believe their 'secret knowledge' completes the Gospel accounts. Balderdash! It's an aberration to the written testimonies!

It was once ignorantly but falsely held that the earth was the center of the universe. Science has since debunked that theory for the sun. Similarly Man is not the center of his universe, the Son of God is.

Returning to the crime scene (the lost tomb), there are stones but no bones.

So what became of the bones of Jesus after dying His redeeming death and being buried in a borrowed tomb?

The truth? His body did not see decay but was brought back to life, imperishable and immortal, by the power of God. The New Testament writings provide irrefutable evidence for His physical, bodily resurrection.

Jesus appeared to them and said, "Peace be with you." They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet - it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this." As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true. They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes. Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled." (Luke 24:36-44)

Forty days after His rising from death we see His body of flesh and bone on the Mount of Olives. "Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven." (vs. 50-51)

And today? "Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)

The body of Jesus Christ is not to be found in any ossuary or tomb but in Heaven, alive and well. He took His bones with Him!

After the Resurrection news was given, (the women) remembered his words. (And when) they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. (vs. 8-9) We too must tell others the real story, the story that's all about Jesus!

For our personal salvation, daily living, and eternal destiny where do we wish to place our trust, The Truth or The Lie?

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Are Savants a Reflection of Earlier Times?

The quest of modern science is to discover the 'missing link' of our beginnings and existence. Their theory is that we have grown or evolved from lesser to greater, from non-intelligent to intelligent life. There is a significant group within our population that may defuse this theory in favour for a creationist worldview. These individuals possess rare intelligence unknown in the rest of the population. Their intelligence is not acquired but 'wired'; it's just there. They could not learn their knowledge even if opportunity existed for they are either autistic or mentally challenged. They are called savants. Some are concluding that their islands of genius are a throwback (known as atavism) to a former time, as when Adam and Eve and descendants walked the earth as mental giants, and that savants represent the abilities God gave humans at creation but ones we have since lost due to man’s fall into sin.

Society holds this unknown treasure within its embrace, not of its choosing or making but that of its Creator. The treasure captured by the most vulnerable of all, our children, and not any child, but a developmentally challenged child is a wonder. We often think of a gifted child as a well balanced person, perfectly coordinated -- someone like Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, or Tiger Woods. Gifts do not always come perfectly wrapped. Disappointments are often God's appointments.

Jesus compared entrance into the kingdom of heaven to the simplicity of a child. Likewise He spoke of it as a hidden treasure being discovered, or a pearl of great price being purchased and developed. The Apostle Paul catches this imagery as he describes our earthen bodies as containers of the glory of God. (Matt. 18:1-4; 13:44-46; 2 Cor. 4:7)

In the end we must ask ourselves, do savants in their own way represent the incredible abilities God intended all men to have at creation?

What is Savant Syndrome?

Savants are individuals with astounding abilities usually in one area such as math or music and yet are incredibly challenged in other areas.

Interestingly the word 'savant' means a person of profound or extensive learning; a learned scholar in a particular subject. But when combined to some form of mental disability the word was used describing someone referred historically as idiot savants. At that time, the term idiot was an accepted scientific term for IQ below 25. The term idiot savant has since fallen into disrepute. Almost all reported cases now occur in persons with IQ above 40. The term Savant Syndrome has been substituted and widely accepted.

Savants have been known throughout history, having been reported as early as 1751. The term 'savant' was not applied to these special people until 1887 by Dr. J. Langdon Down, the man known for having named Down's Syndrome.

In recent years savants are looked upon with interest as medical science seeks to understand 'savantism'.

Islands of Genius

Savants, among other special skills, are able to memorize facts, numbers, license plates, maps, sports and weather trivia. They can recall perfectly a very long sequence of music, numbers, or speech. Or, estimate distances and angles by sight and calculate the day of the week for any given date going a long way back. Others tell time without the assistance of a clock.

Prodigious savants are very rare persons whose genius is so high that it would be spectacular to be found in a non-handicapped person. Probably fewer than 50 of these are presently living today.

Savantism is usually recognized during childhood. It has also been discovered in adults whose left side of the brain has been injured or impaired. Some suggest that these highly intelligent abilities can be induced, supporting the view that within everyone are these powers, hidden and undeveloped. By stimulating the cranial neurons, temporarily disrupting the left front part of the brain, researchers are theorizing that savant-like skills can be increased in a healthy individual. While no single theory can explain all savants one consistently rises to the top: left brain injury with right brain compensation. If savantism can be acquired - without the disability - scientific research may be taking us forward in our potentiality and back to what Man originally was.

Savant Syndrome is not normally a disorder or disease. Amazingly, it is having extraordinary skills and memory grafted onto an already existing brain dysfunction or nervous system disorder. Let’s take a look at what some of these savants are capable of doing.

Meet Mr. & Ms. Savant

* Ask KIM PEEK and he will give your day of birth, your present year's birthday, and the year and the day you will turn 65. Ask him for the telephone area codes in Alabama and all major zip codes in Ontario, ask him for all American TV stations and their markets, ask him to identify the classical music compositions and when the music was written and the composer's birth date and place of birth and death, and if you have the time Kim will gladly tell you all that and more.

* Concerning GEORGE WIDENER, John Hendricks, the world's most prolific and published magic squares mathematician, relates this incident on the Wisconsin Medical Society's website, "George Widener sat outside the library in the drizzly afternoon, where a documentary film crew has just finished a calendar calculation contest between him and a former NASA engineer. While the engineer has access to complex algorithms and a laptop, George has only the information found in his head. As dates spanning thousands of years were read aloud, the engineer scribbled fiercely, tapping his computer with increasing frustration. "Looks like a Thursday," George answered within seconds, sometimes almost before the host finished speaking. And, every single time, he was right."

* BRITTANY MAIER is a very accomplished female prodigious musical savant. Beginning at age 5, she played "twinkle, twinkle little star" on a children's toy keyboard. Brittany soon progressed into "Ave Maria", "Phantom of the Opera" and others. Around age ten, she began composing her own music, playing by ear, and performing for audiences. Her genre has grown to over 15,000 songs, most of which she learned after only hearing them a few times.

* DANIEL TAMMET says "numbers are my friends" and has massive memory skills. On international Pi Day he recited, from memory, Pi to 22,514 decimal places, in just over five hours. This set a new European record. His exceptional language skills include French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Esperanto and Icelandic. When told to master the difficult Icelandic language he did so in seven days.

* ELLEN is a blind female savant with an astonishing musical ability. Ellen has developed a vast recollection of tunes and styles. In Led Zeppelin's apassionata, 'Whole Lotta Love', Ellen was asked to replicate every voice, instrument and studio sound effect. She flawlessly accomplished the feat.

* BLIND TOM, an internationally recognized musical savant around the time of the civil war, was known as "the eighth wonder of the world" and "the greatest musical prodigy of the age". He became the most celebrated black concert artist of the 19th century. His vocabulary was less than 100 words but his musical ability was over 7000 pieces.

* ALONZO CLEMONS saw a fleeting image of a horse on a television screen and in 20 minutes had created a three-dimensional perfect replica, down to each and every detail. The puzzling thing is, Alonzo can't even feed himself or tie his shoes.

* HENRIETT SETH F, a Hungarian autistic savant, is an accomplished, highly recognized, writer, poet and artist. At age 8 Henriett's 'read' Attila Jozseff's book of poems by memory. Also at that age she played flute and played contrabass at the age of 10-12. Until the age of 13 she played in many concerts. At age 9 she was composing poems.

The Image of God Among Us

In the beginning (when) God created the heavens and the earth He called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. There (previously) was no man to till the ground. Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.
- The Creation Story, Genesis 1 & 2

The Creation account demonstrates a simple yet profound truth, that Man - Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the human race - was created whole beings, complete in spirit, soul, and body. This wholeness is God's image and likeness. There was no lack of life or ability. His mental IQ was astonishingly intriguing. Not only was Man sufficient to manage life's directives but God distinctly gave him the responsibility and privilege of naming every animal, bird, and plant species. This is the first indication of man’s savant-like genius.

Sin has blemished our world, blighted our nature, and defected our intelligence. We use only a small percentage of what we are capable. Even through these distortions of sin early mankind showed capabilities of intelligent genius, reflections of God. Lamech married two women, Adah and Zillah. Adah gave birth to a baby named Jabal. He became the first of the herdsmen who live in tents. His brother's name was Jubal, the first musician, the inventor of the harp and flute. To Lamech's other wife, Zillah, was born Tubal-cain. He was the first to work with metal, forging instruments of bronze and iron. (Gen. 4:19-22)

And here we thought we derived from monkeys and cavemen.

It's impossible not to reflect God in some way because we are His image, whether we use our hands, minds, or voices.

The genius and skills of savants are a distinct reminder that intelligence is not man-made but God-bestowed. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a day when the incredible is accomplished with a people created for His glory. (43:7)

It is interesting to note that at Christian conversion and the entrance of the Holy Spirit our spirits are regenerated or reborn, our emotions healed, our bodies often rejuvenated, and our intellects renewed. So much so that we come into a right relationship and understanding of God and the world heretofore unknown. As if we become savants by virtue of the life and gifts of God's Spirit within. (1 Cor. 2:12,14; Rom. 8:6-8)

Our amazing God likes doing amazing things!

Source: http://www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org/savant/profiles.cfm

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Lost Tomb of Jesus Documentary

There are good reasons to doubt the conclusions of this documentary. Having
seen the documentary, here are some problems that quickly come to mind:

* Scholars have known about these tombs for over 25 years. There's a
reason they haven't taken these names seriously. Only three have any
direct biblical significance: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. And that cluster
of names is statistically unremarkable. In fact, it would be odd if a
family with those three names was not found in a tomb together, given
their common use (there are at least four ossuaries discovered inscribed
"Jesus, son of Joseph," and one in four women were named Mary, so it's
even money that one of these tombs would have that combination). And
connection of Jesus to any of the other names? Wild speculation. So what you have here is a creative guessing game.

* The entire argument is based on the statistical significance of the
names in a cluster. If Jesus was married, and if Jesus was married to a
woman named Mariamne, and if Mariamne was also a nickname for Mary
Magdalene, and if Jesus had a brother named Matthew, and if Jesus had a
son named Judas, and if the now-famous Jame sossuary belonged to James the brother of Jesus, then you'd have all the members of Jesus' family together in one tomb. But that's a lot of "ifs.

* Even though this is called the "Jesus Family Tomb," there is no hard evidence that any of these so-called "family members" is even related. The only DNA testing that's been done - between Jesus and Mariamne - came up negative. Let me repeat that: The DNA test came up negative. That is fact. The rest is speculation.

* The documentary claims, "Jesus and Mary were married, as the DNA evidence suggests." This is nonsense. Think about it. How can DNA evidence suggest someone is married? DNA can't "suggest" anything about legal relationships, only biological ones. In this case, the DNA evidence showed Jesus and Mary were not related by a mother, not that they were husband and wife. The truth is, she could have been
married to any one of the males in the tomb, or to none of them for that matter. The DNA "suggests" nothing.

* The researchers claim they're just trying to connect the dots? Fair enough. But why connect the dots the way they did? I'll tell you why. Because it tells their story. There are many other legitimate ways to connect those same dots - some much more probable than the way the documentary connects them, but won't give the story they're promoting. But, of course, that wouldn't create breaking news, would it?

* Jesus' family was a poor family from Nazareth, not a middle- to upper-class family from Jerusalem. So this tomb is the wrong kind of tomb located in the wrong city.

* The documentary claims Jesus spoke in codes. This is false. Jesus spoke in parables, like many of the teachers of His day, not in codes that needed to be deciphered. They say Mary Magdalene was Jesus' most trusted apostle. But you have
to wait 400 years before this evidence pops up in any alleged historical record. They said that Jesus' family members were executed because He was a pretender to the throne of Israel. This is pure fiction. Notice what this accomplishes, though.
All of these little exaggerations and inaccuracies make an unlikely tale sound more plausible when, on its own unembellished merits, it is not.

* What we have here are two different characterizations of what happened to the body of Jesus of Nazareth 2,000 years ago. One is based on artifacts - the ossuaries - and one is based on documents - the historical records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter and Paul. Now granted, these kinds of things are not entirely exact science, but all things being equal, which do you think gives us more precise
information, bone boxes or written records? The written records, obviously.

* The claim of Jesus' resurrection, was part of the earliest, most primitive testimony regarding Jesus. And it was made by those very same people that the documentary suggests knew Jesus' bones were actually secretly buried in Jerusalem. Why would so many of them die for this lie when they knew it was a lie? It doesn't add up. But that's what you must believe if you take seriously the conclusions of
this documentary.

- By Gregory Koukl,
Abridged from an e-mail