UPDATE: "Cash for Eggs..."

I published a post on June 11 about the possibility that the state of New York was going to begin allowing payment to be rendered to a women that allowed a research agency to harvest her eggs for the purpose of stem cell research. At the time I could not find any independent verification of the story other than the Christian News Wire. After returning today from being out-of-town and out-of touch for an entire week, I was overwhelmed by the number of news agencies reporting that this was in fact the case. Ironically, the affirmative decision on this matter was reached on June 11, 2009—the date that I published my post.

Among the plethora of news agencies now reporting this is the New York Dailey News, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the U.S. News & World Report. This move does not really surprise me all that much, as I stated in the previous post on this topic. This still makes me wonder about something. Is this going to now begin a flood of women into the state of New York only to donate their eggs in order to receive the compensation of up to $10,000.00? Likewise, is this going to set a precedent that those who, for example, donate a kidney to someone to also receive compensation for their “time, discomfort and expenses associated with donating” said organ for said purpose? I must also admit my ignorance at one point here; I have read many times that donating eggs is risky to the women doing so, but I have not read exactly how it is dangerous to the woman’s health—any help on this? Perhaps I am having trouble seeing how this is hazardous to the woman since there has not been any cry about this at fertility clinics. Don’t they harvest womens’ eggs in order to fertilize them before placing them back into the woman?

What do you think about this move by the state of New York—is it good, bad, or somewhere in between?
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Out of Town

I will be out of town this week on a mission trip, so there will most likely be no posts this week. Look forward to seeing God do some amazing things this week and will be back posting next week.
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God, give me a sign and I’ll believe!

There is something about the human psyche that makes us ask for a sign or wonder when it comes to the supernatural. In some form or another, I have heard many atheists and antagonists to the Christian faith say something along these lines: If God would give me a sure sign then I would believe. There are many variations to this statement, but they all drive at the same point—mainly that belief will follow some tangible proof of God’s existence. Is this a fair request? Is this an honest claim?

Whether or not this is a fair request depends upon some things. If the one making this statement has seen much and/or convincing evidence that would indicate God does exist (for this evidence, see my series on "Proving the Existence of God"), then this is not a fair request. Here’s a simple illustration to show what I mean. Mind you it is not perfect, but it makes the point.

The vast majority of American’s will never personally meet the President of the United States. However, I don’t think that there is anyone in America right now that would say our current President Barack Obama doesn’t exist. Why? Because we can see and hear him on television, we can read things he has written, we can speak to people who have personally met him. If I proclaimed to anyone that I didn’t believe President Barack Obama existed, they would probably think I was crazy and then ask me why I thought that? They may even follow it up by pointing out that he appears on television regularly and thousands of people know him personally and so forth. How silly it would be for me to then say, “I don’t believe that is really him that appears on television and all those people’s personal testimonies mean nothing because they have never actually met him—I won’t believe he exists unless he gives me a clear sign (or if I personally met him).”

This is the same criteria the request puts forth when one has seen reasonable evidence for God’s existence and yet says, “I won’t believe unless God does [X], then I will believe he exists.”

Most of the time, when this request is made I think it is made in a dishonest fashion. It has been my experience that this “give me a sign” notion is made simply because the person already believes it is an impossibility. In other words, they have already decided that God does not exist and, therefore, it is impossible for God to even give a sign to them making this a dishonest request. They do not even allow for the possibility of the request to be answered. Continuing the illustration from above will help demonstrate my point here. After making the statement “I won’t believe he exists unless he gives me a clear sign (or if I personally met him)” and then don’t even allow for the possibility of actually meeting President Obama personally, it is a dishonest request.

The last question I would like to address is whether or not God should acquiesce to this? I think we are foolish to think that God must do this. Let’s assume that President Obama was informed that I didn’t believe he actually existed and that the only way I would believe he existed is if I personally met him. Wouldn’t you agree that he could care less if I believed he exists? He is not going to stop everything he is doing to come and personally meet with me—who would actually expect him to do so?

I am not saying that God doesn’t care whether or not we believe in him, but what is it that makes us think we have the right to demand that God meet our requests. Even more so, that if he doesn’t then we have the right to pass judgment upon his actions (either condemning or condoning).

I also believe that even if God submitted himself to every one of these requests that many people would still not believe that he exists, they would find something that would prove the encounter unreliable. In fact, I think Jesus addressed this very issue in the gospel of Luke. Jesus was telling a parable about a rich man and a poor man. In the parable, the rich man refused to help the poor man who was starving and suffering from sores (possibly leprosy). After both men had died, the rich man ended up in hell and the poor man in heaven. The rich man makes several requests, one of which was to send messengers to his family to inform them of the fate that awaited them if they didn’t change their lives. The response given him was, “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.” This referred to what we now know as the Old Testament.

He was told that no special sign would be given to his family. They had the same evidence available to them as everyone else. This also addresses the notion that God must somehow give a special sign to one person. It is somewhat unfair and selfish for one to ask God to give them a special sign above and beyond the evidence available to everyone else. Furthermore, Jesus pointed to his miracles as confirmation many times in the Bible and many still refused to believe in him even though they witnessed them (John 12:37).
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The "White" Knot

There seems to be a growing trend in our nation of demonstrating our support of some cause by wearing a ribbon of some color. I don’t think I have ever really given much thought to this whole topic. But there is somewhat of a history of this in our nation.

I think the tradition goes back as far as the Civil War at least. There is some historical evidence that shows it may go back even further. The earliest ribbon tradition is the yellow ribbon. This traditionally signified someone who had a loved one serving in the military overseas (typically in combat). There has been a slight twist to this, however, where it has now become more of a symbol of one’s support of all troops serving everywhere in our military.

There is also the red ribbon. This has at least two major meanings of which I am aware. The first was to raise “drug awareness.” I remember this from school and the D.A.R.E program. It was to help promote the “Just Say No” slogan. The other major meaning the red ribbon has taken on is that of HIV/AIDS. It is to raise awareness of the problem this STD is posing here in America and the world.

There is also the pink ribbon that squarely belongs to the breast cancer arena. This ribbon has come to be worn by both those who are survivors of breast cancer and those who are trying to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Following 9/11, there were many red, white, and blue ribbons everywhere. This was showing to demonstrate one’s patriotism as well as their condolences to the families of those lost in the collapse of the World Trade Centers and United Airlines Flight 93.

The latest ribbon to take to the streets is the white ribbon, or more precisely “the white knot.” This ribbon is to show one’s support of the movement for same-sex marriage. In fact, there is even a website dedicated to this movement, it is WhiteKnot.org.

I am not going to rant on why this movement should fail. If this is how the supporters of this movement wish to raise awareness, then that is their prerogative. If you wish to know my stance on same-sex marriage you can read some of my previous posts on that here and here. However, hearing about this movement made me begin to ponder the whole question of visibly identifying with a movement.

I think what is beginning to happen is that this “identifying” by ribbons is becoming a way to point out those who don’t support a movement just as much as it is to publicly identify with a movement. I will use the white ribbon (knot) as an example. This becomes an easy way to identify those who support same-sex marriage in the public realm. On the other hand, if there is a rally supporting same-sex marriage where everyone is wearing the white knot and an opponent wants to attend the rally and refuses to accept a ribbon what do you suppose would happen? That person would quickly be identified as an “enemy.” What actions follow from that identification is not predictable because that rally could be a sensible, peaceful rally where no negative actions would follow. However, it could just as easily be that it is somewhat of an unruly rally where the opponent would be forced to leave immediately. Regardless of what follows, the identification will still be made. This could be said of any “awareness ribbon”—those who support our troops and those who do not, those who support finding a cure for breast cancer and those who do not, etc.

What is a little scary to me about this is it reminded me all too vividly of an “awareness ribbon” that was used for evil. Proceeding out of the Holocaust there was not just a movement to identify one’s self as a Jew by wearing a yellow Star of David, but a requirement by the Nazi government of Germany.

Now, I am not proclaiming that this happening with all the ribbons today (and there are a bunch, see for yourself here), but there exists that potential. It just made me begin to think about this topic.
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Are Televangelists Testing God?

In the book of Acts, there is a character that is fairly well known. However, I don’t think he is given the attention today that might be appropriate. His name is Simon the sorcerer and you can find his story in Acts 8:9-24. In this account, Simon tries to buy the ability to give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. This is apparently an overflow from his previous way of life. He obviously was known for being able to perform great feats since the Scripture records that he had “amazed all the people of Samaria.”

Peter rebuked Simon for his attempt at “purchasing” the Holy Spirit. What this made me begin to think about was whether or not this might apply to some modern-day “Simons”? The only real difference between the modern-day Simons and Simon in Acts is that they are no longer trying to purchase the Holy Spirit, they are trying to sell Him. These peddlers of the Holy Spirit appear on what is often referred to as “Christian Television” and are known as “Televangelists.”

It sickens me every time I hear about what these “men and women of God” are trying to sell. Let me correct myself, it isn’t that they are selling something that aggravates me…it is the fact that they explain it as “sowing seed” in the kingdom of God (or some other similar phrase). Like giving money or buying this certain item will then impart them some special standing before the Holy God of the universe. So now we have ordinary men and women who can speak on behalf of God (pardon the sarcasm).

As I said, if these “ministries” were simply on TV promoting their teachings, it wouldn’t bother me nearly as much. The fact that they have as their goal to peddle the Holy Spirit makes me want to say the same thing the apostle Peter said to Simon, “May your money perish with you.”

Do you think this comparison of televangelists with Simon the sorcerer is fair, accurate, etc.?

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"Cash for eggs"...

...may be the new motto for New York ESC researchers.

The Christian News Wire released a story last week about New York possibly allowing payment to be made to women who are willing to donate eggs for scientific research. I did not make this post earlier because I was unable to verify this story with any other news agency. I still have had no success on finding this story reported by any major news agency and so I want to make it clear that I am not reporting this as fact. But there is something to be gained from the possibility of this story, particularly since many states have not allowed agencies to pay women to harvest their eggs.

What I cannot understand is what reason a person that supports ESCR would give for opposing compensation to women who donate eggs? I don’t think I am misrepresenting the majority since compensation for eggs has not been allowed at this point in time. It has been discussed in the past, but always opposed.

I think the answer to this question is important. Because if the reason to oppose this is because it is unethical, what makes it unethical? It certainly cannot be the fact that eggs are being removed from the woman’s ovaries because fertility clinics harvest eggs in order to carry out in vitro fertilization do they not? Is it simply that they are paying them for their eggs? But what truly makes this a lot different from being compensated for donating blood?

What makes the most sense to me (from a supportive perspective of ESCR) is that this falls in-line with being compensated for organs. As far as I know, it is illegal to be compensated following the harvest of an organ. In other words, you cannot be paid a set amount for your organ like we pay a set amount for milk at the grocery store. This is because people would begin to “donate” organs that would negatively affect their health simply to receive the generous compensation. This seems to be the major opposition to paying women for the eggs; that there is certain health risks to a woman who undergoes the procedure who may choose not to undergo if compensation was not involved.

What do you think about this topic—should research agencies be allowed to pay women for their eggs?
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The God Particle

There was much ado about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) last year. Last week the LHC was back in the news as the announcement was made that it would remain online through the winter months rather than shutting down.

This decision was made to hopefully allow the scientists to continue conducting research they hope will lead to the discovery of the Higgs boson, which deemed “the God particle.” This particle is believed to be what gives all of matter its mass. However, scientists really do not know a lot about this particle in the way of hard, factual evidence. That is what they are hoping to accomplish with the LHC.

What interests me about this story is that as much as we know about our world and our universe today, we still do not fully understand how something as simple as mass exists.
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20 UFO's Spotted Over Europe

Back in the middle of May, I wrote a couple of posts that dealt with the question of whether or not Extraterrestrials would destroy the Christian faith. Fox News reported a story last week about 20 UFO’s that were spotted over Europe. The story originally ran The Sun.

Rather than rehashing the same question I asked previously, I would like to ask you what your opinion is about UFO’s. Do you think they exist? Do you think they are only a myth? Anything related to the possible existence of UFO’s.
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Summary Review of Shocked by the Bible

I have spent the past few months making an in-depth review of Shocked by the Bible written by Joe Kovacs. The book contains as its premise and goal “To educate [people] about what the Bible says in its own words. There is stunning information included between Genesis and Revelation, but much of it has been morphed into misinformation and confusion. Too many people today continue to ask, ‘You mean that’s in the Bible?’ or ‘That’s not in the Bible?’”

Kovacs brings out a wide variety of subjects in the twenty-seven chapters contained in the book. Much of what Kovacs says is absolutely correct, but there are some things Kovacs doesn’t get right. I hope you enjoy this list and I hope that my interaction with each chapter proves to be helpful to you. Below is a list containing links to each individual chapter review:

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Conclusion: Shocked by the Bible

Joe Kovacs wrote a conclusion and wrote some things that I think all Christians should work out in their own lives.
“I suggest it’s time to examine everything you’ve ever been told about the Bible and see for yourself what it actually contains. Just as you can be skeptical of an offer that sounds too good to be true, or of news reports, why not challenge yourself to find out exactly why you believe what you believe? For most people, this can be a difficult task.”

I think Kovacs makes a great point here. All too often Christians simply accept what they hear other Christians say that the Bible teaches/says. There is never a desire to go to the Bible and check it out our self. I too did this for years following my accepting Christ as personal Lord and Savior. However, I think it is of utmost importance for every individual believer to know what they believe so they can personally answer “everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

I think of all the time Christians spend reading books like the Harry Potter books, The Da Vince Code, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. and that most often when you ask these same people if they have ever read the entire Bible—in my experiece—their answer is typically that they have not. This saddens me—when people can/will commit to reading the entire series of The Chronicles of Narnia but cannot read through the entire Bible because it is “too hard.” I will be the first to admit that it can be very difficult to read through the entire Bible. It contains sections that are less than interesting to the average person, it contains sections that will most certainly convict one of some sin in their life, and it also contains sections that teach some hard doctrines to grasp with a cursory reading. However, if we say that we are Christians, if we say that we have committed our lives to serving Christ, if we truly are ambassadors of the living God, then doesn’t it only seem appropriate that we would read the book that contains the revelation of Himself to mankind?

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Page-Two Miracles: Chapter 27, Shocked by the Bible

This chapter is not really aimed at correcting any misunderstanding about Scripture, but Joe Kovacs explained, “The Bible is a book loaded with extraordinary events, many of which never receive the attention they deserve. In the spirit of correcting that error, here are a few incredible items you may have never heard of or may have forgotten about.” So Kovacs just goes through and lists some notable miracles recorded in the Bible. I will likewise just list the miracles he covers and where they can be found in Scripture:
  • Peter walked on water (Matthew 14)
  • Paul’s clothing miraculously healed others (Acts 19)
  • Paul’s snake-bitten and unaffected (Acts 27)
  • The pillar of fire (Exodus 13, 14, and Numbers 9)
  • Clothes that lasted 40 years (Deuteronomy 29:5)
  • Copycat miracle workers (Exodus 7)
  • Extended darkness (Exodus 10)
  • The longest day (Joshua 10)

The Bible is replete with miracles. It only requires that one open up the Bible and begin reading.

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Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Were Not Jews: Chapter 26, Shocked by the Bible

There is a premise that Joe Kovacs believes many people hold. That premise is that many people believe the Old Testament is all about the Jews. He makes the statement, “While most people think the Jews are the focus of the Old Testament, according to the Bible, they are not. This does not mean there are no Jews found in the Old Testament. There certainly are. But one of the most prevalent misconceptions about Scripture is that the Old Testament center on Jews and Judaism, while the New Testament focuses on Christians and Christianity.” The rest of the chapter is devoted to explaining this misconception and attempting to correct it. So, this is what I want to focus on and address in response.

Kovacs makes some very good points in this chapter. He is correct, as his title proclaims, that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not “Jews” in the truest and most restricted sense of the word. Likewise, the word Jew is not found in the Old Testament until 2 Kings 16:6 (some other versions have “men of Judah” or “Judeans”). The word used in this passage of Scripture refers to the southern kingdom of Israel known as Judah (comprised of two of the tribes of Israel—Benjamin and Judah) after the tribal leader Judah. Similarly, the northern kingdom was known as Israel and was comprised of the ten other tribes of Israel.

Joe Kovacs is completely correct in all of that; however, he leaves out some other understanding that clears up a lot of the confusion and misconceptions about the Jews being the focus of the Old Testament. Mainly that the Jews were, first and foremost, all Hebrews. Likewise, the Israelites were, first and foremost, all Hebrews. The Hebrew people trace their ancestry through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who were known as Hebrews). In fact, Abraham was called a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13, which was before God had even changed his name from Abram to Abraham. Therefore, while Kovacs was correct in the strictest sense of the word Jew that Abraham and the other patriarchs in the Old Testament were not Jews, he was wrong by not explaining the full meaning and understanding of exactly being a Jew meant.

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