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Canucks and Creation

4th July 2007

A recent poll suggests that 60% of Canadians believe that God was somehow involved in creating humankind, whether directly or indirectly. According to the Canadian Press-Decima Research survey, Canadians fall into three groups:

  • 34% believe in some sort of evolutionary creationism (or theistic evolution) where humans developed over millions of years under a process superintended by God
  • 26% hold to a young earth creation view that God distinctly created humans within the last 10,000 years
  • 29% hold to an atheistic evolution in which evolution occurred with no help from God

The poll was conducted in the third week of June 2007.

Here is an excerpt from the Toronto Star article about the poll:

“These results reflect an essential Canadian tendency,� said pollster Bruce Anderson. “We are pretty secular, but pretty hesitant to embrace atheism.�

The belief that God had a direct or indirect role in creation was widespread among the 1,000 respondents questioned between June 21 and 24. A majority of those polled held this view in every region of the country, in rural and urban areas, and regardless of education.

And there were a few surprises: Conservatives were more likely than Liberals to say that God had no part in the process, and Alberta, regarded as the birthplace of social conservatism, had one of the lowest levels of beliefs for strict creationism at 22 per cent.

But in this controversial area, the devil is in the breakdown of the numbers.

For instance, while Liberal party voters were more likely than Conservatives to credit God with some contribution to creation, Conservative voters were less likely to write God out altogether. Only 22 per cent of Tory respondents said God had no role, as opposed to 31 per cent of Liberals.

Liberal respondents were far more likely to be what could be termed “soft evolutionists� or “soft creationists,� with 41 per cent saying God guided the process of human development, as opposed to 34 per cent of Conservatives seeing creation in those terms.

Regionally, Quebec respondents were by far the most likely to say God’s role in creation was a delusion, with 40 per cent saying the evolutionary process had no interference from an intelligent designer.

British Columbia respondents were the next sub-group who could be termed strict evolutionists, with 31 per cent saying God was not involved. Least likely to hold this view were respondents in the Prairie provinces — 21 per cent.

The findings suggest the least educated were most likely to be creationists, as were respondents living in rural Canada.

Among respondents without a high-school diploma, 37 per cent said they believed God alone created humans less than 10,000 years ago, whereas only 15 per cent of university-educated respondents were strict creationists.

Rural respondents also had a plurality who believed in strict creationism at 34 per cent, whereas only 22 per cent of urban dwellers said they believed God alone created humans.

Anderson said the findings suggest Canadians lack consensus on creation, but also don’t view the issue as polarizing.

“It’s more as though for many, these feelings are unresolved,� he said. “We believe in a higher being, we know what we don’t know, are comfortable not knowing, and choose not to press our views upon one another.�

That is not the case in the United States, where similar polls have suggested Americans are more polarized on the subject. In a recent U.S. poll, 45 per cent said God created humans, and 40 per cent said evolution was God guided. Only 15 per cent said God played no part in creation.

These results accord well with the informal polls I conduct when I teach my Genesis course as well as with my own general impression based on anecdotal evidence.

What do you think?


Posted in Canadiana, Creation, Genesis, News | 3 Comments »

Herod: What You May Not Have Known

8th May 2007

Todd Bolen has an interesting post about King Herod: King Herod: Ten Things You Didn’t Know. Give it a gander.


Posted in Archaeology, Discoveries, King Herod, News | Comments Off

Tomb Discovered of Herod the Great

7th May 2007

herodium-from-below.jpg

Based on a press release from the Hebrew University in Israel, the tomb of King Herod was discovered at the Herodium, one of Herod’s palace-fortresses bordering the Judean desert. King Herod — as known as “Herod the Great” — ruled Jewish Palestine for Rome from 37 to 4 BCE and is probably best know for his many building projects.

The announcement was leaked by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Here’s an excerpt from the Haaretz article:

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced Monday night that it has uncovered the grave and tomb of King Herod, who ruled Judea for the Roman empire from circa 37 BCE.

According to a press release from the Hebrew University, the news of the archaeological find at Herodium was to be announced Tuesday morning at a special news conference, and was to be kept secret until then, but the discovery by Haaretz of the story had led to the premature announcement.

The tomb was discovered by Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer, who is considered one of the leading experts on King Herod. Netzer has conducted archeological digs at Herodium since 1972 in an attempt to locate the grave and tomb.

….

The majority of researchers had believed that Herod was in fact buried at Herodium, based on the writings of the ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, but multiple excavations at the site failed to locate the grave.

Netzer’s successful dig focused on a different part of the site than previous excavations, between the upper part of Herodium and the site’s two palaces.

herodium-interior.jpg

This discovery was a long time in the coming. Josephus, in his Jewish Antiquites (book 17, chapter 8, paragraph 3), noted Herod’s burial at the Herodium, though archaeologists have been unable to locate the tomb until now. Here is the account from Josephus:

After this was over, they prepared for his funeral, it being Archelaus’s care that the procession to his father’s sepulcher should be very sumptuous. Accordingly, he brought out all his ornaments to adorn the pomp of the funeral. The body was carried upon a golden bier, embroidered with very precious stones of great variety, and it was covered over with purple, as well as the body itself; he had a diadem upon his head, and above it a crown of gold: he also had a scepter in his right hand. About the bier were his sons and his numerous relations; next to these was the soldiery, distinguished according to their several countries and denominations; and they were put into the following order: First of all went his guards, then the band of Thracians, and after them the Germans; and next the band of Galatians, every one in their habiliments of war; and behind these marched the whole army in the same manner as they used to go out to war, and as they used to be put in array by their muster-masters and centurions; these were followed by five hundred of his domestics carrying spices. So they went eight furlongs to Herodium; for there by his own command he was to be buried. And thus did Herod end his life.

Herod is noted in the New Testament in Matthew chapter two as the king responsible for the slaughter of the innocent children when Jesus was a child.

There is supposed to be a press conference Tuesday in which more details will be released.

(HT Bob Derrenbacker)


Posted in Archaeology, Discoveries, News, Press Release | 2 Comments »

Satan and Illegal Immigration

27th April 2007

OK, methinks Canadian politics are a bit different than those in the United States! According to the Salt Lake Tribune, District 65 Chairman Don Larsen (any relation to Bob Larson? … probably not since their names are spelled differently!) has brought forward a formal resolution to oppose the devil’s plan to destroy the United States. He claims that illegal immigration is the Satan’s plan to destroy the nation by “stealth invasion.” Here is a choice excerpt:

“In order for Satan to establish his ‘New World Order’ and destroy the freedom of all people as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.,” his resolution states. “The mostly quiet and unspectacular invasion of illegal immigrants does not focus the attention of the nations the way open warfare does, but is all the more insidious for its stealth and innocuousness.”

Right… I recall C.S. Lewis’s sage words about Satan:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.


Posted in News, Popular Culture | 1 Comment »

First Temple Era Wall Uncovered

31st March 2007

It appears that Eilat Mazar’s Jerusalem excavation is turning up more significant finds every year (see here for previous discoveries). The Jerusalem Post has an article in which it is claimed that a wall from the First Temple period was recently uncovered in Jerusalem’s City of David. Here is an excerpt:

A 20-meter-long section of the 7-meter-thick wall has now been uncovered. It indicates that the City of David once served as a major government center, Mazar said.

Mazar estimates less than a quarter of the entire wall has been uncovered so far, and says that it is the largest site from King David’s time ever to have been discovered.

This news piece hasn’t been picked up or expanded on yet. Among bloggers, Jim Davila and Jim West note it but that’s about it.


Posted in Archaeology, City of David, King David, News | 1 Comment »

Preaching the Old Testament

11th March 2007

Ray Pritchard has an interesting post over at CrossWalk.com entitled, “Why Don’t Pastors Preach From the Old Testament?” While most of the churches I have attended have done some preaching from the Old Testament (especially when I am preaching!), I would probably agree that the Old Testament gets preached a lot less than the New Testament.

Pritchard provides six reasons why he thinks this is the case. Here are his six points with my comments in brackets following them:

  1. Many pastors feel more comfortable with Greek than with Hebrew. [I'm sad to say that I think many pastors are most comfortable with English and rarely delve into the biblical languages -- though feel free to correct me!]
  2. Most biblical training focuses on New Testament interpretation. [Sad but true]
  3. For some there may be theological reasons why they don’t preach from the Old Testament. Perhaps they view everything before Matthew as “preparation” (which in a sense it is) and therefore not worthy of extended attention from the pulpit (a sad mistake, in my opinion). [I would agree that this is a sad -- and costly -- mistake.]
  4. But my primary thought was that most seminaries specialize in teaching pastors how to preach the epistles. Our methods work best with Romans, Ephesians and the other Pauline epistles. We feel more comfortable with material that is presented logically and in a point-by-point fashion. Therefore our graduates gravitate more to Colossians than to Hosea. [Perhaps; at the very least most pastors seem to prefer to preach non-narrative and non-poetic passages, which pretty much eliminates the Old Testament! It's hard -- and unnatural -- to reduce a narrative to a three-point sermon.]
  5. The flip side is that we aren’t so comfortable with the prophets–major or minor. Or with Job. What do you do with Job? Do you preach four or five sermons and move on? Ecclesiastes is a challenge. So is Song of Solomon in a different sense. Then you’ve got books like Leviticus, which most of us never touch. Or Deuteronomy, where we cherry-pick a passage here and there. [I think this is a valid point in that it is more difficult to preach some passages. Of course, that doesn't mean you should avoid them. The fact of the matter is that while many pastors may think that the NT is more accessible, that is likely an illusion created by familiarity.]
  6. And how should we preach the great stories of the Bible? I personally have profited greatly from preaching through the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Samson, Elijah, the book of Daniel, and David’s early years. But I confess that preaching biblical narratives challenges and stretches the way many of us were taught in seminary. [I think that sometimes we take too much of an anthropological focus in our preaching. Rather than preaching on the lives of the characters in the Old Testament, it is far more profitable to preach on the God that interacts with them and showers them with his grace.]

As I often say (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) most Christians are practical Marcionites in that while they don’t reject the Old Testament, they tend to ignore it.

What is your experience? Does your church preach a lot from the OT? Do you think they should?


Posted in News, Old Testament | 10 Comments »

In Memory of J. Alan Groves (17 December 1952 – 5 February 2007)

28th February 2007

groves.jpgThere has been a lot of mention of the passing of the New Testament textual giant, Bruce Metzger, among the biblioblogs, and it was great to see the latest Biblical Studies Carnival dedicated to his memory.

Another biblical scholar also passed away this month, J. Alan Groves. His death was mentioned by some bloggers and I was meaning to post on it, but I ended up getting sick. I would like to now honour his memory.

I didn’t really know Alan Groves. We met at SBL once or twice and exchanged a few emails occasionally, but that was the extent of our relationship. I doubt if he even remembered meeting me. That being said, his pioneering work on the electronic Westminster Leningrad Codex and the Groves-Wheeler Westminster Hebrew Morphology has touched my life enormously. A day rarely goes by when I do not look up something in the Hebrew Bible on my computer, perform a morphological or syntactical search of a Hebrew construction, or cut and paste a verse of the Hebrew Bible when making up a test for one of my Hebrew classes. These electronic texts are used by virtually all biblical studies software programs, including Accordance, Logos, BibleWorks, Gramcord, among others. Last December, the Board and Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary appropriately renamed the Westminster Hebrew Institute the J. Alan Groves Center for Advanced Biblical Research.

Alan and his family kept a blog that narrates his year-long struggle with cancer. It contains many moving posts; I encourage you to peruse it. His obituary is available here, while a more academic obituary may be found here.

lan Groves was a true servant of God who did a lot of his work behind the scenes.

May his memory be for a blessing.


Posted in Hebrew, News, Software | Comments Off

Jesus Tomb in the News Again

24th February 2007

There is another article out and about on the “Jesus Tomb” documentary by Simcha Jacobovici and James Cameron. This one claims that Jesus’ burial site was discovered in Jerusalem’s Talpiyot neighborhood. The 2,000 year old cave reportedly contained ten coffins; six of which were carved with inscriptions reading the names: Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus’ brother), Judah son of Jesua (Jesus’ son – or so the filmmakers claim).

As always there is much hype and sensationalism surrounding this story; see for instance, this bold claim from Ynet News:

If it proves true, the discovery… could shake up the Christian world as one of the most significant archaeological finds in history.

The coffins which, according to the filmmakers held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene will be displayed for the first time on Monday in New York.

It will be interesting to see what the actual announcement will be at Monday’s press conference (26 February 2007). After that we’ll have to sort through the mixture of fact and fiction to determine what actually has been discovered, especially considering Jacobovici’s track record of sensational yet somewhat misleading documentaries.

The documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, is scheduled to be aired in Canada on VisionTV on Tuesday 6 March at 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET.

jesus_family_tomb.jpgThere are also a couple books related to this discovery. Simcha Jacobovici co-authored a book with Charles Pellegrino related to the documentary:

while Jame Tabor has written a more scholarly book on the subject:

  • The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity is available from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

The first chapter of Tabor’s book, “The Tale of Two Tombs,â€? is available from the ABC News website.

Stay tuned for more information…


Posted in Discoveries, Documentary, Historical Jesus, Jesus Tomb, New Testament, News | 6 Comments »

My Messy Desk

29th December 2006

I have inherited my father’s messy desk. When I was in my teens, I actually bought my father a little plaque that read, “A Clean Desk is the Sign of a Sick Mind.” (When my father died, I looked everywhere for the plaque, since I figured that I could use it for my own desk! For those wanting to see a picture of my desk, see my previous post on this subject here)

The New York Times has an article that highlights the benefits of mess. The article, “Saying Yes to Mess,” is written in response to the “National Association of Professional Organizers” (!) dubbing January “Get Organized Month.” Here’s an excerpt:

An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes�) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.

This is exactly what I have always believed! Sweet… now I don’t have to bother clearing off my desk!

(HT Ian’s Messy Desk)


Posted in Humour, News, Personal | Comments Off

“Sir” Bono?!

26th December 2006

U2 frontman Bono is being awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen, according to the British Embassy in Dublin. The BBC News article noted, however, that because Paul Hewson (aka Bono) is not a British national, he will not be able to use the title “Sir.”

(HT Looking Closer Journal)


Posted in News, Popular Culture, U2 | Comments Off