Isaiah was inspired by God to write the book of Isaiah in the Bible and it is a book that has many prophecies in it, many of which Jesus fulfilled with His life and death which we won’t go into now. Now there are many arguments circulating today that attempt to disprove the Bible. Some have obvious flaws while others may take knowledge about the original language, Biblical history or theology to show their flaws. The Bible claims to be the inspired word of God, written by men which God used to tell us the story of His plan for all mankind. It is without error in its original writings and because of these claims, if they were not true, the Bible would have errors and could be shown to be false. One argument that I have personally come across is that Isaiah believed the earth was flat.
There are at least two verses which have been used to make this claim so lets look at the first verse.
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. Isaiah 40:22 (NKJV)
Now the argument used for this verse is that if Isaiah knew the earth was a globe at the time he penned the book of Isaiah, he would have used a word like “globe” or “ball” but he used “circle” which is two dimensional and flat.
Now lets look at the second verse.
He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. Isaiah 11:12 (NKJV)
The argument used for this verse is that Isaiah didn’t believe the earth was a sphere but that it was a flat square or rectangle with four corners.
For someone to say Isaiah believed the earth was flat based on these verses alone would likely require an eisegesis of the text rather than an exegesis which means the person making the claim is imposing his or her interpretation onto the text instead of drawing out the meaning in accordance with the context.
It is more likely these two arguments are both false and one reason why is that they were both written by Isaiah. Why would the same person write about the earth being a flat square and a flat circle? It is more likely Isaiah didn’t believe the earth was flat at all. When he wrote of the four corners of the earth, Jewish readers would have understood he was speaking about ‘everywhere on the earth’ or ‘from all directions’ which among other things is briefly discussed here http://creation.com/are-biblical-creationists-cornered-a-response-to-dr-jp-moreland.
And the circle of the earth could have meant a sphere. The original word in Hebrew was chuwg which can mean circle, circuit, compass and one translation cites sphere but even if it didn’t, from a distance (like the earth from space) a sphere would be viewed as a circle from all directions so using a word that means circle logically does not negate the earth being a sphere.
So, while there are some seemingly convincing arguments out there that attempt to disprove the Bible, a closer examination will show that the Bible is what it claims to be; the Inspired Word of God!
“A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL
“This true law diffused among all men, is immutable and eternal.” -Cicero, DE LEGIBUS
In a previous blog defending the unborn, I mentioned that saving a life isn’t just an argument from the religious among us. That there are non-religious people who also affirm that abortion is immoral. But what makes something immoral?
The concept of moral subjectivity says that morality is subject, or relative, depending on the person, culture, or time frame. What may be considered morally right for you may not be for me. Or what was considered morally right in the past is not so now.
Absolute morality states morality is the same for all people of all time. It’s not what is considered moral or immoral; it’s that morality is an actual thing that transcends human perceptions.
In this video (at 6 minutes and 30 seconds in) a moral relativist gives this syllogism: a) If morality is objective, then we would all have the same view of morality. b) If we all had the same view of morality, then we would never disagree about what is moral. c) We do disagree about what is moral. Conclusion) Therefore morality is not objective.
Premise “a” is false. A person can believe 2+2=5 and another believe that it equals 4. One person can believe the earth is flat and another believe it is round. So just because someone has different views doesn’t mean the truth isn’t objective. The same logic can be applied to morality.
The fallacy in premise “a” makes the logic in the rest of the argument fall part. People can and do disagree about what has already proven to be true. Disagreeing about facts doesn’t make the facts any less factual. It doesn’t make truth relative.
You may argue that we cannot compare objective truths like laws of mathematics to something as abstract as morality. But the truth is: morality is just as objective.
Some skeptics argue that God cannot be the standard for morality because of some of His actions in the Bible. What must be noted however is that the skeptic, often a moral relativist, is making a morally objective claim. They claim that the actions of Yahweh are not moral.
But where do they get their standard of morality from? Is it just a matter of individual taste? Is it a matter of societal conditioning? Is it something deeper?
If morality is truly subjective then a person cannot claim that God or anyone else is wrong for what they view as moral or immoral. If I stole your wallet, then you could only say that stealing wallets is wrong for you and that my views are just as valid as yours. But, reality tells a different story. If I stole your wallet, then you would not believe I am wrong, you would know that I am wrong and you would reasonably expect that I should know it is wrong as well. Every fiber of your being would expect that I should know that it is wrong. Therefore, you wouldn’t be indifferent to the theft, you would be angry at the thief. And rightfully so.
In Mere Christianity, chapter 3, C.S. Lewis states there is a difference in the Law of Nature and his Law of Human Nature. The law of nature describes what things do, like a rock falling because of gravity. The Law of Human Nature (or the Moral Law) describes what a person ought to do, regarding ethics and morality. “I am not angry – except perhaps for a moment before I come to my senses – with a man who trips me up by accident; I am angry with a man who tries to trip me up even if he does not succeed. Yet the first has hurt me and the second has not. Sometimes the behavior which I call bad is not inconvenient to me at all, but the very opposite.”
He further states, “If we ask: ‘Why ought I to be unselfish?’ and you reply ‘Because it is good for society’ we may then ask, ‘Why should I care what’s good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?’ and then you will have to say, ‘Because you ought to be unselfish’ – which simply brings us back to where we started. You are saying what is true but you are not getting any further… If a man asks what is the point of behaving decently, it is no good replying, ‘in order to benefit society,’ for trying to benefit society, in other words being unselfish (for ‘society’ after all only means ‘other people’), is one of the things decent behaviour consists in; all you are really saying is that decent behaviour is decent behaviour. You would have said just as much if you had stopped at the statement, ‘Men ought to be unselfish.’ And that is where I do stop. Men ought to be unselfish; ought to be fair. Not that men are unselfish, not that they like being unselfish, but that they ought to be.”
Are your feelings the standard? No. There is a standard that you know exists outside of yourself. A standard of how we know we “ought” to act. And others are expected to know this standard also.
“Well, of course. The law of the land and accepted human behavior is the standard. And the law says stealing is wrong,” you may argue. Then, by that same logic, you cannot argue against the Atlantic Slave Trade, the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or any other historical events once deemed lawful.
“Well, I can argue against those because they were crimes being committed against humanity.” So what you’re now saying is that they were violating a moral standard that transcends cultures, nations, and centuries.
We see that we know morality is a real thing that exists outside of ourselves. It is observed by us and known by us but it is a thing outside of us. It is set by a standard that we know we should behave by.
So what is the standard? Does it change?
18th century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, believed that morality was not subjective but rather objective. That it was an axiom of the metaphysical world. He stated “I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.” He called this the Categorical Imperative. In other words “Act in a way that all of mankind would benefit if we were to treat each other the same way.” It wouldn’t be ok for everyone to start stealing from each other, so its not ok for one person. Or as Jesus said 1700 years before, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Atheist, Sam Harris said here, “It [the world] needs people like ourselves to admit that there are rightand wrong answers to questions of human flourishing, and morality relates to that domain of facts…” He believes that there is an objective morality. What sets him apart from the Christian worldview is what he believes to be the source of this morality.
According to the atheist, humanity is just a higher evolved species in the animal kingdom. But logic tell us that animals do not act in moral or immoral ways. Each animal just does what is best for his own survival. According to naturalistic atheism, morality is just a construct of evolution; making humans the final authority on what constitutes as morals. So, who then decides? The most powerful? The most logical? The richest? History tells us that these qualifications are still flawed standards for morality.
Our position is that objective morality points to the existence of God.
Because there is a moral law, there must be a Moral Law Giver. God is that moral law Giver. He is the standard and has given us the law. And this law is written on our hearts.
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said that the whole law is summed up as “You shall love the Lord your GOD with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” The first four of “the law” (the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20) are of the love of God and the last six are of the love for our fellow man.
What’s important to note is that cultures during different periods of time and in other societies have had similar commands or standards for ethical living. Here are some illustrations:
“I have not slain men” Confession of the Righteous Soul. Ancient Egypt (against murder)
“I saw in Nastrond (Hell) beguilers of others’ wives.” Volospa. Old Norse (against adultery)
“I sought no trickery nor swore false oaths.” Beowulf. Anglo Saxon (against lying)
“Choose loss rather than shameful gains.” Ancient Greece (against stealing)
“Utter not a word by which anyone could be wounded” Law of Manu. Ancient India (against insults)
“You will see them take care of…widows, orphans, and old men, never reproaching them.” Native American (showing charity [love])
This is proof of what Paul tells us in the second chapter of Romans; that even people who do not have the Law written, have the law instinctively. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.” (verse 14)
Moral laws are instilled in us because we are created in the image of God. Like God, we love what is good and hate was is evil. God loves what is good because He is good. Goodness is one of His attributes. There is no goodness aside from God. However because of our sinful, fallen nature we often disagree on what is good and what is evil. But the truth remains, we know there is a standard of goodness that transcends time and culture. This Standard is God.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.- C. S. Lewis
In Plato’s famous work The Republic, written around 380 b.C., he gives an allegory commonly known as The Cave. In this discourse he describes people who are trapped in a cave from birth. The inside of the cave is all they know. They are chained by the feet and neck so that they can only face the back of the cave. Behind them is a fire. Between the people and the fire, objects past by casting only shadows for the people to see in front of them. From these shadows the people come up with all types of stories, theories, and philosophies. They form their realities based on the shadows they see on the wall not realizing they are only illusions of real objects. In fact they took great pride in their abilities to interpret the pictures on the wall.
One day, one of the people is freed from his lifelong prison. He finds his way outside the cave into the glorious sunlight. However, since he’d been in the dark all of his life, the sunlight hurts his eyes. After a while, his eyes become adjusted to the bright light and he begins to see plants, animals, trees, himself. He sees the shadows that he saw in the cave only to come to the reality that shadows are mere representatives of actual objects and people. He sees that these objects have colors. He then realizes that it is the sun by which he sees everything and after a while he can even gaze upon the very source of light itself.
He then returns to the cave. The sunlight has not only exposed the true world to him but it has also made the cave seem much darker than he remembers. Because his eyes haven’t readjusted, the darkness doesn’t fit like it used to, per se. Neither does the ignorance of being in the dark. He tries to explain to his fellow man that they are being kept in darkness and tries to make them understand the experience he just had. But they are so set in their perception of reality. They’ve believed it all their lives. The illusions of the darkness believed by everyone cannot compare to the truths of a “mad-man”; even though this mad-man is the only one who knows the truth. His new found freedom and attempt to free the others is met with so much disdain and mistrust that they plot to kill him.
Plato’s cave allegory has had many interpretations over the past 2300 years. To him it was a picture of the teacher attempting to free the masses from ignorance. His teacher, Socrates, was killed for this very thing. However, when I read it, I immediately thought about the life of Jesus. He was the “illuminated One” who sought to free people from their bondage to darkness only to be killed as a result. However, He was never in bondage like the rest of us. He only came in the form of the rest of us.
I also thought about the process of the new birth through Him.
Like the people inside the cave, we are all born in spiritual darkness (Ephesians 5:8). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, each of us has been born with Adam’s sinfulness imputed into us (Romans 5:12). Our perception of reality is flawed because of this sinful nature and the proprietor of the cave has kept us chained in ignorance (2 Corinthians 4:4). One day, by the grace of God, someone is freed from the chains. He is led to the opening of the cave. This new experience can be scary for some as they begin to see things differently. Although it is scary, there is something liberating about it all. He begins to see things like he has never even thought about seeing them. Then he sees the Sun (Son) and has now been born again.
But he can’t wait to tell the rest of the cave-dwellers what he has experienced. As he reenters the “cave”, the new believer understands that this way of darkness is no longer fitting to him (1 Peter 1:14, Romans 6:2). As he tries to tell the others, he is seen as a foolish man (1 Corinthians 1:18). In many cases, these attempts to free the others from their deeply held ignorance, leads to being ostracized or even death.
I must also point back to my personal testimony. Before I had even heard of Plato’s story, I described understanding the power of the Gospel in a very similar way. Instead of a cave, I had been living under a rock my whole life. In my blindness I’d heard and believed stories of the sky (God’s forgiveness) but my actions proved I was still in darkness. But, when I got saved the rock was removed and I experienced the breadth and length and depth and height and immensely beautiful color of the sky (Ephesians 3:18). I was never the same.
God is not willing that any of us should perish by remaining in the “cave” (Hosea 6:4, 2 Peter 3:19). Jesus, in John 3, tells Nicodemus “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” And “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” In John chapter 8, He says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
You too can come out of the cave, from under the rock and experience a new life. The abundant life (John 10:10). If you read this blog and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.firstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!