Book of Daniel

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The Absurdity of Evolution, Illustrated From Daniel’s University Experience (An excerpt from a readable talk by D.W. Gooding)

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Commenting on Daniel’s rejection of Babylonian food (Daniel 1):

“Many of the forces and objects that the Babylonians worshipped as gods were real enough. Their fault was, as Paul would put it, ‘they worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator’ (Rom 1:25). Today atheists of one sort or another laugh at the ancient world for its polytheism and its idols. They have long since got rid of them. They think in fact that they have had the intellectual courage to go the whole road and they have banished not only polytheism but monotheism as well. They have got rid of the whole concept of god—one or many—and are left, so they think, with freedom. But what are they really left with? Well, just matter and energy—both of them by definition mindless, purposeless and irrational—so that everything and everyone that now is has arrived at its present state by evolution out of the basic constituents, matter and energy.

But what of this evolution? In the popular mind it is doubtless a goddess, every bit as much as an ancient goddess. Her name is frequently spelled with a capital letter, Evolution. She controls, directs, accounts for the change of this organ, and the function of that. Actually, she doesn’t exist at all. There is no such thing or force (still less, mind or purpose) as Evolution. At the best, evolution is only a name put by some scientists on a process through which they see, or think they see, matter going; and according to them the process is as blind and mindless as the matter and energy which is going through the process. What, then, controls this process? Ultimately, chance. Many of the ancients were inclined to agree, only they called chance a goddess. The difference is minimal. In the end what is the relation of man and his mind to this combination of blind matter and purposeless energy controlled by mindless chance? Does man control them, or they him? Obviously this is a question that we need to ask, if we are going to talk about gaining freedom to develop by getting rid of the idea of a personal purposeful creator. And the answer to the question is: without any doubt they control him at the practical level.

Naturally he does his best to control or at least cajole them, as the ancient did his gods. Eventually he dies, in spite of all his efforts, and there is nothing that he can do to stop it. At the logical level too, it is obvious that they control him. If man and his mind are nothing but the chance product of mindless matter worked on by blind forces, it makes no logical sense to talk of man controlling this mindless matter and these blind forces which constitute his own mind. Those who have the thoroughness to take their materialistic evolutionary theories to their logical conclusion hold that it is man’s cells and genes that determine him and his behaviour, and his so-called thinking. Man, they conclude, is a pre-set machine; he has no real freedom.

These mindless things are his masters, and by definition will always remain so. Of course he tries to understand them by his science so that he can then cajole them by his technology; but they prove endlessly more complex than he anticipates, and they remain his masters. But men have aspirations! Yes, and other men have other aspirations. Who shall say which are good and which are bad, which ought to triumph and which should be suppressed, when there is no ultimate court of appeal except blind matter and mindless forces? The only hope of a golden age would be if in the end the conflicting forces came into some kind of equilibrium. Till then you may expect the forces to fight among themselves every bit as much as the ancient gods and goddesses, and just as arbitrarily and irrationally as those gods and goddesses are reputed to have fought among themselves, with the battle going on all the time at a level beyond man’s power to control it.

The fact is that ancient man was talking ultimately about the same matter and forces as we are, though the ancients did not understand so much about them as we do (and we do not understand all that much). The ancients said that these things were in control of the universe and of man and man’s affairs. Since they were much more powerful than he was, he called them gods and goddesses, hoping that they were more sensible as well as more powerful, though it was rarely apparent that they were. The modern atheist agrees with the ancient polytheist that these things are in control. He calls them not gods and goddesses but atoms, protons, neutrons, cells, genes, forces—but it makes little difference. According to him they still produce and control this world, and beyond and above their mindless workings there is no Creator, no Mind, in whose love and wisdom man’s own love and reason can confidently trust.

Man is the prisoner of irrational forces. Why, then, do men believe the theory of atheistic evolution? Are they forced to it by the evidence, by rigorous inescapable logic? No! The theory, even according to some of its propounders themselves, is unproved and unprovable. To accept it as truth is as much an act of faith as believing in a Creator, except that by definition the atheist’s act of faith implies that his mind, logic and reason—his aesthetic sense and his love—are the products of blind forces working by purposeless chance upon mindless matter, and therefore ultimately meaningless. It is surely the strangest of strange things how this anti-intellectualist theory has come to be the unquestioned—and in some quarters the unquestionable—basic constituent in so many academic courses, and served up as though it were proven fact to schoolchildren, undergraduates and the general public. Isn’t it time that a few more people in the name of reason itself protested at the food?

Mercifully, there is scarcely an atheist living who is prepared to swallow his atheism neat and undiluted. Even the most extreme of them seem, in spite of their presuppositions, to hold that there are real values in life. Humanity, they maintain, is valuable and ought to be loved. Everyone ought to have a social conscience and love his fellow—or the state, or someone or ones. But then values and duties cannot be derived logically from their atheistic premises. You cannot logically turn an ought into an is. If the truth were told they have pinched these values and duties out of the temple of Jehovah and, like Nebuchadnezzar, installed them in the temples of their own ideologies where logically they do not belong. But you will never produce a golden age for man on the basis of atheistic ideology decorated with a few golden vessels stolen from the worship of Jehovah.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel & The King’s Food: Why All The Fuss? (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2016), 9-11. Download it in its entirety here.

“The Humbling of Nebuchadnezzar” (A guest-post by D.W. Gooding)

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Commenting on Daniel 4:28-33 –  “What a disaster it was to see poor old Nebuchadnezzar. He had failed to live to the glory of God. He had made himself the chief end. And now the great beautifier of Babylon, who had imposed order on the waste lands of that part of the world and made something beautiful of it, was living like an animal. He had just let himself go without any order whatsoever, and was living like a beast.

The discipline carries a message by itself. The New Testament talks about these things in those solemn and black verses in Romans 1. What happens when men decide not to acknowledge God? God judges them (v. 32). Not merely in the day to come, but he judges them now. Because they refuse to retain the knowledge of God, God gives them over to a debased mind—God does it. It is not that they develop a debased mind, and then God judges them for having it—the debased mind is God’s judgment on them. They said they could enjoy life without God and the discipline of God on that kind of thing is to deliver people over to a reprobate judgment. Their own judgment goes all astray; they dishonour their bodies and then glory in perversion.

It is not merely that God will judge them for it; this is the judgment of God—‘God gave them up to a debased mind’ (v. 28). They shall receive in their bodies their due penalty, says Paul (v. 27), a mind that can no longer discern what is truly holy, healthy and beautifully human, but descends to the level of the beasts.

Listen to Peter, talking to the church. He says that there are false teachers who will come into the church preaching permissiveness, that pre-marital unchastity is OK, just like the world does it.

But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption. (2 Pet 2:12 KJV)

That is God’s judgment on a decadent civilization. We need, therefore, to evaluate the culture that surrounds us. Our young people especially need help and guidance in this very matter; the peer pressures in school and in society are tremendous. Satan finds it so easy to represent God (as he did to Eve) as a kill-joy who wants to keep us back from beautiful things p 56 and lovely experiences. It is so easy to swallow part of the lie and think that to indulge ourselves is the way to health and maturity. It isn’t.

We need to evaluate art. I love going round art galleries, but not all art is good. Much of it is, but some of it is positively evil. Not all literature is good. It secretly used to amaze me to see young women coming up to university and reading subjects that involved them reading literature written by the most rabid existentialist philosophers, preaching their values. Good literature is good, like good bread and butter is good; it is not to be despised. We don’t have to avoid the world’s good literature. In the world there is good and healthy literature, but there is also poisonous literature. And not all you see on the TV is good, is it? It is not good when believers are watching programmes late on a Saturday night for which they would need to repent before they go to the Lord’s Supper on Sunday morning.

Our minds are our most valuable things. Listen to the advice of the apostle,

Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phil 4:8)

But fill your mind with the immoral trash and beastliness of the world, and what you sow you will reap.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 55-56. [Italics original.] Read the entire work here.

Daniel At The University (a Guest-post by David Gooding)

Friday, January 19th, 2018

“Daniel didn’t object to the opportunity to be educated; he gladly accepted the courses they offered him in the university. Moreover, when they changed his name and the names of his colleagues (names that incorporated the name of God) and gave them names that incorporated the names of their idols, Daniel didn’t object (1:7). You can’t stop people calling you what they will, can you? But when he was supposed to eat the king’s meat in the university dining room, which would have been offered to the gods according to the ceremonies of the time, then he and his colleagues downright refused. They had heard about idolatry from Jeremiah and Isaiah and had seen signs of it amongst the apostates in Israel. But to see idolatry in the university in Babylon, ‘No!’ said Daniel, ‘I will not submit to it.’ Why not? Because an idolatrous interpretation of the universe is a false interpretation. It is not true!

What was the idolatrous interpretation of the universe? To put it as briefly as I can, according to the New Testament the ancient nations knew the true God, but ‘did not see fit to acknowledge God’ (Rom 1:28). When they ceased believing in the true God they didn’t start believing in nothing, they had to make gods of their own. Their gods were, on the one part, the deification of the forces of Nature: the storm, the moon, the sun, the great powers of chaos, and so forth. They also made gods out of the physiological processes of the human body. They worshipped the goddess of love. And when they felt aggressive urges they said a god had got a hold of them, so they worshipped the god of war. When men lose faith in the true God that is what they do.

If ever there was an age in modern times that worshipped the goddess of love (Aphrodite), it is our modern world. Ask this bright young woman who has just murdered her lover’s wife and she will say, ‘It was love that made me do it.’ That’s supposed to be enough excuse? And then the jury lets them off, saying that it was love made them do it. It’s just like the ancients; they would have said, ‘The goddess Aphrodite got hold of me.’ You can’t resist a goddess and if it is love that moves you to murder your lover’s wife you must not call that murder. You will say, ‘I was blinded by love.’

Our modern world may not worship idols made of stone and wood any more. But if you ask our modern atheists and humanists what they regard as the ultimate powers that brought in and will yet destroy our universe, they will answer in their scientific jargon exactly as the old idolaters of the ancient world, ‘There is no God!’

What brought our universe and me into being?

‘Basic energy; the strong atomic power and the weak atomic power, electromagnetism and gravity, a bit of physiology, chemistry and biology put in!’

And the interesting thing about that is, all these powers and processes are utterly mindless. They don’t know what they do, and when they have done it they don’t know they have done it. They have no purpose, they are utterly blind. They have made us without intending to and one day they will destroy us. And when they have destroyed us and our planet they won’t know they have done it. That’s idolatry of the highest order, and it is taught in many of our schools from the infants upwards—atheistic, humanistic evolution.

P 18 Daniel wouldn’t have it. Even if it cost him his university career, he wouldn’t have it. He wouldn’t compromise his faith, so he refused to eat the food that had been offered to idols. Why? Because the idolatrous interpretation of the universe isn’t true. And universities are places where we are supposed to examine the truth. It not only demeans God; it demeans mankind too. What is the value of a human being? Why shouldn’t you kill anyone? If one of these days you had a mind to, and you saw a sophisticated computer coming towards you, you might be tempted to kick it in the ‘ribs’ and destroy the thing. Nobody would charge you with murder. What’s the difference between destroying a sophisticated computer and destroying a human being? Well, if there is no God, there is very little difference; both are the end products of blind evolution.

But if there is a God, there is a difference. Man, says the Bible, is made in the image of God (Gen 1:26–27). Human beings are more important than the whole universe put together. You wouldn’t think of worshipping the sun up in the sky. My poor little brain is but the size of a grapefruit and the sun is millions and millions of miles across, but a human brain is more significant than the sun. I know the sun is there; the sun doesn’t know I am here. I know how the sun works, thanks to the scientists; the sun doesn’t know how I work. It is just so much gas and a few atoms running around—a big atomic furnace, so some scientists say. A human brain is infinitely more significant. And would you hold a view that says that one day the sun in its mindlessness will explode and the earth will evaporate, and that will be the end of the human race? If that is true, then we are not what we thought we were. We are merely the end products of mindless, irrational, purposeless forces with no future ahead of us but ultimate extinction, not only for us as individuals but for the whole human race.

Daniel wouldn’t believe it. He believed there is a God and that man is made in the image of God. It is there that our values are based. Some of us tell the Russians (with as much sympathy as we can), ‘If in years past you had believed that man was made in the image of God, Stalin wouldn’t have eliminated sixty million.’

Daniel stood uncompromisingly for the God of the Old Testament, the unique Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, and mankind made in his image. This is the truth about man.

We should try to understand what the scientists say, both the believing scientists and the unbelieving; and the technologists, believing and unbelieving. We are not to be ignoramuses! Like Daniel, we shall welcome every bit of education; but we shall need to stand within the world of education for the truth about God and the truth about man.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 17-18. For more click here.

“Daniel, A Public Figure Who Trusted The Lord” (A Guest-post by D.W. Gooding)

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Photo by KRK

“. . . [I]n spite of the fact that he lived his life as an expatriate in a foreign culture and rose to such eminence within that culture and in their civil service, he was a man who not only maintained his piety, but he maintained also his faith and hope. He maintained his personal life of prayer, and not only in private. Under the first king of Persia, through an edict of the state that banned prayer to any god except to the emperor for a period of a month or so, Daniel maintained his devotions and made sure that the public were aware that he continued in his life of devoted prayer to his God, in spite of his success in the Gentile world.

There have been many men (and there are still many), having been brought up in a Christian environment, and then rising to great positions in the state or in industry or science, who quietly maintain their devotion, if not always publicly. They say their prayers at night, even if nobody else knows about it. But Daniel did not only maintain his devotion, he maintained his faith and that is another thing altogether. He maintained his Jewish hope. That is all the more remarkable because Daniel’s faith was not some vague kind of religion composed mostly of moral precepts, ‘Do good and try to be kind and honest.’ Daniel’s hope was centred on this, that Israel’s God was the only true God amidst the multitude of gods and goddesses that all the nations of the ancient Middle East worshipped. Daniel held that the God of Israel was the only true God, and that all the other gods of the nations were only nonsense; idolatrous figments of human imagination. You will see at once that that kind of view wouldn’t necessarily have been in great favour in the civil service of Babylon, nor in the temples of that nation, but he maintained it nonetheless.

Daniel’s faith was that not only was Israel’s God the only true god—the transcendent Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, but that that transcendent Creator had chosen Israel to carry a sublime, distinct and special role among all the other nations. They weren’t just one more nation; Israel’s faith was that they had been chosen by God Almighty and raised up to carry a testimony to the true God, to protest in his name against their idolatry and to point the other nations to him who is the true God, in such words as Isaiah would have heralded, ‘Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other’ (45:22).

That was Israel’s faith, a pointer and missionary for the true God, chosen by him for this unique ministry among the nations. It was Israel’s faith; and it was certainly Daniel’s persuasion that grew deeper as the years went by, that it was through Israel that the salvation of the world would come about. Daniel maintained that faith throughout his long years, in spite of all that he came to know about the brilliant civilizations of Babylon and Persia and for all his success in those Gentile fields.”

David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 9; more available here.