1. Baptist Press News: “First-Person: Losing ever since Roe?—Time sounds the siren for abortion rights

TIME claims abortion rights have been diminished since Roe v. Wade.

January 22 will mark the 40th anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade. Reviewing the four decades since the court opened the Pandora’s box of abortion on demand in the United States, Time magazine’s cover story by Kate Pickert comes to the astonishing conclusion that women have been losing their abortion rights ever since.

statueThe statue in view here is called The Contemplation of Justice. Now, forty years after Roe v. Wade, is an appropriate time to contemplate the justice of declaring that a woman’s right to privacy gives her the right to kill her unborn child. Long ago, unwanted babies were left exposed to the elements to die. Civilization finally abolished that abominable practice. Yet, on January 22, 1973, in this building adorned with classical symbols of justice, the United States Supreme Court opened Pandora’s box to unleash a death sentence on millions of unborn babies. Overturning two centuries of history in which states were allowed to restrict elective abortion, the high court somehow discovered a right of privacy within the “Due Process” protection of the 14th amendment, an amendment added to the United States Constitution to protect former slaves from unjust treatment. As pointed out in yesterday’s web article (Roe v. Wade: 40 Years Later) concerning this issue, the abortion rate among black Americans is disproportionately high, triple the rate among white women. The epidemic of death among the unborn of the very people group the 14th amendment was originally intended to protect is an ironic and cruel twist to the sad history that has followed Roe v. Wade. Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images through abcnews.go.com

The Supreme Court decided that a woman’s right to privacy—supposedly violated by laws preventing abortion—trumped the unborn person’s right to live. Roe v. Wade declared unconstitutional all laws preventing first trimester abortions and only allowed restrictions in the second trimester to protect “the health of the mother.”1 Deeming mental stress to be a threat to maternal health removes all restrictions. Only beyond the point of viability were state laws restricting abortion “in the interest of promoting the potentiality of human life” still permissible. Viability is the time when the baby may survive outside the womb.

Since the 1973 decision, over 54 million unborn babies have been aborted in the United States. That’s an average of 1.2 to 1.4 million per year. These mind-boggling numbers don’t excite the same horror as historical genocidal killing fields, however, because these helpless victims remain nameless, faceless inconveniences who are for the most part invisible.

Yet according to Time, any and all restrictions on abortion are a threat to women’s rights. Citing the fact that 24 states have enacted over 90 new restrictions affecting abortion access since 2010, Pickert writes:

These laws make it harder every year to exercise a right heralded as a crowning achievement of the 20th century women’s movement. In addition to North Dakota, three other states— South Dakota, Mississippi and Arkansas—have just one surgical- abortion clinic in operation. The number of abortion providers nationwide shrank from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,793 in 2008, the latest year for which data is available. Getting an abortion in America is, in some places harder today than at any point since it became a constitutionally protected right 40 years ago this month.2

Of course, the Supreme Court did not declare that the government or anyone else was obligated to provide easy access to abortions, so it is difficult see how the lack of an abortion provider on every street corner represents a trampling of anyone’s right to an abortion. As a practicing physician, I chose to exercise my right to refuse to perform abortions. Individual physicians and health care facilities do not bear the responsibility of making sure abortions are convenient. Roe v. Wade eliminated laws criminalizing abortions; it did not mandate that the government must pay for them or that physicians must perform them. And at around 1.2 to 1.4 million a year, abortions seem to be quite accessible enough.

Modern technology such as 3D ultrasound has allowed us to peek into the womb, a place the psalmist refers to as a “secret” place (Psalm 139:13–16), where our Creator’s blueprint orchestrates human development. From the moment of fertilization until the day of death, usually years down the road, a human life is a continuum, but in the earliest weeks and months of life dramatic changes take place to begin preparing a person for life outside his or her mother’s body. This baby shown cavorting safely in the womb at about 12 weeks already has all the organs formed and primarily needs to spend some months growing. Americans can no longer legally place unwanted babies outside to die as our uncivilized forefathers did many centuries ago. Instead, however, we can legally rip them from this safe and secret place. Babies like this are aborted every day. This video, featured on Wikimedia as one of the “finest and most valued images,” is made available courtesy of Dr. Wolfgang Moroder through Wikimedia Commons.

Just what sort of “restrictions” upset Pickert? She complains that 60% of pro-choice Americans support parental consent for minors and 24-hour waiting periods. And she worries that a whopping 79% of pro-choice Americans dare to think that abortion in the 3rd trimester—when the unborn baby is viable—should be illegal. Of course, killing a 3rd trimester baby once he or she has been admitted to the nursery is murder. And it has been considered murder ever since the civilized world outlawed “exposure” of unwanted infants. So how can anyone justify killing the same child before it exits his or her mother’s body?

Children—another name for “minors”—cannot get a prescription to treat strep throat, which can have dangerous long-term consequences, without parental consent. Yet abortion rights activists want children—who may well be pregnant because they are helpless victims of abuse and need parental protection—to be able to opt for abortion without even letting a custodial parent know. And considering that the risk of medical complications, even death, with surgical abortion exceeds the risk for taking an antibiotic, the adult responsible for her care should be “in the know” when a minor undergoes such surgery.

What other sorts of restrictions do abortion activists claim erode women’s rights? Waiting periods and counseling are required in some states. Note that the counseling does not have to be provided by right-to-life representatives. These laws simply serve to emphasize the irrevocable nature of the decision and therefore discourage a pregnant woman from making an impulsive decision she may later regret.

Other laws to which abortion activists object are regulatory measures that affect other medical providers, such as requirements that abortion clinics be held to the same stringent standards as other outpatient surgery centers. Furthermore, activists complain that over half the states do not provide Medicaid coverage for elective abortions. In 1976, the Hyde Amendment marked perhaps the official beginning of the pro-life movement, legislating the fact that, except in certain cases, federal funds are not routinely available to pay for abortions. Roe v. Wade, after all, never promised the government should pay for the abortions.

This is Pickert’s unimpressive description of how abortion rights are evaporating.

Unless there is a fundamental shift in acceptance of the sanctity of human life on a biblical basis, we cannot hope to see an end to the legalized murder of over a million of America’s unborn each year. But as Al Mohler points out in this discussion of the Time piece, even a young child seeing an ultrasound of a yet-to-be-born sibling on the refrigerator can understand that the unborn is a person. If only America’s president, lawmakers, and justices could grasp as much. The problem of course is not an intellectual failure on their part, but rather their willful blindness and failure to take a morally responsible stand.

For more information:

2. Phys.Org: “Did Lucy walk, climb, or both? Australopithecine ancestors—arboreal versus terrestrial habitat and locomotion

Modern people can climb trees, so why not Lucy?

Evolutionary researchers have long been planting Lucy’s australopithecine feet firmly on the ground to show she evolved to walk bipedally along an evolutionary path to becoming human. Yet, in the on-going debate about Lucy’s anatomical fitness for walking upright, research has confirmed that the Au. afarensis upper body was well-designed for swinging through trees.3 But if her feet really were arched—a notion with dubious support but commonly held in the evolutionary community—that arch should have made vertical tree-climbing impractical.

climbersThese tribesmen, subjects of a recent study of the anatomy of climbing, have spent their lives vertically climbing trees to obtain honey. Apparently as a result of such consistent activity, their calf muscle fibers have become longer than those of the men of neighboring non-climbing tribes. They are thus able to dorsiflex their ankles far greater than normal, an ability that facilitates their efforts to “walk” up tree trunks. Notice the high degree of dorsiflexion in the third photo, giving a V-shape to the ankle while climbing. Image credit: photograph A by Rebecca Blackwell and photograph B by Bruno Zanzottera, illustrating V. Venkataraman et al., “Tree climbing and human evolution,” at www.pnas.org. Third photo by Nathaniel Dominy from phys.org

It is commonly believed that an arched foot cannot dorsiflex (bend upward at the ankle) far enough to efficiently walk up a tree trunk.4Australopithecus afarensis possessed a rigid ankle and an arched, nongrasping foot,” writes Dartmouth University anthropologist Nathaniel Dominy. “These traits are widely interpreted as being functionally incompatible with climbing and thus definitive markers of terrestriality.”

The claim that Lucy’s foot was arched, incidentally, rests largely on three ideas:

  • on the belief that the very human-appearing Laetoli footprints were made by Lucy’s close-cousins
  • on the assertion that a recently found, isolated, and remarkably human metatarsal (long bone in the foot) not only belonged to an Au. afarensis but also proved its owner’s foot was arched5
  • on some guesses about the way Lucy’s ankle bones bore her weight.

After all the evolutionary effort to make a case for arched feet, anatomical analysis suggesting Lucy still swung through the trees with the greatest of ease begged the question of how she climbed up there if her feet were unsuited for tree-climbing.

Working from the belief that Lucy had arched feet and needing to give her a lift back up into the trees, Dominy and his graduate students checked out some tribesmen who regularly scale the woody heights to collect honey. They discovered these modern humans “walk” up tree trunks quite well. Why doesn’t human foot and ankle anatomy interfere?

Dominy reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that ultrasound comparison of neighboring tribesmen in Uganda and the Philippines show that tribesmen who regularly climb trees have longer gastrocnemius (calf) muscle fibers. The men of the Ugandan Twa and of the Filipino Agta plant the soles of their feet flat on the trunks of small diameter trees and “walk” their arms and legs up to the treetops. To do so, they dorsiflex their feet far more than we do for ordinary walking and farther than modern humans typically are able to do.

Dominy compared the Twa and Agta tree-climbers’ calf muscles to those of their agricultural neighbors, the Ugandan Bakiga and the Filipino Manobo. “We hypothesized that a soft-tissue mechanism might enable such extreme dorsiflexion,” he writes. The habitual tree-climbers had longer calf muscles, allowing their feet to fold much farther. “These results suggest that habitual climbing by Twa and Agta men changes the muscle architecture associated with ankle dorsiflexion,” they write. Therefore, they conclude, “This study shows that the foot and ankle of Au. afarensis are not incompatible with climbing behavior—at least as it is performed by some modern hunter–gatherers. The diverse locomotor repertoire evinced by facultatively arboreal modern humans cautions against using even the most derived (modern human-like) traits in Au. afarensis as unequivocal evidence of negligible arboreality.”6

This research does an excellent job of showing how many aspects of anatomical functionality and limitations cannot be determined from fossil evidence. Living animals and living humans are able to adapt to the needs of daily life in ways to which long dead bones cannot bear witness. Such adaptable design is a credit to our wise Creator.

While showing that Lucy-the-swinger would have been able to get up the trees to swing even if her foot were arched (an idea by no means proven), however, the research fails to support to the concept of human evolution from ape-like ancestors. People aren’t people because they walk upright but because God created them with the genetic information (and the spiritual nature) to be human. There is no mechanism by which an ape-like creature could, even gradually, acquire the genetic information to become human, for mutations do not create such new information. Furthermore, the fossil record of apes and humans does not demonstrate transitional creatures, just varieties of apes and varieties of humans. God created humans and apes on the same day about 6,000 years ago according to His own eyewitness account, and nothing in the fossil record or genetics demonstrates (or can demonstrate) that they shared any evolutionary ancestry.

3. National Geographic: “Biggest Thing in Universe Found—Defies Scientific Theory: Quasar cluster is ‘challenge to our current understanding,’ astronomer says.

Sky Survey discovers a faraway quasar cluster that is too big to exist within the big bang model’s assumptions.

The twinkles in our night sky are far more complex than we can discern with the naked eye. To get a more 3-dimensional understanding of the view from earth, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, started several years ago, gathers and integrates massive amounts of telescopic data. (For Star Trek enthusiasts, picture the “Astrometrics Lab” on Voyager to get some idea of what this survey entails.) The project has cataloged the relative locations of thousands of galaxies and quasars. Now the survey has discovered the biggest known cluster of quasars ever found. The problem is, the cluster—known as the Huge-Large Quasar Group (Huge-LQG)—is too big to be accommodated within the assumptions underlying the big bang theory.

quasarQuasars like the one depicted here are faraway compact high-energy structures at the far reaches of observable space. They are visible from earth because they are so bright. Quasars and galaxies are both thought to contain black holes, but those within most galaxies are thought to have already pulled in nearly all the matter accessible to them. Each quasar, on the other hand, is thought to be so bright because the black hole it contains is actively pulling in matter. The bright accretion disk that makes it visible is likely produced by the conversion of the gravitational energy from the matter accelerating toward the black hole into radiant energy. Because quasars appear to be surrounded by distant galaxies, and because they are only found at the far reaches of the universe, some scientists think that we are seeing quasars that long ago gave birth to galaxies. Image credit: M.Kornmesser, ESO from news.nationalgeographic.com

clusterThis model shows the S-shaped cluster known as Huge-LQG. Red shift-based calculations of distance indicate all 73 quasars are in approximately the same region of space and therefore form an actual cluster. Another cluster of quasars, not quite as large, is nearby and is indicated in the lower part of the box. The two clusters do not appear to overlap. The larger cluster stretches across almost 4 billion light years, making it the largest known structure in the universe and larger than current cosmological models indicate is possible. Image credit: mnras.oxfordjournals.org

“This discovery was very much a surprise, since it does break the cosmological record as the largest structure in the known universe,” said study leader Roger Clowes of England’s University of Central Lancashire. Currently, the conventionally accepted cosmological model demands that nothing larger than 1.2 billion light years can exist. This far distant cluster of quasars is nearly 4 billion light years in diameter.

“The usual models of the Universe in cosmology, varying only according to the parameter settings, are built on the assumption of the cosmological principle – that is, on the assumption of homogeneity after imagined smoothing on some suitably large scale,” Clowes and his colleagues write in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.7 Of course, it is obvious from just looking around that, on a small scale, the universe does not have a homogeneous (smooth) distribution of all matter and energy. However, the majority of cosmologists today assume that, on a grand enough scale, the universe is pretty much homogeneous. Think of this “smoothing” concept like a great averaging of sizes. But something as big as this Large Galaxy Cluster cannot be simply averaged in to a smooth homogeneous universe. And if the universe is not, on average, smooth, then the cosmological principle (the idea that the universe must be homogeneous, which underlies other cosmological ideas, like the big bang) is not true.

“In summary, the Huge-LQG presents an interesting potential challenge to the assumption of homogeneity in the cosmological principle,” the authors write.7 “It could mean that our mathematical description of the universe has been oversimplified—and that would represent a serious difficulty and a serious increase in complexity,” admits Clowes.

The big bang idea of the universe’s origins is based on this cosmological principle of assumed homogeneity. Such homogeneity is assumed without proof because it makes the mathematics of the big bang model work out.

Creationist astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner of Answers in Genesis explains, “ This Huge-LQG is bigger than what the big bang model would allow, if the homogeneity principle is true. But the big bang model is based on the assumption of homogeneity. Therefore, distance and size calculations of the Sky Survey data concerning this quasar cluster using the mathematical assumptions of the big bang model have produced results that are inconsistent with the big bang model. I expect they will now attempt to modify the big bang model. It’s a very plastic model, and that’s what has been done in the past.” Dr. Faulkner points out that the paper reporting the Huge-LQG also describes some other astronomical features that similarly threaten the cosmological principle, but this discovery is by far the most dramatic.

Besides forcing a revision in some aspects of the big bang model and the cosmological principle on which it is partly based, evolutionary cosmologists hope the discovery of this huge quasar cluster will help them understand how galaxies formed. Quasars are primarily found in the most distant parts of the universe. Evolutionary cosmologists believe distant light takes billions of years to reach earth, so they interpret a telescopic look at a quasar as a peek backwards in time almost as far back as the big bang, to a time when galaxies were forming. Quasars are thought by many to be involved in the evolution of galaxies.

This erosion of a fundamental principle on which the big bang is based is not the first scientific challenge to the conventional cosmological model. Furthermore, alternative explanations for light-travel time8 eliminate the idea that astronomers are peering back in time and instead demonstrate they are merely looking far away. Based on these explanations, we can understand that the biblical framework of a young universe just thousands and not billions of years old is a scientifically correct view of history.

Biblical chronology indicates God created everything in earth and space about 6,000 years ago over the course of six days. And He made the earth three days before He made the sun, moon, and other stars. Thus, whatever the nature of quasars, they are not early products of the big bang and we are not peeking back through time and watching them give birth to galaxies. And it is no real shock to discover that this cluster of quasars is more massive than expected within the big bang’s foundational assumptions, since the big bang model is itself derived from worldview-based assumptions that are contrary to biblical history, our Creator’s eyewitness account of our origins.

4. Daily Mail: “Astonishing 3D images reveal the first four-legged land animals in amazing detail - and overturn a century of research

Three-dimensional images of fossil will force evolutionists to revise their terrestrial story, but not much.

Paleontologists examining delicate fossils hopelessly encased in a rocky matrix sometimes have to guess about how to reconstruct extinct animals. A new technological application is now taking some of the guesswork out of paleontological reconstructions by peering inside rocks in an unprecedented way. And what this new technology is seeing will revolutionize the way paleontologists reconstruct some vertebrate backbones. Because evolutionists believe these animals are transitional links between aquatic and land animals, it will also alter the way they construct their tale of terrestrial evolution.

Paleontologists for the past century have been reconstructing these tetrapod backbones backwards, according to a team led by Dr. Stephanie Pierce of the Royal Veterinary College and University of Cambridge Professor Jennifer Clack. They performed high-resolution 3D X-ray imaging at France’s European Synchroton Radiation Facility to get a good look at fossils of four-legged animals hidden in rock.

Though the headline in The Daily Mail proclaims these images will “overturn a century of research,” they will really just necessitate some new twists in a century of evolutionary speculation.

Evolutionists have built the evolutionary story of the vertebrate conquest of land by comparing the anatomy of animals like lobe-finned fish and amphibians—or at least extinct creatures that we would classify as amphibians today. (Fossils provide some anatomy, and evolutionary imagination provides the transitional connections.) In Nature, the team writes, “The construction of the vertebral column has been used as a key anatomical character in defining and diagnosing early tetrapod groups. . . . Nonetheless, very little is known about vertebral anatomy in the earliest stem tetrapods, because most specimens remain trapped in surrounding matrix, obscuring important anatomical features.”9

chart Evolutionists believe the existence of lobe-finned fish and extinct amphibians is evidence that fish evolved into terrestrial animals. There is no scientific support for this belief, as these animals are simply animals with interesting anatomical variations. Two of the animals depicted in this sketch, the Ichthyostega and the Acanthostega, were examined in this study, which unveiled the actual anatomy of their vertebral bones. Evolutionists now will adjust their story to account for the fact that the vertebral bones were not put together the way the previous, century-old evolutionary story claimed. See “The Fossil Record of 'Early' Tetrapods: Evidence of a Major Evolutionary Transition?” for more information about these fish and amphibians and to learn more about the problems with evolutionary claims about their role in the origin of terrestrial life. Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

“For more than 100 years, early tetrapods were thought to have vertebrae composed of three sets of bones—one bone in front, one on top, and a pair behind,” explains Pierce. “But, by peering inside the fossils using synchrotron X-rays we have discovered that this traditional view literally got it back-to-front. The results of this study force us to re-write the textbook on backbone evolution in the earliest limbed animals.”

“Comparison of Ichthyostega with two other stem tetrapods, Acanthostega and Pederpes, shows that reverse rhachitomous vertebrae [multipart vertebrae assembled in this newly discovered way] may be the ancestral condition for limbed vertebrates,” the team writes.9 These four-legged animals are thought to have been well-adapted for swamp life. Evolutionists don’t consider Ichthyostega and Acanthostega to be amphibians because they believe amphibians didn’t evolve until the Carboniferous period, and these appear somewhat lower, in the Devonian part of the fossil record. (Pederpes appears in the lowest Carboniferous layers.)

vertebrae3-dimensional X-ray imaging has made it possible to see the details of rock-encased fossils. The vertebrae of this four-legged Devonian Ichthyostega can now be examined with greater accuracy, and it turns out that for a century paleontologists have been making wrong guesses about how they are put together. They’ll now have to change the evolutionary inferences they have made on the basis of their incorrect anatomy to match the new anatomic information. In truth, however, anatomical structure cannot prove this animal was an evolutionary ancestor of anything. Image credit: © 2013 Julia Molnar in www.dailymail.co.uk

fossilThis video image shows Ichthyostega’s fossilized remains like a ghost inside its rocky abode. The rocky matrix encasing this and similar fossils has made direct examination of the fossils’ anatomy impossible. New technology reveals the actual anatomy. The anatomical parts here are color-coded. Paleontologists, who try to construct an evolutionary story to connect the anatomy from the fossil record of various kinds of animals, must now change the tale to fit the new anatomy. However, no such tales of ancestral origin can be observed scientifically. These ancestral tales are only guesses, just-so-stories based on a naturalistic, Bible-rejecting, worldview-based, scientifically unverifiable assumption that animals evolved into other kinds of animals. Watch this video (supplementary video 2) and others like it at www.nature.com Image credit: S. Pierce et al. “Vertebral architecture in the earliest stem tetrapods” Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature11825 www.nature.com

By understanding the correct way the components of each vertebra were assembled, paleontologists believe they can better understand how the vertebrate owners of those vertebrae shifted their weight between legs. Pierce say, “By understanding how each of the bones fit together we can begin to explore the mobility of the spine and test how it may have transferred forces between the limbs during the early stages of land movement.”

Other surprising discoveries included “hitherto unknown skeletal features” such as a row of bones in the center of Ichthyostega’s chest. Clack says, “These chest bones turned out to be the earliest evolutionary attempt to produce a bony sternum. Such a structure would have strengthened the ribcage of Ichthyostega, permitting it to support its body weight on its chest while moving about on land.” Actually, Clack and colleagues aren’t really sure these bony remnants are leftovers from a sternum, as they have apparently been displaced toward the back of the animal and don't have rib attachment points.9 They suspect the bones were ossification centers within a cartilaginous structure, however, so the rib attachments to cartilage may have simply not fossilized.

“Overall, the findings described here demonstrate that the traditional rhachitomous model has been misguidedly projected onto the earliest limbed vertebrates, producing inaccurate reconstructions that have been replicated in the literature for more than half a century,” the team writes. “This study fundamentally revises our current understanding of vertebral column evolution in the earliest tetrapods and raises questions about the presumed vertebral architecture of tetrapodomorph [lobe-finned] fish and later, more crownward, tetrapods [four-legged animals believed to be evolutionarily advancements].” 9

Unlike the vertebral bones of humans, some extinct vertebrates’ vertebrae consist of unfused parts. Evolutionary scientists see these multipart vertebrae as steps on the evolutionary path to modern anatomy rather than simply a different anatomical structure that some kinds of animals have. Because they assume that four-footed land animals had to evolve from aquatic animals, they also try to imagine the steps that would have been necessary to transform functional fins into functional weight-bearing legs. Therefore, a reconstruction that changes the view of how extinct animals walked must alter the steps evolutionists imagine for how the transformation took place.

Likewise, the discovery that this extinct animal may have had a sternum does not demonstrate the sternum was an evolutionary leap or any sort of evolutionary transition but only that this animal like many others—birds, mammals, amphibians, and many reptiles, but not fish—may have had a sternum. Amphibians typically have a sternum made of cartilage, a substance which generally does not fossilize as well as bone. If this animal had a sternum composed primarily of cartilage, these ossified remnants may be all that remains of it. The presence of a “sternum” composed of unfused bones would not imply it was an evolutionary development. Even the modern opossum has a sternum composed of unfused elements.

Evolutionists believe fish evolved limbs with digits and then evolved into terrestrial animals—so-called “more crownward tetrapods.” The Bible, however, provides God’s account of the fact that He created the various kinds of fish and birds on the 5th day of Creation week and all kinds of land animals and man on the 6th day. Each kind, according to Scripture, was created to reproduce “after its kind.” Fossils of amphibians and fish—even lobe-finned fish—fail to demonstrate that land animals evolved from fish but only demonstrate the biodiversity of amphibians and fish. Learning more accurate details about their anatomy does not provide evidence for the evolutionary tale. Their presence in the fossil record does not demonstrate evolutionary ancestral connections. Instead, their fossil record is a record of their burial during the catastrophic global Flood as their habitats were swept up in the tumult.

See “The Fossil Record of 'Early' Tetrapods: Evidence of a Major Evolutionary Transition?” for analysis of many problems with evolutionary assertions about the origin of terrestrial animals from fish, including a discussion of the fossils examined in this study.

5. CNN: “My Take: Jesus was a dirty, dirty God

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:14)

The Bible tells us that Christ was human and, of course, fully God (theologically termed the “hypostatic union”). The gospels give us some facts about His humanity: He was hungry, He thirsted, He ate, and of course, He died. One Christian leader, surprising his own colleagues, has pointed out some earthy aspects of the physical nature of the God-Man that are not discussed in Scripture. Johnnie Moore, a VP at Liberty University, has reasons for bringing them up. Despite the potential for misinterpretation of the slightly shocking headline wordplay on “dirty,” Moore’s CNN “belief blog” is an effort to rebut excessively sanitized depictions of Christ. He does not however suggest accepting liberal views in their place, but simply encourages a realistic view of our Lord’s humanity.

arks

The biblical account of Noah’s Ark and the global Flood is a true record of an actual historical event. Answers in Genesis discourages the use of “bathtub ark” depictions that suggest the Ark “story” was only a fairy tale. Instead we encourage the use of realistic Ark depictions, like that in the second picture, to remind people that Noah was a historical person who built a real Ark on God’s instructions to preserve life in the midst of a global catastrophe. Similarly, Liberty University’s Johnnie Moore recently wrote a CNN Belief Blog to discourage Christians from painting a sanitized Jesus that ignores the dirty realities of the life He endured during His 33 years on earth. The real historical Jesus is someone all people should be able to relate to, and understanding how fully He humbled Himself to become one of us in all our humanness (except for a sinful nature) should strengthen our ability to present His offer of grace to the world.

Moore paints a picture of Jesus having to deal with the dirty realities of daily living two millennia ago. While the Gospels don’t discuss such issues as the privy needs of Christ, the Old Testament Levitical laws do address the fact that all human beings face certain practical considerations. We may not like to talk about bathrooms and body odor, and the headline CNN used for Moore’s blog probably challenged some sensibilities, but such unpleasantries are a part of life, and because they are part of every human life they were a part of Jesus’s earthly life.

Moore points out that many Christians—in their understandable desire to acknowledge our Lord’s dignity—present “Jesus . . . walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God.” Moore explains that this image of Jesus Christ errs not only because it fails to show how fully human Jesus was but also because it imitates the Greco-Roman concept of mythological gods.

Greco-Romans gods were majestic, powerful, and fractious. Depicted with flawed human characteristics, often in some dalliance with wretched humans, these mythological beings were only toying with people for their own amusement. Moore points out, “Jesus arrived in defiance of this prevailing imagery.”

Our God—the one true God—came to earth to be fully human not for His amusement but for our salvation. We don’t do the cause of Christ any favors when we depict Him as a hybrid of a Greek demigod and a shy inoffensive man with sad eyes. When we brush away the dirt from some thirty years of His life, we make Him more like the myths of Mount Olympus than the genuine loving Creator and Savior who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The Gospels present Jesus’s genuine humanity—and Moore gives a number of examples, including His poverty, His frustration with being constantly misunderstood, and His vulnerability to the vicissitudes of the mob mentality. If we take the humanity out of our depictions of Jesus, we cheapen His message by making Him resemble the myths with whom He so greatly contrasted.

It is vital to distinguish Moore’s descriptions of our Lord’s humanity from those of secularists and religious liberals. God-haters and those who bend the Bible to their own version of reality present many blasphemous and false depictions of Jesus Christ’s humanity, denying the truths of Scripture. We see secularists and religious liberals wrongly accuse our Lord of immorality and fraud. Jesus Christ was in all ways tempted like as we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). If these distorted assertions about Him were true, He would not be qualified to be our Savior and bear the sins of the world (Hebrews 2:9). But Jesus was and remained sinless. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” While the visual imagery Moore uses may shock some, Moore’s blog does not misrepresent Jesus’ humanity. Moore neither accuses Jesus Christ of sinning nor robs Him of His divinity, holiness, or righteousness.

Jesus got His hands dirty and died because He was fully human, but He rose from the dead because He was (and is) God. He did this so He could demonstrate that He was fully qualified to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind and actually bear that guilt on the Cross (Romans 4:25–5:1). But His sacrifice on the Cross will do an individual who rejects His grace no good in eternity; therefore, Moore’s article is an effort to get ordinary people to realize the depths to which Jesus descended to save us.

Moore says, “The brilliance of Christianity is the image of a God, named Jesus, arrived with dirty hands.” Part of the divine majesty of Jesus Christ is manifest in His very condescension to the level of lowly humanity. No mythological god would go slumming without an ulterior motive, but Jesus Christ—the Creator of the universe—was willing to leave the majesty of heaven for a time and become embarrassingly human. Humans since the Fall of man in the garden of Eden have had plenty to be embarrassed about. Ordinary bodily functions, while natural and normal, are, for many, embarrassing to talk about and are often the imagery chosen for gutter-speak. We in western culture generally like to keep what happens in private private. (Not all cultures have the same taboos incidentally, either in their taboo-topics of conversation or in their chosen areas of privacy.)

Moore’s article may make some Christians uncomfortable by pointing out how completely like us Jesus Christ was during His 33 years on earth, but that is the point. His humanity didn’t consist only in His birth and death but in everything in between. “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people,” according to Hebrews 2:17. Jesus Christ was tempted in all things just as we are (Hebrews 2:18 and Hebrews 4:15). And for that to be true, He had to suffer from not only hunger and thirst but also the same basic human indignities we do. After coming into the world in the usual undignified way, Jesus’s swaddling clothes got as dirty as the next baby’s.

Knowing that the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:13–20), who has all power on heaven and earth, left the clean comfort of heaven to experience the dirt, degradation, and discomfort of earth with us should remind every Christian of how great a God we serve. “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23) means “God with us,” and so He was, in every way, yet without sin. For that reason, Philippians 2:5–11 juxtaposes the emphasis on Christ’s humanity with the fact that in due time EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that He is God, to the glory of God the Father. The depth to which Jesus Christ descended is a reason to praise Him and to trust Him.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:5–11)

We should remember that while Jesus Christ has been fully God from eternity past, when He became flesh (John 1:14) very few people knew who He was. Moore alludes to this historical reality when he writes that Jesus got fed up with the Pharisees and called them satanic vipers, commenting that this is “the behavior of a frustrated man who might also be divine, but sure knows how it feels for annoying people to get under his skin.”

Nobody knew Jesus was God when He arrived as a babe in Bethlehem except Mary, Joseph, and certain shepherds and foreign magi. He had to spend the rest of His life—and death—proving His deity and therefore His infinite fitness to bear the penalty for the sins of the world. Jesus had to prove—and did prove—even to His closest companions, that He really was God by His Resurrection. The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:4 confirms this by saying Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Through His eternal Spirit He is still proclaiming that truth, and we proclaim Him not only as our Creator and Redeemer who died for us but also as our Risen Savior. God loved us enough to not only die for us and rise again for us but also to experience what it was like to be one of us.

God said in 1 Samuel 16:7 regarding Jesus’s earthly ancestor David, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Jesus, though fully human, remained holy and sinless. By contrast, we—no matter how good we try to look on the outside—are completely “dirty” on the inside because we are sinners. The take-home message of Moore’s blog should make us focus on how far our Lord humbled Himself to redeem us so that we can proclaim:

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

And Don’t Miss . . .

  • ultrasound

    This is a 3D ultrasound image of Lucian on August 9, 2012. Diagnosed with severe disabilities, his “termination” at 24 weeks of pregnancy was offered to his parents. They refused to terminate the pregnancy and Lucian's life. Though he ultimately died nine hours after his birth on October 23, Lucian enriched the lives of those who loved him. His mother counts herself blessed to have had the opportunity to give him as much of life as she could. Image credit: © Jeremy Durkin through www.dailymail.co.uk

    This week as we mourn the deaths of millions of unborn babies killed in the name of “privacy” in the United States in addition to millions more babies killed around the world in the name of “choice” and “convenience,” it is good to be reminded that many a woman is willing to take a stand for the life of her unborn baby—even if the baby’s life is to be not at all what she would wish it to be. This week a UK publication told the story of Lucian, a disabled baby whose parents loved him enough to let him be born. His mother said, “It was my duty as a mother to protect [him] no matter how long he had left, he deserved to live.” Expecting Lucian’s devastating disabilities to dramatically change her life, Lucian’s mother said, “‘I researched all his disabilities to prepare myself fully for his needs. I never had a moment of doubt. I only had to look at the scan pictures of him enjoying life in the womb to know I was doing the right thing by giving him a chance. Not knowing how long he would live meant we were determined to enjoy him for as long as we could. We learned he loved the shower and would kick when I sprayed the water on my tummy. As he grew bigger I could see his little feet and hands prodding through my bump when he wriggled. He may not have been born but he was already our son and I took each movement as a sign we had done the right thing. I would talk to him and play him music because I wanted him to experience as much as possible.” Lucian died in his mother’s arms nine hours after he was born. She said, “I thought I didn’t want to be a mother but Lucian taught me it is the most wonderful job in the world and I will always be grateful for that.”

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Footnotes

  1. Text of Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Back
  2. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2132761,00.html Back
  3. News to Note, November 17, 2012 Back
  4. Jeremy DeSilva in his 2008 doctoral dissertation reported, “In addition, the presence of a longitudinal arch would have restricted midfoot grasping and severely compromised arboreality.” From “Vertical Climbing Adaptations in the Anthropoid Ankle and Midfoot: Implications for Locomotion in Miocene Catarrhines and Plio-Pleistocene Hominins” by Jeremy M. DeSilva, dissertation 2008 at University of Michigan. Back
  5. A Giant Leap for Lucy, www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6018/750.abstract, and www.icr.org/article/6018. Back
  6. www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/12/26/1208717110 Back
  7. mnras.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/01/07/mnras.sts497.full Back (1) Back (2)
  8. Distant Starlight and Distant Starlight Back
  9. S. Pierce et al. “Vertebral architecture in the earliest stem tetrapods” Nature (2013) doi:10.1038/nature11825 www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature11825.html. Back (1) Back (2) Back (3) Back (4)