Top 10, Again

top-10It’s that time, again. Time for another year-end list of “top posts” on various topics from preceding years (including the one just ending). I try to pick those that are “evergreen”, though, or at least still interesting/entertaining. In case you’re curious, here are the previous lists: “Celebrating 5 Years of AVftR (plus a Top 10)!”, “Top 10: The Sequel”, “Top 10: The Threequel”. Between those and this one, hopefully you’ll find a few posts of interest that you might otherwise have missed.

“Church, Family, and Immigration Law” (3 parts)

“Almost everything you read these days about immigration law, especially the recently-passed Arizona legislation, has to do with what exactly does the law say, is it racist, what does “reasonable suspicion” mean, will good citizens be unfairly targeted and inconvenienced, will immigrants’ rights be abused, should law enforcement officers “waste” their time trying to identify and arrest illegals, etc. But, there are other concerns to consider, as well.

As author Jenny Hwang puts it in her article “Arizona’s Border Crisis” in Christianity Today‘s guest opinion column (5/12/2010), “I have read the entire Arizona law and fear that there will be many unintended consequences that will impact not only hundreds of families in Arizona, but also Christian ministries and churches that serve immigrants in Arizona.” [Beyond the usual issues, I would like to examine] what Ms. Hwang has to say on the issues concerning families and ministries and make a few comments of my own.”

“Rights Are Right, Right?”

“Everybody’s got “rights”. Just ask ’em!

Rights to freedom of _________. Natural rights. Human rights. Civil rights. Property rights. Privacy rights. Abortion rights. Women’s rights. Gay rights. Marriage rights. Workers’ rights. The right to a minimum wage. The right to free healthcare. The right to clean air. You name it, and somebody’s gonna claim it. Everybody’s so sure they’ve got all these rights,… but why? What are rights? Where do they come from?”

“Must Christians Accept Evolution?”

Bible merged with Origin of Species“The simple answer to the title question is “Yes”… or “No”… or “Sometimes”.

If you talk to (or read) many devotees of Darwinian evolutionary theory, either professional or layman, you will often find them perplexed as to how any “rational” person can deny the “fact” of evolution. For them, it is so clearly the only valid explanation for life’s history that, for one to not accept this obvious truth, you have to be either a) ignorant of the evidence or just misunderstand it; or, b) blinded by religious dogma. (Maybe both.) Or, possibly, c) you believe the evidence points to evolution but are deceitfully using ID/creationism for personal gain. (Fame? Limited. Fortune? Very limited. Thrill of being an iconoclast? I suppose, maybe. Actually, being a science professional who is a “Darwin denier” is more likely to earn you scorn in your profession and cost you friends and tenure, maybe even your job.)”

“Costumes, Candy, and Courting Evil”

“I’m not really into Halloween. Haven’t been for years. Sure, in my early years, I did the whole trick-or-treating thing…. Now, as a single adult, Halloween has just become that one night of the year that little kids (and big ones) come knocking on my door, while I “hide” in the dark and hope they go away. That’s right. I don’t even give out candy. I’m such a grinch! (No, wait. Wrong holiday.)

Yet, I have to admit that I sometimes envy people having fun in their costumes, goofing around, etc. So, would I join in, if the opportunity presented itself? Can a conservative Christian like myself, who believes in demonic entities and the “spiritual warfare” going on about me, in good conscience participate in Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, or celebrations of any sort? Well, it depends….”

“The Scientific Method” (2 parts)

“So, what *is* the “scientific method”, anyway? As with the definition for “science” (and a number of other things), if you ask a dozen scientists or philosophers of science to define or explain the scientific method, you’ll probably get a dozen (or more) variations on an answer. But, before I try, I think a brief bit of history is in order….

Roger Bacon, who was himself heavily influenced by Robert Grosseteste, is called by many the “father of modern scientific method”. The investigative approach we now call the “scientific method” — though it has since been refined — was so closely identified with his descendant, Sir Francis Bacon, that it was known as the “Baconian method”.”

“Primer on Origins Views for Christians” (4 parts, despite them all being numbered “X of 3”)

“As an admin at the “Old Earth Creationists” Facebook Group, I’ve been reminded on multiple occasions that not everyone, even within the Christian community, is aware of the various positions held by orthodox Christians — historically and currently — on the matter of origins…. Many people, both Christian and non-Christian, think that there is only one position on these matters that is “biblical” and consistent with orthodox Christianity….

My goal for this series of articles is to present the basics of these three general positions, as well as alternative categories. I’ll also define “Intelligent Design” and discuss how it fits in. Finally, I’ll briefly explain several ways that Christian scholars have developed to understand and interpret the Creation Days of Genesis.”

“Newsweek Tells Christians They Are Wrong”

“Continuing a time-honored tradition among skeptics and atheists, especially around this time of year (and Easter), Newsweek published a major article informing Christians — conservative ones, at least — where they go wrong in regards to the Bible…. In his screed, Eichenwald rails against the ignorance, inconsistency, and bias of Christians, while seemingly oblivious to his own. He marshals many “evidences” — somewhat scattershot, though within sections — to cast doubt on the authenticity and reliability of the Bible and seeks to denigrate those who credulously believe in it, while not really knowing the truth about it…. There is a lot of truth in several of Eichenwald’s initial pronouncements…. As for the broader message of the piece, however, Eichenwald greatly overstates his case.”

“In Search of the Best Bible Translation”

Which Bible Translation“Most people — at least, in “the West” — know that there are several different versions or “translations” of the Bible, and most who read it with any (semi-)regularity have their favorite. We all have our reasons…. Outside of the “woodenly literal” translation one might find within a Hebrew/English or Greek/English interlinear, English translations range along a spectrum of “formal equivalence” (aka “word-for-word” or “essentially literal”) to “dynamic equivalence” (aka “thought-for-thought” or “functional equivalence”), with those on the latter end becoming increasingly paraphrasitic and less accurate. Over the years, I have owned some on both ends (e.g., KJV –> Living Bible) and in the middle (e.g., NIV 1984), and they all have their pluses and minuses.”

“On the Resurrection Hypothesis” (5 parts)

“Most people these days use the “minimal facts” approach popularized by Gary Habermas, laying out the 4-6 lines of evidence that are accepted “by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the rather skeptical ones.” It is a great method, eliminating as it does some of the more controversial aspects. Some of those minimal facts were already addressed in my posts about the death and burial of Jesus. The rest are included in this series, but I have also included additional helpful information, such as the bit about testing historical explanations given below. As with the earlier posts, I have summarized the source material as best I can, with a few additions of my own….”

“Mr. Peña Nieto, Pay For That Wall!”

“The subject of immigration, and particularly of illegal immigration, into the U.S. has been a hot potato for several years now, and it’s only heating up during the run-up to the 2016 elections. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump recently gave a speech in Phoenix, AZ, in which he laid out his official position on the matter…. What I want to focus on is Trump’s longstanding and consistent call for an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” along the border with Mexico and, especially, his insistence that he will make Mexico pay for it. That one has had me stumped for awhile and shaking my head every time I heard him say it…. According to the narrative by many news outlets, Trump doesn’t really have a plan for paying for his proposed wall, let alone for making Mexico pay for it. In fact, Trump *has* mentioned some ideas on this, and he even provided a two-page memo to The Washington Post back in March that outlined several funding options he was considering….”

Well, that ought to keep you occupied during the slow moments between gift-wrapping, gift-opening, caroling, feasting, Church service(s), snowball fights and tobogganing (for those who can), playing games, and spending time with family and friends. (Some of us — i.e., introverts — need to relax and spend some time alone, after all.) Happy reading!

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