Zebra’s Don’t Have Monkeys

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Happy Monday! Willow Dressel is back today, continuing her series on biblical skeptics. The beginning of her series started here.

 

SCIENCE, MORAL, SPIRITUAL AND BIBLICAL SKEPTICS
PART III
SCIENCE-MUTATION AND NATURAL SELECTION

Hello again!

I’m back with more information on the movie God’s Not Dead. If you recall, in the last blog covering this subject I identified the root idea “The natural world is all there is”, and the probing question “How much faith is required for that belief?”. We also went over quite a few red flag words. Let’s do a quick review:

In short information is non-physical and does not arise out of material; and our minds have the power of intentionality⎯our brains are just the medium for communicating it; and only mind, not matter, can generate meaningful information. Pretty profound stuff, especially when you try to put random and chance in there. Hmmm, just what kind of meaningful information could random and chance KennytheTiger IIIblogproduce? The “earliest and simplest” single cell organism that is made up of a series of complex systems? I think not! But sadly evolutionists believe that mutation and natural selection can generate, by chance and randomness, the meaningful information that DNA carries and the highly complex system of the DNA itself. Let’s take a closer look…

Mutation: what the science skeptic means when he/she refers to mutation is the random genetic improvements passed on from one generation to the next that allows an organism to move up the “evolutionary ladder” (or tree), becoming, according to their theory, more complex. The plain and simple fact is that mutations can only degrade or rearrange existing genetic information. Mutation cannot generate new information. So the probing question to ask anyone who is stuck on mutation leading to new species is–can mutations generate new material and new information, that is new DNA with new coding.
DnaStrand IIIblogEvolutionists believe so. They cling to “beneficial” mutations, such as malaria-resistant sickle cells and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, to try to prove their point. However, this really is a moot point because no new information or DNA is produced by mutations even though they claim that mutations are a naturalistic way that introduces DNA into an organism. They cling so adamantly to this because they need a way for creatures to evolve into something new. The other fact evolutionists either ignore or haven’t thought it through thoroughly is that mutations have harmful side affects such as severe anemia and even death in the case of sickle cell, and huge genetic information loss in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
You see, “genes are like sequences of letters (codes) that act as blueprints and instructions for a creature’s form and functions. A genetic mutation is analogous to the following sequence of letters:
IWANTTOEVOLVE = the normal gene
IWaNtToEVOLVe = mutation (degraded)
OVATEVNOTLWIE = mutation (rearranged)
oVaTEVNOtLWIe = mutation (degraded and rearranged)
“No matter how you degrade or rearrange the message “IWANTTOEVOLVE”, you either get IWANTTOEVOLVE with slight modifications or you get gibberish. No new letters arise to create a new, more complex message.
“In the same way…suppose you have the blueprints for a Mercedes Benz. Could you repeatedly photocopy them hoping that a copy one hundred (or a million) generations later would randomly accumulate spots and smudges that transformed it into blueprints for the Space Shuttle or even an upgraded design for the Mercedes? The blueprint quality would get worse, not better, the more it was duplicated.
Mutations are incapable of generating new genetic information. But evolutionists hold out faith that the hero of their theory, natural selection, can make it all work out.”1

Natural Selection: what the science skeptic means by natural selection is that the animals with adaptable traits survive (survival of the fittest) to pass on their genes. And animals with less adaptable genes die out. They believe that is the method or system by which increasingly organized and complex creatures come into being. It is true that natural selection (aka survival of the fittest) does occur. However this process has nothing to do with accumulating complexity, becoming more complex, or changing one species into another. In other words natural selection describes a process (adaptation of existing information), not the introduction of new information (DNA coding). “The important thing to note about natural selection is that it is a process of subtraction, not addition. It streamlines creatures for better survival in their existing environment by removing traits less suited for that environment…It cannot collect, assemble, or create new genetic features (new DNA) required to transform one kind of creature into a different kind that can survive in at completely different environment.
Turtles, IIIBLog“A mosquito population can survive the threat of insecticide because of what it loses, not what it gains. Mosquitoes with a genetic weakness toward a particular insecticide die off. But the surviving, resistant mosquitoes become the new core population for a “stronger” next generation. (They may be stronger only against the original insecticide but vulnerable in other ways.) Is this new resistant group a sign that the mosquitoes are breaking the bonds of mosquitohood and evolving into a new creature? No. Their mosquito DNA dictates that they will remain mosquitoes. This new group has been “selected” to survive because it has lost the weak trait by losing the weak members of the group that carried it, not by evolving a new trait. The insecticide merely exposes a genetic resistance that these mosquitoes had all along.”2
The funny thing is, is that EVERYBODY gets this process with dogs (or horses, cats, etc). Nobody thinks that a Chihuahua will evolve (through breeding) into a bat or a monkey or another new type of animal. EVERYBODY knows you breed animals for certain traits, a lap dog for example. Or a racing horse, or hairless cat. EVERYBODY, including evolutionists know we can’t breed these animals into some new species. The fact is, that dogs remain dogs, horses remain horses, cats remain cats no matter how streamlined they have become for their environment.

I encourage you this week to look around at the world you live in. Do you see any familiar animals, or people for that matter, having young that aren’t of the parent species? I would bet my life that the answer is no. And scripture backs it up. Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:39; “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” If you read further, (verses 37-44) you will find even more references to major distinctive realms including botanical (God giveth…to every seed his own body.), physical (There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another), astral: (There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory), and spiritual: (There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body).

God has provided for everything…we just need to open our eyes and hearts and trust Him!

God bless and take care!
Willow Dressel

References:
Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 97-107. 1, 2 pg. 107-111.
3www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/weeks-sky-glance-april-1826

Superheros and Authentic Fashion

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Parenting is perpetual construction. It’s the work truck driving adjacent the joy curb, always working—reworking, and an occasional hopping out to stretch the legs. But there is no sabbatical for moms and dads. If there’s not someone in the lane next to you telling you how to drive, it’s yourself—sometimes I lay awake, going over my list of speed bumps:

I said too much there. I didn’t say enough here. I focused too much on the dirty house today. I’m not that mother who can multitask her child and the whole school at the same time—and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to be—that would be as exciting as doing a math test.

But amidst all the chaos, there are two things I feel good about:

My kids know that Jesus is the only real Superhero.
I don’t make them match their clothes.

Wait-what? Yes, I’m proud of the fact that I let them wear fuchsia polka dots with camouflage pants. Stripes with crazy patterns. A spiderman shirt with batman pants (so as I am writing this, Microsoft word wants me to capitalize spiderman, but not batman—what’s up with that?).

Anyway, why do I let them walk in public looking like they dressed themselves? Because they don’t need to dress for others approval. They need to know it’s okay to be them. They’ll face enough pressure from their peers in a few years—I want them to feel good about making their own choices because they were made like this (by the real Superhero):

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

They weren’t knit together by Prada’s marketing team. They weren’t wonderfully made to feel pressured to have surgeons nip and tuck their uniqueness away.

If God’s works are wonderful…they are already beautiful. They need

My little beauty

My little beauty

encouragement to be them. Who am I to make them feel like they have to fit my standards of beauty, or the standards of the fashion industry, or Hollywood?

Here’s an excerpt from Alissa Quart in her book Branded:

“…many of the teens and tweens I have come across who are drenched in name-brand merchandise are slightly awkward or overweight or not conventionally pretty. While many teenagers are branded, the ones most obsessed with brand names feel they have a lack that only superbranding will cover over and insure against social ruin.”

And it all starts with drawing attention to their appearance.

I listened to an interview at my mom’s group a few weeks ago. Wisdom from a former Victoria’s Secret Model. She said the only reason she got into the modeling industry (and nude modeling) was because her father encouraged her in only one thing: her looks. It took her decades to realize that she had real value.

The only One children need to be concerned with pleasing is the Superhero who laid down His life for them. If they ask you why God made them look a certain way, tell them:

“God saw all that He made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31 (emphasis mine)

Rolling with my Peeps

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This past week was One Giant Explosion of Awesomeness. I’m still picking confetti out of my hair. Here’s what I learned:

Just because the Wildlife Biologist you’re with is carrying a giant can of bear mace, and the bear’s den has been has been flooded, does not mean you will encounter a large, angry bear. Phew! Research trip=success

 

100_3635

Meeting really famous people can make me a little nervous, but Bill Myers is delightfully humble. And awesomely talented. He also shares my passion for giving YA Christians some good, relateable entertainment. Check out his latest project (and consider supporting) here.

Photo with Bill Meyers

Lastly, you really don’t need name tags at twenty-year high school reunions. We don’t look that different. But I’m still confused about the hot dog vendor watching us from the shadowy corner. Hmmm.

Class reunion photo

What’s on your calendar of events? Tell us in the comments.

The Outsiders

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There is a field of beautiful weeds next to my daughter’s school. I pull in line alongside it every day with the other parents, creeping along for my turn to pick up my child. The weeds are quite tall now, catching every breeze and butterfly that comes its way. There is the occasional set of tire tracks mushed into the field from a driver who couldn’t wait for the line to move. The school has tried to purchase it in hopes to expand, but that rectangle of dirt and brush is far too pricey.

The land is surrounded on one side by old trees, firmly rooted into the ground in the yards of neighbors. They tower above the weeds, holding court in their superior standing of shade-givers.

But when the light hits the weeds just right, you can see gold. While the sun outlines the trees like halos of honey, the weeds are given the full force of the OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlight, casting a breathtaking beauty upon them. They are not weeds in this moment, but the light so many artists try to capture in their paintings. When I finally understood the value of a weed, it changed my thinking forever.

Although not everyone waits around to witness their transformation.

As I approach my 20th year high school reunion, I think about the weeds and wonder how many of us will walk in feeling like we’re pulling a cart-ful of them, and how many will feel like the trees that look down on them. Are my adornments as beautiful—do my shoulders reach as high as the others?

Does the weight of my cart outweigh those of the others?

Despite the joy of seeing old friends, successes will be measured on this day. Classmates will walk in with lists: the accomplishments, and the list that we probably won’t talk about –the failed relationships, losses of all kinds, mistakes.

But the light shines just as bright on our carts of weeds. They are what make us work harder, gain wisdom, and grow beautifully. God didn’t come for the best of the best after all.

I‘m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:32 The Message

Those of us in the weed fields become part of God’s masterpiece—too unworthy in the eyes of those who miss the light—too valuable for the wallets of the insiders.

Zombies and the In-Between

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My first year of college felt like a giant state of limbo. I still lived at home, I usually carpooled, and I couldn’t concentrate on a single piece of homework—except a few glorious moments in English class and about 2/3ds of my 2D design class. Otherwise, my feet were squirming with antsyness, impatient for my next step into independence.

My friend, Laurin, was in the same boat, traveling with me on cracked Arizona roads to class and back. One of our favorite things to do in this in-between state was to people watch.

Nowadays, most people have their ears to phones, or their gaze falls to their laps as they pretend they’re not texting while driving—but I want to talk about the IMG_4047times before we all became cell phone zombies—when people kept their eyes wide open and allowed life to overflow from the driver’s seat.

My observations from the ford pickup truck:

The opera singer.
These driver’s live in joy, tilting their heads and necks in the most awkward angles to “feel it.” They let their mouths drop open as if catching the mosquitoes that go splat on their windshield, but no—they’re not crazy, just happy. They must either love their jobs, love leaving their jobs, or are able to be content in that place in-between.

The Nose Pickers.
Your windshield is see-through, people. However, if you really don’t care then I don’t either. Except for the entertainment. I like to laugh while driving. Unless I’m on the way to lunch. Ew.

The Unexpressionist.
I assume you’re either a deep thinker—oblivious to the world around you–or your life is boring.
For the Thinker: Life is indeed profound and full of wild metaphors, but my car is not one of them—when traveling, please keep your attention on the road.
For the Bored: Life is not one bit boring. You might want to take the “back roads” just to remind yourself of this.

The smiler-waver on, “I’ll wait for you“-enthusiastic drivers.

You spread joy. Keep it up.

The bad news: Too many people don’t take advantage of the art of driver’s-seat-living anymore. We have become cell-phone zombies, the walking unpresent, the “who cares what God might be painting in this moment”, I-need-to-be-in-touch-with-the-next-moment right now types.

That’s absolutely the best thing to do if you don’t want to go anywhere.

Those in-between moments are the only things that will prepare you for the next road.
It’s the windshield that protects you from going into something you’re not ready for yet.

Otherwise, you may end up with a mouth full of bugs.

Drive awesome.

SCIENCE, MORAL, SPIRITUAL AND BIBLICAL SKEPTICS PART II

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Hi all! Willow’s back today, continuing her blog on the concepts introduced in the movie, God’s Not Dead. For the start of the series, go here.

SCIENCE

Hello once again!

It is such a pleasure to be able to once again be a guest on Sherry’s blog. Have any more of you been able to see the movie “God’s Not Dead?” It’s ok if you haven’t, but if you have, you will remember some of what we are about to discuss.
One of the major issues the professor had against God, and what he tried to use against Josh, the young man who defended his faith, were 1st photo Sep 15 blogobjections from a scientific viewpoint. So let’s continue to look into not only defending our faith, but helping to lead others to the truth.
If you remember from the first week, we discovered the root idea behind most scientific objections is “The natural world is all there is.” And the probing question is “How much faith is required for that belief?” “It is important to point out to the skeptic that his naturalistic view invokes supernatural power as much as yours (God) does. The big difference is that naturalism puts faith in the absurd-nature doing supernatural things-while a theistic worldview merely puts faith in the unseen-a cause beyond nature that has left evidence in nature of its presence.”1
What the professor didn’t understand is that science has already proved that nature is unable to create matter, space or time–for nature to do so, it would have to go against the First Law of Thermodynamics (matter can neither be created nor destroyed but it can change form), Second Laws of Thermodynamics (everything goes from a state of order to disorder, i.e. decay, etc) the Law of Biogenetic (life cannot come from non-life; no spontaneous generation), Mathematical probability (shows evolution NEVER could have occurred), The fossil record ( it holds no transitional forms), just to name a few facts. In other words, nature would have to have supernatural powers, like God. I have even run into those people who believe in a powerful “Mother Nature” or “Gaia”, in other words 2nd photo Sep 15 blognature can do godlike things. Yet they are adamantly against even the thought of an Intelligent Designer⎯the Creator God. It is a far more logical explanation to believe in the unseen (God) than what has already been proven cannot happen.
As you can see one of the biggest problems with the science skeptic is that they tend to divorce reason from faith. This is exactly where the professor in the movie stood. And he didn’t even know it. Let’s take another example of this. The science skeptic tend to emphasize natural selection and mutation can create different forms of life (evolution). So when a scientist claims there is evidence that a life form has evolved from one species into another, what you can point out is that both of these process create nothing new. These processes only remove or rearrange what is already present (in the genes). Speciation–the changing of one species into another, and adaptation which is changes within a species, are two vastly different processes. Speciation is found only in the textbooks. Adaptation is found everywhere. What the scientific skeptic has really done is exchange one source of faith for another.
Here are just a few examples of the extreme faith some secular scientists have: First, in regards to life originating from non-life (spontaneous generation);
“One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here 3rd photo Sep. 15 blogwe are⎯as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.” -Harvard biochemist, Nobel Laureate, and evolutionist Georg Wald. The Design Inference. Cambridge University Press, 1998, pg. 55. Google Book Search. 27 Aug. 2008. Note the words impossible and believe. Both determine that this is a statement of faith, not science.
In regards to evolution; “Imaginations run riot in conjuring up an image of our most ancient ancestor–the creature that gave rise to both apes and humans. This ancestor is not apparent in ape or human anatomy nor in the fossil record. Anatomy and the fossil record cannot be relied upon for evolutionary lineages. Yet paleontologists persist in doing just this.” -Anthropologists and evolutionists, J. Lowenstein and Adrienne Zihlman, Ph.D. “The Invisible Ape.” New Scientist/ 120(1641) 1988:56,57. These are statements from atheists, but look at all the highlighted words in this statement….easy to see this is a belief and not science.
Yet sad to say statements like these are found in many “scientific” journals and conferences. One of the biggest reasons the science skeptics fool themselves is because they have their own definition about certain words. This has come about mostly through blind faith and ignorance. The following are some red flag words (see if you remember how many of them the professor from the movie used):
The Big Bang. The skeptic means that the uncaused beginning of the 4th photo Sep. 15 bloguniverse happened suddenly based on the idea that the cosmos (stars, galaxies, etc.) is still expanding which suggests that they were once together in a single location. Don’t be intimidated by this. They are avoiding the real issue which is: What started the big bang to begin with? And were did everything inside of this ‘exploding dot’ come from? And were did the space that the dot is floating around in come from?
Evolution. The skeptic can mean one of two things: 1) change over time. Or 2) the ability of life forms (and even non-life forms) to transform into entirely different species. There are also two different types of evolution. “Microevolution–over a few generations, a mosquito population becomes resistant to insecticide (the resistant genes were present to begin with). And Macroevolution–over a few million years, a type of lizard gradually becomes a bird (new genetic information is developed or created from mutation and natural selection. Information, mutation and natural selection are red flag words as well so lets define them too.
Information. When the skeptic speaks of the word information, he means that is how humans describe the order we see in living things that only look designed. Clarify to the skeptic that information is both complex and specified and can not happen at random. For example, if you dump out a cupful of scrabble letters, there is a chance it might produce the word G-O-D. But there is no chance that it would produce the Gettysburg Address (a short speech) or even one sentence of it. If you saw the Gettysburg address spelled out on the floor you would come to the correct conclusion that it was intentional….in other words, designed. “We know it is designed because we instinctively know that words are systems of letters; sentences are systems of words; paragraphs are systems of sentences; and speeches are systems of paragraphs. Such systems cannot form without foresight, planning, and intention. In other words, a system–not an independent part–is the most basic unit of any complex, meaningful structure…But evolutionists would like us to believe that complex systems such as those found in living things arose part-by-part….Don’t let an evolutionist off the hook who suggests that life evolved from ‘simple beginnings’–there is no such thing. The beginnings would have to be complex also. The most primitive, single-celled bacteria that evolutionists say began life on earth would have needed working systems including some form of digestive system and reproductive system from the very beginning. Such systems are immensely complex.”2
Information is non-physical and does not arise out of material. Materials such as ink, paper, pens, pencils, discs, computer chips and DNA molecules are only carriers of information. “For example, the information in the Gettysburg Address exists outside of the paper and ink Lincoln used to write it. It could exist just as well on an audio CD, on the internet, or engraved in stone….but it did not begin in these materials; it began in Abraham Lincoln’s mind.
“An evolutionist might say, ‘But Lincoln’s mind is merely reactions of brain chemicals.’ In other words, Lincoln’s mind was the result of random, material (chemical) causes. But this would mean that the Gettysburg Address is the result of random, material causes too because it came from Lincoln’s mind. But as we have discussed, complex systems such as speeches (not to mention human brains) don’t arise out of randomness; they are the product of intention and planning (design). This means that Lincoln’s mind and ours are something more than just chemicals. Our minds have the power of intentionality; our brains are the medium for communicating it.
“Just as the Gettysburg Address is not the product of paper and ink, DNA, the blueprint for living things, is not the product of a random soup of chemicals compounds. By all accounts, it is a code or language so complex that no material causes could have created it; it demands an author. Only mind, not matter, can generate meaningful information.”3
Even though it is evident that there is a difference between information and material, evolutionists truly believe that the natural world only looks designed. “They maintain that mutation and natural selection are able to generate the DNA (even though its a highly complex system) required to create new species.”4 (Emphasis mine.)
Ahhh…and the professor thought himself smart, but he didn’t even know the difference between matter and mind!
We will wait to explain mutation and natural selection in more detail next time.

Thank you Sherry for your continued invitation!
God bless and be healthy!
Willow Dressel

References;
1-4Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 87-107.

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, intervew with Tosca Lee

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She’s the queen of prose, the storyteller of the century—she’s Tosca Lee, the author that will make even the non-reader devour the written word.

Her latest book will be released tomorrow. Here’s a bit about The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen, and an interview with the author herself (stay tuned for a giveaway):

There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king Queen of Sheba Coverand god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you were meant to believe.

Which means most of it is a lie.

The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.

Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.

More from Tosca:

• What do we actually know about the Queen of Sheba?
We know something about the Sabaean (the Israelite Sheba = ancient Arabian Saba) people: that they had a capital in Marib, a sovereign “federator” who united the kingdoms of Saba, an elegant and evolving script, a sophisticated dam near the capital that turned Marib’s dusty fields into oases, and that there is great evidence of Sabaean settlement in the area of Ethiopia near what would become Aksum. We know the Sabaeans of the 10th Century BC worshipped the moon god, Almaqah, though experts do not agree whether this was a male or female deity. We know that in terms of the ancient world, they were quite rich due in large part to their cultivation of frankincense in the southeastern region, and that they had an extensive and evolving trade network that extended as far north as Damascus, as far east as India, and as far west across the Red Sea as Ethiopia and the continent beyond.
The queen is a very minor character in the scope of the biblical narrative, but you assert that her famous visit to King Solomon is vitally important in the scope of Old Testament history. Why?
For two reasons. If the story of the United Monarchy (the kingdom of David and his son/successor, Solomon) is not true, then the bedrock of three major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) collapses into fiction, and the claim of Jews to the land of Israel with it. Perhaps the authors of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles knew that, because they took the opportunity to basically say, “Hey, this queen from the ends of the earth, that famous Queen of Sheba, came and brought tribute to our king, and blessed him and our god and said ‘All that I heard was true, and I never even heard the half of it!’” This is fascinating. It begs the question: what was it that was so great about this female sovereign—in a time when the world was ruled by men—and a pagan, no less… what was it about her that was so outstanding that her endorsement of Solomon, his riches, wisdom, and god, held so much weight as to be included in the Old Testament narrative? Who was this woman who matched wits with the wisest man in the world—whose throne was so secure that she could leave it and make the 1400 mile journey of half a year to visit this king… before making the long trek back? Well, this must be a woman worth knowing something about.

Tosca PhotoYou recently won the 2014 Gold Medallion for fiction—what people may not know is this is the only award given each year by the ECPA for Christian fiction across all genres. And yet you’re known for your controversial points of view and pushing limits of the category. What is it about your books that you believe resonates so much with Christian readers?
I think it’s that I’m willing to go there and get gritty. To admit that halfway through the writing of Iscariot, I realized I was no longer writing his story… but my own. Havah is also my story. They all are. And we’re not that different, you and I. I like writing about these maligned characters because even though we may not want to, we can often identify with them far more readily than the good guys, who seem so untouchable. We all feel let down at some point by the way God fails to adhere to our agendas for Him. We all have moments when we think, “if you knew me—really knew me—you would not love me.” We all fail with the best of intentions, and we all want to be embraced exactly as we are. We are all as capable of darkness as we are of light—and often the darkness is far more tangible. The stuff in the Bible isn’t sterile—far from it. It’s gory, violent, sexual, and messy. But so is life. I want to be honest about fear and compromise as I am about hope, beauty and redemption.

It’s probably no surprise that you used to be a freelance writer. But you’ve also been an online gamer, a pageant queen—were first-runner up to Mrs. United States—a model and a leadership consultant to Fortune 500 Companies with the Gallup Organization. How have each of these seeming disparate experiences informed your experience as a best-selling author?
Online gaming, when I was doing it—before avatars and the time of EverQuest, even—was solely text-based. We’re talking about the early 90s, during the time of dial-up modems when online gaming boiled down to collaborative story-telling. I spent nine years writing about imaginary characters online. I don’t know how many words or pages that amounted to (hundreds and hundreds), but I assert often that everything I learned about characterization happened from role-playing in text and writing online—from slipping into the skin of characters I could only portray with words. The pageant thing, the modeling thing, gave me invaluable training in media. The year I was Mrs. Nebraska (1996) was when I started public speaking. Suddenly, I had a platform, and people assumed I had something to say. Well, I did, and that led to me going to work for Gallup. Working as a consultant, my primary job was as a speaker and teacher. This, too, has proved invaluable when it comes to speaking on writing and to the media. I’m very comfortable in front of an audience of 20 or 1000.

What are one or two things that your readers don’t know about you?
I danced semi-professionally as a classical ballerina in my teens. I also used to be a concert pianist. I have the greatest fans in the world, am terrible at math, can’t work if my house is messy, and am a crack shot with a deer rifle.

• What are you working on next?
I’m taking a break from biblical historicals. My next two books will be something different. And then I’ll delve back into the biblical world again.

What others have said about The Legend of Sheba

“An epic masterpiece.”
-Michael Napoliello, Radar Pictures

“Another winner from Lee.”
-Publisher’s Weekly

“Tosca Lee has outdone herself with Legend of Sheba.”
-Best-selling author Erin Healy

Links to Download Ismeni, the prequel FREE:Ismeni photo

Amazon: http://bit.ly/IsmeniPrelude
Simon & Schuster: http://bit.ly/LegendofShebaPrequel

P.S. I’ve read it—it’s awesome.

A few links to find Tosca:

Website: http://www.toscalee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToscaLee

Links to buy:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LegendofSheba
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/RiseofaQueen
CBD: http://bit.ly/1oRPae6

 

 

God’s Not Dead Part II, and #Bag The Peak Challenge

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We’re continuing Willow’s series on God’ Not Dead today, but first I’m responding to a challenge from The Relevant Christian Magazine (click to find out more). Watch my video to see my #Bag the Peak challenge (you’ll have to follow the link, I wasn’t able to post it here) and consider this your invitation to participate!

 

Follow Me to the video.

 

For the introduction to Willow’s Series, click Here.

SPIRITUAL SKEPTICISM

Hello once again! I hope this blog finds any who read it to be well…if not physically, then spiritually. Thank you Sherry for allowing me to continue with points from the movie God’s Not Dead, and today we will discuss the spiritual skeptic.

At one point in the beginning, the professor in the movie tried to present the idea that there is no heaven (and thus no God). Or if there is a heaven, all good people go there…and you don’t need God for that. He would have been alright with someone who wanted to believe in Buddha or coexisting. But there are big problems with that.

The spiritual skeptic wants to get to heaven their own way (and thinks everyone else should too). “But for freedom gained by climbing toward heaven (the skeptic believes this is the place all good people go after they die to have an eternally good time) in one’s own way, there is the unending burden of the climb itself…spirituality provides a temporary, feel-good sense of accomplishment, but it is a futile, self-serving attempt at salvation.”1 Only in acceptance of Jesus as your Savior does one get to heaven not by our own works, but by grace. Why don’t more people accept Jesus then? Because to surrender self-rule is probably the most difficult thing for mankind to do.

Questions such as “People can get to heaven by many different ways…” or “To achieve enlightenment one must meditate…” or “What we believe in, our thoughts and words all shape our reality…” are all reasons people turn to religion…to be set free from the problems of our moral world. The Creator God has given us an internal drive for spiritual freedom and most people strive for it (Ecclesiastes 3:11–He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart…) Unfortunately many people are mislead by the Root Idea that good works get you to heaven. In this manner, a person’s spiritual beliefs allow the individual to set the rules in which the deity of his or her choice will operate. Often they believe that if they (or anyone) is basically good, they can get to heaven. And by basically good they mean doing more good than bad deeds.
This line of belief exaggerates the character of man, and/or diminishes the nature of God. There is a major flaw in this thinking. Ask the Probing Question…how good is good enough?

If a basically good person can get into heaven, then they believe in a god who has compromised standards so that man can fulfill the perfect standards of God. But the only standards worthy of a true God is perfectionism. No basically good person would be admitted into Harvard, or medical school, or be allowed to play on a NFL team. Nor would Bill Gates hire a basically good programmer, nor Donald Trump hire a basically good businessman, etc. You get the point. It is puzzling as to why people change the standards when it comes to God. Especially when Christianity is the only religion where God demands payment for sin (because heaven is a perfect place) and then provides the payment. You see, God must be satisfied by the only known source of perfection…God Himself. But He gives each individual a choice if they refuse His grace…that is God will then judge that person by their own standards (a scary thought) because God’s standard is perfect righteousness, not mere human goodness. Besides if basically good people are the ones who will populate heaven, how will heaven be much different than our current fallen world?

Then there are those who believe enlightenment (self-actualization) is the way. They believe that divine self-mastery will enable them to find reality from within and usually involves some source of meditation. When the skeptic speaks of meditation, they mean that it is a way to find a frame of mind to become one with the universe or to find one’s inner voice. However, again there is a major flaw with this thinking…

“Man cannot enlighten himself because his nature is where the problem is. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?’ [Jer. 17:9]…how did the guru get beyond his own flawed nature? …if man is really divine and only needs to re-recognize his divinity, how did he lose touch with it in the first place? If the divine can be corrupted, is it really divine?…Only a true Divine source beyond man can provide enlightenment…”2 “Meditation seeks a connection to an impersonal force; prayer seeks a relationship with a personal being.”3 Prayer is active while meditation is passive.

Then there are times that the skeptic can get frustrated and hostile and turn to name calling. One of the favorites is, organized religion. Let’s define what they mean by that; a narrow, dogmatic, hypocritical belief system. They often believe that churches are filled with hypocrites. And while hypocrites can be found everywhere including the church along with plenty of genuine Christians filled with integrity, it is not the people in the church that give salvation, it is Christ. If you dig a little deeper you will see that hypocrisy is not the main objection that spiritual skeptics have towards organized religion, but authority. You see “…personal experience and discovery are their primary source of authority.”4 Organized religion challenges this authority and requires adherence to a set of beliefs that don’t match their experience. And they don’t like that. They would rather have their own customized religion so they can have the freedom to assemble their own beliefs. “The trade-off is that there is no accountability and thus, no true growth.”5 An analogy is a person who is partially blind that needs and operation. Because he is partially blind, even if he were a skilled eye surgeon, would he be able to operate on his own eye? Like wise, since man is a product of a broken world, his ideas of how to fix himself are also broken.

Two other red flag words to be aware of are holy and karma. The skeptic’s meaning of holy usually means something that has a lot of religious tradition associated with it. “From a human perspective, God’s holiness is both His greatest and most terrifying attribute. What the paradox skeptics miss about God’s holiness is that it repels us from Him while being the only thing (Jesus’ sacrifice) able to reconnect us to Him.”6 And their meaning of karma is my good deed will return to me (either now or in the next life), I create my own reality. What these skeptics fail to see is that it is a merciless, unending cycle of rebirths and suffering without any assurance of freedom. Karma perpetuates the presence of evil because one who does evil in this life must be cursed by it in the next.

It would be good to ask someone like the professor in the movie “why he shouldn’t at least consider the one faith system that is unique–the only one that both satisfies the standards of a perfect God and shows mercy to man’s flawed character.”7

Check out Willow’s weekly blog here.

References:
1-7Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012. Pp 97-107. pg.

 

God’s not Dead–Guest Post by Willow Dressel

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Good Morning friends,

We aren’t alone in our crafts, right? There is a huge community of writers/thinkers out there and I want to start hosting some of them on my blog. Today, we’ll begin a series on some of the concepts presented in the movie, God’s Not Dead. Please feel encouraged to comment and share.

 

Hi everyone,

Let me introduce myself; my name is Willow Dressel and I am a creation scientist, wildlife biologist, author, and friend of Sherry Rossman. How many of you have come across people that want to challenge your faith in Jesus and/or the Bible or the science/history of the Bible? A great example of that can be found in the movie “God’s Not Dead”. If you haven’t already watched the movie I highly recommend it. The movie went over some critical issue Christians face today. It is about a young freshman college student who stood up to his philosophy professor, and really the rest of the class too, to pronounce that God is not dead. The professor is a doubting, angry skeptic and many arguments ensued from the professor that the student had to refute. I will not disclose any more details for the sake of those who haven’t yet viewed the movie.

Sherry and I both have watched the movie (an amazing movie, by the way) and she thought that it would help all of you if we delved into some of the Professor’s–who is an atheist–objections to God a little deeper.

In the case of the movie, the professor started out with scientific objections, but the real cause was moral objections because he had suffered a great deal of pain. What am I speaking about?
A skeptic is someone who doubts/has objections with anything that has to do with the Creator God. Often a skeptic tries to dissuade you from defending the Bible or your faith. There are four basic positions of “attacks” he/she can take; spiritual, moral, scientific, and biblical.

But behind each of these positions is a root idea. Each root idea can be brought into the light when you ask a probing question. Then you will have a good sense of where the skeptic is coming from and what he is really asking…and how you can help them understand the truth.

You have encountered a spiritual skeptic when the topic centers around gods, heaven, meditation, the afterlife, the supernatural, karma, other religions, coexistquestioning God, etc. The root idea behind most spiritual objections is: “Good works get you to heaven.” So the Probing Question to ask is: “How good is good enough (to get you to heaven)?” From there you can answer other questions they may have. Keep in mind the root idea and if the person keeps rephrases the question, lead them back to the probing question.

You have encountered a science skeptic when the central topic is evolution, the Big-Bang, mutation, natural selection, ape to man, etc. The Root Idea behind most scientific objections is: “The natural world is all that there is.” So the Probing Question to ask is: “How much faith is required for that belief?” This is one of the icthusattacks the Professor in the movie used. Scientific skeptics are usually highly educated and can ask probing questions themselves. An example is “What scientific basis do we have that indicates an intelligence may have created or caused life to arise.” The answer lies in reason, something the scientific skeptic doesn’t believe can be connected to faith (more about this later). But “complex, meaningful information does not arise by chance, and it cannot be reduced to physical causes. Therefore, it is no blind leap of faith to conclude that living things containing the voluminous code of DNA demand and intelligent cause.” All of our answers lie in information.

Facing the scientific skeptic is one area were we may have to brush up on facts. If the answers don’t come to you right away it’s fine to let them know you will get back to them with an answer.

The moral skeptic has a worldview that has been couched in a very diplomatic (politically correct) sounding yet undermining Root Idea of “People should decide for swasticathemselves what is right or wrong.” The probing question then becomes “What is your standard for right and wrong.” The central topics for them are peace, fairness, justice, sex, art, intolerance, good, evil, self-rule, etc.

Finally, there is the biblical skeptic. Almost always some personal issues play a major role in their unbelief. Often people see suffering in the world and think God either no longer cares or never cared to begin with. Because God doesn’t fit their scripturephotoidea of Him, they reject the Bible. The root idea behind the biblical skeptic is; The Bible is man-made (they question the Bible’s relevance, reliability and authority). The Probing Question is: “If God really gave us a book, how would we know it came from Him?”

Next time we will look into the above questions a little deeper and work on how we can help the skeptic see the truth.

Take care and God bless,
Willow Dressel

References:
Foster, Bill. “Meet the Skeptic, A Field Guide to Faith Conversations.” Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012.

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