Scientist’s lecture: ‘Has science buried God?’
Internationally renowned mathematician, speaker, author and retired professor John Lennox spoke in Haifa recently on a topic rarely discussed by prestigious guests visiting the university: God.
Lennox has debated famous atheists including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Peter Singer. He was also Stephen Hawking’s contemporary at the University of Cambridge.
The event, held Feb. 27 at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, opened with a welcome from a representative of FCSI, the Fellowship of Christian Students in Israel. Prof. Tony Futerman of one of Israel’s institutes of higher education introduced his colleague and friend, Prof. Lennox.
The auditorium was packed with 400 students and guests – many sitting in the aisles – while another 100 people watched livestream broadcasts in other parts of northern Israel. The audience was a mix of those who believe in God and others who were seeking, curious or skeptical.
In his lecture entitled “Has Science Buried God?” Lennox asserted that the conflict between faith and science is superficial and that the friction is in fact between two competing philosophical worldviews: theism and atheism.
Lennox began his talk by pointing out that the pioneers of modern science – Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Euler and Maxwell – were all theists who believed in truths beyond the natural sciences. He noted that in the modern age the opposite is significantly more common and any intellectual inquiry outside of science tends to be frowned upon.
He said that at a dinner when he was a 19-year-old undergraduate student at Cambridge, he asked a Nobel Laureate his opinion on the existence of God. He didn’t get a reply then, but afterwards several professors sat him down and demanded that he stop believing in God because it would destroy his chances of a career in science.
The late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking declared in his book “The Grand Design”that philosophy is dead and that God is an unnecessary artifact of days gone by. Lennox countered that the statement “philosophy is dead” is itself a philosophical claim and that Hawking’s book is, in fact, about the philosophy of science. Lennox explained that Hawking’s statement is a manifestation of a philosophical worldview called scientism, which states that the only valid path to knowledge is by way of the scientific method. However, this worldview cannot be verified by science, thus failing its own criterion.
Lennox noted that scientism is often based on an assumption in atheistic naturalism, a form of atheism that claims that the natural world is all that was, is or ever will be. He argued that naturalism, other than being philosophically problematic, also inhibits science from being truly objective because to be truly objective, one must follow the evidence where it leads. The best explanation of the scientific data is an all-powerful, intelligent creator – God.
Among the scientific evidence that Lennox presented in favor of God was the intelligibility of the universe. We can understand our universe through mathematics and language and we can also make meaningful predictions about it as well. This would be highly unlikely with naturalism, but makes good sense given theism. Lennox said that one of the major reasons he believes in God is because he is a scientist who follows the evidence to its logical conclusion, something most scientists are not allowed to or don’t want to do due to the modern belief that the two can’t mix. If more scientists did this, science would bury atheism, he contends.
Lennox concluded his talk with a question and answer session where he responded to general objections to the existence of God and responded to the problem of evil.
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.
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Could Messianic Jews be represented in Israel’s parliament?
For the first time in Israel’s history, a party comprised of Jewish and Christian candidates — both Messianic and Orthodox Jews together — is running in this year’s elections.
The Bible Bloc Party (Gush Hatanakhi in Hebrew) has received approval from the party registrar to run in the April 9 elections. The party began its campaign this week with a question-and-answer session in Jerusalem.
Avi Lipkin, the party leader, has talked about making this dream a reality for some 20 years now. Lipkin, an Orthodox Jew, has been speaking for years in Christian churches around the world warning them that, according to his belief, the ultimate goal of Islamists is to destroy Jews and Christians in a quest to dominate the world.
In his talks, Lipkin calls for Christians to stand with Israel and for an alliance between Jews and Christians. This party is a materialization of that vision.
“Jews and Christians have been hating each other for the last 2,000 years and I’ve been preaching for 20 years — which is only 1 percent of that — of the need for the hatred to stop and the loving to start,” Lipkin told Kehila News Israel. “This party is the start of that love.”
Lipkin has dedicated his years to fostering ties between Christians and Jews and Christian support for Israel. He is a rare Orthodox Jew who accepts both Christians and Messianic Jews as “brothers.”
“Either we hang together or hang separately,” he said.
Lipkin made aliyah at the age of 19, served in the Israel Defense Force and became a spokesman for the army. David Friedman, who also made aliyah from the U.S., is fourth out of five on the party list and served in the IDF with Lipkin. The party list also includes another Orthodox Jew, a Christian Arab and Christian married to a Messianic Jew.
The chances of the party getting enough votes to have representation in the next Knesset are slim. But the publicity would hopefully bring awareness to the inequalities faced by Messianic Jews and Christians, they say.
In his remarks at the Q&A, Friedman said it is time to stand up for what is important to us including “full civil rights” and better treatment for Messianic Jews and Christians living in Israel.
“I would work to change this at the government level so it would be one without prejudice,” Friedman said adding that he is not “naive enough” to think that will happen overnight.
The party will also push and prepare for aliyah. Lipkin, in his teachings, has said that he expects some 10 million new arrivals — mostly Jews along with their non-Jewish partners and children — to flee Western nations and an impending Holocaust of sorts against Jews there.
The party will take a tough stance on security issues including standing up to the “Islamic threat” stemming from the Palestinians and Iran. The Bible Bloc party is more politically aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and its rightwing coalition than with challengers Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party in national security matters.
Friedman also wants to tackle the issue of abortion, which is legal and morally accepted in Israel, and the nation’s inefficient health care system where hospitals see 15 parent of patients sleeping in the hallways.
“This is a broken nation,” he said. “We all love this nation very much. I’d like to donate my time and energy. Our nation may not welcome me into the Knesset, but with God’s help they’ll get over it. Win or lose, this is a start.”
The Kehila News Staff is a team of Israeli believers in Yeshua.
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A new season for Israeli unity
Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all … (Ezekiel 37:21,22)
Here is the heart of God. Yet what sounds idyllic and obvious in the phrasing of Ezekiel looks unrealistic and uninformed when viewed through the lens of modern Israel. The fragmentation of our nation is well known. We are divided over the Palestinian issue, governed by an array of political parties at each other’s throats, and we swing compulsively between the extremes of religious fervour and secular scepticism. No wonder the Almighty said “I will make them one nation.” Only He can do it.
As Israeli followers of Messiah Yeshua, this is our cue. Was it not our Rabbi who prayed “that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me …” (John 17:23)? In the midst of a reassembled, yet fractured nation, a Messianic community united in its obvious variety will speak volumes about our Messiah. In this issue there is no doubt about the will of God. It is His design to unite us, here in Israel, with all of our differences in national origin, theological background and worship style.
Why aren’t Israeli leaders more unified?
If it’s so clearly God’s plan and if we share a common persecution for our faith in Yeshua, “then why aren’t the Israeli Messianic leaders more unified?” is a question I am frequently asked. I am glad to answer this question in the form of an encouraging and inspiring reminder of relationships among believers across the nation of Israel.
Before describing these developments, it is important to keep one fact in mind. Israel is a small, new country, even though we are thousands of years old as a God-ordained nation. The presence of an active body of local believers in Yeshua is even newer. In the mid-1950’s there were only several Messianic meetings in all of Israel. Furthermore, there is a vast difference between Israel and other nations in which there are city-wide or national efforts to bring together leaders from many streams of faith in Jesus. Such efforts are, at best, successful in uniting only a fraction of all those who proclaim Yeshua as Lord. Yet here in Israel, at our regional and national gatherings of Messianic leaders we are seeing a remarkably wide spectrum of congregations and ministries represented. A proportional comparison in North American terms would be a meeting of some 400,000 pastors across every conceivable denominational line.
It is true that Israeli Messianic leaders have had their challenges getting together. I can remember an effort at unity that took place almost 25 years ago, when we first arrived in the land. At that time there were several believing families who were at risk of being expelled from Israel because of their faith. In response to the crisis leaders came together a few times, yet much tension was still in evidence.
Since then, many initiatives have born fruit in bringing us together. One can now participate in multi-congregational projects ranging from evangelism to music composition to humanitarian aid to leadership training. By now there are precious relationships among pioneers in the faith that stretch back over the decades. Bar Mitzvahs, circumcisions, weddings and funerals have a way of bringing believers together from all over the land – both to celebrate and to mourn the major turning points in our lives. Israel’s compact borders create intense feelings of belonging to one another in Messiah.
Together with Brothers at the Feet of Yeshua
“Sitting at Yeshua’s Feet” is the name of one initiative that began a decade or more ago, to bring together leaders of congregations and ministries from across the land. Both Dan and I have been able to participate in this on many occasions. We gather twice annually in the Negev Desert and the hills of the Galilee to worship and pray corporately, to experience much-needed spiritual refreshing in solitude, and to “wash each others’ feet” through prayer for personal needs. These are stretched, weary servants of the Lord, each of them aiming high—giving his all in the gospel resistant environments of Jewish and Arab society. Involved are ministry heads and pastors of Jewish, Arab, Russian-speaking, and Ethiopian congregations. One senses God’s pleasure in the breadth of His sons praying and breaking bread together. A national community of shepherds is forming.
At the opening evening of our fall gathering one year, we were invited to prepare for the Messiah’s Supper (a.k.a. communion) by examining our hearts toward one another. I was reflecting contentedly on harmonious thoughts of love and affection for other leaders in Israel, nearly 65 in the room. Suddenly my reverie was interrupted by different thoughts’ from “above.” God began showing me relationships in which I had subtly judged a brother and withheld full “favor” (as if it was mine to give — Lord, forgive me!). When we were invited to approach men with whom we needed to work something out, I approached those God pointed out to me. In confessing the partiality of my heart, something inside broke and I began weeping repentantly. I was “nailed” in the very area I thought I was “OK.” He gave me new love for the guys I saw all around the room. We received the wine and the matzah … better knowing His mercy.
Genuine friendships and commitments to support one another “in the trenches” are arising from sitting together at the feet of the Master. It’s a new season for Israeli unity. Lately I have been drawn into a growing number of gatherings devoted to prayer with brothers and sisters nationally and regionally. There are now literally too many to attend! In addition to “Sitting at Yeshua’s Feet” I am excited about the Haifa Bay Area congregational leaders’ monthly prayer time. Another prayer initiative, guided by Reuven Berger, is causing us to take hold of our calling to be a prophetic priesthood, interceding as Moses, Nehemiah, Daniel and Paul did for our people. In the Galilee, fellowship times joining Arab and Jewish pastors have come to be known as “One Shepherd, One Flock.”
HaKatzir: Uniting the Youth of Israel
This new season of unity also expresses itself in a national conference of Messianic youth. Called “HaKatzir – The Harvest,” it began when a small group of us inherited the challenge of raising up an indigenous Israeli national youth conference ministry. Since our first Chanukah conference twenty years ago we have made many mistakes and often felt frustration. But in recent conferences we have seen the fruit of these years of working together. A new generation of leaders is functioning naturally in Hebrew with a concentration of love and commitment to the youth of our nation, equipping them to be used of God in their generation.
The end-time revival foretold by the prophets of Israel will demand of us all pure hearts and clean hands. This call to purity and tenderness toward other leaders provokes spiritual opposition. The enemy resists true unity among shepherds, because he knows the authority we gain from being one. There is inspiration, however, from powerful examples of city-wide revival springing from leaders united—on their knees. A video called “Transformations” documented such revivals during the 90’s in distant points on the globe. There are men and women serving Yeshua in Israel today whose hearts yearn for such revival born of true union in God’s Spirit. Please join us in interceding that we will be “one nation under one King.”
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 27, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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Unrolling the red carpet for the neglected – Israeli beauty shop becomes safe place
How a small beauty shop is dispersing the darkness of south Tel Aviv
The most pressing issues in this world are difficult in and of themselves, and still, majority of them are even more complicated when you look under the surface.
Tel Aviv, apart from being the tech capital in this part of the world, holds also some very dark secrets. When one takes up the challenge of standing against abortion which is very prevalent in Israel, it is impossible to detach it from its complexities.
In Tel Aviv unwanted pregnancies are strongly linked with the issue of human trafficking.
This was the realization of an Israeli couple, Ishai and Anat, who were moved to take action against abortion by providing practical help to troubled mothers, but also felt a heavy burden in their hearts to reach out to women controlled by mafia and human traffickers.
They started an organization called Chaim Beshefa (Hebrew for ‘Abundant Life’) where they are surrounded by dedicated staff and volunteers who share in their mission.
A turning point came when Anat got a phone call from a social worker in Tel Aviv old bus station area. She asked Anat to meet and care for a victim of sex trafficking from Uzbekistan who was also a drug addict and just gave birth to a child she could not support. Thus a new avenue of work was initiated for Chaim Beshefa: reaching out to women in prostitution by the old bus station in Tel Aviv.
The southern neighborhood of the city near the old bus station is home to brothels and drug hangouts, dealers and crime – a place where many women have long abandoned the dream of leading a free and comfortable life.
Chaim Beshefa team stepped into this miserable place with a novel, and possibly risky, idea: let’s open a beauty shop! The center, ingeniously named “Red Carpet Nail Center,” offers manicures, pedicures and hairstyling free of charge. But more importantly, it is a safe space for the women to enjoy a hot meal, take a shower and receive counseling.
The main goal is to send them to rehabilitation centers, to move from their current situation and experience true breakthrough.
Men are not allowed inside, so even Ishai, Anat’s husband, does not enter the center during its opening hours, and guards the entrance instead. The Red Carpet center gives them an escape from their weary lives, where local and international volunteers show them care and are willing to pray with them.
They offer the mistreated women of the slums something they may have never experienced in their lives, respect and unconditional love.
The stance of Chaim Beshefa is straightforward: each woman who enters the center is a king’s daughter, precious and loved, who is stepping on a red carpet to meet the King of Kings.
This article originally appeared on FIRM and reposted with permission.
Estera Wieja, born and raised in Poland, moved to Israel in 2010. She is a journalist and in 2018 joined the staff of Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) in Jerusalem.
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Messianic senior citizen home in Israel looking to expand
Here in Israel, many Messianic believers and ministries run establishments including guest houses, schools and performance centers, and the list goes on. However, there is currently only one home for the elderly – Ebenezer.
Established in 1976 by the Norwegian Church Ministry to Israel, the Ebenezer Senior Citizens’ Home in Haifa is currently home to 27 residents, all of whom are more or less independent.
The home, however, is now raising funds for much-needed renovations – including the addition of an underground space for use during war time and a nursing ward – in order to meet governmental requirements and so that a greater number of elderly Messianic believers can live at Ebenezer and receive adequate care.
The need for a new nursing ward became evident in 2012 after an inspection by the Welfare Ministry. The ministry deemed Ebenezer’s current facilities and staff insufficient to meet the needs of some of its residents and recommended that Ebenezer’s residents be relocated to an assisted living facility. But Ebenezer was able to make short-term changes in order to keep the residents there while also planning urgently needed structural and staff changes.
Because Ebenezer has always received top ratings during inspections by the governmental ministries of health and social welfare, the government is giving the organization some time to implement the changes.
Johnny Khoury, Ebenezer’s manager since 2003, has finalized plans for the expansion and is now raising money for the project.
“The new ward will be built and equipped according to the requirements and standards of the Ministry of Health (larger rooms and bathrooms with wide doors, etc.),” he said. “The rooms the residents live in at the moment are designed according to the residents’ personal taste and are furnished with furniture brought from their homes. For practical reasons, residents living in the nursing ward will be limited in their ability to design their rooms according to their personal taste.”
So far, less than 20 percent of the estimated 25 million shekels needed for the project have been raised.
Ebenezer is raising funds through attendance at conferences, exhibitions and charity concerts, and interviews on radio and TV stations abroad. Another unique fundraising effort was the participation of 50 locals in the annual Tel Aviv Marathon on Feb. 22. The runners were sponsored by friends, family members and local companies.
Raising money for these essential changes has presented bureaucratic and legal hurdles, but with God’s help these have been sorted. And in the meantime, non-believing neighbors and government representatives have encouraged the project.
“[A]s a Messianic organization, we have a responsibility before God and people to do everything in a worthy manner,” Khoury said. “We thank God that not long ago we also successfully completed a long process of an in-depth audit by the Registrar of Amutot [Non-Profit Organizations]. The process itself was tedious, but it was an opportunity to examine ourselves and improve – all for the Lord’s glory and honor.”
If you’d like to support Ebenezer’s expansion project, please visit https://www.ebenezer.co.il/donate.
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.