God and Reason Part III

The revelation of time as the Bible puts it and the logic of time that can be inferred from scientific theories based on discovery and inference may actually coexist, but in which the Biblical time remains the real time. Here is how to think about this problem: God created all things in their mature stage. They appeared in an act of sudden creation. Adam is called into being as a mature man, not as an embryo, baby or teenager. In like manner, trees, animals, rocks and planets appear in their mature state. For argument’s sake, let’s say Adam was 60 years old when he appears. Given his total life span of 930 years this would seem a reasonable and cautious number. Given the nature of the material, we should consider that trees and mountains were proportionally much older than flesh. Genesis mentions that the fruit on the first trees was created and not grown (1:12). If you looked at that pear or orange on day eight after creation and calculated that the tree must be three years old to bear fruit and the pear some 6 weeks to have ripened, you would have a lot of discrepancy in terms of inferred time compared to its actual age in terms of creation.

In other words there is creation time which is the real time and then there is inferred date of age and origin time. Imagine you could be in the Garden of Eden on day eight and meet Adam. If you analyzed his appearance and were able to do a few tests you might find him to be 60 years old while in fact he was only 2 days old, the discrepancy between creation time and inferred time would be 2 days versus (rounded number) 22,000 days. The discrepancy ratio would be 1:11,000. This discrepancy ratio alone would put the 6000 year-old created earth in the scientifically inferred age bracket of some 66 million years. Let’s take this thought a step further. It is likely that the spread in the ratio for other created things such as trees and rocks may be even bigger than for human flesh. If fruit trees were created mature, some of the larger evergreens or broad-leaves might show more than 300 years of rings. If you analyzed a piece of rock taken out of a mountain on day 8, applying current methods of dating, that rock may show to be hundreds of millions years old, yet God called it into being only days ago.

There is another important piece of information in Genesis 1. It explains that earth, water and space were first created, but subsequently from verse 3 onward formed more fully. It is thus clear that these first forms were subsequently mixed up and rearranged. When the earth and sea were separated as we read in verses 6 and 7, continental shapes may have been rearranged and mountains formed. Old shapes and new shapes were dramatically mixed up. We read that stars and planets were first formed and then set in their constellation. My point is this: what science with its available tools infers as a slow process of shaping, aging and forming, was in fact a much more rapid process that God declares he did and that he used mature material to do so. Science traces this process back in time with the best inferences it has, but these do not include the miraculous creation and reshaping by God. Therefore, it is not possible for science to have a truer or more real story of what happened, only an inferred story that does not account for God’s intervention. To set God’s own account aside for the inferred scientific account is to say we do not need God’s revelation to explain this question. What we have here is substitution: science claims it can substitute for God because it cannot measure what God has done. Christians do not need to join this argument.

Similar logic regarding the question of time needs to be kept in mind when we consider the ‘Big Bang theory.’ Remember that this theory does not explain the very essence of origin: how we go from nothing to something as we discussed earlier. But for now, let’s consider the element of time as used by the theory. Essentially, it says, given the laws of nature as we understand them today, this is how many billions of years we need to go back in time to come near to the start of matter. The point is logical and Christians must not belittle it. It follows logically from the rules of observation. But the problem with that view is that creation is actually a sudden miraculous intervention. Without this sudden creation, the logic of science would simply keep counting backwards in time. Given that the universe is expanding, certain laws of physics measure the rate of expansion and apply it backward in time to determine the rate of implosion. When you follow it through, you come to something around 15 Billion years ago as the point of scientific beginning. But what God reveals is that He did not begin under the laws of science. He intervened miraculously and sovereignly, entirely in His own manner. He brought into being that which is mature. He did so by His Word and Spirit.

Moreover, God created time. In Big Bang logic, time is a product of our understanding of the laws of the universe and time is without origin even though material being is. So Big Bang scientists have moved one step beyond ancient philosophy which thought material existence was also without time, but they are still a step removed from what the Scripture says, namely that God brought time into being.

Thus, the so-called Young-Earth argument is not lacking in knowledge and logic. Science does not compel Christians to interpret Genesis 1 and 2 as a symbolic story without factual data. To single out the first two chapters in that manner violates the key Christian contribution to the whole issue of creation and origin, namely that we have both revelation and observation (science) and that full reconciliation may not be possible. But it is possible to think of the two types of information as parallel in which science’s account would be all we had if God had not revealed His action.

In conclusion, the sudden appearance of time and mature matter called into being by an all-powerful God explains a young time frame full of old-looking matter. At the end of the day, Young-Earth Christians must be humble and cautious about the idea of time. Science is a marvelous gift God has willed us, human beings, to explore and use. The Bible often warns that we only know parts of the story.

This article was first published in Insight Into, a youth magazine published by the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. It has been republished here with permission from the author.

God and Reason Part II

In God and Reason Part I,” we saw that science is a method of observation, investigation, and explanation. It is not a belief system and as such, it has no tools or arguments to claim that what it does not observe does therefore not exist. There is another source of knowledge called revelation. We saw that the fallen will of man does not want to accept God’s revelation because that would beg the question why he is not worshipping this God.

Have science and revelation always clashed? Notice how in Genesis 2, the creator brings animals to Adam to see what he would name them and then approves of the names (vs. 19). There was gold, bdellium and onyx in the Garden. The presence of gold, onyx (hard material), and bdellium (soft, resin-like) suggests a future of development. Humanity would grow in wonder and adoration seeing through science the marvelous concord between who God is and what he made.”

When humans fell in sin, they lost the substance and essence of God’s image given in creation. But they still have a remnant of this image, for example, the human desire for peace and the craving for justice. In the same way, we still have traces of creation knowledge. I am going to deal with two of them in this article: origin and evolution. By remnants of creation knowledge I mean that after science has tried all it can, people—deep down—continue to have doubts. There is this other trace of knowledge that keeps raising its head.

The first is origin. To start with nothing and end up with something cannot be explained by science. Before the classical Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) came to dominate Western thinking, scientists assumed that material things simply had no beginning. Due to findings in physics in the last 100 years, most scientists now admit on their own terms (the first and second laws of thermo-dynamics among them) that this assumption is wrong. Of course, if they had received Genesis 1 and 2 in the first place, they could have known all along. Remember, God even directs science itself to teach scientists about creation.

Origin remains a puzzle for scientists. Some pre-matter had to exist that eventually led to all things physical. The leading theory is that gas-like particles caused a large sudden process (big bang) that generated matter. The problem is that this ‘Big Bang’ thesis still does not explain how the pre-matter or gas-like particles came into being. In other words, the Big Bang solution is not a solution to origin. “In the beginning, God” is a more logical statement than any proposition about pre-existing energy, vapour, big bangs or big crunches. God, who is without cause, time and matter, caused time, space and matter to come into being. Ultimately it is by faith and not (just) reason that we ‘understand’ creation, but the faith that receives this explanation is not airy fairy but quite reasonable. God has said that he is without beginning and without end. He calls himself the “I am that I am.” It makes sense that a God without beginning can indeed be the cause of all things with a beginning.

There is a marvelous phrase in the letter to the Hebrews which captures the debate on origin: “so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Chapter 11). In other words, the material world was made by the non-material. Not only is this logically plausible but it is also in fact more likely than material just showing up.

To illustrate my point that the problem is not reason per se, consider an example from the world of law. In court trials evidence is sometimes called ‘inadmissible,’ usually because it has been allegedly gathered without proper authority or process. Similarly, secular scientists rule that ‘God-as-the-originator’ is inadmissible evidence. As in court, the evidence ruled inadmissible is often the real story. Divine creation is the real story that science cannot see.

The second is evolution. The logic of the evolution argument is that all things have changed slowly from simple matter and life form to more and more complex. Just as scientism is a case of over-reach so ‘evolutionism’ is a case of overreach as it tries to claim that it can explain all things by virtue of the logic of change.

I want to make sure not to over-state the point. Evolution itself or the notion that things change over time is logical and supported by observation as well as revelation. Consider a few examples: The people immediately after Adam lived hundreds of years. (It may be a reflection of the eternal life God had designed for them) People today are very old at 90. We have new dog breeds that result from pairing previous ones. It is likely that we have many more dog varieties today than 300 years ago. Lions in the Garden of Eden ate herbs and plants. Now they eat meat. In the new heaven and earth they will no longer eat meat. Change within species or micro-evolution is not something Christians need to quarrel with.

But science oversteps its bounds (again) when it claims macro-evolution as the explanation of life and all diversity of life. The macro-evolution assertion is that all things come from very few things and ultimately from the simplest ancestor of life forms. A good deal of evidence is increasingly pointing away from this theory. Researchers are finding out that even the simplest organisms broken down to their single cells are so intricate and so dependent on design that this race to the bottom in terms of simple is not satisfying reason. The thorny question is: if the ultimate simple life form (also called last universal common ancestor) is both highly complex and cannot in fact be broken down into simpler pieces how did it come to be such? At one point, scientists thought there was no limit to the amount of time it could have taken for this all to line up, but since the laws of physics require a finite amount of time for all things, there is not enough time for this to occur. That leaves two known answers: the leap from nothing to the first life form happened by random chance or by design.

One writer compared the idea of the components in a single cell coming together by chance in a limited time frame as follows: Imagine a very large scrap-metal yard. Suddenly a whirl wind blows up and there stands a fully assembled, flight-ready Boeing 747. As you can appreciate, compared to such a chance argument, the design argument is rather reasonable.

Moreover, God-the-designer has said that he made various types of creature and species. Life does not have to be reduced to its simplest form in order to be understood. God has clearly willed to create complex things and he is obviously able to do so. About humans, he said that they were made in his image. A complex God has created complex creatures. This is quite reasonable. Thus we can conclude that in essence the macro-evolution logic is a deliberate alternative to circumvent the nature of God who designs complex things by his word. In other words, God did not only cause the origin of all things, but he caused things to come into being at a sophisticated level. He wanted his creation to enjoy him so why would he make primitive life forms and wait?

Evolution is about change. The Bible declares that the most dramatic change took place as a result of sin because sin turned life into death. Put in its proper perspective, the extent to which evolution occurs is one of the results of sin. To turn change into a theory of macro-evolution and thus place it above God as an alternative to understanding the beginning and complexity of life betrays arrogance.

This article was first published in Insight Into, a youth magazine published by the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. It has been republished here with permission from the author.

“God and Reason Part III: Bible Time and Science Time”

God and Reason Part I

Suppose you ask a scientist today to summarize all that exists. He or she will tell you that everything that can be known is part of time, space and matter. Now take a look at Genesis 1 verse 1. It says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In other words, God says that he caused time (in the beginning), the existence of space (the heavens), and matter (the earth). Isn’t it remarkable that what science describes as the observable world is the same as what Moses penned down so long ago?

Whether in high school or university, or as we settle into a job, at some point many people wonder about the origin and meaning of life. We struggle with the same questions: how did it all start, where does life come from, and what is the purpose of life? I say ‘struggle’ because there is a dominant opinion in our society which answers these questions with one word: science. But the notion that ‘science’ can answer all these questions leaves many people uncomfortable.

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:1 and the point I made at the start of the article. If the summary of existing things by scientists is so close to the account of God’s word, why does not the vast majority of our society believe in the creation account? Now we are getting closer to the problem. The ‘real’ problem for most people in Genesis 1:1 are the words God created.” God’s authorship of all things was obvious to Adam and Eve before the fall but has become the key stumbling block for millions after.

There are at least three logical possibilities why God’s creatorship of all things could become a problem for people to accept. First, it could be that we have discovered that it is not really possible for him to have made so much, for example, galaxies upon galaxies of stars or tiny cell components. Second, it could be that scientists have discovered that things existing could have come into being through another way that does not require God’s creation or that the revelation of God’s creation clashes with science. Third, it could be that we do not want God to be the explanation of our existence regardless of the argument or logic.
The first logical reason raised above is of course easily answered. God who reveals himself as all-knowing, almighty, all-wise, everywhere present, and always being even before time was cannot logically have a problem creating things big or small. The third reason is not based on science or understanding but on the will. We learn from Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 that they rejected God not because they wondered whether he really was God, but because they wanted to become God themselves. We see humanity after the fall rejecting God in principle. So it is not a surprise that over time people have rejected God in science. People come up with elaborate ways to justify their decision to take God out of the equation. Adam and Eve did the same. They made elaborate excuses about who was guilty of eating the fruit.

Let’s remember that when we think about science and faith and God and reason, the first problem is not the way Genesis describes creation or contradictions between scientific methods and Biblical texts, and so on. The first problem is the broken will directing the mind in a wrong way. The broken will says: “now that we have left God, how can we explain everything without him?”

Consider again the three logical reasons mentioned above why God as the creator of all things is an obstacle for people. I concluded that number one is a non-issue and that number three is the first problem. Thus, the remaining issue to address is reason number two. Now, even though the will is the biggest problem, Christians still need to advance the knowledge and logic of creation as persuasive as possible to non-believers so that their minds begin to question whether their views are really logical and substantial. The study of doing this is called ‘Apologetics.’ Many books are written on the subject. My purpose in this and following articles is to provide simple ideas to guide your thoughts.

First of all, we need to understand what we mean by science. In order to compare the creation logic with science we must avoid a false worldview that has crept in. There is science and there is ‘scientism.’ The first is a method of investigation. It is a set of rules and a code of conduct of how to do research. It holds that to study something you need rules on how to observe, how to compare, and how to establish cause and effect. But scientism is something different. It is a belief system that pretends to be science. It holds that only those things that humans can observe actually exist and whatever cannot be observed by humans in a scientific manner does not exist. The mistake ‘scientism’ makes is that it beliefs there is only one source of knowledge: observation. The Bible of course reveals two sources of knowledge: observation and revelation. I want you to see the logical error folks make who turn science from a method into a belief system: on the one hand they say that humans came late in the evolution of all things after millions of years of other things being around. On the other hand, they claim that only human beings can judge what is and what is not. It is convoluted thinking. On the one hand they say that human brains are just fragile tissue that did not develop as we know it till some 150,000 years ago and on the other hand they say that only this brain can judge all things that have been and are now. Do you see the logical contradiction?

Scientism is merely a presumption. God reveals in creation and in the Bible that there are a lot of things we humans cannot really observe as in touch, smell or measure. Take for example ‘the beginning.’ God says there was a beginning. None of us were there to observe it, but does that make it impossible? God says that he called things into being that were not. How can you observe that? The fact that revealed knowledge exists alongside observed things simply means that the knowledge of God exists alongside the method of science.

Many early Western scientists understood both sources of knowledge. Heinrich Hertz (electro-magnetic frequencies), James Joule (units of energy) and Isaac Newton are three names of Christian scientists you can easily recognize. The point I am making is simply this: learn to distinguish between science as a method and scientism as a belief system. Science as a method contains many things we call talents from God. It can teach us many things. As Christians we do not have to reject it. Do not be intimidated by people who suggest that science and Christianity are incompatible and that science proves Christian knowledge cannot be logical. Think of two types of knowledge (observation and revelation) and two ‘judges’ of this knowledge (God and humans) and that it would be illogical if the human judge presided above and beyond God.

The Christian understanding for all existing things is that God’s revelation, including his creation account should be a framework to use science as a method. This is a reasonable viewpoint that you can develop and defend. God has created all things, including humans and he has given them a capacity to understand two types of knowledge. They have sense and order and logic to pursue the scientific method, but they also have revealed knowledge from God himself that they otherwise could not find out. God has revealed it in his Word.

This article was first published in Insight Into, a youth magazine published by the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. It has been republished here with permission from the author.

“God and Reason Part II: The Question of Origin and Evolution”

Christian Persecution: A Growing Global Threat to Freedom (Part II)

Editors’ Note:
Dr. Alexander Moens is a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University and attends the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, British Columbia. A long-time supporter of pro-life initiatives, he spoke at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan in 2012 and has written on the issue as well. Dr. Moens is involved with a number of organizations that seek to support persecuted Christians worldwide, and kindly agreed to write an analysis of the persecution of Christians around the globe for The Reformed Pro-Lifer.

Part II of this article can be found below. Read Part I here.

What lessons do we draw from this attack on Christian religious freedom? First, let us be careful not to commit either of two fallacies. The first is to think of all politics as simply a large conspiracy. In this view, all Muslims are out to conquer the world and all the problems are painted with the same brush. There is much in Islam, especially the later chapters or Surrahs of the Koran that emphasizes conquest and force, but there is also a great deal of variation within Islam and Muslim communities. Within the Muslim world there are arguments and examples that are the opposite of my points above.

The second fallacy is often committed by folks in the Western media who appear nearly colour blind and tone deaf when it comes to the problem of Islamist terrorism and Christian persecution. In this flawed argument, no overall patterns or conclusions are ever spotted. They speak only of isolated incidents, extremism, sectarian violence and other neutralized words to help the reader miss the bigger picture.

So what is the big picture that we should see in terms of current persecution against Christians? It is religious cleansing. Think of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s. We saw Serbs and at times also Croats and Bosnians trying to kill or push out entire minority communities. This is the current trend in many of the 60 states in the ‘Arch of Persecution.’ Sometimes the cleansing is quite local. In some villages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania this dynamic is going on but largely under the radar of media attention. In other areas it is more organized. For example in Mali, Mauritania and Niger, hard-line Salafist groups want to get rid of all Christian and Sufi people in the country. The same idea is going on in Northern Nigeria where Boko Haram and Ansar Dine are two groups perpetrating religious cleansing. In some places, the religious cleansing is going on underneath the democracy agenda. In many areas of Egypt, the Arab Spring or the pro-democracy movement is taking place while at the same time various factions of Salafism are pushing out Christian communities. In smaller ways, the same thing is occurring in Libya and Tunisia. In the six former Soviet Republics from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, the end of Russian protection has meant the gradual squeezing out of Christians. In some places like Iraq, the plight of Christians has been an unintended consequence of the American Invasion of 2003. The more than 1 million Christian population under Saddam Hussein is now down below 300,000. There are also good developments. For example, South Sudan was created so that the Christian people could have a country away from the brutal persecution of the Khartoum government whose leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague and is wanted for war crimes and crimes of genocide.

What does the global assault on Christians mean to Westerners and Western Christians? What does this call us to do? The first response for Western Christians is non-political. The New Testament is full of examples of Christians helping brothers and sisters in need even if they live far away. We need to help these persecuted Christians by coming to their aid with secret messengers bringing help, with safe-houses, medical help, and new skills and investment tools to pick up their life in a new community in their home country. We also need to do direct refugee assistance. Christian churches in the West need to develop a community of prayer and care to bring refugees into the West as a last resort. The problem is so huge and acute that every local church of reasonable size should develop a strategy of working with the Canadian government, NGOs and the United Nations to sponsor and adopt Christians and their families.

The second response is political and it applies not just to Christians but to all people living in liberal constitutional states all over the world. The problem is not the West versus Islam, but the democratic world versus the world of religious illiberalism. The encroachment of religious totalitarianism will affect our political freedoms and our economic well-being.

Religious, economic, and political liberty are the three dimensions of a free society such as we enjoy in Canada. All three freedoms are necessary to have the geometry of genuine individual and legally protected rights as well as representative democracy. Without them, minorities exist at the mercy of the majority. Canadian foreign policy has always pursued the principles of liberty by protecting and promoting democracy as well as sought the values of economic liberty by expanding free trade and helping developing countries reform towards economic freedom. In contrast, Canadian foreign policy has not treated religious freedom as a policy file in its own right. The government has simply been afraid to risk insulting many Muslim-dominated states.

The good news is that a crack of new light is opening. The Stephen Harper government has set up a small office for religious freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs with an ambassador to represent our country on these matters. It is a good beginning. The office is small, the ambassador is young, and most of the bureaucracy as well as the media and academic elites are skeptical. There is much work for Christian thinkers and writers to help the new office become policy relevant and to help fill out its tasks in the future. I hope that young people feel the need to train themselves in this area and become lawyers, journalists and policy makers in order to protect the liberties gained over many centuries and to help Christians and other faiths to live under the protection of the law and responsible government.

Christian Persecution: A Growing Global Threat to Freedom (Part I)

Editors’ Note:
Dr. Alexander Moens is a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University and attends the Bethel Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, British Columbia. A long-time supporter of pro-life initiatives, he spoke at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan in 2012 and has written on the issue as well. Dr. Moens is involved with a number of organizations that seek to support persecuted Christians worldwide, and kindly agreed to write an analysis of the persecution of Christians around the globe for The Reformed Pro-Lifer.

The liberty and order we experience most days in constitutional democratic countries derives from three ingredients: religious, economic, and political freedom. While the latter two are frequent topics of study and literature, the first one is often undervalued even forgotten. It is religious freedom that is under tremendous threat in the world today and scarcely getting the attention it warrants.

What we now call human rights and civil liberties as summarized by the freedom of the individual human being to think, write, and assemble freely has historically been associated closely with religious freedom. The Reformation struggle against the mixture of church and state power assumed by Roman Catholic dogma was one of the key pillars of the development of Western political freedom. In many subsequent struggles, Baptists, Methodists, and Mennonites had in turn to insist on their freedom in the face of dominant protestant denominations such as the Anglican and Reformed churches.

After the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s and the subsequent decline of Soviet-supported communism, the battle of religion has opened up afresh. This time, it is waged mainly by Muslims against Christians and by Muslims against other Muslims. The latter is not insignificant. For example, Sunni Muslims of Wahhabi and Salafi persuasions are systematically discriminating Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and in many of the Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain. Also, in various North African states, Salafi hard-liners treat the more moderate Sufi persuasion of Islam harshly. Some Sufi communities are forced to adopt the Salafi view at gunpoint. Shia Muslims, in turn, oppress minorities in their communities and countries, for example the Ismailis in Iran. Often forgotten is the fact that Muslims who become Christian, the so-called Muslim Background Believers or MBBs, suffer the most vehement sort of rejection and violence of all religious people.

There is also less widespread religious persecution of Christians by radicalized Hindus in northern parts of India. Recently, some Sinhalese Buddhists are using the newly found peace in Sri Lanka as a way to push out Christian communities. In Myanmar, dominant Buddhist groups are putting pressure on both minority Christians and Muslims. In Nepal, Buddhists have been trying to keep Christians out for decades.

However, in terms of overall challenge, in terms of scale and amount of people and countries impacted, there is nothing in the world that compares to the wide-spread discrimination, oppression and persecution of Christians, including MBBs.

The Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., regularly publishes a map and index on the sixty-odd countries in which Christian persecution takes place. Its recent report is titled “The Global Assault on Christians.” Many Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) find evidence to substantiate these findings. Two of these with regular Canadian publications are ‘Open Doors‘ and ‘Voice of the Martyrs‘. The bulk of the problem is taking place in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Most of this assault takes place at the hands of Muslim individuals, communities and governments. In East Asia, the persecution of Christians shifts to the hands of militaristic and ideological governments such as in North Korea and various parts of China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Geographically, the persecution of Christians looks like a wide arch that begins in West Africa and draws through the Middle East to the very end of Asia with the many “Stans” such as Uzbekistan in the north and Malaysia and Indonesia in the south. Over 200 million people in more than 60 countries are experiencing a form of persecution for being Christian.

In Islamic countries Christians face a three-fold source of discrimination, oppression and persecution. Typically, ancient Christian minorities such as Armenian or Assyrian Christians are left alone provided they do not practice any form or missionary activity. At the same time, they suffer from systematic low-level discrimination. For example, they are not given building permits to fix or build churches. The problem really starts with the wide-spread Muslim practice that sharing the Gospel or becoming a Christian is a capital offence in Islam. This turns fathers, brothers and uncles into literal revenge killers in many families. The second, and growing threat, is what can be called the mob of the Mosque. In many communities the teachers of the Mosques (the imams) set the crowd on edge against some alleged—often false or fabricated—charges against Christians in the community. The enraged mob goes out and executes rough street ‘justice’ to the accused Christian individual, family or community. This is how many Christians perish in Pakistan or find their homes burned down. For simply defending with words her faith in Christ during a work-place conversation, Asia Bibi has found herself in a Pakistani jail for years now.

The third layer of trouble depends on each state and how much of its administration of justice is influenced by religious versus Liberal constitutional principles. Here the battle between Sharia Law and Western Law is of crucial importance. For example, in Egypt, local police forces and the courts themselves are often afraid to defend non-Muslim Brotherhood beliefs. Muslim background Believers in Egypt find themselves outlaws. The police and courts will not protect them but rather make things worse. Even the Coptic Christians, traditionally a protected community in law in Egypt is experiencing an erosion of its protection. A Canadian Parliamentary report recently has highlighted the many points of discrimination and oppression faced by Copts.

Part II: What lessons do we draw from these attacks on Christian religious freedom, and what can we do in response?