Earth 2.0: Created By God

The apostle Paul once described a vital part of his ministry this way:  “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NLT)

Of course, he wrote it in Greek and he might have considered the simplified English of the New Living Translation a bit elementary. For the record, I always view the New Living Translation as what the Bible would read like if James (whose own book is notably blunt) wrote the whole thing.  At any rate, you can see what Paul is getting at here. He argued, debated, and took on the rigorous task of making the case for Jesus.  He believed in truth -not manufactured truth but the actual stuff that can hold up under examination. In fact, Paul called out other ideas as “false” and “proud” and threw water on mere “human reasoning,” pointing out that it sometimes “keeps people from knowing God.”

Just to keep myself out of trouble, I’ll mention the old English of the King James Version says things like “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”

Whatever version you prefer, the bottom line is human reasoning, arrogance, false arguments, etc… need to be challenged. In love? Yes of course, but challenged all the same because this doesn’t end with the latest “scientific” finding, or the latest politically correct phrase to substitute for “baby” when describing an abortion. Those severed arms and legs are fetal tissue. That brain is a product of conception. That liver is a clump of cells.

The human race is increasingly good at fooling itself, of building layer upon layer of assumptions and what New Testament generously called “lies” to the point that down becomes up, good becomes evil, female becomes male or whatever, and we all feel pretty smug about how intelligent we are.

And to be honest, none of us are immune. We all have to guard against this no matter who we are or what we believe. Assumptions are insidious things that lie dormant until someone comes along and shakes things up.

That brings me to Jeff Schweitzer. Frighteningly, Schweitzer is an actual scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst with a Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology. Recently, the Huffington Post published his article “Earth 2.0: Bad News for God.” in which he goes on the offensive against God. He explains that soon we will likely prove that life exists on other planets such as the recently discovered Kepler-452b and this will deal a decisive blow against all religions because it destroys fundamental truths the Bible teaches. Yes it’s true that the Bible isn’t the book of choice for many religions, but Schweitzer was evidently making an example of the Bible by taking it out to the woodshed.

He made his point with some of the usual tactics of modern atheism, throwing up various false claims including that the Bible claims the earth is the center of the universe (it does not), that because God did not tell Adam and Eve about other worlds then in effect the Bible teaches there can’t be other worlds (a strained argument to say the least), and that God couldn’t have created light on the earth because the stars were already there. (Which of course assumes a number of things including that the stars could be seen from earth at the time.)  He took a statement from a Roman Catholic Pope and made it binding to what all Christians must believe, and he prepped his readers with the assurance that the discovery of life will undermine all religion -even if they make excuses for it after the fact.

All of this, an attack on the beliefs of millions of people that God exists, that Jesus loves them, and that there is hope of eternal life, came from a discovery of a planet that is earth-like?  With all due respect this is where I draw the line. This is where it’s time to challenge the ever-increasing layers of what Paul would call mere human reasoning and false arguments. Why? Because I want to enjoy a new planet for crying out loud. I grew up watching Star Trek on television and at the cinema, too. I want to be excited about Kepler-452b (who names these things?) but now I’m supposed to be threatened. When I was younger, people hadn’t even found one planet. I always hoped they would, and now that we are finding them we have to listen to these attacks?

Fine. Have it your way.

The Bible doesn’t say anywhere the earth is the center of the universe.

The Bible doesn’t say we are alone in the universe.

But we probably are.

I say probably because without intelligence behind it, there’s virtually zero probability on the side of the appearance of life on any planet, anywhere. We don’t even know how it started here, and hey, I’m just repeating what Dawkins said.

How does Schweitzer not know the number of galaxies and planets out there is no where near, not even close, to the number needed to have the slightest infinitesimal chance to have life? If you think all we need is one in a million, well that many chances take place all over the earth and new forms of life aren’t springing up anywhere. If you think it happens one in a billion, billion, billion, trillion… you’re still not even close yet.

Planets? You don’t even have enough “events” (elementary logical operations) since the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Dr. Don Batten explains in detail that the chance of getting one small amino acid chain together, just using the various combinations possible, results in a chance of 1 in 10 (to the) 195 power.  And that’s just one amino acid chain. You need a zillion other things for life to appear by chance. Mathematician Fred Hoyle determined that the chances of inanimate matter becoming life worked out to 1 in 10 (to the) 40,000 power. Way back in the day, atheist biophysicist Harold Morowitz came up with an even worse probability of 1 in 10 (to the) 10,000,000,000 for a simple bacteria to emerge.

How big are those numbers? Well the number of ATOMS in the universe is 1 in 10 to the 82 power. That’s the higher estimate. So quite literally, there is a better chance of putting an “X” on an atom and letting it float in the universe for a billion years, then going out into the universe (pick any of the billion galaxies you want) and plucking a single atom and get THAT ONE on the first try, than there is of life appearing by accident.

In other words, there may be a billion planets but the chances are statistically zero that life forms all by itself.  If we think we can find life on the very first planet we check with odds like that, well… the powerball lottery should be a cinch.

It led Hoyle to remark: “It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence.”

So probably… there simply aren’t enough planets, 13.7 billion years is not enough time, and there aren’t even enough atoms.  In fact, the numbers say it is flat out statistically impossible for life to appear without anything guiding it.

Like a Designer for instance.

Our human reasoning, our pride, our false arguments need to be challenged. They keep us away from God if left unchecked, and well… they keep us from seeing the obvious. We are not here by accident.

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THIS is Christianity

Mottel Baleston
check out this video (it will pop up in a new window)
     For many people religion is more of a cultural thing to appreciate and keep around like one does a family heirloom. It looks good on the shelf in the living room, but you don’t really use it all that much in real life.  For others, it’s just …foreign. At least, that’s often the impression given by the comments and reactions to religious expression we see from the talking heads of media and/or Hollywood.
     I’m probably being generous. Hollywood hasn’t understood Christianity or the Bible since the twelve apostles were still available to hire as consultants.
     And some of you… it’s okay to admit it…. won’t even get through the five-minute video above. After all, the Pew Research Center just informed us that Christianity is shrinking in America while the numbers of people with no affiliation with any religion, including atheists, and agnostics are growing. That’s especially true for anyone more youthful than 36 years of age.  So hey, if that’s you, then perhaps you don’t really care that some guy named Mottel Baleston decided to become a Christian after growing up Jewish.

     I understand. And I’m not posting this video to win any of these arguments. I’m posting this because THIS is Christianity.

Continue reading “THIS is Christianity”

Creationism is Wrong, Trust Us

So sayeth those opposed to Creationism, the belief that an all-powerful God created the universe and all that we see and perceive in the physical or even spiritual world.  Regardless of your particular idea of creationism, whether you have a Muslim theology or a Christian one, or whether you believe the universe is very old or very young, you are simply wrong.  All the evidence is against you.

So sayeth others, therefore it must be true.

It’s been going on for awhile in case you missed it and thought it was still up for debate.  Writing about nutrition of all things for Real Clear Science, Ross Pomeroy was quick to compare fad-diets with religion.

“…both cults and diets profess to have “answers” and impart benefits that will irrevocably change your life for the better. Veganism’s pitch isn’t very unlike Scientology’s. Caveman Diet’s isn’t all that different from certain sects of Evangelical Baptism”

Excuse me what?  Baptism?  Are people getting baptized for it’s health benefits or even spiritual benefits? Why didn’t I know this? Someone should mention to Ross that baptism isn’t about its benefits. It’s a outward act that says I belong to Jesus from this day forward. It’s symbolic, not therapeutic for crying out loud. What a weird analogy.

But nice job coming after my religion when I was trying to read an article about dieting… geez.

Ross made a better analogy, at least in terms of actually having something to do with the subject, a bit later.

“With all the conflicting and poorly designed research out there, it’s easy to find evidence to back any dietary assertion. In the same manner, overly religious types, such as those who promote creation science, latch on to data that coincides with their beliefs and disregard everything else. Though their ideas are awash in woo, staunch creationists can present a very persuasive case.”

I certainly qualify as overly religious if that is possible. By this time I have forgotten that the article is actually over diet plans, and have become immersed in the typical attack of our culture against Jesus. Simply dismiss it without another word. Those of you who have been digging into the details, the evidences, and the facts are wasting your time. It’s decided already. No one won the debate, in fact Ross admits creationists can be persuasive, but that’s beside the point. It’s over.

As proof, and as proof that Ross was only mildly interested in writing about dieting, he linked an article attacking creationism entitled “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.”

After all who listens to nonsense? That’s the point, see. The argument is over.

Our world does not write these articles or say these things with the purpose of having an enlightening discussion. They say these things to scoff just as the Bible predicted they would in II Peter chapter three.  And although it was talking about something else, the advice of Revelation 14:12 “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus” applies very well.

Patience is very much in order, especially as I perused the article he linked.

You gotta love that the #3 Answer of the 15 Answers to Nonsense was upset that creationists give a “blanket dismissal of evolution.”

lol

Pot? Kettle. Kettle? Pot.

Ok, seriously though. What if we actually dug into these things instead of dismissing each other? I’d be willing to bet Bible believing Christians would realize that not all scientists are militant atheists, and militant atheists would realize that Bible believing Christians often have scientific degrees, credentials, and a valuable point of view.

And we’d all learn a lot of science.

For instance, the fact we do not find humanoid skeletons in the lowest layers of the earth does not prove humans evolved, even though evolution would predict that we would not find humans there.  Score one for evolution, but there are other explanations, even ones consistent with the Bible, which also predict finding the same thing.

Harder questions remain for evolution such as when it misses predictions, which it has often done. Evolution predicted that we would find junk DNA for instance, yet that turned out to be largely untrue. It predicted that Neanderthals would have smaller brains which is completely untrue, and it predicted we would find transitional forms, a slow development of life in the fossil record, and DNA proof that we all came from a single cell in one evolutionary tree.

And figuring out how something mutates into a substantially different creature sporting radically different DNA has been next to impossible in evolution so far. In other words, everyone tells you evolution happened, but no one can do more than guess at how it happened.  But trust us, they say, it did.

One final point. When you are left with blaming alien beings from outer space as your best guess for how it all started… you know you’re struggling.

The crazy thing is all of this is incredibly interesting. Too bad the discussion is over because this is the best it’s ever been. In fact, even though Christians are usually accused of being closed minded, the truth is most evangelical churches I know do NOT tell people to shun science.  Instead they advise to question everything and examine closely.

Even if the rest of the world is done examining.

Here Comes the Virus

If you’re like me, you hear American government officials and experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to Ebola and you wonder if they just don’t want us to panic. It spreads like HIV (and even then for only a few days) and therefore is highly controllable. Most fears are overblown, fear-mongering, especially if Donald Trump says it.

And then you watch the news, hear the doctors talk about it being out of control, and well… c’mon it sure seems like Ebola spreads a bit easier than HIV. Like one comment tweeted to the CDC, I feel like asking:

“We are told it can only spread through contact with bodily fluids-similar to HIV. But seems more contagious than HIV? Why?”

The CDC assured the tweeter that yes Ebola is spread like HIV and you need close contact with bodily fluids, and then only in a certain window of time.  Ok. Granted.

But…ummmm….

That’s not exactly like HIV, which takes more than mere “close contact.”

HIV is NOT spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva.  So says WebMD anyway.

Ebola evidently is.

The bodily fluids that do transmit HIV -like blood for instance- “must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (by a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur.”  So says the government. I added the italics.

The CDC, however, makes no mention of Ebola needing to come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue.  To catch Ebola, the CDC says you need only come in “direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.”  They go on to explain that it spreads in hospitals where people are not wearing “protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves.”

Then when you go to the Canadian Health Department, it gets scary.  They add that people are at risk when, and I quote: “handling the bodies of deceased humans in preparation for funerals, suggesting possible transmission through aerosol droplets.” That explains the need for gloves and “protective equipment.”

Then shockingly, they follow up with, “In the laboratory, infection through small-particle aerosols has been demonstrated in primates, and airborne spread among humans is strongly suspected, although it has not yet been conclusively demonstrated.”

Again I added the italics because I was sitting there going “whaaaat???”

They end by saying poor hygienic conditions can aid the spread of the virus.

Ok, maybe the Canadians are fear-mongering despite the fact they are not named Donald Trump.  I don’t know. I’m not a researcher or any sort of an expert on Ebola or other pathogens.  Neither is it surprising that there is conflicting information about a disease we haven’t fully understood yet.

Nevertheless, it seems a bit obvious that Ebola is spread, and is spreading easier and faster than HIV does. The amount of close contact it takes to spread Ebola is much more casual, which is one reason why doctors don’t have to wear spacesuit-looking gear when taking care of a patient with HIV.

Hopefully, we will get all of these things ironed out, and the US government is not just trying to make us feel better.  Although, between you and me, don’t you just feel like it’s just a matter of time before someone in America gets carried into a hospital and tests positive? I hope not. I’m probably just thinking like this because I’m trying to quit diet soda.

So onto the big question:

Why God? Why did you ever invent anything like HIV or Ebola? Or E Coli for that matter??

If Genesis is correct and God created everything, then one would predict in the beginning everything was “good” like the Bible said.  Since then, however, everything would be breaking down.  The Bible says this started when sin entered the world.  The universe might have been created in perfect balance at one time, but when death and decay became part of the equation, we started to get more and more out of balance.  So a creation point of view would predict viruses or bacteria would get worse over time because they would break down, mutate, or get out of where they were supposed to be.

There’s an article on this you might be interested in, so I won’t go into as much detail, but suffice it to say that many viruses actually serve purposes, or at least didn’t kill us.  One virus was recently discovered that almost every human being has, which scientists theorize is meant to keep the bacteria inside our gut (we need bacteria) in balance.  In fact without bacteria, the world would die. Turns out at least some viruses play a bit of symbiotic role with them and thus… are actually necessary.  The implication is originally, before mutations took their toll, or the environment changed for the worse, that all these things were in balance, living where they were suppose to live, and doing what they were supposed to do.  You have “good”  E coli inside you right now, but there is one strain which lost some DNA somewhere that will make you sick now.  Creation would predict that sort of thing.

Which means that if Genesis is right, then Ebola would be expected to have had some purpose, or some place where it could exist and not harm humans.  For instance, the ocean is full of viruses but sharks and sea life still exist. (However, mutations or changes in that balance could also cause once harmless viruses or bacteria to cause problems. Like with the starfish dying off.)

So why did God create Ebola? I have no idea, but I bet in the beginning it didn’t harm anyone.  I bet  eventually we will discover it played a helpful role somehow. And ironically, if people followed God’s instructions on life, food, etc… We would have avoided many of those viruses. Weird, huh? It’s almost like he knew….

See, HIV didn’t wipe out the primates where it originally lived, and syphilis wasn’t killing sheep right and left either.  Originally, things were in more balance.

Or as the Bible said, it was good.

Since sin entered the world, however, the earth is slowly “wearing out like a garment”. (Psalm 102:25-26 and Isaiah 51:6)

I’m convinced God is letting the ship sink slowly (the earth) so people will look for the lifeboats.

Thinking About Hope when Life is Unfair

A classmate of mine passed away a couple of weeks ago, and he was probably one of the best of guys I’ve known.  Funny.  Humble. He was a walking definition of sincerity.  It’s people like him who make death at 46 years old seem very unfair.  Unfortunately, it’s been a month of unfairness.  Another friend of mine had a classmate pass away, and just tonight, a 17-year old student who has attended our church and made many friends has died in an apparent tragic accident.

This is the point I’m supposed to ask where is God.  If God exists, these things shouldn’t happen so randomly perhaps.  If God exists, there should be some semblance of rhyme and reason involved.  There should be a why.  Otherwise God is either hiding or ignoring us, or he doesn’t exist at all.

Something like that.

To be fair to God, He made something I consider good come out of the death of my classmate.  He gave my classmate real hope.  See, my friend had always been an atheist because when he was young his dad had died.  My classmate couldn’t understand why, and rejected any belief in God as a result. Things changed in him when he faced own death.  And it didn’t change as you might imagine. Continue reading “Thinking About Hope when Life is Unfair”

How Soon Was Jesus Supposed to Come Back?

Although I haven’t taken an official poll, it seems most professors, skeptics, media, and those who comment on the Bible would say the disciples of Jesus expected him to come back within their lifetimes. This is often used as another reason not to take the message of Jesus all that seriously, but that is a sweeping judgment that lacks perspective. In fact, when it comes to the return of Jesus according to the Bible, Christians and skeptics alike may be guilty of missing key details.

For instance, many pastors and evangelical Christians today, (of which I qualify as both) maintain that Jesus can come back at any moment. We commonly speak and write in ways that give the distinct impression Jesus could return any moment in our lifetimes. In that respect, we aren’t much different than those early Christians.

It makes one wonder what people might conclude if, in the distant future, someone were to find the writings of Christians from today. Would they pick up a worn copy of “Left Behind” and conclude we believed Jesus would return in the next few years and that Kirk Cameron was our prophet? Couldn’t they also use that as evidence that since Christ did not return, he must not be real? Of course, ask almost any of those Christians or pastors of today and their views are not so simplistic. I have often said Jesus is coming soon, but I am not so certain he is coming in my lifetime.

Perhaps, we Christians should speak and write more carefully using more perspective in the first place? Probably, but that’s not going to happen. There’s never going to be a shortage of writers or speakers making exciting claims, no matter whether they are Christians, secularists, or global warming/climate change alarmist/deniers.

Besides, it’s more fun to talk about Jesus coming in the next few minutes. Come on.

Anyway, as it turns out and despite the fact this is often ignored for the sake of arguing, the writers of the New Testament DID write with perspective. Shockingly, they never Continue reading “How Soon Was Jesus Supposed to Come Back?”

Dear Senior Class 2014…

Thirteen years ago when you got home from your first day of kindergarten, most of us parents picked you up and asked, “How was your first day of school?”  A lot has happened since then. You tried to make good grades, you excelled in sports, in music, in art, or maybe in science.  It’s really amazing the talents you have developed.

This past week I picked up my daughter from school and this time my question was, “How was your last day at school?”  You have reached the last day, and just like that first day, we are excited for you and proud of you as we cheer for your success in life.

Did you know God cares about your success, too?  The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Knowledge can help you achieve the desires of your heart, of course, but God can do things no one else can. He has ultimate control over our success or failure.

I don’t know if you believe that or not. The Bible predicted “scoffers” would come in the last days and they’re here.  People will make fun of you for believing in Jesus. Religion is old-fashioned. We are evolving past it they say.  Bill Mahr says religion is the source of all our problems, and Bill Nye seems to think you can’t be a scientist or help the human race advance if you believe God created everything.

They can sound convincing, but that road doesn’t end well. The Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it’s worth noting that it should have been Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.  Esau was the oldest son and should have been the next in line. His father loved him, wanted to pass everything down to him, but Esau just didn’t care.

He only cared about the here and now, and agreed to sell his birthright to his brother. The Bible says, he “despised” his birthright.  That decision destroyed his future.  That’s why we remember Abraham, Isaac, and his younger brother Jacob instead of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.

You’ve heard people say God has a plan for your life, but you don’t have to care either.  The world will tell you not to worry about it. The world cares more about the here and now, but I believe if you go down that road, like Esau, you’ll miss out.

So here are three old fashioned things to hang on to no matter what the world says: Continue reading “Dear Senior Class 2014…”