Light And Darkness


lunar_crepuscular_rays_2Years ago when I was teaching, we took our eighth graders on a three-day science field trip to Catalina Island. One of the activities was to experience a sight deprivation maze. It’s hard to imagine a place as dark as that cramped labyrinth was.

From that experience I can tell you confidently, darkness is not beautiful. In fact, you can’t see the darkness. You simply can’t see anything. No shades or shapes, not even movement. Your eyes can’t register a single thing because of the absence of light.

Light, on the other hand, is exceedingly beautiful in its many manifestations. I thought of this again on Sunday as I was driving to church. Sunlight streamed through parted clouds, lining them with gold. Not silver, like the cliche. But it was so brilliant, I suppose you might say it was sort of silvery-gold.

And just the day before, as the sun was about to break above the horizon, its light painted a scattering of woolly clouds with pink, all but their outer gray edges. That’s nothing to the sunsets we get in the fall. Then there is the full moon climbing through the early night, or the crescent moon lingering with the last stars in the early dawn.

Light in its many forms is beautiful. Well, maybe not all artificial light can be said to be beautiful, but natural light does dramatic things. Starlight twinkles, sunlight refracts, candlelight glows, and firelight dances.

Any wonder then, that Scripture says Jesus is the Light of the world?

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life
– John 8:12

Yet, most likely, because of the little bit of physical description we have of Jesus, we don’t think of Him as beautiful. Isaiah 53:2b says,

He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

But then this from Psalm 27:

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate in His temple. (v. 4 – emphasis mine)

This morning I was listening to Awaken the Dawn, an album by Keith & Kristyn Getty. One song, “What Grace Is Mine” opens with these words:

What grace is mine that He who dwells in endless light
Called through the night to find my distant soul

The phrase “endless light” grabbed me. Not only does God dwell in endless light, He is endless light. It speaks to God’s eternal nature, but it also promises unlimited beauty. And what a contrast to the “night” through which He calls – the darkness of sin that blanks out the light. No wonder He needs to call me. My condition prohibits me from seeing even endless light. Except, He tore the veil.

All fear can flee for death’s dark night is overcome
My Saviour lives and reigns forevermore

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in January 2011.

Published in: on November 3, 2016 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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God’s View Or Ours


Fossil_Trees_-_geograph.org.uk_-_750298Some years ago I read a discussion between Christians about evolution. It dawned on me that those advocating this theory based on scientific observation are opting for Mankind’s view over God’s.

Science “knows” now, the reasoning goes, that life has evolved from lesser forms. We’ve “seen” this in geological findings. We have the fossil “records.” These records, therefore, are to be believed over the record handed down to us from God—His Holy Word.

The problem with choosing scientific observation over the Bible is manifold. First, science continues to change.

In addition, science presupposes that The Way Things Are is exactly The Way Things Were. In other words, science has no room for things like a perfect world without death. What would that look like? How would that effect what we observe now? Science has no room for a world with one big land mass and no rain. What would that have done to geology? What would the world have been like if the atmosphere had a layer made up primarily of water? What would that have done to the way the world formed? What if the world in a bygone era allowed for humans to live nearly a thousand years? What would that do to dating fossils?

And even more radically, what if God formed a perfectly complete world, and universe, that looked old even though it was new. After all, what would a “new” mountain look like? Or a new star, a new sun, a new Man? What would a new tree look like when you cut it down? Would there just be one giant ring?

We have no reason to believe Adam came into being as an infant. Just the opposite. Scripture would lead us to believe he was a full grown man, on the first day he lived and breathed and had his being.

Science has no room to ask these “what if” questions because their answers have no “hard evidence” that such things were possible. Consequently, science closes the book on what the Bible suggests or even states.

Some Christians who opt for this science-over-Scripture approach reason that God wouldn’t “fool” us into thinking something was one way when in fact it was something quite different.

I hardly think God tried to fool us, seeing as how He wrote down His creative process. But on another level, this argument is too weak to stand up. Humans for centuries have been “fooled.” They believed, for example, that they lived on flat land. How deceptive of God to pull a fast one and actually put us on a round(ish) planet.

Of course, He wasn’t deceptive at all since the sun is round, the moon is round, and apart from the twinkles, stars are round. It is actually more a wonder that people didn’t figure out sooner that the earth is round. But there it is. Man, believing his own eyes, when in fact the truth was something quite different.

The same could be said about men who believed the sun was the center of the universe and many more “scientific” observations that have changed when new information came along.

My question is, when will we learn to believe Omniscience instead of our own fallible, imperfect, inexact observations when we are trying to figure out The True Way Things Are?

This post first appeared here in February 2011.

Published in: on March 17, 2016 at 6:24 pm  Comments Off on God’s View Or Ours  
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The Compatibility Of Science And Christianity


Protoplanetary_diskChristians should be the first to combat the idea that science and Christianity are at odds with one another. They aren’t. In fact science, by its nature, is a limited field, contributing only to the field of observable knowledge accessed through our physical senses.

Christianity, of course, does not purport to explain DNA or the string theory or black holes, but it does reveal God and His plan and purpose for the world. It answers the big questions of life: who am I, why am I here, what is my destiny?

In reality, science and Christianity together give us an understanding of life. No one should separate the two, and yet an artificial divide is being forced onto society.

This divide would be similar to asking someone heading into a movie theater if he’s going to listen to the movie or watch it. Well, both, would be his logical reply. No, no, the pundit says, you have to choose one or the other. Sight and sound aren’t compatible.

Well, yes, they are. They reveal different things, but those things aren’t in contradiction. In fact sight and sound complement each other and give a fuller, richer movie-going experience. So too with science and Christianity.

The root to this divide seems to be in the creation-versus-evolution debate. Because the courts have ruled that evolution is science and can be taught in schools while creation is not and cannot be taught in schools, a line has been drawn in the sand. Choose what you believe, the pundits say—science or religion.

First, evolutionary theory is filled with unrepeatable parts that can’t be studied by the scientific method. Second, science is far greater than evolution. And third, Christianity is not synonymous with religion.

In other words, evolution requires a great deal of faith to believe—more so, in my opinion, than believing God designed the universe and brought it into being.

Regarding the first point, because evolution is a theory and not provable by the scientific method, it takes faith to believe it. Did you know, for example, that a single strand of DNA contains 3.1 billion bytes of information? A single strand. Three point one billion! And yet we are to believe, according to evolutionary theory, that an accidental concussion of matter and energy is responsible for the process that ordered all of life. Not just a single DNA strand, but all of life! The improbability of such a thing happening is incredibly high—astronomically high, you might say. Truly, it is more feasible that an explosion in a print shop resulted in Webster’s Dictionary.

The second point is equally important. Science that actually adheres to the scientific method does contribute knowledge about the physical world—knowledge which does not contradict the Bible. As a matter of fact, a host of early scientists were Christians, from Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johann Kepler, Blaise Pascal to Isaac Newton, Samuel Morse, Louis Pasteur, and many others.

A great number of Christians working in the fields of science exist today, too, men such as the following:
# Dr. Larry Vardiman Senior Research Scientist, Astro/Geophysics
# Dr. William Arion, Biochemistry, Chemistry
# Dr. Paul Ackerman, Psychologist
# Dr. E. Theo Agard, Medical Physics
# Dr. Steve Austin, Geologist
# Dr. S.E. Aw, Biochemist
# Dr. Thomas Barnes, Physicist
# Dr. Geoff Barnard, Immunologist
# Dr. John Baumgardner, Electrical Engineering, Space Physicist, Geophysicist, expert in supercomputer modeling of plate tectonics

Last point: Christianity is unique among religions because of Jesus Christ—no other religion has a person at the center of its faith as opposed to a system. No other religion offers grace and mercy instead of rules and regulations. Sadly, Christianity has been lumped in with those that play on superstition, guilt, and fear. Christ, in fact, brings peace and joy and hope and help. Christianity is not about a way to appease an angry God. It’s a realistic understanding of the human condition and the need of the human heart.

In no way does science step on Christianity’s toes. The idea that is incompatible with truth is the dismissal of God as the One who is before all, created all, and rules all. But if you accept God for who He is, study science all you want. The two are not mutually exclusive.

This post first appeared here in March 2013

Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 6:35 pm  Comments Off on The Compatibility Of Science And Christianity  
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Critical Thinking and the Evidence for God


Hubble view of stars_and_spaceThe argument against the existence of God commonly came into play with the advent of Modernism, the Age of Reason, and the rise of science. Hence, what people for centuries had known by instinct now needed to be proved. And how can you prove the unseen? How can you put the Supernatural to a natural test?

People believing in God were slow to respond, in my opinion, perhaps not realizing the enormity of the consequences for answering science with “But I believe.”

Such a slow response, however, does not mean there are not some very specific, scientific evidences that point to the existence of God.

Here are some to which I ascribe, in no particular order.

  • The origin of the universe. Those who do not believe in God commonly believe in evolution and the big bang theory. This idea is flawed. First, it leaves unexplained where the material for the big bang came from. To date, all matter decays, which argues against some kind of eternal matter. Also, energy dissipates, which argues against energy being of an eternal nature. So what existed before the universe to bring it into being?

    Then, too, even if such a big bang did occur, belief that life came about as a result is contradictory to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: order does not come from disorder (layman’s translation –😉 ). In the words of Dr. Henry Morris, Institute of Creation Science:

    the universal scientific law of entropy specifies the “downward” tendency of all things toward decrease of organized complexity.

    Finally, the idea that the big bang is scientific is fallacious. The scientific method requires a repeated result to verify a theory. None such is possible.

    In reality, the theory of the big bang is merely an idea formed as an alternative to God.

  • The design of the universe. From molecular structure to the path of the countless solar systems, this universe is intricately woven.

    In a paper entitled, “The Current State Of Creation Astronomy,” Dr. Danny R. Faulkner of the Institute of Creation Research says the following:

    Much evidence of teleology (design in nature) exists in the universe. For human, animal, and plant life this is very easy to see. If certain changes are made in the physiology or the chemistry of organisms, then life becomes impossible. The same could be said about the universe as a whole. If certain constants of nature are changed, then the chemistry necessary for life becomes impossible, and the universe begins to appear very suited, or designed, for life. The same is true for the earth: if we change its size, composition, distance from the sun, tilt of its axis, or any number of characteristics, then the earth becomes uninhabitable.

    It is mathematically improbable that happenstance can create such design.

    Simple experiments prove this. Take ten red checkers and ten black checkers, scramble them in a large plastic bag, then begin to shake them to see how long it will take to order them again with all red together and all black together. If a person were to shake the bag continuously for twenty-four hours, day after day, the probability that those checkers would again align by color is one chance in all the years of that individual’s lifetime, and beyond.

  • The existence of intelligent life. Humans reason, compare, contrast, synthesize, analyze, and criticize. Humans also communicate logically and extensively. The existence of intelligent life suggests a source of equal or greater intelligence. How can a substance formulate that of which it does not consist?
  • Humans sin. At first blush, that fact might have two arguments against it: How is sin an evidence of God? on the one hand and Is that a true statement? on the other. Let me take them in reverse order.

    First is it, true Man sins? We know that humans do things animals don’t do, negative things, like start wars and hold other people in concentration camps. Clearly, Man has a capacity for harm to others that sets him apart from the rest of creation. One word for that capacity is sin.

    How, then, is this evidence that God exists? In order for man to sin, he needs to violate certain natural laws. Who established these laws?

  • Man has inalienable rights. Our Constitution says it. Our freedom is staked on the truth of that statement. Who gave us these rights? The Creator who is involved with His creation.

    If it were not true, then there is no right of one person over another except the right that is earned, either by overpowering others or outsmarting them. Instead, we believe (though we don’t act consistently in accordance with what we say we believe) that the weak has just as much right as the strong and, in fact, should be protected and nurtured.

    The incongruence with “survival of the fittest” should be apparent.

  • Man has a conscience, a moral compass that cannot be explained by evolution. Some people believe society teaches that certain actions are wrong. That’s true to an extent, but there are some actions we know are wrong instinctively.

    Take child abuse, for example. Even in prison, where hardened criminals reside, and no one is teaching against the behavior, a child molester is hated. Why? Why would people with seemingly no moral constraint react negatively to such behavior?

    Or cannibalism. When was the last time someone taught against cannibalism? And yet, the thought is disgusting. Why? Not because of teaching. Because it is against a Man’s conscious.

    I submit that a number of things we now accept were once reprehensible, grating against our moral sensibilities, but society taught us they needed to be tolerated, even accepted and embraced.

    So where does a moral sensibility come from? A moral Creator.

  • Personal experience. I know this is probably the hardest to understand and to accept and is the weakest of the arguments, but it’s still true, and therefore adds to the body of facts: I know God, first hand.

    When you put all the pieces together, it does make sense. The universe has a Creator—one who is pre-existent, orderly, intelligent, and moral, one involved with His creation.

    We have a book that claims to be from Him. It reveals Him as pre-existent, orderly, intelligent, moral, involved with His creation, and, in fact, loving. To prove the latter, His Son entered the world to show us what science could not.

    Because I know the Son, I also the know God who sent Him.

    Let me illustrate. I know a lot of people through the media of the Internet, either from visiting their blogs, engaging in discussions on Facebook, or from reading their comments here. I know them because I’ve read a record of their thoughts.

    Much the same way, I know God. However, there’s more involved than just knowing facts about Him because I know what He has chosen to say about Himself.

  • This post first appeared here in August 2006.

    But The LORD


    While we live in the physical world, we simultaneously live in a spiritual world. For starters, we have spiritual natures. In addition, whether we recognize it or not, God is not the only supernatural person. Other spiritual beings exist all around us. This is why Elisha could say to his servant in 2 Kings 6:16, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” The “those who are with us” consisted of chariots of fire filling the mountain which the servant couldn’t see until God opened his spiritual eyes.

    In talking about creation, Paul refers to rulers and authorities, thrones and dominions, the latter being part of the invisible world he mentions in Col. 1:16.

    For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

    Who all these spiritual beings are is of interest to a good many people, but the truth is, the Bible tells us very little about them. We know there are two basic camps, however—those who do God’s bidding and are good, and those who stand in opposition to Him and are evil.

    These spiritual forces have real power. Two angels, for example, were involved in the destruction of Sodom. Satan himself apparently decimated Job—destroying his property, killing his children, and striking him with disease.

    Of course these beings are not operating independently. The angels are carrying out God’s commands, and Satan is doing only what God has given him permission to do. He was, for example, expressly forbidden to take Job’s life.

    But still, Satan is active and so are any number of evil spirits. The New Testament records one man with evil spirits who had supernatural strength so that he could break free of chains meant to restrict him. Then there was the girl who had an evil spirit which made it possible for her to tell fortunes. Others caused a person to be mute or to lose control of their body so that they would be thrown into the fire.

    The fact that we don’t see overt manifestations of evil spirits as a part of normal life here in North America doesn’t mean they don’t exist or aren’t active.

    The Bible tells us we need spiritual armor, so my supposition is that much of the spiritual activity we face has little to do with the physical, though possibly there is far more than we recognize as coming from spiritual causes. But that’s going astray from the point I want to make in all this.

    Men and women throughout history have worshiped, but many have chosen a god instead of the LORD. For much of their history, the Jews dabbled with polytheism, though the LORD had specifically told them to have no other gods before Him. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome—they all worshiped various gods. They were religious, and they recognized the existence of power that was beyond the physical.

    The problem was, they credited created beings with supreme power and authority—whether Zeus or Baal or Molech or some other idol.

    Interestingly, Isaiah wrote a stirring passage about idols being nothing but a man-made construction with no power. In chapter 44 he describes the process of cutting timber, burning half for fuel or for a fire to cook over, then fashioning from the other half an idol he bows to and worships:

    No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!” (v. 19)

    So which is it—are idols blocks of wood or are they evil spirits with actual power? I suppose spirits can inhabit the blocks of wood, but why would they? The wood itself, as Isaiah pointed out, is blind and dumb. Regardless, I conclude the physical idol, whether possessed or not possessed, is nothing but a chunk of matter. The people who worship idols however, are indeed worshiping a spiritual being—a false god.

    So I came across this verse, and I thought, here’s the line of demarcation, the point that clearly separates false gods from the One True God:

    For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised;
    He is to be feared above all gods.
    For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
    But the LORD made the heavens. (Ps. 96:4-5—emphasis mine)

    Creation, as Romans 1 states so clearly, points to the One True God. It is in what He has made that His invisible attributes can be seen:

    For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (v 20)

    As I realized anew the significance of God’s creative work, I understood more clearly why Creation is such a battlefield. To discredit God, Satan aims to distort the work that inexorably points to Him.

    There are a few key issues like that—the Bible as God’s authoritative word, the person of Jesus, and creation. Isn’t it interesting that these are the critical means of God’s revelation of Himself to Mankind, creation being the first and Jesus being the final and ultimate revelation, with the Bible being the authoritative source that explains both.

    Praise God for loving us so much He has made Himself known.

    This article with some revision is a reprint of one by the same name that appeared here in February 2012.

    Published in: on March 2, 2016 at 6:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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    The Majesty Of Music


    There are a few things that transport me to another level of worship. One is nature. Not just any nature, either. The ocean, with waves crashing against cliffs is pretty good, but better is the high country—beyond timberline. I’ve only been there a few times, but it’s like a different world.

    Coming out of the darkness created by evergreens growing in tight clusters, you discover fields of wildflowers, glacier patches, blue-green lakes, and a sky that’s such a rich blue it looks like you could eat it. Oh, and rocky peaks that look more like cathedrals. And crystal cold streams. All I can think is, This is the world God created.

    Music has that same effect on me. Not all music. Just like nature, there are pieces and then there are pieces. Some I enjoy because they are fun or they fit my mood or they are performed well. Others feel as if a piece of my soul is drifting on the sound waves. And still others feel as if my soul is reaching up to God.

    Some years ago my church hosted a nearby university (California Baptist) choir and orchestra in concert. They were spectacular, and I had one of those majesty of music moments. What’s more, I bought one of their CD’s, Glory, and have played it frequently. The songs run through my head when I wake up, and I can hardly wait to put on the CD again.

    In fact, I posted one of the songs some time ago with Sandi Patty performing it. The song is spectacular and Sandi Patty is … well, Sandi Patty.

    But here’s the choir I listened to—an older version of it, but fittingly, they are singing Majesty. I hope you enjoy.

    This article first appeared here in April 2012

    Published in: on November 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm  Comments Off on The Majesty Of Music  
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    Reprise: Have We Neutered God?


    Aerial_view_of_damage_to_Kirikiri,_Otsuchi,_a_week_after_a_9.0_magnitude_earthquake_and_subsequent_tsunamiThe day after the 2011 earthquake in Japan, a couple Christians started taking bets on when the first Christian “leader” (the qualification is theirs) would say something about God’s judgment on this Buddhist nation. Undoubtedly they had in mind what Pat Robertson said after the Haitian quake in January 2010.

    As reports came in about the tsunami that same day, every TV station seemed to have a segment of their earthquake coverage devoted to a geophysicist with a diagram of the Pacific Ring of Fire and a second diagram of two tectonic plates under the ocean moving toward one another with one slipping under the other (subduction). The resulting movement, one expert said, displaces water, sending waves surging to shore.

    On one hand, a good scientific explanation from the media about what causes an earthquake and a tsunami.

    On the other, a backhanded repudiation from Christians that God would “send” the earthquake against Japan.

    That’s it then. We’ve moved God aside to let Nature take its course. Nature, we understand. After all, the experts have studied these tectonic plates. They’ve created devices to measure the energy an earthquake releases. They can pinpoint where the epicenter is, and the hypocenter, and how deep within the earth’s crust the event occurred.

    God? We can’t study Him. Don’t know what He might be thinking or why He would choose Japan over, say, Libya, or, for that matter, the U. S. Besides, God just wouldn’t do something so randomly devastating. I mean, good people undoubtedly died in the quake and its aftermath. How could we possibly believe this event was something He sent? It would be unjust, cruel, not something a loving God would do.

    Or so we think as we peer through our world-colored glasses.

    For the moment, set aside the fact that Scripture records God using a natural disaster to wipe out the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, expressly because of the extent of their wickedness. Instead, ask this question. Supposing the geophysicists are right and the quake happened because one tectonic plate slipped under the edge of another, what caused the slip?

    Subducting tectonic plates

    Scientists have a number of theories. One idea is that the variation in topography and density of the crust result in differences in gravitational forces that drive the seafloor away from the spreading ridge which combines with drag (think, water drag against a speedboat) and downward suction.

    A second explanation is that different forces generated by the rotation of the Globe and tidal forces of the Sun and the Moon create movement.

    A third idea suggests that mantle convection (“the slow creeping motion of Earth’s rocky mantle caused by convection currents carrying heat from the interior of the Earth to the surface” Wikipedia) is tied to the movement of the plates.

    Behind these possible explanations, however, is the question, what causes the convection currents or the tidal forces or the drag or the downward suction or the variation of the topography or the thinner oceanic crust? In other words, in a cause-effect scientific study, what is the first cause?

    Ultimately, those of us who believe in God will answer, He is that first cause.

    But are we saying that He, in watchmaker-like fashion, started the processes and has since, stepped back and is looking on to see what will happen next?

    Or do we believe He who created the world and understands all its make up and function, who set down in Scripture the fact that the earth divided (something corroborated by the continental drift theory now widely held), and who has prophesied an increase in seismic activity as the day of the Lord draws nearer and nearer, is intimately involved in this world?

    Sadly, throughout time man has declared that God is dead or irrelevant or nonexistent. But perhaps worst of all is this Christian version of this theme—that He is, but He is not powerful. He might have something to say about spiritual things (and then, only if it’s related to love and forgiveness), but the physical is beyond His reach.

    This view, of course, contradicts Scripture. First is the clear revelation of His nature—He is omnipotent. He demonstrated this by His act of creation:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
    – Gen 1:1

    Since then, He has sustained what He made:

    For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
    – Col 1:16-17 [emphasis mine]

    How He holds things together is coincidentally similar to how He created the world in the first place:

    God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
    – Heb 1:1-3 [emphasis mine]

    And yet we are to believe He is standing by, wringing His hands, grieving over the uncontrollable events foisted on the human race by nature?

    If God is God, that idea is absurd. And if God is God, we had better start paying attention to what He’s said in His word, because acts of God are not accidents of God. He has a purpose, and it would be wise of us to start talking in an intelligent way, informed by Scripture, about what that purpose might be.

    With some minor changes this article is a reprint of one that appeared in March 2011.

    What’s In A Picture Or A Song Or A Story?


    Paul Gauguin, Portrait de l'artiste au chapeau

    Paul Gauguin, Portrait de l’artiste au chapeau

    Artists create.

    Musicians create music, poets create poetry, painters create paintings, and so on. But all these imaginative people have something in common. They dip into the same pool for their subject matter—themselves.

    In their creations, artists draw upon their knowledge about the world, their observations, their imagination. And it all comes together as a reflection of who they are.

    Over at Speculative Faith, the team blog I’m a part of, we hold writing contests from time to time. I give a sentence to start a story, and the contestants write what comes next. Remarkably, the entries are all different from one another.

    But is it really remarkable? Not according to the fiction pundits. Writers often repeat the adage, there are no new stories. But writing instructors are quick to point out that the stories may not be new but they can be unique because the writer brings something fresh—themselves. Each person has his own unique perspective, based on his experiences, personality, thoughts, and imaginings.

    So in very real ways, what we create is a reflection of who we are.

    Often times, if you’re familiar with a writer, you can pick out a passage as something they’ve written because you recognize the tone and sentence structure, the manner of description, and so forth. Sometimes familiar themes keep cropping up in a writer’s stories.

    A painter may return to the same types of subject matter, but there’s also a tell-tale style—the way they paint the eyes or position the figure, the brush strokes and the use of color. All these elements reflect something about the artist herself.

    Same with music. The Beetles had a unique sound; the Back Street Boys, a completely different sound; Lady Gaga, something that reflects her, and her alone; and Miley Cyrus, a style that’s all her own. Christian musicians such as the Gettys are no different. They use their music and their lyrics to communicate a bit of who they are—what they believe, what’s important to them, what they think is beautiful, what they want to communicate to the world.

    I’m not saying anything new here. Or anything particularly profound. I suspect most people reading this are thinking, Well, of course. Duh!

    So here’s the point: if we readily see the hand of the artist in what he creates when it comes to human artists, why is it so hard to believe that the world reflects the hand of God who created it?

    Romans tells us that creation reveals God’s invisible attributes. We ought to be saying, Well, of course it would, being as how the created thing is always a reflection of the person who made it.

    Of course those who don’t believe God created the world can say the two have no connection. Rather, the evolution of the world is the one instance in which something came from nothing and doesn’t reflect its source. The source: nothing. The thing that was made (or came into being, to put it in more evolution-friendly terms): the world. Nothing. The world. I’m not seeing the reflection of the source.

    Evolutionists again will say, no, the world didn’t come from nothing. It came from energy, heat, pressure, that produced the “quark soup” consisting of the building blocks of matter. Building blocks. Interesting that scientists must use such language. Do building blocks build themselves?

    But that’s straying from the point. Again I have to ask: Does the thing made (came into being) reflect the source? It would seem not. The theory of evolution, in fact, is predicated on change, not reflection. Intelligent human beings, then, aren’t a mark of intelligence in the quark soup. Nor are our emotions or will a reflection of an emotion or will within the elemental particles, the building blocks of matter.

    How odd that the creation (or origin) of the world is so different from every other thing in that world. Beavers make beaver dams. Ants make ant hills. Bees make bee hives. Gophers make gopher holes. Birds make bird nests. And each creation is a reflection of the animal that created it.

    More intimately true of humans. We make tall buildings and iPhones and rockets and bombs and paintings and symphonies and novels. Each of those is a reflection, not just of our species, but of the individual who conceived it and designed it and oversaw its construction.

    So when the Bible says God created the world, and what He made reflects His character, His very nature, it is immediately recognizable as true because that’s the way we experience reality in every other instance of creation.

    Why would who Gauguin is be on display through his paintings, but God’s character be hidden in what He made? Inductive reasoning, moving from the lesser to the greater, leads us to the conclusion that the greatest “something made” (or something which came into being) follows the same pattern of all the lesser things made. All have a creator. And they all reflect that creator in some way.

    So too, the world, the ultimate of creation which contains all other creation, has a Creator, and His very nature, the qualities that characterize His being, are on display through what He has made.

    Published in: on September 18, 2015 at 6:09 pm  Comments (5)  
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    Not An Accident


    Structure of DNA double helix

    Structure of DNA double helix

    Some atheists tell us that life is an accident and any circumstantial evidence humans come up with to the contrary is simply a trick of the mind that wishes to find patterns where none actually exist.

    But I have to wonder—how do they know that no pattern exists? It seems to me, the belief that no pattern exists is a result of believing that there is no designer to formulate a pattern. Otherwise, when element after element after element aligns in a pattern, why would you think, Yeah, but that’s just a coincidence.

    For instance, “DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.” (See “Is There a God?”) What are the chances of such an intricate “instruction manual” just happening to develop—for each cell of the human body?!

    But DNA is a quite new discovery. Long before technology allowed us such a close look, we saw designs. Humans have a small set of eye colors and hair color and skin colors, but we have an infinite number of finger prints. Can that uniqueness happen by accident?

    We could look at seasons and the hours of sunlight in the day and the rings inside a tree and weather patterns and the digestive system and breathing—we’d see evidence of design at every turn. All these particulars have such a long shot probability of happening accidentally, we might as well say it’s impossible.

    Why is it a plane can fly? Because air pressure is a constant.

    Why is it that meteors don’t fall to earth and crush us? Because our atmosphere is the right thickness to protect us.

    How can we measure time? Because the earth rotates at a constant speed and travels around the sun at a rate that doesn’t fluctuate.

    In fact, we have a set of “natural laws” that allow us to predict and study the way our universe works, including our bodies. We know that gravity pulls things toward the earth’s core. That’s an immutable law. Drop a pencil ten times, a thousand times, a billion billion times, and it will fall to the ground.

    We have laws of physics, laws of biology, laws of chemistry, laws of botany, laws of geology, laws of meteorology. And then there is math. Two plus two is always four, not sometimes four and sometimes six.

    Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”
    (Ibid)

    There is order to the world that points to anything but an accident.

    Accidents don’t produce advanced technology. As many times as those automobile safety tests have a car hit a brick wall, not once has the car come out in an advanced state.

    This just scratches the surface. I haven’t mentioned moral law or aesthetics. Each would need a post of its own.

    The fact is, order exists in our world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

    And order does not come from disorder—that’s actually one of those laws of science.

    So something ordered—not randomness, chaos, chance, or an accident—brought an ordered world into being. It’s only logical—which is also based on immutable laws. That someone looks at order and says, Caused by chance, reveals more about that someone than it does about the world.

    What kind of person would look for an answer to the question, How did an ordered world full of intricate life—balanced ecosystems and complex organisms and natural laws—and conclude that the aggregation of it all came about by happenstance? Is that a logical conclusion? Or is that a conclusion someone would reach who has already ruled out the possibility of Someone great enough to design it all perfectly?

    Take a look at just one fact about our planet, its distance from the sun:

    The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day. (Ibid)

    What are the chances?

    Well, some will tell us, given the vast number of galaxies in the universe, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s another planet just like ours with all the properties necessary for life.

    And if there is such a place, why would we think it accidentally came into being any more than the Earth? If it’s unlikely that an accident produced one orderly biosphere, how much more unlikely would it be if there are two? In other words, a second habitable planet would increase the likelihood of design, not decrease it—given the incredibly improbable odds of all the right components being present to allow for life with respiratory systems and circulatory systems and digestive systems and cognition.

    In all seriousness, I believe it takes wishful thinking to conclude that our planet, the solar system, the universe came about as a result of an accident instead of as the creation of an all powerful designer.

    Published in: on July 31, 2015 at 7:17 pm  Comments (10)  
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    Creation


    EarthriseI read the creation account in Genesis today, and I have more questions about creation now than I ever did before. It’s almost like the opposite of “familiarity breeds contempt.” Rather, the more knowledgeable I am about the events, the more curious I am about how it all worked. I see things I never saw before. And I also find myself questioning the explanations I’ve heard or read in exposition of the passage.

    Here’s one. When did God create water?

    Before the six “days” of creation start, Scripture says, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” (1:2, emphasis mine)

    So where’s that water come from? In fact where did that formless and void earth come from? The logical answer seems to be, Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    But many Bible scholars tell us today that the Jewish way of writing is not the linear approach we Greek-influenced thinkers write. Their method was cyclical. They wrote and moved a step to the left and down, then down another step, then to the left again, to the left and up, up and to the left—and they’re back in the vicinity where they started. Consequently, “God created the heavens and the earth” was not one thing followed by a different thing, but it was the great thing—the topic sentence, if you will—followed by details that expounded on it in cyclical fashion.

    Well maybe.

    As most people calculate the days of creation, then, light came first.

    But what is light? According to the day-by-day listing of creation, light came on day one but the sun didn’t come until day four. So there was light from some source apart from the sun. And that source would be what? What did God create when He created light? Was it the particle/wave electromagnetic radiation—photons that move through space at a measured speed? Except space didn’t exist yet. And this light came from what source? If there are no stars, no sun, no human whose retina responds, what is light?

    So far, we’re only on verse 3 and we have uncreated water and created light that emanates from who knows where and consists of who knows what. Hmmmm. This creation story isn’t so easy.

    But what if day one doesn’t start with light? What if verse 1 isn’t a topic sentence but actually tells us what God created in the beginning—an earth, formless and void, dark and covered with water, for which He then created light.

    Of course that doesn’t answer the question, what was the source of that light? Except we know from other places in Scripture that God Himself is light, so it would seem from His being, He brought forth light.

    All this to say, I believe the Bible one hundred percent, but it isn’t always easy. And why should it be? God who spoke the world into being isn’t exactly manageable either.

    I kind of look at the Bible like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We have the pieces and they all fit to make a whole picture, but we’re looking at the image on the box top through a murky lens called sin. It keeps us from seeing where some of the parts fit, so we have to try this piece or that to see where it belongs best. And some pieces, we just have to wait until the end when all the rest comes together before we can see clearly where they go.

    The questions about creation simply grow in number when we get to Genesis 2 where it appears God made Adam before He made other animals:

    Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. (2:18-19)

    So which is it, Genesis 2 or Genesis 1:

    God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (vv25-26a)

    Of course atheists and progressives are quick to jump on such “discrepancies” and say they prove the Bible is wrong or pure myth or a fabrication from some deceiver trying to create a religion.

    These differences make me ask questions. How can this be? I know it is, because God put it in His word: “All Scripture is inspired by God . . .” God who cannot lie, who is never wrong, inspired both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. So I look for possible ways the two passages can fit together. As a result, I come up with some “what if’s.”

    Here’s the first one. What if Plato was right about his theory of forms and there exist non-material abstracts that are the highest form of reality? Consequently, before God formed animals from the dust of the earth (Gen. 2), He first formed them as a non-material reality, an abstract concept of lion (which he allowed Adam to actually name) and bear and butterfly (Gen. 1).

    It’s a “what if” and I’m sure there are other possible ways that the two can fit and both be true without chalking up the creation account to pure myth. What seems most clear to me are these two realities: 1) in the beginning God; 2) God created.

    Those are not confusing or hard concepts. They are simple, straightforward, all encompassing, and true—repeated over and over and over in Scripture with unwavering certainty. Whatever parts are murky because sin has muddled the picture, those two corner pieces are crystal clear.

    And it is from the known that we read Scripture, not from the unknown. So we take the truth of God’s existence and the truth of His creative work, and we view the Bible and the world from those basics, and others like them.

    We might have a pile of what-if’s and even some parts that have no apparent way of fitting, but we can be confident that in the end, where they belong and how it all comes together will become abundantly clear.

    Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 6:41 pm  Comments (7)  
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