Monday, February 27, 2006
Shortly before my grandmother of 89 passed away, I was visiting and caring for her. I started wondering about what life was like for someone so old so I asked her. (Those who know me are not surprised by my bizarre wonderings which always do seem to surface.)
“Grandmother,” I asked, “what does it feel like to be 89? I mean you have been both 17 and 89. How is it different to get old?”
Grandmother understood me very well, and deliberated for a few seconds—but only a few. She replied, “Pat, I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 17.”
We went on to chat about it for a few moments, and the whole while I was considering her remark. If she is correct, then the whole of our spirit must spend all of our lives denying death. What an awful thing it would be to have a 17 year old spirit locked in a decaying 89 year old body! The eternal is locked with the bosom of the fragile crystal of the human body. Perhaps that explains why hope springs eternal. Hope, after all, is a part of the consciousness unique to humans; how ready we are to hope even in the face of brokenness.
Of course when God told Adam not to eat of the fruit, He said in the day that you eat of it you shall die. There is another death unseen and unsung that has taken place within us; the death of our very soul. What is it that becomes our soul? It is that which seems to separate us from the animals, for it is said that God breathed into man and he became a living soul. If I may be permitted to extend the metaphor, it is the holy breath of God which made us unique. It is our disobedience which brought us death, which in its first context must mean the death of our very breath of our Creator.
We know from later scripture that death is really a separation from God, a transfer of deed of our souls to Lucifer who would own us forever except for the ransom of the Son. Our society denies this penalty of death, attempting to reduce us to mere animals without consciousness or responsibility. But our spirits rail against this, shouting to our bodies that there is more, so much more.
Right now I am enjoying a powerful storm blowing through my city. It speaks of God, just as much as does the serene green pasture with the blossoming trees. God who spoke to Elijah in the still wind sent his Son as a Babe that the world might be reconciled to Him. But the same God is capable of speaking to us in the awesomeness of the storm; in the return of Jesus, if I am not all out of my reckoning, that will be a major gale, a world-wide Katrina if you will. All of nature does declare the glory of God. A denial of death is ultimately a denial of God. How wonderful it is that we who were dead were made alive again in Christ Jesus. Oh death where is thy sting? Oh death where is thy victory?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I hardly know where to start. The subject is huge, the distortions are legion, and many times the arguments are suspect. Evolution has been postulated at least primitively from the time of Aristotle, who noticed the progression of the simple to the complex organisms. Indeed the Bible seems to give some attention to differentiation of species and seems to delineate it in the story of the creation.
But first let me start where I left off in the first part. There is a fundamental difference that cannot be explained away between creation and evolution. Particularly this contradiction becomes more severe to those who choose to interpret the Bible literally. The Bible clearly gives creation happening approximately 6 thousand years ago; neo-Darwinists postulate an earth five billion years old.
In my first part we learned how the creationists have gotten the 6 thousand year figure. In this paper, I do not want to bog down in trying to understand the dating systems of evolution; rather let me say as an outside observer, that the dating systems used by evolutionists have seemed to expand as they realized their need for more time. I might further observe that the dating systems, as I primitively understand them, frequently have to do with things like molecular decay rates. For instance, scientists drill down in polar regions into the ice, measure the carbon dioxide, and then calculate the rate of decay, or the rate of loss, and attempt to measure age in that fashion. Carbon 14 dating works in a similar fashion, though I think it no longer is the darling of dating that it once was.
I speak in the fashion of a layman, and since my arguments reflect my considerable ignorance, I only wish to point out the obvious. The evolutionist assumes uniform decay of ages past, and assumes like conditions to present. His assumptions are as big as the intelligent design arguments. No one can see or speak of what it was like from about 3,000 BC, as the earliest written records of man date from about that time. No one can be sure of origins of man or of the uniformity of dating assumptions, but to hear the evolutionist speak, one would never know that.
It has always seemed to me to be a strange thing for man to take so long to figure it out. I am speaking of the current view that neo-Darwinists have of modern man being around for a million years or so. What did modern man do—sit and twiddle their fingers (when not making cave paintings of dinosaurs and men fighting) around their campfire at night? I am being facetious here. It does seem strange to me that men would take so long to write, speak and build. We ought to see ancient civilization ruins going back hundreds of thousands of years, but where are they? The ancient Greeks glorious civilizations should be repeated a score of times if modern man has been around so long.
It seems to me also obvious that creationists believe in a God who creates things with the appearance of age. When He created the stars, did man have to wait the light years necessary for the light to reach the earth? Or did he create the stars, light on the earth and all? Did God create Adam as a baby or a man? It seems evident that God created frequently things with the appearance of age, and should not be something difficult for the believer to appreciate.
Which brings us to the point of which I am on firmer ground. Evolution in Darwin’s time thought the earth was about one million years old; today the same theory recognizes the need for five billion years. Why the change? The fundamental assumption of evolution is that natural selection and beneficial mutations work together to produce variation and new species. As scientists have seen the rarity of the beneficial mutation, and the lack of species changing from one to another in the fossil record, they have realized that they need much more time for the impossible to happen.
Am I the only one who recognizes the unlikelihood of this happening? No, indeed, many mathematicians in the 60s said the same thing. Let me quote just a couple from the fine work of Pamela Winnick in her A Jealous God. “We have. . . wondered how it appeared extremely unlikely a priori that in the short span of one billion years, due to successive random mutations, all the wonderful things we see now could have appeared,” observed Stanislaw M. Ulsam of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.” (p. 122 Winnick)““We believe that there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology,” said Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger, and internationally renowned mathematician from the University of Paris and a member of the French Academy of Sciences.” (p. 122, Winnick) Evolutionists historically did not have the same acceptance as scientists and there was a time when this “soft” science was not accepted among the hard sciences such as mathematics and chemistry.
At any rate, evolutionists quickly found out that they did not have enough time for variation to happen and they have been expanding the evolutionary time span ever since then. Stephen Jay Gould, an avowed believer in evolution, and a famous one at that, believed that he saw something the neo-Darwinists did not. His group was “. . . postulating their own theory of “punctuated equilibrium” which holds that evolution progresses in leaps and bounds, often responding to natural calamities that wipe out all those who can’t adapt.” (p. 166 Winnick) Gould went on to announce that neo-Darwinism was “effectively dead”. Gould saw little bursts of evolution happening very rapidly, perhaps because of changes in environment, or for other unspecified reasons. In other words, little miracles made evolution happen. Gould was very angry during his lifetime when creationists seized on his words, but his words do cause huge gaps to open in evolutionary argument. The creationist may reasonably ask whether it is better to believe in lots of little miracles or in one big one.
Darwin cannot be right if he cannot show billions of years to the earth; moreover he cannot be right if he cannot demonstrate one species changing to another. Survival of the strong has been easily demonstrated by Darwinists. What is not demonstratable is the movement of one species to another. The variety of species, with their wonderful differentiation, speaks of a necessary sharp intercession of a creator; I believe that we find that explanation clearly enunciated in the Bible. For 150 years men have speculated about this myth. It is time to collapse the myth and move on. I close with a poignant quote from one good book (if you are looking for a simple treatise on the history and the subject). “Accepting Darwin’s explanation is a little like believing that a piston rod will make a car run a little bit, and then, if you connect it to a crank shaft, it will run a little bit better. Finally, when all the parts are in place, it will get thirty miles to the gallon.” (p. 213, Bethell)
Bethell, Tom, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2005
Winnick, Pamela R., A Jealous God, Nelson Current, 2005
Monday, February 13, 2006
The case for creation Part 1
(Next: The case against evolution Part 2)
It seems to me that many today do not bother to study the issue; the evolutionist smugly says that it is okay to believe in religion as long as you believe in evolution while the Christian somehow believes the two contradictory propositions to be true. What I hope to show in this two-part posting is that the two views are incontrovertibly contradictory. What we are left with is simple logic: either both are untrue, or one is true and the other is false. What is not possible is that both can somehow harmonize. It is nothing but the simplest logic.
In Genesis, the Bible says that God created the earth in six days and on the seventh He rested. Some who would reconcile the irreconcilable do so on one of two bases. First they argue for a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Indeed, it is my opinion that there could be a gap forced between the two verses, but it is not likely. However long it took the Creator to do this logically does not force a gap, preferably the one of five billion years which is what evolution currently teaches as the age of the earth. In any case for the Christian the case is clearly settled in Exodus 20:11, an important passage giving the 10 commandments to the children of Israel. Hardly a disputed passage, it clearly states: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day” (emphasis added). It seems very clear that the Creator did create in very short order.
Which brings us to the second basis: that of the long-day-interpretation. Some have postulated that each day could be lengthened to a nonspecific term. This term would have been considerably shorter a mere fifty years ago when evolutionists said the earth was much younger. Now they believe that they need more time, and believe it or not, dating systems today show an earth about 5 billion years old. So today we would have to suppose that each day is lengthened to something shorter than a billion years. But what is a few million years more or less when we are talking about such a long period?
The Hebrew for day is the word yowm, which means, according to Strong’s Concordance either from one sunset to another or an unspecified age. At first appearance one might exalt in harmonizing the two views, crying out “Here it is. The place where evolution and religion meet.” But alas, such is not to be. For when the scripture is compared with scripture we clearly see the week that the children of Israel being compared to the same week in which creation took place. Israelites are told to rest on the seventh day, exactly as God rested. The Israelites are told to rest on the seventh day over and over again on the basis of what the Creator did. To make the one a billion years and the other an ordinary day would severely distort the plain sense of the passage.
The real and unstated problem is of course those who refuse to believe in the spiritual. If God is a spirit and all-powerful, why would it take him seven eons instead of seven days? Thomas Jefferson was so furious at the miracles of God that he retranslated the New Testament taking all the miracles out. But it evidently did his faith no substantial good to remove the miracles; as far as I know he remained a skeptic to the end of his days. Some have made the same mistake in trying to naturalize the miracles. I have heard some say the parting of the Red Sea came when a great natural wind came up, providentially this time for the Israelites, but a natural occurrence nonetheless. Naturalizing miracles, or gainsaying them away will not bring us to a knowledge of the Creator; instead the miracles are what point us to the unspeakable power of God. It is His authentication of who He is.
So what? What can be made of this and where is the contradiction? It is really quite simple. Everything from Adam to Abraham is counted in years in the Bible. The years add to 1,946. Abraham was born about 2,150 BC, a date well established in Jewish history. Thus we have 2,150 plus 1,946 to equal 4,096 BC as approximately the time of creation. We are limited in this math somewhat because the Bible only tells us that each father was so old when he had his child. To better exemplify take the case of Noah. Was Noah exactly 500 (did he have his birthday on the same day as his son Shem?) or had he been 500 for 364 days already? This does lend some uncertainty to my math, so for each generation I add a year of uncertainty. Thus in the 20 generations to Abraham I have added 20 years of uncertainty. We are also unsure exactly of Abraham’s birth although New International Version (hardly a conservative icon) lists his birth at 2166 BC. No matter—for the sake of simplicity I will give another 50 years of uncertainty, thus moving my total uncertainty to 70 years. There is not a lot of room for any more uncertainty.
Bishop Ussher gave a famous chronology in the Middle Ages for this, figuring the creation of the world to be 4004 BC. In my opinion, for the above reasons it seems impossible to be this precise, but it can be stated that the Bible does give the clear beginnings of the earth to be at or about 4,000 BC. That is, in a nutshell, the problem of evolution which now states the earth to be five billion years old. This chronology as well as an excellent short biography of Ussher is given by Answers in Genesis.
So let me state the contradiction succinctly: the literal interpretation of the Bible shows the earth to be about six thousand years old and the current hypothesis of evolution says the earth is about five billion years old. Not much room for harmony there. The choice might well be stated as Darwin or God.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
But what Ms. Winnick says in her book is even worse. Men dress in white coats, and have an aura of respect—garnering respect not just for being scientists but also for somehow having the inside track on real morality. Put in charge of the country after WWII, they have systematically undercut Christianity to further their aims. After reading the book I would say that we are not in what is frequently termed the post-modern era; rather we are in the pre-antichrist era. Our country is, as they say, going to hell in a handbasket, and it seems to be going at an unstoppable pace.
The morality many of today’s scientists sell comes from the same place that the creed of Nazism, of Satanism, and of ghastly terrorism comes from. It is in new packaging but is the same old product. Coming from the depths of the hell it is concerned only with deceiving followers into descending into the same depths from which all such philosophies originate. It is all the more horrific when it is done by men who ought to, and indeed, do know better. Such a moralist can see anything to make his case seem right. He reminds me of the man standing in a downpour insisting it wasn’t water that made him wet. So is the scientist who looks at nature but denies the Creator that made it, who sees the world but sees only an accidental burp followed by ten billion other accidental burps that produce the wonders of life. A man that denies God has already denied everything that is.
Ms. Winnick fingers the wrong philosophies and the people behind them in a very scholarly work. But she is also careful to point her finger at those scientists who wrest their craft to fit their belief; she makes a clear distinction between the hard science of mathematics and the soft science of biology, a distinction I fear is lost on our present society.
For instance, she quotes mathematicians in the sixties who questioned the probability of evolution. Two brief quotes will suffice. “‘We believe that there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe the gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology,’ said Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger, an internationally renowned mathematician.” In other words, hard scientists were dubious about evolution’s even being possible. Beneficial mutations are so mathematically improbable that in the words of historian Gertrude Himmelfarb it would be “an improbability as great as . . . a monkey provided with a typewriter would by chance peck out the works of Shakespeare.” My observation is that perhaps the biologists would be better served to get those monkeys typing. After all they do have a case to prove.
Anyway, I am delighted with the thoughts provoked so far by reading A Jealous God. I am only about one half of the way through it and may post again on it. By all means, put it on your reading list. Be ready for a book that will turn your stomach a bit—at least it did mine. But I do not think that is the fault of the author. Instead it is the fault of the country giving itself over to the latest idolatry—men in white coats.
Monday, February 06, 2006
The current leader of Iran believes passionately in his coming. He looks to his religious creed and says the following: "The ultimate promise of all Divine religions," says Ahmadinejad, "will be fulfilled with the emergence of a perfect human being [the 12th Imam], who is heir to all prophets. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace.” To a Christian who does believe in the One perfect human who is also God, these words ring in a frightening manner.
Throughout history many Protestants, (I believe both Calvin and Luther, but I am not on firm ground here, only twenty year old memories of stale studies) have believed the man of sin would be a pope. Today I think many Protestants would be alarmed to even countenance that as a rational thought. We just are not sure. We do know that his rise to power will be spectacular, and many will be deceived.
When the last pope was selected, I did read of an interesting tradition. I wish I had marked the article, and am going to try to go back and find it. Actually it was maintained to be an actual prophecy. Many popes were prophesied to come and the last pope was named. According to this prophecy of many hundreds of years ago, the current pope is to be the second to last in what the prophecy said was a chain of (here my memory is unclear) of an immense number of popes. Each pope had a specific prophecy about his nature or his work. The prophecies were not too clear especially to one unstudied in popiology, as I am. But the really interesting point of the article was that there is to be but one more pope after the current one.
In like manner it seems to me that even the irreligious elements of our society are prophesying frantically about the end of the world. Of course they see no coming Savior, preferring to think of the end of the world in a Mad-Max (Mel Gibson) scenario. Al Gore in Earth in the Balance and Rachel Carson in her Silent Spring speak of coming destruction of the earth, though always evading the responsibility of man to his Creator.
Where and When? We are not sure as Christians, but I do believe the time is very near. In any case here are the Biblical pillars which are important to stress.
1) He is coming. (He who is taken up from among you into heaven will return in the same way.)
2) He is coming soon. (When the fig tree begins to bud, know that that generation shall not pass away until they see the coming of the Son of Man)
3) When He comes He will have a hard time finding faith on the earth. (When the Son of Man returns will he find faith on the earth?)
4) We are to vigilantly watch for his return. (We are told to be as watchmen in the night, for we know not at what hour He comes.)
I used to have an old Southern Baptist friend who often quoted to me the old refrain about prayer: Pray as if it all depends upon God; work as if it all depends on you.
I think that refrain might be slightly changed for the sake of our subject to: Expect him to come today but work as if you are going to have a tomorrow. Of course one day soon we will not have the tomorrow; at least not in our present bodies. What exciting times we do live in! All of the world has groaned and travailed for this brief moment in history that most of us will be privileged to see.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
But we see some missionaries who are called to great harvests. I recently read a biography on George Whitefield, and a fine work it is. As I read the book I realized that I may owe my very own salvation to the work that God did with early Americans through George some 200 years ago. What a marvelous thing the work of the Spirit is such that “no man knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” My question is why is it that some are called in the Providence of God to relatively lackluster ministries, while others shine like a city on a hill?
In my own life my wife and I saw in an all-too-brief-time a couple of hundred people come to salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet I am 53 years old now, and many of those years of my life have been bereft of much fruit. Why is it that God worked so wonderfully those first years, and not as much later on?
An introspective soul might blame himself; on many occasions I have certainly done that. But when my life is carefully self-examined before God, I am left only with the Providence of God. Why is the Providence of God thus? Why is it not something else which I would prefer?
I think the last question has to do finding the key to my question. If God’s Providence were what I wanted it to be it would not be God’s at all—it would be my providence. I may not be sure of much in this twisty turning wicked world, but at least I am sure of this: the world is a better place for it not being my Providence. And that is perhaps the only answer we get when we ask God why. It is his immutable sovereign purpose that is working its way out, whether we will or no, and it is in that knowledge we find our refuge. Even so, come Lord Jesus.