Tag Archives: Creation

Design Argues for a Designer

The universe demonstrates order and design; therefore, there must be a designer. The existence of order and system demands a cause for such order. Beauty, form, design, and purpose in nature all imply a creative mind, an intelligent architect.

The word teleology derives from the Greek root telos, meaning “end, purpose.” Teleology is the study of final, or ultimate, causes and suggests that design and purpose are evident in nature.

I should note that teleological explanations are not scientific explanations. Rather, they are conclusions based on observation and reason.

Here is an example:

A single human adult brain weighs about three pounds and contains 100 billion (1,000 million) nerve cells called neurons and 900 billion (nine times the number of stars in our galaxy) neuroglia. Neuroglia are specialized connecting and supporting cells of the brain and spinal cord. Yet the myriad of cells and component parts of the brain are so designed and ordered, within a structure smaller than a shoe box, that the human brain thinks, creates, contemplates, loves, hates, senses, and worships.

The central nervous system in general and the human brain in particular, constitute the strongest teleological argument for the existence of God. Otherwise, in the absence of God, the only explanation is that a cloud of hydrogen gas of unknown origin, through chance, evolved into a compact mass of highly organized and different matter, which in the body of a person, is capable of contemplating the universe!

Now which is more reasonable? Mind or Matter? Chance or Choice? Void or Intelligence?

– Bill

 

The Problem of Evil

“Either God is great or God is good, but He can’t be both.”

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Christianity is the question about evil: How can a powerful and loving God allow pain and suffering? This excerpt from Core Christianity, by Michael Horton, examines the problem of evil against the story of God’s sovereignty, goodness and love.

“If God is great and good, how can there be so much evil in the world?”

There are a lot of mysteries surrounding the attributes of God. The Bible teaches us both that God is all-powerful and that we have real freedom and responsibility. But how? We know from the Bible that God is just and yet also merciful. But how can both be true given our sin? Jesus is the answer to the mystery.

What is evil? The answer varies, depending on one’s view of God and His relation to the world. Again, the doctrines arise out of the drama: the different stories that tell us where we came from, who we are, and where we’re going. In a pantheistic worldview where the world is seen as divine, evil is an illusion. In most polytheistic religions there are good and evil spirits—gods and demons – struggling for control. According to biblical religion, however, evil is a corruption of the good. There is only one sovereign God – the triune God who created and sustains the world by the word of His power. He is good and is capable of creating only that which is good. “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1.5), and He pronounced his creation “very good” in Genesis 1.31.

Yet God also gives to creatures intelligence and freedom to worship Him or to rebel. Even Satan was once a glorious angelic servant. In a prophecy against the king of Tyre (Ezekiel 28.15–17), we have one more example of how creatures turn God’s good gifts into weapons.

Humans, created in God’s image, wanted to be gods themselves, so they rebelled. Ever since this rebellion, the world has been a place where God’s good gifts are turned into weapons against Him and each other. Even natural evils – like hurricanes and earthquakes – are evidence of the whole creation’s subjection to the curse of sin and death (Romans 8.20–22). If God were not good and great, moral and natural disasters would engulf us. We can only talk about evil because we really do experience the good. And this is only possible because God keeps evil in check. There are not two principles of good and evil, both with equal power; there is just one good creator. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28).

In pantheistic and polytheistic worldviews – not just ancient but also modern forms of paganism – evil is eternal. It’s just the way things are and have always been. However, according to Scripture evil is not a timeless principle. It is the result of certain actions that can only be related by telling a story. Creation is good. Its corruption is the result of personal rebellion against God’s good and great purposes. Yet He will overcome this evil because as a good God He wills to do so, and because as a great God He can accomplish it. He has already secured this victory objectively through Christ’s death and resurrection.

In fact, everything that Jesus was doing in His earthly ministry was part of His triumph over Satan. He fended off Satan’s temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4.1–11), cast out demons (Mark 1.21-28), and announced that he saw Satan fall like lightening from the heavenly courtroom (Luke 10.18). However powerful in his destructive capabilities, Satan is only a creature. He is not a deity. Nor is he an eternal principle. He is simply a glorious creature who corrupts God’s gifts and then uses them as weapons against his Lord. And he will be finally and forever banished.

We are assured at the end of the story that evil will have no place in the new creation:

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns’” (Revelation 196).

So when I say that the Bible tackles the problem of evil by telling a story rather than by explaining an eternal principle, this is what I have in mind. Only at the end will we know the full scale of God’s triumph over evil. And even then we will never know God’s secrets beyond what he chooses to reveal to us.

 – Michael Horton, Core Christianity, pp. 61-61
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016

 

 

What are the chances?

Just Suppose…

…you take ten pennies and mark them from 1 to 10. Put them in your pocket and give them a good shake. Now try to draw them out in sequence from 1 to 10, putting each coin back in your pocket after each draw.

10_penniesYour chance of drawing No. 1 is 1 to 10. Your chance of drawing 1 and 2 in succession would be 1 in 100. Your chance of drawing 1, 2, and 3 in succession would be one in a thousand. Your chance of drawing 1, 2, 3, and 4 in succession would be one in 10,000 and so on, until your chance of drawing from No. 1 to No. 10 in succession would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance in 10 billion.

The object in dealing with so simple a problem is to show how enormously figures multiply against chance.

So many essential conditions are necessary for life to exist on our earth that it is mathematically impossible that all of them could exist in proper relationship by chance on any one earth at one time. Therefore, there must be in nature some form of intelligent direction. If this be true, then there must be a purpose.

 – A. Cressy Morrison, Man Does Not Stand Alone

 

The Innumerable Stars

Our Sun is an UY_Scuti_zoomed_in,_Rutherford_Observatory,_07_September_2014.jpeg“average” star, so it provides a good example for descriptive purposes. It’s an immense ball of seething gasses, 864,000 miles in diameter, nearly four times the earth-to-the-moon distance. If it could be hollowed out like a pumpkin, a million planet earths could easily fit inside. But the sun isn’t hollow. Instead, an internal temperature of millions of degrees results from its furnace of nuclear reactions.

This incredible energy production goes on day and night, summer and winter. Only one billionth of the sun’s energy output actually hits the earth. The rest streams off into all directions of space. In just one second, the sun releases more energy than mankind has produced since the creation. The dramatic energy output of the sun illustrates what’s going on at this very moment throughout the entire universe. There is no shortage of energy on the part of these beautiful lights in the night sky, “the work of [God’s] fingers” (Psalm 8.3).

On a clear moonless night about 3,000 stars (suns) are visible to the unaided eye; a pair of binoculars will increase that number to around 100,000. But that’s just the beginning. The stars we see are all in our corner of the Milky Way galaxy, a galaxy of 100 billion stars, in a universe of 100 billion galaxies!

Taking the Milky Way as an average galaxy, the total number of stars is thus (100 billion)² = (10ˡˡ)² = 10²². The estimated number of stars is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, when the number is written out.

If these stars were divided up among the world’s 7 billion inhabitants, each person would receive 1,425 trillion stars! Yet all these stars may be only one page in God’s catalog of the heavens. New instruments continue to probe deeper and deeper into space, with no end in sight. It’s beginning to appear that there are actually an infinite number of stars.

What an excellent way for the Creator to display His glory! Whatever the number He’s created, God calls the stars by name and keeps count of them.

 – Donald B. DeYoung, Astronomy and the Bible

 

“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40.25-26

 

 

Beginning with the Beginning

In the beginning God…

The opening words of the Bible are profound in their simplicity. I’ve always found it interesting that the Bible never attempts to explain or defend the existence of God. Rather it assumes any rational being will recognize and acknowledge His existence because 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 (Romans 1.20).

Long ago the psalmist sang the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork and by the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; He puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him! For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm (Psalm 19.1; 33.1-9).

One of the reasons I love living in Imperial are the dark, clear, moonless nights. A short drive out of town into the country reveals the starry host above in brilliant array – it takes the breath away. On such nights Stuart Hine’s hymn inevitably comes to mind:

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hand hath made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed…Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee How great Thou art!

In the beginning was the Word…

The opening phrase of John’s gospel has always intrigued me. “In the beginning was…” So there “was” something before the beginning.

There are two “beginnings” in Scripture. The first, Genesis 1.1, tells us God was there and that He is the Creator. The second, John 1.1, takes us behind the scenes and gives us a glimpse of what was before the beginning. We’re introduced to the “Word,” the eternal logos. John reveals that He was in the beginning with God, that He was God, and that all things were made through Him and without Him nothing at all was made.

Reading a little further in John 1 we’re told that the logos became flesh. In other words, the “Word became a person” (verse 14) and lived “among us.” Reflecting on that experience, John recalled that he had seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Years later he would write “we saw Him with our eyes and touched Him with our hands” (1 John 1.1).

Seven centuries before John lived, a prophet in Israel named Isaiah promised that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel – a Hebrew word meaning God with us.

Fascinating isn’t it that the Creator Himself would choose to become a person and to share the human experience with us. That claim and that reality is made of no other god.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men (John 1.4)

When John uses the term life he usually means “spiritual life or eternal life,” but here he has a broader view in mind – Jesus is the source of all life – physical, moral, spiritual, and eternal. He is keenly concerned with all those aspects of life. His ministry focused on transforming mere life into abundant life, to have a “surplus” life, a life of meaning and purpose now and a transcendent life that exceeds our ability to comprehend. When He breathed life into the nostrils of that lump of clay, we became “living souls” (Genesis 2.7). He created us for life not death, and He came and walked among us to show us the way to true life.

In Scripture, light is frequently used of things pertaining to God while darkness is just the opposite, as in 1 John 1.6: God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. The darkness Jesus came to dispel was caused by sin. We got ourselves into this mess through our own willfulness and we’re powerless to find our own way out. That’s where He comes in – He’s “Life and Light.”

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).

Grace to you all and peace – Bill

 

Science Questions – Bible Answers

I  have  this  great  little  book  in  my  library  entitled  Astronomy  and  the  Bible:  Questions  and  Answers  by  Donald  B.  DeYoung,  PhD.    He  teaches  physics  and  astronomy  at  Grace  College  in  Winona  Lake,  Indiana.  It’s  a  fun  read  because  he  addresses  many  of  our  culture’s  secular  pseudo-scientific  prognostic  profundities.  Here  are  a  couple  of  examples:

Is  earth  the  center  of  the  universe?

It’s  popular  today  to  deny  any  special  recognition  for  the  earth.  Secular  scientists  tell  we  live  on  a  speck  of dust,  circling  a  humdrum  star  in  a  far  corner  of  an  obscure  galaxy!  While  this  is  all  true,  the  earth  remains  of  central  importance.  Scripture  gives  a  refreshing  contrast  to  secular  thinking  by  declaring  that  the  earth  and  mankind  are  not  an  insignificant  result  of  accidental  evolution.  The  Book  of  Genesis  states  that  our  planet  was  created  three  days  before  the  sun,  moon,  and  stars.  The  purposes  of  the  stars  relate  directly  to  the  earth:  to  provide  a  calendar  system  (Genesis  1.14)  and  to  declare  God’s  glory  to  men  (Psalm  19.1).

The  earth  is  also  a  universal  reference  point  in  that  Christ  came  here  to  walk  among  men,  and  will  one  day  return.  An  unseen  spiritual  battle  goes  on  for  the  souls  of  men,  focusing  on  this  earth  and  extending  to  the  high  places  (Ephesians  6.12).  The  earth  is  truly  a  spiritual  center  of  the  universe.

It  was  once  thought  the  earth  was  physically  located  at  the  exact  center  of  the  universe,  and  furthermore  that  it  didn’t  move.  Observation  clearly  shows  earth’s  movement  –  the  earth  revolves  around  the  sun  once  a  year.  It  also  rotates  on  its  axis  every  24  hours.  These  motions  add  together  in  a  dizzy  combination.  The  earth’s  spin  results  in  a  surface  speed  of  1,000  miles  per  hour  at  the  equator.  The  speed  of  the  earth  due  to  orbital  motion  around  the  sun  is  66  times  greater  still.  This  is  30  times  faster  than  a  rifle  bullet!

During  an  average  human’s  lifetime  (70  trips  around  the  sun),  41  billion  miles  are  traveled.  While  you  read  this  page,  the  earth  has  already  traveled  more  than  1,000  miles!  Fortunately,  we  don’t  directly  notice  this  motion, since  the  earth’s  faithful  gravity  force  ensures  both  its  atmosphere  and  inhabitants  remain  firmly  in  place.  However,  the  earth’s  motion  is  clearly  shown  by  the  westward  movement  of  the  sun,  moon,  and  stars  through  the  sky.

We  really  don’t  know  where  the  physical  center  of  the  universe  is.  If  God’s  heavens  are  infinite  in  extent,  then  no  center  actually  exists.  But  the  question  of  earth’s  physical  position  is  less  important  than  the  spiritual  reality  of  God’s  love  for  His  people.

The  Earth’s  Major  Motions

Rotation  on  its  axis – 1,000  miles  per  hour  at  the  equator

Revolution  around  the  sun – 66,600  miles  per  hour

Solar-system  travel  around  the  galaxy – 500,000  miles  per  hour

Overall  motion  of  the  galaxy – 1.1  million  miles  per  hour

Did  a  comet  kill  the  dinosaurs?

Some  scientists  blame  comets  for  the  lack  of  dinosaurs  on  earth  today.  They  hypothesize  that  a  large  comet  collided  with  our  planet  long  ago.  This  resulted  in  great  clouds  of  dust  in  the  air,  which  shielded  the  sun  and  cooled  the  earth’s  climate  for  many  years.  Since  the  dinosaurs  could  not  adjust  to  the  cooler  weather,  they  perished.

This  is  just  one  of  many  theories  about  the  demise  of  the  dinosaurs.  The  list  of  suggested  catastrophes,  both  on  the  earth  and  in  the  sky,  is  considerable.  Some  of  the  other  astronomical  events  used  to  explain  the  death  of  dinosaurs  are:

  1. The sun  became  either  too  hot  or  too  cold  for  dinosaurs.
  2. The world’s  climate  became  either  too  dry  or  too  wet.
  3. A supernova  exploded  nearby,  spraying  the  earth  with  radiation.
  4. Earth’s magnetic  field  reversed,  and  incoming  radiation  killed  most  life.
  5. A passing  comet  poisoned  the  earth  with  chemicals.
  6. A giant  meteorite  crashed  into  the  sea,  and  a  tidal  wave  then  swept  the  land  and  drowned  life.

There  is  a  lack  of  supporting  evidence  for  any  of  these  events!  Instead,  creationists  suggest  that  most  dinosaurs  died  as  a  result  of  the  great  flood  described  in  Genesis  6-8.  Dinosaur  types  which  were  preserved  on  the  ark  probably  faced  severe  climate  changes  following  the  flood.  Creation  research  continues  to  demonstrate  the  importance  of  the  worldwide  flood  in  explaining  earth’s  history.

 

CLUES OF GOD

If one puts aside the existence of God and the survival after life as too doubtful…one has to make up one’s mind as to the use of life. If death ends all, if I have neither to hope for good nor to fear evil, I must ask myself what am I here for, and how in these circumstances I must conduct myself. Now the answer is plain, but so unpalatable that most of us will not face it. There is no meaning for life, and [thus] life has no meaning.

 – Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up

Though we cannot offer irrefutable empirical evidence for God’s existence, there are strong clues – divine fingerprints, if you will – to be found for His reality. Those of us who think about such things have always been fascinated by the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” The question becomes even more interesting in light of the “Big Bang Theory.”

There is evidence [the second law of thermodynamics] that the universe is explosively expanding outwardly from a single point. Stephen Hawkins (The Nature of Time and Space) has observed, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” In his book, The Language of God, scientist Francis Collins asserts:

We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the “Big Bang”…the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies that before that, there was nothing. I can’t imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.

Everything we know and can be observed about our world is contingent – that is, everything has a cause, it’s dependent on something else, a cause outside of itself. The universe, which is nothing more than a huge collection of such contingent entities, would therefore itself have to be dependent on some cause besides itself. Something had to make the Big Bang happen – but what or who? What could that be but something outside of nature, a supernatural, non-contingent being that exists from itself?

In his review of Collins’ book, Sam Harris, a militant atheist, makes the classic objection to this line of reasoning. He states, “In any case, even if we accepted that our universe simply had to be created by an intelligent being, this would not suggest that this being is the God of the Bible” (truthdig.com/report/page2/20060815_sam_harris_language _ignorance/).

In one sense Harris is perfectly right. If we’re looking at this argument to prove the existence of a personal God, it doesn’t get us all the way there. However, if we’re looking for a clue – a clue that there’s something besides and beyond this natural world – then it give us a lot to contemplate.

 – Bill

Timothy Keller
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, pp. 131-33

› The Spacious Firmament on high,
With all the blue Ethereal Sky,
And spangled Heav’ns, a Shining Frame,
Their great Original proclaim:
Th’ unwearied Sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator’s Pow’r display,
And publishes to every Land
The Work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the Evening Shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous Tale,
And nightly to the list’ning Earth
Repeats the Story of her Birth:
Whilst all the Stars that round her burn,
And all the Planets, in their turn,
Confirm the Tidings as they roll,
And spread the Truth from Pole to Pole.

What though, in solemn Silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial Ball?
What tho’ nor real Voice nor Sound
Amid their radiant Orbs be found?
In Reason’s Ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious Voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
The Hand that made us is Divine.

Joseph Addison

 

 

 

 

“Hear Him.”

“Hear Him,”

says the God who made the worlds, rules among the armies of heaven, hurled down angels to hell for disobedience, and whose voice shook the earth. The God who holds the destinies of all the nations in His hand, who “weighs the hills in a balance and handles the isles as a very little thing,” in connection with the revelation of His Son, with all the majesty of His authority, says,

“Hear Him.”

Give Him audience, regard Him, bow to Him, follow Him, be guided by Him, honor and obey Him forever.

“Hear Him.”

If a man receives the revelation God makes of His Son, or, rather, if he receives His Son from the revelation He has made of Him, and bows in submission to Him in accordance with the command to,

“Hear Him,”

Confesses with the mouth before men what he believes in his heart, that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” and submits to the divine test of loyalty, being buried with his Lord in baptism, gives the highest assurance in his power to give, that he is changed in heart. He shows that he loves God and will serve Him, and is bound by the strongest obligation that can ever bind a human being, to love and serve God.

The authority that requires this submission is the highest and most binding that can rest upon a human being; and, if it does not govern, control, and restrain the person, no authority can.

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; Hear Him.”
Matthew 17.5

Benjamin Franklin, Preacher of the Gospel
(February 1, 1812 – October 22, 1878)

What Is God Like?

Communication is everything – in domestic and international relations, in marriage, in education, in business and industry, in research, and most certainly in religion. The Bible exists because God communicates.

We exist. How and why are the age-old questions of our existence. We think. We think about our origins, the nature of our being as compared to all other living things, and the purpose, if any, of the content of our lives.

The Natural Explanation

One train of thought is to pursue a natural explanation for the universe. Among the many hypotheses of this line of reasoning are that 1) The universe is the result of inexplicable natural phenomenon; it’s here and we’re still learning and trying understand how it happened. 2) Given enough time and under the right circumstances, anything can happen. Stress, pressure, cataclysm, heat, cold, and the endless expanse of space and time produced the universe. 3) While not intending to be arrogant, to our knowledge, human beings on the planet earth represent the highest life form known to exist.

The understanding of our existence is built upon the knowledge of who we are and how we function. Understanding how we function has enabled us to build a case for the existence of a universe capable of producing the kind of living beings we are. It’s circular in its approach (it starts with us and ends with us), but it’s about the best that can be done when seeking a natural explanation for our existence. And, too, it enables one to avoid the other train of thought – the supernatural.

The Supernatural Explanation

The concept of a supernatural makes some people uneasy. The reason for that is simple: It forces us to admit we aren’t in control, and even worse, we may be accountable. Yet for many people, mere casual observance of the heavens on a clear and moonless starry night compels them to believe in or at least admit the possibility of a supernatural creative force, a divine being we know as God.

Communication is everything – God communicates. The Bible exists because He wishes to be known throughout His creation. Through the medium of Scripture He provides an account of the universe’s creation and the origin of mankind. He explains the inherent traits He placed within human beings to distinguish us from all other living things.

A Moral Governor Unique to Humans

Among those traits is a moral governor only humans possess, a conscience. But without some universal standard or moral code, a conscience is of little value. In the Bible God has revealed the universal laws and moral code which govern His universe. The basic criteria which makes an action or thought right or wrong is what God has said about it. Throughout all of human history certain forms of behavior have always been deemed to be wrong – murder, theft, thuggery, sexual impropriety, incest, and promiscuity – yet in the remainder of the “animal kingdom” none of those activities are assigned any moral value.

If we are the mere result of a long evolution of natural processes, no different from any other living thing, just different branches (accidents and quirks) in the process of our development, why is it wrong for a mother to kill and eat her baby and not wrong when an animal does exactly the same thing? Where or what in an evolutionary scheme provides for the appearance or development of a conscience and a moral code to govern the conscience? There is none. The only explanation is supernatural – God.

“What is God like?” our naturally inquisitive minds want to know?.And further, we’d like Him explained in human terms, traits, and characteristics. To some extent that’s possible because He describes Himself in such manner. We understand terms and concepts like “good,” “mercy,” “love,” and “holy.” It is interesting to observe our understanding of those terms is directly related to their relationship to God. It is the nature of their relationship with God that assigns their meaning and value for us. We understand “good” because God is good; “mercy” because God is merciful; “love” because God is love; and “holy” because God is holy.

Communication is everything – and God wants us to know Him and trust Him.

 – Bill

What Is God Like?

Communication is everything

– in domestic and international relations, in marriage, in education, in business and industry, in research, and most certainly in religion. The Bible exists because God communicates.

We exist. How and why are the age old questions of our existence. We think. We think about our origins, the nature of our being as compared to all other living things, and the purpose, if any, of the content of our lives.

Where Did the Universe Come From?

One train of thought is to pursue a natural explanation for the universe. Among the many hypotheses of this line of reasoning are:

  1. The universe is the result of inexplicable natural phenomenon; it’s here and we’re still learning and trying to understand how it happened;
  2. Given enough time and under the right circumstances, anything can happen – stress, pressure, cataclysm, heat, cold, and the endless expanse of space and time produced the universe;
  3. While not intending to be arrogant, to our knowledge, human beings on the planet earth represent the highest life form known to exist.

Continue reading What Is God Like?