Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
Today, the term “science” is overused, or should I say abused? People conflate consensus with knowledge. To get rid of today’s biases, let’s go back in time to see how Noah Webster defined the word nearly 200 years ago. Webster told us that “science” refers to “knowledge, or certain knowledge; the comprehension or understanding of truth or facts by the mind” (Webster). The focus then shifts to determining the facts upon which we can rely. Perhaps you’ve heard that something can only be established as fact if it is observable or repeatable in the case of an experiment. That determination is valid.
Thus, regardless of whether you accept the existence of a Creator or believe our existence is the result of random chance, you must recognize your conclusion as a matter of faith. This admission is not to say that there isn’t any evidence. There is proof. The Creator supplies testimony of Himself that the creationist accepts. But, it becomes a matter of faith because we were not present to witness firsthand events, and we cannot recreate our universe’s emergence from chaos or nothingness. As a creationist, I have more reason to believe in my facts than the person who has to think that everything came from nothing, an event that all of written history fails to report.
I apologize for the lengthy preface, but a brother once chastised me for not approaching these topics more “scientifically.” There appears to be an irrational belief that you cannot open your mouth to speak on a subject unless you have a doctorate. People seem to have forgotten that the world had learned men before American colonials established Harvard or Yale. Indeed, men like Abraham Lincoln, who kept the American Union together, were self-taught. No one questions Lincoln’s wisdom as they read the speeches that have outlived him.
However, in this information age, we have become skeptical of any information that contradicts our paradigm. I’m not necessarily condemning this skepticism because it’s often justified. As Christians, we recall the Holy Spirit’s compliment to the noble Bereans for cross-referencing Paul’s sermons with God’s Word (Acts 17.11). But we must remember that education is only a tool, a means to an end. Education teaches us how to comprehend the truth. Any idiot can wield a chisel, but only the diligent can carve a statue out of a marble slab. I say this to remind us that a man with an advanced degree can have an overpriced piece of paper and stumble over a topic, whereas an avid reader can speak eloquently about the issues about which he reads.
I cannot speak eloquently on the science found in Genesis 1.1-2. I can only offer what I’ve learned from researching the topic. I will say that I have made an effort to comprehend opposing viewpoints. They can be entertaining, even if I know they are not valid explanations for our existence. I add that God did not intend the Bible to be a science textbook. As a result, any science gained from the Bible results from the fact that the Bible is true (John 17.17).
Friends who do not believe in a Creator are left to believe in one of several competing theories. Most of us are familiar with the Big Bang. In August 2022, some said that the James Webb Space Telescope disproved the Big Bang theory. On the other hand, scientists claim that such a declaration results from a false scientific approach (Cooper). Fair enough. There would be several other intriguing alternative explanations, even if one dismissed the Big Bang. The concept of quantum entanglement is one of these theories. Don’t worry. I won’t even attempt to explain it since I have no advanced degrees in physics.
However, time, energy, space, and matter are all mentioned in Genesis 1.1. Interestingly, NASA informs us that the universe “includes all of space, and all the matter and energy that space contains. It even includes time itself” (Brennan). So, Genesis 1.1 looks at our existence from a scientific point of view.
“In the beginning” refers to time.
“God created” refers to energy.
“The heavens” refers to space.
“The earth” refers to matter.
But this is where things get tricky. God used the idea of time to help us understand. He did this by dividing the creation into 24-hour blocks of creative work, starting in verse 3. Real-time, however, began when the light from day one merged into the sun on day four, the sun around which our planet transits. A year is a unit of time defined by one complete revolution around this star. God elaborated further with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, saying that they “serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1.14 NASB).
We would not know that there were three consecutive 24-hour periods if God did not elaborate that what He did on days one through three was completed in an evening and morning, a day (i.e., the Hebrew “yom,” which implies the length of a typical day). As a result, God completed the initial work of creation when time did not exist. I don’t say this as a concession to allow for a fourteen billion-year-old universe.
The unspoken implication is that God first created the material from which He would later shape our universe, as demonstrated in Genesis 1.2. There was something nebulous there, over which God’s Spirit hovered before He said, “Let there be light.” What happens when you try to age something that existed before time? Consider the dating techniques we employ and the potential flaws they contain. These methods necessitate consistency. When estimating the decay of a radioactive isotope in a rock, for example, I must assume that this radioactive element has always decayed at the same rate. Have any of us been alive during the time required to observe the stated decay rate? In short, the answer is no. How did these radioactive isotopes get into that rock in the first place?
There’s also the question of what we see when God creates flora, fauna, and humanity. He made all of these things fully mature and capable of reproducing. Thus, despite being only seconds old, Adam would have appeared to be an adult man. Why should our planet and universe be any different? There is no reason for me to make an exception. As a result, a mature world may appear billions of years old despite being only ten thousand years old.
Despite being frequently used against Christians, I believe Occam’s razor is on the side of creationists. The most basic explanation for our origin is that a Being with the ability to create a universe did so. Otherwise, our observations of this complex universe force us to resort to explanations including absurdities, such as the possibility that a Higgs boson or something similar exploded and produced all of the universe’s material, which gradually shaped itself into what we now observe. The latter shaping process managed to do so without the assistance of Intelligence and created conditions on one specific planet orbiting a star in just the right place to allow primordial seas to slosh together the right set of molecules capable of transforming an inanimate substance into an animated one. The topper is that we have not even explained from whence the Higgs boson has come.
When all is said, it comes down to faith. Which set of facts will be accepted? I’ll borrow a smug expression from today: “I’ll trust the science.” Yes, I believe in the science of Genesis 1.1-2.
Webster, Noah. “Websters Dictionary 1828 – Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Science.” Websters Dictionary 1828, webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/science. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.
Cooper, Keith. “The James Webb Space Telescope Never Disproved the Big Bang. Here’s How That Falsehood Spread.” Space.com, 7 Sept. 2022, www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-science-denial.
Brennan, Pat. “What Is the Universe? | What Is an Exoplanet? – Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond Our Solar System.” Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond Our Solar System, exoplanets.nasa.gov/what-is-an-exoplanet/what-is-the-universe. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.
Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
Several of our classes have assistants to the Bible class teacher. She (or
perhaps in select cases “he”) serves in a support role, helping students do handwork, find Bible verses, or occasionally keep order. These are vital roles, and often a teacher’s aid later actually becomes a teacher. Teachers’ aids are part of a great team and education system that benefits everyone in the classroom.
There is a constant, pressing need for more teachers’ aids. I don’t mean in the actual classroom during the “Bible class hour.” These aids are needed Sunday afternoons, late Wednesdays, Saturday afternoons, and/or opportune moments between these times. These aids have even more power than those helping the teacher in the classroom. They are the parents and care-givers of the students. There are several ways they can “aid” the teachers who put in hours of preparation time and tons of energy and emotion into the task of teaching.
Aid teachers by making sure your children do their homework. Most teachers give homework, memory work or activity sheets. This is a vital supplement to the actual lesson taught in class. When children come to class with their homework done, teachers are elated and made to feel that their efforts are appreciated. They feel that their students take the class as seriously as they do.
Aid teachers by asking about what they have learned. Ask your children what they talked about in class that day. Ask them to review as much as they can. Ask them what they learned and how they can make application from the class. What better topic of conversation can parents and children discuss on the way home from services?
Aid teachers by making sure they feel appreciated. One way to do this is by making sure you practice the first two suggestions. However, having the child send a thank you note or by personally thanking your child’s teacher, you are aiding through the means of encouragement. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Teachers are no different.
The qualifications are simple enough. To be this type of teacher’s aid, simply do all you can to partner with the efforts of your children’s teachers. Your child, your home, and your child’s teacher will all be blessed by it.
pinch-hitting for Carl, who is in the delivery room!
Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
I Thess 1.7-9 shows that when we believe something enough to fundamentally change our lives, it makes a powerful statement to the world. Our reason for this change is outlined in 1.10: We’re waiting for God’s son to come from the sky. This verse is a summary of our purpose.
Jesus came back to life as proof of concept. Death is terrifying to most of us because it’s unknown. Jesus died and came back to life after a couple of days to prove that death’s temporary. Paul hints in I Cor 15.50-52 that death will only last fraction of a second from our perspective. One moment we’ll pass away, the next we’ll be awakened by Jesus’s return. This is a huge comfort to us because we’re God’s people. But this should be terrifying to people who don’t love God. When we come back to life, we’ll get to leave this place with Jesus. But everyone else will suffer forever.
We also learn from 1.10 that Jesus’s return is to rescue us when God unleashes his anger on the earth. II Pt 3.5-7 describes the end of earth as a fire-flood. It’s clearly compared to the ancient world’s water flood. I Thess 4.17 tells us that we’ll meet him in the air, which would have to take place before the atmosphere is obliterated by whatever thermal event wipes this place out (II Pt 3.10, 12). Jesus is our savior. To put σωτήρ (soter) in modern English, Jesus is our rescuer. What’s he rescuing us from? Our sin is part of that, but ultimately he’s going to rescue us from God’s anger when the world is destroyed for the last time (Phil 3.20; I Thess 1.10).
Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
The tsunami traveled at a speed of about 200 miles per hour across the Pacific Ocean. That massive wave would kill sixty one people in Hawaii, one hundred and thirty eight in Japan, and thirty two in the Philippines. This Chilean earthquake which occurred on May 22, 1960, may be the largest earthquake ever recorded.
The word “vexed” is an old Latin word meaning “to quake/rumble” and although Latin isn’t the language that the Old Testament was written in, the Old English word was used by scholars when translating Ecclesiastes 1.18.
“For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
At first glance, it may seem like Solomon is discouraging one from pursuing knowledge— but the message is a lot deeper.
Some have taken the view that Solomon is speaking of an earthly knowledge. It’s true that the sort of knowledge the world offers isn’t going to bring you the kind of fulfillment that the wisdom God provides. The world’s understanding lacks the answers to major questions which are essential to our spiritual health. Where did we come from? What’s the purpose of life? What happens when we die? Is this all there is? Earthly wisdom will either provide one with answers with holes, answers that are depressing— or no answers at all.
However, God’s wisdom can bring much vexation as well.
With God’s wisdom you come to understand that the majority of people on earth aren’t pursuing Him. You discover that most people live their lives in a way that grieve Him. That sort of understanding also brings you closer to that God. When the Lord is upset, troubled, angered, frustrated, or vexed, then his faithful are going to feel similarly.
With much of God’s wisdom, comes much vexation. With much of the world’s wisdom, there’s much vexation. The question we should ask, is why do we want our souls to be troubled? You can be fulfilled and troubled at the same time because with God, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
A new episode of “Looking Up with Kathy And Carla” dropped today. Why not stop by and listen to two friends discuss life and The Light!
Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
In southern Peru, there is a massive area of geoglyphs carved into the ground and rock. They are named for the area, called the Nazca Lines. There are humongous carvings of people and animals, National Geographic reporting that “in total, there are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures and 70 animal and plant designs, also called biomorphs. Some of the straight lines run up to 30 miles, while the biomorphs range from 50 to 1200 feet in length (as large as the Empire State Building)” (NAT GEO). There are so many theories about the meaning and purpose of these etchings, made by a people who could not have seen the entirety of figures that require aerial view to take in. It is suggested that these geoglyphs were formed between 500 BC and 500 AD by people from at least two distinct cultures. Overall, they have been well-preserved (aided by lowest annual rainfall rates in the world) and their authenticity is indisputable.
While this massive ancient project raises more questions than answers, it points to an effort that was done by a people whose work could not be appreciated in their own lifetime. The time, calculation, effort, and plotting required to draw these figures in the ground is awe-inspiring. We could argue that their work did not have the significance of medical breakthroughs, ingenious inventions, and literary brilliance, but they are still impressive. They could not see the fruits of their own labor, yet they continued to diligently work.
When it comes to matters of faith, how hard it is to labor with such foresight. The decisions we make every day, the priorities we map out for ourselves and our families, even the seemingly insignificant choices definitely impact ourselves. But, we are also building for the future in ways that we may never see in our lifetime. They will eat the fruit of the trees we are planting today.
Asaph urged an investment in the faith of one’s descendants. He says, “For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, That they should put their confidence in God And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Ps. 78:5-8).
When we write God’s love and His will on the hearts of our children, it increases the likelihood that generations yet unborn will trust, remember, and obey God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:2-3)! That’s profound! New Testament Christianity extends back several generations on my mother’s side. The same is true of Kathy’s father’s side of the family. We pray daily for our children’s faith and their children’s faith. Won’t it be wonderful to spend eternity with descendants, maybe many generations removed from us, who “saw” our faith and imitated it? That is a wonder that far exceeds any archaeological find!
Live your faith! Not only will it save you, but may contribute to the salvation of many generations yet to come. Keep writing on tablets of human hearts. The future will see it and marvel!
Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman
I like to ask questions; these are rhetorical. Have you ever lost something and been frustrated or sad that it’s no longer here? What about someone ? I know I have. I think we can all relate.
And what about this. Have you ever given away something, whether a donation or to a friend, and regretted it because you needed it later?
These people and or things that came to your mind, would you like to have them back? Some may be less important than others, but regardless the point remains.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought about something or someone I’d like to have back.
Beyond people and things, what about time? I’m sure a decent portion of us are happy with where our life is now, I know I am blessed beyond measure.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t certain events or decisions we wouldn’t mind to have a do over on. I mean, after all, hindsight is 20/20, right?
If hindsight is 20/20, What about foresight? Think about this, it’s impossible to change your past. You can try all you want. You can’t do it. But you can change your future.
You can make a decision here and now that you’re going to stop, start, or continue down any number of paths. So, which path are you going to take?
To help reflect on this, let’s take a look at a passage from 1st John 1 – Verses 6 and 7: If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
With this in mind, I want us to fast forward from the here and now. We are going all the way to judgment day. We are standing there awaiting our final judgment. Suddenly, you find yourself amongst those doomed souls that are told to depart. It’s no small matter, being eternally separated from God and his grace.
Now, what would you do if you were given a second chance? You’re told, you can have that “do over”. All you have to do is follow the plan laid out in the Bible and you’ll be given that opportunity to go back with that ever elusive do over. Scripture like John 14 – Verse 15 tells us. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
I don’t know about you, but when I explore this idea, I’d like to imagine that I would move mountains with this second chance. So what stops me from having this level of commitment now?
Why do so many of us squander the first chance, knowing we can’t have a second when this life ends. It sounds trivial to compare this to anything earthly, and in a way it is, but the idea that we would attempt to prepare for anything of an earthly matter, but not expend a tremendous amount of our time and energy on spiritual preparation is really something to reflect on.
I think it’s amazing we have the gift of free will, but it’s important we understand there is an enormous responsibility that comes with that free will.
Our Lord has given us the roadmap. We must follow it. We said earlier hindsight is 20/20. But foresight….. is 66 books long. We just have to pick up the good book and apply it to our lives. We won’t be perfect. We just need to aim our feet and hearts down the road laid out before us.