“Created for His Enjoyment? “

“Created for His Enjoyment? “

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

While in college, I accompanied a friend to Chattanooga to pick up her car from her parents. Both of us were from rural Appalachia and shared a love for nature. Thus, learning that the Tennessee Aquarium was our rendezvous point did not surprise me. It was my first visit to this establishment, and I was impressed. Among the permanent exhibits, there was a temporary one featuring jellyfish. I thought that was lackluster from the sound of it. As I discovered, jellyfish can be quite beautiful. 

There were varieties of jellyfish (i.e., comb jellyfish) looking like UFOs, filled with running lights. I felt like I was watching a science fiction movie as the jellyfish slowly moved through the water. If you have seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you may recall the scene where the aliens converge on Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The “men-in-black-types” atop Devil’s Tower used musical tones associated with colored lights to “communicate” with the extraterrestrial visitors who replied with the same notes and colors. That is what I recalled watching those jellyfish.  

I suppose there may be a sense in which I was watching ambassadors from another world. These are creatures that humanity does not usually get to see, outside of a documentary such as the BBC’s Blue Planet. I suppose prey are attracted to the light. However, a blind mechanism, like evolution, would not have given them the beauty I witnessed. Intelligence must have designed them this way since a single glowing color would be sufficient to attract their meals. Jellyfish would not need a rainbow of colorful lights. Indeed, these comb jellyfish spoke to me of an unseen God (cf. Romans 1.20). 

Isaiah 43.7 informs us God created Israel for His glory. I wish to treat this passage with great care since Christians sometimes use it to give rationale to God’s creation of all humanity. Yet, God made it clear that He picked an insignificant group on purpose (Deuteronomy 7.7). To what end? He could show the world His power and bring salvation through their seed (cf. Genesis 3.15; 22.18). That said, we may safely conclude that God created everything with a purpose. When one can view amazing spectacles, usually observed only by an omnipresent God (cf. Psalm 139), it is hard not to suppose God made things also for His enjoyment.  

In addition to these alienesque gelatinous animals, God has other interesting “sights” to which only He has a regular vantage. Beneath the arctic ice, for example, one can find coral with, admittedly, more subdued colors than their kin in warm, tropical waters. Yet, here is something beautiful and unexpected no human typically sees. But God does. What about other aspects of creation that suggest they exist for God’s enjoyment? Some people say platypuses show God’s “sense of humor.” Consider the amalgamation of creatures one sees within the platypus. The platypus is a mammal but lays eggs. Like an avian, platypuses have duckbills and webbed feet. A platypus has a tail like a beaver and otter-like fur. Male platypuses are even venomous! Platypuses are so odd, in fact, that the first scientists examining them felt someone was pranking them. (“platypus”1)   

Yes, God created the universe and all that is in it per His Will. Maybe God makes nations that can show His glory like ancient Israel. Perhaps, God creates organisms for no other reason than His enjoyment, like comb jellyfish and platypuses. But we know God created humanity so He could have a relationship with us. That is why the Father intervened by sending His Son (Isaiah 53.10-11; John 3.16), and why we find our purpose in doing God’s Will (Ecclesiastes 12.13-14).   

Works Cited 

1 “Platypus.” National Geographic, National Geographic Partners, LLC., 21 Sept. 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/p/platypus/.  

Sailing Stones 

Sailing Stones 

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

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Brent Pollard

Death Valley. The very name is foreboding. Yet, Death Valley is the home to an extraordinary phenomenon known as “sailing rocks.” On the border of California and Nevada, there is a section of the Death Valley National Park called the Racetrack Playa. It is a dry riverbed. Why is it referred to as a “racetrack?” Dotting the Racetrack Playa are those sailing stones that seemingly move of their own accord. No human eye has observed one of the rocks move, and yet, it is evident that they do. Stones weighing even hundreds of pounds move across the dry riverbed, leaving evidence of their journey in a trail through the sand behind them.  One of the longest observed tracks was 1,500 feet long. And so, these rocks race across Death Valley.

First recorded in the early 1900s, scientists have endeavored to discover the truth behind the sailing stones. In 2014, scientists were finally able to capture the movement of the rocks using timelapse photography. As the National Parks website suggests, “The results strongly suggest that the sailing stones are the result of a perfect balance of ice, water, and wind.” 1 The National Park Service further detail the findings of cousins, Richard and James Norris:

Their observations show that moving the rocks requires a rare combination of events. First, the playa fills with water, which must be deep enough to allow formation of floating ice during cold winter nights but shallow enough to expose the rocks. As nighttime temperatures plummet, the pond freezes to form sheets of “windowpane” ice, which must be thin enough to move freely but thick enough to maintain strength. On sunny days, the ice begins to melt and break up into large floating panels, which light winds drive across the playa pool. The ice sheets shove rocks in front of them and the moving stones leave trails in the soft mud bed below the pool surface. 2

It is undoubtedly a remarkable sight. The wonder this phenomenon instills likewise reminds us of the majesty and power of the Invisible Intelligence (cf. Romans 1.20), creating the very physics making moving rocks possible.

As I read about the sailing stones, I could not help but recall the words of Jesus when asked by the Pharisees to rebuke His followers. The occasion was Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people were crying out their “hosannas” to the Lord. Jesus told the Pharisees, quoting from the prophet Habakkuk, that “if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19.40 NASB; Habakkuk 2.11) Indeed!

If you ever question your worth to God, recall the sailing stones. Without the benefit of intelligence or purpose, they still point to their Creator. They appear to be immovable, and yet are pliable by the laws God put in place. As I take stock of what I can do, I note that even I can do more than the sailing stones, possessing locomotion and free will. How shameful, then, when I choose to sit silent as a boulder. May God use me like a rock so others can see my deeds and give God the glory (Matthew 5.13-16).

REFERENCES:

1 The Sailing Stones of Death Valley. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/sailing-stones-death-valley

2 The Racetrack. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/the-racetrack.htm

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Life Illustrated 

Life Illustrated 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Contentment In Life 

As a young boy I can clearly remember the feelings I had in school. I was ready to be done with text books, math, science, and all the other trials and tribulations that I felt were too much for me to bear. I longed for the day when I could set my own bedtime, go where I wanted to go, spend money on whatever I wanted, and be looked at as an adult. I wish there was still a once-hated nap time scheduled in my daily life. My life, like many others, consisted of school and play, yet I looked forward to a future life that my young heart deemed better. It’s not better and it’s not worse— rather I’m just faced with new challenges that come with a new stage in life. We look forward to the future, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we are content with the present. Older couples will often state how fast the time has gone! Parents will look back on the years that flew by and always seem to ask the question, “Where did the time go?” Every hour was sixty seconds, every day was twenty four hours, and every year was a full three hundred and sixty five days. Our bodies run down, our hair turns gray, and our problems don’t end– they just differ from chapter to chapter. We are all living a vapor of a life, then off to eternity! When the dust settles over our caskets, when friends and family leave the cemetery, when they move on with their lives, what is left behind is our legacy and the impact we made. If life is a vapor and eternity is endless, our focus should be on the latter.

Endurance In Life 

Wilbur Wright was playing ice hockey as a young man when one of the players struck him in the mouth with his hockey stick. Wilbur Wright, who was known for being outgoing and articulate, had plans to teach at Yale college. The complications with his injury made him give up that dream and go into a depression. The man that gave him the injury was known as the neighborhood bully, and it is speculated that he did this to Wilbur on purpose. That bully later on became addicted to cocaine and eventually he was discovered to be a mass murderer. He killed sixteen people after reading the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because he related to Mr. Hyde. Wilbur, despite an unfair and unplanned accident, went on to invent the first motorized airplane and change the world forever. Bad things happen to good people, but we have a choice on how we respond and what we chose to do next.

The Last Blink 

God created the world in 6 days. 144 hours. 8,640 minutes. 518,400 seconds. But He’ll come back and end it all in the blink of an eye. Just like that time is gone and everybody is sent into eternity. Though it’s a figure of speech, the average human can blink in 3/10ths of a second. God made “the blink” that quick so you could close your eye quickly enough to protect it from debris, bright bright light, and to illustrate for us the way He’ll return.

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Wilbur Wright (right)

God Revealed (poem)

God Revealed (poem)

Neal Pollard

The mighty arm of creation, brooding or building
The hand that tipped the canopy, drowning sinners
The finger that stirred the languages, babblers yielding
The heart that made the heirs of Abram winners

The Majesty presented in a bush, resilient though burning
The Master who through plagues made Pharaoh submit
The Merciful One who longed for Israel’s returning
The Measuring Rod whose justice sin did not acquit.

The everlasting to everlasting, whose word’s a holy knife
Inhabitant of the heavens, swaddling Incarnate babe
Kindling Spirit, Father, Son, the way, truth and life
Perfect in character, with power the obedient to save.

Gatekeeper of heaven, consigner of the wicked to hell
Served by angels, ruler of the living and the dead
Spirit, love and light, divinest nature not one part frail
Eyes all-seeing, mind all-knowing, power unlimited.

Hope of the hopeless, joy for the tearful mourner
Source of strength for the heavy-laden soul
Lifter of the penitent fallen, all-glory adorner
Author of salvation who one day will call the judgment roll.

Since He is and is rewarder, let not one refuse His order!
If Satan’s power you’d have repealed, obey the God the word’s revealed!

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INTELLIGENT DESIGN

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Neal Pollard

A child was sent to school one day,
By parents walking the narrow way,
The child learned many a concrete rule,
On Math and English in that school.
The history class did pretty well,
Spelling and language arts were swell,
But right before lunch, to science class,
Biology lessons one needed to pass.
Talk was made of ironclad “fact,”
“Evolution!” Of course.  The talk was packed
With tales of geology billions of years old,
And transformations a wonder to behold.
Every smart person, any rational mind
Accepts this “fact,” oh who’d be so blind,
So Neanderthalish to speak of design—
Intelligent purpose, such talk unbenign!
‘Tis a danger, the courts should never allow
A nod up to heaven or a teacher to bow
To the concept of design purposefully forged
Such poisonous food for a young mind to be gorged.
What’s next? Talk of accountability?
A Creator in heaven? Judgment? Eternity?
Outrageous that Bible thumpers insist
To include in school teaching such mythical mist.
Let’s stick to the concrete, from our father of faith
Brother Darwin’s didactics, so sacred and safe.
“Amen!” to Precambrian. Naturalism? “Preach on!”
Such humanistic glory, let God talk be gone!
We got here by purposeless, meaningless oops,
Universal precision via primordial soups.
So close up your Bible, turn off your mind,
Away with your dangerous, intelligent design.
Content yourself wholly with invertebrate grandmothers,
And bask in the beauty of babboonish brothers.
Any questions, young minds?  No?  Class is dismissed!
Go out into a world of designless abyss.

Ignore clues from systems both solar and lunar,
Or circular or vascular, far better the sooner,
The opposite of intelligent? Slow-minded and shallow
Of design? Confusion, a mess, a fog, or fallow.
How many a little mind, trusting and bright?
Are being led blindly minus logical light?
By teaching unintelligent, but doubtless by design,
To eternal unreadiness via moral decline?

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Transgender Voyeurism?

Transgender Voyeurism?

Neal Pollard

It’s a clash of political correctness agendas, though the latter one is extremely legitimate.  On one side, we have the recent, insane push for recognizing transgenderism—even that which is simply claimed and asserted at the apparent whim of the claimant.  On the other side is an important, needed aspect of feminism—protecting women from the sexual aggression of men. Both are fiercely championed by those of a liberal mindset, and the two came face to face in the “gender neutral” bathrooms of Whitney Hall at the University of Toronto.  Ironically, two incidents of voyeurism, where male students were “caught holding their cellphones over female students’ shower stalls and filming them as they showered” (dailywire.com), occurred in September, 2015, just as the push was heating up for men and women to choose the public bathroom of the gender they felt themselves to be. Our sitting president even defended a federal transgender directive for public school bathrooms, allowing “transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, saying that society must protect the dignity and safety of vulnerable children” (nytimes.com, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, 5/16/16). The outlandishness of such baseless thinking had already been demonstrated well before this “guidance” issued by the Education and Justice Departments was made public this Spring.

There is a biblical and biological answer to what has amazingly become an enigma and conundrum for everyone from politicians to corporations. Jesus said, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). There are external ways to both test and validate these, and are as accessible as a basic medical examination. I trust a Creator whose ability is demonstrated everywhere from the order and continuous operation of the universe to the magnificence of the earth to the intricacies of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to somatic cells to our DNA.

In the world’s rabid desire to reject His authority, there’s no wonder that people concoct such far-fetched, senseless ideas as we are seeing put forward at the present time. Paul traces the genesis of such ludicrous ideas, saying, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper…” (Rom. 1:28). Until that mindset changes, we are likely to see more issues like the push to accept transgenderism and welcome it into our public private places (like bathrooms in stores and dorms) even if they produce the kind of actions reported in Whitney Hall.  May more people simply and humbly follow the perfect guidance of God’s Word.

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On December 10, 2014, The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health and National Center for Transgender Equality are hosting a Community Clinician Roundtable for providers who care for transgender patients in the Washington, DC, MD, VA community. The roundtable will include physicians, nurses, therapists, attorneys, and health care staff who support this population. The Center for Total Health will convert two existing multi-stall restrooms to be Gender Neutral during the roundtable. The Center has previously made this designation for LGBTQ supportive events, and is collaborating with the Kaiser Permanente Garfield Innovation Center to pilot multi-stall gender neutral restrooms in health care facility construction moving forward

See The Living God (Poem)

See The Living God (Poem)

Neal Pollard

I cannot stop staring at the mountains and the skies

The beauty is so breathless, an endless feast for my eyes

I cannot look at all this and give credit to luck or chance

I’m a victor of the Creator, not a victim of circumstance.

The heavens preach this sermon, Our God He loves and lives

All nature shares the message, what joy and hope it gives

He’s up in heaven waiting until the day He’ll bring us home

For now He’s left us evidence, and we pray, “Lord Jesus, come.”

I cannot stop looking into my little baby’s eyes

I see his parents’ imprint when he laughs and when he cries

In awe my tears are welling as his face shows eternity

This little one God’s endless power shows to all who clearly see

You cannot look at people and fail to see the living God

Our design says a designer, to say “no God” is to play the fraud

He’s patiently waiting for more people to come to Him and live

What will you do with this moment?  Give what you have to give.

I cannot stop reading this Book that explains it all

My cause, my purpose, my destiny, His plan, His way, His call

It has proven to be perfect, it’s been tried and tried again.

It says there is an answer to my problem it calls sin.

The Bible shares the mind of God, it helps us find the way

It helps us understand His heart, and how to live today

It pierces our hearts so we’ll make room to put His will inside

How great our God to show us the path where we can walk at His side

A TRUTH IN THE MIDST OF TRANSIENCE (poem)

A TRUTH IN THE MIDST OF TRANSIENCE (poem)

Neal Pollard

Waters vast and oceans deep create a marvel and wonder
By its volume and power but also the creatures that you’ll find thereunder.
The stars and planets, galaxies, the universe, the vastness of outer space
The finest particles and smallest molecules, the most infinitesimal place.
The power of the greatest man who rules upon the land
The lowliest person who grovels around unseen and far from grand.
The outward beauty and loveliness of the Lord’s most fair person
The inward workings and intricate details of us all makes this so very certain.
To look upon the mountains high, whether green or rocky or tall
To investigate the tiniest plant and the creatures so delicate and small
Look afar or microscopically, dig and search, uncover
Test it, taste it, see it, smell it, here’s what you’ll discover
Locked within our DNA or viewed from light years away
You see the same truth, over and over, a fact that’s here to stay.
We are the evidence of a Being whose power and knowledge are unending
Who makes what is made extraordinary, through His infinite nature expending
But making what’s made and doing what’s done, His resources are not depleted
Because He is God, He’s never without. He never needs completed.
He’s worthy and mighty, He’s wonderful and true, the God we worship and serve
He’s faithful and ingenious, active and gracious, from perfection He cannot swerve
As you walk through the day and make observations, what you see or happens to you.
Whatever may change, crumble, fall, or fade away, God will still be faithful and true.

                             Endothelial cells viewed under a microscope

“THE UNIVERSE IS ETERNAL”

“THE UNIVERSE IS ETERNAL”

Neal Pollard

Articles across the scientific community of late have been postulating a similar idea. Astrophysicist Brian Koberlein suggests that there was no single point in space and time when matter was infinitely dense, saying, “The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before ‘collapsing’ into the hot dense state we call the Big Bang. Unfortunately many articles confuse ‘no singularity’ with ‘no big bang’” (briankoberlein.com). One of the most recent darlings of this explanations are Ahmed Farag Alia and Saurya Das, whose paper “Cosmology from quantum potential” is being cited by quantum physicists and astrophysicists.  As this gets traction, there should be a trickle down effect until the broader scientific community embraces this idea.

Let’s hope so!

It could be a pivotal moment in the creation versus evolution debate.  Why?  When you wade through the technical, obtuse jargon, this theory concludes that the universe is eternal.  We all know that something has always had to exist.  Our options are “intelligent, moral, animate mind” or “mindless, amoral, inanimate matter.”  The faith factor has just multiplied by a centillion for those wanting a God-less explanation.  The same argument they have tried to level against those believing in intelligent design and creation applies to them.  How did that eternal matter get here?

Here’s the difference between the two arguments.  Matter not only had to “create” itself, it also had to develop (evolve?) intelligence, morality, purpose, etc.  The Bible reveals an intelligent designer (Creator) with inherent morality, purpose, and sufficient power and energy to make it all.  “It’s too simplistic,” they say.  “How quaint!”  But to a person who is truly trying to approach these two explanations with open-minded fairness, which of these two ideas will seem more plausible?  It won’t even be a fair contest!

Let’s hope this latest attempt to explain our origin finds favor among those who “say there is no God” (Ps. 14:1) and who “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18ff).  Maybe it will help more honest searchers “find” God (Acts 17:27). I think it will!

IF THESE THINGS ARE TRUE, HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THE FACTS?

IF THESE THINGS ARE TRUE, HOW DO WE EXPLAIN THE FACTS?

Neal Pollard

  • If the theory of evolution is true, why haven’t they found any transitional fossils?  Charles Darwin, on page 413 of his tome Origin of Species, said, “Why is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.” Almost 150 years of archaeological digging and an incredible volume of fossil-findings later, the objection should be even stronger!
  • If the documentary hypothesis is true, why can’t they find even one copy or fragment? The idea that later scribes and penman wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, some almost 1000 years after the time Moses lived, is widely believed among liberal religious scholars. That there are no copies or fragments of these post-Moses writers has not done much to defuse the zeal of those who teach it.  Neither is any attempt given to explain or rebut the many statements in the Pentateuch claiming that Moses wrote them (cf. Ex. 17:14; 24:4-7; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Dt. 31:9-11).
  • If the idea of being genetically predisposed to homosexuality is true, where is the genetic evidence of it? The study most supportive of “the gay gene,” conducted in 1991 by Baiiley and Pillard, found 52% of the pairs of identical twin brothers studied were homosexual.  A much larger sample size, in an Australian study released in 2000 by Bailey, Dunne, and Martin, found only 20% concordance in identical twin males and 24% among identical twin females. Bearman and Brucker, in 2002, found less than 10% concordance (via Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(3): 524-36; Archives of General Psychiatry, 48 (12): 1089-96; and the American Journal of Sociology, 107: 1179-1205).
  • If the idea that a “fetus” is part of the mother is true, why does that unborn one have its own unique genetic code? Not only that, but the unborn can be a different blood type, gender, race, hair color, eye color, and more.
  • If the big bang theory is true, what did it and why?  Whether it is thought to have been highly concentrated matter, energy, or combination, what force acted upon it? It was there, presumably for an eternity.  Why didn’t it “bang” before it did? Why did it bang when it did? How did mind emerge from matter? How did morality emerge from non-morality? How did an explosion or expansion form such order out of chance and chaos?
  • If it is true that making moral judgments about others’ behavior is wrong, why is that moral judgment not wrong?

None of these questions is intended to exhaustively address any of the theories or world-views they represent.  Yet, so many unquestioningly and blindly accept these premises as fact when they are far from it.  Seemingly, the last resort, if ever taken, would be to accept and follow what the Bible says.  However, that is the fundamental dividing line.  Hebrews 11:6 puts it well, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”