“I’ll Trust The Science”

“I’ll Trust The Science”

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.

Sources Cited

Webster, Noah. “Websters Dictionary 1828 – Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Science.” Websters Dictionary 1828webstersdictionary1828.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 Systemexoplanets.nasa.gov/what-is-an-exoplanet/what-is-the-universe. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Brent Pollard
“Let Him Die”

“Let Him Die”

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

It sounds like an ad pitch when you say 9 out of 10 doctors agree about something. Chewing gum manufacturers, for example, would talk about how many dentists concurred about the safe use and benefits of certain brands of gum. This past summer, at the height of a health crisis, my doctors, who swore an oath to “do no harm,” told my parents to let me die. Yes, 9 out of 10 doctors thought I’d be better off dead. They said that even if I could recover, I would have no quality of life. My parents would have none of it. Through threats of litigation, my dad “persuaded” them to take those measures that led to my return from the brink. Nine out of ten doctors were wrong. I survived. They were correct about the impact on my singing voice thus far, but none of the other dire predictions proved accurate. 

The 13th Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop proved himself an ally to the pro-life movement in the United States cautioning how abortion led to a culture of death where even euthanasia becomes acceptable. Koop saved lives as a pediatrician in his civilian life. So, he asked why he should support the destruction of the thing he had long sought to preserve. That is a good question. Doctors affirm their intentions by stating the revised Hippocratic Oath. And, as they do so, they promise not to play God. But unfortunately, what Koop feared seems to be on the horizon. In addition to doctors willing to be instruments of death, you find collaborators in society at large in pop culture and government. Perhaps you have heard of certain billionaire humanists extolling the virtues of culling the global population. The verbiage of the “elite” makes it sound as if the vile demon of eugenics, as exercised in the early twentieth century by Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler, has returned.  

God is pro-life, as He is the author of it. David tells us that God is watching us being knit together in our mother’s womb during gestation (cf. Psalm 139). Furthermore, God indicated that a few of His servants had pre-birth life purposes bestowed on them by God (Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1.5; Paul, Galatians 1.15; John the Immerser, Luke 1.15; Samson, Judges 13.5). Finally, as the Messianic psalm states, God takes us from the womb (Psalm 22.9-10). How do we lose sight of this?  

First, we acknowledge that not everyone believes in God. With the absence of God, there can be no morality. Murder needs no excuse. It becomes expediency.

Second, people become callous. Research has enlightened us concerning how prevalent depictions of violence and death have become. Children play video games in which they blow opponents to bits with bullets and rockets. Adults watch television shows with blood and guts. When a pandemic comes along, you get a surreal feeling. You recognize death but feel emotionally impacted only when the coronavirus takes a kinsman. If you are tired and deal daily with death, what is one more non-related person in the morgue?

Third, there is selfishness. The infirm, demented, or chromosomally-impaired become too burdensome on a child or parent. Some European countries allow for euthanasia in such cases. It happens in the United States, too but through neglect and the provision of substandard care. (I know, I just lost an aunt under those circumstances.)

Finally, there are fiduciary factors. A patient becomes too expensive to sustain. Insurance or administrators want the plug pulled. It is nothing personal. It is just money. 

Please understand that I don’t believe that all doctors would react the same under the same circumstances. Indeed, I’ve had doctors pray with me, advocate for me, and acknowledge that God has extended my life. So there are faithful, Christian doctors. But nine out of ten doctors in their fellowship at the teaching hospital in which I found myself thought I should die. It is a sad commentary of where we find ourselves in the United States today. So choose life and advocate for it. 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1.27 NASB1995) 

Two that never gave up on Brent were our parents (here is mom with him in late June).
“Who Will Bring Me Down To Earth?” God!

“Who Will Bring Me Down To Earth?” God!

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

65093899_10156405640240922_1795016641457684480_o

Neal Pollard

The shortest book of the Old Testament is dedicated to revealing the coming punishment of a nation which descended from Esau. Edom, also called Teman (for Esau’s grandson, Gen. 36:15),  faced “the day of the Lord” (a frequent Old Testament term meaning coming, divine punishment) along with all the nations. Well over a thousand years after Esau lived, his descendants betrayed God’s people, Judah, by helping the Babylonians loot Jerusalem during the time of the captivity and exile. God took notice and the book of Obadiah is proof that He planned to take action. 

While that is the background of Obadiah, it’s the way that Edom saw itself that has been imitated by many nations in subsequent times. One of the consequences of forgetting and denying God is that the most frequent substitute put on the throne of one’s heart is self. How sweet to embrace the thought that “blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psa. 33:12). What a contrast to the frequent lamentation in Scripture about nations who forget God (Psa. 106:21; Deu. 32:18; Jud. 3:7; Jer. 3:21; etc.). 

Is it possible for people today to imitate the mindset of the Edomites? If so, how does God feel about that? How will He respond to that? It seems that at the heart of this book, we find:

THE SOURCE OF THEIR SECURITY (3-9)

Obadiah says they are arrogant and put their trust in their hiding places and their lofty places. They thought they had built a pretty impregnable defense and impenetrable destiny. This earth and world provide no such guarantees. Jesus would call this building upon the sand (Mat. 7:26-27). What do I place my confidence in? The stock market? Material prosperity? Military might? Higher education? Recreation? Retirement? None of these things are inherently wrong, but they make poor foundations for our lives. 

THEIR SIN (10-14)

It appears that the three overarching problems God has with Edom is that they did nothing when their brother (the nation of Judah) was in need (10-11), they rejoiced over their brother’s misfortune (12), and they even participated in his suffering (13-14). When we list out the “worst sins” mankind commits, where do we place apathy? God puts it at the top of His list here. Sometimes we call them “sins of omission.” Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” On Judgment Day, the Lord will place on His left hand those who saw the needs of others and didn’t meet them (Mat. 25:31-46). Obadiah depicts three stages of one spiritual cancer: indifference, gloating, and collusion. John’s sobering words are appropriate here, as he asks, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). How helpful to see our brothers–those through Christ or Adam–as God sees them.

THEIR SENTENCE (15-20)

Nine times in five verses (10-14), Obadiah refers to “the day” God visited Judah for her sins. It was the day of their disaster, distress, destruction, and misfortune. Because of Edom’s sinful response described above, God had a day set aside for them, too. They would reap what they sowed (15-16). They would suffer (18). They would lose it all (17,19-20). The future looked bright for God’s faithful remnant (17-21), but not for those who had built their lives upon the sand. 

This book has application for our world, our country, for the church, and for each of us as individuals. Frequently, life will come along and shake our confidence. How we do on the other side of that distress depends on our foundation. That is a prayerful process. We can be fire or stubble (18). May we find the strength ascend Mount Zion and the kingdom (21; Heb. 12:22-29). 

petra-4945669_960_720
Petra: In the territory of ancient Edom

Staying On The Rails

Staying On The Rails

Neal Pollard

Without A Belief In The Bible’s Inspiration…

  • Why would I read, meditate upon, or study it daily (or at all) to guide my life?
  • What will be the paradigm for directing and shaping my life?
  • From where will I draw my understanding of Who Jesus is, what He did, and how I must relate to Him?
  • How do I form my understanding of where I came from, why I am here, or where I am going?
  • Why would I trust or follow what it says to do in even a single case, circumstance, or verse?
  • What logical, ultimate constraint do I have from any behavior or act I desire to do, no matter how aberrant or outlandish society finds it?
  • How do we evaluate the content of any word, attitude, or action for rightness or wrongness?
  • On what basis would I accept absolutes, which I must (even if I absolutely deny the existence of absolute truth)?
  • Who or what will be my standard of authority?

One of the most famous movie scenes of all time depicts Dr. Richard Kimble, played by Harrison Ford, desperately running, orange prison jump suit, shackles, and all, as a derailed train caroms out of control, rapidly gaining on him, and threatening his life. The videography is spectacular, cutting quite an imposing figure.  A multi-ton mass of metal off the rail and out of control promises nothing but damage and destruction.  As long as the train is on the track, its weight and speed do not pose a threat.  If it is not, the prospects are frightening.

The premise that the Bible is the Word of God from the mind of God through men provides an answer to all the above, weighty questions.  If one refuses to accept the Bible is what it claims to be (1 Cor. 2:11-12; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Jude 3; etc.), then of necessity he or she must choose an alternate guide for life.  It is fair to evaluate that alternative with equal criticism and scrutiny.  Wisdom would seem to suggest choosing what best explains the whole picture–our complex design, moral compass, appreciation for beauty, universe’s order, and more.  What we are talking about are the very biggest issues of life! They deserve our deepest thought and wisest choice.