Science

Has Science Buried God? with John Lennox

220px-John_LennoxUnfortunately, many people today see science and faith as enemies rather than friends. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of scientists and intellectuals who are speaking out about their faith. John Lennox is one of them.

John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, is an internationally renowned speaker on the interface of science, philosophy and religion. He regularly teaches at many academic institutions including the Said Business School, Wycliffe Hall and the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, as well as also being a Senior Fellow with the Trinity Forum. He has written a series of books exploring the relationship between science and Christianity and he has also participated in a number of televised debates with some of the world’s leading atheist thinkers. Check out his excellent web site.

There are also many very good videos available of him speaking or debating atheists. For exampe, he gave this presentation at the 2013 Xenos Summer Institute (www.xenos.org/xsi) - "Has Science Buried God?". It's well worth watching - You Tube video.


Science and Faith - Sir Isaac Newton

NewtonSir Isaac Newton was one of the fathers of modern scientific revolution. Interesting, he said that his greatest passion was the Bible over and above science.

“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”

His curiosity about the world was entwined with his reverence for the Creator, whom he credited with the existence of the universe. He was able to hold his scientific discoveries in tension with his faith, rather than replacing God with natural laws.

In fact, almost all of the scientific greats of the modern period were also deeply religious people who learned to balance the need for both faith & reason.


ORIGINS #2 - Creation

OriginsThe Genesis Creation Story

Genesis 1 is a simple and majestic opening to the Bible. It introduces the two main subjects of Scripture, God the Creator and humans as his creatures, and sets the scene for their long relationship. Clearly the interests of the author are focused primarily on the patriarchs, given the amount of material allocated to their story (Gen.12-50), but the background is that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is no mere localised or tribal deity, but is the sovereign Lord of the whole earth (Gen.1-11).

There were a number of creation and flood myths in existence in ancient Mesopotamia that the author would have most likely have been aware of. One of the major goals of the Genesis creation story is to counter these mythical accounts of creation with an alternative worldview about God, the world and humankind. This story shows God as having no peer or competitor. It denies that the various forces of nature are gods or that man was created as an afterthought to serve the gods. Humans are presented as the climax of creation. God cares for and provides for them. He also empowers them to be His delegated representatives on the earth. This creation story is a triumphant affirmation of the power and wisdom of God and the wonder of His creation.

The first creation story (Gen.1:1–2.4a) looks at the story from a heavenly and divine perspective, while the second creation account (Gen.2:4b-25) looks at the story from an earthly and human perspective. The order of creation is also different. These are two versions of the same story. In the six days of creation there is a pattern, the first three days are occupied with forming while the second three days are about filling what has been formed.

Creation Theories

When it comes to the creation of the cosmos, Genesis tells us who created the world and why. The author does not tell us when (timing) or how (method). Over the years, a variety of views have developed among people of faith concerning God’s creation of the world, the three primary ones being (“Intelligent Design” is not really a separate view – www.discovery.org/csc):

1. Young Earth Creationism (see www.answersingenesis.org and www.creation.com). This group believes that God created the world in six literal 24-hour days and that the earth is only 6,000-10,000 years old. God created the earth as already appearing ‘old’ and this was enhanced by the effects of a global flood.

2. Old Earth Creationism (see www.reasons.org). This group believes in an old earth (possibly 13.8 billions years old) and that the days of creation were extended periods of time or at least that there were periods of time between each day.

3. Theistic Evolution (see www.biologos.org). This group also believes in an old earth and that God initiated the ‘big bang’ and created the world through the process of evolution. They view Genesis 1-2 as inspired Scripture but as poetic literature rather than as a literal description of what took place in the beginning.

Many people in each group are convinced that their view is the correct one and that the others are wrong or even heretical. However, each view has its strengths and weaknesses. The author of Genesis was not seeking to answer many of the questions we have today in the modern world. They are more interested in us know the Creator of the world and His purposes for us. Science and faith don't need to be opposed to each other. Science simply explains how things work while faith is the foundation of our relationship with God and provides us with a sense of meaning and purpose, something science cannot provide.

Reflections from Creation

1. God is sovereign over creation. Our God rules over the world and the entire universe that he created. He has no rivals and everything is under his control. He is working – in history and even in nature. Of course, we understand that sin has affected our world and everything is not as it was when God created it. It is broken and damaged yet God is working towards restoring everything to its original purpose. God will once again bring order out of chaos. Ultimately, good will triumph over evil.

2. Creation is dependent on God. There was a beginning to the universe. It is not infinite in time. God created everything and therefore everything owes its ongoing existence to Him. God also cares for His creation and the welfare of humans in particular. God actively sustains the universe (Acts 17:28. Col.1:15-17).

3. We were created for a purpose. Genesis clearly shows us that we are here (Gen.1:26-28):

a. For Relationship – God created us to have a relationship with us and for us to be in relationship with each other. God is seen as close not distant, like pagan deities. God wants us to know Him. He makes covenant with his people and promises to bless them.

b. To Reflect God – humans were created in the image of God and given dignity beyond the animals and the rest of creation. All people, regardless of race, gender or social status are equal in value and are to be treated with respect and honour. We have the capacity to mirror our Creator.

c. To be Fruitful – God commands us to be fruitful and multiply (Gen.1:28). He wants a large family and wants us to fill the earth with loving community, something God later judged the people at Babel for not doing (Gen.11:1-9).

d. To Steward the Earth - Since we are God’s representatives, ruling over His world, we must treat the world as his, not ours. We are stewards of his planet, a responsibility that requires us to neither worship the earth nor ruin and destroy it.  We are living in Someone else’s house and need to treat is as such. Creation care is important.

4. The Sabbath is sacred time. The creation story finishes with the establishment of the Sabbath – holiness in time rather than a holy space. God models for humans the need to rest and enjoy the beauty of God’s world. Sabbath is about ceasing from work and giving worship and honour to God.

Sample Reflection Questions

1. What impacts you most about the Genesis creation story?

2. Consider the three creation theories. What is your personal opinion and why? Do you see this is a core issue of faith in Christ or a secondary issue?

3. Why do you think there is such a battle between faith (or religion) and science today?

4. What does the creation story tell us about God? What is he like?

5. Reflect on the four-fold purpose for humans mentioned above. How can followers of Christ outwork their God-given purpose more effectively in the contemporary world?

6. Read Galatians 3:26-29. How does the work of Christ seek to bring us back to God’s purposes in creation, a world free of racism, gender wars, and the divide between rich and poor?

7. How important is the principle of the Sabbath today? What should this look like for the follower of Christ? 


Communion on the Moon

ComA few months ago I was privileged to meet Charlie Duke, the tenth person to have walked on the moon. At the event I attended, he shared some amazing stories about his experiences in space. What was most moving for me, was hearing him speak about his conversion story and his current relationship with Jesus Christ. He actually became a bit teary-eyed during this part of his talk, something that didn't happen when he was recounting his first walk on the moon. I told him afterward that it was moving to hear someone become more emotional about their relationship with Jesus than their experience of walking on the moon. He responded by saying, "Yes, I did walk on the moon ... but more importantly, I get to walk with Jesus every day!"

Just this last week, I heard another inspiring story about two well-known astronauts ... Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong (who passed away a few weeks ago) ...

"On July 20, 1969, two human beings changed history by walking on the surface of the moon. But what happened before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module is perhaps even more amazing, if only because so few people know about it. Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. Some months after his return, he wrote about it in Guideposts magazine. And a few years ago I had the privilege of meeting him myself. I asked him about it and he confirmed the story to me, and I wrote about in my book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask).

The background to the story is that Aldrin was an elder at his Presbyterian Church in Texas during this period in his life, and knowing that he would soon be doing something unprecedented in human history, he felt he should mark the occasion somehow, and he asked his minister to help him. And so the minister consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine. Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth's orbit and on to the surface of the moon.

He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way." He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion. Here is his own account of what happened: "In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the scripture, 'I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit ... Apart from me you can do nothing.'" 

"I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute [they] had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O'Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly. I ate the tiny host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements." And of course, it's interesting to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were the words of Jesus Christ, who made the Earth and the moon - and Who, in the immortal words of Dante, is Himself the "Love that moves the Sun and other stars.'" 

(Article by Eric Metaxas)


Evaluating Vitamins and Supplements

PillsOk, so how many vitamins and/or supplements do you take each day? Personally, I take a few tablets with my breakfast each morning - fish oil, vitamin D, and a men's multi-vitamin. The fish oil (Omega 3) helps to keep my cholesterol down a bit and the Vitamin D gives me a little extra energy, especially since I work mainly indoors and don't get a lot of sunshine. A few years back I took some supplements but found them so expensive to buy and I didn't really notice that much difference in my energy levels. 

So do they make a difference? Are they worth the cost?

An interesting article recently appeared in the October 10th edition of TIME magazine, telling the story of John Cloud who took 3,000 supplements over five months (22 pills a day), then took a battery of tests to see what really happened. A total of 31 measurements were taken - before and after. Remarkably, only two of the values on his blood report had changed significantly. There was a 75% vitamin D increase (due to a vitamin D3 supplement he had been taking) and an increase in the level of his good cholestoral - HDL (due to the 2,000 mg fish oil concentrate tablet he had taken). Absolutely, nothing else had changed!

Amazingly, John felt different - healthier and more robust. But his blood hadn't changed, meaning that a strong placebo response had occurred. This resulted in a licensing effect (which nutritionists call 'compensation') which caused him to change his routine. Because he was feeling a little better and woke up with more energy, his eating habits took a bit of a dive, as did his exercise routine.

The conclusion of the study was that a normal diet with adequate exercise is all that the average person needs to be healthy. Good health is not a series of tablets to take but rather is a series of responsibilities to meet - water instead of soda, a piece of fruit instead of chips, and real fish instead of a giant fish-oil capsule.You can take vitamins on the faith that they will make you better - and if you have a real vitamin deficiency, they will. But there's more science behind another way of getting your vitamins - eating right.  

Some interesting facts:

  • It is estimated that Americans spent $28 billion on dietary supplements last year. The figure was only $11 billion in 1995.
  • No government agency catalogs (let alone tests) dietary supplements. Since 1994, the FDA has not approved the safety or efficacy of even ONE supplement.
  • Safety isn't the real problem with nutraceuticals, most of which are harmless. Instead, effectiveness is the issue: many supplements may not do enough to be worth the money. 
  • The nutraceutical market is growing fast amongst aging boomers. Usana made $565 million in revenue last year, GNC made $1.93 billion and Pfizer earns $68 billion annually.
  • In the 1940s, Dr. Ernst Boas, a famous Columbian University cardiologist, called the vitamin business, "the damnest racket every perpetuated upon the public."
  • Whether nutraceuticals improve health - and how - is a matter of enormous scientific enquiry. Click here to read one a recent article on this hot topic.

Stephen Hawking Ridicules Belief in Life after Death

Hawking Stephen Hawking, popular British physicist and author, recently dismissed the notion of life after death (Time Magazine - May 30th, 2011 - p.5). He said, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." 

My response: maybe rationalism is a fairy tale story for those people who are afraid to believe in God because he may hold us accountable for our lives, meaning that our choices have eternal consequences.


Star Gazing

Stars I have always loved the night sky. The array of stars and planets, and even our own moon, make for fun gazing. I remember as a kid driving out in the country and being stunned at how bright the sky can be.

David wrote about this in Psalm 8 ...

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers — the moon and the stars you set in place — what are people that you should think about them, mere mortals that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. [Psalm 8:3-5. NLT]

A few years ago my wife bought me a telescope from an on-line auction and I'm just getting into using it a bit more. We live a little further out of town now so the night sky is brighter than what it is in suburbia. You can even see a great deal with the naked eye and even more with a basic pair of binoculars.

There is an excellent computer program called Stellarium for those who like to learn a bit more about the night sky. You can download it here for free. Click here to access a web site which is a good beginner's guide to astronomy.

The Lord counts the stars and calls them all by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension! NLT [Psalm 147:4-5]


 


The Amazing Human Body (Pt.2)

Here are a some more interesting facts about the human body ...

42. There is more bacteria in your mouth than the human population of the United States and Canada combined.

43. Every square inch of the human body has an average of 32 million bacteria on it.

44. A fetus acquires fingerprints at the age of three months

45. You sit on the biggest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus a.k.a. the butt. Each of the two cheeky muscles tips the scales at about two pounds (not including the overlying fat layer).

46. The tiniest muscle, the stapedius of the middle ear, is just one-fifth of an inch long.

47. The average human head weighs about 10 pounds.

48. The average human brain weighs three pounds.

49. The DNA helix measures 80 billionths of an inch wide.

50. Your eyeballs are three and a half percent salt.

51. Head lice actually prefer to live on clean heads, not on dirty ones.

52. If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall and have a neck twice the length of a normal human's neck.

53. It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body.

54. An average human drinks about 16,000 gallons of water in a lifetime.

55. Beards are the fastest growing hairs on the human body. If the average man never trimmed his beard, it would grow to nearly 30 feet long in his lifetime.

56. Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour - about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin.

57. It only takes 7 lbs of pressure to rip your ear off.

58. When you sneeze, all your bodily functions stop - even your heart.

59. Human teeth are almost as hard as rocks.

60. You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching T.V.

Continue reading "The Amazing Human Body (Pt.2)" »


The Amazing Human Body (Pt.1)

In one of my favourite Psalms, David says this to God:

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." [Psalms 139:13-16. NLT]

A friend of mine sent me these interesting facts about the human body ...

1. The average red blood cell lives for 120 days.

2. There are 2.5 trillion (give or take) of red blood cells in your body at any moment. To maintain this number, about two and a half million new ones need to be produced every second by your bone marrow. That's like a new population of the city of Toronto every second.

3. Considering all the tissues and cells in your body, 25 million new cells are being produced each second. That's a little more than the population of Australia - every second !

4. A red blood cell can circumnavigate your body in under 20 seconds.

5. Nerve Impulses travel at over 400 km/hr (25 miles/hr).

6. A sneeze generates a wind of 166 km/hr (100 miles/hr), and a cough moves out at 100 km/hr (60 miles/hr).

7. Our heart beats around 100,00 times every day.

8. Our blood is on a 60,000-mile journey.

9. Our eyes can distinguish up to one million colour surfaces and take in more information than the largest telescope known to man.

10. Our lungs inhale over two million litres of air every day, without even thinking.

11. We give birth to 100 billion red cells every day.

12. When we touch something, we send a message to our brain at 124 mph.

13. We exercise at least 30 muscles when we smile.

14. We are about 70 percent water.

15. We make one litre of saliva a day.

16. Our nose is our personal air-conditioning system: it warms cold air, cools hot air and filters impurities.

17. In one square inch of our hand we have nine feet of blood vessels, 600 pain sensors, 9000 nerve endings, 36 heat sensors and 75 pressure sensors.

18. We have copper, zinc, cobalt, calcium, manganese, phosphates, nickel and silicon in our bodies.

19. It is believed that the main purpose of eyebrows is to keep sweat out of the eyes.

20. A person can expect to breathe in about 40 pounds of dust over his/her lifetime.

Continue reading "The Amazing Human Body (Pt.1)" »