Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Recent Big Bang Discovery Supports the Bible

In 1669, Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily, famously erupted ultimately killing more than 20,000 residents. What most people don’t know is that the eruption began with weeks of rumblings warning the people that the mountain was about to explode. In fact, multiple eruptions occurred over the ensuing weeks each killing more and more people who refused to heed the warning and evacuate. Many of the victims could have saved themselves by fleeing, but stayed, ignoring the explosion. Ignoring such an explosion like that is quickly fatal. However, there is an even larger explosion that has been ignored for decades that could be argued as indirectly far more fatal eventually.

Earlier this month an amazing discovery was announced across all media outlets regarding the theoretical beginnings of our universe. Using a special telescope called BICEP2 located at the South Pole, researchers believe that they have found evidence beyond our solar system of traces of gravity waves which suggest the beginning and rapid expansion of the universe (inflation) which is often referred to as the Big Bang. When this discovery was first announced some made the assertion that this discovery  challenges the religious narrative found in the Bible. But, in fact it does exactly the opposite. This discovery actually supports the Biblical account of the origin of the universe and ironically opposes all others. This discovery, if confirmed, is strong evidence supporting Genesis chapter 1.

The prevalent theory of cosmic origins prior to the Big Bang theory was referred to as the “Steady State,” which argued that the universe has always existed, without a beginning and without needing a cause. This new discovery supporting the Big Bang would prove Steady State cosmology to be entirely false. If this evidence is confirmed, then the universe had a beginning. And, by simple application of the Law of Causality, if it had a beginning, there had to be a cause or an independent agent (or causer). This agent would be separate and apart from the effect (the universe). Dr. Fred Hoyle is the astronomer who actually coined the term “Big Bang.” This atheist-turned-agnostic famously stated, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics.” As Hoyle saw it, the Big Bang was not a chaotic explosion, but rather a very highly ordered event that could not have occurred by random chance. Further, it was an event that was both caused and caused by a “superintellect.”

Concerning the recent discovery, the universe is filled with microwave radiation. This led scientists to ask, “Where does this microwave radiation come from?” Well, it is believed to be a vestige from a hot and dense state from the early days of our universe. However, this radiation blocks our ability to "look" further back in time to anything before the radiation. It is like a screen that covers everything that happened before. But, in this screen are imprints or ripples that suggest what did happen before. These researchers are looking through telescopes to find ripples in patterns that help us theorize about how the universe emerged. Astronomers can thereby infer from the imprints what went on behind or before this screen. What they have discovered in their observations is that there is in fact a pattern in the microwave background radiation that is predictably produced by the early fluctuations in the density of the radiation that eventually caused planets and stars. This was first predicted by Einstein in his theory of General Relativity wherein these ripples were referred to as gravitational waves. These ripples are like cosmic shock waves that commonly follow explosions. When different objects are accelerated relative to each other it causes ripples in space and time. And, these ripples cause imprints on the background radiation. So, what caused these gravitational waves? The plausible theory is that these are the result of a super rapid or inflationary expansion of the very early days of our universe (the Big Bang).

The evidence for the early inflationary period of the universe is a central feature of standard Big Bang cosmology, namely that the universe is not infinite in the past but it had an absolute beginning a finite time ago. And, this is entirely consistent with the Bible. The Bible supports that the universe does not have an infinite past but rather had a beginning and was brought into existence a finite time ago.

Andrew Parker is a Ph.D. zoologist and visiting member of the University of Oxford. Even though he is not a creationist, in 2009, he wrote the book, “The Genesis Enigma,” which brings attention to how the first book of the Bible is surprisingly and uniquely scientifically accurate. Parker points out, The Bible is the only source of antiquity to ever get it right. How did the authors of the Bible do that? Genesis actually gets the sequence of creation correct. The Genesis account begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  In Hebrew the phrase “heavens and the earth” is a phrase used to refer to the universe. This Hebrew account of the origin of the universe is uniquely different from all other accounts of the origin of the universe in all other books of historical antiquity. For example, Greco-Roman thought held that matter and the universe were eternal. Pagan mythology held that there was primordial stuff from which the universe was made. The idea that there was an absolute beginning at which time the universe was rapidly created from nothing is unique to Judaism in the ancient world.

Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” In addition, there is another place in the Bible where God uses the Hebrew phrase “heaven and earth.” In Jeremiah 33:25 God refers to His establishment of a “covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth.” Another way to say “fixed order” is to say that God set in motion the “laws” of the universe which we are observing today.

The conclusions of this discovery still require speculation and are in need of third-party confirmation. But, for those who argue that God has not left a sign that He created everything, here you go. The Big Bang is about as big an explosion as you can observe. Since we are living on the other side of this explosion, it seems we are out of danger. However, seeing the evidence and blindly ignoring its most awesome cause could turn out to be far more fatal than Mount Etna. As Psalm 19:1 faithfully puts it, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Are you ignoring this explosion or are you listening?

You can now follow me on Twitter @ReasonIfYouWill.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Facebook Surpasses the Bible

In February, the Associated Press reported that on the 10th anniversary of the launching of Facebook, more Americans check Facebook daily than read the Bible. Facebook now reports having 757 million daily active users (more users worldwide than most continents have people). Of those, 19% are in the U.S. and Canada. Compare that to a 2006 CBS News Poll that found 15% of U.S. adults read the Bible or other religious texts daily. That means that approximately 40 million people in the U.S. were reading scripture daily while today approximately 143 million people are checking Facebook daily. This explains much.

In many respects it is a little unfair to compare Facebook checking with Bible reading. I’m sure the statistics would be similarly contrasted when comparing reading the daily newspaper with the Bible. All of us have daily rituals around communication that are part of our every day. But, this development does suggest some deeper trends on both a national level and among Christians. On a national level, what this disparity suggests is that we are moving our eyes and ears away from God. The Bible used to be the most regularly read thing in our country. It has been unseated by social media. How many of us are seeking guidance from sources other than God?

Now, let’s turn our attention to the trend among Christians. Checking Facebook is not innately immoral. In fact, it can be just another way of staying in touch with those we love. And, reading the Bible is how Christians stay in touch with the One we love the most. Or, at least that is how we should stay in touch with the One we claim to love the most. If Christians check Facebook more religiously than reading God’s love letter to His children, what does that say?

Facebook use surpassing Bible use among Christians says many things. But, allow me to point out what this statistic says most loudly. For the Christian, this statistic says that relationships that we can more easily see and feel are becoming more rewarding than those we believe we can’t. For many Christians, Facebook is the extent of many relationships. And, these are relationships that we can see and interact with. This is why it is called “social media.” However, tripping through the Bible trying to see how God may be speaking to us does not seem quite as tangible. And, often times, it may not seem as compellingly beneficial. But this is entirely deceiving.

The first deception is that what we read on Facebook is in fact not real. As most of us know, what we see on Facebook is what others want us to see. Therefore, it is entirely opposite from what we might see through a lens that is more candid and/or hidden. Scanning through other people’s photos and posts makes it seem like everyone else has their lives all together. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, to compare is to unnecessarily despair. And, how many times have you seen someone posting an article or a quote on Facebook that you know is just not true. However, because someone you are “friends” with said it, it gets “liked” and reposted as if it were true. And, how many of us actually go the extra step of verifying that what was said is true?

At least for non-Christians, this is pretty understandable. What is hard to defend is the trend among Christians. Should there be anything in the Christian life that is more regular than reading and meditating on God’s word? Should social media truly rival the Bible in this regard? Does reading the Bible ever leave you depressed? How about social media? In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul leads us in this charge, “but I will not be dominated by anything.” When social media intake surpasses the Bible, we are allowing ourselves to be mastered by media that constantly lets us down. The truth is that Christians need to spend less time comparing themselves to others and more time meditating on the words of the one who daily breathes life into our souls. Reading and meditating on God’s word never lets us down. It always builds up and it always improves the believer. It is life in the form of ink on paper. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." And, time spent without it is spiritually suffocating.

The Bible is God’s Facebook, Jesus is His Instagram, and verses are His tweets. In that vein, we often characterize people’s social media habits as “stalking others” as on their Facebook walls. Using that analogy, Christians should be constantly guilty of stalking God. Inversely, have you ever considered how God “stalks” us? The Christian faith is unique from all others. In other religions man seeks God, yet in the Christian faith God seeks man. But, in doing so, as God "stalks" us, have you ever pondered what He forces Himself to observe? God has the front row seat to every sin and every vile act committed by every person every single moment of every single day throughout the entire world 24 X 7 X 365 without rest. And, yet, He still loves us and pursues us. Can you imagine observing what God has to observe as He reads all of our lives like Facebook walls? If it were me, I could not survive such observation. And yet He pours out His love in an ever-breathing, ever-living love letter to us that we can read anew every single day. That is Love.

Join me in committing daily to stalk our God. Does anyone deserve it more?

You can now follow me on Twitter @ReasonIfYouWill.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Spirit of the Antichrist Today

Senator Joe McCarthy made himself famous in the 1950s by his investigations into alleged communist subversion into American society. Ultimately, his methods and inability to prove his claims resulted in him being censured by the United States Senate. Also as a result, the term “McCarthyism” was pejoratively coined in reference to his offensive tactics. Today, the term has been broadened to include demagoguery, reckless accusation, and public attacks on the alleged unpatriotic character of political opponents. The vast majority of Americans today agree that McCarthyism should have no place in American politics. But, that is where the lip service ends while actions tend to scream in the opposite, selective direction. The new McCarthyism is directed at Christians and right-leaning thinkers. And it is gaining dangerous steam.

Take for example the most recent controversial Arizona law that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed. The bill was quickly and permanently labeled “The Arizona Anti-Gay Law.” And from there, the political games began. While I don’t support the law for reasons other than the controversy, it was certainly not an “anti-gay” law. It was a pro-religious freedom law. The actual content of the law was ignored by the media outlets and all opponents. In fact, ask yourself if you ever heard the actual content of the law cited publicly by anyone. Sadly, it is only a couple sentences.

The Arizona law, SB 1062, sought to amend Section 41-1493 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. The statute prior to amendment prevents, “any law, including state and local laws, ordinances, rules, regulations and policies" from "substantially burden[ing]" a person's exercise of religion. A “person” in the article was defined as “a religious assembly or institution.” SB 1062 did not change the law except to expand the definition of “person” to include "any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, estate, trust, foundation or other legal entity." That’s it. Where is this law anti-gay? The words we commonly associate with homosexuality are nowhere in the statute or its proposed amendment. Does anyone truly want to argue that individuals should be “substantially burdened in exercising their religious freedom?” If so, then you damn the Constitution itself.

Where this was contrived into a convenient rub was in the selective hypothetical case where a Christian provides services related to wedding ceremonies and is asked to do so for a gay couple. Of course a Christian owned business has every Constitutional right to refuse such a service. And, the gay couple has every right to not like it and select another vendor from the list of many who would be happy for the business. The freedom of religious expression is foundational to our Constitutional Republic. Opening a business does not mean that you forfeit your religious freedoms and rights. The right to refuse one’s own services for reasons of conscience should always be privileged over the state’s right to enforce compliance. Remember the “Soup Nazi” from “Seinfeld” who famously told Seinfeld, “No soup for you?” It was not illegal for him either. Disregarding logic, the opposing political correctness ultimately prevailed and Governor Brewer vetoed the bill on February 26, 2014. Chalk another victory up to selective moral outrage.

Allow me to show exactly how this moral outrage was selective. What received very little attention was an ironic event just 4 days prior to the veto. On February 22, Susana Martinez, the Republican, Hispanic, female, Roman Catholic Governor of New Mexico, was refused service by her gay hair stylist because the Governor opposes same-sex marriage. But, did you hear the cries of discrimination and human rights violations spewing from the media over this travesty? Of course not. Is this okay only unless a Christian does it? Does that type of conclusion sound Constitutional to anyone? By the way, I support the gay stylist’s freedom as well. The stylist has every right to deny service as well. And, so does the Christian, especially on religious grounds. But, the Christian’s religious freedom is at odds with today’s increasingly anti-Christian culture.

What is happening in the West today is the prophesied rising of the Spirit of the Antichrist. This was prophesied in 1 John 4:1-6 which says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” This is the only reference to the “spirit” of the antichrist in the Bible. The spirit of the antichrist precedes the Antichrist just like John the Baptist prepared the way for the true Christ. And, it is important to note that the prefix for “anti” in the Greek is “ante” which means either against or instead of. The spirit of the antichrist seeks to oppose and replace the true Christ at every turn.

Every action of man is motivated by spirit either consciously or subconsciously. Either way, Christians must discern from which spirit such motivations originate. And, while it is generally difficult to discern personal motivations, God gave us a true test for discerning the spirit behind any motivation. Simply, any spirit that denies Jesus as the only Messiah is the spirit of the antichrist. Conversely, the Spirit that affirms Jesus as the only Messiah, is the Spirit of God. It is that simple and there is no third category.

Franklin Graham recently said, "The spirit of anti-Christ is everywhere … We're being secularized so quickly. Anything that has to do with Christian faith is slowly being taking out of society." In the culture that Christians find ourselves today, the actions induced by anti-Christian motivations are clear and growing rapidly (today’s McCarthyism). As the 1 John passage exhorts, we must test every spirit behind every motivation, (including our own) against this test that God’s word provides.  And, we must be prepared to turn the other cheek and repay evil with good

In closing, the motivation behind this blog and this post in particular is simply this: Jesus is the Only Messiah! John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 are perfectly clear in this regard. Is this the declaration that motivates you today?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

“Settled Science” = Oxymoron

In the late 1600s Sir Isaac Newton proposed his famous conclusions that resulted in what we know as the Law of Universal Gravitation. He explained gravity as likened to a magnet at the Earth’s center that pulls objects of mass towards it. And, while this and its related Universal Laws of Motion enabled many advances of the Industrial Revolution, 200 years later, science marched onward and proved Newtonian Physics to be centrally false. In 1916 Albert Einstein first published his theories of General Relativity which turned Newtonian Physics literally upside down. And, this correction was necessary for us to better understand our universal reality. However, such a discovery would have eluded us without continuing to apply the Scientific Method. What would have happened if we just considered Newtonian Physics to be “settled science?”

Fast forward to 2014. In Barrack Obama’s recent State of the Union address he repeated what climatologists have been preaching for many years now. He said, “The debate is settled” and “climate change is fact.” Last month he even followed that speech up with a visit to drought-stricken California and blamed the drought on climate change and proposed a $1 billion climate resilience fund to combat it. Is climate change settled science? Is global warming fact? Is mankind’s CO2 emissions to blame for droughts in California? Is there any such thing as settled science?

The notion of “settled science” is commonly used in primarily two fields, climatology and evolution. However, “settled science” is an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that contradicts itself, like “living dead.” Science by its very nature can never be settled. Science itself demands that accepted science must always be challenged. Charles Krauthammer, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and physician said, “There is nothing more anti-scientific than the very idea that science is settled...Climate-change proponents have made their cause a matter of fealty and faith…Except that today there’s a new god, the Earth Mother. And a new set of sins — burning coal and driving a fully equipped F-150. But whoring is whoring, and the gods must be appeased. So if California burns, you send your high priest (in a carbon-belching Air Force One, but never mind) to the bone-dry land to offer up, on behalf of the repentant congregation, a $1 billion burnt offering called a ‘climate resilience fund.’” Even the liberal New York Times pointed out that “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? For example, take the recent admission of experts from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California (and the U.K. National Weather Service, etc.). They have now admitted that there has been “no change” or a “pause” (as they delicately call it) in global warming since 1998. That is a 16 year pause. But, why have they preached the exact opposite for the past 16 years? And, that is not where the irony ends. They pitifully claim that the reason for the pause is recent increased volcanic eruptions. This is ironic on many levels. Volcanic eruptions are the single biggest contributor of CO2 in our atmosphere. And, now we are to believe that such CO2 emitting eruptions are pausing global warming?

They further admitted, “According to a study in the US, models for predicting the rate at which temperatures around the world would rise from 1998 onwards did not take into consideration the measurable impact volcanoes can have.” So, instead of backing off of their conclusions derived from such faulty models, they doubled down. However, if volcanic activity reduces warming effect, isn’t that another example of the earth amazingly designed to adapt? Isn’t that precisely what global warming opponents have been claiming these 16 years resulting in attacks, insults and derision hurled in their direction as a result? Even this last month, Secretary of State, John Kerry, referred to global warming opponents as “The Flat Earth Society.” But, isn’t ignoring volcanic impact for 16 years more like “Flat Earth” narrow-mindedness than those who have been objecting, “You are not including the impact of volcanoes in your models!”?

Further on the subject of recent admissions about volcanoes, the global warming prophets now claim volcanoes “release particles into the air that reflect sunlight – causing temperatures to drop.” Maybe, but they also spew CO2 into the atmosphere probably more than all other factors combined. You can’t have it both ways. And, having it both ways is precisely why they changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change.” This way, they can cleverly own every answer. If it is warmer that is because of climate change. If it is colder, that is because of climate change. This is not science, but desperate and cultic faith.

Speaking of cults, recently, Patrick Moore (Ph.D. in Ecology), one of the former founders of Greenpeace, made a stunning admission. “It is a kind of nasty combination of extreme political ideology and a religious cult all rolled into one, and it's taken over way too much of our thought process and way too much of our priorities. There are millions of children dying every day from preventable vitamin deficiencies and diseases, and we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a problem that may not exist. Nobody's saying that the Earth hasn't warmed a little bit. What we're saying is there's no proof that it is human activity that has caused this little bit of warming. What we're also saying is this little bit of warming is actually good for most species on planet. Ice and frost are actually the enemies of life … they're all saying that the CO2 is going to result in a very large increase in temperature. And the way they do that is by assuming that the increase in water vapor, which will come in a warmer world, is going to magnify the effect of the carbon dioxide by two or three times, when, in fact, increased water vapor may dampen the effect of CO2, and no computer models know the answer to that.”

There is no field of science that is beyond reproach. For example, in 2007, the book “The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable” was written by statistician, Nassim Taleb. “Black swan” is a metaphor for the unknown or the unexpected. Before discovering Australia, we believed all swans were white. Therefore, when we saw a white swan, we thought that confirmed our belief. However, in Australia we discovered black swans, proving our belief all along was false. The scientific method is supposed to set out to disprove our theories. We design experiments to get “no” answers much more often than “yes” answers because “no” answers are much more informative while “yes” answers can be false positives. It is only when we can’t disprove a theory that we are really approaching something that is true about our reality. If you think something is true, you should try as hard as you can to disprove it. Only then can you really get at the truth and not fool yourself. And, declaring an aspect of science to be settled dooms us to avoid truth.

1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And, there is no better literal example of a false prophet than global warming prophets. Their grand predictions have failed. In truth, nothing is settled science in order for science to be science. Anyone who invokes the word “settled” with “science” is a charlatan that should be denounced. And, their prophecies should certainly be tested, found false, and thereby ignored.