Contending with Critics

September 29, 2012 I attended a great conference in Dallas called Contending with Christianity’s Critics.  It was at Watermark Community Church in Dallas (click for Watermark church website).  It was a great conference.  It makes me think about the fact that as Christians we have been given so much but the unbelieving world has no idea what they are lacking. Too often Christians have to pursue studying apologetics outside their own church because it is not taught inside the church.  Apologetics is thought of as answers to the challenges from nonchristian scholars and atheists.  But, usually the skeptics are not really looking for answers, the Christians are.  Christians are looking for answers because they’ve heard the skeptics and aren’t sure what to think about what they’ve heard.  Christians are sometimes a little rattled by challenging questions from nonchristian scholars.  Questions from friends or even kids can be just as challenging also.  It is a bit disturbing some of the ideas we hear from our culture today, often proposed deliberately to make people question Christianity.  The nonchristian skeptics do need the answers, but it seems to take a miracle to get them to look for the answers or be open enough to seriously consider them.  There aren’t many nonchristian skeptics who go to apologetics conferences, though there may be a few.  It is the Christians who go to them.  It was said that there were over 3,000 attenders at the Contending with Christianity’s Critics conference in Dallas.  It was great to see such a turn-out.  The email I got before the conference said they were sold out.  So, we Christians need to find ways to pass on reasons for our faith to nonchristians around us who do not go to where the answers are.

Today people have become so skeptical of there being any truth people can rely on.  But there seems to be a resurgence of interest in apologetics.  There is a whole new slate of individuals who are great speakers on apologetics.  At the Dallas conference here is a list of the speakers and their topics.

  • Todd Wagner, “The Importance of Apologetics for Every Believer and Every Church”
  • Greg Koukl, “Bad Arguments Against Religion”
  • Dan Wallace, “How Badly Did the Early Scribes Corrupt the New Testament?”
  • Frank Turek, “If God Exists, Why Does He Allow Evil?”
  • John Stonestreet, “Defense and Offense:  The Call to Care for Culture”
  • Ravi Zacharias, “The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists”
  • William Lane Craig, “Richard Dawkins on Arguments for God’s Existence”

I’ll just point out some highlights.  Todd Wagner, pastor of Watermark Church, was good in pointing out that love is more important than knowing answers.  It should lead back to the gospel and to what people really need.

Greg Koukl, from the ministry Stand to Reason , had a lot of good points that could be of practical help in talking to nonchristians.  I like the way he described how faith works.  Evidence gives us knowledge (such as knowledge about planes for instance).  Then based on the knowledge you act in trust (such as getting on a plane).  So Biblical faith is not a “blind” leap, but a step taken with knowledge of what you are doing.  Another good thing from Koukl was what if someone says “Christians are stupid.”  What do you say to that?  How about this?  “Ok, so let’s grant for the sake of the argument that Christians are indeed stupid (they certainly can be).”  Now, so what?  That doesn’t deal with anything.  The question is, is Christianity true?  The truth of Christianity does not really depend on how good or how smart Christians are.

Dan Wallace is an expert on textual criticism and New Testament manuscripts.  He showed some reasons why we can have confidence in the New Testament.  One thing I didn’t realize was about when the King James Bible was written compared to what we have today.  Some skeptics will try to claim that because of all the variant manuscripts and copying errors in the Greek New Testament, we can’t know what the original really said.  But consider this.  In 1611 the number of Greek manuscripts the translators had to go on was only seven manuscripts!  Today, we have over 5800!  So this means you can figure out where the copying mistakes were and know real well what the text should really say.  He also talked about the famous “number of the beast” in Revelation, about the antichrist.  Wallace says there are some Greek manuscripts that say the number is 616 instead of 666.  He said he has personally examined some of these manuscripts and he is not sure which number it should be.  He kind of left this as a mystery.  There are a few things like that about the New Testament manuscripts.  But they don’t create serious problems.

Frank Turek spoke about answering atheism.  He is from crossexamined.org and ImpactApologetics.com .  He dealt with a number of things but what I thought was especially good was about the question, “Why doesn’t God take away evil?”  If God took away all evil, that would mean humans would not have free will.  We’d be like robots, which God does not want.  So God gives people time to respond to him and then eventually he will put an end to all evil.  But our sin has to be dealt with first.

John Stonestreet is from the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  See Breakpoint.org or colsoncenter.org.  I had not heard Stonestreet before.  He reminded me a lot of Chuck Colson and Francis Scheaffer.  He addressed the loss of values in our culture and how the truth is sort of drowned out by many other things.  I like something he said, “Christianity is a way of being human in God’s world.”

Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig were some of the “big guns” of the conference.  Both were top notch.  It was a privilege hearing Ravi Zacharias in person.  He described our society as without shame, without reason, and without meaning.  His talk was much deeper than just this but this stood out to me.  William Lane Craig did his presentation with an empty chair for atheist Richard Dawkins, similar to Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention.  Dawkins would not really have sound answers to the arguments for God’s existence.  Dr. Craig is very knowledgable about philosophers ideas on the subject of God’s existence.  No wonder Dawkins hasn’t debated Dr. Craig.

I’d recommend these speakers, though I would not agree completely with William Lane Craig about the Big Bang or Genesis.  Young age creationism is usually left out of apologetics conferences.  I think this should not be.  But I am glad these men are out there.  They are doing a lot of good.

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Bill Nye the Evolution Guy

Recently on August 23rd 2012 Bill Nye, known for his PBS TV program “The Science Guy” posted a video on YouTube called “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children.”  I would much commend Nye’s efforts to get kids interested in science.  His TV program was meant to get kids interested in science and present it a way that made it fun.  Bill Nye has spoken about evolution before.  However, he made some statements against creationism that I would say are unrealistic.  He has also told parents not to teach their kids creationism.  I would say Nye’s comments are unfortunate and they reflect several common miconceptions about creationism.

One major misconception from Nye is that evolution is only questioned in the United States.  Boy, is this wrong!  Several nations, other than the U.S. have sizable creation ministries, including Russia, Britian, Australia, and South Korea.  These are just the larger ones.  These organizations would all be likely to have some full time staff, including well qualified scientists.  Some of them may have hundreds of people involved, including people with science degrees.  The Creation Research Society based in the United States has over 600 voting members.  A voting member must have a graduate degree in a field of science.  I’ve heard the organizations in Moscow and in South Korea are also large but I don’t have numbers.  Creation Ministries International (CMI) is out of Australia and they have a large readership in their technical peer-reviewed journal and their nontechnical magazine.  CMI has offices in Canada, Britian, and United States.  Then there are probably hundreds of smaller creation groups, some of college students, some not.  These are not just in the United States, though it’s true the U.S. probably has more of them.  There has even been several European conferences on creationism where people come together from all over Europe.

The home school movement has also had a big part in “spreading” the creation message, for parents who do not agree with Bill Nye and actually want their kids to be exposed to creationism and intelligent design.  Home Schooling is not done only in the United States either.  Home schooled kids often are a bit better at critical thinking, I think partly because of the different points of view they are exposed to in their home education.

I could tell stories that suggest that in some places in Eastern Europe and Russia, there may actually be more openness to creationism than in the United States.  So I would say there is great promise of creationism growing in acceptance around the world.  This is not just true among scientific lay people, but also among people trained in science.  Knowing more science does not necessarily make someone more likely to believe evolution.

Nye also makes a statement to the effect that to reject evolution makes things complicated for you because there is so much science understood to support evolution.  Well, there are indeed implications that if creationism is true, there is much about origins science that needs to be completely rethought!  But creationists have answers to the questions that come up, depending on the research they have done.  Some questions still need more research and there are things we may not have enough evidence to be sure about.  But the answers from creationism are better than the answers from evolution.  Nye mentions fossils, radioactivity, and starlight as evidence for “deep time” (billions of years of time).  I’ve been studying these questions for a long time and evolution does not deal with the evidence nearly as well as scientists generally think.  Creationists do not have definitive answers to everything, but creationism can handle the questions at least as well and often better than evolutionary science.  In the articles on my website (creationanswers.net) I try to glean from the best work from creationists and make it understandable for readers.  If Bill Nye wants to find out about the creationist view on these questions, he would have a lot of study to do.  While scientists have been saying for years that creationists don’t do research and don’t publish in peer-reviewed journals, creationists with a science background have been doing a lot of research.  There is a lot of published peer-reviewed technical material from creationists that goes back to the 1960’s.  If anyone wants to know how to get this information they can ask me I’ll tell them.

In the video, Bill Nye says parents should not teach their kids creationism because that would make their kids illiterate.  This is completely wrong and parents know better than this.  It is not illiterate or ignorant to reject evolution.  Some believe evolution and some don’t but you cannot infer that those who reject it do not understand it, or that they do not know enough science.  What Nye apparently cannot fathom is that many people reject evolution with full accurate knowledge of it.  There are thousands of people around the world who at one time were people who taught evolution, were well informed about evolution, and promoted evolution but who changed to a creation viewpoint because of the scientific evidence.  I’m not just guessing when I say thousands because of what I know about creation organizations; but I wouldn’t have exact numbers.  But there are very few, in comparison, who were well-informed creationists (of the young age literal Genesis perspective) who promoted creationism but then rejected it and started promoting evolution because of the scientific evidence. Note that I do not consider college students starting college believing Biblical creation to be “well-informed.”  So I would not include them in this. Why would this be so, about the lopsidedness of well-informed people changing views?

Bill Nye says that creationism, which he refers to as a world view, in a couple of centuries will no longer exist.  I hope Nye isn’t holding his breath for this to happen.  Creationism has grown in its acceptance by more and more people over the last 30 years, in spite of being shut out of public schools and universities.  I think the unfair discriminatory treatment of people questioning evolution tends to make more of the general public reject evolution and move to a creation perspective.  The dogmatic way evolution is often taught in public schools is also a factor in people accepting creationism. There are various views on creation from Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  (There is also a Muslim creationist organization by the way in Turkey.)  I wish Nye would take the time to seriously investigate creationism, but from the best sources.

 

 

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The Alien Deception

I have been reading a fascinating book called “Alien Intrusion” by creationist Gary Bates, of Creation Ministries International (CMI).  I have written articles for CMI for years.  I thought it a bit puzzling several years ago when I heard about a creationist writing a book on UFOs.  The book was originally published in 2004 and later revised and expanded.  So I finally got around to reading it on my Kindle.  I would say this is a great book.  This book brings a realism and spiritual clarity to an issue that is very muddled and confused in the minds of many Christians. The subtitle is “UFOs and the Evolution Connection.”  I remember when I was a teenager being somewhat interested in stories about UFO sightings, but it was just a curious interest that faded as I learned more about science.  We live in a world that either denys the supernatural altogether, as atheists do, or which pursues the supernatural in dangerous occultic ways.  In the minds of many people, the stories common in “science fiction” movies and TV tend to blend the occultic supernatural and fantasy hopes of what science might do in the future.  Science fiction has built up people’s hopes so that people have unrealistic expectations of what science can do.  The New Age movement has explored Eastern mystical philosophies and blended them with other ideas, sometimes from science fiction.  Evolution has often been blended with New Age thinking as well as with any religion (including Christianity).  The original meaning of the term “UFO” as “Unidentified Flying Object” has almost been forgotten in the modern way of thinking.  It is almost always assumed to mean a sighting or experience with intelligent alien beings from space. The scientific community has for years been in the awkward position of believing there is life in space on one hand, but yet having to debunk and speak against the claims of people reporting UFO experiences on the other.  Science promotes the idea of life in space by virtue of its faith in evolution.  If life evolved on planet Earth, then in billions of years of time in the universe, with many planets orbiting other stars, it seems to many that the odds are life would evolve somewhere besides just on Earth.

I have come to reconsider the UFO issue after doing research into extrasolar planets.  I have written a number of technical and nontechnical articles about extrasolar planets (planets orbiting other stars) in the Journal of Creation, on the website of CMI, and for the website of Answers in Genesis.  The search for Earth-like planets is one of the hottest most fast-paced areas of research in astronomy.  I used to say extrasolar planets are discovered at about an average rate of 1 or 2 per month.  But that is way out of date today after the Kepler space telescope, and various other research programs that are in operation.  The search for possible extrasolar planets is now automated by computers to some extent, so the data collection for it happens every night even without human involvement.  There is a great deal of interest in the scientific community in finding an Earth-like planet.  I accept that there is valid evidence for the existence of extrasolar planets.  There are hundreds of them that have been confirmed to exist by multiple research teams or multiple detection methods, many more that are less confirmed.  None of them seem much like Earth though.

There may be a few exoplanets that liquid water could exist on, though that doesn’t mean there is actual evidence of water on them necessarily.  Even if there were liquid water on an exoplanet, that doesn’t mean that life would evolve there or survive there.  I would not be surprised if there is water on some extrasolar planets.  Also, because various organic chemicals can form in space or near stars by known processes, I would not be surprised if there were evidence of some organic chemicals on extrasolar planets.  Our own solar system planets Jupiter and Saturn have organic chemicals and water and scientists don’t expect life to be there.  There are a number of serious problems with the theories of the origin of extrasolar planets which I have written about.  As a result of these problems, I believe they were created only several thousand years ago in the creation week according to Genesis.  Even if there were a planet really like Earth that is ideally suited to life, that doesn’t mean life would evolve there.  Life did not evolve on Earth and it wouldn’t evolve on any other planet either.  Scientists most certainly have not explained how even a “simple” cell could come about on Earth from chemicals.  So in many ways the search for an Earth-like planet may be a false hope, though it is bound to discover interesting planets God made.  It also underscores how unique and special our own planet is.

In Alien Intrusion, Gary Bates deals realistically with the various cases of UFO reports, without just dismissing them.  He also brings a spiritual perspective on them by showing how UFO experiences tend to deceive people and this seems to be their deliberate goal.  I would summarize some of the main ideas in the book this way.  Well over 90% of reported UFO sightings are relatively easily explicable as known natural phenomena, or man made aircraft, balloons, or something else that is known.  Then there are many cases where the people reporting it have faulty memories of it, or they don’t have all the facts, or they are not honest about what happened.  There are many cases of fraud in UFO reports as well, perpetrated just to sell the story.  But when you add up all the explicable cases and frauds, this does not account for them all.  There are a few percent that are hard to explain.  Some of the hard to explain sightings do have some kind of physical evidence associated with them.  Sighted UFOs also seem to be able to do things that are physically impossible, like turning at high speed without slowing down, moving through walls, dematerializing and rematerializing, changing shape, merging together, etc.  (Note that I would not consider crop circles to be valid evidence.)  The most perplexing cases are the abduction stories.  I used to think of these as mostly frauds.  Some may be frauds but I now doubt this explains many of them.  There are actually millions of people who have claimed to be abducted by aliens.  Even if these people don’t know what actually happened we should not just dismiss the story because they have suffered from these experiences.  Some of these people have real injuries or mutilation from the experience which they’ve had to get medical treatment for.  These people have been traumatized in some way and they do need answers.

On the other hand, the actual evidence for aliens from space is nil.  There’s never been any evidence of alien radio transmissions from space, from the SETI program.  There’s never been physical evidence in our solar system like remains of alien spacecraft, structures built by aliens, exhaust trails from spacecraft, or alien spacecraft detected in motion in space.  Note that today there are various computer automated searches for various objects in space that could accidentally detect moving spacecraft if they were bright enough or large enough.  Today CCD detector devices can see Kuiper belt objects moving as far as about 60 A.U. distance from the Sun (far beyond Pluto).  Thus it is legitimate to ask “If their spacecraft are out there, why haven’t we seen their spacecraft?”  I think that it would be impossible for ANY conceivable aliens of ANY level of technology to cross intergalactic space.  The difficulties with such space travel are so great that I think any hope of intergalactic travel is false.  See for example this article on creation.com about space travel problems.  Even many in the sciences are unrealistic about this.  Even human travel to nearby stars in our galaxy may be impossible, but I suspect we could send unmanned probes to nearby stars.  I have been a longtime fan of Star Trek and other science fiction, but I think such ideas are completely unrealistic about both science and about humanity.  They do make entertaining fiction though.  The hope for our future is not in space or someone from space, it is Jesus Christ.  This answer is not something we have go into space to find, we can find it right here where we are.

One of the strengths of Bates’ book is his analysis of abduction experiences.  There is a possibility that is not often considered by most people that can explain abductions.  One idea on UFOs is that they are extraterrestrial aliens from space.  Another is that they are interdimensional beings that appear in our world.  The interdimensional idea is not too unlike the idea that they are demons.  Angels and demons are often not believed in by many today, yet their existence is affirmed by the Bible clearly.  Bates makes a case that the bizarre things done by the “aliens” could be understood in terms of them being demons who are decieving people.  But there is also a possibility that people with claims of alien abduction experiences have been hypnotized and had false memories induced.  There may be reason to say that demons could induce false memories in people by deliberately using hypnosis and other means to decieve them. It is also possible demons could do physical harm to humans because demons could possibly appear in physical form.  Alien abduction accounts have similarities to various historical accounts of people encountering demons.  This is possible Biblically and makes the Bible relevant to abduction stories.  But, aliens from space does not fit with a Biblical world view in my opinion. I am impressed with the way Bates puts together logical connections between alien sightings or abduction experiences and the possibility of them being demons.  I had heard of Christian authors suggesting this before, but I had not seen someone make a good case for it until this book.  There are a number of people who have made the “alien” abductions stop by praying to Jesus for help or calling on Jesus. There was one group of UFO researchers, not Christians, who seriously researched this.  However this doesn’t work for some people, it may relate to the genuineness of their faith and whether they know enough to call on Jesus.  The “aliens” also often twist the Bible and try to convince people of an elaborate deception about aliens trying to direct human events or help humans advance in some way.  It is all a lie to deceive people and keep them from believing the Bible.  If most people don’t believe in demons, that may not matter to the demons if the demons can successfully deceive people so that humans will not believe in Jesus Christ and the Bible. The idea of space aliens is a myth apparently taken advantage of by demons to keep people from faith in Christ.  It is a form of deception taylored to people in the modern world.

Does the Bible say anything against believing in intelligent aliens from space?  The Bible is not explicit about this but you can put a few things together logically and see that the Bible does not agree with there being intelligent aliens from space.  This is also dealt with clearly and carefully by Bates.  Click here to go to an article by Bates about whether God created life on other planets.  I will just point out part of what he covers.  In the beginning of mankind’s history, from Genesis chapter 3, Adam and Eve sinned against God and this had effects on nature itself.  In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, as well as in some Old Testament passages, it says God will do away with the present heavens and Earth and create a new heavens and a new Earth. The idea behind this is that everything created is spoiled or corrupted by mankind’s sin.  So, if there were intelligent aliens in space, such as the Vulcans in Star Trek, Adam and Eve’s sin in the beginning would have to have affected the Vulcans.  Thus the aliens would be corrupted by mankind’s sin on Earth and have no way of redemption from it.  Christ is called the “last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45.  Jesus can die in our place and pay for our sin because he is a descendant of Adam (through his mother Mary).  His death on Earth as a son of Adam would not cover the death of someone on another world in space who was not of Adam.  Also, theologically it is probably not an option for Jesus to be born on every extraterrestrial world as one of them and die again and again.  His death had to be once for all.

Then think about the end of history again.  If there were aliens in space who didn’t know anything about Earth, why would their world be destroyed because of what happened in Earth history? It would seem unjust and unreasonable for God to do this to sentient beings on other worlds.  The Bible is clear in the Old Testament and in Revelation that in the future the heavens will no longer exist as now and will be replaced by a new heavens.  Isaiah 34:3 says “All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine…”  See Revelation 21:1 on the new heaven and Earth.  So any worlds in space that might have life on them would be destroyed when God destroys or dismantles the present universe to recreate it.  Thus the entire universe has been corrupted by mankind’s sin on planet Earth and all of it will be recreated to complete God’s plan of redemption.  If there is no intelligent life on other planets, what about primative life or bacterial life?  All life on Earth, from bacteria to whales, exists for mankind’s benefit.  So I see no real purpose for lower life forms to exist on other worlds in space.  But this is not as clear as the issue of intelligent life in space.

In sum, I would recommend Gary Bates book highly. I would also recommend it to people who have had frightening UFO experiences who are trying to sort out the meaning of what happened.

 

 

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Earth was Made by God

I have begun a new research project on the formation of Earth.  I feel this is an important issue and no creationist has seriously dealt with this topic to my knowledge.  Creationists as well as Intelligent Design proponents have written often about the design of the Earth for life.  But the real issue is what or who do we attribute Earth formation to?  Do we thank God and give him glory for it or do we attribute its existence to natural processes?  The Old Testament is very emphatic about God creating the Earth (see for instance Isaiah 6:3, 44:24, 45:18, & 1 Samuel 2:8).  It has often been argued that Earth is designed because it is the right distance from the Sun, has the materials needed for life, etc.  These are basics and I certainly agree with this.  But there is a need to go farther and critique the theories of Earth formation.  There is now a large body of research on how Earth allegedly formed by known natural physical processes.  The theory for this has been developed based on research on our solar system and its origin, on the general theory of planet formation, and even on theories about extrasolar planets orbiting other stars.  Ideas put forward to explain other solar systems with exoplanets have been applied to our own solar system in recent years and they are now being applied to explaining Earth.  Planetary science is coming home.  But creationists have not had an answer to many aspects of these theories.

I began studying this topic to prepare for the International Conference on Creationism in 2013.  But after delving into it some I became convinced I was not ready to do a paper on it yet.  I haven’t done a blog entry for a while because of focusing on my study of Earth formation.  So I backed out of doing my ICC 2013 paper.  It saddens me to do this because I have presented at the ICC for the last 4 conferences.  I won’t be presenting anything in 2013.  I hope to attend though.  But not presenting doesn’t mean I’m not doing research, I just wanted more time and flexibility in approaching it.  I collect technical material sometimes for years before writing something, especially on major topics that are important.  I don’t want to address something on a technical level until I feel I can adequately support what I’m saying.  I hope that my technical papers will stand the test of time.  Below is a short version of the story scientists are believing today when they do not believe the Biblical account of God supernaturally creating Earth in six literal days.

There are some surprising things in the theories of Earth formation that scientists accept today.  The early Earth is a place you would not recognize, according to the scenario scientists believe about how our planet formed.  By early I mean the first few hundred million years of Earth’s existence by the accepted naturalistic or evolutionary ideas.  Scientists would say Earth is about 4.55 Billion years old.  You could think of it as in three stages, I would say.  The first 10 million years after the beginning, then the next 45 million, then the next 100-200 million.  Earth’s rapid accretion stage is the first 10 million years.  This stage is about 10 million years (or less) because its believed that the disk of gas and dust that Earth formed from would be most conducive to forming planets and other objects during this time.  After about 10 million years the gas and other material in the disk would dissipate and objects like planets or moons or asteroids would grow more slowly.  Many objects drifted around the solar system for a long time, and Earth (and other planets) grew in size from impacts of small bodies.  At the end of the 10 million years Earth was not yet full size, one estimate would say it was about 60% of its present mass.  Also Earth was not separated into layers as it is today.  Scientists call this differentiation, where the planet has a metal core in the center, with a mantle and crust outside that.  A differentiated planet (or asteroid or moon) will be in neat layers with the most dense material in the core, with less dense material in the mantle, and the least dense material in the crust.  This structure in a planet may make it more stable and makes a magnetic field possible.

The second stage is from 10 million to about 55 million years after the “beginning.”  During this stage, Earth is not totally solid but much of it is melted from the frequent impacts and from great heat from radioactive decay from various elements.  So the Earth is covered in what is called a magma ocean, which is a few hundred miles deep.  The magma ocean is essentially partially molten or largely molten rock.  Impacts from space continue to add more matter to the Earth.  Earth’s atmosphere during this time is very different from today also.  There are different proposed models of what the atmosphere was composed of but the main idea is that it was extremely dense.  It is an atmosphere much thicker than even Venus’ atmosphere is today.  One model says the mass of the early atmosphere was about the same as the mass of the early Earth.  One approach looks at Earth’s atmosphere as similar to Venus, mostly Carbon Dioxide and Water.  Another model thinks of it as more like the gases in Jupiter, which has hydrogen, helium, and some organic gases.  The key idea in Earth’s early atmosphere is that it has a strong greenhouse effect that keeps the surface hot enough to melt most metals.  This way the surface stays molten for tens or hundreds of millions of years.  In Earth’s formation it is important that the surface be molten so that materials that come from space via impacts can mix into the Earth.  As material rains down on the Earth from impacts, metals and minerals are separating by density in Earth’s interior.  So by the time you get to about 55 million years after the beginning, some iron (and small amounts of other dense materials) has sunk into the center to form part of the core.  Between 10 and 55 million years, the impacts become less frequent but the impacting bodies average larger and larger in size.  Earth’s atmosphere changes perhaps multiple times in this period because large impacts blow some of it away and gases add to the atmosphere from the impacting bodies themself as they are vaporized by the impacts.  Note that some of Earth’s liquid water could have come from vaporized impacts from asteroid like objects and some comets.  However today scientists only believe that about 10% of Earth’s water got on the surface from late impacts in this way.  Scientists also believe it is possible life could have evolved multiple times in this period, only to be wiped out by the harsh conditions or destroyed by the large impacts.

At about 55 million years, a really big object hits the Earth.  This was an object that was about the size of Mars.  This object has come to be referred to by scientists as Theia, a name from Greek mythology.  The Theia impact melts a big part of the Earth and ejects a lot of material into orbit around the Earth.  This material then forms into our Moon.  Most of the core of the Theia object sinks into Earth, merging with Earth’s core.  This leaves the Moon with materials that are very similar to Earth’s mantle but the Moon is only left with a very small iron core of its own.  After the Theia impact, the impacts from space continue but decrease in frequency.  As these impacts slow down, the surface begins to cool.  While impacts were continuing gases were released from Earth’s interior.

As metals and various minerals form and separate inside the Earth, water and other gases are released from Earth’s interior, sometimes by the melting of rock and sometimes by chemical reactions. So water accumulates on the Earth and Earth’s atmosphere changes its composition over millions of years.  Oxygen gets in Earth’s atmosphere largely from water vapor in the atmosphere that dissociates from the heat and from strong ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.  When water dissociates it essentially splits into hydrogen and oxygen gases.  As Earth cools the gases remain in the atmosphere and the liquid water remains on the surface.  Some gases in the early Earth atmosphere are lost to space and some disolve into the liquid water on the surface (the forming oceans).  Some of the gases in Earth’s atmosphere are organic (such as methane, hydrogen cyanide, and others) and thus they contribute to the evolution of life from chemicals in “warm little ponds” scattered across Earth’s surface.  Life is believed to have got started when the first living cell evolved from chemicals sometime between 3.5 and 4.0 billion years before the present, which would be several hundred million years after the beginning.  It is generally believed that life could not get started until impacts from space mostly ended and Earth’s surface had cooled off.

These are the main ideas of the naturalistic formation of Earth according to planetary scientists and Earth scientists.  Which is more miraculous, this story or Genesis 1?  I’m not sure!  Though scientists would not like me calling the above scenario miraculous, I think you could argue it is, practically speaking.  It would be an amazing series of accidents that caused Earth to form as a beautiful blue habitable planet by natural forces alone.  Would you rather believe in natural processes doing all the above over millions of years, or in an all powerful God who could form the Earth in six days?  I choose to believe the latter, but I don’t believe it irrationally.  I’m beginning the process of investigating the naturalistic models of Earth formation so I can honestly evaluate them scientifically.  It is rational to choose to believe God created as Genesis describes, because the God of the Bible can do it.  It is very debatable whether natural processes can do it.

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Who Defines Marriage?

In the political arena there has been much discussion of Gay marriage lately, as President Obama has changed his position in support of Gay marriage.  I do not want this blog to be political, but the issue of Gay marriage comes up from time to time.  It is an issue that exposes what peoples real values are.  It also tends to make Christians make up their mind about what’s important for our society.  I believe that the Bible is the revealed word of God to all mankind.  The morality from the Bible about sex being within marriage between a man and a woman is a moral absolute that applies to all people.  It is not something that becomes out of date because it is not man who defines marriage.  God’s word has the authority to define absolutes for all people to live by.  There may be various legal definitions of marriage.  They can be either right or wrong because God sets the moral standard and laws should be based on the moral standard.  The laws should be based on the Biblical moral standard because that is healthier for society and for individuals by God’s design.  You could also look at it in a pragmatic way related to child rearing and argue that it is a good means of raising children, totally apart from what people believe about the Bible.  Most religions in the world have a similar concept of marriage to what the Bible teaches, with some exceptions.  So you could argue that traditional marriage is a cross-cultural global societal norm and be correct for most people in the world.  Thus, traditional marriage should not be abandoned or devalued.  In an evolutionary atheistic world view, marriage would be something that was merely invented for practical convenience sake in raising children.  If marriage is something man invented, then why wouldn’t it be something man could reinvent to be something different?  This is a logical question.  There has been resistance to God’s definition of marriage and the morality that goes with it all through history.

Human beings have always tried to come up with some kind of substitute for God’s standard of marriage.  People tend to attempt to lower the moral standard to make it seem easier for them to live by.  But the substitutes for marriage all have problems.  God’s design is best.  Multiple wives was perhaps the first variation (polygamy).  This was allowed by God in ancient times but was not really recommended.  Genesis shows some of the complications and conflict that can arise from the practice.  A more modern substitute for marriage is living together, where two people do not have to make a life-long commitment to each other.  Gay marriage is another kind of substitute for God’s standard.  American society used to frown on people living together but not any more.  Divorce has become so common that some have proposed that marriage be changed into a contract that is only in effect for a limited number of years.  One man wrote a book arguing that in about 50 years robotics technology would advance enough that people would be marrying robots.  There are still religious groups that practice polygamy, mostly Muslims in certain Arab nations.  The practice is illegal in the United States, even though there are occassionally Mormon or religious cult groups that engage in the practice.  I fear that in coming years we will see a variety of efforts to redefine marriage.  Gay marriage may only be the first of these movements.  Christians have to stand up for the truth of traditional marriage and for what is healthy for society in times like these.  Man’s efforts to invent substitutes for marriage have a way of exposing over time the wisdom of God’s design, though most people do not recognize this.  Unfortunately some people’s lives end up going through much pain before they turn around and find the right way.  I wonder what the prevailing opinion in society will be toward Gay marriage, say 40 years from today?  What will children who grew up in Gay households think of it when they are adults?  Society values tend to swing back and forth over generations sometimes.  Perhaps values can swing back to the right, in time.

There are many who think of the opposition to Gay marriage as discrimination and they present the issue as a civil rights issue.  But this is a fallacy because a moral argument against homosexuality is not related to discrimination.  God determines right and wrong, not human beings.  If the laws approve of something which God does not approve of, the legal status (and social acceptance) does not take away from adverse consequences of the immoral lifestyle.  God is completely nondiscriminatory in applying the standards of morality.  This is true whether people “believe” it or not.  All people have reason to acknowledge right and wrong about sex and marriage from their own experience.  If I make a moral argument against homosexuality, that is not about discrimination.  It is saying that a kind of argument exists that the homosexuals deny.  They do not accept a moral argument because they don’t accept biblical morality.  They do not accept a moral absolute that applies to all people the same way.  So they don’t agree with me, but that does not give them a basis for saying that I am encouraging discrimination.  Discrimination is something different than a moral argument against homosexuality.  When I was 20 or 30 years younger, the gays had a legitimate issue over discrimination in the work place.  But that was different than the present situation in our society and it is not the same as what they are trying to accomplish about marriage.  Gays want states, and the nation, to redefine marriage just for them.  I say this is wrong because gays do not have the right to redefine marriage.  In fact, it seems to me it is odd for gays to want something similar to traditional marriage but allowing for their lifestyle.  With so many giving up on marriage anyway, why are they trying to have something similar to the traditional institution?  In a way they are trying to be traditional, but in a manner that is not allowed by biblical morality.  I believe God’s design for marriage is healthier for society and for individuals.

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Animal Distribution and Creation

I have recently been reading about the topic of biogeography.  I am not a biologist and so I am far from being an expert on this.  But this illustrates some differences between how evolutionist scientists think and how creationist scientists think.  Evolutionists have made a lot of statements about biogeography supporting evolution.  This is about the fact that there are peculiarities about where various types of animals live across the world.  Some animals like marsupials (such as kangaroos and other animals with pouches) are confined only to Australia whereas elephants only seem to live in Africa and India.  Then there are many interesting things about fossils versus todays living forms.  Sometimes fossils are more widely distributed than todays living forms.  For example living marsupials are restricted today to Australia and South America (the opossum is a marsupial).  But fossils of marsupials are only found in Europe, Asia, and North America.  Evolution’s main idea on biogeography is that animals evolved to be what we know them to be as they spread out.  So, it took many generations for them to distribute around the world and as they did this over millions of years, they changed.  So new species came about that were different on the different continents.  Evolution has to approach the distribution of animals (and plants) in such a way that the various types do not all exist at the start but they come about over time as they travel and spread out.  Evolutionists thus have had trouble explaining a number of puzzling cases.  There are a number of examples where the drift of the continents from evolutionary geologists does not agree well with the scenarios from evolutionary biologists.

For small changes within basic kinds, some creatures can travel and become isolated groups on their own.  For example on the Galapagos Islands there are differences in the finches on the various islands.  But how would other animals spread out to the various continents?  There may be natural disasters occasionally that cause floating log and vegetation mats to drift across oceans.  Also in some areas there are places between islands or continents where if the sea level were less, it would open up a land bridge that animals could cross over on.  But evolutionary scenarios for using such ideas, though some work in some locations, some of the ideas proposed are just assumed without any evidence that it really happened.  Often evolutionists are left with just making up hypothetical implausible stories.

Creationists can use some of the same ideas as evolutionists in biogeography but creationists put the idea in a very different context that makes it work better.  In a creationist approach, all the “kinds” of animals start from the same location, which is in the area of Mt. Ararat in Turkey.  Animals spread out from there, as did humans.  In a creationist Biblical view of history this works because 1) you have all the animal types living at the same time and 2) you have humans who can take animals with them where they travel.  In evolutionary thinking, humans don’t have much to do with the distribution of animals across the world because the animals distributed and evolved before humans, for the most part.  A third factor in a creation approach is Noah’s Flood.  The Flood would have uprooted vast forests and there could have been very large floating mats of vegetation and logs for some time after the Flood.  Animals died in the Flood, but as animals spread out after the Flood they could have found floating mats and climbed aboard because they would be likely places to find food.  Floating mats have been known to happen occasionally in historical times but if there was really a global Flood such mats could be much bigger and more common immediately after the Flood.  So in a creationist approach floating mats could be more applicable than in an evolutionist view.

Then there’s people.  In the Biblical view of history, humans could have built boats soon after the Flood and they would likely take some animals with them for food and for other reasons.  There could also have been land bridges in certain places after the Flood.  For instance one obvious one is between Alaska and Russia.  There are good reasons to believe there was an ice age (just one) after the Flood.  The ice age would have caused variations in sea level.  Other tectonic after-effects of the Flood and post-Flood volcanic eruptions might have had a role in making land bridges also in some areas.  Because humans were capable immediately after the Flood of building boats and traveling, they could have had a major importance in distributing animals around the world.  Some animals would have spread out to areas where they later died out because of changes in the climate or because of disease or because of being hunted out by humans.  Animals adapted to the post-Flood world.  So there would be situations where new species could arise in the post-Flood period, but not new kinds.  Creation allows for limited changes to adapt to the environment.  But there are limits to how much animals can adapt and so many species probably did go extinct after Noah’s Flood.

This is a quick simple summary of biogeography and why the Biblical view of history makes sense.  There are good sources with more details I could recommend if anyone is interested.

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