The End

Let’s continue our walk on the Bible-side of the street. God had a purpose in creating the Universe.

The Universe will not always be as we know it. Indeed, The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) is a theme explored by both Science and the Bible, but the eschatology of Science is often far removed from the eschatology of the Bible.

The Bible speaks of how God has intervened in History. First, of course, He started the ball rolling (Gen. 1:1), but of more personal importance to us, He has miraculously intervened in the lives of men. Adam, Noah, Jesus. Each of these were at the center of a change in the order of things as God has steered the course of history, and Christians believe that Jesus will again be central in a final miraculous change that Ends The World As We Know It. Continue reading

The Nature of Man

Man is the Only Animal that Blushes.  Or needs to.

—Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar [1]

Thus far in this series of posts, we have looked mostly at the ways that the things we learn from nature through Science can inform and reinforce the things we learn from the Bible. Our journey is on a two-way street. Let’s go back the other way for a bit.

Modern Science came into existence during the middle of the last millennium in Christian Europe. Why there? I would argue that it was because Jews and Christians believe in a rational God Who created a rational universe that can be studied and understood. Hindus, as a counterexample, believe that the world is an illusion. Animists believe that nature is in the hands of fickle gods who might change their minds about how thing work. As scientific knowledge progressed and it became possible to make good predictions of the operation of physical systems, some began to feel that we were living a universe that was like a great clockwork—one that God had wound up in the Beginning and we were now watching wind down. Continue reading

Astronomy and Jesus

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

—Matthew 12:40 (AV)

On what day of the week was the Crucifixion? If it occurred on a Friday and Christ was raised from the dead on the following Sunday morning, then He was in the grave for only one day and two nights. That’s not even a close approximation of the time He predicted.  It’s only half of the time specified.

When I googled “sign of Jonah” recently, the first hit was for an Islamic website that tried to use this traditional time line to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah. Was Jesus a false prophet, or is the traditional chronology of the Passion in error? Given that I believe that Jesus is the second Person of the Godhead and that one of my First Principles is that God does not lie, you should not be surprised that I believe that the traditional chronology is wrong. Moreover, I believe that many of the common assumptions about the dates of Jesus’ life and ministry don’t agree with the Biblical account.

Let’s start with when He was born. Continue reading

Did Noah’s Flood Cover Greenland?

The Greenland Ice Sheet is huge. It covers over 1,700,000 km2 (660,000 sq mi) and averages over 2 km (6600 ft) thick. There’s a tremendous amount of water tied up in the ice. If it were to melt, sea level would rise by over 7 m (23 ft). Ice cores taken in Greenland show annual layers that stretch back for more than 40 ky.

A worldwide flood would have covered Greenland, and in the process it would have left sediments or caused a hiatus in trapped air bubbles or caused a temporary change in salinity or left some sort of evidence. There are no such traces in the Greenland ice. Moreover, a worldwide flood sufficient to cover Mt. Ararat (not to mention Mt. Everest) would have provided sufficient buoyancy to float the ice cap off of the island. If the ice cap were floated off the island some time during the last few thousand years, why does it have over 40,000 annual layers? Indeed, why is it there at all? The climate of the last few thousand years has not been sufficiently cold to allow the Greenland Ice Cap to reform from scratch.

Perhaps Noah’s Flood did not cover Greenland.

Continue reading

Young Earth Creationism

I’m going to cut to the chase. As I pointed out in an earlier post, Young Earth Creationism is a religious doctrine, and it’s handmaiden, so-called “Creation Science,” is pseudoscience.

Science makes predictions based upon its theories. When the predictions are wrong, the theory is scrapped or modified. [1] Creation Science claims to be science. Let’s put it to the test. YEC doctrine states that the earth is certainly no more than 10 ky old and that Noah’s Flood occurred around 5.5 ky ago. It makes the prediction that we will find no living thing on the earth older that the supposed date of the Flood, and no remains of anything that lived more than 10 ky ago. A 4.7 ky old “Methuselah” bristlecone pine in the White Mountains of California is held up as proof of the predictions result from this theory.

First, the age of that pine tree does not prove anything other than that the date of the Flood is earlier than 2700 BC (Now – 4.7 ky).

Second, although the oldest living bristelcone specimen is only 4.7 ky old, there is a continuous tree ring history from older dead trees on the ground around the “Methuselah” tree that goes back 9 ky. [2] This record shows no interruption from a cataclysmic event such as a Flood.

Third, there are even older series of tree ring data that date back over 11 ky from oak and other trees that spread into northern Italy, southern Germany, and the Low Countries at the end of the last ice age. [3]

But finally, there’s the King Clone creosote bush in the Mojave Desert. It’s over 11,000 years old and still alive. [4]

The King Clone Creosote Ring. With the possible exception of some lichen formations in Antarctica, this is the oldest living thing on earth.

Continue reading

The Age of Rocks

Perhaps you remember Spencer Tracy and Frederic March playing this scene in the movie Inherit the Wind. [1] Henry Drummond (the Clarence Darrow character) has called Matthew Harrison Brady (the William Jenning Bryant character) to the stand as an expert witness on the Bible—

Drummond:  It’s sad that we don’t all have your positive knowledge of right and wrong, Mr. Brady.  How old do you think this rock is?

Brady:  I am more interested in the “Rock of Ages” than I am in the age of rocks.

Drummond:  Dr. Paige of Oberlin College tells me this rock is at least 10 million years old.

Brady:  Well, well, Colonel Drummond, you managed to speak here some of that scientific testimony, after all.

Drummond:  Look, Mr. Brady.  These are the fossil remains of a marine prehistoric creature found in this very county, and which lived here millions of years ago when these very mountain ranges were submerged in water.

Brady:  I know.  The Bible gives a fine account of the flood.  But your Professor’s a little mixed up in his dates.  That rock is not more than six thousand years old.

Drummond:  How do ya know?

Brady:  A fine biblical scholar, Bishop Usher, has determined for us the exact date and hour of the Creation.  It occurred in the year 4004 B.C.

Drummond:  Well, that’s Bishop Usher’s opinion.

Brady:  It’s not an opinion.  It’s a literal fact—which the good Bishop arrived at through careful computation of the ages of the prophets, as set down in the Old Testament.  In fact, he determined that the Lord began the Creation on the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. at, uh, 9:00am. [2]

I can “amen” the thought that we ultimately should be more interested in the Rock of Ages than the age of rocks, but the rocks are out there as part of the Creation, and their ages can tell us something about the age of the earth. Just how old are the rocks we find on Earth?

Continue reading

On the Origin of Species

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.

—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859, final sentence

No serious biologist doubts the theory of evolution is the best explanation we have thus far for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. [1] Given the genetic relatedness of all known organisms, it is hard to imagine how one would go about understanding biology without the foundation that evolution provides. Oh, one could do what was once called natural history and classify living things in various ways, but one could not engage in modern biology.

Let’s consider a few more things we have learned from genetics and molecular biology in the past decade or so.

When the Human Genome Project started, it was known that there were over three billion base pairs in the human genome. There was a general expectation that around 100,000 genes would be found. It turns out that only about 1.5 percent of the genome is used to code proteins; we have only about 20,000 genes. As Francis Collins, the Director of the Human Genome Project, commented, many researchers

were stunned to discover that God writes such short stories about humankind. That was especially shocking in the context of the fact that the gene counts for other simpler organisms such as worms, flies, and simple plants seems to in about the same range, namely around 20,000. [2]

Continue reading