The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Submarine Volcano in Action

Most of the earth’s volcanoes are underwater. For the first time, using the submersible remotely operated vehicle Jason II, scientists have observed an actual eruption. They were able to move close to the vent, mainly because the physical conditions are so different than on land:

If we were observing this type of eruptive activity on land we would have to run for our lives! At Brimstone Pit the pressure of 560 meters (1837 feet) of water over the site reduces the power of the explosive bursts. Also, the water quickly slows down the rocks and ash that are violently thrown out of the vent.

The rocks formed by submarine eruptions have distinctive characteristics that usually make them easy to distinguish in the field from rocks that were formed on the land. Study of these submarine volcanic environments could lead to a better understanding of how certain types of mineral deposits form.

Image and quote from Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program

Jason II also captured video of the eruption.

For a news article: Underwater Volcano Erupts on Video.

Thanks to Bill M. for the link to the video.

Grace and Peace

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment

My Favorite Study Bible

Is it the Ryrie Study Bible? Scofield Study Bible? NIV Study Bible? Reformation Study Bible?

No, right now it is the NIV Wide Margin Edition—lots of white space on all four sides of the page for notes. I’ve had this for about four years, and I estimate that I have about 3000-4000 comments, underlines, color-coded highlights, and other types of notations. There is room for more, but I have just about worn it out (I purchased the $40 hardcover rather than the $140 leather edition).

My color code scheme: red for what has been accomplished for me through the blood of Christ, green for the attributes of God, blue for prayer. I place short notations in the margin for other topics that are important to me: M for missions, CR for creation, EV for evangelism, F for family, B for baptism, and so on.

I do own an NIV Study Bible and a number of commentaries, but I find it best to put my own writing in the blank margins. This allows me to tailor my “study Bible” for what I’ve learned in my own meditation and study, as well as to put in notes from sermons I hear and books I read. By doing this, the thoughts are reinforced in my memory, and are there in front of me as a starting point the next time I read the passage.

I’d love to do my daily reading and studying with the more literal English Standard Version, but they haven’t come out with a decent wide-margin edition. They have a journal edition coming out in August, but it has a two-inch margin on the outside of the page rather than a one-inch margin on each side of the page, and I’m not sure that I will like that. I’m undecided at this point.

Grace and Peace

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Bears in Germany — Found

Bears are common in some parts of Europe—Romania for example—but had not been seen in Germany since 1835. The news article is Bear Reported in Germany, First for 170 Years.

BERLIN (AFP) – A bear has been reported in Germany for the first time since 1835, police at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps said, following the discovery of seven sheep carcasses. The animal crossed into Germany from Austria, where about 30 bears live, and was spotted near the border on Thursday after destroying a beehive.

The German Alps are rugged, but also densely populated. I took the following photograph from the outskirts of Garmish-Partenkirchen, standing right next to the entrance to the U.S. military base there. The highest peak is Zugspitze; at 2962 m (9718 ft) the highest point in Germany.

Bears are, of course, much more common in the United States. Grizzly bears live in Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington, though their native range was much larger. Black bears are native to 49 states (not Hawaii), and still live in 40-43 states. The current population of black bears in the U.S. is in the 400,000 range, including >100,000 in Alaska. For a census of black bears in the U.S., click here or here.
Grace and Peace

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Biology, Environment | Leave a comment

Are You a Global Warming Skeptic? Part III

Back in March, I had a post about Scientific American’s blog entries on “Are You a Global Warming Skeptic, parts I and II“. Scientific American has updated this with Are You a Global Warming Skeptic? Part III. They posted this on April 24th, but it is still relevant. Rather than bashing opponents of global warming, this summarizes the arguments against global warming, and is worth a read.

The basic arguments people give against global warming were put into the following categories:

  • Global warming is not occuring
  • Present warming is a natural phenomenon
  • CO2 emissions cannot explain the warming
  • Climate models are unconvincing
  • Warming would be a good thing
  • Kyoto is worthless, or worse
  • Can’t trust the enviro-wackos and journalists

I haven’t formed an opinion one way or another on these points, though I would like to (along with 100 other things I’d like to look into).

Grace and Peace

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Environment, Scientific American | Leave a comment

The ID “Debate”

There was a debate/panel discussion over intelligent design at Biola University on May 12th. The ID side was represented by Michael Behe , Paul Nelson, Guillermo Gonzales, Jonathan Wells, and Steve Meyer; all prominent ID-ers. The opposition included a philosopher, journalist, biochemist (the only scientist on this side), and a state university religion professor. I haven’t heard anything about how it went.
I think a strong case can be made for many aspects of ID, but I was disappointed when I saw the list of anti-ID panelists, and think they may have did themselves a disservice by selecting a weak panel of opponents. If a case can be made for ID, it needs to be able to stand up to the tough questions, and tough questioners.

Grace and Peace

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Origins | Leave a comment

Fusion Power?

Breakthrough?: Scientists say they have cleared technical hurdle in fusion research — The headline makes it look like a major breakthrough, but it is just one small step towards commercial fusion power.

Unlikely: Fusion Power: Will It Ever Come? (Science, 10 March 2006) — The full article is not available online, but it outlines a number of obstacles to producing electricity by fusion, and doing so cheaply. Fusion may not be the source of unlimited, cheap energy that some make it out to be.

[As long as the fusion reactors work in SimCity—the only computer game that really matters—I’ll be happy]

Grace and Peace

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Energy | Leave a comment

Bonhoeffer Quotes

Some quotes to ponder, from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Perhaps it would be just as well to ask ourselves whether we do not in fact often act as obstacles to Jesus and his Word.

The command of Jesus is hard, unutterably hard, for those who try to resist it. But for those who willingly submit, the yoke is easy, and the burden is light.

Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.

Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.

Grace and Peace

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | Leave a comment

Human Moral Ecology

“Although people are rightly worried about preserving natural habitats, too little effort has been made to safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology.” — Archbishop Celestino Migliore

I got this from The Evangelical Ecologist.

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2006 Posted by | Environment, Ethics | Leave a comment

Apes That Plan Ahead — Found

Some apes, birds can think ahead, studies show

So why don’t we always plan ahead?

Grace and peace

May 19, 2006 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers — Not Found

Another species on the edge of extinction (or perhaps even extinct): birders and ornithologists were excited last year at reports of ivory-billed woodpeckers being spotted in a swamp in Arkansas. There was even a video tape, but of the same quality level as the bigfoot videos that showed up in the 70s.

A thorough search of the area has turned up no ivory-billed woodpeckers. It would be unfortunate if this species—a 50 cm tall woodpecker—were truly extinct.

I have seen pileated woodpeckers in the St. Louis area, which are similar in coloration, though “only” 40 cm tall, and those are incredible birds to see. An ivory-billed woodpecker would be even more of a sight.

eNature Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

eNature Pileated Woodpecker (pronounced pill-ee-ay-ted or pie-lee-ay-ted)

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2006 Posted by | Biology, Environment | Leave a comment

American Chestnuts — Found

In 1904, ornamental Chinese chestnut trees were imported and planted at the Bronx Zoo. These non-native trees carried a fungus, to which they had a high level of resistance. At this time, American chestnut trees made up a significant part of the eastern forests from New England and southern Canada down to the southeastern U.S. Numbering in the billions of individual trees, this was an important species: comprising up to a quarter of the trees in many forests, up to 45 m (100 ft) tall, with a trunk diameter of up to 3 m (10 ft). The nuts provided food for deer, wild turkeys, and black bears. The American trees were devastated by the blight. The species did not go extinct because stumps survived, which still put up new shoots. These saplings, however, succumb to the fungus in a few years.

A news article today reports that a grove of 20 to 30-year old American Chestnuts has been found in Georgia, the extreme southern end of their natural range. This increases hope that someday, fungus-resistant American chestnuts may make a comeback.

The Chestnut problem is typical of the ecological problems caused by our global culture. The list of introduced pests and diseases is long: zebra mussels clogging streams and lakes in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi drainage, rabbits taking over rangeland in Australia, the Mediterranean fruit fly. One serious infestation of the Med fly in California was believed to have been started with one unauthorized apple carried into the state on an airplane; the eradication program cost hundreds of millions of dollars. (I couldn’t find a reference for this–it comes from the dark corners of my brain; I hope I got the facts straight).

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2006 Posted by | Biology, Environment | Leave a comment

Bush on Science and Technology

A good quote from President Bush’s commencement address at Oklahoma State University:

These advances in technology will transform lives — and they will present you with profound dilemmas. Science offers the prospect of eventual cures for terrible diseases, and temptations to manipulate life and violate human dignity. With the Internet, you can communicate instantly with someone halfway across the world — and isolate yourself from your family and your neighbors. Your generation will have to resolve these dilemmas. My advice is, harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology. My advice is, ensure that science serves the cause of humanity, and not the other way around.

I got this from World Magazine’s bioethics blog, 2BHuman.

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2006 Posted by | Ethics | Leave a comment

Birthday gifts #2

I also got a “An Earth Scientist’s Periodic Table of the Elements and Their Ions.” The “normal” periodic table is useful for chemistry, but not as useful for the earth sciences. In the earth’s crust the elements almost always exist in the form of ions: oxygen as O2-, silicon as Si4+, the metals in their ionic forms, such as Na+, Cu2+, Fe2+, and Fe3+. Because of this, this periodic table lists ions rather than elements, and many elements occur multiple times in different parts of the table.

It will take me some time to figure out everything on this table, but I look forward to it.



Grace and Peace

May 18, 2006 Posted by | General, Geology | Leave a comment

Birthday gifts #1

Not only was yesterday (May 17th) Norwegian Independence Day, it was my birthday. Shirley bought me a Martin Luther mug. On the other side it says:

“The Bible is a remarkable fountain: the more one draws and drinks of it, the more it stimulates thirst.” –Martin Luther

Thanks, Shirley.

Grace and Peace

May 18, 2006 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

White Horse Inn

In Bucharest, we attend a Romanian-language church, and often don’t get all that much out of the sermons. When we need a dose of solid English-language teaching, we download a John Piper sermon from Desiring God.

My favorite radio program is The White Horse Inn, produced by the same people who put together Modern Reformation magazine. The White Horse Inn is a roundtable discussion about theology and apologetics. These guys are not afraid to tackle deep subjects, as well as exposing goofiness in Evangelicalism.

This year, WHI is going through Romans, and last week the topic was “imputation.” Imputation is the theological term describing the transfer of Christ’s righteousness to us. This is good stuff: When God looks at the Christian, he sees them as being righteous, not because they are righteous on their own, but because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us.

In the program, they played portions of interviews with pastors at an evangelical pastors’ conference, where they asked, “How important is the concept of imputation in your ministry?” If the pastor didn’t know what “imputation” was, they explained it for them. Most of the pastors said that their people wouldn’t understand a concept like that, and that they would rather preach on topics about “Christian living.” In other words, they don’t want to talk about the wonderful things that Christ has done for us, because that isn’t practical.

Past programs I have enjoyed have been on finding Christ in all of Scriptures, the emergent church, the Purpose-Driven life, intelligent design, justification by grace through faith, apologetics, and parenting.

Grace and Peace

May 17, 2006 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity, Web Site of the Week | Leave a comment

Fellowship in the Sciences

As an undergraduate student, at Montana State University, I knew of no other Christians in the geology department. They may have been there, but I felt very much alone. This was at a time when I was just starting to grow in my faith as a Christian, and I had no one with whom I could discuss issues like the relationship between science and the scriptures.

I expected the same to be true when I went off to graduate school at Washington State University. However, I was blessed to find a number of other believers among the geology graduate and undergraduate students, as well as among the physics students who shared the building. There was a time when we could consistently gather four to six students together for a Bible study and prayer time in one of the laboratories, and I treasure the fellowship I had with Glenn, Alan, John, Steven, and others.

I am experiencing some of that fellowship now as I work on raising the additional support we need for returning to Romania. I have been contacting people who I think might share my passion for “science, science education, and the gospel,” with the hope of developing relationships for mutual encouragement, as well as for financial support in our ministry. In the past few months, I have had good a good talk with a biochemist (or molecular biologist; I’m not sure which he prefers) about his research on transferring a gene for making luciferase (responsible for the glow of a lightning bug) into mice. This holds promise in cancer research. I have also visited with a physicist about cosmic ray research and supernovas. I think these men enjoyed having someone to talk to who could follow what they were saying, and I certainly enjoyed learning from them. Plus, it is good to have scientist-to-scientist fellowship. One of these men feels very alone as a Christian in the workplace.

If you are not a scientist, please pray for those who are. Many of them work in environments that are rather hostile to Christianity. I have been blessed in many ways to know each of these scientists who follow Christ.

Grace and Peace

May 16, 2006 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Christian Scientists (????)

Here’s a pet peeve among those of us who are “scientists who are also Christians.” The natural phrase would be “Christian scientists” but we can’t say that; the phrase has been hijacked by a cult.

Grace and Peace

May 16, 2006 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

The Science of BarryBondsology

Whatever your thoughts are about Barry Bonds being at 713 career home runs, here’s an interesting editorial from USA Today called “No Scientific Evidence,” giving plenty of reasons beyond steroids for why baseball players today are so much stronger than they were in the past. The reasons include:

  • Better nutrition, from childhood to adulthood
  • Better training, from childhood to the pros
  • Larger pool of players to choose from
  • Year-round training and weight training
  • Medical and surgical procedures that let players recover from injuries quicker and have longer careers.
  • Changes in ballpark design

[We miss Romania, but it has been great to be able to go to a couple of Cardinals games (and see an Albert Pujols home run!) and to watch baseball on television.]

Grace and Peace

May 16, 2006 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Introducing Myself, Again

Here is an information letter I send to Christian scientists scientists who are Christians who I think might be interested in supporting us in our ministry in Romania. Feel free to pass it on to people who have a passion for “science, science education, and the gospel.”


Grace and Peace

May 16, 2006 Posted by | Missions | Leave a comment

Yes and No

Here’s a quote I read today from Christianity Today:

“What good is it if people believe in intelligence? That’s no different than atheism in that if it’s not the God of the Bible, it’s not Jesus Christ, it’s not salvation.”
(Ken Ham, president of the creationist group Answers in Genesis, criticizing Intelligent Design as weakening scriptural authority)

Ken Ham is absolutely correct. The only way to have salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. It is not good enough to believe in an Intelligence, a supernatural Divine Architect, Allah, or the Supreme Being.

Ken Ham is also correct in that ID can only bring a person so far. It cannot bring a person to fully understand sin or salvation in Christ. As I brought out in my sermon Christ and Creation, posted earlier tonight, study of the creation couldand shouldbring a person to the point of seeing that there must be a Creator, some things about the nature of that Creator, and that we are accountable to that Creator.

But I disagree with Ken Ham’s assertion that ID is a compromise. It is, in fact, consistent with what the Scripture says about natural revelation. ID is very much in line with Psalm 19 and Romans 1:18-20, and in no way contradicts what is said in the opening chapters of Genesis.

Natural revelation is incomplete. That, I believe, was God’s intention. A much more complete revelation of God is found in Scripture, and even more in Jesus Christ. Design arguments can point people to God. The Holy Spirit uses Scriptures to bring them the rest of the way.

Grace and Peace

May 16, 2006 Posted by | Origins | Leave a comment