The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Nine months until Christmas — A solid reason to oppose abortion

From Abortion and Christmas by Scott Stiegemeyer:

Even though we are still basking in the glory of the Festival of the Resurrection, today my mind turns toward Christmas. That’s because today is the commemoration of the Annunciation, the scene in Luke’s Gospel where the angel tells Mary that she will bear a son who will be called the Son of God. March 25 is exactly nine months before Christmas which, of course, is the the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Thus today is really the celebration of the impregnation of Mary, the incarnation of God’s one eternally begotten son in the Virgin’s womb. As St. John wrote: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

I never seem to get past this date without needing to comment on the great atrocity of abortion. It is simply not possible to take the incarnation of God’s Son seriously and not be opposed to abortion. The Eternal Son did not begin his earthly pilgrimage as an infant in Bethlehem. He began it as a zygote in Nazareth.

Grace and Peace

Thanks to: Cranach

March 26, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Ethics | 1 Comment

Anne Rice on faith

Gene Edward Veith (Cranach) quotes Anne Rice, former atheist and vampire novel author, on her conversion to Christianity:

Anne Rice, who became famous for writing highly literate vampire novels, gives more details about her conversion to Christianity in a forum on the Washington Post online: On Faith: Guest Voices: My Trust in My Lord. Sample:

Look: I believe in Him. It’s that simple and that complex. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the God Man who came to earth, born as a tiny baby and then lived over thirty years in our midst. I believe in what we celebrate this week: the scandal of the cross and the miracle of the Resurrection. My belief is total. And I know that I cannot convince anyone of it by reason, anymore than an atheist can convince me, by reason, that there is no God.

A long life of historical study and biblical research led me to my belief, and when faith returned to me, the return was total. It transformed my existence completely; it changed the direction of the journey I was traveling through the world. Within a few years of my return to Christ, I dedicated my work to Him, vowing to write for Him and Him alone. My study of Scripture deepened; my study of New Testament scholarship became a daily commitment. My prayers and my meditation were centered on Christ.

And my writing for Him became a vocation that eclipsed my profession as a writer that had existed before.

Why did faith come back to me? I don’t claim to know the answer. But what I want to talk about right now is trust. Faith for me was intimately involved with love for God and trust in Him, and that trust in Him was as transformative as the love. . . .

Before my consecration to Christ, I became familiar with a whole range of arguments against the Savior to whom I committed my life. In the end I didn’t find the skeptics particularly convincing, while at the same time the power of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John swept me off my feet. And above all, when I began to talk to Jesus Christ again it was with trust.

On the afternoon in 1998 when faith returned, I experienced a sense of the limitless power and majesty of God that left me convinced that He knew all the answers to the theological and sociological questions that had tormented me for years. I saw, in one enduring moment, that the God who could make the Double Helix and the snow flake, the God who could make the Black holes in space, and the lilies of the field, could do absolutely anything and must know everything — even why good people suffer, why genocide and war plague our planet, and why Christians have lost, in America and in other lands, so much credibility as people who know how to love. I felt a trust in this all-knowing God; I felt a sudden release of all my doubts. Indeed, my questions became petty in the face of the greatness I beheld. I felt a deep and irreversible assurance that God knew and understood every single moment of every life that had ever been lived, or would be lived on Earth. I saw the universe as an immense and intricate tapestry, and I perceived that the Maker of the tapestry saw interwoven in that tapestry all our experiences in a way that we could not hope, on this Earth, to understand.

This was not a joyful moment for me. It wasn’t an easy moment. It was an admission that I loved and believed in God, and that my old atheism was a façade. I knew it was going to be difficult to return to the Maker, to give over my life to Him, and become a member of a huge quarreling religion that had broken into many denominations and factions and cults worldwide. But I knew that the Lord was going to help me with this return to Him. I trusted that He would help me. And that trust is what under girds my faith to this day.

Cranach is one of the few blogs I read every day.

Grace and Peace

March 25, 2008 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity | 1 Comment

The Cat’s Eye

catseye.jpg

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Cat’s Eye Hubble Remix

Explanation: Staring across interstellar space, the alluring Cat’s Eye Nebula lies three thousand light-years from Earth. One of the most famous planetary nebulae in the sky, the Cat’s Eye (NGC 6543) is over half a light-year across and represents a final, brief yet glorious phase in the life of a sun-like star. This nebula’s dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. But the formation of the beautiful, more complex inner structures is not well understood. Here, Hubble Space Telescope archival image data has been reprocessed to create another look the cosmic cat’s eye. Compared to well-known Hubble pictures, the alternative processing strives to sharpen and improve the visiblility of details in light and dark areas of the nebula and also applies a more complex color palette. Of course, gazing into the Cat’s Eye, astronomers may well be seeing the fate of our Sun, destined to enter its own planetary nebula phase of evolution … in about 5 billion years.

Incredible beauty in God’s creation.

Grace and Peace

March 22, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

Another spring flooding image

Here’s another image related to this week’s heavy rainfall and flooding in Missouri and adjoining states:

missouri_flooding.jpg

In this image, red areas (very tiny) received greater than 200 mm (8 in) of precipitation, orange areas receive more than 150 mm (6 in), and yellow areas received more than 100 mm (4 in).

The image and a more complete description can be found at the NASA Earth Observatory Natural Hazards site.

Grace and Peace

March 21, 2008 Posted by | Maps, Meteorology | Leave a comment

Spring flooding

The USGS has an online map called WaterWatch, which portrays conditions from stream gaging stations. Parts of Missouri and Arkansas have received a foot of rain this week, and that storm system has spread to the east. Black dots on the map are areas that are currently the highest above normal.

waterwatch.jpg

The map is clickable–you can go to a state, and then to specific stream gauges.

Grace and peace

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Geology, Maps, Meteorology | Leave a comment

Shuttle launch

Night time launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, from today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

shuttlelaunch.jpg

Photo by James N. Brown

Grace and Peace

March 16, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | 1 Comment

The Bad News of the Gospel

This item was originally posted in March, 2006. (Wow! That reminds me—The GeoChristian is two years old this week!) It is now part of my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers at The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.

As a teacher, I’ve seen a few kids who regularly get D’s and F’s on their tests. I know how they feel, because I get a zero on this test every time I take it!

I got an “F” on a test today.

I have become increasingly aware that, for whatever reason, some of my children do not have a good grasp of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of this, I am directing more conversations in our family to this critical topic. Before one can comprehend the good news of the Gospel, they need to really understand the bad news about sin.

A primary purpose of the “Law” portions of Scripture is to point us to the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior. This morning, my family read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and then took a quiz out of the book Tell the Truth, by Will Metzger. Here’s the quiz:

———————————————————–

GOD’S TEST FOR EVERYONE: MEASURE YOURSELF BY GOD’S LAW

  1. (Yes or No) I have never put anything else before God in my life. I have always given God first place in my thinking, affections and actions.
  2. (Yes or No) I have never had any wrong conceptions about God nor worshipped Him in a way not recommended by Him. I have always rejected any wrong imaginations or images of God that I’ve seen or thought and refused to remake God according to my liking.
  3. (Yes or No) I have never slighted or abused the character of the true God by using His holy name as a swear word or using it in a thoughtless manner, such as by calling myself a follower of God yet not obeying. I have always held the name of God, which signifies His character, in highest respect, invoking it with thoughtfulness and reverence.
  4. (Yes or No) I have never done less than a full week’s work, and never done any of my normal work on the day set aside to worship God. I have always worked hard and willingly at whatever task is set before me, seeing it as a God-given service each day, and consistently remembered to set apart one day weekly to worship God with others.
  5. (Yes or No) I have never disobeyed nor dishonored my parents or any others in authority over me. I have always respected and been thankful for my parents and given them honor and willing obedience, as well as other authorities over me.
  6. (Yes or No) I have never murdered anyone nor had hateful thoughts or taken the slightest pleasure in seeing harm done to another human. I have always thought more of others than I have of myself and practiced the highest regard for human life and justice.
  7. (Yes or No) I have never practiced any sexual impurity, either physically engaging in sex before marriage or mentally having impure thoughts about someone. I have always treated others’ sexuality with respect and dignity in both my physical actions and mental attitudes.
  8. (Yes or No) I have never taken anything that doesn’t belong to me nor been deceitful in any attitudes or unwilling to work for my needs. I have always respected the belongings, rights and creations of others and been completely truthful and fair.
  9. (Yes or No) I have never lied nor slandered another person or group of people. I have always told the truth in every situation regarding every person I have known.
  10. (Yes or No) I have never been greedy for something that wasn’t mine, nor jealous even of the abilities, looks, or status of others. I have always shared and given of my possessions and myself to others and I have been thankful in my heart for what they have and content with my possessions and situation.

(from Metzger, Will, 2002, Tell the Truth, A Training Manual on the Message & Methods of God-Centered Witnessing, 3rd ed., InterVarsity Press)

I scored 0/10 on this one.

Praise God that I have one who speaks to the Father in my defense: “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 ESV).

Grace and Peace

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Blog Recycling, Christianity | 1 Comment

Bad kitties

Gracie likes to lay down on the laptop keyboard. Cinder likes to be in the way when I’m trying to type. That is the price I pay for having a little piece of nature in the home.

badcats.jpg

Grace and Peace

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Fun | Leave a comment

Southern Baptists and global warming

Don, at The Evangelical Ecologist, has a couple posts on a new statement written by some Southern Baptist leaders who feel their denomination’s stance on anthropogenic climate change and other environmental issues is too weak:

A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change

An Open Letter to Southern Baptists

One thing I appreciate that Don points out is that rather than being a hinderance to evangelism and missions, environmental issues provide a vast opportunity for gospel-based outreach.

The statement, which is not an official SBC document, can be found at the Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Change Initiative site. There is nothing radical in the statement that should cause division. There are four main points:

  1. Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation.
  2. It Is Prudent to Address Global Climate Change.
  3. Christian Moral Convictions and Our Southern Baptist Doctrines Demand Our Environmental Stewardship.
  4. It Is Time for Individuals, Churches, Communities and Governments to Act.

Here are a few quotes from the statement:

We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light. The time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.

There is undeniable evidence that the earth—wildlife, water, land and air—can be damaged by human activity, and that people suffer as a result. When this happens, it is especially egregious because creation serves as revelation of God’s presence, majesty and provision. Though not every person will physically hear God’s revelation found in Scripture, all people have access to God’s cosmic revelation: the heavens, the waters, natural order, the beauty of nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1). We believe that human activity is mixed in its impact on creation—sometimes productive and caring, but often reckless, preventable and sinful.

God’s command to tend and keep the earth (Genesis 2) did not pass away with the fall of man; we are still responsible. Lack of concern and failure to act prudently on the part of Christ-followers reflects poorly to the rest of the world. Therefore, we humbly take responsibility for the damage that we have done to God’s cosmic revelation and pledge to take an unwavering stand to preserve and protect the creation over which we have been given responsibility by Almighty God Himself.

We recognize that Christians are not united around either the scientific explanations for global warming or policies designed to slow it down. Unlike abortion and respect for the biblical definition of marriage, this is an issue where Christians may find themselves in justified disagreement about both the problem and its solutions.

Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future. This will mean we have to take a position of prudence based partly on science that is inevitably changing. We do not believe unanimity is necessary for prudent action. We can make wise decisions even in the absence of infallible evidence.

This is not our world, it is God’s. Therefore, any damage we do to this world is an offense against God Himself

Our motivation for facing failures to exercise proper stewardship is not primarily political, social or economic—it is primarily biblical.

We must care about environmental and climate issues because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us and to protect and care for the “least of these”

We realize that we cannot support some environmental issues as we offer a distinctively Christian voice in these arenas. For instance, we realize that what some call population control leads to evils like abortion. We now call on these environmentalists to reject these evils and accept the sanctity of every human person, both born and unborn.

We realize that simply affirming our God-given responsibility to care for the earth will likely produce no tangible or effective results. Therefore, we pledge to find ways to curb ecological degradation through promoting biblical stewardship habits and increasing awareness in our homes, businesses where we find influence, relationships with others and in our local churches. Many of our churches do not actively preach, promote or practice biblical creation care. We urge churches to begin doing so.

Grace and Peace

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment | Leave a comment

WWTelescope — the next big thing?

WorldWide Telescope could do for astronomy what Google Earth has done for the Earth sciences. I haven’ seen it yet; it is coming out some time in the spring of 2008. With WWTelescope, one will be able to view any place in the sky with imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as from ground-based telescopes.

Will it replace the Starry Night software that I have been using in my Astronomy unit? Only if I can set it for viewing from any time and any place.

Grace and Peace

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Science Education | 1 Comment

Happy pi day

Today is pi day (3.14).

Click here for my pi day jokes from last year.

Click here for pi to one million decimal places, just in case you ever need it.

Click here for the official Pi Day web site.

Pi day just also happens to be Albert Einstein‘s birthday. That seems appropriate.

Grace and Peace

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Fun | Leave a comment

Google Earth & microclimate

Google Earth came in handy today for illustrating microclimate. At lower elevations in the Bridger Range near Bozeman, Montana, dense pine forests form on north-facing slopes, whereas grass dominates the south-facing slopes. There is enough of a difference in soil temperature and moisture between the two sides of the ridges to make a significant difference in the microclimate, and hence the vegetation.

microclimate1.jpg

Earth science is a very visual topic—I use PowerPoint with lots of images, maps, and graphs—and Google Earth provides an additional tool for classroom and laboratory use.

Grace and Peace

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Science Education | 4 Comments

Plant hardiness zones

Welcome to The GeoChristian. Out of over 600 posts on my blog, this one on plant hardiness zones is the one people find second most often via search engines. The purpose of The GeoChristian is twofold: 1. To enhance science literacy within the Evangelical Christian community. 2. To present a Biblical Christianity that is hostile to neither science nor the environment. I invite you to take some time and read some other posts.

Plant hardiness zone maps show the average low temperatures for large areas and are useful for determining which plants can be grown in different regions. Seed packets sometimes have these on them, so one can determine where a specific type of plant can be grown. For example, orange trees have little tolerance for frost, so oranges are grown in pink and red areas (zones 9 and 10) on the following plant hardiness zone map of the United States (from The National Arbor Day Foundation):

zones_us.png

There are other climate and soil restraints on growth of orange trees, so they are grown primarily in Florida and California.

Similar maps can be found on the internet for other regions of the world. The following maps are from The Pacific Bulb Society:

zone_eur.jpg

zone_na.jpg

zone_aus.jpg

zone_nz.jpg

zone_ny.jpg

I’m not presently into gardening, but find these interesting from the perspective of climate.

Grace and Peace

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Maps, Meteorology | Leave a comment

Kilauea lava flow videos

The Hawaiian volcano Kilauea has been erupting more or less continuously since 1983. Current lava flows are reaching the Pacific ocean, and Honolulu television station KITV has videos:

Lava Reaches Ocean Creating Spectacular View

HT: Geology News

Grace and Peace

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment