The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Space shuttles for sale

From Yahoo News/AP: Want a retired space shuttle? They’re up for grabs

The space agency said Wednesday it’s looking for ideas on where and how best to display its space shuttles once they stop flying in a few years. It’s put out a call to schools, science museums and “other appropriate organizations” that might be interested in showcasing one of the three remaining shuttles.

Beware: NASA estimates it will cost about $42 million to get each shuttle ready and get it where it needs to go, and the final tab could end up much more.

The estimate includes $6 million to ferry the spaceship atop a modified jumbo jet to the closest major airport. But the price could skyrocket depending on how far the display site is from the airport. Only indoor, climate-controlled displays will be considered.

NASA is scheduled to retire the space shuttles in 2010, which means that the US will go a few years again without a way to put humans into space.

Here’s an image from NASA’s Image of the Day Gallery for yesterday, showing a space shuttle piggybacked on top of a 747 for transcontinental transport.

shuttle747

Grace and peace

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Space Exploration | , | Leave a comment

100 geological things to do

This meme was started by Geotripper, and I’ve seen it at Looking for Detachment and Clastic Detritus as well. The idea is to take a standard list, written by Geotripper, and highlight with bold the the things I’ve actually done:

1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier [I’ve been on small glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana]
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland [I’ve been to Yellowstone numerous times, having grown up close enough to go through “The Park” on a day trip]
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta.
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage [The Great Flood of 1993 on the Mississippi River destroyed my place of employment]
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia) [Lewis & Clark Caverns, Montana, plus several smaller caves in Missouri]
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile. [Berkeley Pit in Butte, and Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall, Montana]
8. Explore a subsurface mine. [We did underground mapping in geology field camp in the Tabacco Root Mountains of Southwest Montana]
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California).
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there’s some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere.
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada.
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. [Stillwater Complex in the Beartooth Mountains, Montana]
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth – The Story of Plate Tectonics – an excellent website). [Leading edge (convergent): West coast of United States. Trailing edge (passive): East and Gulf coasts of United States, Black Sea of Romania]
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. [City parks of Bucharest, Romania]
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) [I’ve only seen fossil stromatolites, in Glacier NP]
18. A field of glacial erratics [Yellowstone Plateau]
19. A caldera [Yellowstone]
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high
21. A fjord [Vancouver BC]
22. A recently formed fault scarp [1959 fault scarp near Quake Lake, Montana]
23. A megabreccia
24. An actively accreting river delta
25. A natural bridge [Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Utah]
26. A large sinkhole [South St. Louis county, Missouri, has thousands of sinkholes]
27. A glacial outwash plain
28. A sea stack
29. A house-sized glacial erratic [Yellowstone NP, near Canyon]
30. An underground lake or river [Meremac Cavern, Missouri]
31. The continental divide [Montana, Colorado, Canadian Rockies, North Dakota!]
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals [Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Muzeul National de Istorie Naturala Grigore Antipa, Bucharest, Romania]
33. Petrified trees [not in the field]
34. Lava tubes
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back.
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe.
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania,
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil’s Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing
45. The Alps. [Austria and Germany]
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley – 11,330 feet below.
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
52. Land’s End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism. [I’ve never been there. It was off limits when I was studying distal tephras in Eastern Washington for my M.S. in the mid-1980s]
55. The Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic “horn”.
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington [Mima mounds are also found in the Channelled Scablands in Central Washington, so I’ll count this one]
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the “father” of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah [Delicate Arch — the hike there with children on a hot summer day was one of our classic family memories]
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington [My M.S. research was in the heart of the scablands, near Washtucna]
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley
69. The San Andreas fault
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrennees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event [I haven’t seen one actually happen; I have been to the 1959 landslide at Quake Lake, Montana]
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park [I’ve seen the crossbedding in the Navajo Sandstone, but not actually in Zion]
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. [Bucharest, Romania, 2003]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ [I didn’t “find” them, but I’ve seen them. Dinosaur Ridge, west of Denver]
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil)
85. Find gold, however small the flake
86. Find a meteorite fragment
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall
88. Experience a sandstorm
89. See a tsunami
90. Witness a total solar eclipse [Billings, Montana, February 1979]
91. Witness a tornado firsthand.
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. [Only faintly, Montana]
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century [Hale-Bopp 1995, Hyakutake 1996]
96. See a lunar eclipse [often]
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash

33/100 — not too bad, but I’d like to add some to the list, such as a hike through the Grand Canyon and witnessing a volcanic eruption. Living in Denver now, I should be able to add a few others, such as the Black Canyon of the Gunnison and 200-foot sand dunes.

Grace and peace

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Geology | 4 Comments

Bible reading in 2009

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105 ESV)

They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11 ESV)

New Years Day is coming in two weeks, and many make a resolution to read in the Bible more consistently than they have in the past, and many don’t stick to that resolution.

Here’s what works for me.

Rather than using a reading schedule, with a daily listing of what chapters to read, I usually use a Bible reading checklist:

Kevin’s Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file (44 kb)

It has all sixty-six books of the Bible, with their chapters, and I put a slash through the numbers as I read.

biblechecklist.jpg

This gives me greater flexibility than a schedule does, yet still helps me to reach my reading goals, which include making sure I read the entire New Testament every year. In 2008, I focused my Old Testament reading on the later historical books, such as 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther; as well as the wisdom literature: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. In 2009, I plan to focus on the prophets and then go back to Genesis. One advantage of this system over using a schedule is that I can vary my pace.

biblechecklist2

Feel free to download and print this for yourself and pass it on to others:

Kevin’s Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file (44 kb)

My hope and prayer is to encourage you to be in the Word in 2009, and that you would know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ better because of it.

Grace and Peace

——————————————————

P.S. Here are some reading schedules for those who are more inclined that way:

ESV Bible Reading Plans — several different ways to get through the Bible or just the New Testament in a year.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading schedule — twice through the NT & Psalms, once through the OT

More reading schedules

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | , , | Leave a comment

Brrrrrrr

Next day update — The temperature here in Lakewood was even colder this morning (12/15/08): -11°F (-24°C). I love winter!

It’s a little cold this morning: -1°F (-18°C) here in Lakewood, Colorado, and -15°F (-26°C) in my hometown of Billings.

brrrrr

But I love winter! My comment to my wife this morning was, “I’m glad we don’t live in Florida.”

Grace and peace

map from the National Weather Service

December 14, 2008 Posted by | Meteorology, Montana | Leave a comment

Chukar

chukar1

We saw a couple of Chukars near our apartment yesterday. I thought they were quails at first, but they had no head plumes. We have a tattered Peterson’s Field Guide to Western Birds in our car, that aided in the identification.

If you like field guides, then you should be aware of enature.com, which has pages for more than 5,500 North American birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, spiders, wildflowers, trees, and seashells. Here is the page for the Chukar, which includes a link where you can listen to what a Chukar sounds like (something the Peterson’s guide cannot do).

Grace and peace

Chukar image from Wikipedia: Chukar, credit: Mdf

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Nature | | Leave a comment

Cizik Resigns

From Christianity Today: Richard Cizik Resigns from the National Association of Evangelicals

Richard Cizik resigned Wednesday night as vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) during a week of growing uproar over his comments that he is shifting his views on same-sex unions.

“Although he has subsequently expressed regret, apologized, and affirmed our values, there is a loss of trust in his credibility as a spokesperson among leaders and constituencies,” Leith Anderson, president of the NAE wrote to board members today. Cizik did not return calls for comment.

Last year, more than two dozen evangelical leaders sought to oust Cizik, who has been vice president for 28 years, because of his “relentless campaign” on global warming.

I understand why he resigned at this point, and I agree that this was the right thing for him to do.

I do, however, appreciate the positions he has taken on the environment. Not all Evangelicals agreed with him on this, but if we can get together in the National Association of Evangelicals even though we disagree on things like baptism, predestination, eschatology, and ordination of women, then surely Cizik’s position on global warming should not have been such a lightning rod. Richard Cizik was a good balance to the anti-environment wing of Evangelical Christianity.

Grace and peace

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Environment | , , | 1 Comment

Hubble Advent Calendar

It doesn’t point to Christ as directly as Advent ought to, but this is still a really cool internet Advent Calendar: Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2008.

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hubbleadvent2

hubbleadvent3

hubbleadvent4

HT: Internet Monk

(The creation does point to Christ; the text of the Advent calendar doesn’t)

Grace and Peace

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | , , | 1 Comment

Derek Kidner on Genesis

kidner_genesisDerek Kidner, author of the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (IVP) on Genesis, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, and Proverbs, died this week, at age 95 (HT: Be Bold, Be Gentle).

Kidner had a love and respect for the Scriptures, a thorough knowledge of Old Testament language, history, and culture; and an ability to communicate clearly. He also was an advocate for an old age for the Earth, fully compatible, in his mind, with the Scriptures. He did this not because of some sort of cave-in to evolutionists, but because he really saw the Scriptures as allowing for an old age for the Earth, and even for humans.

How the two pictures, biblical and scientific, are related to each other is not immediately clear, and one should allow for the provisional nature both of scientific estimates (without making this a refuge from all unwelcome ideas) and of traditional interpretations of Scripture. (p. 26)

But to try to correlate the data of Scripture and nature is not to dishonour biblical authority, but to honour God as Creator and to grapple with our proper task of interpreting His ways of speaking. (p. 31)

Just as it would be impossibly prosaic to cross-question the author of, e.g. Job 38 on ‘the waterskins of the heavens’ or ‘the cords of Orion’, so it could be the wrong approach to this passage to expect its pattern of days to be informative rather than aesthetic. (p. 54)

We know that the full meaning of an inspired utterance was often hidden from the speaker. (pp. 57-58). [In other words, even if Moses understood this as a literal six 24-hour day sequence, doesn’t mean that God intended the same.]

(page numbers are for the 1967 IVP edition)

Kidner doesn’t commit to a specific interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis. He rejects some viewpoints as having little biblical evidence, but leaves the door open for the day-age or allegorical interpretations.

Grace and peace

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Creation in the Bible, Young-Earth creationism | , | Leave a comment

Techie terrorists

TimesOnline article: Google Earth accused of aiding terrorists.

Apparently the Mumbai terrorists used Google Earth as part of planning their attack.

An Indian Court has been called to ban Google Earth amid suggestions the online satellite imaging was used to help plan the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last month.

A petition entered at the Bombay High Court alleges that the Google Earth service, “aids terrorists in plotting attacks”. Advocate Amit Karkhanis has urged the court to direct Google to blur images of sensitive areas in the country until the case is decided.

Google Earth is a wonderful tool for studying Earth, whether for natural or manmade features. A few places in the world are intentionally blurred on Google Earth, but there are many sensitive military, industrial, and government locations that are viewable in great detail. Living in a world of sin where people will twist what is good and use it for evil, what restrictions should there be on public availability of imagery?


google1

Rocket launching pads, Vandenberg AFB, California


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Oil refinery, Louisiana


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Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Pennsylvania


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The White House, Washington, DC


HT: World Magazine

Grace and Peace

December 10, 2008 Posted by | Geography | , | Leave a comment

Deriba Caldera, Sudan

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Deriba Caldera, a volcano in the Darfur region of Sudan. This caldera was formed in a large eruption about 3,500 years ago.

deribacaldera

The geometry is a little more obvious in Google Earth:

deribacalderagoogleearth

Like Crater Lake in Oregon, this caldera was formed by a massive eruption, likely followed by a partial collapse of the underlying magma chamber. Deriba Caldera is in a much dryer climate than Crater Lake, but there is still sufficient precipitation to form two small lakes in the caldera, one of which is in a smaller crater that has formed inside the caldera (the lake on the left).

Grace and peace

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Geology | , | Leave a comment

Pliocene and Quaternary sea levels

Tying into a post from earlier tonight: global Pliocene and Quaternary sea levels, from the US Geological Survey.

The natural range of sea level for the past 3 million years is from a high of 35 meters above present sea level, to a low of 120 meters below present sea level:

sealevelchanges

The +35 m value is from the warm period that occurred during the mid-Pliocene, before the Earth plunged into the Quaternary cycle of alternating ice ages and interglacial periods (we live in an interglacial). In the mid-Pliocene, lowlands such as much of Florida and the lower Mississippi River valley were under water.

The -120 m value is from peak-glacial times, when large quantities of water were stored on the continents in continental ice sheets which were over 1000 meters thick covering millions of square kilometers. In this time, large areas of continental shelf were exposed, such as a wide area west of the current Florida coast, and the Bering Land Bridge that linked Alaska and Siberia.

The slight changes in sea level that have been observed during the past century (2-3 mm per year) are largely due to the expansion of sea water as global temperatures have increased. The wide range of sea level over the past three million years is mostly due to changes in the amount of water stored on the continents as ice. Because of the high density of human settlement and development along coastlines, even modest changes in sea level, on the order of 0.5 to 1.0 meters, could cause havoc in low-lying areas.

The geological perspective is: change is the norm in the Quaternary.

Grace and peace

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Climate Change, Geology, Meteorology | , , | Leave a comment

Life Together quotes #2

Last week, I gave a few quotes (here) from the first two chapters of Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Lutheran pastor who was executed by the Nazis in the final days of World War 2. Here are quotes from the rest of the book:

Chapter 3 — The Day Alone

But silence before the Word leads to right hearing and thus also to right speaking of the Word of God at the right time.

The most promising method of prayer is to allow oneself to be guided by the word of the Scriptures.

A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses.

Chapter 4 — Ministry

Only he who lives by the forgiveness of his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself…. Because the Christian can no longer fancy that he is wise he will also have no high opinion of his own schemes and plans.

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among theives, perhaps–reading the Bible.

Chapter 5 — Confession and Communion

He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone…. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship…. The fact is that we are sinners!

The misery of the sinner and the mercy of God–this was the truth of the Gospel in Jesus Christ.

We must ask ourselves whether we have not often been deceiving ourselves with our confession of sin to God…. And is not the reason perhaps for our countless relapses and the feebleness of our Christian obedience to be found precisely in the fact that we are living on self-forgiveness and not a real forgiveness?

I highly recommend this book for its Christ-centered approach to Christian fellowship.

Grace and peace

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | | Leave a comment

The Pliocene as a model for the 21st century?

The US Geological Survey has a news release regarding climate during the mid-Pliocene Epoch, between 3.0 and 3.3 million years ago: Getting Warmer? Prehistoric Climate Can Help Forecast Future Changes. Scientists used paleontological data (i.e. fossils) to reconstruct surface water and deep-ocean temperatures, as well as ocean circulation patterns. Here are some of the findings:

  • Global average temperatures in the mid-Pliocene were 2.5°C (4.5°F) greater than today. This is in the range of temperatures predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for later in the 21st century.
  • CO2 levels were only slightly higher than what is found today. This implies that the atmosphere currently has enough CO2 to cause a couple of degrees of warming. It could be the other way around: the higher CO2 levels could have been caused by the higher temperatures; either way, there is a correlation between high CO2 levels and higher temperatures.
  • Warming was much greater in the North Atlantic and Arctic than in other oceanic areas. While worldwide temperatures in the Pliocene were on the order of 2.5°C warmer than today, temperatures in the North Atlantic were up to 18°C warmer, bringing the average annual temperature in some areas from -2°C to 16°C, which is temperate rather than polar. This is radical–and in this case, natural–climate change. It is also consistent with computer models that predict greater warming in polar regions than in the rest of the world during the 21st century.
  • One of the conclusions was that “the likely cause of mid-Pliocene warmth was a combination of several factors, including increased heat transport from equatorial regions to the poles and increased greenhouse gases.”

Here’s a map showing the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly for August, which is a comparison of the Pliocene SST with today’s SST. The dark blotch over the North Atlantic is the area that experienced the most extreme warming in the Pliocene compared to today. The yellow areas were about 2°C warmer than today. Note also  the warmer area off the Pacific coast of South America. This indicates an el Niño-like warming of the east Pacific surface waters in the Pliocene.

pliocenesurfacetemperatures

This study shows again the importance of a geological perspective when talking about climate change:

  • Not only is the present a key to the past, the past is a key to the present. By better understanding climate change in the Pliocene, we can get a better idea of the effects of warming in the 21st century. Being that the geometry of ocean basins has not changed appreciably since the Pliocene, the temperature and circulation patterns present in the Pliocene could be a good model for changes that could occur if global temperatures do increase by 2°C in the 21st century.
  • Geology gives us a context for climate change in the present. We cannot hope to distinguish between natural climate fluctuations and human-caused climate change if we don’t have a good grasp of natural climate change that has occurred over the past few millions of years.

Grace and peace

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Climate Change, Geology, Meteorology, Why Earth science matters | , | 1 Comment

World groundwater resources map

From UNESCO: Groundwater Resources of the World

groundwaterresourcesmap

groundwaterresourcesmap2

From the UNESCO press release:

Despite its strategic importance, no global inventory of this resource had been compiled to date. Since 2000, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) has been participating in the establishment of a groundwater database. It is now presenting a detailed map of transboundary aquifers – available online – showing the delineations of aquifers that are shared by at least two countries. It also provides information about the quality of their water and rate of replenishment. So far, the inventory comprises 273 shared aquifers: 68 are on the American continent, 38 in Africa, 65 in eastern Europe, 90 in western Europe and 12 in Asia.

The aquifers, which contain 100 times the volume of fresh water that is to be found on the Earth’s surface, already supply a sizeable proportion of our needs.

Although aquifer systems exist in all continents, not all of them are renewable. For example, those in north Africa and the Arabian peninsula were formed more than 10,000 years ago when the climate was more humid and are no longer replenished. In some regions, even if the aquifers are renewable – being fed on a regular basis by rainfall – they are in some cases endangered by over-exploitation or pollution. In the small islands and coastal zones of the Mediterranean, populations often use groundwater more rapidly than it is replenished.

HT: The Map Room

Grace and peace

December 8, 2008 Posted by | Geology, Maps | , , | Leave a comment

A Christ-centered message

The preaching at the church we have been attending in Denver, Red Rocks Fellowship, has been consistently good. Here are two excerpts from today’s sermon preached by Pastor Jack McCullough, which was on the birth of Jesus from Matthew 1:18-25.

Someone has said this: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a savior.”

But what does it mean that he will save his people from their sins? Well it means first of all that we must become his people by personally trusting Jesus as savior, believing in the Jesus who was crucified on the cross and raised, trusting in his finished work and that alone, receiving the free gift of grace by faith, salvation by grace through faith. In him it means we are judicially forgiven, we are aquitted of guilt. That’s what it means to be justified. In him we are delivered from the wrath of God, the wrath of God to come upon the world for sin. In him his righteousness is imputed to us, the righteousness of God by faith in him. Because of his power in us as believers when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell, we have that power as we trust and obey him, as we put off those garments of the old man, and put on the righteousness of the new. All this and more is bound up in that simple phrase in the future tense, which asserts with all certainty, “he will save his people from their sins.”

Here are a few things I appreciated about this message (and other messages I have heard at Red Rocks):

  1. It was relevant. Not because the pastor tried to make it hip or modern, but because it was about every human’s predicament and God’s solution for that predicament. Our problem is sin, and God’s solution is Jesus. Relevance is not about having a rock band (we had stringed instruments for accompaniment this morning) or plasma TV screens. The gospel itself is relevant to all.
  2. It had something for everyone. For the non-Christian it had the message of salvation. For the Christian it had the reminder that it is Jesus, and Jesus alone, who has saved us. For the mature Christian, it had depth. For the new Christian, or one who doesn’t have much Biblical or theological background, the meaty words, such as justification and imputation, were defined.
  3. It was about Jesus. Some preachers are able to take a passage that is clearly about Jesus and make it into a message that is clearly about us. The Bible is about Jesus, from beginning to end (Luke 24:27), and the preaching at Red Rocks has reflected this so far.

Grace and peace

December 7, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | , | Leave a comment

Mars climate change recorded in rocks

Patterns in sedimentary layers on Mars could be the result of cyclical climate change caused by regular variations in the tilt of the planet’s axis:

mars_cyclical_sediments

Climate on Earth is controlled by similar cyclical changes in the Earth’s orbit and axial tilt, which leads to alternating glacial and interglacial periods.

LiveScience article: Mars Wobbles Created Climate Swings

Credit: Topography: Caltech; HiRISE Images: NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona

Grace and Peace

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Geology | | Leave a comment

The Porpoise Driven Life

Oh my…

HT: Extreme Theology

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Fun | , | Leave a comment

Crater Lake geologic map

The USGS has released a new geologic map of Crater Lake, Oregon:

crater_lake_1

A good geologic map is a work of art.

Grace and peace

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Geology, Maps | | Leave a comment

White Christmas?

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

Here’s a probability map from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

white_christmas

The map is based on data from 1961 to 1990.

Grace and Peace

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Fun, Meteorology | , , | Leave a comment

Francis Schaeffer on the age of the Earth

genesis_in_space_and_time1Francis Schaeffer on the age of the Earth:

What does day mean in the days of creation?

The answer must be held with some openness. In Genesis 5:2 we read: “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” As it is clear that Adam and Eve were not created simultaneously, day in Genesis 5:2 does not mean a period of twenty-four hours.

In other places in the Old Testament the Hebrew word day refers to an era, just as it often does in English. See, for example, Isaiah 2:11,12 and 17 for such a usage.

The simple fact is that day in Hebrew (just as in English) is used in three separate senses: to mean (1) twenty-four hours, (2) the period of light during the twenty-four hours, and (3) an indeterminate period of time. Therefore, we must leave open the exact length of time indicated by day in Genesis.

from Genesis in Space and Time, p. 59

Francis Schaeffer was a firm believer in the truthfulness of the Scriptures, and was open to understanding the opening chapters of Genesis as allowing an old age for the Earth. This wasn’t because he was some sort of compromiser, but because he saw it as a valid Biblical interpretation.

See Reasons to Believe: Notable Christians Open to an Old-universe, Old-earth Perspective

Grace and Peace

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Creation in the Bible, Geology | , | 2 Comments