The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

The Reason for God — interview excerpt

One of the best new books on apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) is The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. I haven’t read it yet, but it has received good reviews from theologically conservative reviewers.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview of Timothy Keller from First Things which touches on evolution and the age of the Earth:

In The Reason for God, you make a very brief argument for the validity of evolution within a limited sphere. It would seem to me that apologists for the faith must address this issue at some point. But doing so can call into question the historicity of the Fall and the very need for a savior. How do you talk about evolution without confusing people?

Oh, it’s a little confusing, but actually I’m just in the same place where the Catholics are, as far as I can tell. The Catholic Church has always been able to hold on to a belief in a historical Fall—it really happened, it’s not just representative of the fact that the human race has kind of gone bad in various ways. At the same time, if you say, “There is no God and everything happened by evolution,” naturalistic evolution—then you have “theistic evolution”: God just started things years ago and everything has come into being through the process of evolution. You have young-Earth six-day creationism, which is “God created everything in six 24-hour days.” To me, all three of those positions have perhaps insurmountable difficulties.

The fact is, the one that most people consider the most conservative, which is the young-Earth, six-day creation, has all kinds of problems with the text, as we know. If it’s really true, then you have problems of contradictions between Genesis 1 and 2. I don’t like the JEPD theory. I don’t like the theory that these are two somewhat contradictory creation stories that some editor stuck together—some pretty stupid editor stuck together. I think therefore you’ve got a problem with how long are the days before the sun shows up in the fourth day. You have problems really reading the Bible in a straightforward way with a young-Earth, six 24-hour day theory. You’ve got some problems with the theistic evolution, because then you have to ask yourself, “Was there no Adam and Eve? Was there no Fall?” So here’s what I like—the messy approach, which is I think there was an Adam and Eve. I think there was a real Fall. I think that happened. I also think that there also was a very long process probably, you know, that the earth probably is very old, and there was some kind of process of natural selection that God guided and used, and maybe intervened in. And that’s just the messy part. I’m not a scientist. I’m not going to go beyond that.

I do know that I say in the book, “This is an absolute red herring—to get mired in this before you look at the certainties of the faith. Because the fact is that real orthodox believers with a high view of Scripture are all over the map on this. I can line up ten really smart people in all those different buckets, which I’ll call “theistic evolution,” “young-Earth creationism,” and let’s call it “progressive creationism” or “semi-theistic evolution.” There are all these different views. And when you see a lot of smart people disagreeing on this stuff, well . . .

How could there have been death before Adam and Eve fell? The answer is, I don’t know. But all I know is, didn’t animals eat bugs? Didn’t bugs eat plants? There must have been death. In other words, when you realize, “Oh wait, this is really complicated,” then you realize, “I don’t have to figure this out before I figure out is Jesus Christ raised from the dead.”

Over the years—it’s not bad, but I’ve gotten sort of hit from both sides.

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Creation in the Bible, Old-Earth creationism | , | 2 Comments

Sarychev Peak eruption

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands, Russia.

Credit: NASA/International Space Station astronauts

Credit: NASA/International Space Station Expedition 20 crew

From the Earth Observatory description:

A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts this striking view of Sarychev Volcano (Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. […] Ash from the multi-day eruption has been detected 2,407 kilometers east-southeast and 926 kilometers west-northwest of the volcano, and commercial airline flights are being diverted away from the region to minimize the danger of engine failures from ash intake.

This detailed astronaut photograph is exciting to volcanologists because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption. The main column is one of a series of plumes that rose above Matua Island on June 12. The plume appears to be a combination of brown ash and white steam. The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance; the surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption. The smooth white cloud on top may be water condensation that resulted from rapid rising and cooling of the air mass above the ash column. This cloud is probably a transient feature: the eruption plume is starting to punch through. The structure also indicates that little to no shearing wind was present at the time to disrupt the plume. […]

By contrast, a cloud of denser, gray ash—probably a pyroclastic flow—appears to be hugging the ground, descending from the volcano summit. The rising eruption plume casts a shadow to the northwest of the island (image top). Brown ash at a lower altitude of the atmosphere spreads out above the ground at image lower left. Low-level stratus clouds approach Matua Island from the east, wrapping around the lower slopes of the volcano. Only about 1.5 kilometers of the coastline of Matua Island (image lower center) are visible beneath the clouds and ash.

I’ve got this one set as my desktop background this week.

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Geology, Imagery, Natural Disasters | , | 1 Comment

Drought and recovery

These images from the NASA Earth Observatory show areas of drought (brown = below average plant growth) and excess plant growth (green = above average plant growth).

Northern Iraq is suffering a severe drought. Much of the country’s grain is dependent on seasonal rainfall rather than irrigation:

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Grain-producing regions of Afghanistan, on the other hand, are recovering from a period of drought, with the wheat crop responding well to spring rains:

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS

Satellite imagery like this gives governments and aid agencies a quick way to analyze conditions on the ground.

Iraq image: Earth Observatory — Drought in Iraq

Afghanistan image: Earth Observatory — Crop Recovery in Afghanistan

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Geography, Imagery | , , , | Leave a comment

Christian or hippie — which would you choose?

One of the pastors at my church passed along a story from Dry Bones Denver: “Ask Me Why You Deserve HELL”: Reflections on the DNC. It is a bit dated, being from the Democratic National Convention here in Denver last summer, but it is also timeless. The author was with friends in the downtown area and observed a group of Christians whose behavior was somewhat less than loving, and a group of young anarchists who welcomed the pastor and his friends with open arms.

Here’s the christians:

“Ask me why YOU deserve to go to HELL!” My heart dropped and I hung my head in shame as I approached the banner waving these poisonous words. Riot police surrounded the group of christians (emphasis on the little “c”), protecting them from the enraged and ever-growing crowd of pedestrians; men, women and children. Other signs that littered the street corner and held up traffic for blocks on the 16th St. Mall read:

• “Homo sex is a threat to national security”
• “Looking for change? Then do what Christ said and repent. Hell Awaits You.”
• “You are headed for Hell”
• “WARNING: Baby Killing Women, Party Animals, Rebellious Women, So Called Christians, Liberals, Jesus Mockers, Porno Freaks, Muslims, Drunks, Homosexuals, Sex Addicts, Mormons…GOD WILL JUDGE YOU!”

Here’s the hippies:

Tattooed and dread-locked hippies relaxed in the sunshine. Droves of police, outfitted in full riot gear with masks down and guns out, stood nearby occasionally walking in single-file through the crowd to make their presence known. I took it all in, amazed by the eclectic group of people. We walked up to the hippie gathering and saw a sign that read “Doc’s Place” and another one that said, “Food not Bombs.” As it turned out, “Doc’s Place” was a volunteer-run, free medical clinic. Anyone could come by and receive limited, but free, medical care. “Food not Bombs” was a group that thought “…dropping food instead of bombs…” was the cool thing to do, so they decided to fix three meals a day for anyone who wanted food. They cooked everything on-site and if you ate, the only requirement was that you wash your own dishes in the provided buckets of soapy water, and then hang them in a tree to dry.

Here’s a quote from the conclusion:

Friends, I witnessed two very different groups of people this week. One group was filled with hate, judgment, and self-righteousness. The other group was loving, accepting, and humble. One group was insulting and abrasive and the other group just wanted to serve food and take care of people. One group called themselves Christians, the other group stayed as far away from them as they could. The way I see it, one group looked and acted like Jesus, and it wasn’t those who claimed to be His followers. This is the ultimate tragedy.

Read the entire story here.

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity | , | 15 Comments

Father’s Day 2009 #2

One thing I do to “tell the story” to my children is send an email to the whole family several times per week, with insights I have had from the Scriptures. Here is an example of the “A Note From Dad” emails that I send (and that my kids—soon all four will be teenagers—actually read much of the time):


A Note From Dad 5/24/09
Isaiah 25

Isaiah 25:1, 6-9

O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation..”

I love the book of Isaiah. It is my favorite book of the Prophets, and up there among my favorites of the Old Testament. It speaks of judgment over the wickedness of the world (including the wickedness of God’s people), but also contains many passages of hope.

This passage in Isaiah 25 refers to three things that give great hope:

  • Deliverance for Israel and for all nations (that’s us) will come from “this mountain,” which refers to Jerusalem. Our deliverance comes through Christ, who was sacrificed on “this mountain.”
  • We look forward to a great feast. We have a taste of this now in our fellowship with God through Christ. We will enjoy this feast forever in eternity. The feast is figurative, representing not just to food, but to an everlasting life of the joy and goodness of knowing God.
  • The “covering that is cast over all peoples” is death, which is the universal affliction of the human race. We will all die (unless we are alive when Christ returns), but that death is a temporary thing.

“Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

With great joy in Christ,

Dad

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity | , | Leave a comment

Father’s Day 2009 #1

The following item was originally posted in June 2006. I have added it to my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers of The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.

In my wide margin Bible, I mark an “F” in the margin to denote verses about the family. As I have done this, I have seen more clearly my responsibilities as a father. The most common command or exhortation in the Scriptures in regards to parenting is to teach our children about the wonders of God:

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)

You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8)

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children. (Deuteronomy 4:9)

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever. (Joshua 4:6-7)

O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old. (Psalm 44:1)

So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18)

Things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done. (Psalm 78:3-4)

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise. (Psalm 79:13)

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 89:1)

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching. (Proverbs 1:8)

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight. (Proverbs 4:1)

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

The father makes known to the children your faithfulness. (Isaiah 38:19)

Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation. (Joel 1:3)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Being that I am not much of a talker by nature, this is something I need to be very intentional about or it doesn’t happen. But when I stumble in the telling of the story of God’s grace to my children, I pick up and keep on going. They need to hear it and see it from me daily. Just as in the Old Testament, the people were to tell their children over and over about what God had done to save Israel in the exodus, we are to tell our children over and over about what God has done in creation and redemption.

Grace and Peace

(Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version)

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Blog Recycling, Christianity | , | Leave a comment

Melting glaciers, changing borders

Video from BBC News: Glacier melt changes Italian border. I can’t embed it, so you will have to go to the link.

This reflects a different view of borders than what we have in the United States. In the US, if a river that marks a boundary changes course (e.g. the Mississippi), then the border stays where it was. In Europe, it seems that if a glacier melts, then the international border can move 100 meters or so.

Grace and Peace

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Climate Change, Geography, Maps | Leave a comment