Pleistocene Park

From Yahoo! News/AP — One scientist’s hobby: recreating the ice age

CHERSKY, Russia – Wild horses have returned to northern Siberia. So have musk oxen, hairy beasts that once shared this icy land with woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats. Moose and reindeer are here, and may one day be joined by Canadian bison and deer.

Later, the predators will come — Siberian tigers, wolves and maybe leopards.

Russian scientist Sergey Zimov is reintroducing these animals to the land where they once roamed in millions to demonstrate his theory that filling the vast emptiness of Siberia with grass-eating animals can slow global warming.

Unlike “re-wilding” ideas in the United States (e.g. Montana), where most land is used for one thing or another, this one is along the Kolyma River (of gulag fame) in Siberia, which is about as isolated as one can get.

Isn’t this a little taste of what nature was meant to be, with the earth, sky, and sea “swarming with swarms of living creatures?” (Gen 1:20,24).

Grace and Peace

Related news: Leaking Siberian ice raises a tricky climate issue

Earth Observatory images

A few NASA Earth Observatory images from the past few months:

Mataiva Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, South Pacific Ocean, August 30, 2010

Credit: ISS Expedition 24 Crew

This image makes a great desktop background. The full-resolution image doesn’t have labels.


The Water Planet, October 2, 2010

Credit: NASA MODIS

Arthur C. Clarke once remarked, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.”


Susitna Glacier, Alaska, October 20, 2010

Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Note the complex ice deformation along much of the length of glacier. Most of the lower portion of the glacier is completely covered by debris.


Strong Extratropical Cyclone Over the US Midwest, October 29, 2010

Credit: NASA GOES Project Science Office

This low pressure system brought severe weather to much of the central U.S., and set a record low atmospheric pressure for a non-hurricane storm in the U.S.


Matusevich Glacier, Antarctica, November 7, 2010

Credit: NASA EO-1 team

Nile River Delta at Night, November 8, 2010

Credit: ISS Expedition 25 Crew

Grace and Peace

Did Ann Coulter really say “Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours”?

4/22/2013 — For a much more Biblical view of nature than what you will hear from Ann Coulter, see my Earth Day 2013 entry: The goodness and fruitfulness of creationSee also the environmental quotes from Christian authors Francis Schaeffer and Steven Bouma-Prediger.

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I’ve seen this quote from conservative commentator Ann Coulter in several places, and I’m curious about its authenticity:

“God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'”—Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01

I’ve always wondered why anyone would listen to Coulter—she comes across as fuming with rage and anger. I know she claims to be a Christian, so this quote (if genuine) bothers me for a number of reasons.

  • It is just plain wrong. The concept of dominion in Genesis 1 is to keep and care for the creation as God’s representatives, not to rape and exploit it for our own selfish desires.
  • The creation is not “ours,” it is God’s.
  • The tone makes absolutely no contribution to anything, other than to help most people to see conservative Christians as a bunch of yahoos.

Does anyone know if she really said this? Or is this a distortion that has become entrenched in environmentalist urban legends, sort of like James Watt’s statement (that he never made) that it didn’t matter whether we took care of the Earth because Jesus was coming back soon?

Grace and Peace

 

Consider atheism? I don’t think so

The American Humanist Association is launching an ad campaign, urging us all to “Consider Humanism.”

This campaign uses a familiar atheist technique: Focus on the evils done in the name of religion; ignore the evils done by atheists.

The graphics I’ve seen have this format:

  • What some believe — a verse from the Bible or Koran urging some repugnant thing, such as slaughtering, hating, oppressing, and so forth.
  • What humanists think — a quote from some “enlightened” atheist showing how far we’ve come from the barbaric days of the Bible and Koran.

Note that religious people just “believe” something, whereas humanists/atheists “think.”

I am not a Muslim, obviously, so I’ll leave it to Muslims to defend themselves against the humanists.

There is a good, well-thought-out answer—yes, we Christians know how to think—for each of the accusations that the humanist ad campaign levels against Christianity. Consider the following ad:

This one is rather silly. Does any Christian really think that Jesus, in this passage, was telling us to hate anyone? Jesus was clearly using hyperbole, as we are told over and over to love one another, and even to love our enemies. Jesus wants our love for him to be so great that all other loves—including our love for ourselves—pales in comparison.

I’ll take Katharine Hepburn’s word for it, that she believes (that must have been a typo on the humanists’ part) that we should be kind to one another. I have to wonder, however, whether that belief comes from the Anglo-Saxon side of her cultural heritage, or from the Christian side.

Here’s another:

The Bible paints things as they really are. The people of Samaria (the northern ten tribes of Israel) had adopted a religious system (Baal worship) that included ritual prostitution (probably involuntary for many of the prostitutes), human sacrifice, mutilation, and incest. The humanists seem to think that God was being rather harsh in sending judgment on all of this, but most of us can discern that something is horribly wrong in a religious system that encourages ritual sacrifice of children.

Albert Einstein may have been guilty of exactly what he said he opposed. He could not imagine a God who punishes, saying this is “but a reflection of human frailty.” I suppose he would have an easier time imagining a God who didn’t punish sin, but then wouldn’t he just be projecting his own personal or cultural biases on that deity?

It wouldn’t be fair for me to pick out the easiest ads (and I think the first two I mentioned were incredibly easy to answer), so I’ll go for what I think is the most difficult:

I’ll start with the atheist/humanist solution that is proposed, and then get to a Christian response.

First, I applaud those who work towards peace, whether they be humanist, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, or Christian. I am not opposed to international efforts to prevent genocide.

Having said this, I wouldn’t trust atheists (whether they call themselves “atheists” or “humanists”) to run an international organization that would “adjudicate and enforce measures to punish acts of genocide.” The atheist track record in the past century is one of massive genocide (Stalin, Mao, etc.), and it would be easy for them (or any other group) to start favoring one side over the other in a conflict. Human nature has embedded within it characteristics such as greed, fear, and aggression, and too much power in the hands of one group always ends up in disaster. Christianity recognizes this. Most humanists, on the other hand, put too much trust in the ever-elusive perfectibility of the human species.

Genocide is most certainly wrong. I believe that the atheists/humanists ultimately have no absolute reason for saying it is wrong, but I take them at their word that they really do believe (there’s that word again) it is wrong.

Genocide certainly goes against all of the ethical teachings in the New Testament, and most of the ethical teachings of the Old Testament. But what about instances in the Old Testament where God told his people to fight wars, and to wipe out every man, woman, and child? This is a legitimate issue to raise, as mass extermination of humans—the holocaust, and the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia—is a great evil.  From a Christian perspective, it is good to keep the following in mind:

  1. God is the maker and ruler of all. He has the absolute right of ownership over all peoples. If he judges an individual or a whole tribe ahead of time, he is within his rights to do so.
  2. The Canaanites were exceedingly wicked: human sacrifice and so forth. God could have judged them by sending a plague or famine, but in this case he used an army.
  3. All are sinners and deserving of God’s judgment. This goes for everyone from Adolf Hitler to Mother Theresa. The judgment on the Canaanites is therefore a brief picture of what we all deserve.
  4. The commands given in the Old Testament for military campaigns were extremely limited in their scope. These commands were for the conquest of Canaan, and never applied elsewhere.
  5. God is just. The same severe penalty given to the Canaanites (destruction) was later mandated for Israelites who followed false Gods (see what I wrote about the judgment on the Israelites in Samaria up above).
  6. Grace was shown to repentant Canaanites, such as Rahab and her family.
  7. We now advance the Kingdom of God through acts of love and proclamation of Christ.

This is an answer that I find satisfactory. Genocide is evil, and there is nothing in the Bible to justify it or even to suggest that it is an acceptable action for us to engage in.

If you are a Christian, do not be duped by the “logic” and “reason” of the atheists in their ad campaign. Their arguments are not as reasonable and logical as they make them out to be.

If you are a humanist/atheist, I urge you to consider Christianity as a better explanation for the world and human nature, and as a source, through Christ, of hope for the future. I am not asking you to throw out reason or logic, but to find in Christ both the ground and the fulfillment of all true reason and logic.

Grace and Peace

John Piper and the age of the Earth — part 2

The Bible does not teach that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

It isn’t just me and others who have a science background who are saying this.

It isn’t just theological liberals who deny the inspiration and authority of the Bible who are saying this.

A number of Bible believing Christian scholars and pastors are saying this. Like John Piper, the popular Baptist pastor and author.

I’ve written about Piper’s views on the age of the Earth before. What I had read at that time led me to write

“I am not saying that John Piper accepts either an old Earth or evolution,  just that he doesn’t consider the age of the Earth or evolution (apparently) to be issues in terms of Christian orthodoxy.”

I was wrong. Piper clearly states that he accepts an old age for the Earth, and that this is completely compatible with Genesis 1. Read what Piper has to say:

“When it comes to the more controversial issues, such as how to construe Genesis 1 and 2, about how God did it, and how long it took him to do it, there I’m totally sympathetic with a pastor who is gonna lay his view down, having studied it, and is gonna say to his people, “Here’s my understanding of those chapters, these six days, there can’t be any other understanding of 6 literal days, and so that’s how long God took to do it, and this earth is about ten or fifteen thousand years old, or this universe is. And though it looks old, that’s the way God made it, He made it to look old, or something like that.”  Or, he might take another view that these days are “ages.”  Or he might take Sailhammer’s view, which is where I feel at home, namely, that all of creation happened to prepare the land for man in verse 1. (In the) beginning, he made the heavens and the earth, that’s everything, and then you go day by day and He’s preparing the land. He’s not bringing new things into existence, He’s preparing the land and causing new things to grow, separating out water and earth, and then when it’s all set and prepared, He creates and puts man there.  And so that has the advantage of saying that the earth is billions of years old, if it wants to be, and whatever science says it is, it is.” (Video transcription from Sola Sisters: Dr. John Piper Okay With “Old Earth?”)

Watch for yourself (YouTube: John Piper – What should we teach about creation?):

Grace and Peace