Job 28 — Mining for gold, mining for wisdom

From the 28th chapter of Job —

1 “There is a mine for silver
and a place where gold is refined.
2 Iron is taken from the earth,
and copper is smelted from ore.
3 Man puts an end to the darkness;
he searches the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
4 Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft,
in places forgotten by the foot of man;
far from men he dangles and sways.
5 The earth, from which food comes,
is transformed below as by fire;
6 sapphires[a] come from its rocks,
and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
7 No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
8 Proud beasts do not set foot on it,
and no lion prowls there.
9 Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock
and lays bare the roots of the mountains.
10 He tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.
11 He searches[b] the sources of the rivers
and brings hidden things to light.

12 “But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
13 Man does not comprehend its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me’;
the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed in silver.
16 It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or sapphires.
17 Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
18 Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
19 The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.

20 “Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.
22 Destruction[c] and Death say,
‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to man,
‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.’”

Footnotes:
[a] Job 28:6 Or lapis lazuli; also in verse 16
[b] Job 28:11 Septuagint, Aquila and Vulgate; Hebrew He dams up
[c] Job 28:22 Hebrew Abaddon

New International Version 1984

C.S. Lewis, evolutionist

Dr. Jay Wile has an excellent summary of C.S. Lewis’s beliefs about evolution on his Proslogion blog: Another Point About C.S. Lewis.

To summarize the summary:

  • Lewis refused to join or endorse the Evolution Protest Movement, even though it was led by a personal friend.
  • His writings state acceptance of biological evolution [and, I should add, an ancient Earth (and Mars!)].
  • Lewis believed that evolution posed little threat to Christianity.
  • Lewis didn’t even believe in a literal Adam and Eve
  • Despite these beliefs, most would consider Lewis very orthodox in his Christian beliefs.

Grace and Peace

The tragedy of “creation evangelism”

The following item was originally posted in October 2009, and 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 (sometimes with a little editing). This post quotes from Michael Spencer, the late author of the blog Internet Monk (Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness).

Creation evangelism: using young-Earth creationism (Earth < 10,000 years old, most of geology is the product of Noah’s flood) to win people to faith in Christ.

There are many people who have come to faith in Christ through young-Earth creation ministries such as Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and a multitude of smaller organizations. I rejoice when people come to Christ or have their faith strengthened.

There is another side to this, however. These same organizations also needlessly drive perhaps millions of others away from Christ. The arguments presented by the young-Earth creationists for a young Earth or a global flood may be convincing to those who don’t know much science (and specifically, geology), but when critically examined these arguments are far from persuasive. The result is twofold. First, scientists (and other scientifically-minded people) are driven away from Christ. They are basically told that in order to become a Christian, they have to check their brains at the door. The second result is that many of our young people eventually leave the faith, not because of what the Bible actually says, but because of what the young-Earth organizations have given them as solid evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible. When they see that these arguments are not valid, they often chuck their Christianity along with their young-Earth creation dogmas.

Here’s a tragic story, illustrating the failure of “creation evangelism” from Internet Monk: Niki Made Her Choice and, Apparently, So Did We.

Her name is Niki. (Not her real name.) She’s a Japanese student who lived with an American family for a year and attended a Christian school. She took a year of Bible. She attended worship and heard lots of preaching. The Gospel was explained to her many times. She was well liked and sociable.

A very smart girl. A great student, much advanced over the average American student. She made A’s in everything, including Bible.

She left America after graduation and went back to Japan.

She came to America an atheist and she returned to Japan an atheist, and very aware that she had rejected Christianity.

Before she left, she talked with one of her teachers.

“I am an atheist because I believe in evolution. When people here explained to me what they must believe as Christians, I always ask them about evolution, and they say “You cannot be a Christian and believe in evolution.” So I cannot be a Christian, because I believe that evolution is true.”

No doubt, Niki has met many Christians who told her that she could not be a Christian and “believe” in evolution. No doubt, few, if any, of those Christians took the time to explain what they meant by evolution. Most probably meant that the Bible teaches that the earth is 10,000 years young, that no biological death of any kind happened before sin and the major Creationist ministries such as AIG have all the answers to the hard questions of physics, astronomy and science. (”Were you there?”)

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Was Niki ever told about the the thousands of Christians in the sciences who believe the “Big Bang” is evidence for creation by God? No, she wasn’t. Was she told of the many conversions to Christianity among scientists who have been moved by the evidence for God as creator now available in astrophysics? No, because that would complicate the views of Creationism she was told were non-negotiable.

Was Niki ever told that the vast majority of Christians on planet earth don’t believe now and haven’t ever believed science and Christianity answer the same questions in the same way? No, she wasn’t.

Was Niki told that millions of Christians believe in some form of evolution? (For Catholics, it’s in the Catechism!) Some form of an old earth? That millions of Christians do not accept the claims of the Creationist ministries as representing the Bible accurately or correctly? No, she wasn’t.

Was Niki told that even atheists are largely agreed that evolution does not equal atheism, and atheists like Dawkins are wrong to claim that is the case?

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Niki, who heard about Jesus for weeks and weeks in her Bible class, could not bring herself to believe in creationism, so she cannot be a Christian.

Many are zealous defenders of young-Earth creationism. They try to use it to try to win non-believers to Christ, and blame Satan when it doesn’t work. But how much of this resistance to the gospel is due to Satanic blinding, and how much is due to the errors of young-Earth creationist teachings on topics such as the age of the Earth, the geological work of the flood, or biological evolution?

With love for the body of Christ and unbelieving scientists.

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This was originally posted on October 4, 2009. Click here to read the original comments.

Peace?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. — Matthew 5:9 (NIV 1984)

‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. — Jeremiah 6:14 (NIV 1984)

Is the world getting to be a better place, or are we just in the calm between storms?

From Yahoo News/AP — Bombings, beheadings? Stats show a peaceful world (written by Seth Borenstein):

It seems as if violence is everywhere, but it’s really on the run.

Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon.

Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful.

That’s the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem.

In his book, Pinker writes: “The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”

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The number of people killed in battle — calculated per 100,000 population — has dropped by 1,000-fold over the centuries as civilizations evolved. Before there were organized countries, battles killed on average more than 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Now battlefield deaths are down to three-tenths of a person per 100,000.

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Pinker says one of the main reasons for the drop in violence is that we are smarter. IQ tests show that the average teenager is smarter with each generation. The tests are constantly adjusted to keep average at 100, and a teenager who now would score a 100 would have scored a 118 in 1950 and a 130 in 1910. So this year’s average kid would have been a near-genius a century ago. And that increase in intelligence translates into a kinder, gentler world, Pinker says.

“As we get smarter, we try to think up better ways of getting everyone to turn their swords into plowshares at the same time,” Pinker said in an interview. “Human life has become more precious than it used to be.”

But the article has a cautionary note as well:

“The facts are not in dispute here; the question is what is going on,” John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and author of “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.”

“It’s been 21 years since the Cold War ended and the United States has been at war for 14 out of those 21 years,” Mearsheimer said. “If war has been burned out of the system, why do we have NATO and why has NATO been pushed eastward…? Why are we spending more money on defense than all other countries in the world put together?”

What’s happening is that the U.S. is acting as a “pacifier” keeping the peace all over the world, Mearsheimer said. He said like-minded thinkers, who call themselves “realists” believe “that power matters because the best way to survive is to be really powerful.” And he worries that a strengthening China is about to upset the world power picture and may make the planet bloodier again.

And Goldstein points out that even though a nuclear attack hasn’t occurred in 66 years — one nuclear bomb could change this trend in an instant.

I rejoice to see a reduction of violence around the world, and am very thankful for those who work hard for peace, sometimes even at the cost of their own lives.

At the same time, I see much to be concerned about: unstable economies, religious and ethnic hostilities, a volatile Middle East, unsustainable energy policies, proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and violence in entertainment. Democracy and education may have curbed the violent side of human nature, but history demonstrates that it can quickly return on a massive scale.

Grace and Peace

All truth is God’s truth — Arthur Holmes

From Christianity Today: Arthur Holmes, Author of ‘All Truth is God’s Truth’ Has Died (emphasis added):

Arthur Holmes, author of All Truth is Gods Truth who promoted the idea of integrating faith and learning, died October 8.

The Wheaton College philosophy professor authored several books related to faith and learning, including The Idea of a Christian College and Building the Christian Academy. He was born in 1924 and taught at Wheaton for more than 40 years, according to a blog post by David Osielski.

Throughout his writings and career, Holmes emphasized that, indeed, “all truth is God’s truth.” His desire was for Christians to not shy away from the difficult questions that may arise from whatever subject of academic study they choose. With a firm belief that any truth they find can be reconciled with their faith, Holmes challenged educators and Christians in academia to grapple with what they are interested in, noting that a strong faith can handle some turbulence while coming to a better understanding of God’s creation.

In reflection on his career, it is obvious he accomplished the goals he set forth for himself as a young teacher: he encouraged faith and learning in students, he countered the anti-intellectualism he found in the American church, and he helped prepare a great many students and Christian intellectuals for the various ranks of academia.

Grace and Peace

After writing this, I realized that the first person to come to mind to many of my readers when I mentioned “Arthur Holmes” would be British geologist Arthur Holmes, not Wheaton philosophy professor Arthur Holmes.

Geologist Arthur Holmes was a pioneer in geochronology, being the first to use uranium-lead dating. He was also an early supporter of the idea of continental drift, and was the first to propose mantle convection as the driving mechanism for moving continents.