Free thinkers?

Why do “free-thinkers” all come to the same conclusions?

Is it permissible for a skeptic to be skeptical about skepticism?

Is it rational to believe that “In the beginning nothing created everything?”

Can science prove that science is the only way to know anything?

How can an atheist know that God doesn’t exist without being omniscient?

If an atheist steals from a fellow atheist, have they done something inherently evil?

The Genesis Flood — 50th anniversary

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Genesis Flood, by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb. This was, perhaps, the most influential young-Earth creationist book of the twentieth century, and was listed at #22 on Christianity Today’s Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.

Morris (a hydraulic engineering professor at the time) and Whitcomb (a theologian) made a serious, scholarly attempt to demonstrate that the Bible requires a young Earth and global flood; and that this global flood provides a better explanation for the world’s sedimentary rocks than does the standard geological explanation.

Henry Morris, who passed away at age 87 back in 2006, was committed to the truthfulness of the Scriptures and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That in itself puts me on his side rather than on that of his opponents. I may strongly differ with Morris’ Biblical interpretation on a secondary issue (he would have said it was a primary issue), and on his geological thinking (the Flood geology model presented in the book didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now after fifty years of refinement), but he was a faithful servant of Christ, and for that I am thankful.

In his New York Times obituary, one of his opponents (Eugenie Scott, humanist, director of the National Center for Science Education) described Morris as cordial and gentlemanly. Morris exemplified the words of 1 Peter 3:15-16:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (NIV 1984)

Morris went to be with our Lord and Savior the same month I started writing this blog. I aim to have the same gentle and respectful attitude Morris had towards those with whom I differ. I am sure that at times I fall short of the Scriptural standard.

Grace and Peace

Reality

A quote from Eugene Peterson:

I’m always in danger of losing my grip on reality. The reality, of course, is that God is sovereign and Christ is savior. The reality is that prayer is my mother tongue and the eucharist my basic food. The reality is that baptism, not Myers-Briggs, defines who I am.

From Take & Read

Grace and Peace

Thin ice and the importance of Quaternary geology

From NASA Earth Observatory:

2011 Sea Ice Minimum

From the description (emphasis added):

In September 2011, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Satellite data from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) showed that the summertime ice cover narrowly avoided a new record low.

[…]

Melt season in 2011 brought higher-than-average summer temperatures, but not the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007, the record low. “Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels,” said Walt Meier of NSIDC. “This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.”

The low sea ice level in 2011 fits the pattern of decline over the past three decades, said Joey Comiso of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Since 1979, September Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 12 percent per decade.

“The sea ice is not only declining; the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” he noted. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.”

While the sea ice extent did not dip below the record, the area did drop slightly lower than 2007 levels for about ten days in early September 2011. Sea ice “area” differs from “extent” in that it equals the actual surface area covered by ice, while extent includes any area where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean.

Arctic sea ice extent on September 9, 2011, was 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles). Averaged over the month of September, ice extent was 4.61 million square kilometers (1.78 million square miles). This places 2011 as the second lowest ice extent for both the daily minimum and the monthly average. Ice extent was 2.43 million square kilometers (938,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

Climate models have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100, but in recent years, ice extent has declined faster than the models predicted.

A few years back, I blogged about a report that the Arctic Ocean may have been ice-free around 6000-7000 years ago, so this may be a natural cycle. Or it may be caused by human-induced global warming. I don’t know. I ended that post with the following:

I’m not a global warming denier, which bothers some of my friends. I do believe that human activities are affecting Earth’s climate. This does point out, however, the importance of geological studies of Quaternary (ice age to present) climate systems. Whatever is happening today, even if caused by humans, can only be fully understood in its geological context.

Grace and Peace

The other book that saved me

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” — Romans 10:17 ESV

I became a Christian through the proclamation of God’s word. The Law was proclaimed and I was convicted of my sin and need for a savior. The Gospel was proclaimed and I was drawn to the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead that I too might have eternal life.

That, in short, is my “personal testimony.” It isn’t about me, it is about Christ and what he has done for me.

And I am held by God’s grace. God’s grace moves in the life of a believer in many ways. One of those was through “the other book that saved me.”

That book was Evolution: Nature & Scripture in Conflict? by Pattle P. T. Pun.

I was raised in a Christian home, and attended church regularly. Most of the time I believed in God, Christ, and the Bible, but there were other times when I toyed with atheism and other belief systems, and in hindsight I can see that I could have gone many different ways. By the time I graduated from high school, I was a young-Earth creationist and would have called myself a Christian, though my understanding of Christianity was rather shallow.

After my second year in the university, I changed my major to Geology. I was still a convinced young-Earth creationist, and thought that perhaps I could be used to help topple the edifice of old-Earth evolutionism. It didn’t take long, however, to start seeing that there were a number of serious problems with the Flood Geology and age of the Earth arguments of the young-Earthers. Most Christians I knew were teaching that the Bible requires a young Earth, and yet I was seeing more and more reasons to believe that the Earth is really quite old. I was able to hold these two ideas in tension for quite some time.

It was at this time that I found Evolution: Nature & Scripture in Conflict? at the local Christian bookstore, and it opened my eyes to another legitimate way to look at the “Bible vs. Science” issue. Pun was an advocate of “progressive creationism,” where God spread his creative acts throughout the billions of years of Earth history. I am no longer convinced that the day-age interpretation that underlies progressive creationism is correct, but the significant thing was that Pun opened my eyes to see that there is much more to the relationship between science and Christianity than the conflict model that dominates young-Earth creationism, that there are other possible ways to read the opening chapters of Genesis than that offered by the young-Earth creationists, and that the study of Earth history was a legitimate endeavor for a Christian to undertake.

How did Evolution: Nature & Scripture in Conflict? save me? Many Christians who enter the natural sciences armed with young-Earth creationist beliefs come to a point of having a crisis of faith, and for many it means the crippling or death of their faith. I believe that this book may have been  instrumental in saving me from having a similar crisis of faith. This crisis would not have been caused because I was being indoctrinated by “evolutionists,” but by young-Earth dogmas that often go far beyond the little that the Bible actually says about Earth history.

Pun set a model for me by being gracious in his attitude towards those he viewed to be in error, and humble about his interpretations. I sincerely believe that the Bible is the Word of God, that it doesn’t require us to believe anything one way or another about how old the Earth is, and that much of what comes out of the young-Earth movement is harmful in the broader picture of apologetics and Christian interaction with science and culture. At the same time, I will seek to be loving and gracious towards all who disagree with me, and to be humble about my interpretations, whether they be about Scripture or about the Earth.

One of my greatest joys in life is to be of help to Christians who struggle with science-faith issues. If God uses The GeoChristian to build up the body of Christ as God used Nature & Scripture in Conflict? in my life, or to point non-believers to faith in him, I will be exceedingly glad.

Grace and Peace

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Evolution: Nature & Scripture in Conflict? is out of print, but used copies can be found through Amazon or through other booksellers.