The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Around the web — 5/31/2012

Another rapture prediction! — Hal Lindsey was wrong (The Late Great Planet Earth). Edgar Whisenant was wrong (88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988), Harold Camping was wrong (his well-publicized prediction of the rapture in 2011).

Don’t worry, however, because the Bible tells us that the rapture will really be in 2014 or 2015. So say the folks over at redmoonrapture.com. Why? Because there will be “blood moon” lunar eclipses on Passover in both of those years, as well on the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Trumpets.

They even have a countdown clock to help you prepare:

Jesus said that he didn’t know when he will return. I don’t know either. I think I’ll go plant a tree.

YECs aren’t YEC-y enough — So says www.fountainsofthegreatdeep.com. Most of them “Deny Scripture by Embracing the Heliocentric Myth and are thus False Teachers.”   “You won’t find any Earth ‘spinning’ and ‘wobbling’ heliocentric ‘sun worship’ mysticism inside here!!!”

Moldy Jesus image on shower wall —  “HOUSTON (KTRK) — A family in Splendora claims they have a holy vision inside their home, an image of Jesus created by mold in a bathroom. They say the image is giving them strength.”

Watch the video from KTRK in Houston.

I think they would gain more strength from reading their Bibles, praying, worship, holy communion, fellowship, and service.

And I think they need to clean their bathroom.

What Americans consider to be sinful — From The Atlantic: birth control (good), adultery (bad), suicide (bad), suicide if the doctor does it (not as bad)…

HT: Cranach

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Around the Web, Ethics, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earthquakes and the year of Jesus’ crucifixion — still an unsolved issue

When Jesus died on the cross, according to Matthew 27, an earthquake shook the ground: “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” (NIV 1984).

The exact date of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is unknown, but most Biblical scholars have argued for a crucifixion on 14 Nisan (the Friday of Passover week) of either AD 30 or 33. The ESV Study Bible concludes its article on “The Date of Jesus’ Crucifixion” with

Given the arguments above, the evidence for a date of AD 33 for Jesus’ crucifixion seems much stronger. However, because the date of A.D. 30 is held by a number of respected NT scholars, both dates are included in the various chronologies herein. (ESVSB p. 1810).

There have recently been a number of articles on internet news sites stating that new geological evidence points to the AD 33 date. For example, Discovery News states that

“Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.” (from Quake reveals day of Jesus’ crucifixion, researchers believe).

The article goes on to explain

To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.

Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.

The research paper, by Jefferson Williams, Markus Schwab, and A. Brauer,  that these stories are based on was published this month (May 2012) in International Geology Review. The paper is “An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea,” and the abstract (summary) reads as follows:

This article examines a report in the 27th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament that an earthquake was felt in Jerusalem on the day of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. We have tabulated a varved chronology from a core from Ein Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea between deformed sediments due to a widespread earthquake in 31 BC and deformed sediments due to an early first-century earthquake. The early first-century seismic event has been tentatively assigned a date of 31 AD with an accuracy of ±5 years. Plausible candidates include the earthquake reported in the Gospel of Matthew, an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 AD that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments at Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record. If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory.

Perhaps there is more to it than what is written in the abstract, but I think it clearly states that the earthquake that disturbed the sedimentary record occurred in AD 31±5, that is, between AD 26 and 36. Being that the two years most likely for Jesus’ crucifixion—AD 30 and 33—fall in this range, the research doesn’t really nail down the year. In this case, I can see Biblical scholarship helping the geologists out more than geologists helping the Biblical scholars. The Bible provides a historical record of a powerful earthquake in either 30 or 33, which could eliminate the years 26-29, 31-32, and 34-36. On the other hand, the earthquake recorded in these Dead Sea varves could be one completely unrelated to the crucifixion of Christ, as the abstract points out.

There are other problems with the news articles (as usual), such as the statement that there is a contradiction concerning the timing of the death of Christ when one compares the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and the gospel of John.

In the end, it doesn’t matter to me much whether Jesus was crucified in AD 30 or 33 (or 29 as I’ve seen defended by some). None of this affects the historical nature of the gospel accounts and the radical transformation that his resurrection had on the apostles and the first Christians, who clearly believed that he had risen from the grave.

Christ was crucified, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Grace and Peace

Also:

The Gospel Coalition

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Apologetics, Geology | , , , | 4 Comments

Deaths in abandoned mines and quarries

From Geology.com: Abandoned Mine and Quarry Accidents Claim 20 to 30 Lives per Year.

#1 cause of death — drowning.

Drowning is the number one cause of death in abandoned mines. Most people involved in this type of accident went to a quarry for swimming. Quarries are extremely dangerous places to swim. Steep drop-offs, deep water, sharp rocks, flooded equipment, submerged wire and industrial waste can make swimming risky.

Another risk factor is the very cold water. Many quarry operations excavate to depths below the water table and use pumps to keep the mine dry while it is in operation. When mining stops the pumps are turned off and the quarry floods by the inflow of cold ground water. This ground water inflow can keep the quarry water very cold even in late summer.

#2 cause of death — ATV accidents.

ATV accidents are the second leading cause of death. Quarries and surface mines are dangerous places to ride an ATV. Riders unfamiliar with the quarry can speed over a quarry high wall or embankment. Death can result when an ATV is driven too close to a high wall and the rock, shattered by blasting, collapses from vibrations or weight. ATV riders have been killed by driving into wire fences at high speeds and loosing control on gravel-or sand-covered surfaces.

The Geology.com article has links to additional abandoned mine and quarry safety information.

Grace and Peace, and keep yourself and your family safe.

May 28, 2012 Posted by | Geology | , | Leave a comment

Geology — #7 most valuable college major

According to the Forbes magazine slideshow “15 Most Valuable College Majors,” geology ranks #7, with a starting median pay of $45,300 and good job growth potential through 2020.

Petroleum engineering ranks at #9.

HT: Geology News

May 28, 2012 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment

Around the Web — 5/19/2012

Mitt Romney’s Environmental Platform — Ummm, Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to have an environmental platform. The menu at mittromney.com doesn’t have “Environment” as an option.

There isn’t anything substantial about the environment that I could find on the site. I am a conservative, and will vote for Romney in November. But why can’t we have a conservative presidential candidate who would actually be interested in conserving?

Richard Dawkins’ sloppy scholarship — Jay Wile does a good job of exposing militant atheist Richard Dawkins’ poor use of quotations. “This situation is very interesting, because creationists are often accused of quote mining, but here is a clear case where one of the greatest evolutionary evangelists of our time is doing it.”

The “Planet Debate” renewed? — A few years back, Pluto was demoted, so now we have only eight planets in the solar system. The debate is certain to be renewed at same point, not only about Pluto, but also about a couple of asteroids. The NASA article NASA Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Secrets of Large Asteroid refers a number of times to the planet-like qualities of the asteroid Vesta, such as having an interior differentiated into layers, including an iron core.

N.T. Wright sings about Genesis — sung to the tune of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Watch it at the Internet Monk. Wright isn’t the world’s greatest musician, but he inserts a lot of theological issues into a few verses.

Why they had to fall, I don’t know, it doesn’t say
They did something wrong, and we’ve longed for God’s new day-ay-ay-ay

Grace and Peace

May 19, 2012 Posted by | Around the Web, Environment, Planetary Geology, Politics, Space Exploration | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vesta video

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: NASA Dawn’s Virtual Flight Over Asteroid Vesta

Grace and Peace

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Astronomy, Geology, Planetary Geology, Space Exploration | , , | Leave a comment

Around the web 5/12/2012

YEC and Dispensationalism — The discussion on my 1000th post has been interesting: the relationship between young-Earth creationism and dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is the theological system that divides salvation history into “dispensations” or periods of time in which God relates to humans in distinct ways. Usually, the last dispensation—that is, the End Times—is just around the corner. Popular dispensationalist authors have included Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth), Tim LaHaye (Left Behind), and Charles Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible). I was a member of a dispensationalist YEC church in college, and was greatly blessed by the teaching and people, but I am now neither YEC nor dispensationalist.

Catastrophic Plate Tectonics — I have made a few comments on Jay Wile’s post Those Plates, They Are A-Movin’ on his Proslogion blog. Most YECs now accept that the evidence for plate movement is overwhelming, so they have proposed various models for hyper-rapid plate movement during Noah’s flood. The most popular explanation among mainstream YECs right now is something called Catastrophic Plate Tectonics. Of course, to them CPT explains everything, and problems with CO2 and SO2 production; cooling rates, the structure of oceanic crust, hot-spot volcanism (e.g. Hawaii-Emperor Seamounts), guyot formation, and differentiation of subduction-related magmas are inconsequential.

No room in the middle — Veteran Indiana senator Richard Lugar was defeated in the primary election by a Tea Partier. Lugar’s comments after his defeat point to the divisiveness that characterizes modern American politics:

Too often bipartisanship is equated with centrism or deal cutting. Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle. One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset. Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in hard times….

I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance. Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader.

I got this quote from Internet Monk.

Paper napkins — Lazyhippiemama informs us that the average American uses 2200 paper napkins per year. If each of us used one less paper napkin per day, that would reduce our paper napkin use by 313,000,000 paper napkins per day. [That comes out to a reduction of 114,245,000,000 paper napkins per year].

Canada doesn’t make cents — Canada is not only eliminating the one-cent coin, they are changing the appearance and composition of the loonie and toonie ($1 and $2 coins) to save money and make them more difficult to counterfeit. The Canadian cent was eliminated primarily as a cost-saving measure. United States cents are also expensive to produce (it costs more than two cents to make a cent), but so far the only thing the U.S. government has done about it is to criminalize the melting or export of pennies (and nickels).

May 12, 2012 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Around the Web, Geology, Politics, Young-Earth creationism | , , , | Leave a comment

Martian barchans

Is Ansel Adams still alive and in orbit around Mars?

From Astronomy Picture of the Day, April 22, 2012: Flowing Barchan Sand Dunes on Mars.

Credit: NASA

Barchans are crescent-shaped sand dunes, with two horns that point downwind. They form in areas of limited sand supply; on this image you can see that the dunes occupy less than ten percent of the plain. And they are very photogenic.

Grace and Peace

May 7, 2012 Posted by | Art, Geology, Planetary Geology | , | Leave a comment

Regarding “PCA Geologists on the Age of the Earth”

We moved to a new city last year, and recently became members of a church in the Presbyterian Church in America. We are delighted to be a part of this local church, with its commitment to the truthfulness and authority of the Scriptures, excellent preaching, worship that is rooted in the Bible and the liturgical traditions of the church; and involvement in the community and the world. I don’t yet think of myself as “Presbyterian;” perhaps that will come with time.

As is true in many theologically conservative denominations, the issue of the age of the Earth has been controversial within the PCA. Some place it up there with the doctrines of the trinity and justification by grace through faith as something that must be believed. Others, including many professors at the denomination’s Covenant Theological Seminary, rightly see the Scriptures as ambiguous on the topic.

In 1998, the PCA set up a Creation Study Committee to examine the question. Like many other panels made up of Evangelical Bible scholars, they were not able to come to a consensus on the matter. They did, however, conclude that acceptance of a young Earth is not an essential Christian doctrine, and that one could hold fully to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture while also holding to a universe that is billions of years old.

The report of the committee stated that they expected that the matter would clear up over time once scientists had sufficient data to tip the scales one way or the other. Most Christian geologists are convinced that the data is already in, and has been for a long time. In order to state this case, six geologists, all members of PCA churches, wrote the article “PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth“, which was published in Modern Reformation magazine in 2010.

The authors did not intend to make a Biblical case for the age of the Earth; their starting point was that the PCA Creation Study Committee had already concluded that Bible-believing Reformed scholars were on both sides of that debate. Instead, they laid out geological evidence that they believed would convince the average Modern Reformation reader—a strong majority of whom hold to an inerrant Bible—that the geological evidence we already have points unambiguously to an old Earth.

In their introductory paragraphs, they drew parallels between the modern debate within the church over the age of the Earth, and the geocentric/heliocentric debate that coincided with the Reformation time period. In the battle over geocentrism, otherwise sound Biblical scholars such as Martin Luther failed to dig deeply into the Scriptures to discern what the Bible said and didn’t say about the issue. Granted, in Luther’s day most scientists were against geocentrism as well, but that should not have excused him from doing the hard work of exegesis, which he failed to do.

The authors’ evidence for an old Earth can be summarized as follows:

  • Tens of thousands of geologists worldwide are in virtually complete agreement about the age of the Earth. Even more significantly, their old-Earth interpretations are used successfully in exploration for oil and minerals. If young-Earth flood geologists were able to make predictions that would lead to the discovery of mineral and petroleum reserves, then you can be sure that natural resource companies would be paying top dollar for YEC geologists. They aren’t.
  • Old-Earth geology is not based on naturalism/materialism. It is based on observations of the Earth, and many of the early advocates of an old Earth were devout Christians.
  • The Earth tells a story, and this story is often incredibly complex. But even within this complexity, there are independent means of determining the antiquity of geological events. The authors wrote about Lake Suigetsu in Japan; they could have selected numerous other sites for their first example. Lake Suigetsu contains thin layers of sediment called varves that are usually interpreted to be annual layers, recording a record of accumulation much like tree rings give a record of a tree’s growth. If you count the varves, you can tell how many years of sediment accumulation have occurred. YECs often counter such arguments by pointing to examples where there is evidence that more than one varve has been deposited per year. But the beauty of the Lake Suigetsu varves is that C-14 dates from organic material in the varves correlate very well with C-14 dates from tree rings from the region. A varve that is 2000 layers deep has the same C-14 date as 2000-year old tree rings. In order for the YEC interpretation of these varves to be correct, there would have to be some amazing coincidences. Suppose that the YECs are right, and lets say that twenty varves formed in one year. If this happened, then twenty tree rings would have had to have formed in roughly the same year, and the rate of either C-14 production in the atmosphere or the rate of C-14 decay would have had to adjust by just the right amount as well in order to deceive modern geologists into thinking the varves and tree rings were both annual records.
  • The authors wrote more about Lake Suigetsu, as well as about plate tectonics. Go ahead and read the article for more details.

The authors conclude with a warning that echoes a common theme here at The GeoChristian:

“If the earth is old and Christians insist it is young, we risk becoming a tragic obstacle to faith for those both inside and outside the church. Non-Christians who logically understand geology conclude that the path to Christ requires belief in an intentionally deceptive god and choose to place their faith elsewhere. Covenant children who are raised with the impression that a young earth is integral to Christianity have their faith needlessly undermined when they are later confronted with the overwhelming evidence of the earth’s antiquity, and many leave the faith. It is our prayer that no Christian would be such an obstacle!”

The eight PCA geologists are David Campbell, Lyle Campbell, Chip Cates, Gregg Davidson, Keith Long, Richard Mercer, Kent Ratajeski, and Davis Young.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Dr John Reed, a YEC geologist and PCA member, has written a short response and long response to the Modern Reformation piece. I have read both and plan to review them soon.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Christianity, Geology, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

1000

This is my one thousandth post on The GeoChristian.

I haven’t written very much so far in 2012. It isn’t that I have run out of ideas, but life has been busy and the blog has been pushed aside by more important matters.

I started this blog six years ago because I was passionate about Christ and the gospel, and about science and science education. Those passions are still alive. I believe firmly in the truthfulness of Christianity, and that its core message is Good News (gospel) for every person on the planet. I want to continue to proclaim Jesus and his incarnation (God becoming human in Christ), crucifixion (as a substitute on our behalf), and resurrection, both to unbelievers and to Christians, for whom these truths have daily transformational power.

Science, particularly origins science, continues to be a divisive issue among theologically conservative Christians. The Christian school and home-school market is dominated by young-Earth creationist curricula, and many leaders in this movement are adamant about excluding other perspectives. But, as I have demonstrated on a number of occasions, young-Earth creationism is neither necessary Biblically, nor viable scientifically. Because of this, it is counterproductive at best and downright harmful to the work of the kingdom in many cases.

My hope is to be able to get back into writing soon.

Grace and Peace

May 4, 2012 Posted by | General | 35 Comments