The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

GeoScriptures — Genesis 1:1 — When did “In the beginning” occur?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” — Genesis 1:1

One thing that young-Earth creationists and the New Atheists agree on is that if one were to believe the Bible, one would have to believe that the universe, including planet Earth, is only 6000 years old. Of course, both the YECs and the atheists are wrong.

Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 is divided into seven days; six days of creative activity, and the seventh day, which is God’s Sabbath. For days one through six, there is a pattern of “And God said, __________” for the beginning of the day, and “And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day” for the end of the day. Genesis 1:1-2 lies outside of this pattern, and so is likely not intended to be considered part of the first day of creation:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. — Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV)

Because the first two verses are outside of the “days” structure, the “heavens and the earth” are, according to the text, of indeterminate age. “In the beginning” could have occurred immediately before the six days (as YECs believe), 13.5 billion years earlier, or some other amount of time. The Bible does not say.

There is much more to the Biblical case for an old Earth (or better, the Biblical case for Biblical ambiguity regarding the age of the Earth), just as there is much more to the YEC case for a young Earth. But I think it is extremely important to point out that the starting point of the creation passage in Genesis is not “Earth is young” but ambiguity regarding the antiquity of the creation.

Grace and Peace

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Apologetics, Creation in the Bible, GeoScriptures, Old-Earth creationism, Origins, Young-Earth creationism | , | 8 Comments

Reading the Bible in 2013

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4 ESV

It is through the Scriptures that we can know God, Christ, ourselves, and how to live in regards to God and our neighbor. I cannot think of any greater thing in life than to know the Creator of the universe and Redeemer of my life.

Many make a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible more consistently than they have in the past, and many don’t stick to that resolution. Here is what works for me. Rather than using a reading schedule, with a listing of what chapters to read each day, I use a Bible reading checklist:

The GeoChristian Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file

It has all sixty-six books of the Bible with their chapters. I mark off the chapters as I read them.

biblechecklist.jpg

Bible_Reading_Checklist

If Bible reading is new to you, I would recommend starting with the life of Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament Gospels. These four books—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—each present the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but with different emphases and styles. The Gospel of John would be a good place to start.

This system gives me greater flexibility than a day-by-day schedule does, yet still helps me to reach my reading goals. This year I plan on reading the New Testament (much of it twice), the historical books of the Old Testament (Genesis through 2 Chronicles) and the poetical books (Job through Song of Solomon). Two advantages of using this system over a schedule is that I can vary my pace, and don’t get frustrated if I get behind the schedule.

I also intend to do some more intensive study and meditation in a few New Testament books.

The checklist has two pages; I like to print it on two sides on heavy paper, fold it, and stick it in my Bible.

Feel free to download and print this for yourself and pass it on to others:

The GeoChristian Bible Reading Checklist – PDF file

As important as Bible reading is to me, I realize that it is much more important that the Word be in me than that I be in the Word. One can read the Bible every day and learn lots of facts and end up being a self-righteous hypocrite. So my prayer is that you and I would be transformed by prayerful, humble, meditative reading of the Scriptures. May you know Christ and his salvation better through the intake of his Word.

Grace and Peace

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P.S. Here are some good Bible reading schedules if you prefer that over using a checklist:

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Christianity | , , , , | Leave a comment

Most-read articles on The GeoChristian, 2012

There are still a few days left in the year, but here are the ten most-read articles on The GeoChristian for 2012. Only one of them was written this year.

  1. Dr. Dino still in prison — This has consistently been the most-read article on The GeoChristian since I wrote it almost four years ago. Kent Hovind, a.k.a. “Dr. Dino,” is a favorite of many young-Earth creationists, but is wrong about just about everything, from geology to law to a number of conspiracy theories.
  2. Stegosaurus in Cambodian temple? — Is there really a dinosaur engraved at Ta Prohm? Nah.
  3. Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis — St. Augustine rips into those who use bad science to prop up their Christian faith.
  4. The stratigraphic column — not a figment of geologists’ imaginations — Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian… YEC flood geology doesn’t explain this.
  5. John MacArthur on the age of the Earth and theistic evolution — I like John MacArthur as a Bible teacher, but…
  6. Dinosaur footprints part 3 — Why dinosaur footprints are powerful evidence against YEC flood geology.
  7. John Piper and the age of the Earth — One of many thoroughly orthodox Bible teachers who believes that Earth could be billions of years old.
  8. Seeing God in nature — A quote from author Philip Yancey on the value of God’s creation.
  9. Death before the fall — an old-Earth Biblical Perspective — The Bible does not teach that animals did not die before Adam’s sin.
  10. Young-Earth creationism and the intensity of volcanism — My analysis of a really bad age-of-the-Earth argument from the Institute for Creation Research.

Grace and Peace

December 26, 2012 Posted by | Age of the Earth, Misc, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wow! — the USGS National Geologic Map Database — MapView

For a geologist/cartographer like me, this could be as mesmerizing as Google Earth!

The U.S. Geological Survey has done an absolutely wonderful job of presenting geological maps online with its National Geologic Map Database MapView. This site offers a seamless view of geologic maps produced by the USGS and state geological surveys. A good geologic map in itself is a thing of beauty, and the USGS has done just about everything right in making this page both a work of art and easy to use. MapView is a useful tool as well, and can be used to locate and download the PDF geologic maps that were used to create it.

The MapView page has a well-balanced, attractive layout.

The MapView page has a well-balanced, attractive layout.

Zoomed in on the Beartooth Mountains, south-central Montana, with map outlines turned on.

Zoomed in on the Beartooth Mountains and surrounding area, south-central Montana and northwest Wyoming, with map outlines turned on.

The Beartooth Mountains have it all -- Archean basement gneiss and felsic instrusives (Agr and Agn), the mafic layered Stillwater Complex (ssss), Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks (ssss), volcanic rocks (sssss), glacial deposits (Qg), and it shows up well on the National Geologic Map Database MapView site.

The Beartooth Mountains have it all — Archean basement gneiss and felsic instrusives (Agr and Agn), the mafic layered Stillwater Complex intrusion (Asw1 through Asw5), Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks (Cs, DOs, Mm, Kk, etc.), volcanic rocks (just off of this image), glacial deposits (Qg) — and it shows up well on the National Geologic Map Database MapView site.

The controls are easy to use.

The controls are easy to use.

The only significant shortcoming is that this map shows raster data (images, scanned maps), so one cannot do queries on individual map polygons. When one uses the “Identify” tool, the site provides information about the map that is being viewed rather than the geological unit. On the Beartooth Mountains map above, for example, the Identify tool will open a window that says that the map is the “Preliminary Geologic Map of the Red Lodge 30′ x 60′ Quadrangle,” but will not tell not inform one that Jm is the Jurassic Morrison Formation, or that Asw4 is the Lower Anorthosite Zone of the Stillwater Complex; one would need to download the PDF map or report for that information. Still, this site will prove to be a great tool for viewing and downloading geological maps.

Grace and Peace

December 26, 2012 Posted by | Geology, Maps | | 3 Comments

Merry Christmas from The GeoChristian

From Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Chapter 5 (God Incarnate):

It is no wonder that thoughtful people find the gospel of Jesus Christ hard to believe, for the realities with which it deals pass man’s understanding. But it is sad that so many make faith harder than it need be, by finding difficulties in the wrong places.

Take the atonement, for instance. Many feel difficulty there. How, they ask, can we believe that the death of Jesus of Nazareth—one man, expiring on a Roman gibbet—put away a world’s sins? How can that death have any bearing on God’s forgiveness of our sins today? Or take the resurrection, which seems to many a stumbling-block. How, they ask, can we believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead? Granted, it is hard to deny that the tomb was empty—but surely the difficulty of believing that Jesus emerged from it into unending bodily life is even greater.

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But in fact the real difficulty, because the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here at all. It lies, not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of resurrection, but in the Christmas message of incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man.

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It is from misbelief, or at least inadequate belief, about the incarnation that difficulties at other points in the gospel story usually spring. But once the incarnation is grasped as a reality, these other difficulties dissolve.

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If He was truly God the Son, it is much more startling that He should die than that He should rise again.

Merry Christmas to all who read The GeoChristian,

Kevin

December 24, 2012 Posted by | Christianity | , , | 1 Comment

Around the web 12/23/2012

NewsweekCoverEhrmanUN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEWSWEEK — The print edition of Newsweek is being discontinued, but they had to take one last swipe at Biblical Christianity. One of the final cover stories was What Do We Really Know About Jesus? by the non-Christian Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman. Most of Ehrman’s attacks on the Biblical record have been answered by Christian scholars numerous times, and others fall into the “so what?” category.

In response, Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason writes, “Many times, questions about the Bible can be resolved simply by reading what the text actually says, rather than believing what we think it says.” As I’ve pointed out before, doing this in itself takes care of a great number of apparent “contradictions” that authors such as Ehrman are concerned about.

UN-MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE ATHEISTS — Dr. Ehrman is wrong, but the organization American Atheists goes beyond being wrong with their “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” advertising campaign, complete with a billboard in New York City’s Times Square, which can be seen at cnn.com: Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion.

Jesus a myth? I’m quite skeptical.

From the CNN article:

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” [American Atheists’ president] Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

Isn’t that sort of like saying Canada Day (July 1st) doesn’t really have anything to do with Canada because it was predated by the Fourth of July?

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES — I tend to be skeptical whenever someone comes out with a “I went to heaven and saw a glorious light” story, while acknowledging that such things could happen. Most of my cynicism comes from the lack of the centrality of Christ in most of these stories.

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, puts these near-death (or near-heaven) experiences in perspective in his article Incredible Journeys: What to Make of Visits to Heaven.

In this vein, the silliest claim made in the current wave of books is that because of such experiences, we now know, as some of the titles suggest, that Heaven Is for Real or that there is Proof of Heaven. Christians believe that “heaven is for real” not because of the testimony of a 4-year-old boy or even of a neurosurgeon, but because Jesus Christ testified to such and rose from the grave to vindicate his testimony. He tells the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43, ESV). His teachings not only assumed a tangible, bodily existence known as the kingdom of heaven, but also an intermediate glorious state of bodiless existence.

A MODEST PROPOSAL — From the Parchment & Pen Blog: Should William & Kate Get an Abortion? You know, they haven’t been married very long, its only a zygote, and so forth.

Grace and Peace

December 23, 2012 Posted by | Atheism | , , | 3 Comments

A river runs through it — on Titan

The Cassini probe, in orbit around Saturn, has captured a new radar image showing a long river on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

From the European Space Agency:

“The international Cassini mission has spotted what appears to be a miniature extraterrestrial version of the Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 400 km from its ‘headwaters’ to a large sea.

It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere beyond Earth.

Scientists deduce that the river is filled with liquid because it appears dark along its entire extent in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.

[…]

Titan is the only other world we know of that has stable liquid on its surface. While Earth’s hydrologic cycle relies on water, Titan’s equivalent cycle involves hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane.

Images from Cassini’s visible-light cameras in late 2010 revealed regions that darkened after recent rainfall.”

HT: Clastic Detritus

Grace and Peace

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Astronomy, Geology, Imagery, Planetary Geology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Earth at Night

NASA recently released Earth at Night, a global view of the planet at night, with city lights, oilfield flares, night time fishing fleets, and auroras.

Google has created a wonderful viewer for this data, which can be found at its Earth at Night 2012 site.

Earth at Night zoomed out to show the entire planet

Earth at Night zoomed out to show the entire planet

Northeast United States

Northeast United States

Montana, where night skies are always black

Montana, where night skies are always black

Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France, where you would be lucky to see Jupiter on a cloudless night

Netherlands, Belgium, and northern France, where you would be lucky to see Jupiter on a cloudless night

Korean Peninsula. Note the lights from fishing fleets off the coast of South Korea. Note also how dark North Korea is.

Korean Peninsula. Note the lights from fishing fleets off the coast of South Korea. Note also how dark North Korea is.

Grace and Peace

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Geography, Imagery | | Leave a comment

GeoScriptures — Proverbs 21:20 — Sustainability

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”  — Proverbs 21:20 (NIV 1984)

This proverb condemns the fool who consumes all he has with no regard for the future.

As a Christian who believes that it is as much a sin to be a poor steward of the Earth as it is to be a poor steward of anything else God has given us, I see this wisdom from Solomon as being highly relevant in our age of consumption, greed, and inherent limitations in the world in which God has placed us.

Our society uses many natural resources—energy resources, water, air, soil, forests, fisheries—in a way that violates Proverbs 21:20. One can point to local examples where this is not the case, such as the increase of forested acres in the eastern United States or the cleaner air that exists as a result of the Clean Air Act, but overall these instances are the exception rather than the rule.

Proverbs 21:20 could be used as part of a Biblical case for the sustainable use of natural resources. All “sustainability” means, in terms of ecology, is that we use the resources God has given us in the creation in a way that ensures that we do not devour all we have. It means that we do not live just for today or for ourselves, but for tomorrow and those who will follow after us.

The alternative to sustainability is unsustainability. If we consume all we have, then what future generations will be left with won’t be sufficient to feed and power a world whose human population is predicted to peak at roughly ten billion around the mid-21st century.

Grace and Peace

December 16, 2012 Posted by | Environment, GeoScriptures, Nature | , , , | 1 Comment

Around the web 12/15/2012

THE QUEEN JAMES BIBLE — Sadly, I am not kidding.

The Queen James Bible is a Bible for Gays, re-“translated” to make “homophobic” interpretations impossible.  Read more about it at First Things.

HT: Internet Monk.

WWJF (WHAT WOULD JESUS FLY?) — Christianity Today reports that “David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Ministries (popularly known as Winners’ Chapel) in Lagos, Nigeria’s major port and most-populous city, owns three Gulfstreams (plus a Learjet) worth almost US$100 million.” See Private Jets for Jesus.

NOAH’S FLOOD IN THE BLACK SEA BASIN — There were a number of articles on the internet this week about evidence that Noah’s flood occurred in the Black Sea basin, an idea that has been around for over a decade. One would expect a flood the size described in Genesis 6-9 to have left behind evidence, and this could be it — a colossal flood adjacent to the mountains of Ararat.

Noah’s Ark Has a New Believer: Archaeologist Who Found Titanic, Bismarck — Christianity Today

Evidence Noah’s Biblical Flood Happened, Says Robert Ballard — ABC News

Archaeologist claims evidence of Noah’s biblical flood — Fox News

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE… NO, IT’S THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION! — If you have never seen the ISS fly overhead, you spend too much time looking at your feet. You can sign up for an email or text letting you know when the ISS will be brilliantly visible from your location. Just go to spotthestation.nasa.gov.

THE DEBATE ABOUT ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT OCCURRING IN SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS — according to Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility – In One Pie Chart. On the pie chart below, make sure you don’t miss the itsy-bitsy sliver of a line that represents “denier” papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The debate is mostly occurring on blogs, talk radio, and newspapers. That should say something.

climate-pie-chart

HT: Geology.com News.

Also see Why Climate Change Denial Is Just Hot Air by Phil Plait on Slate.

Grace and Peace

 

 

 

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Around the Web | 4 Comments

Sandy Hook

A great evil happened today: twenty young children were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

As always, some will respond to an evil action by asking, “How could there be a God?”

I respond to tragedy by asking, “How can there not be a God?” For if there is no God, we cannot describe the shooting of twenty kindergartners as inherently evil. We all recoil at what was done in Newtown, Connecticut this morning, and I am not saying that an atheist does not consider mass murder to be evil. It is just that they can only do so by borrowing the concept of “evil” from theists.

I could not live with a philosophy in which murder, rape, child abuse—and a long list of other horrors—were only considered to be “evil” because we as individuals or as a society do not like them. I understand that we theists have a “problem of evil” when we consider that God is good, and God is all-powerful, and yet evil exists. I am familiar with the solutions to this problem, and know that none of them are completely satisfactory. But non-theists and atheists have a “problem of evil” of their own; one that is also unsolvable. The problem is that if there is no God, then nothing is really “evil,” except by our preferences.

I will stick with the Christian answer—that evil is an intrusion on God’s good creation and that the beginning of the end of evil occurred through a great act of evil (the crucifixion of Christ) that God turned into a great act of his goodness—even though I don’t completely understand how everything ties together. Only in this Gospel (Good News) answer is there hope that one day the “problem of evil” will be a thing of the past.

Grace and Peace

December 14, 2012 Posted by | Apologetics, Ethics | , | Comments Off on Sandy Hook

NASA Earth Observatory — Images from November 2012

From NASA Earth Observatory’s Image of the Day — my favorites for November 2012:

A Changed Coastline in New Jersey — These images show why building (or rebuilding) on a barrier island is not a really good idea. These two aerial photos show a view of Mantoloking, New Jersey before and after “Superstorm” Sandy in October, 2012.

date

March 18, 2007

eo_sandy1

October 31, 2012

 

Kilomanjaro’s Shrinking Ice Fields — For whatever reason, the Snows of Kilomanjaro are shrinking.

The EO site explains:

Despite Mount Kilimanjaro’s location in the tropics, the dry and cold air at the top of the mountain has sustained large quantities of ice for more than 10,000 years. At points, ice has completely surrounded the crater. Studies of ice core samples show that Kilimanjaro’s ice has persisted through multiple warm spells, droughts, and periods of abrupt climate change.

But trends beginning more than a century ago suggest Kilimanjaro’s peaks may soon be ice-free. Between 1912 and 2011, the mass of ice on the summit decreased by more than 85 percent. Researchers say it’s no longer a question of whether the ice will disappear but when. Estimates vary, but several scientists predict it will be gone by 2060.

Rising air temperatures due to global warming could be contributing to the ice loss, but a number of other factors are just as important, if not more so. An increasingly dry regional atmosphere, for example, is starving the mountain of the fresh snow needed to sustain the ice fields. Drier air is also reducing cloud cover and allowing more solar energy to warm the ice surfaces.

eo_kilomanjaro1

Northern Ice Field — Credit: Kimberly Casey, NASA

 

Ashfall from the Karymsky Volcano — It seems that there is always a volcano erupting somewhere in Kamchatka.

eo_karymsky

 

Bylot Island in Winter and Summer — Bylot Island is in the Canadian Arctic. The winter shot, with the sun very low in the sky, has elongated shadows which accent the topography.

eo_bylot_winter

eo_bylot_summer

Grace and Peace

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Geology, Imagery | 1 Comment

GeoScriptures — Ephesians 4:15 — Speaking the truth in love

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” — Ephesians 4:15 (NIV 1984)

In Ephesians 4:15, Paul calls on Christians to do two things at once. The first of these is that we are to speak the truth. The second is that we do so in love. Unfortunately, most of us are not very good at multitasking.

The second part of this Biblical imperative is the greater challenge for most of us. The greatest commandment of Scripture in regards to human relationships is that we love one another. It is easy to get caught up in the issues we care deeply about—whether in the areas of doctrine, science, politics, or social issues—and to start looking at the other person as our adversary or enemy who needs to be set straight.

The challenge before me, and us, is to learn how to “speak the truth in love.” How do we “speak the truth in love” on topics such as creationism or the environment, when we think the other side takes a position that is, at times, both wrong and harmful?

My first suggestion is humility. We are not God; we do not know it all. For instance, all of us certainly could misunderstand the Bible. YECs would say, “Yeah, you certainly don’t understand the Bible,” and I am sure that there are things that I don’t get completely right in regards to Genesis. I do sincerely believe that the Bible is ambiguous on topics such as the age of the Earth and the extent and work of Noah’s flood. I also believe that there are things YECs read into the text that are not there, and that they are guilty at times of a hyper-literal over-reading of the text in ways that were not intended, and I would like to see more humility on their part as well.

We also need to be humble in regards to our science. We, as individuals and as a scientific community, do not know everything we think we know. This goes for both old-Earthers and young-Earthers.

Second, sometimes it is best to be silent. This is hard for me, but it is better to say nothing at all than to speak the truth in an unloving way. I don’t need to win every debate, and need to be aware that I could easily club a brother or sister to death with my arguments from either the Bible or science. Victory is not the highest goal.

Third, I think we need to seek to find common ground. I have tremendous areas of agreement with my young-Earth creationist brothers and sisters in terms of my view of both Scripture and the world, and I need to seek to build on that. I ask that they would seek to do the same.

Fourth, I think it is better to use neutral terms and phrases, such as “Creationist X is incorrect because…” than “What Creationist X says is complete and utter nonsense.” I may think that what Creationist X says is nonsense, but in order to love to them as a brother in Christ, I need to be careful.

Fifth, it is important to keep primary issues primary, and secondary issues secondary. Of course, this is a bit of a challenge when we cannot agree on what is secondary and what is primary. I will say that it is more important to me that I maintain unity with a brother or sister in Christ than it is that I win a “debate.”

Sixth, name-calling is off limits. Those who disagree with me are not nincompoops or extremists, and I am not a compromiser or a so-called Christian.

I have no doubt that you can scroll through my 1000+ posts on The GeoChristian and find instances where I have not lived up to these standards. In a way, this is an exploratory blog post. What is fair (and loving) in a formal or semi-formal debate could be different than what is loving in a dialog with a lay Christian without a science background who has only read young-Earth literature.

I have a couple questions:

  • How do I say “Creationist X is wrong wrong wrong” in a loving way?
  • What are other ways in which we can succeed or fail at “speaking the truth in love” as we discuss Earth issues we feel passionate about?

Grace and Peace

P.S. I intend to start a new series called “GeoScriptures,” in which I will examine verses or passages that relate in one way or another to the Biblical doctrine of Creation. This verse on truth and love seems like a good place to start, as it is easy for all of us to miss this high standard as we discuss issues on which there might be disagreement.

December 9, 2012 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity, Creation in the Bible, Ethics, GeoScriptures, Old-Earth creationism, Theistic evolution, Young-Earth creationism | , | 11 Comments

Around the web — 12/8/2012

UNICORNS REALLY EXIST! — So say North Korean scientists — see Unicorns’ Existence Proven at Time.com. Perhaps it is time for ICRAiG, and CMI to subcontract the search for mokele-mbembe to the North Koreans.

I’m not quite ready, however, to revise my post of a few years ago on Unicorns in the Bible, in which I respond to skeptics who say the Bible cannot be trusted because it teaches that unicorns once existed.

MORE AND MORE EVANGELICALS TRUST FOX NEWS — From Christianity Today: Evangelical Support for Fox News Shifts Surprisingly after Election.

It isn’t that I like the slant in much of the “main stream media,” but I’m not sure that I trust Fox News any more than I trust CNN. Take, for instance, Fox News’s conspiracy theory coverage of the Benghazi attacks in the week before the U.S. presidential elections. It seemed a lot more like trying to create a story than reporting on one.

Here’s a sampling of headlines from the home page of Foxnews.com over the past month or so that should make Evangelicals think twice about their enthusiasm for the network:

  • Celeb Sex Tape Shockers!
  • Sexy Stars Sans Silicone
  • Best (and Worst) Beach Bodies
  • Paris’ Lesbian Liplock Shocker
  • Stars Dare Go Down To There
  • 50 Props for your 50 Shades of Grey Costume
  • Keira Talks ‘Fantasy Breasts’
  • Stewart Shocks in Sheer Dress.

DECEMBER 6TH WAS SLAP-A-HERETIC DAY — the day in which Jolly Old St. Nicholas is celebrated by churches which maintain liturgical calendars. From Gene Edward Veith’s article in World Magazine a few years ago, Slappy Holiday:

During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

This addition to his job description will keep Santa busy. Teachers who forbid the singing of religious Christmas carols-SLAP! Office managers who erect Holiday Trees-SLAP! Judges who outlaw manger displays-SLAP! People who give The Da Vinci Code as a Christmas present-SLAP! Ministers who cancel Sunday church services that fall on Christmas day-SLAP! SLAP!

HT: Cyberbrethren

LOOKING BACK — It has been forty years since humans last walked on the moon. Forty years. See Apollo 17, 40 Years Later.

PLANNING AHEAD — Here’s what I want to do for my next birthday:

December 8, 2012 Posted by | Around the Web | , , , | Leave a comment

There is more than one way to be really wrong about the environment

In between sessions at the young-Earth creation seminar I attended last month, there was a promotion for an upcoming anti-environmentalist documentary entitled “Axed: The End of Green,” created by Montana filmmaker J.D. King. According to the promotional video, the objective of the documentary will be to expose “the dark side of the green movement for what it really is.”

I can tell that Mr. King likes nature; there are plenty of shots of him hiking or driving in the mountains of Montana. This is a very good thing, and actually a point of common ground between him and those in the environmental movement. Here’s the video (less than three minutes long):

The video begins with film clips from radical environmental groups such as this: Earth First! mourning the loss of a tree. When I watch a video like this, my first response is that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I have a little bit of common ground with the Earth Firsters—I like trees—but their biocentric/ecocentric philosophy has a number of problems, and is seriously out of balance in regards to the place of humans in the creation. If all environmentalists were like this, it would be rather easy for most people to dismiss the entire movement. But a strong majority of environmentalists are not like this.

Like Mr. King, I am convinced that there are potential dangers in the environmental movement, such as threats to individual liberty, property rights, and free markets. I would add that the pantheistic underpinnings of much environmental philosophy are not only wrong, but are actually inadequate as a foundation for a robust ecological understanding.

The shots of Mr. King splashing through mountain streams alternate with clips of mining, oil tankers, and closed logging roads; along with short statements from citizens who are concerned about jobs and the economy.

It would have been nice if the video, at this point, had presented a plea for balance: Not just wilderness, not just development, but a sustainable balance in which the environment is protected for the glory of God, the good of people, and the fruitfulness of the creation, which are all aspects of a Biblically-informed environmental ethic. Instead, there was an urgent call: “We demand that green be removed from the political platform!”

The jaw-dropping quote from the video was this:

“…The farmer, the miner, the foresters; their freedom must be returned to them to manage their affairs the way they know is best, because they are wiser than any bureaucrat…”

Farmers and foresters often take very good care of the land, and can also—even if they own the land and know what is right—sacrifice long-term health of soil and ecosystems for the sake of short-term profit.

It was the inclusion of “the miner” that I found astonishing. I am not opposed to mining, but it was rather incredulous that the speaker would say that mining companies would take better care of the land if they didn’t have bureaucratic regulators blocking their way. As my Sunday School teacher said when I told him this, “Has this guy ever been to Butte?”

Butte, Montana -- 19th & 20th century mining created the United States' largest complex of EPA Superfund cleanup sites, mostly before effective regulation. Image -- ArcGIS Imagery Basemap

Butte, Montana — 19th & 20th century mining created the United States’ largest complex of EPA Superfund cleanup sites, mostly before effective regulation. Image — ArcGIS Imagery Basemap

This is libertarianism run amok. This is conservatism—and I am a conservative—at its worst. What is it that this let-the-miners-mine-the-earth-unhindered type of conservatism actually seeks to conserve? Land? Resources? I don’t know.

The basic problem with this laissez-faire anti-environmentalism is that it, like Marxism and liberation theology, grossly underestimates human sin. Many conservatives have no difficulty seeing the dangers of big government, or the moral decay in our society, but somehow give a free pass to large corporations, forgetting that these too are run by sinful people. Because of this sin, and the Biblical role of government to restrain sin, sufficient regulation of industry, including mining, is necessary in order to ensure the long-term health and flourishing of both humans and the natural world. To say that either people or nature would be better off if government bureaucracy would just get out of the way is neither Biblical nor conservative.

The environmentalists on the left often err by being overly biocentric or ecocentric; leaving God and people out of the picture. The anti-environmentalists on the right often err by being overly anthropocentric; too centered on humans with their individual rights and needs. A more Biblical approach is a theocentric environmental philosophy that acknowledges God as Creator and Lord of all, humans as responsible stewards of the creation, and nature as God’s handiwork: glorifying its Maker, providing for human needs, and worth being protected for its own sake. There is nothing Biblical or good in a conservatism that facilitates abuse of nature rather than seeking to conserve and protect it.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There is no connection intended between the teaching of Nathaniel Jeanson of ICR and the documentary “Axed: The End of Green.”

Additional blog posts on the environment can be found at https://geochristian.wordpress.com/category/environment/

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Creation Care, Environment, Montana, Nature, Videos | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Around the web 12/1/2012

NUKE THE MOON!!!! — U.S. had plans to nuke the moon — The U.S. Government really wanted to explode a nuclear weapon on the moon in the late 1950s, sort of as a macho “We’re better than the Soviets” thing. One of the researchers on this project was a graduate student named Carl Sagan.

BIG NEWS FROM MARS? — Has Curiosity made a Historic Discovery? — Complex organic chemicals? Fossils? Little green men? Elvis? For now, they seem to be keeping the lid down tight on whatever their discovery is.

I have a young-Earth creationist friend who is convinced that there is no life anywhere in the universe but here on Earth. Despite the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anything about the topic. Not all YECs are worried, however.

LOOKING FOR GOOD SEX?Searching for God, settling for sex — An editorial on CNN.com.

In the absence of genuine sexual intimacy (best defined as “in-to-me-see”), we settle for sexual intensity: erotica, pornography, an office romance, an extramarital affair or whatever strokes the ego and provides the sexual high we crave.”

Someday I might write a “50 good reasons to believe Christianity is true” post, and one of the reasons will be that Christianity gets sex right.

PAT ROBERTSON GETS ONE RIGHT — Pat Robertson Challenges Creationism

“I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this.”

“You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things, and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas. They’re out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth, and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible.”

BETTER THAN THE GEOCHRISTIAN — My “Around the Web” posts are a poor imitation of Saturday Ramblings, posted weekly on Internet Monk. In this week’s Saturday Ramblings: Vampires in Serbia, “What Would Jesus Shoot?”, Charisma magazine’s rather goofy article on sex (OK, Christians doesn’t always get sex right), and Jimi Hendrix.

Grace and Peace

December 1, 2012 Posted by | Apologetics, Around the Web, Astrobiology, Astronomy, Christianity, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , | 2 Comments