My way or the highway — adultery edition

The age of the Earth is and should be a secondary doctrinal issue within Christianity. It is not up there with central Biblical teachings such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, or justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Nor is it up there with doctrines such as baptism, the Lord’s supper, election, and the work of the Holy Spirit, all of which Christians have differences on.

Some young-Earth creationists will say that the reason the age of the Earth is a primary issue is because if one does not interpret Genesis the way they do, one denies the authority of the Scriptures on which all other doctrines are based. This allegation is demonstrably false. Like many other old-Earth Christians, I believe the Bible from the very first verse, and my old-Earth beliefs do not compromise a single core doctrine of the faith.

One example of a young-Earth creationist who looks at the age of the Earth as a primary doctrinal issue is Henry Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research, and son of ICR founder Henry Morris. According to the ICR article Geologist Claims Creationists Abandoned Faith (an article which brings up another topic I really need to write about), Morris was asked, “Do you believe that you can be a committed biblicist and come up with an old age view as [old-Earth Christian Glen Morton] has done?” Henry Morris III’s reply was,

“It’s kind of like asking: Can you be a Christian and an adulterer.”

I’m wondering if Dr. Morris replies in a similar way to Christians who disagree with him on other doctrinal matters:

Christian: Can I be a Christian and differ with you on baptism?

Morris: “It’s kind of like asking: ‘Can you be a Christian and an adulterer?’”

Christian: Can I be a Christian and differ with you on the timing of events in the end times?

Morris: “It’s kind of like asking: ‘Can you be a Christian and an adulterer?’”

Christian: Can I be a Christian and differ with you on the Holy Spirit?

Morris: “It’s kind of like asking: ‘Can you be a Christian and an adulterer?’”

Grace and Peace

GeoScriptures — Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God” vs Carl Sagan

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1 (ESV)

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” — Carl Sagan, from Cosmos.

Which of these two quotes is a scientific statement, and which is a religious statement?

The initial reaction most people—including Christians— have had when I have asked this question is that the quote from Genesis is a religious statement, and the quote from Sagan is a scientific statement. In reality, both statements are religious or philosophical in nature, but only the Genesis quote is fully compatible with the universe as we know it.

I won’t dispute that the quote from the Bible is a religious statement. If religion is about God and his relationship to the universe and humanity, then Genesis 1:1 is clearly a religious statement.

Carl Sagan’s famous Cosmos statement is also a philosophical—and I would say religious—statement. Sagan had not observed that “the cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” nor had he nor any other scientist done an experiment which proved that God doesn’t exist or isn’t necessary. In other words, Sagan had not used anything like “the scientific method” to arrive at his conclusion, and his Cosmos quote is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one.

Atheists such as Sagan would say that science has explained everything from nuclear fusion to sexual reproduction without any need for inserting God into the process and so their faith that there is no God is justified (faith is the right word, even if they would scramble to say it in a different way). But in doing this they are confusing categories. It is one thing to say that stellar evolution or meiosis can be explained without inserting a “God did it” step. Christians do not insert a “God did it” step into these processes either. However, it is an entirely different matter to explain why there is a cosmos at all. This question is outside of science, and is one that theists have a better explanation for than do atheists.

Many dismiss the Christian belief that God created the entire cosmos—matter, energy, space, time, and laws—as coming from a primitive myth. By “cosmos” I mean “everything that is or ever was or ever will be,” which would include the multiverse (if there is such a thing) beyond our observed universe, but would not include God. Only one of the following statements, however, is actually compatible with the cosmos as we know it:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

“In the beginning, nothing created everything.”

In the universe we live in, things do not pop into existence completely out of nothing. I am not talking about random quantum fluctuations creating subatomic particles here and there, because these particles are not truly popping up out of nothing. By nothing, I mean nothing — no space, time, matter, energy, nor laws. Because of this, it is incompatible with what we know about the cosmos—that is, it is incompatible with science—to believe that the cosmos came from absolutely nothing, or that it somehow created itself.

On the other hand, it is compatible with the universe as we know it (i.e. science) to advocate that it was caused to exist by something completely outside of it. There is absolutely no scientific reason, therefore, for a scientist to not accept that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Grace and Peace

Around the web 1/26/2013

GENESIS 1:1 IN KLINGON — Creationism.com has Genesis 1:1 in Klingon.

gen-1-1-klingon

I guess that might come in handy if a Klingon shows up at the next Answers in Genesis conference.

For those of us who don’t know the Klingon alphabet, there is an English transliteration.

Oh my, there are links to the Klingon Bible — here and here. “yeSuS ‘IHrIStoS, [Qun’a’ puqloD] Delbogh De’ QaQ’e’ taghlu’.”

I actually don’t look at this as a useless exercise. If I were a Trekie who was into learning Klingon, I would want to be able to communicate the gospel in a way that my fellow Trekies could relate to.

YEC EXPEDITION FAILS TO FIND LIVING DINOSAURS IN CONGO — From Creationtoday.org (formerly drdino.com): In Search of Mokele-mbembes.

WAYS IN WHICH MILLIONS OF US COULD DIE — Planetary disasters: It could happen one night. Mega-tsunamis, super-volcanoes, gamma-ray blasts, fungal attacks, asteroid impacts, solar flares…

The Sun occasionally launches outsize solar flares, which fry electricity grids by generating intense currents in wires. The most recent solar megastorm, in 1859, sparked fires in telegraph offices; today, a similarly sized storm would knock out satellites and shut down power grids for months or longer. That could cause trillions of dollars in economic damage. A solar flare some 20 times larger than that may have hit Earth in 774…

 

BIBLE TOWNSThe ten most Bible-minded cities in America. And the least Bible minded cities.

A WILD RIDE — This doesn’t have much to do with Christianity, science, the Bible, etc., but this documentary on Al Jazeera was fascinating: Risking it all: Pakistani truckers’ perilous journey.

Grace and Peace

We were wrong

Here is my belated Martin Luther King Jr. Day post, a quote from How Martin Luther King Jr. Overcame “Christian” White Supremacy by Southern Baptist Russell D. Moore.

On the question of civil rights in the American Christian context, there is little question that, with few exceptions, the “progressives” were right, often heroically right, and the “conservatives” were wrong, often satanically wrong. In the narrative of the dismantling of Jim Crow, conservatives were often the villains and progressives were most often on the side of the angels, indeed on the side of Jesus.

————————————

But regardless of personal faith, the civil rights heroes indicted conservative hypocrites, prophetically, with the conservatives’ own convictional claims. And, as Jesus promised, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.”

The arguments for racial reconciliation were persuasive, ultimately, to orthodox Christians because they appealed to a higher authority than the cultural captivity of white supremacy. These arguments appealed to the authority of Scripture and the historic Christian tradition.

This authority couldn’t easily be muted by a claim to a “different interpretation” because racial equality was built on premises conservatives already heartily endorsed: the universal love of God, the unity of the race in Adam, the Great Commission and the church as the household of God.

With this the case, the legitimacy of segregation crumbled just as the legitimacy of slavery had in the century before, and for precisely the same reasons. Segregation, like slavery, was shown to be what all human consciences already knew it to be: not just a political injustice or a social inequity (although certainly that) but also a sin against God and neighbor and a repudiation of the gospel. Regenerate hearts ultimately melted before such arguments because in them they heard the voice of their Christ, a voice they’d heard in the Scriptures themselves.

Grace and Peace

Six bad answers from Answers in Genesis are still six bad answers

Back in 2009, I posted a six-part review of a series of young-Earth creationist (YEC) articles on “Six main geologic evidences for the Genesis Flood.” The YEC articles appeared in “Answers” magazine, which is published by Answers in Genesis. As part of my “blog recycling program,” I am providing links to my posts:

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 1) — Fossils at the top of Mount Everest are not evidence for a global flood. Most fossil-containing layers, such as crinoid-rich Mississippian limestones, are extremely difficult to explain using young-Earth creationist flood geology. How did all of those fossils stay together in an ecological package in a global flood?

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 2) — A global flood is not necessary to explain “fossil graveyards.” In fact, a global flood would scatter fossils vertically and horizontally, and would abrade delicate structures that are preserved in the finest fossil specimens.

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 3) — There are sedimentary rock layers that cover well over a million square kilometers. Rather than suggesting global-scale catastrophism, the continent-wide extent of these formations makes the deposition of subsequent layers extremely difficult to explain by flood geology.

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 4) – The YEC claim is that it is impossible for normal geological processes to explain the transport of sediments from one side of a continent to another. But in reality, rivers such as the Mississippi, Nile, and Amazon do that very thing.

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 5) — Erosional gaps between sedimentary formations are consistent with old-Earth geological explanations. Young-Earth creationists, on the other hand, have a difficult time explaining paleosols (preserved ancient soil layers) and paleokarsts (preserved limestone dissolution features) in the rock record. Because paleosols and paleokarts imply the passage of time, YECs usually resort to an “it only looks like _______” argument, like “it only looks like an ancient soil, despite the root casts, filled critter burrows, and preserved soil horizons.”

Six bad arguments from Answers in Genesis (Part 6) — The YEC claim is that layers of sediment must be soft in order to be tightly folded. Both laboratory and field studies prove that this is simply not true, and it is usually straightforward to determine whether rocks were consolidated or unconsolidated when deformed.

As you read these, it is important to keep in mind that the Bible nowhere says that the geological record was formed by Noah’s flood. The Bible does not require a young Earth nor does it require a global flood. In light of this, no one should reject Christ or Christianity because of the findings of the geological sciences.

Grace and Peace

Maps showing every country, state, and county I have ever been in

Every few years, I have posted maps of every country, U.S. state, and U.S. county I have ever been in. It is time for an update.

Since I last posted, in August 2009, I have added one country (South Korea), zero states, and thirty-one counties (in Kansas, Nebraska, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Arizona). I do not have any airport-only countries or states, but I do have one airport-only county (Queens, New York), and one port-only county (Norfolk, Virginia).

World map — 11 countries:

from http://douweosinga.com/projects/visited?region=world
from http://douweosinga.com/projects/visited?region=world

U.S. map (states) — 46 states:

http://douweosinga.com/projects/visited?region=world
http://douweosinga.com/projects/visited?region=usa

U.S. map (counties) — 931 out of 3109 counties (excluding Alaska and Hawaii):

Created with ArcGIS 10.1
Created with ArcGIS 10.1 — Click for larger image

I believe that this is pretty accurate, especially after about age ten. I can remember, for example, the route my family took for family vacation from Montana to California and back in 1973 when I was twelve years old. I also remember the routes of some long bus rides: Billings, Montana to New Orleans for a national Lutheran youth gathering in 1976 (?), and Bozeman, Montana to Daytona Beach, Florida for a Campus Crusade for Christ conference in 1982.

I have lived in Montana, Utah, Montana again, Washington, Missouri, Romania, Colorado, Missouri again, and Montana again.

Since I was in my early twenties, I have kept track of my travels with a highlighter in Rand McNally road atlases. I’m on my second highlighted atlas, and it is getting rather worn.

RandMcnally3
Page from my Rand McNally “every place I’ve ever been” atlas

I was able to create the “Counties I’ve Been In” map by looking at which counties had highlighted roads in the the atlas.

Grace and Peace, from a map nerd.