Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘creation’

The Forsaken Fruit

TREE OF LIFE

Reading the creation accounts in Genesis raises provocative, unsettling questions. You might suppose the most difficult one would be “Why did God place the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden in the first place?”  Without that tree, things might have been very different.  But there’s another question we most commonly overlook that is much thornier and more haunting.  “Why didn’t Adam and Eve sample the Tree of Life first?

Genesis 2:9 explains that both trees were located in the midst of the Garden. What’s more, scripture is clear that only the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was forbidden. All the other trees and plants were readily available to them. Apparently, had they taken one bite of the fruit from the Tree of Life, they would have immediately enjoyed immortality!  Why didn’t they?  Their subsequent eviction from Eden was not divine punishment.  We learn that their removal was a preventive measure to ensure that they could not finally eat from the Tree of Life and exist forever in their fallen, broken condition.

The Tree of Knowledge stood in the Garden as an object lesson in reliance on God. To rely fully on the Lord was to trust his promise that the resources he had made available to human beings would provide all the elements for a productive and satisfying life.  The Tree of Knowledge offered an alternative, which signified the fear that God is not enough; that his plan is insufficient; that walking with him alone is not satisfying.  Eating that forbidden fruit embodied the impulse to defy God and trust our own instincts.

The presence of the Tree of Life in the Garden evidenced the endless possibilities that come through believing in God alone.  To our sorrow, the first humans could not even maintain that trust long enough to get around to tasting the fruit of immortality he had easily placed within their reach.  The seduction to rely on themselves and defy God burned so urgently that they too quickly traded away some of the greatest riches God could afford.

It’s still true today: the temptation to trust my impulses can become such an addiction that I miss Jesus Christ and his cross, the Father’s Tree of Life.  Christ is both necessary and available, but my lust for experience can drive me recklessly in the other direction.  And I think that’s the ultimate message of Genesis 2.  God is so generous that he has set eternal life within our reach, but we are so blinded by ambition that without divine intervention, we will miss that life completely.

Lift up the Cross!

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Good Science and Bad Behavior

That’s not thunder: it’s Dr. Einstein rolling over in his grave!  Have you heard the news that the Theory of Relativity is being seriously challenged?  If you missed the reports, physicists at a laboratory in Europe believe they have found something in the universe that moves faster than the speed of light.  If they can confirm that these tiny  particles called neutrinos do indeed achieve such velocity, this would dismantle and discard Einstein’s most famous theory, and would rewrite the rules of physics!  Some scientists believe it’s about to happen.  Others believe Einstein will withstand the challenge.  But the suggestion of this kind of breakthrough has scientists everywhere buzzing with excitement.

Einstein’s theory of relativity has been around since 1905.  It has been taught, explored and celebrated in classrooms and textbooks for generations.  Should the researchers in Europe confirm their preliminary findings, textbooks must be rewritten and scholarly papers will be discounted or dismissed.  But nobody is quarreling, or questioning motives, or calling opponents unflattering names.  In fact, the term “opponent” has never been used once as this story has developed over the last three weeks.  A major scientific theory may be knocked down in the near future, but it’s so non-controversial that most Americans haven’t even heard about it.

Something similar happened a 2006 when astronomers concluded that Pluto is not actually a planet.  School children had been taught that this small, distant body was our ninth planet since its discovery in 1930.  But after years of debate- a calm, civil debate never even reported by the press– our solar system was reduced to 8 planets overnight.  Nobody was ever labeled a fool or an ignoramus or “anti-scientific,” although a fact of science was being challenged and ultimately overturned.

Events like these should raise questions about the tenor of the debate raging around another scientific theory- Darwin’s theory of Evolution.  Why is it considered so villainous and unscientific to challenge the standing of Darwinism?  It’s only slightly older than Einstein’s theory and it’s never been a fact like Pluto’s status used to be.  It’s certainly not a law of science like the Law of Gravity.  But in 1991 when researchers and authors began to seriously challenge the logic and the science of evolution, their ideas were immediately discounted with angry denunciations.  When a biochemist named Michael Behe actually met Charles Darwin’s own test and proved that some microscopic life forms are irreducibly complex and, therefore, could not have evolved, his work and even his professionalism were ridiculed.

Two decades later, with that damning evidence still on the table, many advocates for Darwin have simply moved on.  Scholars who express doubts about the theory are demonized, professors who want to raise questions in class are fired, and the simple idea of intelligent design has become anathema.  This level of outrage might suggest that physicists or biologists actually have a working model to demonstrate how nothingness produced that first marble that became the big bang, or how a light sensitive spot on a simple organism could have evolved to something as complex as an eye.  But in fact, there are no models like that.  So innocent questions are drowned out in a storm of vague speculation and angry accusation.

All this sound and fury reveals that some facts are just facts and some theories are just theories, but Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is an Agenda.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal about the challenge to Einstein, a physicist named Michio Kaku explains, “Reputations may rise and fall. But in the end, this is a victory for science. No theory is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.”

With all due respect, Dr. Kaku should look again.  There is indeed one sacred cow in biology;  one theory does seem to be written in stone.  Apparently, some reputations must never fall.  In the Church of Darwin, the claims are still repeated after experiments have failed.

Lift up the Cross!

Bigger than the Bang!

One day this week, the Wall Street Journal reported the discovery of “the missing link.”  Somewhere in Africa, scientists had discovered an ancient deposit rich in bone fragments.  From all those fossils and shards, they were able to piece together a plausible skeleton with humanoid features and a tiny skull.  Was this really a primeval apeman or just an unlucky freak of nature?  Or was it simply misplaced bones accidentally glued together for a press conference display?   Speculation is fascinating but, frankly, we’ve heard it all before.

There’s a fundamental reason why most Americans and many scientists remain so skeptical of the current theories of our origins, but it’s not religious Fundamentalists. Even in a world where the Christian Faith did not exist, this particular question would still present nagging problems.  Thinking Americans want to know, “Where did the first Thing come from?”  As hard as Darwinists try to dismiss the question with condescending glances and semantics, it’s a problem that won’t die.

In his breakthrough book Cosmos, published in 1980, astronomer Carl Sagan opened with this sweeping statement: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”  Many Christians criticized him at the time for espousing a secular religion.  They argued that it is a statement of faith to say that apart from the cosmos, nothing else ever will be.   But in fact, Dr. Sagan was stating a natural truth apparent even to atheists: it’s impossible for nothing to produce something. The laws of science insist that matter cannot be created or destroyed.  If there is no  substance or force outside the current universe, then any new thing that might ever turn up can only be a new form of something else already in existence.

Skeptics were delighted that a best-selling scientist had just publicly imagined a universe where God is not necessary.  Unfortunately, that celebrated first sentence only served to underscore the First Question.  If all the heavenly bodies of the universe are merely shrapnel from an exploding marble of densely packed matter, where did the marble come from?  I have no problem with the universe being forged in some Big Bang. (I believe that mega explosion was the voice of God calling out, “Let there be light!”) But if you don’t believe in a Creator, you’ve gotta tell me where those cosmic blasting caps came from.

The mythical missing link between apes and men only begs the question.  The indisputable puzzle piece that’s required here is the missing link between Nothing and Something.  Who created that?  Hitting a stone wall in their search for the original Non-Life Form  that gave birth to a Life Form, some well-known scientists were forced to conceive a theory called “panspermia.”  They hypothesized that the original seeds for life on Earth were planted here long ago by meteors or advanced creatures from other regions of space.  But even that fanciful notion is crushed by the weight of the First Question: Before you worry about how Life originated on that other planet deep in space, kindly explain where that First Thing came from.  How big was that original IED that was tripped to set the cosmos in place?  Who wired the Big Bang?

The Bible opens with Genesis 1:1 in territory where arrogant 21st Century biologists dare not tred. “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”  Even with all the media hype, sophistry, and condescension surrounding the First Question, God’s Word remains the only answer on the table.

Lift up the Cross!

Remembering Adam

Research suggests that most Americans still believe God created the heavens and the earth, but there’s a trendy new paradigm sweeping the church that reimagines how God might have done his work.  The new spin is called Theistic Evolution.  It a nutshell, it suggests that the Bible is true, but Darwin was correct as well.  The underlying assumption is that God relied on evolution to create the stars, the planets, the animals, as well as human beings over billions and billions of years.  A lot of believers are quite excited about this new possibility.  They assume that they can now identify themselves as Christians without being labeled morons and “flat earthers” by skeptics and unbelievers.

They’re wrong on two counts.  First, no matter what we might opine about evolutionary science, it’s the idea that Jesus Christ is the only way to God that has always brought the brickbats and insults flying in our direction.  Slap a Darwin bumper sticker alongside the  One Way sticker on your car and you’ll still look like a superstitious ignoramus to some people.

Secondly, champions of theistic evolution are also wrong about the Bible.  Science books change every decade or so as new ideas are developed which reverse the old ideas.  In fact, whenever new discoveries make the headlines, one of the most frequently used taglines insists “this rewrites everything we know about this field!”  Meanwhile, the Bible has remained faithful to God’s account of creation for more than three thousand years.  And the biblical concept of the fall of man does not sync with Darwin’s theory about the rise of man.

Progressive church people like to shake their heads and insist, “Don’t take the Old Testament so literally!”  But in fact, theistic evolution has problems with the New Testament as well.  Everyone knows that Genesis 3 attributes our sin problem to Adam and Eve.  But some have apparently forgotten that Paul uses the same explanation when he frames the theology of Christ in the New Testament!

  • In Romans 5:17 after alluding to the story of Adam and Eve, Paul concludes, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
  • In 1 Corinthians 15:22, he explains, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
  • In 1 Timothy 2:15 he continues, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

Paul traces the universal sin nature of all mankind all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He identifies Jesus as the remedy for the epidemic that Adam spread to his descendants.  He explains that the reason we need new life in Christ is because of the death brought about by Adam.  And he takes the Genesis account so seriously that he actually bases church policy on the details of who was created first and second.  There is no rational basis for the silly notion that Paul considers the accounts of Genesis to be an inspiring and instructive creation myth- or that we have the freedom to make that assumption.

In contrast to Paul, Darwinism leaves no place for original sin.  There is no possibility for the fall of man because the theory of evolution does not begin with an ideal situation or a perfect world or a righteous creature.  Evolution begins with disorder and chaos.  Change is the random result of natural selection, not willful choices.  There are mistakes, dead-ends and hopeful monsters on every branch of the evolutionary tree.  But there is no place for any sort of fall, just as there is no standard other than survival by which any choice may be measured.  By the time a Cain-figure could emerge from the evolutionary swamp to murder an Abel-figure, it’s would all be a matter of no harm, no foul.  Apes and other predecessors would have been killing and eating each other for millennia.

Liberal Protestant author Rob Bell writes hopefully, “I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian.  Something new is in the air.”  In fact, what he’s wondering about is not new at all.  Universalism is not new.  The Church has refuted it and dismissed it for 2,000 years.  Misinterpreting scripture is not new.  That’s why church leaders met at Nicea three hundred years after Christ: to confront and reject false doctrine.  And pretending to respect the Bible while actually distrusting it isn’t new either.  Satan quoted Deuteronomy on three separate occasions during his temptation of Christ.  He cited it.  But he didn’t mean it.

Lift up the cross!

Dr. Hawking’s Broken Computer

A celebrated physicist and author made headlines earlier this week when he relegated Heaven to the same realm of fiction as Neverland, Narnia and the planet Krypton. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” Dr. Stephen Hawking told an interviewer. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”   Although his books and articles have famously made reference to the design of the universe or “the mind of God,” those are simply Hawking’s metaphors for completely natural forces like evolution or spontaneous combustion.  He insists there can be no God.

I am under no illusion that my intelligence or comprehension of science could ever approach the intellectual wattage of Dr. Hawking’s brain, but even I can recognize circular reasoning when I hear it.  The  analogy of the human brain as a broken down computer begs the question.  Let’s ignore all human experience and concede that over several billion years, pieces of metal, plastic and silica randomly scattered all across the Earth could someone drift into the same general area, ingeniously assemble themselves, and become a highly evolved Macintosh Computer.  Even having positioned themselves correctly without the benefit of a designer or IT, the world’s first and only Mac would still amount to nothing more than a sleek but worthless machine.  Who would generate the electricity to power it?  Who would construct the outlet and plug it in?  And who would produce the software to actually enable it to operate and do work?

Granted, anything is possible if anything is possible.  But scientists insist we live in a universe with severe limits.  If a Coke bottle suddenly appears in a remote jungle somewhere in Zaire, only the most primitive cave man would suppose that it arose spontaneously from vines, quicksand and lizard blood.  Educated people reading about the discovery would instantly recognize the wayward soda bottle was designed by intelligent minds, produced in a factory, and dropped from a helicopter flying overhead. 

Dr. Hawking’s real fallacy is not his conclusion that a broken computer does not get shipped to Heaven.  You and I could agree.  Rather, his reasoning stumbles long before that  when he asks us to believe that zero + zero + zero = one trillion!  There has never been a computer that did not originate in a highly intelligent mind. Rocks happen when natural forces shatter boulders or wear away at mountains. The idea of flesh and blood laptops and smartphone self-generated over time through erosion, decay or  spontaneous combustion is just a fairy story for people afraid of God.

That’s so obvious it should not even require discussion.  Likewise, it’s apparent that arguing against Heaven is an example of the weakest logical position: a universal negative.  To say something might exist somewhere in the universe, you only need produce one nugget of evidence.  But to insist that something doesn’t exist in any condition in any place, you must prove it’s not found on the earth or our solar system; that it’s not found in the cosmos; that it’s not invisible to the eye; that it is actually subject to human measurement.  Arguing for the evolution of frogs from non-living matter is a pretty daunting task in itself.  Making the case that unconscious structures evolved over time into fully conscious, even self-conscious human beings, is an even greater stretch.  But dismissing Heaven altogether is a universal negative; impossible to prove and, therefore, silly to argue.

Romans 1:20-22 anticipates the blindness which afflicts some of our most brilliant minds in the realm of science today: “For since the creation of the world, His insisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful; but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”

Dr. Hawking feels so wise and self-assured that he can debate a universal negative.  The breathless voices of the media hail  him a visionary.  The Lord just calls him a fool.

Lift up the Cross!

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