Today on November 8th

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Every day at school I am asked questions. Some of the questions I know the answers to, usually because they have to do with the lesson I am teaching and the answer comes without any effort on my part. Others may require a bit of computation, and with a little work, my students and I are able to find the answer.

Other types of questions, history questions, may not involve the use of pencils and calculators, but reading. Like the math questions, I may know the answers to the history question because I have read about it before the lesson. Other history questions may require research on my part. Fact checking you might call it, a differing kind of effort than doing math. Research involving reading the work of others, and then comparing it to what you have heard, what you have read, what you have experienced, and if it fits your understanding of how the real world is.

Next week, my students have a history term paper due. Their work will require reading what others have written on their particular topic. For example, if a student was writing a paper on the Christian evangelist Billy Graham, or the Nazi Heinrich Himmler, or why bananas are yellow, I expect them to have looked up information on the Internet, in a book, magazine, encyclopedia, or to have interviewed someone about their topic. I also require my students to list in a bibliography, their sources. I want to know that they have not just made up the information in their term paper, but have read the work and research of others.

If a student writes a paper telling me that Billy Graham was a Nazi, I would question this because everything I have heard or read tells me Billy Graham was an Christian evangelist who lead untold thousands to Christ. I would then want to look into the student’s sources, to see how credible they are.

If a student told me that Heinrich Himmler was a Nazi and was responsible for building the extermination camps, and the slaughter of millions during World War II, I would not question this because it substantiates all that I have heard or read of Himmler.

If I student wrote a paper telling me bananas are yellow because yellow is the favorite color of the banana fairy, and all fruits have their own fairy who decide what color the fruit should be, I would think he or she has lost touch with reality. It goes against all that I have heard or read or ever experienced in my world. The truth is that bananas turn yellow because, as they ripen, the green pigment of chlorophyll is destroyed and replaced with yellow, which has nothing to do with fairies. There is your science for the day.

Peter Kreeft wrote, “So our faith does not begin with the Bible. But the Bible records the realities, the real events, that are the basis of our faith.” 1 It is not written by a single author over a period of 23 years like the Koran, but multiple authors over thousands of years. Thirty nine books in the Old Testament, and twenty seven books or letters in the New Testament. 2 Several authors in the New Testament recorded historical events and were witness to those events.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the 500 plus witnesses who have seen Christ after the crucifixion. He named not only the apostles, but Christ’s own brother James, and himself as a witness to his resurrection. John ends his letter by witnessing to the accounts he recorded. In 1 John, the author opens with his own witness of having seen, heard, and touched Christ. The Bible has multiple authors who confirm each others testimony, and if you doubted their accounts you could check it out with other witnesses.

Many who dismiss the Bible do so because they have heard it can’t be trusted. Some claim it was written hundreds of years later, and is about a man called Jesus we don’t even know existed. You may have heard Christ is not even mentioned outside the Bible, and it is simply not true. The evidence for the truth of scripture is overwhelming.

The Bible is not a self referencing book. The Bible is not true because the Bible claims it is true; the Bible is true because it is the inspired word of God and what is written within can be checked by other sources. The Koran for example, is a self referencing book to its truth. The Koran is true because Muhammad says it is true, and Muhammad speaks truth because the Koran says he does.

The Bible is not a science book, but some things in the Bible have been confirmed by science. In his book, Because God is Real, Peter Kreeft wrote, “The Bible does, however, speak about real people, places, and events. It makes many claims about historical events that can be checked out by science – more than any other religious book does. Other religious books, like the scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam, mention very few historical events. They teach timeless theological truths, (or, perhaps, falsehoods), and moral principles and speak of private religious and mystical experiences, but science can’t prove or disprove any of those…”3

Think about how the Bible can be researched for truth more than any other religious document. The book of Mormon for example, was written in 1827 by Joseph Smith, who translated it from golden plates that were given to Smith by the angel Moroni. 4 The plates have never been found. In India, Sikhism was founded in the 1400’s and had ten successive gurus, each adding to their religious scriptures. One of their beliefs is that all religions are equally true and can lead to God, or Ik Onkar, the soul of the universe. So, if the Muslims believe Jesus was just a man, and Christians believe He is the Son of God, who is right? All religions can’t be true.

All the authors of the New Testament are witness’s to the claims and testimony of the other authors. They worked, slept, ate, and traveled together with the sole purpose of sharing the news of Christ and what He has done for us. With the exception of John, it is likely all of them were martyred for their outspoken faith. Michael Patton wrote in his article, “This may sound odd, but I thank God for bringing about the apostles’ deaths. They sealed their testimony in the blood of martyrdom, providing a firm foundation for our faith in the risen Christ.” 5

It is true that martyrdom does not make a religion true. Even the 911 terrorists killed themselves for what they thought was true. The significant difference was the apostles were martyred for what they were a witness to, what they knew to be true. All others, throughout the centuries, who have been willing to give their life to their religion, gave it because it was what they believed was true.

So if I told you that both Billy Graham and Heinrich Himmler were born on November 8th, (today’s date as I write this), and both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, and both enjoyed fencing, would you believe all of it? None of it? Some of it? Well, they both were born on today’s date of November 8th. Both changed the lives of millions, both were raised in conservative religious homes, but it was only Himmler who enjoyed fencing.

It might be interesting to know what is similar about the lives of those two men; two lives whose paths went completely different directions, but there are better questions to ask. Questions, when asked and answered, can change your world view and how you live your life.

Sources:

  1. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  2. “About The Bible.” Christian Answers. Films For Christ, 2014. Web. 7 November 2014.
  3. Kreeft, Peter. Because God is Real. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008, Print.
  4. “How is the Book of Mormon different from the Bible?” Mormon.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2014. Web. 8 November 2014.
  5. Patton, Michael C. “What Happened to the Twelve Apostles? How Do Their Deaths Prove Easter?” Reclaiming The Mind. Reclaimingthemind.org, 10 April 2009. Web. 8 November 2014.

 

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Today on November 8th by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/category/blog/.

The Miracle of Existence

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Boys do it naturally, sometimes by the early age of three or four. Girls, not so much; they are too busy making conversation to worry about the Doppler effect. Ever watch girls play with dolls or stuffed animals? They (the animals or dolls) are chatting about this or that, and the girls tilt the Barbies or animals a bit left, then a bit right, as they converse about the latest news, or chat about what their plans are for the day. The tone of their voices rise and fall during the conversation. I know this, after having raised three lovely girls.

My boy though, was too busy setting up armies that were preparing for battle and after the first shot was fired you would hear the sounds of rockets, planes, and other fast moving deadly weapons. Varroommmmmmm! The sounds would be higher pitched as it was coming toward you and then deeper as it moved away. Just watch, (and listen), to a boy play with cars or planes as they do half moon circles on the floor. The sound is higher at first then deeper at the end of the arch. This comes naturally because it is what happens in real life. As a low flying plane is moving toward you, the sound is a higher pitch because the sound waves are compressed. The aircraft, which is making the noise, naturally compresses the sound waves since the object making the sound is moving toward you with the sound waves. As the aircraft passes over head the pitch of the noise changes to a deeper, more base quality. This is because the aircraft is now traveling away, but the sound waves it is emitting are still moving toward you, but are spaced further apart because the object which was moving toward you is now moving away from you, which creates a longer wave length and a deeper sound.

So what does that have to do with the miracle of existence? Hang with me here and let me explain. In 1929 Edwin Hubble noticed a red shift in distant galaxies he was observing from the Wilson Observatory. What is a red shift and why is that significant? Well, as you may know, light also has waves and depending on their wave length you will see certain colors. Shorter wave lengths have a blue color and longer wave lengths have a red color. The fact that Hubble discovered a red shift was significant because it meant that those distant galaxies were traveling away. Just as a plane having passed you has longer sound waves making a deeper sound, objects moving away from us have longer light wave lengths, that display a red color. This discovery came to be known as the Big Bang Theory.

Many Christians are uncomfortable with the Big Bang Theory because of the time it involves, which is millions and billions of years. Those that adhere to a young earth creation are especially uncomfortable with this theory. I am not here to argue one way or another on the merits of a young earth or old earth creation theory, but simply to point out that the Big Bang Theory, which is broadly accepted by the scientific community at large, plays right into the hands of theists, (those who believe in God). Nor am I here to argue the case for evolution, which some tend to think that if you espouse an old earth creation you play into the hands of naturalists or Darwin evolutionists. This post is to simply help you understand the miracle of existence.

Some of us tend to think of miracles as highly unlikely events, but highly unlikely events happen every day. Take the lottery for example. Not long ago, someone won a lottery for over 580 million dollars. For you and I that would be a highly unlikely event. Actually, for me it would be a miracle since I don’t buy lottery tickets. Well, I did buy one once about 20 years ago, and told God if he wanted me to win the lottery this was the time. Did not happen, so I figured He did not intend for me to win the lottery. If I had won the lottery, would it have been a miracle? I certainly would have thought so, but it also could have been a highly unlikely event since someone had to win the lottery. The odds of winning the Powerball lottery are in the hundreds of millions to one, but over the years some have won the Powerball.

A miracle may be a highly unlikely event, but God can do so much more than just create or manipulate a highly unlikely event to occur. Every week, someone is deemed cancer free, despite the dismal prognosis of stage four cancer months before. After months of chemo, radiation, and prayer they are given a clean bill of health. Miraculous healing or a highly unlikely event? Every day, people are rescued from tragic circumstances such as fires, car crashes, drownings, or tornadoes which were seemingly a death sentence, but God answered their prayer, or did he? Every day people have occurrences of running into someone they had not seen for years that set off another series of events that bring about an answer to prayer, or was it just dumb luck?

Doug Powell says, “Natural science, though extremely important and useful for providing information about the normal, regular course of the physical world, is not in a position to comment on miracles. Miracles fall outside science’s purview, its ability to speak with authority. Miracles need to be investigated as non-uniform, irregular, purposeful events.” ¹ The event of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the toaster oven like so many Pop Tarts is certainly a example of a miracle. The parting of the Red Sea and the raising of Lazarus are other examples. Can someone make the claim those are highly unlikely events? No, the laws of physics and the natural world were suspended for a time and are unexplainable, except for a miraculous event.

So if the Big Bang Theory is true, and it certainly is the leading theory currently out there concerning the beginnings of our universe, then the universe must have been smaller a thousand years ago. Even smaller one hundred thousand years ago, and smaller still millions of years ago. If we go back far enough then the universe would have been pretty small, say the size of your belly button. All matter, space, time, and energy compressed into that small, singular point, which science calls a singularity.

Have you heard of the 2nd law of thermodynamics? This law states that heat, pressure, and density are always breaking down, always moving toward equilibrium. Our sun for example is burning up, it will not last forever, nor has it been burning forever. The 2nd law of thermodynamics is not in question, that is why we call it a law. You can look at our universe much like you might view a rubber band propeller airplane that was wound up and released, or simply like a match that was struck and is now burning up. So who struck the match, or more to the point, who created the singularity? Where did it come from? Was this a highly unlikely event or the suspension of the laws of our natural universe? Is the universe natural? Did it have to exist? If we have laws, who is the law maker?

When I reflect on these questions, the miracle of our existence solidifies in my mind. Just reflecting on time itself is enough for me to recognize the miracle of existence. Time cannot go back forever, it must have had a starting point. Let me give you some brief examples. Say you were hiking in the mountains and came across an old hermit sitting outside a cave. As you walked toward him you heard him counting, “Negative three, negative two, negative one, zero!” Suddenly he jumps up exclaiming, “I did it! I did it!” You ask him what he is talking about and he excitedly explains he has finally counted up from negative infinity to zero. He explains it took most of his life, but it was well worth the effort since he is the only one in the world to have done it. He also shares that he is going to pack his things, head to San Francisco to find a publisher and write a book about his experience and make millions. Would you buy this book? Neither would I, since we know instinctively that it is impossible for anyone to count from negative infinity to zero, let alone any other number.

Without a starting point it, you can’t reach any other number. Without a starting point we could not reach today. The universe would have burned out and expended all its energy long ago. Another example I have given before would be if I asked a student to write negative 10 up on the board. She walks up and writes -10. I then ask another student to write a smaller negative number by simply adding a zero to the -10. So another student walks up and writes -100 on the board by simply adding another zero. I repeat the request to a third student by asking them to write a smaller negative number by adding another zero to -100. This student walks up, adds a zero and now we have a -1000. I continue this for a couple minutes, and it actually holds my students’ interest at first. They are thinking that something interesting will come of this exercise, but after adding multiple zeros, someone finally asks, “Why are we doing this Mr. Glazier?” I raise an eyebrow, feigning surprise, and state to the class, “I want us to write the smallest negative number and figured we would start today.”

Well, any student who has any concept of negative numbers, understands there is no such thing as the smallest negative number, or the largest positive number for that matter. The students would groan and explain that is not possible, and begin to protest this exercise. They would of course be correct; it would be a waste of time because no one can write the smallest negative number. Once someone stated they have written the smallest negative number, someone else would walk up and add another zero. Does time have that same characteristic? Can we keep adding zeros infinitely? Consider this for a moment, because if time never had a beginning, we never would have reached this moment in time. Time must have had a beginning, which is a difficult concept to wrap our heads around, but the Bible has passages addressing this very concept.

Titus 1:2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

This life we have, this universe we experience, this existence and the laws within are anything but necessary. Jack Kerwick asked Stephen Hawking the question, “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” ² in his New American post.
Mr. Kerwick is not the first to ask this question, and will not be the last, but in his brief, and thoughtful post he hangs that question out there like someone who hangs their laundry out on the line to dry. So someone might ask, “Why is that laundry out on the line?” Our reply would be unsophisticated and complete, and also answer the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Because someone wanted it so.

1. Powell, Doug. Guide To Christian Apologetics. Nashville: Holman Reference, 2006. Print
2. Kerwick, Jack. “Question for Stephen Hawking: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” The New American. TheNewAmerican.com, Thursday, 25 April 2013. Web.

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