I Am A Grandpa

I Am A Grandpa

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I am a grandpa now! To be clear, I am a grandpa of the little life bouncing around in my lovely daughter-in-law Annie. 

I don’t become a grandpa from the first heartbeat; I don’t become a grandpa when the age of viability is reached; I don’t become a grandpa at birth; I don’t become a grandpa when this life takes its first breath after birth; I am a grandpa now, and became a grandpa at the moment of conception. 

The pro-life argument is not strictly biblical, but many passages certainly support the pro-life view. For example, Genesis 1:27Job 33:4Psalm 127:3-5, and Psalm 139:13-16, to name a few, but it is also philosophical and scientific. 

SLED

A philosophical example would be the simple SLED test. Human value is not based on Size, Level of development, Environment, or Degree of dependency.

Considering the size, some might say the unborn is just a clump of cells; consequently, Annie is not a mother, and you are not a grandpa, yet. Well, we are all just a clump of cells; what does that have to do with the clump of cells being a distinct human entity? This clump of cells is alive, growing, and human. Am I worth more than a 2-year-old little girl? Obviously not, and especially not to the parents of that little girl. That clump of cells from the first germinal stage is a distinct and separate human life. This life has their own DNA and is defined as ‘life’ by any biology textbook.

After size, if you look at the level of development, you will see that criteria can’t determine value. For example, a three-year-old girl does not have a fully developed reproductive system, so she can’t bear children. Does that somehow make her less valuable? Obviously, the unborn is less developed than the 3-year-old girl, so does she have an even lesser value? Equating a human’s value to their development level is clearly abhorrent to the clear thinking. 

How does location change the value of a human? Does traveling down a 7-inch birth canal suddenly bestow personhood, value, and human rights to that individual? 

Finally, does dependency alter value? Yes, the unborn is dependent on the mother, but newborns are also dependent on their mother/parents for love, security, and a safe environment. Should mothers be allowed to kill their newborns because they need them for nutrition or safety? 

DISCRIMINATION

The SLED method points out what abortion really is, discrimination based on size, development, location, and dependency. The strong, those in complete control, are allowed to disqualify the weak and defenseless. Recall in history, another class of human beings considered to be less valuable because of another arbitrary characteristic. African Americans because of their skin color. 

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. – Abraham Lincoln

SCIENCE

How do I know I am a grandpa now? Science. If you are already rolling your eyes, you will not like anything else I have to say. Nevertheless, if you have got this far, I encourage you to keep reading and thoughtfully consider my points. 

Why do I say science? One example is the technology we use today; women can take a pregnancy test at home, which measures the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). About two weeks after conception, HCG can be detected in the blood or urine.1

Another example is how biologists define life? I had this discussion with my friend Dennis, a biology professor, when I went backpacking for two weeks with him in Wyoming. He explained that biologists define life with several criteria: organization, homeostasis, metabolism, growth, response, reproduction, and adaptation.2

Some terms might change depending on your source, but they all help us determine the characteristics necessary for something to be defined as life. 

BIOLOGY DEFINES LIFE

From conception, there is organization. Cells too tiny to see with the human eye carry out the activities necessary for life, forming complex structures. Homeostasis involves feedback controls and the life seeking to maintain a stable internal environment as it deals with external changes. Metabolism is simply converting energy from chemicals into various and specific cellular structures. Growth is cell division, and it grows in size or number. The response trait is the ability of life to react to its environment. Reproduction is the ability to multiply or procreate, which for most life does not come till later stages of development. Finally, adaptation is the ability to adjust to a change in an environment.3

There is no question that the unborn are alive from the moment of conception. There is no question that the unborn are human from the moment of conception. 

Of course, you will not hear this from the pro-choice advocates. Not long ago Chris Cuomo tweeted, “…the pro-life position is more about faith and feeling than fact.”4 It is a typical claim that Christians and pro-life advocates base their arguments on the Bible, blind faith, and feelings, none of which have anything remotely to do with facts and science. 

LIFE AFTER FIRST BREATH

Last month a woman named Ann on Facebook defended the claim that life does not begin till the first breath. I have heard others make the same claim and then quote Genesis 2:7 to support their view. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (NIV) Technically, God’s breath began life, not when a human first takes a breath after birth, but let’s dig a little deeper. 

Pro-choice supporters say the Bible says life begins at first breath. Of course, clumps of cells don’t breathe air in the womb. Genesis 2:7, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being.” Let me be clear; this is a descriptive statement, not prescriptive. It describes how and when Adam came to life, not when all human beings come to life. Scripture does not teach that everyone comes to life at their first intake of oxygen into their lungs, and to make that claim is complete rubbish.

Again scientific because I can quote a textbook for medical students, “Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon development) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”5

The pro-life argument is founded on the principle that intentionally killing an innocent human being is wrong, which is precisely what abortion does.

The unborn are alive, the unborn are human, the unborn are innocent, and the unborn are helpless, so tell me what justification do you have for abortion? And before you toss out the rape and incest card which is less than 1% let’s settle the other 99%. 

  1. Smith, Lori. “Pregnancy tests: All you need to know.” Medical News Today, medicalnewstoday.com, 24 May 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295001. []
  2. Mason, Kenneth; Losos, Jonathan; Singer, Susan. “The Science of Biology.” Biology, New York, McGraw Hill, 2017, pgs. 2-3. []
  3. “Life.” Biology Online, biologyonline.com, 16 June 2022, https://www.biologyonline.com/dictionary/life []
  4. Cuomo, Chris. [ChrisCuomo]. Twitter, 7 May 2019, https://twitter.com/ChrisCuomo/status/1125740694977548288 []
  5. Keith Moore, T. V. N. Persaud, and Mark Torchia, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 10th Edition, Philadelphia: Saunders, 2015), pg 11. []
Astrology, Infinity Stones, and the Multiverse

Astrology, Infinity Stones, and the Multiverse

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Above image by Oleg Gamulinskiy from Pixabay

It is not surprising that the topic of astrology comes up several times a year, usually in the form of someone asking me what sign I am. Over the years I have seen some former students on Facebook posting about it, and over the years I have heard people make decisions based, in part, on what their horoscope says. 

For some, this is just a conversation piece, just something to talk about with only mild interest. In Sept. 2010, the Pew Research Council did a study on a variety of topics to see what percent of the public actually believed in issues such as UFOs, evolution, ghosts, afterlife, and astrology, to name a few. “Among the public, one-in-four (25%) believe in astrology, (including 23% of Christians)”1

One-quarter of the population (that’s 1 in 4 for the math-challenged) believe there is some truth to astrology, and nearly as many Christians. As a young man, I occasionally read my horoscope and was amused by how seemingly accurate it was. Other times, when friends would talk about different people, we were sometimes surprised at how precisely astrology would fit their personalities. Was it that accurate, or was it just worded so that it ‘seemed’ to be true? And really, what did it matter? For many, astrology seems to be a harmless past-time, like bowling or knitting. But is it harmless? Do people hold it more credible than they should? Are some people making serious lifelong decisions about their jobs, careers, marriage, health, or children based on their sign or what their horoscope says for that day or week? The answer to that is yes.

The underlying message of Astrology is that the sun, moon, planets, and stars influence and even determine what our personalities will be. In other words, everyone born under a particular sign should have certain personality traits. For example, Aries should be adventurous and an outgoing individual. On the other hand, someone born under the sign of Taurus should be physically and emotionally strong and have a dislike for change. Virgo’s should be quiet and family-oriented, while Capricorn’s are hardworking, reliable, short-tempered, and have a hard time with authority.

Throughout history, people have struggled to find meaning in their lives and direction for decisions they have to make. But unfortunately, they fall prey to others that use astrology to make money, manipulating those foolish enough to believe astrology may actually work. 

You can find volumes about astrology, the different personality types, and how they relate to each other. Astrology sites make tens of millions every year, and on Amazon, if you search for astrology, you will find nearly 60,000 references. Some popular titles include The Magic of Manifesting, Christian Astrology, The Complete Guide to Astrology Understanding Yourself, Your Signs and Your Birth Chart, You Were Born for This, Astrology for the Soul, The Stars Within You, Predictive Astrology: tools to Forecast Your Life and Create Your Brightest Future. That last one sounds like a title Joel Osteen would have come up with; Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now, comes to mind. If something in our popular culture has such an impact on the lives of millions of people, you would think it would have some empirical (verifiable) evidence to support the claims it makes.

You will find Horoscopes listed under “entertainment” in most newspapers, which should tell you something, but that does not excuse the fact that for some, this ‘entertainment’ influences, if not directs, the lives of millions. The fact that it is listed under entertainment does not excuse its negative consequence and impact on our culture. Thousands of movies and books written yearly for entertainment have no part in a supposed intelligent, moral, and ethical society. 

Just because a culture becomes accepting of a behavior does not make it right. Thousands would be entertained in Rome each year by watching gladiators fight to the death, but did that make it morally right? Atheist Richard Dawkins, who is no friend of Christianity, said, “We should take astrology seriously. No, I don’t mean we should believe in it. I am talking about fighting it seriously instead of humoring it as a piece of harmless fun.”

Over the years, science has researched the validity of Astrology and placed it in the same category as pink magic unicorns, the Multiverse, flat Earth, Putin Prices, and the continuum of Gender identity (currently at 72 and rising).

One example that shines a light on the folly of Astrology is twins that have the same sign, and despite being born under the same constellation position, and solar position, their personalities, and lives come out quite different.

Another example can be found in an article written by April Lorier, “…studies have shown that horoscopes themselves are inaccurate. For example, a study of men re-enlisting in the Marine Corps from 1962 through 1970 showed that their astrological signs were just as likely to be ruled by Venus, the planet of love, as they were by Mars, the god of war.”2 In other words, those under the sign of Mars should be the majority of those who enlist in the Marine Corps or at least have a higher enlistment rate compared to those under the sign of Venus.

Let’s look at another issue with astrology concerning the ever-changing position of the Earth’s axis. Hipparchus (c.190 BC – c.120 BC) was the first astronomer to recognize the precession of the Earth’s axis. This is significant because the Earth’s axis has a slight change, to the tune of 1 degree every 72 years, in its precession. Much like the slight wobble you would see in a spinning top, the Earth, if you can picture it, has a wobble as it spins. According to Livescience.com, “Unbeknownst to the ancient astrologers, the Earth continually wobbles around its axis in a 25,800-year cycle. This wobble—called precession—is caused by the gravitational attraction of the Moon on Earth’s equatorial bulge. Over the past two-and-a-half millennia, this wobble has caused the intersection point between the celestial equator and the ecliptic to move west along the ecliptic by 36 degrees, or almost exactly one-tenth of the way around. This means that the signs have slipped one-tenth—or almost one whole month…”3

So the sign that everyone thinks they are could be off by about four weeks. That could throw a huge wrench in the astrological match-making industry, but you never hear that from astrologers. 

After reading about astrology, I took a moment and looked up my astrological advice for this today and thought I would share it. “Something sudden and unexpected might affect your public reputation or your career. A boss or someone in authority might praise you. You might even get a promotion or a raise. You might develop a crush on a boss. Admittedly, it could be a different surprise. Something not as nice.”

I love that rainbow of possibilities and the use of the word “might.” It just builds my confidence in the validity of astrological advice. 

Just a few years ago, a census and survey center in the United Kingdom did one of the largest tests on Astrology ever taken. It investigated the marriages of over ten million people and found, “This research shows that astrological sign has no impact on the probability of marrying – and staying married to – someone of any other sign. For decades, popular astrologers have promoted the idea of ‘love signs’: compatibility between partners with certain combinations of birthdays. If the more than twenty million married people in England and Wales offer any indication, lonely hearts who worry about the zodiac [signs] are wasting their time.”4

Horoscopes, Zodiac signs, Tarot cards, Chinese horoscopes, Mayan horoscopes, and Numerology can all be found in major newspapers worldwide, and all would fall under astrology. People pay good money for books written about Astrology and all its sub-topics. People also pay others to give them serious advice based on beliefs in astrology. Do yourself a favor. Next time you’re tempted to read your horoscope for today, don’t waste your time. Just follow my advice for any day, and go read a good book.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. – John Kenneth Galbraith

Deuteronomy 4:19

And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.

Isaiah 47:13–15

Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely, they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. . . . Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you.

 

Sources:

1. Allen, Jodie T. Auxier, Richard C. “Why should we care what people think when so many are do dumb.” pewresearch.org. Pew Research Center, 10/30/2010. Web. 7/3/2013. http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/09/30/why-should-we-care-what-people-think-when-so-many-are-so-dumb/

2. Lorier, April. “Astrology Disproved by Science.” Christian Nature. Christiannature.blogspot.com, 8/13/2010. Web. 7/2/2013. http://christiannature.blogspot.com/2010/08/astrology-disproved-by-science.html

3. Braganca, Pedro. “Astrology: Why Your Zodiac Sign and Horoscope Is Wrong.” Live Science. Livescience.com, 10/23/2007. Web. 7/2/2013 http://www.livescience.com/4667-astrological-sign.html

4. Voas, David. “Ten million marriages: A test of astrological ‘love signs’.” Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research. ccsr.ac.uk, 3/25/2007. Web. 7/5/2013. http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/research/VoasAstrology.pdf

 

Other Sources:

http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/astrology_checklist

http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/astrology.html

http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/what-is-wrong-with-astrology/

  1. Allen, Jodie T. Auxier, Richard C. “Why should we care what people think when so many are do dumb.” pewresearch.org. Pew Research Center, 10/30/2010. Web. 7/3/2013. http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/09/30/why-should-we-care-what-people-think-when-so-many-are-so-dumb/ []
  2. Lorier, April. “Astrology Disproved by Science.” Christian Nature. Christiannature.blogspot.com, 8/13/2010. Web. 7/2/2013. http://christiannature.blogspot.com/2010/08/astrology-disproved-by-science.html []
  3. Braganca, Pedro. “Astrology: Why Your Zodiac Sign and Horoscope Is Wrong.” Live Science. Livescience.com, 10/23/2007. Web. 7/2/2013 http://www.livescience.com/4667-astrological-sign.html []
  4. Voas, David. “Ten million marriages: A test of astrological ‘love signs.'” Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research. ccsr.ac.uk, 3/25/2007. Web. 7/5/2013. http://www.ccsr.ac.uk/research/VoasAstrology.pdf []
Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith?

Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Above image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

One thing I am never short of is Facebook posts that denounce Christianity for various reasons. Some posts slam the Christian God, calling Him an unforgiving, genocidal, jealous, racist bully, echoing Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion.((Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, Print.))

Others target scripture suggesting it was written hundreds of years after the life of Christ and is full of errors and contradictions. Again quoting Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, “To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.”1

Some even question if Christ was a real person, and many believe He was not an authentic historical figure. Frank Zindler, former director of the American Atheists gives us a glimpse at this, “So much for the evidence purporting to prove that Jesus was a historical figure. We have not, of course, proved that Jesus did not exist. We have only showed that all evidence alleged to support such a claim is without substance…”((Zindler, Frank. “Did Jesus Exist?” American Atheists, ND, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/did-jesus-exist/))

Then you have those who target the hypocritical behavior of Christians. For example, some who think they are quoting Gandhi write, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” which is not an actual quote from Gandi, but it was taken from another Indian philosopher. Nevertheless, the point is well made, Christians often don’t act like Christ despite wanting to and being told to be imitators of Him in scripture. 1 Corinthians 11:1 I certainly can relate to that, and most believers, if they are honest, will say the same.

Finally, others take a much broader path and paint most, if not all religions as foolishness and the cause of countless wars and misery.

These claims can be addressed and have been, but my focus in this post is the claim that science depends on reason and evidence while Christianity doesn’t.

Is the assertion true that Christianity is void or reason and evidence? Are Christians wishing on a star, following their heart, taking leaps of faith, or is their faith simply blind?

Let’s take a look at some examples in scripture. Luke states that his sources were ‘eye-witnesses,’ and he claims to have carefully investigated everything and is sharing them with Theophilus so he would be certain of the claims of the new Christians. Luke 1:1-4

In 1 Cor. 15:6, Paul practically dares anyone to check out his story. In I Corinthians 15, Paul lists six groups or specific individuals who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ. Peter, The twelve, the 500, James (younger brother of Jesus), all the apostles, and finally Paul himself.

Most of these eyewitnesses endured persecution, imprisonment, torture, and finally, death. Persecution was the norm, and it certainly was not something that would compel others to sacrifice their livelihood or life for what they profess. Yet, despite their willingness to lose everything, that does not validate their belief. I think of the 911 terrorists and their belief that 72 virgins awaited them in the afterlife. Yet what is so remarkable about the early Christian martyrs is not what they believed, but what they saw; the risen Christ. The early Christian martyrs died not for what they thought to be true but what they saw to be true. 

A story shared by Lee Strobel may help illustrate my point. In 1963 Addie Mae Collins was one of four African-American girls murdered in a church bombing by racists. She was buried in Birmingham, Alabama, and for years her family returned to visit her gravesite and leave flowers. Finally, in 1998 they made the decision to exhume Addie Mae so she could be reburied at another cemetery. However, when the workers began to dig, they discovered the grave was empty. The family was understandably shocked, and several possible explanations were considered as officials started to investigate what happened, but no one ever suggested was that Addie Mae was resurrected. Why? Because an empty grave does not constitute a resurrection. Eyewitnesses do that.

Other religions begin with someone having a private encounter or vision they share with others, not Christianity. We find another example in 2 Peter 1:16, where Peter explains they were eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ and His majesty. In addition, at the end of John, he explains the signs done by Christ in front of witnesses was so they might believe that he was the Son of God. John 20:30-31. Scripture is full of examples that rule out the impression that our faith requires giant leaps or blind loyalty. Neither does Christ Himself expect that of us.

For example, when John the Baptist was in prison and struggling with doubts, so he sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him if He was the one they were waiting for. How did Jesus respond? He promptly healed the lame and cured the blind. He then told them to return to John and report what they witnessed. Luke 7:19-22 In fact, you will find that the Gospel of Luke holds most of the eyewitness details found in the New Testament.

Classical scholar Colin Hemer fact-checked the book of Acts (written by Luke) and found 84 facts confirmed by historical and archaeological research.((Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004, Print.)) Believing without evidence is what we call blind faith and nowhere in scripture are believers called to that kind of faith. John 14:9-11

The above examples are from scripture, but Christians are not limited to those examples to build their faith. Believers can find substantial evidence within the sciences. Just don’t expect science to answer all your questions. The fact is, science cannot answer all our questions and never will be able to.

Suppose my daughter-in-law Annie baked a cake. If we were to ship it to a lab for analysis, we would learn much about the cake. The biochemists could tell us what elements are within the cake. Mathematicians will spell out the weight, volume, and detailed dimensions of the cake. Physicists can break down the fundamental particles and explain what temperatures she baked it. But not one of them, or anyone in the scientific community could tell us why the cake was made; only Annie could answer that question. Natural sciences will answer questions about the structure and elements of the cake, but they could never answer any ‘why’ questions.

When you think about it, the laws of nature help us describe the universe, but they explain nothing. The fact that we have laws that govern our universe is one of those why questions that can’t be answered except by the one who made the laws. One of the first questions of the year I would ask my algebra students in Jr. High was, “Is mathematics invented or discovered?” I would leave them to ponder that throughout the year.

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Laureate in physics, wrote, “…the fact that there are rules at all to be checked is a kind of miracle; that it is possible to find a rule, like the inverse-square law of gravitation, is some sort of miracle.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.))

Those most critical of the Christian faith often don’t ever set foot in a church, let alone read or examine scripture. They don’t study the words of Jesus and try to apply the teaching to themselves, or how His words could apply to neighbors, friends, family, etc. It is so much easier to point out the faults and shortcomings of others than to take a hard look at ourselves and compare how we live our life to the commands of Jesus. The operative word is ‘try’ because we all fall short. Someone once said the church is a hospital for sinners, not a sanctuary for saints. We are all more comfortable playing the armchair general, pointing out the mistakes of those in the trenches and how they are delinquent in living a life like Jesus than applying His teachings to our own conduct.

Anthony Flew was a lifetime philosopher and atheist. Then in 2003, late in his life, he converted to a belief in God. He said he had to go where the evidence leads, and it was the complexity of DNA that was the deciding factor for Flew. John Lennox wrote concerning the idea of following evidence where it leads, “…there are situations where we shouldn’t just give up if explanations in terms of natural processes don’t work; we should be prepared to follow the evidence where it leads, even if that involves a supernatural dimension.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.)) But not all scientists adhere to that because of their prejudice to a concept of a being beyond the natural.

Richard Lewontin, who is a geneticist from Harvard, displays this attitude perfectly when he wrote, “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment…to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”((Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything? Oxford: The Good Book Company, 2019, Print.))

Christians should never be afraid of science and what we can learn from it. The things that we learn about our universe, from the microscopic to the telescope, are often confirmed by the Bible when researched carefully. Science cannot answer all the questions we might have, but neither should the Bible be used as a science book. As we investigate our world, both science and theology should be used to complement and confirm how best we should live.

The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. – Galileo

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Is it True Science uses Reason and Christianity only has Blind Faith by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006, Print. []

Epigenetics – The Sins of the Father

Reading Time: 7 minutesWhen I was a boy, my dad would tell me I received all my good behavior from my mom, and all my bad behavior from him. At times, as a teen, I would reflect on my parents and consider my character, thinking what my dad said was more often true than not. He was joking of course, but by the time I was in my late teens, any traits I did see of my dad within myself, I wanted nothing to do with. Little did I know, the die was cast for a large part of my character.

I saw the results of his poor health, stress at work, and years of smoking and drinking turn into heart attacks and a series of strokes. Thankfully, I never actually witnessed any of the smoking or drinking behavior, because he cleaned up his act years before I was born. Nevertheless, that lifestyle took its toll. When I was 9 years old, my dad had a massive stroke and had to be cared for, for the rest of his life.

Some of the strongest memories I have as a teen are of helping my dad to the bathroom and having to wipe him clean. Now of course, I can only imagine how humiliating that would be for a father, but as a teenaged boy, I was angry, embarrassed, and resentful. When he passed away, I was kicking my heels for joy because I felt trapped at home and could not leave till he was gone. My mother, of course, was heart broken, but three months after he died, I was out of the house, free at last.

When I left, and well into adulthood, I never forgot the promise I made to myself. I would never drink, do drugs, get fat and out of shape because I never, absolutely never, wanted to put my own children through what, (at the time, I looked at as), my dad put me through.

Just how much the genetics of our parents influence our life has been a question researchers have been investigating since Gregor Mendel, father of modern genetics, began experimenting with peas in 1856. Nature vs nurture could be how you heard this question phrased. Nature, (genetics), vs nurture, (environment). Are we born as a blank slate, tabula rasa, and all our personality traits, behavior, and intelligence come from our environment, or does genetics play a significant part?

In recent years, the role of genetics in our lives seems to be taking a front seat as science continues to find evidence that it plays a much more significant role than previously thought. Researchers in the Oxford Journals put it this way, “Environmental factors can have a strong effect on some phenotypes, but evidence from both animal and human experiments suggests that the impact of environment has been overstated and that our views on the causes of phenotypic differences in genetically identical organisms require revision.” 1

Our men’s group at church has been watching a DVD series about addictions men struggle with. It looks not only at environmental factors, but the part genetics play in how men behave and react to the world around them. One episode mentioned epigenetics, and how there are alterations that can take place within our biological system, without changing our DNA, that influence who we are and how we behave.

I had not heard of the term epigenetics before and was skeptical regarding much of the information they were sharing in that particular episode. After each session, we break up into smaller groups of 3-5 and discuss the topics for that particular meeting. Within our small group, I shared my skepticism and that I wanted to research some of the claims. In a nut shell, claims of generational curses. I have heard of generational curses before and have seen it in the form of grand parents, or parents who raise children in a drug and alcohol environment. Those children, (some former students come to mind), continue with that behavior, and their lives are destroyed by drug abuse, just as their parents and other extended family members destroyed their own lives.

So I went home and looked up generational curses in scripture, and researched epigenetics. One example I came across was some research done at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Researcher Brian Dias was studying epigenetics on mice, and how imprints could be passed on from generation to generation.

Here are a few places the Bible mentions generational curses: Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9.

Dias exposed male mice to acetophenone, a sweet smelling almond chemical and at the same time giving them a mild electric foot shock. He did this five times a day for several days. After this treatment, the mice obviously became fearful, freezing whenever they would smell acetophenone. No surprise there, but then ten days later he allowed the male mice to mate with female mice who had not experienced any acetophenone or shocks of any kind.

Then things became interesting, “When their young grew up, many of the animals were more sensitive to acetophenone than to other odours, and more likely to be startled by an unexpected noise during exposure to the smell. Their offspring — the ‘grandchildren’ of the mice trained to fear the smell — were also jumpier in the presence of acetophenone. What’s more, all three generations had larger-than-normal ‘M71 glomeruli’, structures where acetophenone-sensitive neurons in the nose connect with neurons in the olfactory bulb.” 2

Specifically, there are chemical changes to our genes that affect how DNA is packaged and expressed, but does not change the DNA code. The prefix ‘epi’ is Greek and that means to go around, hence, ‘epi’genetics. So there are modifications that alter how our genes are expressed, but our DNA is unchanged and these changes can and do carry from one generation to the next and can alter structures within our biological systems, without changes in our DNA.

Another article by Danielle Simmons Ph.D. looked at the medical records for several generations of families in Sweden from the 1890’s to the present. They crossed this information with the annual food harvests and food prices, which would suggest how much food was available to families. What they found was if a father did not have enough food in the years prior to puberty, his own sons were less likely to die from heart disease. On the other hand, if the father had plenty of food in the period prior to puberty, his sons had a much higher risk of death related to diabetes. The article goes on to say, “These findings suggest that diet can cause changes to genes that are passed down though generations by the males in a family, and that these alterations can affect susceptibility to certain diseases. But what are these changes, and how are they remembered? The answers to questions such as these lie in the concept of epigenetics.” 3

John Lennox in his book, God’s Undertaker – Has Science buried God, explores the origin of life.
“Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological systems, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive. Even the tiniest of bacterial cells, weighting less than a trillionth of a gram, is a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of 100 thousands million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.” 4

Lennox goes on to explain, by example, that a cell contains hundreds of millions of proteins with over twenty thousands types, and all have a specific purpose in their design. These cells are so small that hundreds could be placed in a row and fit within the dot at the end of this sentence.

“Molecular biology has also shown us that the basic design of the cell system is essentially the same in all living systems on the earth from bacteria to mammals. The meaning of the genetic code is also virtually identical in all cells. The size, structure and component design of the protein synthetic machinery is practically the same in all cells. In terms of their basic biochemical design, … no living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slightest empirical hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredibly diverse cells on earth.” 5

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not implying that every claim within scripture can be, or will eventually be, proven by science, but simply that generational curses, seem to have a biological element that support it. I believe there could be, and probably is, a spiritual element to generational curses that science has no possible way to detect.

Let’s face it, the definition of a miracle is something that occurs out side rules of science and can’t be explained, ever, by the laws of our universe. Walking on water, raising the dead, instantaneous healings, are all documented in the Bible, but can’t be explained by science. Neither can science explain the origin of life, yet here we are.

SmokingmomSome of you may be thinking this whole generational curse thing is unfair. Why would or could a just, fair, and loving God curse generations of children for the sins of the parents? As I said above, and have seen first hand if a parent is in a sinful lifestyle, it is likely the children will continue in that sin. Who has not seen that? Got Questions put it this way. “Implied in the warning of Exodus 20:5 is the fact that the children will choose to repeat the sins of their fathers. A Jewish Targum specifies that this passage refers to “ungodly fathers” and “rebellious children.” So, it is not unjust for God to punish sin to the third or fourth generation – those generations are committing the same sins their ancestors did.” 6

The study of epigenetics has a long way to go before we understand just how strong the role of our parents or grandparents DNA play in our lives. But, if someone ever tells you that generational curses is rubbish and that is just one example of how wrong the Bible is, ask them if they have ever heard of ‘epigenetics’.

 

Next time that somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them, ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say. – Richard Dawkins, Atheist

 

Sources:
1. Wong, Albert. Gottesman, Irving I. Petronis Arturas. “Phenotypic differences in genetically identical organisms: the epigenetic perspective” Oxford University Press. Oxfordjournals.org, 26 January 2005. Web 10 January 2015.
2. Hughes, Virginia. “Epigenetics:The sins of the father” Nature. Nature.com, 5 March 2014. Web. 9 January 2015.
3. Simmons, Danielle. “Epigenetic Influences and Disease” Nature. Nature.com, 2008. Web. 12 January 2015.
4. Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker. Oxford: Lion Books, 2009. Print
5. Ibid.
6. “What does the Bible say about breaking generational curses?” Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. 11 January 2015.

 

 

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Epigenetics – The Sins of the Father 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/.

#8 of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer

#8 of 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer

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Above Image by Valdas Miskinis from Pixabay

How is it that the bible explains the earth to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old when we know that dinosaur bones are at least 65 million years old? This isn’t the only example of our planet’s age by any means, either.

This is one of those ‘in house’ discussions that even educated and intelligent Christians do not agree on. Pucket is also guilty of a strawman fallacy, by misrepresenting or fabricating someone’s position on an issue, so it is easier to attack.

Pucket, who asked the above question, and 49 other questions, lump all Christians as ‘Young Earthers, when many Christians do not hold to a young earth view. I personally do not hold to a young earth, but anyone who spends just a few minutes researching a young and old earth view will find scholars on both sides of this issue.

For example, many have heard of Ken Ham and his life long work at answersingenesis which publishes books, video’s, and other materials in support of a young earth view. Also, his recent debate with Bill Nye the Science Guy brought this issue to some headlines. Both sides, science and religion, claim victory. I spent a few minutes looking at online magazines and popular blogging sites, and without fail, the secular science sites give Bill Nye the win, and the Christian oriented sites said Ken Ham won. Reminds me of the demographics when you look at the percent of whites vs blacks who voted for President Obama. 

It is interesting that many who are troubled with an old earth view have no problem with verses concerning the earth not moving. For example: 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 104:5, and 1Samuel 2:8. John Lennonx points out in his book, Seven Day’s that Divide The World, that the Bible even has passages about the sun moving. Psalm 19:4-6 and Ecclesiastes 1:5. Lennox also wrote, “Why do Christians accept this ‘new’ interpretation, and not still insist on a ‘literal’ understanding of the pillars of the earth? Why are we not still split up into fixed-earthers and moving-earthers? Is it really because we have all compromised, and made Scripture subservient to science?” 1

Of course not! We now know that Copernicus in the 1500’s was correct; the earth is revolving around the sun. Its path takes a year at the speed of 67,000 mph. No one doubts this, well, no one I know of does. No one that I know of still insists the earth is unmoved, with the starry heavens revolving around the earth. Yet when Copernicus first suggested this, and then Galileo in the 1600’s attempted to confirm it, the Church made it clear Galileo was to keep quiet about it. Galileo was not tortured or beaten, as many liberal historians would suggest, but he was slapped on the hand and put under house arrest in a luxurious mansion. This was the beginning of the science vs. religion mentality that continues today.

Read the question again. Pucket is right. Dinosaur bones are not the only way we can date the age of the earth. Although carbon dating is relatively accurate, it is not without its hiccups. Fossils are also dated by their location in the sedimentary layers, yet this also can have suspect assumptions. If sediments laid down in same rate over thousands or millions of years it would be easy to date, but any laymen knows this is not the case. Couple that with the plate tectonics, dating by sedimentary layers can be troubling to say the least. In my recent post about Noah’s ark and the account of the flood, I touched on the possibility of a massive flood in the past 5000 years. Robert Ballard and his team have found evidence of that possibility with a shoreline in the Mediterranean 400′ below the surface of the sea.

Yet we do have evidence beyond carbon dating, beyond the depth of fossils in sedimentary layers, and plate tectonics. Evidence that does point to an old earth. The two that come to mind are the ice cores and distant galaxies.

The Christian Apologetics Research Ministry has an article on ice cores. “Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth. That’s right – the driest ! Antarctica is a desert. The annual precipitation of snow, averaged across the continent, is about 30 centimeters, which is equivalent to about 10 centimeters of water. In some locations as little as 2 centimeters, [about ¾ of an inch] (water equivalent) is recorded. Because of the low temperatures, however, there is little or no melt. Thus the snow has accumulated year after year for thousands of years and, with time, is compressed to ice to form the Antarctic ice sheet. 2

Ice cores are tubes of ice that are drilled out of large ice sheets or glaciers. Greenland has produced some with dates beyond 120,000 years old, and cores from Antarctica well over 500,000 years old. 3 Ice cores give information about past climates trapped in the tiny bubbles of air, but they can also give us dates by the layers that can be counted, much like you would count the rings of a tree to determine how old it is.
Yes, the rings compress the further down you drill for the core, and there are other climate factors that could make some dating of the ice cores problematic, but like the carbon dating, the accuracy is widely accepted in the scientific community.

By and large, the scientific community accepts the Big Bang theory. The theory that the universe began billions of years ago from some unimaginably small, yet inconceivable bright flash of energy. Could the universe have somehow caused itself? Nothing in our experience of science even remotely suggests that something could be the cause of its own existence.

Tim Keller wrote in his book, The Reason For God, “Everything we know in this world is ‘contingent’, has a cause outside of itself. Therefore the universe, which is just a huge pile of such contingent entities, would itself have to be dependent on some cause outside of itself. Something had to make the Big Bang happen – but what?” 4 As Christians, as Believers, we know just what that is.

If the Big Bang is true and we have other galaxies millions of light years away, then how could we possibly see the light from them if the speed limit of light is set at 186,000 miles per second? Yes, that is fast, but even at that speed the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is just over 4.3 light years away. That is the nearest star in our own Milky Way galaxy. We have over 200 billion stars in our own galaxy, and beyond that, estimations of 200 to 500 billion galaxies outside our own. The light from some of those distant galaxies have taken millions of years to reach us.

earth5

Bible scholars do not agree on the age of the earth or how to interpret time-spans in the early chapters of Genesis. With that in mind, the question above, asked by Pucket, implies and makes the assumption that all Christians are young-earthers, and that is certainly not the case. Nor is it the case that Genesis 1 and science conflict with each other.

Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe wrote a large volume titled, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties, addressing this very issue, “There is no demonstrated contradiction of fact between Genesis 1 and science. There is only a conflict of interpretation. Either, most modern scientists are wrong in insisting the world is billions of years old, or else some Bible interpreters are wrong in insisting on only 144 hours of creation some several thousand years before Christ with no gaps allowing millions of years. But, in either case it is not a question of inspiration of Scripture, but of the interpretation of Scripture (and of the scientific data).”5

Sources:

1. Lennox, John. Seven Days That Divided The World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011, Print.
2. “Ice Core Dating.” Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. CARM.org 1998. Web. 10 September 2014
3. “Ice cores and climate change” British Antarctic Survey. Antarctica.ac.uk/bas 2014. Web 12 September 2014
4. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print.
5. Geisler, Norman. Howe, Thomas. The Big Book Of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992, Print.

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43 Questions Christians can’t answer 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/.

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