Sunday, July 22, 2012

God Revealed in Creation – Part 4

"yo·vm re·vi·'i"

God is revealed as eternal and self-existent, maker of heaven and earth, dividing light from darkness and dividing surface water from water vapor in the clouds. He caused the dry land to appear and on the same day created life. But as the third creation day was a struggle for naturalist, the fourth is a struggle for some creationist.

Genesis 1

14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.

[As you recall each creation day has had light but the source of the light was not specified. In the fourth day God has willed that the lights be visible on the earth for a purpose; to regulate the passage of time, marking the days, years, and seasons, and provide a regular source of light on the earth.

We see the familiar word firmament, before it referred to the expanse or sky of the earth's atmosphere. In this context it refers to the expanse of space. Likewise heavens are used here for the abode of the stars.]

16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. [He made] the stars also.

[Some skeptics point to verse 16 to attack the Bible's accuracy saying that the moon isn't really a light because it's only reflecting the light from the sun. But the Hebrew word Ma'owr is refers to a luminous object regardless of whether the light is emitted or reflected.

The two great lights, the sun and moon, are also a part of the Rare Earth Hypothesis, because they are not ordinary, and play a large role in the earths favored status as an ideal place for mankind. Most planets that have a moon, have one that is much smaller relative to the planet it orbits. Moons like that can't provide the orbital stability provided by our moon. Planets without a moon like ours frequently become tidally locked meaning gravity holds one side of the planet always facing the sun making life impossible. Many civilizations have used a lunar calendar to make the months and track the tides (very important for fishermen and sailors). Scientists even believe that the gravity of the moon stirs the earth's molten inner core keeping alive the magnetic field that guards the atmosphere and protects us from the most harmful radiation in the solar winds.

Likewise the sun is not just any star. Its mass ranks among the top 5% of known stars, its metallic content is just right to host both rocky planets like earth, plus the gas giants that shield us from massive asteroids. The sun is exceptionally stable in it light output only varying by 0.1% across an 11 year solar cycle, even that small variation affects the earth's climate, so this stability is critical to life. The mass of the sun is over 100 times that of earth, and accounts for over 99% of the mass in our solar system. The sun itself orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy at a distance of 25,000 light years completing one galactic orbit in 250 million years. Its orbit is again critical residing in the co-rotation circle of the galaxy between two great spiral arms. Orbiting in this way means that our solar system does not crash into other stars and planets, which is very good for sustaining life. Scientists believe our sun and planets formed from the same molecular cloud some 4.6 billion years ago. This brings us to this week's controversy. Was the sun formed after the earth as Genesis 1:16 would seem to imply?

As you might guess there are different views on this subject. First of all astronomers generally say the sun has been burning, or more accurately running, as it is a nuclear fusion engine, for 4.5 billion years and they put the age of the earth at 4.3 billion years. Now there are multiple assumptions that go into those calculations, and that supposed age difference is only 4% which is well within the margin of error. By comparison my wife is 5% younger than me, and that only seems to matter on her birthday. Scientists only care about this age difference because it conforms to their theory of star and planet formation, so if God is intervening in this part of creation, the theory of natural formation does not matter that much. But there is a scriptural basis for these different opinions on which came first, based on how you treat the Hebrew word for "made" which is "asah". "Asah" is translated made, but it also means to fashion, accomplish, to bring forth, or even to cause to appear. When I think of "asah" I think of the French word "viola" used to call your attention to something that has appeared.

Oddly enough the young earth creationists at Answers in Genesis are adamant that the earth was made first and the sun was made on the fourth day as the scripture implies. But to me as a part of their argument for 24 hour creation days, they should argue for a sun that was made on the first day when God said "let there be light", but was not identifiable on the earth until the 4th creation day. As verse 14 says these lights are for "signs and seasons, and for days and years" so if they don't have the sun until the 4th day how could they argue for a standard day of 24 hours relative to a star that does not yet exist?

Conversely our old earth creationists, at Reasons to Believe, argue that the sun was made first. So how do they make this argument? Remember Genesis 1:2 "darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters"; now look at Job 38, in verse 4 God asks "where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth"? He goes on explaining creation, then look at verses 8 and 9.

8 "Or who shut in the sea with doors,

When it burst forth and issued from the womb;

9 When I made the clouds its garment,

And thick darkness its swaddling band;


Genesis 1:2 together with Job 38:9 give the idea that early earth was shrouded with an opaque atmosphere so dense that no light could reach the planet's surface, and the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters draws our attention to the surface so that the rest of Genesis 1 is read from the perspective of what is seen from the surface of the earth. So you might ask is that a reasonable reading of the text, would God make a planet like that? We have a great example of that in our neighboring planet Venus.

Venus is a rocky planet very similar in size and composition to earth and it is sometimes the brightest object in the night sky. It is the second planet from the sun orbiting the sun every 225 earth days. We talked about mars having an atmosphere 100 times thinner than earth, well Venus has one 92 times denser than earth, made mostly of carbon dioxide, but also wrapped in a layer of clouds made of highly reflective sulfuric acid, such that no visible light can reach the Venetian surface. It is probable that the Earth started out much like Venus. So in this view when God said "let there be light" the earth's atmosphere was changed from opaque to translucent, such that you could see the light but not the objects producing the light. This would be like a fluorescing light bulb which has an electric filament that you can't see, because the electricity excites the gas and causes it to glow. Then in verse 16 the atmosphere is changed again from translucent to transparent, removing the veil and bringing forth or causing to appear, the sun moon and stars.

I should also point out that in verse 16 where it reads "He made the stars also", that second "he made" should be noted as added, as it is not in the Hebrew text. Read without the second "He made", the stars in verse 16 join with the moon in ruling or having dominion over the night. I point this out to say that our reading of Genesis 1 should not require all the stars to be the same age. One day my younger son called and he was taking physical chemistry and they were looking at nova's to explain how a star dies. And Aaron said if the universe is only 10,000 years old, and I look at a nova more than 10,000 light years from earth, then I am watching the death of a star that never existed, that would only be an illusion. And I said "yep", then I explained to him all the things we have been discussing in Genesis 1 that allow for creation days of any length, with possible time spans in between. Even if you prefer the young earth view and don't care much about the scientific perspective, you know someone who does care, and we need to be able to give an answer to these very reasonable questions.


From a theological perspective I don't think that it matters whether the sun was made first then was made visible from the earth, or if the earth was made first then the sun. Either way the focus of the text should be on God as Creator, and what a marvelous endowment he has left us in the world he created for us.


17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

This "firmament of the heavens" is still a great mystery in science. If you look across the universe there is a very uneven distribution of stars which makes us wonder why the galaxies are arranged the way they are? In recent years science has proposed dark matter as an invisible lattice work of great mass that uses gravity to pull matter into the clusters and super-clusters holding our galaxies. Some studies find evidence for dark matter, others do not, but it's clear that the mechanism God used to position each star and planet is more marvelous than our greatest imagination.

A part of the current theories on galaxy formation holds that the oldest galaxies should be clumpy and poorly formed, and only the newer galaxies like the Milky Way have this elegant spiral design. Recently the Hubble Space Telescope found a galaxy 10.7 billion light years away with this perfect spiral shape. If you remember your physics you know that when you look at an object 10.7 billion light years away you are in a time machine of sorts, seeing that galaxy as it was 10.7 billion years ago, because that's how long its light takes to reach us. That means a beautiful spiral galaxy existed billions of years before such a galaxy was supposed to be possible, at least according to contemporary theory. So don't ever think man has it all figured it out. No matter how smart we think we are, our Maker still has countless surprises out there that cause us to marvel.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament shows His handiwork.

2 Day unto day utters speech,

And night unto night reveals knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language

Where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their words to the end of the world.

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.

6 Its rising is from one end of heaven,

And its circuit to the other end;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat.


The firmament of the heavens is still speaking today, revealing knowledge, declaring the glory of God.

Monday, July 16, 2012

God Revealed in Creation – Part 3

So far we have God revealed as eternal and self-existent, confirmed by scripture and by science. We also saw God use division as a creative tool, dividing light from darkness and dividing surface water from water vapor in the clouds. We begin each day with the evening dark and hidden then God will act with power and immeasurable intellect to accomplish His purpose. We addressed controversies, the length of a creation day or "yowm", and looked at whether or not those days were consecutive. These are not questions we are likely to solve to everyone's satisfaction but it is good to understand the different perspectives. Today we will cover one of the most remarkable creation days, "yo·vm she·li·shi"

So after verse 8 the earth is progressing, a rocky planet still covered in water, but with a stable atmosphere or "raqiya" consisting of Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Water Vapor, and Sulfur dioxide; not yet suitable for man.

Genesis 1

9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

At the command of God the surface of the earth begins to change. Through a process we now call plate tectonics, the mantle of the earth is divided into two layers, a lighter rocky layer called the Lithosphere that floats on a denser molten layer known as the Asthenesphere. There are about 7 major tectonics plates in the Lithosphere and they move respective to each other by a complex interaction of gravitational fields. In some places this movement opens up deep ocean trenches, and in other places the continental plates push together lifting one over another.As the continents rise and the ocean trenches sink the water seeks the lowest point and it opens up the great land masses of the earth.

Notice that we see the word earth (Hebrew erets) used in Genesis 1 first for the whole planet, then here for the dry land. It is also used later in Genesis for the area inhabited by man.

Prior to this time of a stable earth surface scientist believe our planet was pelted by a series of massive asteroids with enough energy to liquefy the earth's crust and sterilize the planet, but with no extant life nobody cares.

Cosmologist aren't really sure how and why this Late Heavy Bombardment ended, but some suggest the gas giant planets of Uranus and Neptune formed later than earth and now act as a kind of shield for the earth by absorbing these major asteroids in their own gravitational fields. But since the bombardment ended, earth has enjoyed a favored place protected from most of these threats.

11 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Verse 11 is remarkable for a number of reasons. Note that this third creation day has God working a double shift ("then God said"). First He divides the seas from the dry land, then as though moving massive continents were not enough for one day; he creates life itself on earth.

Here is where evolutionist really struggle because every theory proposed for a natural process that could cause the origin of life has been an abject failure. In reality abiogenesis has become the creation myth of unbelievers because it is completely without foundation in terms of scientific evidence, but evolutionist cling to the idea all the same. Prior to the work of Louis Pasteur belief in spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter was very common. What Pasteur proposed and later demonstrated was that unseen life in the form of microbes and even tiny eggs were in all cases responsible for the appearance of life in dead matter. His theory stated in Latin was "Omni vivum ex ovem" or "all life from eggs". It is from his work that we learned how to sterilize things with heat in order to kill bacteria and other pathogens. Because of Pasteur, belief in the spontaneous generation of life from non-life faded from the world of science, except when it comes to the origin of life where it remains among naturalist the belief against all evidence, or part of the de facto religion of scientism.

So what makes abiogenesis or the natural evolution of life so unlikely? First you have the 20 alpha amino acids which are single threaded complex chemical chains necessary to make all proteins and encode your genes. In 1952 Stanley Miller and Harold Urey tested a theory that the earths early atmosphere could produce these amino acids so he combined water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen into a sort of distillery using fire and electric sparks to trigger chemical reactions, and he produced some amino acids and similar compounds in trace amounts making plausible the mythical primordial soup. Unfortunately for Mr. Miller's legacy he got the basic ingredients wrong. He created a reducing environment, and as we discussed last week earth's early atmosphere was not a reducing atmosphere is was an oxidizing atmosphere made mostly of Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Water Vapor, and Sulfur dioxide. So Millers chemical reactions were not even possible on early earth, but you still find this experiment in all the textbooks to support abiogenesis. Trace amounts of a few amino acids have been detected in some asteroids giving hope to evolutionist, but other amino acids (arginine and lysine) necessary for life have never been found outside of a living thing, making their origin a complete scientific mystery (prebiotically implausible).

But what if you could get the 20 amino acids in sufficient amounts to make the primordial soup, would they naturally assemble into some network of proteins? The answer is no. Amino acids are naturally chiral molecules that appear in mirrored pairs commonly referred to as left handed and right handed, so in any pool of amino acids you would have an equal number of left handed and right handed molecules (racemic). The problem is that amino acids only assemble into the necessary chains for protiens when they are homochiral, meaning they are all left handed or all right handed molecules, this is the way they are made in living organisms through a very complex process, but there is no known way to simulate this 100% separation outside of biology. In truth the best naturalistic explanations yield only about a 1% excess of left-handed or right-handed molecules.

The next challenge for abiogenesis is the genetic code itself. The universal genetic code shared by all life is a complex encoded language understood by assigning a letter to each chemical base (Adenine, Thymine [Uracil in RNA], Guanine, Cytosine) then three of these together in a particular order form a codon, and each codon represents an amino acid to be added in a sequence or chain, these are the instructions for living things to make proteins from which all parts of the body are constructed. The instructions to build a single protein are called a gene.

So how do you get the information to construct a complex language with rules for transcription, translation, and a built in spelling checker, when there are no living things? Again this is bad news for naturalist because there are enough data to refute the possibility that the genetic code was randomly constructed. To date outside of a supernatural intelligence there is no robust hypothesis for the origin of the genetic code. DNA is the language of life, the supernatural endowment of every living thing and another example of how God is revealed in creation.

What kind of life did God make on this 3rd creation day? Herbs, grasses, basically any form of seed bearing plant. In biology these are known as autotrophs because they can make their own food from carbon dioxide, water and an energy source like sunlight. In soil formation these types of plants are also called pioneers because they can break down rock into constituent minerals both to use in their own metabolism and to begin soil formation.

What may be most disturbing for those who doubt God as Creator, is that scientists have found evidence of life in the earths oldest rocks. What is means is that as soon as the earth had a stable rocky surface, life began. There were no billions of years for amino acids to "evolve", sort by chiral orientation, conspire to create the genetic code, then somehow animate themselves into living cells, it just happened. Now look again at verse 9 and verse 11 and see what Moses has done. He has linked the emergence of the earth's rocky surface to the beginning of life in one creation day. This is an example of "correspondence" a Biblical assertion confirmed by earth's history supporting the supernatural revelation of scripture. How else would an Egyptian raised Midian goat herder know that 3,500 years later science would link these two events in just this way?

With the creation of autotrophic life, the earth's atmosphere would steadily become more oxygen rich, and the rocky surface would be broken down to form the top soil. Like the first two days of creation, what God makes is stable and able to remain for a long time. For plant life this is revealed in the phrase "according to its kind" meaning each succeeding generation would be like the generation before. Now some have looked at the taxonomy classification (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) trying to figure out what exactly "kind" was referring to. This is a problem because taxonomy can be arranged by physical similarities, by presumed evolutionary relationship, or by genetic similarities; and none of these techniques yield the same results. The Hebrew word translated kind is "miyn" which means to portion out. In terms of DNA this makes perfect sense where each plant received that portion of the genetic code it required. One way we understand this is that no matter how many dog breeds you can make; breeding dogs will never yield a cat, because dogs simply do not have the genetic code to make a cat.

13 And there was evening, and there was morning —the third day.

So God's good work ended a 3rd creation day with the familiar "evening and morning" divider. "yo·vm she·li·shi" yielded the dry land, the seas, plant life, and very strong evidence for the supernatural origin of life, and the supernatural inspiration of scripture, making this a very important creation day.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

God Revealed in Creation – Part 2

So far we have God revealed as eternal and self-existent, confirmed by scripture and by science. We also saw God as both the maker and divider of light. The pattern we saw in day one will be repeated in each phase of creation. We begin with the evening dark and hidden then God will act with power and immeasurable intellect to accomplish His purpose, we will also see God continue to use division as a creative tool. We addressed out first creation controversy, the length of a creation day or "yowm". Today we will cover another creation day and another controversy.

So after verse 5 the earth is still in a primitive state, a rocky planet covered in water, probably shrouded in a thick mist of gasses.

Genesis 1

Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."

Firmament is a strange word and different translations sometimes use "expanse", "dome", "vault", "air" and "horizon", and other words in its place. The problem with these other words are that they are used inconsistently, and do not convey the special meaning of the more uncommon word "firmament". The Hebrew word is "raqiya" and it is somewhat paradoxical; something spread out but also acting as a solid or fixed boundary. The verb form of the word is "raqa" meaning to beat or flatten something out. My mental picture is a metal smith pounding on a piece of hot metal to flatten it into a sheet. This word is used in different contexts in the Bible and this one is talking about the atmosphere immediately above the earth. We will discuss the firmament more as we move through the creative process, and talk about stars.

So God is taking this shroud of water vapor from the surface of the earth and moving it up separated from the sea by an expanse of sky. Astrophysicist believe that water would be a common element present at the formation of a rocky planet, but one of the distinctions that makes our earth rare is how our atmosphere forms a container for a stable water cycle, because God has divided the waters.

Recently NASA launched a rover toward Mars, another rocky planet, and they discussed the difficulty of landing anything on Mars because the atmosphere is so thin that all the surface water has evaporated off the face of the planet. The Martian atmosphere is 100 times thinner than that of earth, so when this satellite is pulled into the planet's atmosphere there is not enough density of air for drag or resistance to slow down the landing capsule. As a result they made the largest ballistic parachute ever to try and slow it down. The also made a rocket platform to make the final descent and lower the rover to the surface. On earth you just deploy the parachute and let in float down, but not in Mars.

Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

So the firmament "raqiya" (an expanse with a boundary) divides the water in the clouds from the surface water. God names this expanse heaven. The Hebrew word translated heaven is "shamayim" and it is also used three different ways in scripture: 1) it is used here for the sky or inner space, the place of clouds and eventually birds. 2) Later is will be used for what we call outer space, the abode of the stars. 3) Lastly the way we mostly think of heaven is the abode of God and His angels.

In 2 Corinthians 12 speaking of Paradise, Paul refers to it as the 3rd heaven.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 

The Jewish Talmud and other religious literature identify 7 heavens, but looking at the verses they reference, like Paul, I can only find justification for the 3 I have listed (inner space, outer space, and Paradise).

A Recent chemical isotope study of the oldest earth rocks has revealed what this early earth atmosphere was like. It mostly consisted of Carbon dioxide, Nitrogen, Water Vapor, and Sulfur dioxide. We will revisit this when we get to the origin of life, but this particular atmosphere fits perfectly with supernatural creation, but invalidates evolution theory's best explanation for the origin of life, also known as the primordial soup.

Verse 8 concludes with the familiar "evening and morning" for the second creation day, and also brings us to our second controversy regarding creations days. We mentioned last week that one way to account for an old earth would be if there was a gap of time after Genesis 1:1, or even after verse 2. To me the problem with that idea is that the text is counting these creative time periods, and separating the first verse or two would result in an uncounted day, and not fit with the poetic pattern of the rest of the chapter.

But there is another form of gap theory that does fit with the text, at least in its Hebrew form. In our English Bibles verses 5 and 8 contain "the first day" and "the second day" respectively. But look at the page from the Hebrew Bible and you will see something a little different.


Genesis Chapter 1 בְּרֵאשִׁית

א  בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

ב  וְהָאָרֶץ, הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, וְחֹשֶׁךְ, עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם; וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם.

2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.

ג  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.

3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.

ד  וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאוֹר, כִּי-טוֹב; וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים, בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

ה  וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם, וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם אֶחָד.  {פ}

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. {P}

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם, וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל, בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם.

6 And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'

ז  וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-הָרָקִיעַ, וַיַּבְדֵּל בֵּין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מִתַּחַת לָרָקִיעַ, וּבֵין הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר מֵעַל לָרָקִיעַ; וַיְהִי-כֵן.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.

ח  וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָרָקִיעַ, שָׁמָיִם; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם שֵׁנִי.  {פ}

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. {P}


So what is the difference between "the first day" vs. "one day", or "the second day" vs. "a second day"? In grammar it is called the definite article which in Hebrew is "ha" and in English is the word "the". So in English, when we read "the first day" and "the second day", we understand the young-earth assertion that the days of creation are consecutive 24 hour days, with nothing in between. But looking at the Hebrew text as "one day" and "a second day", you might ask "a second day of what"? And the answer could be a second day of creation, which would not exclude some other passage of time in between the creation days. In other words the Hebrew text certainly allows for consecutive creation days, but it does not require it. So by the missing "the" we have another form a gap theory which says that Genesis One is counting "creation days" rather than earth days in general, and allows for the passage of time between creation events consistent with some forms of Old-Earth Creationism.

So God's 2nd day of creation establishes an Earth with an atmosphere, a rather dense atmosphere with lots of CO2 and water vapor. This will be very important for the origin of plant life which we will cover with the 3rd creation day. God reveals himself to us in this second creation day in that he acted supernaturally with power and knowledge to preserve the water on the face of the earth, to later make rain possible and give us this wonderful protective atmosphere suitable for life. The first day of creation God divided the light from the darkness, the second creation day He divided the surface waters from the water vapor.

Our unique atmosphere is a part of, what scientist refer to as, the Rare Earth Hypothesis. REH is the idea that most planets will not look like earth, not even most rocky planets will look like earth. REH says that in all the possible circumstances of planet formation, the earth has enjoyed an amazing string of happy coincidences, to make our world suitable for life, and even suitable for intelligent life and advanced civilization. Of course REH is an agnostic way of looking at the intentional creation of God, but sometimes you have to bring naturalist along in baby steps before they will entertain the idea of a cause outside of nature.

Here's how the Bible describes the origin and nature of the universe.

1.   The universe has a transcendent cause (Gen. 1:1; Acts 4:24; 17:28; Rom. 4:17).

2.   The universe has a beginning (Gen. 1:1; Heb. 1:10).

3.   Time has a beginning (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:20).

4.   God is "stretching out the heavens" like a tent (Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Is. 42:5; Jer. 10:12; Jer. 51:15; Zech. 12:1).

5.   Someday this universe will come to an end and be replaced by a "new heavens and a new earth" (Is. 34:4; Heb. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 3:10).

Now let's compare how the Bible describes the creation event with what mainstream scientists say about the universe.





Began with the creation event; linear (time goes in only one direction, forward)

Began with the creation event; linear (time goes in only one direction, forward)

Matter and Energy

Had a beginning at some finite time in the past

Had a beginning at some finite time in the past


Transcendent Cause (God) required

Transcendent (Independent) Cause required

Nature of the universe

God is "Stretching out the heavens"

Has been expanding since the creation and will continue to expand in the future

End of the Universe

This universe will be replaced with "new heavens and new earth"

Eventually, universe won't be able to sustain life; universe may collapse or burn up

 Obvious parallels emerge from these descriptions. Although it is certain the ancient authors didn't specifically have the big bang in mind when they wrote those words, it's at least possible that the supernatural Author inspired these particular descriptions because He knew they reflected an accurate account of what scientists would discover millennia later.

Studies probing the intricacies of our universe's early history provide an intriguing way to put certain holy books to the test. The remarkable parallels between big bang cosmology and the Bible place the Christian Scriptures on favorable footing. Conversely, Hindu cosmology teaches the universe is cyclically created and destroyed approximately every 4 billion years. But such an idea clearly conflicts with the best research from the frontiers of astrophysics.

Far from being an atheistic idea to be avoided, big bang cosmology yields powerful support for the supernatural origin of the Bible.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God Revealed in Creation – Part 1 The Beginning

Both Psalm 19 and Romans 1 say that God has revealed Himself through His marvelous creation. But we can learn more about what God has revealed, by looking at creation through God's other form of revelation which is the written scripture he has breathed into godly men throughout the ages beginning with the 5 books of Moses. God as creator is a constant theme in the Bible, so it is quite logical that God begins his revelation of scripture with an account of creation.

Genesis 1

The History of Creation

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

"In the beginning God" - the first remarkable insight revealed here is that God Himself is self-existent and uncreated without beginning or end. However in history the wisdom of man has not always agreed with this revelation. As late as the 1950's scientist believed in a steady state universe without origin. Cosmologist Carl Sagan was famous for the quote "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be."

Despite the atheistic sentiment in that quote Carl Sagan considered himself an agnostic, but the Cosmos he spent his life studying provided him the first evidence of God's existence. The idea is generally known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the idea that the universe logically requires a pre-existent first cause. The argument has taken many forms but I favor that of Thomas Aquinas: 1) If it is possible that something might not exist, then it is certain that at some time it did not exist. 2) Everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist, so the universe has a cause. 3) If anything exists contingently, at least one thing exists necessarily.

Plug what we know from modern cosmology into this philosophy and the answer is obvious. The universe at one time did not exist. To come into existence the universe had to have a cause. A universe with a beginning, and a cause, points to a supernatural existence outside of creation. This supernatural eternal existence, the uncreated cause, is best described as the God of the Bible.

The arguments against Kalam usually take the form of some infinite regress, a never ending series of causes and effects, but those all fail the logical requirement that no matter how many immediate causes one may propose, any series always has a beginning, thus an ultimate cause is always required. Thomas called this the essential first cause, and this argument has never been defeated. But Kalam can only terminate on a first cause that has always existed, and only God is eternal and self-existent, for everything we see in the material world is temporary.

The gospel of John said it like this: John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, God is found recruiting a prophet to lead the people of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt. God appeared to Moses as the now famous burning bush that burned but was not consumed. Moses inquired of God, that if Israel questioned Moses' calling, and asked "what is the name of the God that has sent you, what shall I say"? God answers and says you will tell them "I am, that I am, has sent you". A careful study of this phrase reveals the intricate meaning of the title. First as the "I am", God identifies himself as the self-existent one, the Lord with no beginning and no end. Second "that I am" means God is the self-existent one, because it was necessary that one should be self-existent.

The fifth book of Moses further explains that only God can be eternal and self-existent, so he alone is to be worshiped. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone." This passage introduces the first commandment "Have no other gods BEFORE me". The 10 commandments argue that God comes first in all things.

Colossians 1 states that God is not only the self-existent creator but the maintainer of the universe. "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth...And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (1:16-17) Predating modern science by over 1,500 years Hebrews 11 states that the building blocks of all God's creation cannot be seen. "The worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." (Hebrews 11:3)

An old rabbinical proverb puts it like this: Being what he is, God could not fail to be who he is, and being who he is, God could not fail to be. So the sum of the matter from the Bible is thus, God is the eternal creator, because an eternal creator was necessary. The infinite God exists, because he must. The temporal cannot exist without the infinite.

So Moses begins with God before creation. The word beginning also means first or primary. So as we look at creation we must remember that God is the first thing, the preeminent truth, it all begins with Him. As we have discussed before it was the observation that the light from distant stars was red-shifted in the light spectrum meaning they were moving away from us; that laid the foundations for scientific understanding that the universe is expanding. An ancient expanding universe had to be much smaller in the distant past and that suggested that everything once was all very close together. The second discovery that brought science close to a Biblical understanding of the beginning was the cosmic microwave background radiation, which was found when testing an early form of radar.

This CMBR was found in every direction at every distance in the universe, and it was all the same temperature, which meant it all had the same origin. The CMBR was the smoking gun proof of an unimaginable flash of light at the beginning of time, also known as the Cosmic Creation Event.

3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

Did you hear the bang? Physicist Fred Hoyle was a proponent of the steady state universe without beginning, and he did not like the idea of a cosmic beginning, so he mockingly called this event "the big bang". Now many scientists recognized the Biblical implications of the evidence for a cosmic beginning, but oddly enough many Christians were not receptive to the big bang theory. You see Young Earth Creationism as the predominant view of creation time only saw the conflict in the astronomical dates in billions of years, with its own six to ten thousand year old universe view, and largely rejected this epiphany of science. Now as we have discussed before, Bishop Usshers Chronology reverse engineered a creation date using biblical genealogies. So it will be a while before we get to tackle genealogies, but our task is to see God revealed in creation, so let's continue with the text.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

The Hebrew words of the original text have a very rich symbolism so I want to spend some time on the words used and the meaning they carry.

Beginning – means the start but also the first or primary thing

Said – is to think then command

Create – is to form something

Call – means to cry out or declare

Without form – means desolate

Void – means empty

Deep – is an abyss

Day – is a period of time, and the root word means hot

Night – means to pause and the root word means to fold back

Evening – means to cover

Darkness – means hidden or secret

Morning – is the end of night, and the root word means to seek out

So let me describe the scene for you. Time begins with God revealing himself in creation. Verse 5 puts the evening before the morning, so we begin in darkness where the will of God is hidden from us. Then as God is creating the earth is desolate and empty, there is nothing yet suitable for us, but the spirit of God is there hovering. The root word for hovering means brooding, like a mother hen brooding over her eggs. One thing we know from scripture is that when we see the spirit of God it means, things are about to change, the power of God will overcome the circumstances of the time.

Then God speaks into this deep abyss of nothing and commands light to appear. Remember "said" means to think then command, so the light is not a random thing it is intentional, well designed and suitable for God's purpose. The light is not everywhere at once it is divided, it is only in the past 350 years that science determined that light had a speed, that it takes time to move so it cannot be everywhere at once. The speed of light in a vacuum is a universal constant of 186 thousand miles per second, was part of Einstein's theory of relativity as the maximum speed of matter and energy. Light was first observed to have a finite speed in 1676 by Ole Romer, and some 200 years later they calculated that the light from the Sun takes over 8 minutes to reach the earth. Science has confirmed Genesis 1:4 is correct, thousands of years after it was written. So God creates by adding information (His thoughts and words) and power or energy, this is an unimaginable amount of energy. According to the standard model of physics the creation event, not only makes matter and energy, but the fabric of space and time itself, the four dimensions of our reality. Then God evaluates what He has done and declares the first stage of creation as good or pleasant and complete.

Verse 5 gives us our first controversy regarding creation, "what is a day"? Well God defines day in verse 5 as the "time of light", he called the light day and the darkness he called night, but then He adds that the evening and the morning together are a day. The Hebrew word for day is "yowm" and it is used variously in scripture to mean the daylight hours, any part of the daylight hours, the daylight hours and the nighttime hours together, some other finite period of time. So to measure this day as a length of time you would have to know how long was the darkness then how long was the light. From the Bible text I cannot answer this. I know our days now are marked by the earth's rotation relative to the sun, but the Bible does not speak of those things until the 4th creation day. In the first 5 verses I don't even know what the source of light was, or if we're even intended to know the duration of it's shining.

The Young Earth Creationist seem certain that this is a 24 hour day, the Old Earth creationist are also known as "day age creationist", so you can guess that they believe the text can mean a "yowm" of almost any period of time. The Theistic Evolutionists see it all as metaphorical poetic language not intended for such a literal interpretation. So who is right?

To me the key parts are that God stood outside of space and time, and shone His creative light on a world described and desolate and empty. That the full trinity (Father, Word, and Spirit) of God participated in creation and God acted with knowledge and power to make something good for His purpose, His glory and our benefit. Our world had a beginning and God is the reason why.