Thinking Out Loud

June 13, 2010

The “Apparent Age” of the Earth

Filed under: Faith, issues — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 3:13 pm

*  Today I’m also guest-blogging as part of a month-long “blogapalooza” over at Rick Apperson’s blog, “Just a Thought.”  To read that post, click here.

Today’s post is a repeat of one from June, 2008. It’s meant to get your brain going; but in the end, faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ doesn’t rest on tangential discussions of Bible & Science issues.

One of the most difficult aspects of the various debates in creationism has to do with the young earth / old earth issue. Some believe that God took his time to make the earth, that the “days” of Genesis 1 are really “ages” and by this reasoning, “theistic evolution” is possible; the idea that God used evolution.

This means that when we look at the garden of Eden we see a tree and the tree is mature. It looks like it might be at least 20 years old. (Though counting the rings would be interesting!) Underneath the tree is a rock. The rock appears to be 20,000 years old. Adam himself becomes more problematic. He’s clearly a man, not an infant. Today, Jewish boys become a man at 13; in North America we use 18; it used to be 21; Jesus began his ministry at 30. Any one of those ages denotes the idea of “man” and not “boy.” From the earliest times, our earth seems to have either aged considerably or has some age built into it.

This morning I started thinking about Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine. Wine needs fermentation and fermentation takes time. A batch of homemade brew would need at least six months, I think; aging only improves the quality, and they did say at the time that the host of the wedding had “saved the best wine until last.” Did Jesus press a “pause” button, and everyone froze in place for a year while the batch brewed, or did he simply do a creative miracle in an instant?

The former suggestion is something I just made up; I’ve never heard it suggested. If you believe in this miracle at all; it’s the latter you believe in. If that’s the case, it’s interesting that Jesus’ first recorded creative act in the New Testament; and God’s first recorded creative act in the Old Testament should involve things that have apparent age; things that seem to have been created outside the constraints of time as we know it.

And if the earth is as young as some believe, then we are still witnessing the miracle of something created with apparent age, for each time the light of a star is seen at night, we know that scientifically, the light of stars that Adam, and Abraham, and Moses saw left those distant suns thousands of years before the earth was created. Which I know doesn’t make sense to many people. But next time you’re wrestling with this issue, either personally or in discussion or with someone else, step outside Genesis for a minute and consider the water-into-wine miracle of the New Testament. Fermentation takes time. The wine definitely had an apparent age. Could this principle extend back into Genesis?

~ Paul Wilkinson


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March 21, 2010

The Top 100 Issues That Divide Us

When the blogger at Free In Christ started his blog in July of 2008, he noted his indebtedness to a book by Cecil Hook also called Free in Christ.   Not being a regular follower of that blog, and so not having read everything in between then and now, it does appear that 21 months later, he hasn’t stopped blogging his admiration for the book.

Recently, he cited Cecil Hook’s list of 100 things people disagree on in the churches of Christ.    Rather than simply link to it — many of you never click anyway, and even fewer leave comments — I wanted to have this list recorded here.    I’m not sure about the order in which these are listed, but here it is:

1. taking of oaths
2. serving in the military
3. inflicting capital punishment
4. using force to defend oneself or others
5. voting for political candidates
6. serving as a government official
7. engaging in political activism
8. Christmas or Easter programs
9. letting a non-member lead prayer
10. lifting hands while singing
11. joining a ministerial alliance
12. indwelling of the Holy Spirit
13. work of the Holy Spirit
14. baptism of the Holy Spirit
15. prayer for healing
16. the Trinity
17. special providence
18. how God answers prayer
19. fasting
20. translations of the Bible
21. use of Thee and Thou in prayer
22. authority of elders
23. who selects and appoints elders
24. qualifications of elders
25. tenure of elders
26. elders presiding at the Lord’s Table
27. qualifications of deacons
28. deaconesses
29. enrolling widows
30. addressing disciples as Major or Doctor
31. long hair on men
32. midweek contributions
33. dimming the lights during prayer
34. singing as the emblems are passed
35. use of church buildings for secular activities
36. use of pictures of Jesus
37. use of symbols such as the cross
38. use of steeples and stained glass windows
39. use of the term Sunday School
40. passing of the collection baskets
41. eating in the church building
42. grounds for disfellowshipping
43. support of colleges from the church treasury
44. divorce for any cause
45. remarriage of a divorced person
46. preacher officiating at a wedding of a divorced person
47. disciples marrying non-members
48. preacher officiating for a mixed marriage
49. use of an instrument in “church” weddings
50. method and type of inspiration of the Bible
51. re-baptism of Baptists and Christian Church members
52. the “five items of worship”
53. use of choirs, choruses, quartets, solos, etc.
54. serving the Lord’s Supper on Sunday evening
55. serving the Lord’s Supper other than in assemblies
56. integration of races
57. smoking
58. total abstinence from alcoholic beverages
59. membership in fraternal orders
60. contributing to public charities
61. use of Bible class literature
62. youth directors, youth rallies, youth camps
63. the six days of creation being literal days
64. the extent of evolution
65. the operation of Christian hospitals
66. awards and prizes for church activities
67. debating religious issues
68. ministers of education, ministers of music, etc.
69. benevolence to fellow-disciples only
70. the baptismal “formula”
71. formal confession before baptism
72. going to law against disciples
73. dedicating babies
74. signing contribution pledge cards
75. children’s homes under eldership or a board
76. dancing
77. women wearing shorts and slacks
78. women wearing slacks to church services
79. girls leading prayer in family devotionals
80. girls leading prayer in youth devotionals
81. clapping hands during singing
82. buying VBS refreshments from the treasury
83. the present day activity of demons
84. applauding in the assembly
85. use of God’s name as a by-word
86. use of euphemisms of God’s name in by-words
87. use of contraceptives
88. abortion
89. adopting out an illegitimate child
90. women working outside the home
91. Children’s Bible Hour
92. busing children to services
93. “What is to be will be.”
94. bodily resurrection
95. if we shall know each other in heaven
96. degrees of reward and punishment
97. whether heaven and hell are literal places
98. dress code for men serving the Lord’s Supper
99. whether Christ came in AD 70
100. a name for the church

The unnamed blogger follows the list with a brief discussion here, but I’m wondering if you think there’s anything there that shouldn’t be or anything that got left out?

And now, for today’s bonus item:

This is the “disagreement hierarchy.”  Anyone know the origin of this?   Here’s an article (without the chart) which would seem to attribute this to Paul Graham.

October 29, 2009

Link Here to Another World

Link Day2It’s the internet; a place where you just have to think of it and it exists.  Here — in no particular order —  are some places I’ve been since our last linkfest ten days ago:

  • Jonathan at ReThink Mission gets his friend Aaron — a non believer — talking about how Christians could better share their faith.   Insight number one:  “Don’t come with an agenda.”   Hear more here.
  • At the blog, Solar Crash, Lon points out that, “Sponsoring a Child is Not Loving a Child.”  Good thoughts.   But then — and whatever you do, don’t miss this — he includes a video of a sponsored child who is now an adult who is speaking to the Catalyst conference on behalf of Compassion.  Then, something amazing happens!
  • Fasten your seat belts for this one.   What if the message of creation was packaged in scientific-sounding language and the message of evolution was phrased in religious-sounding words?   How might this change your appreciation of both messages?   Especially when both of them are talking at once?  Check out the 3 1/2 minute animation Duelity on Vimeo.
  • The evening news bring images of suffering and disaster into vivid focus, but increasingly, people spend more time at the small (computer) screen than the large (broadcast) screen, thereby avoiding media discomfort.  So here, courtesy of The Big Picture, are some rather striking images of Typhoon Ketsana which struck The Phillipines during the last week of September.
  • As a one-time philosophy major at university — the same year Time magazine said, “Philosophy is the prerequisite to unemployment” — I’ve been very much drawn to the rather engaging Justice series airing on the PBS Think Bright digital network.   At least 24 Harvard University lectures by Michael Sandel have been condensed into twelve 55-minute portions; the first time Harvard has posted courses online.    Grab your notebook and join the class here.
  • The blog Higher Ground reposts a series of statements by Charles Finney under the title, “How To Preach Without Converting Anyone.”   Warning:  Finney pulls no punches.  For example: “Avoid preaching doctrines that are offensive to the carnal mind, so that no one should say to you, as they did of Christ, ‘This is a hard saying, who can hear it?’”  Check it out here.
  • You’ll notice the previous link is actually lifted from something called Dead Guy Blog.  (Tag line: ” Learning from the giants of the faith that have gone before us to strengthen our faith and stir our affections toward God.”)  I wanted to include this blog as a separate link highlight and I want to encourage you to check out the entire blog, not just the permalink to one entry.
  • David Fitch’s “A Warning List for Those Who Would Join a Missional Church Gathering” at his blog, Reclaiming The Mission, has a lot more substance to be limited to just the missional conversation.   What do you look for in a church?   Maybe it’s all the wrong things!    I like number ten.  The last sentence.   Read all ten warnings here.
  • My favorite Nashville pastor, Pete Wilson, quotes John Ortberg: “It has never been easier to obtain the scriptures and never harder to absorb.”  Profound stuff, eh?   Sendin’ Pete some link love here.
  • Kathy at the blog, The Well has a gripping item from David Yonggi Cho telling the story of a pastor who prepares his family for the martyrdom they are about to experience.   That very night.   Read it here.
  • Jesus Christ preached the good news of The Kingdom.   He didn’t just offer “Get out of Hell” cards.   Sometimes that message gets lost on even seasoned churchgoers.   Christian musician Shaun Groves gets caught in the middle of such a situation at one of his recent concerts.
  • Finally, to make it an even dozen, here’s a link from this blog just a few days ago that I thought would generate more comments.   Hidden between the lines is the answer to the question, Why Evangelicals Don’t Have Crucifixes.   Or maybe not so hidden.

Thanks to Steve McCoy at Reformissionary for the link to Re Think Mission.

Here’s a link to our last link list,  and also the one before that.

If you got this far and still haven’t linked to anything, consider just the first three items on today’s list.

June 12, 2009

Apologetics in a Box

Filed under: Christian, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:31 pm

apologeticsSo there I was, a young, zealous Christian guy in my 20s, flying back from two weeks immersion in Christian community in southern California.    He was a French scientist, en route from Los Angeles to Toronto.

I shared a little bit of what had driven me to spend two weeks in Orange County, and then decided to probe him about his faith.   Eventually the conversation rolled around to evolution, which he said he believed in.

So of course, I started to unpack my reasons why evolution can’t possibly be true, and number two on my list was the Law of Entropy, which states that things tend to break down in complexity not increase in complexity. Devolution, not evolution.

That’s when he interrupted me and said there was a flaw in my logic.   I was taking the Second Law of Thermodynamics and applying it to a life science.   “You can’t do that;” he said.

Oh.   How come nobody mentioned this issue before?

I mention this story because I know a young guy who is, figuratively speaking, on his own flight from L.A.    He’s encountering people and ideas online that are, in one sense, like a breath of fresh air, but his box of apologetics is too neat, too ordered, too unchallenged to accommodate these recent objections.

So the atheists, agnostics, and followers of New Thought, while they have not won the war, are certainly winning the battle.

It’s a confusing time.

I’ve decided I can’t win those arguments.   I know people who can hold their own in discussions of science and faith, but I have to content myself that knowing the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ is sufficient.   I can trust that he’s got it all worked out.    What I can do is communicate the reality of the faith I experience.  And once in awhile, I can articulate the way out of an argument trap, simply because I know God’s got it all sorted.

I wonder what might have happened if I’d asked the scientist, “Where do you think ‘love’ came from?”  “What is your view on why we are here?”  “Do you believe that humans are endowed with a soul?”  “What do you think of Jesus?”

Instead, I, an arts major, tried to debate thermodynamics with a French scientist.    It’s laughable, really.

Anyway, pray for my young friend.   I don’t know him well, but I know his family and I know they’re trusting God that the present season of doubt and uncertainty will not last long.

And pray that he encounters someone whose faith is robust enough to withstand the challenges to faith that happen to us all.    Maybe I’m that person.  Maybe you’re that person.

The comic is from Back on Earth, which began online in January, has posted 40 episodes so far, and is, well, certainly one my more interesting online finds!

Related reading:  The Changing Face of Apologetics — An interview with Lee Strobel at Christianity Today Online.

December 5, 2008

Cincinnati Zoo Ends Cross-Promotion With Creation Museum After Only Three Days

Filed under: Christianity, issues, Religion — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:32 pm
creation-museumThe Cincinnati Zoo has dropped a business arrangement with the nearby Creation Museum after it received numerous complaints about a joint Christmas promotion.

…Their plans to offer a reduced price on a package of tickets to both attractions  ended after less than three days.

” … I have learned that the zoo received hundreds of complaints from what appear to be some very intolerant people, and so I understand the zoo’s perspective,” said Ken Ham, founder and president of the museum in Petersburg, Ky.

Read the whole story at USAToday .   Obviously, nobody foresaw the massive public outcry.   Was this just cross-promotion just a bad idea from the beginning, or is the United States climate of religious intolerance increasing in intensity?

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