Tag Archives: Institute for Creation Research

Building Up the Temple

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12)

Last week I wrote about a special assignment[1] I was given for the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. An ICR benefactor donated a Life of Christ diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company, and it often hints of Catholic influence.

One of the scenes will be of Jesus cleansing the Temple before His crucifixion. The “temple” that came with the set is patterned after Greco-Roman architecture. It in no way represents the Temple that Jesus would have known. Perhaps visitors to the Discovery Center will not notice the discrepancy, but others, like me, will see the flaw. That bothers me. We cannot allow anything to distract from the Gospel message.

Determined to correct the error, I took the dimensions of the Temple given in the Bible[2] and converted the cubits to feet and the feet to inches.  Then I measured the width of the set “temple” to get the scale the footprint for the model I would build of the Temple. As it turned out, a scale model would be 58 inches tall and would probably cause a greater distraction than the building that came with the diorama. So, I scrapped my idea and resolved to use the incorrect building that came with the set.

When I told Henry, (the MIC) of my decision, he encouraged me to follow through with my idea. He reminded me that the Temple model did not need to be an exact scale; it just needs to “look” like the Temple of Jesus’ day. Pictured above is the beginning of what will be the Temple model. To see the completed model, you will need to visit the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History when it opens this September (2019).

Jewish religious life revolved around the Temple and Jesus, being an observant Jew, followed all the laws regarding it. When He was just eight days old, His earthly parents presented Him along with the required sacrifice to the priests at the Temple.[3] He had His bar mitzvah in the Temple at the age of 12,[4] and as Scripture points out, He went to the Temple each year for the Passover.

In His final week of life, He exercised the practice of ridding His house of “leaven” in preparation for the Passover by cleansing the Temple of the illegal trade that took place there. “And [He] said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13, emphasis mine). The Temple was His house.

The Temple bears the shape of a cross. At the foot of the cross is the altar where the sacrifices are burned. Jesus gave His life as our eternal sacrifice. Beyond the altar resides the laver or mikvah where the priests would wash before entering the Temple. Jesus is the “living water” that cleanses us from all sin.[5] The Temple has only one door through which the priests can enter. Jesus said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9, emphasis mine). Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). As one enters through the door of the Temple, on the left stands a seven-branch menorah. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). On the right is the table of the “showbread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst,” (John 6:13, emphasis mine). Directly ahead stands the altar of incense which represents the prayers of the people going up to God. Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Beyond the altar of incense rises a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling that separates this holy place from the Holy of Holies where the very presence of God resides. Inside that sanctum resided the Ark of the Covenant, covered by the Mercy Seat upon which the sacrificial blood was spilled on behalf of all the people. This place was so holy that only the high priest could enter and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement,[6] Yom Kippur.  When Jesus died on the cross, He carried His own blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies spilling it on God’s mercy seat. “And, behold, the veil [the curtain] of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:51, emphasis mine), and the way into the presence of God was opened for us.

Today every true believer is the Temple of God[7] because we have His presence within us.[8] The model temple I am building is a simple replica of the one that used to be. But the real Temple is me and anyone else who has invited the Lord to save them and take up residence within. I want to build an excellent model for visitors to the Discovery Center to enjoy, but even more important is the maintenance of the Temple in which God now resides.

If what I am saying sounds strange, visit my page on Securing Eternal Life.

Notes:


[1]  “On a Hill Far Away” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2019/05/12/on-a-hill-far-away/

[2]  1 Kings 6:2

[3]  Luke 2:22-24

[4]  Luke 2:41-52

[5]  1 John 1:7

[6]  “Rosh HaShanah” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/03/rosh-hashanah/

[7]  Living Temples – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/18/living-temples/

[8]  1 Corinthians 3:16

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On A Hill Far Away…

And Other Biblical Misconceptions

 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17)

With the forthcoming opening of the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, I and a co-laborer (whom I cannot name because I did not request his permission) have been honored with the task of creating the scenery for the Life of Christ Diorama that will reside across from the Empty Tomb exhibit. An ICR benefactor donated the diorama for exhibition in the Discovery Center. The set contains thousands of pieces – buildings, tents, people, animals, furnishings, etc. – fabricated mostly by an Italian company. The extensive collection cannot all fit in the space allotted, so our leaders determined only to display pivotal scenes in the life of Christ.

Not to give away all the details of the diorama, I want to focus on the crucifixion scene. Where to position the crucifixion scene came into question. Should it be elevated on top of a hill or should it be placed on a lower level between the road and the hill? As Christians, we know the familiar words of the old hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” The lyrics say, “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross…” I do not know if it is due to the lyrics of the beloved hymn or due to some other handed down tradition, but we all imagine that Jesus was crucified at the top of Mount Calvary. However, musical lyrics or timeless tradition should not be the basis for what we believe. What does the Bible say?

And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull… (Matthew 27:33)

And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. (Mark 15:22)

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. (Luke 23:33)

And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: (John 19:17) (Emphasis mine)

The Bible does not often provide specific detail of events, but very often it does. The language of the Gospels is Greek. The Greek word for “hill” is either oros or bounos; the latter used only in Luke 3:5, and the former used in several passages in the N.T.[1] Furthermore, Greek prepositions indicate precise positions. The Greek preposition for “on” or “upon” is epi. It means “superimposition,” that is, to be “over” or “upon.” None of the four Gospels give any indication that the crucifixion took place “on a hill called Mount Calvary”[2] regardless of what the song lyrics say. Furthermore, the public spectacle of crucifixion[3] intended as a deterrent against lawlessness took place in the most public of places, usually, a busy roadside where passersby could get a close look at the suffering victims.

I researched, albeit not extensively, information about the location of the crucifixion. Most of the information[4] argues about three possible “places,” and most shy away from making dogmatic statements. The possible locations offered are, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher (which supposedly houses both the crucifixion and burial sites), The Garden Tomb[5] area (which is very near a limestone formation whose face features two prominent grottos that look like the eye sockets of a human skull), or just some unknown place outside of the Old City (of Jerusalem) designated by the Romans for public executions. All of these resources spoke of the “place” but none ventured to suggest whether the crucifixion took place “on” the hill or “by” the hill, but all agreed that it was “at” Golgotha/Calvary.

The “experts” fail to commit to “on” or “by”, but all four Gospels omit the preposition epi (on). To me that says that Jesus was crucified “at” Calvary, not “on” Calvary. My conclusion led me to determine that the diorama will feature the crucifixion scene near the road with a skull-shaped hill in the background. Besides scriptural reasons, there are practical reasons for my decision. A crucifixion on top of a hill, while it might be visible to all, could easily be ignored by passersby thus defeating the deterrent factor of the event. To get a close-up view – and who would want to – would require extra effort making it a disincentive for gathering a crowd, thus defeating the intended purpose of the Romans. However, if the crucifixion took place on a busy road, the only way to avoid the spectacle would be to take the long way around to enter the city. A roadside crucifixion makes more sense to me.

What does that have to do with salvation? Nothing. Jesus dying for you and me on the cross and rising again on the third day matters more than the place or the position. However, there are many non-believers who will find fault with any perceived discrepancy in Scripture. As Christians, we need to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Controversies like these will come up. For example: “Jesus said He would be in the grave three days and three nights.[6] There are not three days and three nights between Friday and Sunday. The Bible is wrong!” Another example is the anointing of Jesus. “All the Gospels give accounts of Jesus’ anointing, but they are all different”[7] How would you respond to this challenge? A careful study of Scripture will reveal that there were three separate anointings; Matthew and Mark refer to one before the crucifixion, Luke recounts one before the Transfiguration, and John records one by Mary after Jesus raised her brother Lazarus after four days dead.

Other examples can be cited, but the point is that we need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) rather than relying on song lyrics, traditions, or human scholarship. Do not just read your Bible, study it!

Notes:


[1]  Matthew 5:14; Luke 1:36, 65; 3:5; 4:29; 9:37

[2]  “I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=12&v=OPByLTzkctc

[3]  “Crucifixion” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

[4]  “Where Was Jesus Crucified? – Golgotha ‘the Place of the Skull’” – https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/where-was-jesus-crucified.html

[5] “Jesus’ crucifixion site? (A ‘Skull’, Garden & Tomb)” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=-7fHnnqre1o

[6]  “Three Days, Three Nights” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/13/three-days-three-nights/

[7]  “Jesus Last Days” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2018/03/25/jesus-last-days/

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Making Time Count

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

On Tuesday of this last week, I completed my 69th lap around the sun. The Sunday before, June and I led the last lesson in the Crown ™ Do Well: The Crown Biblical Financial Study.[1] The lesson was on “Eternity,” and one of the questions we were asked to ponder was this: “Estimate the number of days you have left on earth. How does this impact your thinking?” Wow! That is a sobering thought! Psalm 90:10 brings this thought into sharp focus. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten [70]; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years [80], yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” For me, age 70 looms a mere 366 days (2020 is a leap year). And “if by reason of strength” I reach 80 years, that is only 4020 days away (there are three leap years between 2020-2030). For me, at least, that is not a lot of time. However, no one is guaranteed tomorrow; we are all living on borrowed time.

The same psalm, quoted above, offers a prayer to help us think soberly about the time we are given. “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Time is a precious asset and to squander it on frivolity[2] is poor stewardship. Frivolity opposes “wisdom.” God gives us all the freedom to “apply our hearts unto wisdom” or to apply our hearts to frivolity. That was heavy food for thought.

Then on Friday, our devotional in Days of Praise: “Redeeming the Time,”[3] by ICR’s founder, Dr. Henry M. Morris brought this thought back to mind. In the devotional, Dr. Morris points out that “time is a very valuable asset, in danger of being lost forever unless it is rescued or redeemed.” It occurs to me that we experience the “present” in nanoseconds.[4] We constantly move from the past into the future, so when we misuse time, that is lost forever. Therefore, the only way to “redeem” time is to redeem it in the “future” toward which we are moving. That requires thought and planning – always.

Dr. Morris further asserts, “If we squander our money or lose our health, there is always the possibility of earning more money or being restored to health, but wasted time is gone forever.”

As I begin my 70th trip around the sun, I want to remember what a precious commodity time is. I what to remember that the time I am given is not mine and it can be taken away from me at any time. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal … But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:19-20, 33). My time belongs to God; therefore I want to invest it wisely in His kingdom. “So teach [me] to number [my] days, that [I] may apply [my] heart unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Notes:


[1]  Crown Financial Ministries website: https://www.crown.org/

[2]  Dictionary.Com definition of : frivolous: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/frivolous

[3]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., “Redeeming the Time”: https://www.icr.org/article/11211/

[4]  “No Time Like the Present”: https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

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Things Happen

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

With the exception of those who will depart in the Rapture,[1] no one gets out of this world alive. By the same token, no one leaves this world trouble-free.[2] Everyone alive has either experienced trouble, is currently experiencing trouble or will experience trouble in the future. No one is immune.

Wednesday of this past week started out like any other morning. June and I got ready for work, had our morning prayer time together, and gave each other a parting kiss to launch the day. June usually leaves the house first, and I get the joy of giving the dog pack their dental chews and putting them out for the day. Then I follow my well-worn path toward ICR where I serve.

Wednesday was a nice day. The sunny blue skies belied the crispness of the morning air. Traffic presented the usual challenges, but it moved rather smoothly along the city streets in spite of the number of cars all jockeying for position to shave a few seconds off their commute. After several years of driving this route, my blood pressure and heart rate maintain a steady level. I just go with the flow! I fancy myself a good candidate for the NASCAR circuit. 🙂

My route takes me three miles west on Arapaho Road before jumping on the ever treacherous Central Expressway (US 75). Sometimes I take a slight detour and turn south when I get to Greenville Avenue, but this day my Garman™ GPS indicated that traffic on Central Expressway was only “Yellow,” not the usual “Red.” Carmen (the Garman™) generally gives me a pretty accurate report of highway traffic conditions, so I decided to take my chances on Central Expressway. (Actually, “expressway” is a misnomer. There is nothing “express” about Central!)

At this point, I must confess. Those of us who have the Spirit of the Living God within us have a better Navigator than any ol’ man-made GPS. That Navigator, the Holy Spirit, speaks to us if we will just pay attention. That morning, as I was approaching the intersection of Arapaho Road and Greenville Avenue, the Holy Spirit told me, “Take a left on Greenville.” However, Carmen told me traffic was good on Central. To whom did I listen? You probably guessed it; I listened to Carmen.

Traffic on Central moved at a moderate rate – between 30-40 mph – but it was flowing and not “hosed” as usual. I had no trouble slipping into the main flow of traffic. I traveled about ¼ of a mile past the Beltline Road overpass. A silver Volvo™ SUV set the pace ahead of me. A red Ford Explorer™ followed a little too closely. As we approached the Spring Valley Road exit, the Volvo™ ahead of me slowed for the car ahead. I followed at a safe distance (the two-second rule), but the brake lights queued me to brake and maintain a safe distance. Suddenly I heard that familiar horrific sound of crunching metal, and the next second my head snapped like the crack of Indiana Jones’ whip. The impact drove my “Edgy” (2017 Ford Edge™) into the back of the Volvo™. However, because I already had my foot on the brake, the impact forced me to break harder so I only “bumped” the Volvo™. The Volvo™ sustained no “visible” damage from Edgy’s front bumper.

What a way to start the day! Every effect has a cause, and this cause was a nice gentleman in his mid to late 80s. He confessed that he became distracted when he attempted to adjust his sun visor to block the bothersome sunlight (which I had enjoyed up until then). He failed to see the Ford Explorer™ braking (because I was braking) in front of him, and he hit the Explorer™ at full speed (30-40 mph). Needless to say, his 2002 Buick Le Sabre™ is a total loss. The airbags on his car deployed saving him and his wife from serious injury. Thankfully, no one sustained any serious injuries. I’m sore, and the jolt put my back and neck out of alignment, but two months of physical therapy will take care of that.

 I could be upset and angry with the old gentleman that brought all this trouble on me and two other drivers. My Edgy just has a little over 16,000 miles on it, and it has to go in for bodywork. Then there is all the hassle of dealing with the insurance companies, body shop, and the car rental place. Then to top it off, I’m looking at two months of physical therapy to get my spinal column back in alignment. I could be upset, but I’m not. Things happen. The old gentleman, even though the whole thing was his fault, probably lost the only car he has. He is probably on a fixed income, and because of the age of the car, he probably only carried liability insurance on it. That will not help him replace his car. Thankfully, neither he nor his sweet little wife were injured. She happily commented to me that she was surprised her pacemaker did not stop on her. The lady in the Explorer™ probably suffered a worse whiplash that my own. The impact to her vehicle was full-force. The impact crumpled the gas tank on her car. Thankfully it did not burst and catch fire. The frontend that met Edgy’s backend hit hard enough to burst the radiator. Her car may be totaled as well. I am sure the lady in the Volvo™ is annoyed that her bumper was scratched, and she will have to deal with having her car checked out. Everyone involved has troubles.

My leading verse says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34). The Greek word that the KJV translates as “evil” is kakia. Its primary meaning in the passive sense is “trouble.” I do not know what will come all of this, but I take Jesus’ words to heart. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself (Matthew 6:34). Along with that, I trust my “life verse,” which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). I do not know where the others involved in the wreck stand with God, but I know that I am one “called according to His purpose” because I belong to Him. Therefore, this “evil” will “work together for good,” and I do not need to fret about it. Things happen.

I look forward to seeing how God will use it for good. Perhaps this writing is just the start! 🙂

Notes:


[1]  1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

[2]  John 16:33

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Age of the Earth

“And the earth was without form and void” (Genesis 1:2)

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11)

Many Christians find it difficult to believe that the universe and the earth are only about 6000 years old. After decades of assault from all sides by evolutionists touting that billions of years of evolution are well-established scientific fact, Christian scholars, intimidated by the prospect of appearing uneducated while at the same time desiring to uphold the veracity of the Bible, seek compromises that attempt to “shoehorn” evolution into the simple text of the creation account recorded in Genesis.

Several of the compromises exist today even though solid biblical and scientific scholarship has shown them to be false. The Gap Theory,[1] for example, attempts to squeeze billions of years between Verse 1 and Verse 2 of Genesis 1 supported only by vivid imaginations and extra-biblical Jewish writings and traditions but offers zero biblical backup. The Day-Age Theory mistranslates the normal meaning of “day” into indefinitely long periods of time. The Day-Age Theory, when examined carefully and critically presents several problems. Then there is Theistic Evolution that makes out God to be some cosmic tinkerer or experimenter as if He could not get it right the first time.

Other compromises probably exist, but recently I heard a new one. Someone wrote in with the perfect solution to the age of the earth problem. He said:

I believe that the earth is young, 6000 years old, but when I look at Genesis 1: 9-10, I see that what God called the earth is DRY land, not the whole planet. In other words, it is the DRYNESS of the land that is sticking up above the surface of the seas that God had just made that is young or new or 6000 years old. This isn’t my opinion, the Bible describes this. So verses 1 and 2 plus Day 1 and Day 2 need to be interpreted using what Moses says the earth is. So you see trying use dates given by dating techniques to work out how old the ‘earth’ is a waste of time. I personally doubt that it would be possible to date the age of anything. This is because I think anything God makes would always be ‘as new’, until we get to when sin occurred here and then the flood. Using the context approach, entirely within chapter one, it is easy to see what ‘heaven’ is as well. The universe was made instantly by God’s word for sure, but that wasn’t Moses’ focus in Genesis. Another question to ask using the context approach is, ‘Why did God do what He did in Genesis One, the climax of which is Adam and Eve?

What the writer suggests is that the first two days were long periods of time – millions or billions of years, but the appearance of land on the third day is the starting point for counting the age of the earth. I can commend him for taking a hard look at Scripture, however, his disadvantage, it appears, is that he is relying strictly on the English translation of the Bible. The original language, Hebrew, makes things very clear. The Hebrew word for “day” is yôm. Yôm, in the Old Testament nearly always refers to a normal 24-hour day, especially when it is associated with an ordinal number: first day, second day, third day, etc. If that were not clear enough, God clearly defines what a day is: “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5). So, one cannot add extensive periods of time to the creation account without doing harm to the text.

Genesis 1:9-10 is another place where the English language fails to translate the Hebrew precisely. In my King James Bible, the word “land” is in italics meaning that the word was inserted in the text for clarity to the English reader. Literally, the phrase should read, “let the dry appear: and it was so. And God called the dry Earth.” (vv. 9-10). The Hebrew word translated “earth” is ‘erets, and it can mean soil, ground, land (as in a plot of land or as a region like “the land of Egypt), and in a greater sense, the planet Earth. Context determines the meaning, which makes me wonder why the translators capitalized the word “Earth” when the context is referring to the “dry land” and not to the entire planet. The conclusion that it is only the “dryness” that is 6000 years old contradicts the definition of yôm given in Verse 5 (and the rest of Scripture).

Reading in its normal context, giving the words their normal meaning, the creation account recorded in Genesis 1 clearly states that God created the universe, the earth, and everything upon the earth in six 24-hour days. One must either accept that or reject it, but woe to them who attempt to add to or take away from that Word to make it fit the whims of sinful men (Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18).

Since the writer was convinced that the 6000-year age of the earth started with the appearance of dry land, I did not expound any further on the age of the earth. However, some of the readers of this blog may still doubt since “experts” in the field of anthropology place the beginning of human history between 8000 BC and 5000 BC with “civilization” beginning around 3000 BC. According to biblical chronology, creation happened around 4000 BC, and man was “civilized” from the beginning. Many biblical scholars question this date because they fear appearing ignorant among the “experts.” The Bible presents a straightforward chronology in the “begats” cited in Genesis 5. Biblical scholars that doubt the accuracy of this chronology suggest that there may be gaps of hundreds or even thousands of years in these generations. However, a careful examination of the text reveals no such gaps. The years recorded in Genesis 5 are from event to event – from the age of the father to the birth of that son. For example, Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born or conceived (Genesis 5:3); that is 130 years from Creation. Seth was 105 years old when Enos was born or conceived (Genesis 5:6); that adds up to 235 years from Creation. Enos was 90 years old when Cainan was born or conceived (Genesis 5:9); that adds up to 325 years from Creation and so on. The table below breaks down the timeline.

Image Credit: Institute for Creation Research

[2]

Add to these the genealogies recorded in Genesis 11 (included in the table above), and we learn that Abraham was born between 1,948 to 1,985 years after Creation or around 2018 BC. The year of Abraham’s birth is pretty well established +/- 100 years, so given the chronology recorded in Genesis, all of Creation is not much more than 6000 years old. Of course, many will argue that, but their argument is against Scripture. Personally, I would be careful about challenging God on the accuracy of His Word. To question what we do not understand is one thing. To deny the veracity of God’s Word is something else altogether. According to Scripture, the Earth is only about 6000 years old.

Notes:


[1]  “No Gap” https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

[2]  JAMES J. S. JOHNSON, J.D., TH.D, “How Young Is the Earth? Applying Simple Math to Data Provided in Genesis” – http://www.icr.org/article/how-young-earth-applying-simple-math-data-provided/

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Well-Fed Birds

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:26)

This weekend I refilled the bird feeder we keep in our backyard. That last time I filled it was more than a month ago. It seems strange that the birds do not come around as often as they did in the spring. Perhaps the late August heat saps their energy so that it is too much effort to hang on a feeder and peck at the seeds inside. Perhaps the feeder would be more inviting if I put up a birdbath nearby. A nice cool bath might make them hungry.

As I filled the feeder, I thought, “These ungrateful birds! Here I drag out this 40-pound bag of seed in the heat of the day to make sure they won’t go hungry, and they don’t even bother to come around and give me the pleasure of watching them feast! That’s gratitude for you!”

Last year I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I had seen a hummingbird flying around some flowers my wife keeps out back. I told her I enjoyed watching hummingbirds, so one afternoon, she and my wife went out shopping, and my mother-in-law returned with a hummingbird feeder. She showed me how to cook up the “nectar,” and we hung the feeder in the small live oak we have out back. Not a single hummingbird came to suck on the fake flowers. In fact, I have not seen any more hummingbirds around my wife’s real flowers. This year we tried it again and never got a single visitor. I wonder if my dogs are scaring the birds away?

As I mused on this while filling the bird feeder with fresh seed, I remembered what Jesus said about how the Father cares for birds. They do not sow or reap, yet the Father feeds them. He does such a great job of feeding them that apparently, the birds do fine without my feeder or me. That’s humbling!

You may know that I work for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). Right now, ICR is in the middle of building the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. The generosity of our donors funds the $30-million plus project. God, working through His people, has provided the funds when they are needed and in the exact amount that is needed. Dr. Henry M. Morris III, our CEO, determined that the project will be completed without debt. So far, God has proven faithful, and we trust He will continue to be faithful.

The Discovery Center needs a little under $5-million to finish the project and open in the spring of 2019. Dr. Henry and I were talking about this last week, and Jesus’ words came to mind. God provides for His birds, and He will provide for us too. Dr. Henry told me that he has put out a lot of effort “fundraising,” but the funds have consistently come from sources he did not seek – kind of like me putting seed in the bird feeder but the birds are getting fed elsewhere. It reminded me that even though God provides for the birds, the birds still have to search and find their food. They do not sit in the tree with their beaks open to the sky expecting God to drop food into their mouths. That is a lesson for us. God does provide for us, but He expects us to do our part too.

By the way, the birds are not ungrateful. They show their gratitude to God by being exactly what God created them to be. We can show our gratitude to God in the same way. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2)

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Filed under Christianity, Random Musings, Theology

Intelligent Design

The “Simple” Cell

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: (Jeremiah 32:17)

The Intelligent Design Movement (IDM) originated around 1987, according to Wikipedia,[1] for the purpose of debunking the theory of evolution from a strictly scientific perspective. Wikipedia says that IDM “is a neo-creationist religious campaign for broad social, academic and political change to promote and support the pseudoscientific idea of intelligent design (ID), which asserts that ‘certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection’” (emphasis mine). One must consider the source! Wikipedia charges that the “movement arose out of the previous Christian fundamentalist and evangelistic creation science movement in the United States, and is driven by a small group of proponents. The overall goal of the intelligent design movement is to overthrow materialism and atheism” (emphasis mine). The author takes a defensive posture against IDM and tends to minimize the scientific research behind the movement.

One of the more familiar IDM organizations is the Discovery Institute founded in 1991 and based in Seattle, Washington. According to their “About” page, the institute is “dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.  Discovery Institute has a special concern for the role that science and technology play in our culture and how they can advance free markets, illuminate public policy and support the theistic foundations of the West.”[2] That seems innocuous enough. It certainly does not come across as overly religious unless one harbors a hypersensitivity to theism (which is a very broad and general term).

Through the years, IDM has made great strides in promoting origin of life by intelligent design over random-chance evolutionary processes.[3] Their research demonstrates the impossibility of life springing from non-life. They have shown how even the simplest of life form is so irreducibly complex that it would require an all-or-nothing simultaneous assemblage of all the components to make up a single cell, and not only once, but multiplied billions of times. In an article written for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), David Rosevear writes:

“… the cell is no longer regarded as simple. The living plasma membrane allows in or out only specific compounds. It is not simply a semi-permeable membrane. Cells contain nucleic acids that carry information about the structure and functions of the organism. They also contain ribosomes where proteins are made using a complex mechanism of nucleic acids and more than a hundred different proteins, each with a specific task. The cell also contains mitochondria where energy (ATP) is produced. The complexity of all these parts of the cell is enormous. Lynn Margulis has suggested that the first proto-cell assimilated these organelles by a process of symbiosis. However, these components cannot now exist independently, nor could the cell exist without their contributions. Moreover, one such type of organelle, known as a lysosome, contains enzymes whose function is to digest foreign bodies. With all the amazingly complex, mutually-dependent components, it seems that the cell had to be complete from the beginning, rather than being assembled piecemeal over years of evolution … Each component of a living cell is breathtakingly complex, yet in isolation it cannot survive nor replicate itself. All the parts of the cell are necessary to its functioning and replication. Nothing works until everything works.”[4] (Emphasis mine)

Recently, the church where I attend invited James M. Tour, Ph.D.,[5] a well-known organic chemist and tenured professor at Rice University, to come and speak on the impossibility of abiogenesis – life from non-life. Dr. Tour began his talk by touting his credentials as a “real” scientist as evidenced by his research and many patents in nano-engineering. He was by no means bragging; he was just stating facts. I spoke to him both before and after his talk, and he is a genuinely humble man, but the fact remains that he is extremely intelligent and gifted. Next, he gave his testimony of how he came to faith in Christ. I was very impressed that before beginning his talk, he took a knee and offered a prayer that God would open the eyes and hearts of the skeptics who might be in the audience. (The church sent to area schools.)

After giving his testimony, he opened the final portion of his talk by stating that from that point on, he would not bring God into the picture. His purposed to disprove evolution by abiogenesis by demonstrating the scientific evidence against it. He read from his “Open Letter to My Colleagues” (not yet published) where he calls the origin of life from non-life a “retarded” theory. “Retarded” because it has not advanced since the Urey-Miller experiments of 1953. He expertly demonstrated how life – even simple life – cannot spontaneously come from random chemical reactions. He pointed out how time is the enemy of slow and gradual evolution. If it is going to happen at all, it must happen all at once.

Tour says he prefers to be “free of that intelligent design label … I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (sometimes called “ID”) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might.”[6] However, like most IDM proponents, he destroys the theory of evolution (life from non-life), but offers nothing substantive to take its place. A public pronouncement of God as the Intelligent Creator is a step too far for him, although on a personal level he may hold and profess that belief. In fact, for Dr. Tour, organizations such as ICR are an embarrassment to both the scientific and Christian community since they rely on Scripture above “science.” Tour wants to maintain a purely “scientific” approach to the question of origins to the exclusion of a supernatural act of creation by Almighty God.

In his 1999 article, David Rosevear said everything Dr. Tour said in his talk.  The difference being that Rosevear attributes the origin of life to God. I suspect that Dr. Tour believes in God as Creator; he is just unwilling to take that stand among his peers.

Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). What one believes concerning the origin of life is not a salvation issue. Dr. Tour professes to be a Christian and his personal testimony is compelling; of course, that confession was made in a friendly venue. Outside of that, how can a Christ-indwelled “believer” question creation by the very One in which he confesses to trust? “All things were made by him [the Word; Jesus]; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). I do not question Dr. Tour’s salvation; only God can judge the heart. I find no flagrant flaw in his testimony. [7] My only issue with him is that he makes a great case for the impossibility of chemical evolution, but then he leaves it at that. If life could not have originated in that way, then how did it originate? If chance randomness cannot account for the precision in the design of even the simplest cell, then how did that design come about? It must have an intelligent source. He will not say, at least not publicly. That is a shame!

IDM makes a great case against evolution and demonstrates how all life shows intelligent design. However, by refusing to proclaim God as the Intelligent Designer, they leave to door open to all kinds of fanciful possibilities. Some in the ID movement go so far as to propose “seeding” of the earth by ancient aliens; but that only pushes the question of origins further out in outer space. All life, indeed all that exists, originated in the mind of One Intelligent Designer – God.[8] “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Institute for Creation Research may be an embarrassment to the likes of Dr. James M. Tour, but at least they are not ashamed to proclaim God as Creator, and the Bible as infallible and inerrant in all matters of life including science. I pray that Dr. Tour will soon arrive at that conclusion as well.

Notes:


[1]  “Intelligent Design Movement” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement

[2]  Discovery Institute “What We Do” – http://www.discovery.org/about/

[3]  “The Fallacy of Time And Chance” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/06/06/the-fallacy-of-time-and-chance-13/

[4]  David Rosevear, “The Myth Of Chemical Evolution” – http://www.icr.org/article/myth-chemical-evolution/

[5]  James M. Tour – https://www.jmtour.com/

[6]  James M. Tour, “Evolution/Creation” – https://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/evolution-creation/

[7]  James M. Tour, “Personal Statement” – https://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/personal-statement/

[8]  “Proof of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/06/22/proof-of-god/

 

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Creation, Evolution, Origins, Religion, Science