Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Top 10 Misconceptions About Evolution

Recently, I listened to an interview with Jerry Coyne, who is a prominent professor of Biology.  He was being interviewed about the subject of evolution and the interviewer asked him to answer 10 misunderstandings people have about Evolution.  I'm not a scientist.  But, to understand Evolution you don't have to be; it's really that simple.  Yet, people greatly struggle with it.

As a conservative Bible believing Christian for many years, I was taught that evolution was wrong and it was an expression of man's attempt to be his own god.  I agreed, based on Romans 1:18-23.  I was also convinced that it was in direct conflict with Original Sin, which is the basis for the atonement of Jesus (Romans 5).  If there is no Adam and Eve to originate from, then where does sin come from?  As a pastor and Bible teacher my response was to create doubt about Evolution.  Some of the misconceptions addressed by Coyne are ways to introduce doubt about the Theory.  Here are the ten misconceptions that Coyne answered in his interview (this is a combination of my thoughts and Coyne's answers):

1.  Evolution is only a Theory.  The term, "theory" in science refers to a framework and a concept that is open to continued input.  It does not mean that it is an issue of faith or that it is in question.  In science gravity is a "theory" and so is bacteria.  No one questions the reality of gravity or bacteria.  Evolution is a well established concept just like gravity.  It works and is the basis for modern medicine and biology.  It is well established as factual, though not completely understood.  But neither is gravity or bacteria.

2.  Evolution is not observable and therefore not scientific.  Yes, it is observable today.  We are transitional forms, but change within our species is not so noticeable because we live long lives.  But, in fruit flies, bacteria, and insects, whose life span is very brief, evolution is very noticeable.  These creatures adapt to their environments though mutations and natural selection which changes DNA in subsequent generations.  And, it is not just microevolution, but macroevolution.  It is observable in DNA codes, which can be traced back to previous species.  So, technically, you don't have to observe it in a creature historically, or see fossilized transitional forms.  All that is needed is DNA.

3.  Dating methods are not trustworthy.  Yes they are... Google it.  "But what about the clams that were tested and found to be 20,000 years old?  You see, dating methods are unreliable."  Clams and snails ingest carbon off rocks that is 20,000 years old, or how ever many years the carbon has been on the rocks.  Plus, testing processes are getting better all the time with new technology.

4.  Mutations are not beneficial.  Mutations are "one-offs" in the DNA code.  Whether beneficial or not, they will either adapt to their surroundings, die off, or get turned off.  If the mutation works to help a living organism, then the mutation will pass on.  That new characteristic in the code will become normative for it's off spring.

5.  The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics cannot support evolution.  This is the idea of entropy.  Everything is wearing down, deteriorating, winding down, etc.  This is true, but energy was introduced to this planet in the form of the Sun's heat, mixed with water and other elements that have allowed life to generate and evolve.  It does not effect evolution presently.  Some day the Sun will burn out or die and then this world as we know it will end.  But, until then life is drawing from a mix of energy sources.

6.  There are no transitional forms.  Yes there are.  There are many forms.  There are primate skulls and some skeletal remains that indicate progressive change in primates.  There is clear progression of at least one primate species to human, just as Darwin predicted before bones were even found in Africa.  There will never be a half man, half ape creature, as Creationists often caricaturize with fabricated cartoon pictures.  Evolution does not work that way, because it is a slow and progressive change.  There are many other transitional forms found that you can look up on line.  Of course, there are still other primates because they took a different track on the tree of life than humans. 

7.  The eye is too complex to have evolved.  I can't explain here in any detail, but it has been shown how eyes developed.  While it is complex, it is easy to see how it could happen over time, starting with light sensitive skin.  Those creatures that could identify shapes to begin with had an advantage and so the rest of the creatures that could not see anything died off and creatures that could see became dominant and it developed in a progressive fashion from there.  Lots of good explanations for this in literature. 

8.  There is no proof that life evolved from nothing.  Abiogenesis is the study of the origin of life.  Evolution is the study of the progress of life.  Evolution does not concern itself with origin of life, but only with the origin of species.  No one knows how life began, but many scientists think that they will be able to create life in a lab within the next 50 years.  To date, all efforts have failed.  Sure, you can interject God in to the equation and that is fine, but it is likely that there is a natural explanation.  If not, then great, God is the author of evolution.

9.  Morals cannot come from evolution.  Animals have the capacity for altruism (Read, "The Emotional Lives Of Animals") and that characteristic was selected in creatures for communal survival.  Thus, many animals have a form of altruism or care for their own due to it's survival requirement.  As humans we have refined this in to morals. 

10.  Evolution is chance and chance cannot make life as we know it today.  It is too complex.  This is one of the greatest caricatures of Evolution.  What I hear from skeptics goes something like this, "believing in evolution is like all the parts of a 747 just whipping together in a whirlwind to form a jet plane."  That is what evolution requires to get human life.  It takes more faith to believe that than to believe in creation."  First of all, in evolution we are talking about an organic process.  Second, it does not happen suddenly, but over a very long process of one thing building on another.  Third, it is partly random chance and partly natural selection.  Chance is when DNA mutates, which would be expected.  It's organic, so it will have glitches and changes in the code on a regular basis as the code is passed on from one generation to the next.  But, if those changes or glitches are advantageous to the environment in which that being exists, then it will become a normal feature of that being's DNA code (natural selection) and will become part of the DNA in successive living beings.  The fact is, humans have a huge quantity of DNA code that is mutated and then "turned off" due to natural selection.  It "didn't make the cut," so to speak.  The vestiges of characteristics are there, but not working, since they were selected by nature not to continue on.  This is partly how scientists know we are related to other creatures with similar DNA.  We can trace our DNA back to previous species. 

Evolution is not a faith, but it is hard to accept.  Though it is complex, like nature, it is a simple process.  Along with it's conflict with the Bible, it's a "counterintuitive" concept to think that we could come from lower life forms. 

Conclusion:

Here is my point. The Theory of Evolution, as it is actually understood, should not be kept out of anyone's education.  Even if you believe in a Bible that is inerrant and inspired and infallible. The reason for this is that people will eventually get the real story and then they may leave their faith system all together; feeling deceived.  At least be fair in teaching the truth about what Evolution actually means.  You can still have your faith and not "agree" with the concept.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Review: "Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now"

I don't have the time to do justice to a full review of this book.  I'm just taking a few minutes to comment on this well written book on the hot subject of whether or not governement should be in the business of business.  Indeed, it is a "white hot" debate.

Many people today would have us believe that governement should not have a role in American life, except for law, order and protection.  But here is a book written by a true blue free enterprise capitalist, Felix Rohatyn, who is a strong advocate for government's involvement in America's business.  In fact, his thesis is that our government built this country and it is the reason we have excelled among the nations of the world.

This is actually a history book describing how the government made us the great country we are by giving our nation the following:  The Louisiana Purchase, The Erie Canal, The Transcontinental Railroad, The Land Grant Colleges, The Homestead Act, The Panama Canal, The Rural Electrification Administration, The Reconstruction Finance Corporation, The G.I. Bill, and The Interstate Highway System.  Rohatyn devotes a chapter to each of these government "intrusions" in to the life of Americans and how they added great wealth to the people of America.

Rothatyn's fear is that we have forgotten these facts of history and our selfishness and lack of visionary leadership has squelched the collective resolution of this country to continue to be great among the nations.

In each chapter, he shows how great the opposition was to these individual government programs in the time in which they were being pushed to the front lines of American economics.  In each case, people and politicians complained that these programs would bankrupt us, disturb our already fragile economy, or that they would be intrusions on American freedom.  They were not very popular at the time.  There was every reason given to "not" follow through on these programs.   

It took courage and vision for America's leaders to make each of these programs a reality.  In each case, America prospered due to the implimentation, visionary leadership and financing of these programs. 

As one case in point, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of our country, giving us the potential for expansion and ownership of great natural resources.  We had to take out loans with fat cat banks from Europe that we would be indebted to for many years.  People thought that Jefferson gave our nation away in this purchase and that he broke the constitution doing it.  But in fact, we paid our debt and not only did we increase the value of our country through property, we increased our integrity among the great nations of Europe because we faithfully paid our debt.

Rothatyn writes each chapter as a rising crescendo to say in his last chapter, American government must once again take the lead.  He identifies the greatest challenge of our generation to be the crumbling and outdated infrastructure of our nation.  He advocates that a government commission should be established by the federal government to put forth a vision, plan and financial means to rebuild our country from the inside out.  It will take many trillions, but if well orchestrated it will save us from the doom of many illnesses.

Read the book.  See for yourself.  Make your own conclusions.  But, by all means, read the book.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

OUR NEW BUSINESS!

We have started a new business called, Staub Construction Services LLC. We do all kinds of remodeling, but with a specialization in hardwood flooring installation, finishing, and refinishing. Check out our new web site at: www.staubconstructionservices.com

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Spirit of John Muir

We all have heroes of the past that we admire for their exploits, writings and works. Referring to long passed writers one of my friends said, "all my best friends are dead!" My best dead friend is John Muir. Sure, like all heroes of the past he is immortalized. But if I was on a backpacking trip with him in 1900 I would expect to identify at least one flaw. He wasn't perfect. I am fully aware that I have idealized the man, yet he was special in his time and has become a great inspiration to me for a variety of reasons; especially for his spiritual view of nature.

Muir was a prolific nature writer

Muir was raised by a devout Bible believing father.
Young John was trained to work hard on his father's Wisconsin farm, as well as in his Bible lessons. But, John did not swallow the Bible whole, as his father desired for him. Rather, John took the atmosphere of the Bible and left behind its stories and theology. He had a love for God, which he learned about first from the Bible and then through nature. He ferreted out of the Bible what made sense to him about God and he left the rest behind.

He never developed an appreciation for organized religion of any kind. Nature and the mountains were his temple, the place where he went to meet with God. He once wrote,

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. "

And,

"Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean."

And,

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."

The language of his writings remind me of a Biblical prophet or an evangelist, evidence that he kept the atmosphere of the Bible. Indeed, Muir was a prophet and an evangelist, but of the wilderness rather than the Bible. Since Muir rejected the theology of the Bible I am more in line with the nature theology of another dead friend, Martin Luther, who said, "God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars." But, it is not clear to me that Muir ever rejected Christ along with his rejection of religion and the Bible.

There are many who have misunderstood Muir. He was not a pantheist, as nature pantheists prefer to interpret Muir's writings. No, from his writings we can at least see that he believed in a transcendent God who created the world. He believed that natural forces set in place by God created the glaciers, mountains and trees. God was at work in nature and you could see and experience God through what we call, nature.

He wasn't a theologian, nor a philosopher, but a naturalist. We can't go to his writings to get a clear theological treatment of God in nature anymore than we can go to the writings of Mother Theresa to learn about the Trinity.

Muir was a mountain mystic who painted nature with the brush of his words. In his writings he went beyond his naturalism to create word paintings that inspire us to look deeper in to nature than it's mere physical features and function. He illustrates God in and through nature, so that we might partake of God's majesty and power. As a mountain mystic he exhorted us to see nature as he saw it, a sacrament of God. This is the spirit of John Muir.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Cheers for the Bible

I read a blog post at Lady Atheist entitled, "Top Ten Grievances Against The Bible." You can read it here. I would like to respond point by point to that post with my, "Top Ten Cheers for the Bible." Here I go:1. The Bible has stood the test of time as the authority for God's people because it is remarkably accurate historically and has displayed an amazing unanimity between its authors. The transmission of the Old Testament text by the Masorites and the New Testament text by early copyists is a testament to the divine guidance of this holy book. No other ancient documents can boast such amazing success in its transmission. The copyist errors, and there are many, amount to nothing significant. 99% of them are spelling or word omission/misplacement. The Dead Sea Scrolls were a wonderful testimony to the faithful transmission of the Old Testament.

2. The Bible is remarkably consistent with itself. From cover to cover there is one message, God wants to redeem the world and the Bible displays his plan to do so. When I hear people speak of its inconsistencies and contradictions I find that they either have not studied the texts or they are projecting a bias against the text. In other words, they prefer to see contradiction rather than finding the natural harmonization. The two creation stories are only written with a different perspective in mind without being in conflict at all. the four gospels and the two genealogies of Jesus are not in conflict once you see why they were written and who the audience is that the writer is addressing.

3. The Bible's presentation of God is majestic and awe inspiring. He is worthy of worship, respect and adoration. It is wonderful to have such a God to worship and admire, because as humans we need and want such a God. A great God lifts humanity up in greatness. Sure, He's tough and at times wrathful. But, the same degree to which God hates sin and judges those who are unrepentant, he is amazingly loving, kind and forgiving. In the atonement of Christ we find both the fullness of God's wrath toward sin and his love for mankind. Both are startling.

Sure, we don't want to be on the side of His wrath. It's awful. But, we do want to partake of the amazing graciousness and kindness of God found in Christ's sacrificial death. There is nothing comparable to the love of God in Christ. Nothing!

I find that people who despise the Biblical God by citing certain texts that show his, so called "brutality," are only declaring a distorted picture of Him, because they do not see the composite picture of God that the whole Bible presents.

4. The Bible presents miracles that amazed the most skeptical people and substantiated the claims of Christ. I don't buy the argument that people in Biblical times were so steeped in superstition that we cannot trust their claims to have seen real miracles. Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke, was a physician and had a scientific mind. Just read his introduction! Of all the disciples Thomas was a hold out and doubted that Jesus was resurrected, but Jesus came to him and convinced him with evidence (I can identify with Thomas). According to Paul, 500 people claimed to have seen the risen Christ. People who were widely known to have been dead, such as Lazarus in John 11, were raised from the dead. The writers of these events, contrary to the claim that they were "superstitious," went out of there way to show that these miraculous events were substantiated by "eyewitness" observation. This is impirical evidence which is scientific, not superstitious.

Why don't we see these kind of miracles today? The best answer is that they happened at a time when it was important to establish the claims of Christ and the Apostles. Once the Bible was completed miracles disappeared. I call it a, "phasing out." The early church fathers did not claim miracles and they didn't seem to have a problem that they stopped. That's just history!

So, why weren't the miracles and resurrection of Jesus corroborated outside of the Bible? You don't find much in the secular historical record and that is a fact, as well. There might have been a lot of literature written about Jesus and the activities of the Apostles in secular writings, but they were lost to us. When Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans in 70AD all literature in the city was destroyed along with the buildings. It's a theory, but I think it's reasonable to think that a lot of "secular" literature about early Christianity went up in smoke with Jerusalem.

5. The Bible is a reliable revelation of God's will for mankind. People malign the Bible as a divinely inspired book. After all, wasn't it written by men who wrote with different motivations, ideas, and from different perspectives? So, how can it be a book from God? I simply see that God used these differences to communicate what he wanted. People wrote from their perspective, in their language, within their cultures, and with their own intentions as they understood God. However, all that they wrote was all superintended by God so that what they wrote was God's word. God's normal modus operandi in the Bible is to work though people. Why is this so unbelievable? We are not robots, but free agents who are used by God. Also, those who want to reject the Bible as a revelation of God will often speak of people in Biblical times as superstitious, psychotic, or schizophrenic to account for miracles, dreams, and voices from God. But, that is purely an argument from silence.

6. The Bible is not contradicted by science, but substantiated by science! I'm not saying it's a science book, it's not intended to provide all knowledge of all things. It's a book intended to communicate God's will, period! However, as an example, Archeologists have successfully used the Bible to find ancient cities buried under thousands of years of dirt; cities that were once thought to be mythological.

It is often pointed out that the Bible reinforces unscientific ideas, such as the Bible referring to the sun rising and setting, rather than accurately communicating that the earth revolves around the sun. True, but the Bible is often written in phenomenological language, so it speaks of nature as humans experience it; not as it is scientifically. Nothing wrong with that, we still speak and write this way in our "scientific" times.

What about evolution? The Bible speaks of man as a creation by fiat, not evolution. As a matter of fact we don't know any more about the origin of man by evolutionary process than we do about the creation by fiat - scientifically, that is! Both the evolutionist and the creationist have to take the origin of man by faith. While the scientific method has displayed the possibility of evolution within species, it has not proven the origin of man by evolution.

7. In Jesus the Bible provides a solution to the problem that we humans have always agonized over. It's in all the great literature of ancient and modern history. Because of the short life we live, the suffering we experience, and calamitous world we live in, we naturally crave a hero to rescue us from this misery. The Bible displays Jesus as a dying and rising savior who rescues us from our plight. But, it's been well established that there were a number of ancient hero gods much like Jesus of the Bible, such as Mithra. but, to me, this does not destroy my faith by proving that Jesus was a copy or just another mythical hero. On the contrary. First of all, if there is a Satan, and I believe there is, wouldn't it be reasonable to think that he would counterfeit Jesus with other similar identities? Satan is not going to try to thwart Christianity with something totally opposite, but he's smart, so he uses counterfeit tactics. Also, it might be just as reasonable to understand these saviors previous to Jesus as simply foreshadows of the real thing to come, Jesus. Furthermore, these other characters were not historical figures, as was Jesus, who is rooted in history. And furthermore, the whole Bible, from cover to cover, ties itself to Jesus the Messiah and his heroic sacrifice for mankind on the cross. There isn't any story comparable in history. In other words, I am saying that all others are either counterfeits or foreshadows of the reality in Jesus.

8. The Bible gives hope of redemption to the worst offenders. The Bible records the conversion to Christianity of a Jewish Rabbi in training, who at one time was helping to execute Christians. Then, the Bible contains more New Testament books written by this man for the good of the Church than any other person. His name was Paul. Contrary to the growing popular belief that Paul never believed in a historical Jesus, Paul met Jesus and spoke more about his historical crucifixion than any other New Testament writer! Read Paul's letters for yourself, folks. Don't suck down the disinformation being spread around the internet about Paul. It's irresponsible.

Also, in Paul's books to the Romans and Galatians we have a tour de force presentation of the great doctrine of grace, of which we would know precious little without his exposition of this doctrine in these books.

This is the kind of God that I like, a God that would forgive a repentant murderer of Christians and then make him the greatest defender and proponent of Christianity in the New Testament. Paul has become the premiere example of salvation by grace to billions of Christians. The God of the Bible loves to take worthless, degenerate, obnoxious, prideful, morally ugly people, and then bring them to a repentance that changes both them and the world around them.

9. The Bible contains perhaps the most beloved book by Christians, the Gospel of John. It is so loved because of it's clear message of Christ's nature as God and his atoning death for us on the cross. This book smashes to pieces the popular liberal orientation that Jesus was just a great moral teacher, or an apocalyptic prophet, or the messiah who came to be the king of the Jews. The Gospel of John presents Jesus as God Himself breaking in to this sin sick world to lay down his life for mankind. John's Gospel is indeed, "The Good News!"

10. The Bible provides a needed moral compass for humanity. The 10 commandments were not just for Christians or Jews, but all humanity. Without the 10 commandments and the absolute moral standards communicated in the Bible we would be living in a sea of anarchy driven by what ever conflicting standards people choose to live by. The Bible's ethics, despite what atheists claim, is the basis for our modern jurisprudence.

In the last several years atheists against Christianity have been loudly charging that the God of the Bible is a brutal and capricious ogre. It seems to have become part of the Atheist's Gospel. It is claimed that He orders the executions of men, women and children, sanctions child sacrifice, and is blood thirsty. I almost have to keep from laughing when I hear of these charges, because these charges are caricatures of God, like one of those twisted cartoon sketches comedic artists draw of us at the fair. All of our features are distorted to make us look exaggerated. That's what is being done with God in this case.

God never sanctioned or condoned child sacrifice. The story of Jephtha supposedly sacrificing his daughter, recorded in Judges, is misunderstood. God explicitly commanded His people not to practice such sacrifices. In context there are other explanations of what happened. As for the "blood thisty" charge against God, I think it's misunderstood. It's not the blood itself that is important, but that the blood represents life. Jesus gave his life as a sacrifice for us, not his blood. Christians were never told to drink blood. The drinking of the blood of Jesus was symbolic and never to be taken literally. I guess one has to appreciate figurative language to understand this. As for the killing of the men, women and children in the book of Joshua, it was in fact commanded by God. How's that for not beating around the bush? But, just to put things in perspective let me add two things: 1) God was purging evil from the land to make way for God's people who were to be holy. They were to be a light of holiness and goodness and well being to the nations around them. Once in the land they were called upon by God to care for those around them by taking in and helping the "strangers" in the land, not killing all of them off but welcoming them. 2) The greater truth in this story is that every one of us ought to be condemned and snuffed out just like the Amalakites. The only reason God hasn't plowed all of us under is that he is gracious and long suffering with us. We ought to be glad we have any kind of peace, love and happiness in our lives, for by his standards we don't deserve it. We can either be angry at God for doing such a "brutal thing," or we can stand in awe of his justice and be amazed that he is so gracious with us to provide a path of acceptance and forgiveness.

I can go on and on with each of these top 10 cheers for the Bible, but I would rather answer questions or handle criticisms if you have any.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Pursuit of Virtue Over Happiness

I listened to a great pod cast by Psychologist Jordan Peterson on, "The Necessity of Virtue." You can listen to it on line for free at, Big Ideas Podcasts. You can access it here. This is a lecture that everyone will appreciate who is interested in understanding and solving our most basic human problem, suffering.

Peterson's point is that our modern pursuit of happiness is an invalid goal for life, because life is inherently about suffering. We might experience happiness, but only at unique and special times in our lives. We all get sick, suffer emotional and metaphysical troubles, and eventually die. There is no utopian life or magic button to press that can provide happiness as a sustained experience in life.

He explains that all the great world religions and timeless cultural stories teach us that suffering is endemic to life. Buddhism defines life itself as suffering. Judaism and Christianity teach that the fall of Adam and Eve brought suffering to us as a constancy, rather than an intermittent or exceptional experience.

In light of this fact we ought to pursue virtue, which can give us a sustained sense of fulfillment, or overarching satisfaction about life, in the face of suffering. Trying to transcend our own suffering by pursuing happiness as a goal for life will only lead to self loathing, despair, and anxiety. Then, as a consequence of this personal "hell" of despair, one digresses so easily in to doing evil.

He sites Nazi Germany as evidence that normal people can slip in to evil by not accepting life as it is. During the 20s and 30s in Germany, when life was hard and national pride had been crushed by the first world war, the German people chose to live as deluded cowards by not accepting their own suffering as part and parcel of life.

Could this very problem be a factor in the genesis of Jared Loughner's act of evil in Tuscon? It has been observed time and again, "There is a thin veneer of civility in all humans."

What Peterson means by virtue
is living a life of authentic goodness. To live such a life one must accept suffering as the price for life and transcend its despair by getting outside of self- consciousness and seeking to live truthfully in the context of the suffering life.

When one accepts that life "will be" a hard knock then there is no need to fool ourselves and others by trying to be something we are not, or cannot be. It is to accept ourselves as limited, finite, and vulnerable beings. Once we accept life as it is then we will be less prone to doing evil because we are finding fulfillment in being authentic and less self-absorbed.

As a Christian I appreciate Dr. Peterson's, accurate, honest, and realistic portrayal of life. It also happens to be very Biblical. It is the reason I became a Christian in the first place. Christianity has a satisfactory explanation for why life is the way it is and Peterson expounds it accurately.

However, while I think Peterson accurately identifies the problem, he offers an incomplete solution.
It seems to me that Peterson can only go so far as to encourage us to "fool" reality. In his concept of pursuing virtue over happiness he is teaching Existentialism 101. Watch a Woody Allen movie, such as Hannah and Her Sisters, and you will get an entertaining picture of man's problem of suffering and the Existentialists solution, which amounts to masking it. One can cover over personal and social problems with Peterson's solution, but the problem is still there and the destination of death is ever present. So, who are you really fooling?

Without taking anything away from Peterson, I would add that we accept our lot in life as suffering beings and after realizing it's stinging truth, accept the life saver that God offers us. The life saver is Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and was resurrected to provide a way for us to escape the ultimate destiny of this life; death.

True Virtue is to live our lives with the life saver in mind.
In this way we not only transcend suffering, but also its culmination of death.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

He is There and He is not Silent

Many years ago I read a book by Francis Schaffer entitled, "He is There and He is not Silent." It is a philosophical treatment of the existence of God. Schaffer's argument is that God is real and he reveals himself to us in a variety of ways. However, he may not reveal himself as we would like.

I for one like evidence and I like tangible truth. Perhaps that's why I so much enjoy nature, science, and wilderness. In the natural world we see the results of God's creative power, as if he were a painter and the earth was His canvas.

The Scriptures tell us that God reveals himself in two basic ways: In The Scriptures and in creation. We distinguish between these two forms of revelation by referring to creation as God's General Revelation of Himself and the Scriptures as God's Special Revelation of Himself. Creation is a visible and tangible expression of God, but it cannot specifically tell us things about God and his will. The Scriptures do that for us. Psalm 19 is the great passage in the Scriptures that teach us this.

Is it any wonder that Christians tend to have a great appreciation for nature and wilderness education? When we head out in to the woods and mountains it's as if God were calling out to the Christian, "here I am, my beloved!"

When Job struggled with the issue of suffering he asked, as we all do in times of suffering, "God, where are you? Why will you not talk to me and explain to me why this is happening to me?!" God's answer to Job was, "Job, look at my creation! Look at what I have made!" God proceeded to give Job a tour de force of the greatness of His creation and it quelled Job's thirst to understand and know God. After that experience with God and his creation, Job found peace and restoration.

It was John Muir, the mountain mystic, who said, "let us go to the mountains and receive their glad tidings!" Indeed, when I want to experience the power, greatness, and majesty of my God, that's where I go.