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December, 2009:

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Psalm 19 tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” This may mean more than we realize. John 1:14 claims, “. . .we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” From the context we learn he is referring to Jesus Christ, the visible glory of the Father. Thus we could truthfully say, “The heavens declare Jesus Christ.”

In a fascinating book entitled, The Witness of the Stars, author E.W. Bullinger traces the stars of the Zodiac from ancient history, long before Greek mythology corrupted their meaning. The word ‘Zodiac’ actually comes from a Hebrew root meaning a way or path. Modern reliance on the Zodiac for guidance is idolatry and forbidden in Scripture (Deut. 4:19). But is astrology a corruption of the testimony about Christ? Bullinger says it is.

To show where the circle of the Zodiac was to begin, the Sphinx of Egypt was built as a permanent bookmark. It has a head of a woman, depicting Virgo, and the body of a Lion, depicting Leo. Virgo speaks of the virgin birth of Christ and Leo of His ultimate reign as King of the earth.

Virgo was pictured with a branch in her right hand, and stalks of grain in her left. The word ‘Branch’ is used prophetically of Christ, speaking of His four aspects as King (Jer. 23:5), servant (Zech. 3:8), man (Zech. 6:12), and God (Isaiah 4:2), the same four focuses of the four Gospels. The grain harks back to Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed”, speaking of the conflict with Satan and his ultimate defeat at the cross.

The first constellation in Virgo explains that this coming ‘Branch’ would be a child, the “Desired One.” The ancient name for this star is Coma and means ‘longed for, desired.’ (see Psalm 63:1) Haggai predicts the coming of Christ thus: “The desire of all nations shall come.” (2:7) The Persian name denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy, whose name in Hebrew is IHESU and in Greek CHRISTOS. Tradition said that when this “Desire of all nations” was born, a bright star would appear in the woman’s arms. Three hundred years ago Thomas Hyde wrote that Zoroaster was a pupil of Daniel and predicted a new star would appear, signaling the arrival of the child they were to adore. When the wise men saw that star, they took the long, dangerous journey to worship the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy (Matt. 2:10). They claimed, “We have seen HIS star (while) in the east and are come to worship Him.” (Matt. 2:2) This child is both the divine Branch, and the human seed (Is. 9:6). He is the God-man, Jesus Christ. As such He both could and did die for the sins of the world to provide eternal life for all who trust in Him.

Privileged Planet

Recently I watched a fascinating video entitled, Privileged Planet, based on a book by the same name. The book is the joint effort of Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University, and Jay Richards, Vice President and Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Both of these men were suspicious that natural selection could not account for the apparent design present in the universe and wrote the book based on one aspect of this suspicion.

Lest some reading this think intelligent design is another angle to creationism, consider this. In answer to the question, “Is intelligent design the same as creationism?” the answer given is, “No. The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the ‘apparent design’ in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations.” (intelligentdesign.org) So, this book is the work of a scientist and a philosopher who are trying to draw rational conclusions from the data about the subject of origins.

The book and video focus on twenty factors about earth that make it uniquely able to sustain complex life as it does. For example, in our solar system, earth alone is in a position for complex life to exist. If earth were closer to the sun, the gravitational pull would cause earth to rotate more slowly, and eventually only once in each revolution (year). This would make life impossible on both sides. If it were further away, the earth would not be warm enough to sustain life. The inhabitable zone is further away from the sun than Venus, but closer than Mars. The liquid iron core gives the earth a magnetic field that shields us from cosmic radiation. The moon stabilizes earth’s 23.5º tilt which is needed for seasons and tempering the climate. The atmosphere is a protection from radiation, the correct combination of oxygen and nitrogen for liquid water to be in abundance, and perfect for life to continue. Of 70 bodies studied, only of earth can this be said.

Further, these same factors make it possible to actually study and learn about our earth and other objects in space. In other words, the earth is both an ideal place for life to exist, and it is also an ideal place to observe and learn about the moon, the solar system, and the universe around us. Gonzalez began considering this idea when observing the 51 seconds of a total eclipse of the sun from a location in India. Though the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, it ‘happens’ to be 400 times closer than the sun. Thus their relative sizes in the sky are almost identical. Because of this we are able, during a solar eclipse, to observe the sun and other stars normally blotted out by the sun. Gonzalez studied 65 other bodies and concluded that on none of them would a total eclipse occur.

If our atmosphere were not transparent, then only orbiting telescopes could observe the planets and stars. Of 70 heavenly bodies studied, only earth has a transparent atmosphere. Further, we live in the perfect place in the Milky Way, in a relatively uninhabited (with other stars) area. Were we closer to thecenter or further away from the center of the spiral, we could not see the constellations visible to us on a clear night.

The chance of each of these factors being true they guessed at 1 out of 10, a very conservative estimate. However, for all twenty to be true in one planet is 1/10 times 1/10, etc. for twenty times, or one in a trillion trillionth chance. That isn’t very great!!

Psalm 19 in the Bible begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The Bible says that God made the earth for us to inhabit. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) The Privileged Planet hypothesis from intelligent design scientists could be improved by concluding that God not only made the world for us, but He also placed it in space in such a way that we could understand the vastness of His creation, be humbled, and glorify Him.

(PS. A Video summary of Privileged Planet may be found on this home page: http://www.illustramedia.com/tppinfo.htm)

Over the Edge- 2

In our last article, we discussed the work of Scott Minnich, Molecular Biologist at the University of Idaho, on the bacterial flagellum motor. The forty parts to this amazingly efficient means of locomotion convinced him that random chance simply could not explain its existence.

A favorite term for those who hold this view of intelligent design is ‘irreducible complexity.’ They reason that, if a complex organ were any smaller or simpler, it could not function as it is. If evolution is to be believed, it demands that all life was once simpler, that it evolved from simple to complex randomly without a design or purpose. The apparent design we see in nature today is only coincidentally the same as one would expect were it designed by intelligence.

A difficulty with believing that random chance produced complex life is the mechanism for assembling the parts. Remember, Dr. Minnich stated that Darwinism natural selection states by definition that, if a part evolves but has no purpose, it would be lost to the organism. Yet forty parts are needed for this flagellum motor to work. Evolutionists counter that the parts could have evolved for other functions in the organism and then be ‘borrowed’ to assemble the motor. Minnich countered that, at most, this would account for only half the parts.

But, let’s say that the forty parts of the bacterial flagellum did evolve in various places in the organism. The greater problem is how the protein parts would be assembled into the most efficient motor in the universe. In cells, assembly is now understood. The assembling ‘blueprint’ is locked into the DNA in the nucleus of every cell. The DNA dictates the order of assembly of the amino acids and the RNA carries it out. Minnich states accurately that, without the blueprint, assembly would be as likely as putting together a line from Shakespeare by throwing out Scrabble tiles on the table.

DNA is a code molecule unique to each organism. It is physically what made you and me as we are. It is a blueprint that manufactures. It is like a computer that is able to make products according to its calculations. Who ever heard of such a thing happening in any other part of the universe without massive amounts of time and energy and planning?!

I repeat from the last article, intelligent design is not religious. It is an extrapolated cause drawn from scientific observation and falls far short of the Bible’s claim of creation. It is, rather, the honest conclusion that chance will not explain reality and goes no further than that. Is your view or the origin of life honest with the data all around us?