Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Video Archive

The videos embedded below represent a wide range of topics in the fields of theology, science, and apologetics.


THE KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT:


THE FINE-TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE:


GOOD WITHOUT GOD?


THE UNIQUENESS OF CHRISTIANITY:



HAS SCIENCE BURIED GOD? (John Lennox)


AN ATHEIST JOURNALIST EXAMINES THE EVIDENCE:


WHY CHRISTIANITY IS TRUE:







Saturday, April 19, 2014

Defending the RESURRECTION



THE RESURRECTION: The foundation of Christianity

The resurrection of Jesus was the primary, fundamental, and conclusive proof that the early Christians offered to the truth of salvation through Christ.

The early Christians pointed to the prophecies in the Old Testament that predicted that the Messiah would die and rise from the dead (ignored by most of the Jewish leadership who only wanted a political Messiah--not a soul-saving Messiah).

To demonstrate how important the resurrection was as evidence to the early followers of Christ, we only have to look at the earliest book that discusses their lives--the Book of Acts in the New Testament.

The RESURRECTION is referenced 28 times in one book!

Acts 1:3, 22
Acts 2:24, 27, 30, 31, 32
Acts 3:15
Acts 4:2, 10, 33 (key verse)
Acts 5:30
Acts 9:40,41
Acts 13:30,32,33,34,35,37
Acts 17:3,18,31,32
Acts 23:6
Acts 25:19
Acts 26:8,23

Acts 4:33
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”

I Corinthians 15:17
“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”

EVIDENCE FOR THE RESURRECTION:
1. Empty tomb
2. Changed lives of the Apostles (people do not die for a lie)
People will die for what they BELIEVE/THINK is true (like the hijackers of 9/11), but normal, sane people do not die for a lie that they created (and if it is a lie--the apostles created that lie)
3. Testimony of the women (the first to arrive at the empty tomb)
4. Testimony of the early followers (eye-witnesses of early post-resurrection appearances)
5. Early Christian writings speak of resurrection immediately after crucifixion—not decades later
6. Old Testament prophecies
7. Jesus predicted His own resurrection

THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE FACTS is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared to many (just as the scripture says)

Let’s consider what challenges modern skeptics of Christianity use against the evidence of the RESURRECTION:

Stolen Body Theory/Missing Body
Swoon Theory
Drugged-Body Theory
Twin Theory
Hypnosis Theory
Spiritual Resurrection Theory



Stolen Body Theory/Missing Body



1. The disciples stole the body/someone else stole the body

PROBLEMS:
1. How could the disciples overpower the Roman guard?
2. WHY would they steal the body???
-they just spent 3 years believing in Jesus
then He DIES. Their hope for a Messiah is DEAD

WHY STEAL THE BODY?

THE JEWS DID NOT BELIEVE IN A RISEN MESSIAH (so why invent it?)

They would have DIED FOR A LIE--and sane people do NOT die for a lie.


Swoon Theory

-Jesus only fainted, He didn’t actually die, he woke up in the tomb, escaped

PROBLEMS:
1. Two Roman doctors had to sign a certificate of death (on pain of their death)
2. Blood loss of flogging and crucifixion would lead to death anyway
3. How could a nearly-dead Jesus, in a pitch black tomb, with no food or water, roll away a stone
4. How could a half-dead Jesus fight off a Roman guard
5. How could a half-dead Jesus convince his followers He was the Lord of all, conqueror over death
6. Ascension to heaven


Drugged-Body Theory

-Jesus was drugged with a special chemical to make him appear dead
(same problems as swoon + a whole lot more)


Twin Theory


-Jesus had an identical twin brother. When Jesus #1 died, his twin (that no one knew) took over

PROBLEMS:
1. FAR FAR fetched
2. No historical account of a twin (which is rare anyway)
3. How could a twin convince the early followers of Jesus that he was Jesus (he would not know them, any details)
4. Ascension
5. WOUNDS---where are the wounds?


Hypnosis/Hallucination Theory

-Jesus was able to hypnotize people, and he made them think that he rose from the dead

PROBLEMS:
1. Hypnosis was not understood in ancient world, certainly not in Israel
2. Not everyone is susceptible to hypnosis
3. The early followers were not expecting a resurrection
4. Physical contact with Jesus, eating, etc
5. Ascension


Spiritual Resurrection Theory

-Jesus did not BODILY rise, it was only a “spiritual” or “ghostlike” rising from the dead

PROBLEMS:
1. Old testament predicted a physical resurrection
2. Jesus prophesied a physical resurrection
3. Paul taught a very clear PHYSICAL resurrection in I Cor. 15
4. The disciples spoke of physical contact with a risen Christ (eating, etc)

______________________________________________________


3 VALIDATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION:



1. It validated that Jesus was our sinless substitute whose sacrifice was accepted
- Old Testament reveals that those who were not accepted, they died.
- High Priest had a rope tied, in case He died when He appeared before God
- Jesus emerged ALIVE after His sacrifice

IF JESUS HAD NOT RISEN—that meant that His offering for our sins was not accepted, he was a sinner, and a sinner cannot save a sinner.

I Corinthians 15:17
“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”

2. It validated that He was Who He said He was --- God in the flesh

-Jesus said in John 10—No one takes my life from Me, I have the power to lay it down, and the power to take it up again.

THE RESURRECTION validates that He was God in the flesh, and therefore we should believe what he says.

Romans 1:3,4
“concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. “

3. It validates the believers own guaranteed resurrection.

Jesus said: Because I live (am resurrected) you shall live also.

Paul said that Jesus was the firstfruits of the resurrection, and that our resurrection would follow

________________________________________________________________

Following Excerpt from The Atheist Delusion by Dr. Phil Fernandes, Ph.D.


First, the first eyewitnesses of the empty tomb (and the resurrected Christ) were women. This is something the apostles would not have made up, for a woman’s testimony was held highly suspect in the first-century ad. It offered practically no evidential value to fabricate a story of women being the first witnesses.

Second, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the Jewish religious authorities would have produced the rotting corpse of Christ, thus refuting Christianity and stifling its growth at its earliest stage.

Third, New Testament scholars agree that the sermons of Acts chapter 1 through 12 are the earliest sermons of the church-they date back to the early 30′s ad. Their antiquity is accepted by scholars because these sermons show no signs of theological development (this type of theological development is found in Paul’s letters which were written twenty years later). .

Fourth, Jesus was buried in the tomb of a well-known man-Joseph of Arimathea. It would have been easy to locate the tomb to ascertain if it was empty.

For further investigation:

(video) http://www.josh.org/video-2/evidence-for-the-resurrection/

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/evidence-of-jesus-resurrection

http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

http://carm.org/there-are-no-non-biblical-accounts-resurrection

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4223639/k.567/Ancient_Evidence_for_Jesus_from_NonChristian_Sources.htm





Thursday, February 6, 2014

MORALITY cannot exist in Atheism (how to deal with challenges of slavery, rape, immorality, etc)




Skeptics of Christianity and/or the Bible (as demonstrated in the first 100 pages of "The God Delusion") love to cherry-pick certain verses, or fragments of verses, especially from the Old Testament, and then they will accuse God, or the Bible of being "immoral" or "evil".




Let's put this to rest, once for all---
Morality cannot exist in Atheism.

Listening to a skeptic challenge the Bible as immoral is like listening to a prostitute giving a lecture about sexual purity--it is amusing at best, hypocritical at the least, and pointless for all concerned.


A logical flowchart of why MORALITY cannot exist in Atheism:

SECTION ONE: Is Morality possible in an atheistic Universe?

Let’s pick just one “bad moral issue”---SLAVERY (or put in RAPE, or whatever)

Question 1: What is the Universe/reality?
Atheist Answer 1: Physical matter/energy, space, time, natural law (basically)

Question 2: Are all actions that people do (in reality) just atoms moving due to energy over time following natural law?
Atheist Answer 2: Of course, there is nothing else possible.

Question 3: At the atomic level, is there a fundamental difference between slavery and, building a computer?
Atheist Answer 3: Well, actually, no, there is no fundamental difference between any action and any other human action, because only physical matter/energy/time/natural law exists.

Question 4: Is SLAVERY then immoral or “wrong” based upon your own definition of the Universe?
Atheist Answer 4: I believe and feel that slavery is immoral. Owning people is an evil concept.

Question 5: I didn’t ask if you FELT or BELIEVED something, I asked: is slavery IMMORAL based on your own view of the Universe?
Atheist Answer 5: Well, at the physical level….NO, but I personally just KNOW that it is wrong.

Question 6: Is absolute RIGHT or absolute WRONG even possible in a Universe that is just matter/energy, space, time, and natural law?
Atheist Answer 6: Right and wrong are intensely personal and communally-derived.

SUMMARY OF SECTION ONE:

Conclusion: By your own admission, since the Universe is just matter moving due to energy through space over time according to natural law, then absolute RIGHT and absolute WRONG are impossible. Morality therefore cannot exist without a Creator that is external to the Universe.

SECTION TWO: Is Morality the result of community over time?

Question 7: Is Morality merely derived from communal activities and needs of the species?
Atheist Answer 7: Well, yes, of course. Over time, we evolve different views based on needs and this propagates throughout the local community or even the whole species. So, yes.

Question 8: So morality can change over time (in other words, it is not absolute)?
Atheist Answer 8: Yes, I just said earlier that it changes according to societal or even interpersonal needs. So, yes, it changes.

Question 9: Is slavery a moral issue?
Atheist Answer 9: Well, yes, of course it is a moral issue…and it is wrong.

Question 10: Is it possible that there was ever a time in the past, or there could ever be a time in the future, when society will condone/allow/encourage slavery?
Atheist Answer 10: Well, duh..of course, slavery was practiced for thousands of years as a way of life, and it was only recently challenged and pronounced immoral in the last three hundred years or so.

Conclusion #2:
So, in the past, slavery was considered moral, and a way of life. Yet now, times have changed, and most types of slavery are now considered immoral. So, according to your answers in SECTION ONE (absolute right and wrong are impossible) and your admission here in SECTION TWO (morality can and does change) THEN IRREFUTABLY Slavery is not wrong or immoral according to atheism.

In an atheistic view, things can be convenient or inconvenient, they can be pleasurable or painful, they can be preferred or disdained, but nothing can be RIGHT or WRONG at the fundamental level…because at the fundamental level the universe is just matter/energy, space, time, and natural law.

Morality is not a feeling (like empathy or sympathy), morality is absolute RIGHT or absolute WRONG.
Confusing feelings of morality and morality itself is a common misconception. Here is an example of the difference. 

If someone was a waiter, and a customer gives them a $50 tip, they FEEL good. But that feeling doesn’t make sense unless MONEY itself exists fundamentally. The feeling of getting a good tip is not the same thing as the existence of money. 

If someone gave you a handful of small pebbles for a tip, it wouldn’t make you feel good, because in most cultures, pebbles aren’t valuable. The feelings associated with “doing good” or “doing bad” have nothing to do with MORALITY as a fundamental issue. Right or Wrong exist regardless of how I feel about it.

In any discussion of morality, therefore, it is illogical to talk about the physiochemical ramifications of your own adherence to your own concept of right or wrong…that is illogical.




Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is God Guilty of MURDER?

Nonsense questions are fun to explore. There is something fascinating and intriguing about asking or positing questions for which there can be no actual answer.

What does the color blue taste like?

How far is it from here to insanity?


What time is the sweetest sound?

Indeed, these are questions. But this small collection of humorous inquiries shares at least one thing in common: they have no logical answer. They can be ASKED but they cannot be ANSWERED. These are nonsense questions.

Color and taste involve two different, unrelated senses. Distance and states of mind are not comparable, and temporal reality (time) and audible tones make strange bedfellows.

How does color, taste, distance, time, or sound have anything to do with the question of God murdering? Well, actually...everything.

SECRET WEAPONS...OR FANCY DUDS?

Skeptics of Christianity in general, and of the Bible in specificity, have a small and cherished collection of skeptical "Trump" cards. This tiny assortment of questions and accusations are presumed to be great "unanswerable" silver bullets, clever one-trick ponies to silence those pesky and gullible Bible-thumpers. A survey of atheistic and skeptical forums and blogs quickly reveals this to be the case.

While the mockery of the miraculous, such as Jonah and the great fish, or the virgin birth of Jesus, can be found by the bucket-load, most of these one-shot-wonders involve claims of immorality against the very character of God Himself. In fact, atheist professor Richard Dawkins devotes a large portion of the opening of his book, The God Delusion, to a glib tirade against the God of the Old Testament as the worst of all moral monsters.

THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE

Perhaps topping the list of these moral challenges is the accusation that God is evil because He has murdered CHILDREN. (Side note: a challenge of evil, like murder, is a humorous contradiction when made by an atheist--since morality cannot exist in atheism; right or wrong are not even possible in a purely naturalistic viewpoint!)

It is amazing that seemingly intelligent people use a term like MURDER in a sentence involving God, the Creator. Can we ask the question: Is God guilty of murder? Ummm...yes, you can ASK it, but the question is nonsense. Here's why.

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever taken something out of your house/apartment? Well, of course you have, so have I. But then, let me ask you:

Well, then, aren't you guilty of STEALING, then?

Well, of course NOT, you would say, and rightly so. Why? Because you CAN'T steal from yourself. If you own something, then you have the right to it. Now---if I go into your house, without permission, and I take something of yours, without permission, now that is something different altogether. That IS STEALING.

Why? Because it wasn't mine to take. I had no right to it.

DRAWING A CONCLUSION

Imagine taking a piece of paper and a pen and roughing out a sketch of a tree. You look at it and smile, but then, you decided to crumple it up and throw it away. Have you committed some great moral evil? Absolutely not. It was your creation, and you have the right to choose what you do with that creation. But if I took it away from you forcefully and then proceeded to tear it up...now that is wrong.

Here are 3 distinct reasons why it is nonsense to challenge that God has murdered anyone, whether baby, child, or geriatric.

REASON ONE: The Creator has the right to govern every aspect of His own creation.

God is the ultimate Creator. He has made all physical things. He has given life to all those that have life. He chooses when life begins, and He must allow the physical death of each person. Think about it: God owes no one anything. God did not have to give physical life, and there is no logical or moral reason that prevents Him from bringing  that undeserved physical life to an end.

God has never promised that each person will live to be a certain age physically. When a teenager is killed in a car accident, or tragically, a baby dies of SIDS, we hear people say: "They were so young!" Even though this seems true, and indeed is correct on a certain level, in reality it betrays our improper view of what God is doing.

He has purposes and plans that are far beyond our understanding. There may be incredible and world-changing reasons why one is taken away at birth, and another lives into a "ripe" old age. We only see the tiniest of slivers of what God is doing, and what He has been doing, and what He will do in the future.

REASON TWO: Only people can murder people.

The ending of life is not murder. People die every second from sickness, accidents, and the fatigue of bodily systems. These deaths are not murders. Murder is the unlawful taking of a human's life BY ANOTHER HUMAN. Only people can murder----because we do not have the ultimate right to decide when someone else's life should end.  If someone trips and falls onto a sharp spike and dies, we do not say that they were murdered (unless another human planned out that "accident" and made it happen) but they did die.

REASON THREE: Physical death is not the end of a person's life.

It is almost comical to hear an atheist say that God has committed murder! Ponder that statement for a moment---by making that statement they are "allowing for" the existence of God. In other words, they say, IF I allow the possibility that God exists, well then, THAT God is guilty of murder.

But here comes the trap that they have stepped into of their own free will:

If you say (for sake of the argument) that God exists, then you are allowing for the possibility of "life after death", in other words, physical death is not the END! Physical death just changes the state of life, from an Earthly state to some type of spiritual life (after life). Since the Bible clearly teaches that humans are created in the image of God, that we have an eternal spiritual aspect that will never cease to exist, then the concept of death or murder takes on a completely new perspective.

A STEP IN A NEW DIRECTION

If a person is standing on the shore, they are experiencing the life of a land creature, a land-lover, as the sailors say. But if that same person gets on a boat, he has stepped into a new experience of life, a life at sea. These are merely two different experiences of life, the person does not cease to exist when they step onto the deck of the boat, it is the same person, just a different experience of life. Similarly, when a person dies (by any means) they do not cease to exist, rather, they step into a new phase, a new experience of life.

Now, I am not justifying one human killing another human, that is forbidden, except in war and execution of certain criminals (as the representation of God's judgment for their actions). Murder is wrong, because I do not have the right to decide when your life ends. That is not my decision, I did not create you.

But when the atheist challenges that children died in the flood of Noah, or that babies died in the conquest of the land of Canaan by the armies of Israel, their accusation against God falls into the realm of nonsense questions. First, God has never promised a certain physical life span. Secondly, only people can murder people, because murder implies an action without right, and God, as creator, has all rights. Finally, death is not the end of existence, rather, physical death is a transition into a new phase of life.

APPLES AND PRESIDENTS

Can people ask: "Is God guilty of murder?" Sure, but remember, you can ask all kinds of nonsense questions, like "How many apples does it take to elect a president?" You can ask it, but that question is just wrong all the way to the core.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Painting God as Immoral: Watch out for the corner!



The image in our mind is vivid. We see the ambitious painter, with broad strokes of great zeal and skill, laying down the latex on the freshly sanded floor. Back and forth, taking a step back, covering more and more of the spacious area with glistening and colorful paint.

But, there is a problem...

After a certain point of committal in the process, the fervent worker has inadvertently done two equally disparaging travesties...
(1) he has painted himself into a corner
(2) his own effort has blocked any hope of escape or recovery.

What does paint, corners, and unexpected unfortunates have to do with God and Logic? Lately, well, um--- everything. Within skeptical circles of reasoning, certain types of attacks upon theism or Christianity or the Bible (which were dealt with many decades, and sometimes hundreds of, years ago) have become the latest darling, and the pop culture feeding frenzy begins afresh.

Many skeptics (atheists) and sadly, many Christians, have not taken the time to do the real work of research and investigation into what has already been debated and discovered. Like a joyful but soon-to-be-disappointed-scientist who claims that he/she has recently discovered the existence of atoms, these trendy-but-out-of-date zealots have, far too quickly, grabbed the nearest brush and bucket and have started slinging paint everywhere.



There is an old expression: let your opponent continue to speak, because the more one says, the greater the chance that one will make an error. When it comes to skeptical challenges against theism in general, or Christianity or the Bible in specificity, there are several tempting hues that the naturalist may be eager to grab, but they only serve to undermine their entire position.

Like the golden idol at the outset of the Indiana Jones franchise, the lure to "grab and run with it" is quickly demonstrated to be near-folly as the tragic and destructive results begin to cascade.

But isn't that always the way temptation works? Take it NOW, don't worry about the consequences?! A viral youtube video, or a pop-culture book, or a charismatic pundit appears on the talk show circuit proudly bearing this "new" bucket of god-coating goodness, and voila! Everyone on the blogosphere is hailing the argument as the silver bullet that will finally silence the imaginary god of the religious right. Praise the non-god!

So, what is this golden idol of an opportunity, this new bucket of "god-is-a-lie" latex? The late atheist, Christopher Hitchens, used this concept in the formation of the title of his book, "God is Not Great" and Oxford professor, Richard Dawkins, devoted the opening chapters of his volume, "The God Delusion" to this attack strategy. Enough--you say, what is it?

Put simply:
 It is the angle that the God of the Bible is a moral monster.

I'm not joking. Dawkins refers to the God of the Bible (primarily the Old Testament) as perhaps the most hideous of any evil character in all of literary history, more or less. To sum up their argument, the God of the Bible, in and through His dealings with mankind, is not worthy to be called God, and is certainly not the Creator.

Carrying this bucket further, some skeptics will even challenge theism to explain evil and suffering in general, not just the specific accounts such as the Flood, the history of Israel, etc. They demand a reconciling of the existence of a good god and bad events. In a way, their challenge is that for God to even merely allow evil or suffering (forget about direct causation) is to implicate Him as a moral monster.


Why skeptics fall into this obvious trap is truly a mystery. Why they are so often eager to take the brush and then begin swinging away is hard to understand, since this argument (if taken to it's logical beginning and end) completely destroys the skeptics cherished position. It is like a survivor of a sinking ship hacking away with an axe on the floor of his rescue boat...it will only serve to surely drown him and those with him.

 Let's take a huge step backward and see why this line of assault is suicide to the skeptic. The skeptic accuses the God of the Bible of being a moral monster. We didn't ask them to go there, but they did. Now, logically--there can only be two fundamental explanations for the existence of a "moral code" within humanity.

First, there is the traditional view that the Creator placed a basic moral framework within the heart of all mankind. This divine programming is evidenced by the existence of a conscience, with attendant feelings of guilt or elation due to either violation or conformity, respectfully. Right and wrong exist because our Creator tells us so.


Secondly, there is the skeptical, or naturalist explanation for morality. While there is no general agreement on the mysteries of this process and product, invariably biochemical evolution is invoked to account for the moral makeup of man.

Over millions of years, somehow and in some way, homo sapiens evolved a moral code to benefit the species as a cultural whole, rather than the survival of the fittest individual.


We will not look into other abstract formulations, such as social contract theory and it's offspring, as they fail to account for the Universal nature of man's condition.

So, morality is either an external truth given by our Creator, or an imaginary condition inferred upon us by blind chemical forces. If the latter (evolution) is the mechanism, then serious flaws begin to be seen in the skeptics entire argument. Why?

Simply put, if morality is merely a survival aid conferred upon us by an amoral universe, then it has no ultimate or legitimate authority.

If we merely evolved our sense of fairness, or right and wrong, or justice and injustice, then these are no more "real" or binding as some set of eternal immutable laws, rather they are chemical processes, worked out over aeons of time, with the real possibility of changing the next time a dominant gene is expressed that exhibits benefit to the species.


If morality is a product of evolution, then it loses it's authority to judge anything as right or wrong, because our current morality is along a continuum of adaptions that began as something far different in the distant past, and will morph into something even more bizarre in the not-so-distant future.


The reason people are arrested and even jailed is because they (allegedly) have broken an established law. There is a documented code of acceptable behavior on the books, so to speak. Their actions (or inactions) are then compared against that standard, and conformity or violation is confirmed.

Morality, like a legal system, operates in a similar and analogous way. Behavior is compared against an authoritative standard, and consequences follow. But, alas---here is the rub, the catch-22, the fly in the ointment, for atheism:  Without an ultimate authority, NO ONE can call any action good or evil, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair.

A Universe comprised only of:
(1) matter/eenrgy/chemical processes
(2) space
(3) time
cannot magically produce eternal moral laws. It may have laws of gravity, or electromagnetism, or laws of chemistry (and even those are suspect), but it cannot, and never will have, eternally binding moral laws.

Impossible.

You have to have an ultimate authority to accomplish that, and in the atheist worldview, they cannot allow that divine foot in the door. It is inescapable, and actually even worse than that for naturalists, for as Stephen Hawking admitted recently, if there is nothing higher than the Universe, then indeed, even free will and choice are merely illusions.

This brute "fact" and condition is called Determinism.
How could we actually have free will, since we are nothing more than chemical factories (according to the atheist) and chemicals will always act a certain way in accordance with chemical (natural) law?

SIDE NOTE: Actually, it is even MUCH WORSE than that for the naturalist, because ultimately naturalism mandates that certain people will be atheist, or theist, Christian, Buddhist, or even liberal Democrat or right wing Republican---it all just depends on the collection of chemicals in their brain. It is not the arguments, or the logic, or the rationality or reasonableness of a case, we all are forced to "believe" or "accept" what we consider to be "right" based upon our cerebral chemistry.

Realizing this, it is almost funny to think that atheists continue to write and publish books to "convince" people to accept atheism, since, according to atheism, a person has no free will or choice in the matter. We are merely chemical factories, and we will only obey natural law.

It is a bit weighty, and a read that takes a couple of passes to really absorb the full impact of it's conclusions, but it is a worthwhile quote nonetheless, from theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne (my clarifications are between brackets [ ]):




"...human freedom is closely connected with human rationality. If we were deterministic beings [just a collection of atoms obeying natural law], what would validate the claim that our utterance constituted rational discourse? Would not the sounds issuing from our mouths, or the marks we made on paper, be simply the actions of automata [the natural result of purely natural processes, not the result of logical deduction or reasoning]? All proponents of deterministic theories, whether social and economic (Marx), or sexual (Freud), or genetic (Dawkins and E.O. Wilson), need a covert disclaimer on their own behalf, excepting their own contribution from reductive dismissal?"




In other words, if we are merely a collection of atoms, acting according to unintelligent and immutable chemical and natural law, then nothing we say or write can be considered more or less logical or rational than anything that anyone else says or writes, whether nutty lunatic or nobel laureate. He concludes that the major proponents of an atheistic worldview, such as Dawkins or Freud, need a simple warning at the front of their books/papers telling readers that nothing can be trusted and nothing should be absolutely believed, except for THEIR writings, of course.

He is undeniably "right"...and even Stephen Hawking agrees with that conclusion.

Back to buckets and brushes.

To restate our earlier premise, a trendy (but historically resolved) challenge issued of late by skeptics is that God is a moral monster, especially the God of the Old Testament in the Bible.

By virtue of His "evil" behavior He is either not worthy to be worshipped at best, or rejected altogether at worst.

This unfortunate challenge places the atheist in a pitiable condition. The entire crux of the argument hinges upon the existence of eternal, immutable laws of morality, and that somehow, this deity has violated those laws that even He must somehow obey. Yet, in an atheist worldview, neither god nor morality can exist.

But, some would protest, they are arguing from the viewpoint "given that a god exists, the god of the Bible cannot be god because He is immoral." This perspective shift does nothing to aid in their argument, because then what is the supposed source of this "morality" that god has "violated"?

If human morality is determined by god, then no accusation of immorality could ever be labeled against the Creator Himself/itself. Where would the skeptic receive knowledge of an even higher law of morality that even this god must obey?

The only morality we could "know" would be human morality, i.e. the code of acceptable and unacceptable human to human behavior as mandated by the Creator.

Nothing the Creator does or commands to be done could be labeled as immoral or "evil." Actions of people (created beings) could be determined to be good, bad, evil, fair, or just---but since we are not privy to all of the counsels and understandings of our Creator, we could never judge ANY of His actions. 

There are two fundamental reasons why we could never judge our own Creator to be immoral:

(1) We do not have access to all of the facts surrounding any decision that God makes, therefore we cannot say with (anything even remotely resembling) 100% certainty that God does not have very good reasons for His own actions.

(2) Our own sense of morality has been given to us by our Creator, and we are subject to Him, not He to us. We may not understand why He would do a certain thing, but our morality is for created humanity, not an eternal god.

To put this into a more modern analogy, God is like the computer programmer who has written a new game. The digital (created) characters within the game are subject to different parameters and restrictions than the programmer himself is subject to.

You cannot logically apply the same "rules" and restrictions to the designer of the game that he has assigned to created individuals within the virtual world.

Surely the programmer has the right to rewrite the code, or to remove characters, or to change parameters or to assign new rules---but, as Creator, that is His right.

We can no more challenge God as being immoral, than Super Mario can challenge Miyamoto Shigeru in a court of law for his choices of programming. It is that absurd.

The best an atheist can say is that, perhaps, the actions of God are emotionally challenging, or difficult to understand, but an atheist or skeptic can never, logically, accuse God of immorality, and certainly not attack him as a "moral monster" as Dawkins and his crowd have done.

Once the accusation is made by the atheist he has painted himself into the corner of admitting that ultimate morality exists, and that deep down inside he experiences a legitimate revulsion at the actions of a deity he does not accept. It is an awkward position! (and frustrating)

Secondly, if, for the sake of argument, God does exist, then the atheist cannot accuse him of immorality because morality has been given BY GOD, it cannot be used to judge the God who gave it.

At best the atheist can only say that the actions of God are difficult to understand, tough to comprehend, but that skeptic cannot say that they are unequivocally WRONG.....

EVER.

The famous scholar, Christian philosopher and apologist, William Lane Craig, responded to atheist Christopher Hitchens claim that evil and suffering in the world proved that either God did not exist or that He was evil. Craig, in his typical grace-under-pressure disposition, calmly asked Hitchens (and I loosely quote)

"Is it possible that God has a morally justifiable reason for allowing evil or suffering?"
That response and question is a ticking time bomb to the skeptic. Answered either way, it completely destroys both their credibility and  case. Hitchens answered the only way a sane person would answer, he basically said:

 "Yes...it is possible." Then the conclusion is inescapable---if it is possible that God has reasons for these supposed "moral atrocities" then the entire case of the skeptic collapses instantly.

It doesn't have to be probable...it merely has to be possible.

A simple example from history illustrates this: Imagine teaching a young child about World War II. Imagine that you tell them about evil president Harry S. Truman.

You tell them that he dropped two nuclear bombs on mainland Japan, killing and injuring hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

No doubt the child, in their sense of fairness and justice, would be filled with understandable rage and resentment. They would, no doubt, perpetuate that account of Truman being a moral monster, maybe even go on to write books about it.

But what is the problem? Well, their education is missing a huge component of information, information that, if they knew it, would completely change their entire feeling and/or judgment about "evil" Harry. Once they learn that he actually agonized over that decision, and that he did it to SAVE LIVES, and to end a long and drawn out war as quickly as possible...

...well, now...that changes everything.

I think we can give the Creator of the Universe, a being so intelligent as to design DNA, enough of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to difficult to understand actions that He has taken. We do not know the whole story...yet.

Remember, just because we do not understand WHY God would do or not do something, does not, in any way, mean that He does not have morally justifying reasons for doing so.

We have seen enough CIA and covert-operations type of movies and TV shows to be familiar with the phrase "Need to know basis". Sometimes documents or photographs are classified TOP SECRET, with a "Need to Know" status decreed upon them.

If this is true in human dealings for purposes of security and national integrity, then surely the Creator of the Universe has dealings and plans so far above us that we, in our present condition, are not necessarily in a "need to know" status. It is both impossible that we could know all that God knows, and it is illogical to mandate that He must answer to us for His actions. 

Let's be honest...about 99% of the challenges of skeptics in this line of reasoning involve the idea of death. Why would God allow this or that person to die, or why would God wipe out this or that group of people, or why would God "kill" this or that child?

The first question to ask them, of course, is simple: What is wrong with death? Isn't it merely the movement of atoms, because of energy, through space and time? Why is physical death such a moral evil? Think about it. I doubt they have.

And, since the Bible says that physical life is not all there is, that man has been made in the image of God, that we have a spiritual aspect that survives physical death, then death has truly "lost it's sting." Death is not the cessation of existence (that is only true in an atheistic worldview), death for a human is merely the crossing over into the next realm. You will survive your own mere physical death.

So, now what is the challenge of the skeptic? Everyone dies physically-- the flood in the days of Noah thousands of years ago, or the gunman at the Colorado movie theater in recent weeks, did not increase the amount of death in the world--it is still the same ratio as since the beginning of time--one death per person.

I am not condoning anything, I am merely pointing out cold, hard facts.

And, since no one is promised even one more day on this Earth, then a child dying or a centenarian passing away is no different, except for perhaps our own emotional response. Compared to eternity, we all have the same amount of time.

As the ultimate Creator of life, God has the right to choose the time and manner of the ending of physical life. No charge of immorality or of moral monstrosity could ever logically be laid at the feet of our Creator.

The same could be said for any of this type of flawed reasoning. Any attack on the moral goodness of God can be silenced with one simple question: "Does God have the right to govern His own creation?"

The answer is, of course, YES (I actually had one atheist, who had painted himself into this uncomfortable corner say "No!" and he was nearly laughed off the online thread, even by those not theistically bent). So, since God has the right to govern His creation, and death is not the end, then what is now the argument for immorality of our Creator?


[crickets]

God is not a moral monster...

...He is the Moral Mandater.


The next time a skeptic wants to challenge you with the idea that evil, suffering, or the actions of the God of the Old Testament make the Creator out to be an evil being, beg him to let you have the bucket and brush. Tell him it's not a corner he wants to put himself in. You have the MORAL obligation to warn him/her not to go there.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Universal Dominion Theory: A fresh insight into the mystery of our massive Universe

THE DIVINE RADICAL

In the 21st century we acknowledge that Jesus is our REDEEMER, but in the 1st century, we need to realize that He was a REVOLUTIONARY. His statements and actions challenged hundreds of years of empty ritualism and dead religion. Imagine confronting a Supreme Court justice and telling them that they have completely misunderstood the foundational meaning of the Constitution.

That is exactly what the Savior did when He approached the Scribes and the Pharisees, two groups that were considered to be the guardians and experts in the Old Testament Law. He looked them in the eye and declared: "You say (according to the Law) that thou shalt not kill. BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, that whoever has hate in his heart towards his fellow man is guilty of murder!"

Now THAT my friends, is revolutionary, radical--a complete revitalization of not only the letter of the Law, but the spirit and intent of the Law. He framed familiar verses in a whole new light and perspective that did not contradict what was generally understood...no, no, but rather deepened their comprehension in ways not previously imagined.

Now, what does the example of the paradigm-shift Savior have to do with cosmology and theology? Stay with me, this is going to be one wild ride, maybe even a bit uncomfortable, but I promise you that it won't be explicitly heretical, so please put your stones, stakes, and torches away (for now).

WHEN WORLD'S COLLIDE

History is replete with examples of revolutionary ideas that intersected scientific discovery with supposed religious dogma, often with controversial outcomes. Most Junior High students can recall at least a passing familiarity with the famous standoff between the religious authorities and the claims of Galileo.

It wasn't (as is often told) a conflict between Theology and Science, rather it was the clash of the ancient Greek models of Heliocentrism(Aristarchus) with Geocentrism(Aristotle). To put it another way, it wasn't religion versus reality, rather it was an incorrect philosophical position (NOT based on the Bible) pitted against a correct scientific position (based on empiricism).

The mathematics that must be used to describe our Universe defy any real comprehension. Our most recent estimate places the diameter of the cosmos at around 100 billion light years across (some physicists say it could be infinite). Adopting the more conservative view, since light travels about 186,000 miles per second, so (crunching the numbers) that puts the Universe at 795,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles wide (almost 800 Septillion miles).

Not only are the distances overwhelming, but the contents of the Universe wear out a calculator quickly. It is estimated that there are over 100 billion galaxies (100,000,000,000), and some galaxies have up to 1 trillion stars (1,000,000,000,000). To attempt to guesstimate the number of possible planets orbiting these zillions of stars is a fools errand, but the number would surely make any family of exponents proud.

TWINKLE TWINKLE

Over 3000 years ago, David the Shepherd-turned-King gazed out into the brilliant night sky above the Judean outback and penned these famous words:
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,...the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:3,4)

Who hasn't looked up into the velvet blackness of a cloudless night sky and felt two opposing yet complimentary feelings: (1) the vastness of space (2) the near insignificance of man.

After the sublime amazement of a moment like this, some have moved from the wonders to the WHY's. Why is space so huge? Why are there so many stars? Why did God create a Universe so large and complex? Why would God create things that we will never even have a chance to see, let alone study or utilize?

Even the world's most distinguished theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking (an agnostic), weighed in when considering the issue of "Why would God create a Universe so large?" The Oxford professor observed:
"Our Solar System is certainly a prerequisite for our existence, but there does not seem to be any need for all these other galaxies." (Brief History of Time)

IGNORANCE ISN'T BLISS

 Before we discuss some of the more plausible and theo-intellectually satisfying answers to this interesting question (I purposefully use the word interesting) it is important to make one significant, and often overlooked, point:


Just because we (perhaps) do not currently know WHY God would create such a large Universe, does not, in any way, mean that He does not (did not?) have a reason. Ignorance does not equal Absence. In a simple Earthly example: just because a child does not know why their parent has asked them to do a certain thing, does not mean that the parent does not have a very good reason.

Ignorance of information does not equivocate absence of information. For most of human history, we did not know the basic structure of the atom, but that unawareness did not mean that atomic structure did not exist. The logic is unassailable.  Let's leave that dead horse, and focus our energies on something more stimulating.

A BIG QUESTION ABOUT A BIG UNIVERSE

Let's restate the question: "Why would God create a Universe so large?"

Earlier I called this inquiry INTERESTING. I didn't say that it was important, or relevant, or even significant, rather, it is just interesting. And actually, that is all that it really is. Interesting. The reason that we must relegate it to this category is that the answer to it does not change our theology, our Christology, or our cosmology, per se. To accept or not accept, agree or disagree with any of these possibilities or assumptions does not substantially alter our understanding of God, Christ, or of His incredible plan of salvation.

Before I break into radical, even revolutionary, new ground, let's review the typical traditional and plausible answers to the question of "Why would God create a Universe so large?"

1. The immensity of the creation (Universe) reveals the power and attributes of God.

The Psalmist once said: "The Heavens declare the glory of God..." (Psalm 19:1)

God says that the night sky is like a giant electric billboard that clearly shouts out for all mankind to read that the Creator is powerful, and that He is far above us.

In the book of Isaiah, the Lord invites mankind to look up into the night sky and He asks:
"To whom will you compare Me? Or, who is my equal?” says the (Lord) "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? It is He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength..." (Isaiah 40:25,26)

This one verse easily settles this entire question once you consider what the Lord is saying here. God declares that He made the immensity of the Universe so that we would know that there is no one and nothing that could even begin to compete with Him and His power. Why so many galaxies and so many stars? To demonstrate the limitless knowledge of God, for He has named each one of them, and has individually crafted each one in His great creative power.

(Interesting side note- the number of Bacteria in the world leaves the number of the stars in the dust (no pun intended). It is estimated that there are over 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria---that's 5 Nonillion. But stars still outnumber grains of sand by an estimated factor of ten to one!)

In fact, the size of the Universe, though immense to us, is nothing to the Creator. Again in Isaiah the Lord says that He has: "...measured the Universe with the width of His hand." In another well-known passage the Lord shows that not only is distance meaningless to Him, but time is just as irrelevant:
"For a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day." Neither distance nor time affects or hinders the workings of our God.


2. The size of the Universe humbles mankind.

If there is one thing we know about mankind, it is that we tend to become arrogant at the slightest opportunity. Let someone just praise you one time and our egometer goes off the charts. An immense Universe is a great safeguard against our heads expanding like a hot air balloon.

If we look at it in perspective, each of us is just one of the many billions of people, on just one planet among many gadzillions of planets, a speck, on a speck, in the western spiral arm of a nondescript galaxy, in a Universe that is impossible to even fathom. An electron seems huge by comparison.


 If your ego makes your reflection in a mirror seem huge, look not out but up...up into the vastness of space.


3. A huge Universe magnifies our appreciation of God's love for us.
When we truly understand just how insignificant we are (as David said: "What is man that (God) is mindful of him?") we then can truly begin to see the size of the love of God for us. Think of the immensity of the Universe, but then realize that God Himself became a man and was born into a poor family, from a poor nation, right here on planet Earth. Not only that, but He also was crucified, bearing our sins upon a cruel Roman cross, and died. 



But, out of this entire Universe, Jesus came HERE, and lived HERE, and suffered HERE, and died HERE. This proves to us, that even though we may be small, the love and focus of God is upon us. It is amazing that a super-sized Universe reveals God's super-sized passion for us.


What a perfect combination--a huge Universe to humble us, and then a huge Universe to reveal how much God loves us. Amazing.


4. A huge Universe magnifies the greatness of God's salvation.

This is the other side of the coin, so to speak, from the previous answer. Reason Number 3 is kind of from our perspective looking "up", this one is from God's perspective looking "down". When one considers just how small and insignificant planet Earth is, it reveals the immensity of God's humility that He even would consider becoming a man to die for us.

Psalm 113 tells us that God has to humble Himself just to behold the things that occur in the Universe, and even more so to behold what is occurring on the Earth.

The author of Hebrews challenges us: "How can we escape if we neglect so GREAT A SALVATION...?" (Hebrews 2:3) When we really consider the greatness of God's plan, the greatness of His humility to become a baby, and the greatness of His love to die for us, we can see why it is a serious and deadly thing to "neglect" this great salvation that He has provided.


5. The Universe must be at least a certain size for things to operate the way the Lord has revealed to us.

In Genesis it plainly says that the extra-terrestrial bodies (moons, stars, planets, etc) are there for "times and seasons" and their measurement. Even though "modern" man of the past 100 years or so does not depend upon the stars and constellations for directions, locations, and times--that does not mean that they have not served that purpose wonderfully since the dawn of human history.



Maritime travel, especially, would have been orders of magnitude more difficult without precise measurements based upon certain star-to-star locations at precise times. It takes a Universe just about as large as ours to accomplish that.



NOW WE SEE THROUGH THE GLASS DARKLY



Remember, regardless of our reaction to these 5 reasons given, that does not alter the fact that God could have had many thousands, if not limitless reasons for creating a Universe this large and this complex. These are just some of the possible, plausible reasons that we can discern with our very limited understanding. 

Imagine an Aboriginal tribesman watching the creation of the latest Intel multi-core CPU's. Nearly 99.9999999999999999999999999% of what is being done is a complete mystery to him. But his lack of understanding does not, in any way, mean that the engineers at Intel do not have very good reasons for absolutely everything that they are doing. Mystery does not equal Meaningless.

BIG IS JUST A TINY IDEA


Secondly, size is a completely relative and "human" emotional concept, for the most part. What is size really? It is just a perceived scale anyway. An ant may be "small" to us, but ants are unimaginably large to a bacteria. A bacteria may be "small" to an ant, but it might as well be the size of the Universe compared to an an electron. Do you see how arbitrary this entire idea of size actually is? 


Size comparison is merely an emotional concept, not nearly as empirical as we would like to think. We "feel" small by the size of the Universe, but smallness or bigness do not actually exist outside of our minds reaction to a concept.

Now, are you ready for a completely radical, revolutionary, complete paradigm shift type of thinking about "Why did God create such a large Universe?" (even though now we have to admit that "large" is just a state of mind, an emotional concept) ?


I am not saying that this theory is completely valid, but I do offer it as a possible, potential, and theologically "sound" proposal. It is called the UDT. Are you ready? Do not just read this next sentence and then close this webpage dismissing me as a heretic, please hear me out on this.

Universal Dominion Theory (UDT): The proposition that God created the Universe in such a way that it could hold an unlimited number of people, through the colonization of space.


Now, this is not the complete theory--it is supported by a number of important points that need to be enumerated. Let's look at them one by one:


1. God originally created man to live physically forever.

The book of Genesis makes it clear that death was not in the original plan. The Lord explicitly told our first human parents that only sin would lead to death. The converse of this is that a sinless human would not have physically died. Without sin, mankind would simply have lived forever, in an edenic setting, in perfect fellowship with the Creator and all of creation.

What about the sun running out of nuclear fuel, or the Earth slowing down to a mere crawl rotationally, or the core of the Earth cooling to a solid mass? Obviously, since God created the Universe, He has the ability to have originally made it to endure and function as long as He desired it to...even eternally. Perhaps that is the reason for the mysterious actions of the quantum aspects of the Universe, the ability to eternally "feed" and sustain the motions, mass, and energy of the Universe.



With the Creator interacting with it, the Universe is definitely not a closed system, in anyone's book.




2. God commanded mankind to reproduce.

Even non-Bible-thumpers are familiar with the verse "Be fruitful and multiply..." It is perhaps the only command of God that humanity has ever obeyed, yet, not without strong incentive. The basic equation is: 1 man + 1 woman (can) equal 1 child. So, starting with an original pair, the first child born would have increases the planet's population by 50% (going from 2 people to 3 people). The next child increases it by 33%, yet it has also doubled it from the original pair.


The rate of population growth has obviously varied throughout time (initially it would have been HUGE since the overall population was smaller) but then tapered down. At present, it is estimated to be about a 1.5% growth rate.  It is calculated that our human population did not reach over one billion worldwide until just about 1800. In a short two hundreds years later, we have just passed seven billion.

(Side note: Even though people are always complaining about OVER-population, it is interesting to note that every single living person on planet Earth could fit within the city limits of Sarasota, Florida.)


A FLOOD OF FOLKS BEFORE THE FLOOD

Using the numbers in the book of Genesis, comparing average life spans, and average family sizes, and by calculating dates, conservative estimates reveal that the Earth's population at the time of Noah's flood could have been between 8 and 12 billion people. But then, after the flood, with drastically reduced life spans, a much harsher climate, and widespread war, disease, and competition for resources, it took humanity triple that Pre-flood period just to get back to one billion people.

But before you scoff, realize that we added SIX BILLION people in the last 200 years alone, so, in a world of increased longevity as existed before the flood, along with large family sizes (due to longer life), a lush, tropical environment....well, it is no stretch of the imagination or the data to see how the Earth's population could grow rapidly.

Population, like money, grows at a faster rate the more you have. Someone once asked a rich man if it is hard to make money: "Not really, " he said, "it is just the first million that is slow, the rest comes pretty quickly!"


3. God gave mankind dominion over the entire Universe.

Mankind is unique among all of God's physical creation. Of all the living, sentient beings, only of man was it said that God created him in His own image. Only of man did God impart an eternal spiritual dimension, when the scripture records that God, in effect, "breathed" into man spiritual life, not just physical life. Mankind was the only species that God gave moral commands to. Mankind alone communicated with the Creator. It was only of mankind that it said that God "walked" with in the Edenic paradise, communing as friend with friend. And finally, it was specifically given to man to have "dominion" over all of God's physical creation (the Universe).

Twice in Genesis 1 it declares: "God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion..." God made man as a mini-creator, so to speak. Man is nearly godlike over the rest of God's living creation. The superiority of man above the rest of creation is a picture of God's superiority above everything. We were created in His image, the image of authority, dominion, and moral consciousness. 


MAN--WAY OVER QUALIFIED


Even looking at the condition of mankind from a purely naturalistic, atheistic viewpoint, mankind is extreme overkill in many areas. The gap between man and the next most "advanced" animal is nearly infinite. Whether dolphin or chimpanzee, man towers above them intellectually, morally, physically, and spiritually like a New York skyscraper. It's no contest. As we look at the animal kingdom, there is a certain range of intelligence and capability (all based on instinct) and then....there is man.

Evolution cannot account for man's impressive arsenal of non-survival skills and "unnecessary" attributes. The fact that Darwin used advanced reasoning to formulate his naturalistic theory should have invalidated his own argument. As former atheist, Anthony Flew remarked, our self-consciousness alone is enough evidence to demonstrate the necessity of a Creator. There is no simple CELL and there is no simple SELF.


From our incredible brain, capable of discovering the very fabric of reality, demonstrated by Einsteinian Relativity to the Higgs boson of the Standard Model, to our moral compass, inexplicably and universally linked by a common conscience that shows remarkable consistency across the globe and across time, to a level of interpersonal communication that knows no equal, and indeed, knows no competition. Mankind alone possesses the ability for complex discourse, and alone possesses the symbolic tools of language embodied in written communication.


UNNATURAL SELECTION


Mankind alone passionately records his own history, and builds enduring monuments to his own achievements, mankind alone not only dreams of the stars, but actively creates the vehicles to take him there. Mankind alone constructs libraries and research centers, schools and churches, museums and theme parks. Mankind alone will spend countless hours and countless resources seeking knowledge rather than nourishment, conclusions rather than comfort, and science rather than safety.


Both the written word of God revealed in the scriptures, and the unwritten word of God revealed in nature, alike agree that mankind is distinct, superior, and unique. He was created in the very image of God (authority) and was specifically given dominion.


A MAN'S REACH SHOULD EXCEED HIS GRASP


But just how far does his dominion reach? For that answer we must look at an important passage in Psalm 8, speaking of God in the creation of the Universe: "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained..."

What is the Universe? It is the "works of His fingers..." Like a potter with clay, God molded all of physical reality to His own exacting specification.


But now, look a few verses down as it discusses mankind:
 "What is man that You are mindful of him...You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet."

God created mankind to have dominion over the "works of (His) hands". What are the works of His hands? Not just the Earth, but also the Moon, and the stars and all the heavenly bodies throughout the entirety of space. 

According to the Lord Himself, ALL of the Universe is to be "under" our feet, i.e. that mankind is to be above it, in dominion, in authority. As of 2012 we have only claimed and actually exercised that dominion over a small portion of that promise, specifically the Earth and the Moon. If the Lord delays His return for a few more decades, I fully expect, because of these verses, that we will be traveling literally, among the stars.

But we should have ALREADY been there.

THE ORIGINAL PLAN

Here is where things start getting real interesting. It is time to start using those Darwinian-Evolution-Cannot-Account-For Neurons in your brain. I'm going to take you back in time and look at where we should have, could have, and would have been, had not sin entered the picture, and destroyed not only man's perfect relationship with God, but also all but destroyed our true potential.

Imagine a world without SIN. The differences would be nearly incomprehensible. We cannot even watch the first two minutes of an evening news broadcast without seeing the faces and hearing the names of countless victims of suicide, homicide, and even genocide. From the greed of Wall Street, to the gross immorality of Main Street, from sickness and disease, to heartache, pain, and death. The evidence and proof of sin in mankind is undeniable. But just try to imagine Earth without sin.

No death. Here in 2012 we could still talk to Adam, or go visit with Moses---how about have breakfast with Aristotle, or a quick lunch with Jefferson, Locke, or Newton. Try to imagine the wealth of knowledge that a person could accumulate with a life expectancy of, well, of eternal. And then imagine how much more knowledge and technology would flourish as all of that previous knowledge is being perfectly passed down and built upon by newer minds, with newer ideas and innovations. 

Because of death, Isaac Newton never had the privilege of personally meeting with Einstein, and because of death, the possible discoveries and potentials of both of these great men will NEVER be realized. Imagine a world where the greatest minds of all of history could collaborate without the tragedy of at least one of the only two things said to be sure in this life.
No language barrier. Had there been no sin, then there would not have been the divine dividing of the languages at the famous Tower of Babel. There is no telling the amount of time and labor that goes into just attempting to bridge the language barrier that hinders business, technology, medicine, and politics. The benefits of a true global language are incalculable. Ideas, innovation, data, and concepts would move effortlessly and knowledge would only be aptly described as explosive. 

No distraction. So much of our time is wrapped up chasing meaningless ventures, and much of the world devotes the majority of it's day seeking food and shelter. But in a world of no sin, Genesis records that man's every need was met with bounty. Hunger would be unknown, and the endless pursuit of the basic necessities of life would be the stuff of poor fiction. Without the constant need to barely meet the demands of body and community, the incredible intellectual capital of mankind would be best described as logarithmic. 

No competition. In a world without sin, no one would be seeking to "get it before the other guy get's it." Instead of competition (driven by greed and pride) we would have collaboration. Instead of fighting each other, we would be working with each other to answer any challenge, and overcome any obstacle. Associated with this would be equitable and necessary utilization of resources (such as energy, metals, property) to best meet the needs of the enterprise.

Consider how many of the great minds throughout history who devoted most of their true genius to creating weapons of war. Even in the 20th century, the intellectual prowess of Europe was concentrated on bombs, aircraft, and the technology of mass death. Look how far we progressed in a short amount of time when the leading scientific minds in America came together in the space program mandate initiated by President Kennedy. Simultaneously, on the other side of the globe, the prodigies of the USSR were also pushing their own extra-terrestrial goals, in heavily shrouded and guarded secrecy. 


In the past few hundred years, many of the greatest minds have been focused on two opposing goals---one group on weapons to kill, the other, on medicines to heal. Imagine all of those dreamers working together, for a common purpose.

No sickness. The amount of any nation's gross national product as well as government expenditure related to medical care is staggering. And not only the financial aspects of health issues, but the toll on  people is incalculable. Add to that how much time and effort is spent by some of the brightest scientists in the world, who are working on discovering cures rather than discovering solutions to the great mysteries of the Universe about us. Consider even one man, Stephen Hawking, revered as the greatest living theoretical physicist, yet sadly debilitated by a cruel and progressive malady.

Think about this---mankind went from riding horses to walking on the Moon in less than 100 years, in that same time frame we went from interpersonal communication to international global communication. In less than 50 years we went from a slide rules to supercomputers. In less than a few years we went from exploratory surgery to non-invasive medical imaging, revealing every structure inside of a living being with the clarity of pure vision. 


TRACES REMAIN

And all of this in a world where SIN has taken it's toll, where man has fallen, and lost much of his original potential and promise. Even in this sin-cursed world, where will we be (technology-wise) in the next 10 years, 50 years, 500 years? Surely FTL travel (Faster Than Light) will be possible. Surely we will gain the technology to make a hostile and uninhabitable planet habitable. As of now, we are almost able to make the incredible reality of cheap nuclear fusion energy----so where will we be energy-wise in the distant or even not-so-distant future?

Now, think back to a world without sin. Surely we would have achieved the level of technology where we are today, many thousands of years ago in the past. Without death, distraction, competition, or any language barriers inhibiting progress, mankind would have achieved 21st century knowledge many, many centuries before.  Newton, Oppenheimer, Einstein, and all of the great mathematical and philosophical minds of ancient Greece would be able to collaborate.

It is not unrealistic to conjecture that we would have Faster Than Light travel, nuclear fusion, the ability to manipulate the laws of nature, to transform matter and energy into materials with properties hitherto unknown, to synthesize artificial life, in short, to have dominion over the "works of His hands."


BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER


The surface area of our amazing Earth is almost exactly 200 million square miles, of which, about 60 million square miles is land. For the sake of argument, let's assume that ratio was the same in the original creation. Granted, 60 million square miles is a tremendous amount of land, but it will only hold a finite number of people. Even granting a very generous plot of land of over one hundred square yards per person, this still yields an impressive figure of roughly 20 billion people that could be easily supported on the Earth. 


But, in a sinless world of no death, no sickness, no infant mortality...we would, without divine intervention and control (which are entirely possible and practical) mankind would have "outgrown" this Earth in 5 or 6 thousand years, quite possibly.


Perhaps, early on, man would have devoted technological efforts to discover ways to inhabit the vast regions of the oceans, or to even build layers of civilization, stacked vertically (skyscrapers), which certainly would have increased the possible total supportable population, perhaps even doubling or even tripling it.

But, eventually, mankind would have run out of space.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Some would offer that we would have then built giant floating metropolises in space, enormous centers of culture, knowledge, art, and science. But even then, we still would need more room. The Moon would have been renovated, perhaps, and that would hold for awhile, but the need for more room would continue to come.

Man would eventually have to set out for the stars. Leaving the cozy and familiar home of this inhabited solar system, human population growth, matched with genius technological progress would, no doubt, lead us to take more and more dominion. Planet after planet, galaxy after galaxy, super cluster after super cluster would be visited and colonized by man.



According to Romans chapter 8, since man was given dominion over the entire Universe, when man sinned against God and fell, that the Creator cursed all of creation. Nothing in all the physical Universe apparently was left untouched by this blemish caused by our pride and rebellion. All that was supposed to be "under our feet" has, in some sense, turned hostile to us. 


ATOM AND EVE


It is not too far of a theological stretch to imagine that a pre-sin Universe had habitable planets. The Creator's original plan was for us to have dominion over ALL of His physical creation. Even if there were not any habitable planets (outside of Earth), our technology would eventually reach the level of the "Genesis Device" of Star Trek fame...a contraption that could make the uninhabitable, habitable. We have done this to some degree on the Earth, surely futuristic technology would allow much, much more.


Since all elements, from Oxygen to Gold, from Hydrogen to Californium, all use the same ingredients of protons, neutrons, and electrons, the high-tech possibilities of elemental synthesis cannot be that far off, even now. The ability to make elements and then to design molecules would be passe in this sinless dominion. There would be no lack of perfect air to breathe, water to drink, or materials to build, as the secrets of atomic synthesis would be the stuff of elementary education (no pun intended).


DIGITAL DOMINION


It is estimated that we will have a computer than can match the reasoning power of the human mind within two decades. Imagine if we had reached that level about 500 years ago, or 1000 years ago...imagine where we would be now. Just as God created us in His image, we will soon be able to have our own creations that we will, undoubtedly, make in our image. Within 50 years it is estimated that we will have a supercomputer that will exceed the total processing power of the entire human race...now imagine that about 1000 years ago.


Scientists have observed, since about the 1920's, that the Universe is expanding, with all galaxies racing away from each other at apparently increasing speeds. As we consider the UDT (Universal Dominion Theory) this fits in perfectly, as the Universe would need to expand as the population would continue to grow throughout all eternity. 


MAKING SENSE OUT OF BABEL


In Genesis 11, there is a familiar account, an account so familiar that we often race over it in our studies. Instead of parsing it, line by line, word by word, we read it like a story, catching merely the obvious surface gems. But there are better and richer treasures, just below the surface. Genesis 11 contains the account of the Tower of Babel. God had commanded mankind to spread out and fill the Earth after the flood, but, in our rebellion, man refused. 


The scriptures record that the people, under a strong leader, decided to build a city and a tower---and it is interesting what the goal of that tower was (and perhaps what it represents). They said: "Let us build a tower whose top is in the Heavens..." Notice, inside of man is that lingering but degraded memory of our original intent and purpose. We had been given dominion by the Lord over the physical creation, the stars were put into our very hearts, so to speak, and the Tower of Babel is a physical manifestation of manifest destiny lost.

Then, it is equally interesting what the Lord says in response to man's industry. The Lord says: "“Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them."

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Amazing. God has told us that nothing that we propose to do (in this physical Universe) will be impossible, more or less. Even in our sinful state, the image of God we all bear still maintains tremendous promise and potential. To slow down our rebellious progress, the Lord divided the languages, which quickly divided mankind, which soon divided into nations across the divided continents.

As we look up at night into the near infinitude of the borderless lands of the cosmos, our hearts long for that final frontier. Those inexplicable emotions are but whispers, even echoes perhaps, of a time and possibilities forgotten, and of galactic paradise lost.

But, the journey may well begin again, one day, as we read in the scriptures of that time when the Lord creates "the New Heavens, and the New Earth." Now that's really something to think about.