Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Song and Scripture

Lead Me by Sanctus Real

Ephesians 5:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Isaiah 35:
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
   steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
   “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
   he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
   he will come to save you.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Song and Scripture

Several very simple posts scheduled for Tuesdays this year.  Plan to post a link to a song, and some scripture that go with the song.  If the song or scripture inspires you, or brings any thoughts, praises, or prayer requests to mind, feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.  If not, thats fine too.

Can't Get Away by Rush of Fools

Psalm 139:
7  Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence? 
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
   if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
   your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
   and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
   the night will shine like the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notes from Case for a Creator

Notes from Chapter 6: Evidence from Physics

In this chapter, Strobel described the anthropic principle.  Anthropic is Greek for man, and this principle is the idea that the "settings" of the universe are just prefect for man to exist.  I was disappointed that the chapter did not go into as many details as I would have liked -- so maybe I will have to do so myself, but don't expect that in this article... :-).

One of the settings mentioned was
 the gravitational constant: G = 6.67300 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2  

This determines the strenght of the attraction force between objects with mass.  If this were much bigger, you would find yourself uncontrollably attracted to the desk, your laptop, your cat, and, you know -- things like the sun, and the center of the galaxy.  In short, the universe would collapse upon itself in the big crunch -- or at the very least, the size of the universe would be smaller.  If this value were much smaller, the stars and planets would not have formed as science suggests they would, nor would they hold together.

The other settings described went above my head, and I cannot begin to explain them here. But the overall argument is that there is too much "coincidences" in the universe for it to mathematically happen by chance.  The anthropic principle is one of the most convincing and powerful suggests that a designer is at work.  Imagine I propose to you a $1000 bet that I can flip a coin 25 times and it get heads every time. If you accept that bet, and then I actually perform the feat -- would you pay me $1000 -- or would you assume that I some how cheated?  Imagine now, the universe is the product of a coin flipped billions of times -- and it worked out as remarkably as it has.  Which requires more faith -- that it occurred by chance, or that something fishy is going on.

Science's best attempt at eliminating God from the coincidence is the multiverse (many universe) theory.  They suggest that many universes exist, and we happen to be living in the one that is suitable for life. This is the idea behind the lottery.  Winning the lottery is next to impossible -- but there are so many tickets bought and so many people playing, that its inevitable that SOMEONE will have the winning ticket, sometimes. Even if this is the case, though there is no evidence yet that another universe exists anywhere, let alone enough universes to cover the chances required to bring life -- science then has to explain how all those universes came to be. And, if we are truly "fortunate" to be living where we do, what does that mean for life?

I believe the hypothesis of a creator and a super mind controlling the laws of the universe is not only the simplest explanation, but He answers the "so what" question too, describing how we should live being as fortunate as we are.

Additional resources:
  Large number coincidences and the anthropic principle
  Evidence of Fine Tuning - contains a list of 34 measurements and explains why slight increases or decreases would make the universe impossible or inhabitable.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Notes from Case for a Creator

Just some notes from Chapter 5: Evidence from Cosmology
In this chapter, Strobel interviews William Lane Craig PHD, THD on whether evidence from astronomy suggests there is a creator.  

Craig described the kalam cosmological argument. Kalam is Arabic for "speech" or "doctrine" and the argument is nearly a thousand years old, originating with Islamic theology. The argument has three premises:
  1. Whatever begins to exist, has a cause
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause

The first premise may be the hardest to support -- but no scientific experiment has ever created something from nothing.  Nothing spontaneously exists.  Even when new matter is created, it came from some other matter, or from energy.

The second premise is in the last hundred years is now beginning to become overwhelmingly evident.  Most of history, it was believed that the universe has always existed, and Christians had to accept by faith that the universe was brought into existence by God.  Now, evidence abounds that the universe had a beginning, and the onus is on science to provide an explanation that is more reasonable than God.  

Craig provided two types of evidence that the world began.
   1. A philosophical or mathematical argument: It is impossible for there to be an infinite amount of time before now, or there would have been an infinite amount of events that have occurred.  The idea of infinity is purely conceptual.  It's possible to deal with infinite quantities and ideas in our mind, but it is not descriptive of what can happen in the real world.  
   2. Astronomical evidence:  The big bang, as much as Christian's tend to disagree with and disbelieve, is strongly supported.  The most common evidence is that the universe is expanding, the universe is full of so-called background radiation.  In 1929, Edwin Hubble first noticed that light from galaxies appears redder than it should.  This red-shift is related to the Doppler effect that causes sounds to sound lower when objects are moving away from you.  If the universe is expanding as we go forward in time, it suggests the universe would have been smaller further back in time.  And in 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the universe's background radiation, which exists everywhere we look.  
   The thing is, Christians have no need to fear the big bang theory. The big bang theory might be able to describe what happened in the earliest moments of time, but it still doesn't describe the origin of the universe.  After all, what caused the big bang?  Perhaps God created the world using some of the ideas supported by the big bang -- perhaps He didn't and created the universe as described in Gen 1 -- but either way, the fact that science is convinced that the universe had a beginning in the first place makes belief in a creator much easier than when the universe was thought to have existed for all eternity.

The third premise is that the universe must have therefore had a cause.  

Craig also described another common alternative to the big bang, Oscillating Model of the universe. This theory suggests that the universe expands and contracts, and expands and contracts, and really does exist forever. This theory might defeat the kalam argument and eliminate the need for a god, but it is not supported by evidence.  Not only is the universe expanding, but its accelerating in its expansion. The known laws of physics. To contract, the universe would have to be dense enough to attract itself back together in the Big Crunch.  The known amount of matter and known values of gravitational constants and expansion rates predicts the universe will never again contract.  Craig also suggested that the laws of entropy suggest that even if the universe was in an oscillating state, the expansions would get bigger each cycle.  If we go back in time, they are smaller and smaller, and even the Oscillating Model would have a beginning -- the very problem it was trying to avoid.  


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spot It

Was pretty impressed with this game (Spot-It) today at the Velzen family Christmas.  I didn't really enjoy playing it, because my eyes and brain don't think quick enough to spot patterns and matches (I despise "speed" games and prefer slower-paced games) but it was a great math problem!!

The basic idea is that every card has 8 items on it, and you are supposed to find what matches from cards to cards.  The thing that impressed me was there was about 50 different pictures on the various cards, but every card shares one and only one picture every other card.  That is, take any pair of cards and they will have exactly one thing in common.

Can you do this with cards with 9, 10, 11 items on it?  How many different types of pictures do you need for 8 items per card so you don't ever have pairs of cards with 2 matches?  How many different cards are possible for x number of objects and y number of objects per card?  And how in the world do you begin to list all the possibilities in a useful, organized manner.  Would sure love to see a graph of this problem -- is it possible to draw in 2 dimensions?  Is it an 8-dimensional graph/problem?

Notes from Case for a Creator

Just some notes from "The Case for a Creator" by Lee Strobel

Chapter 4: Where Science Meets Faith

Strobel interviews Stephen C. Meyer PHD

Meyer objects to the belief that Science and Religion cover completely different realms, which he calls NOMA (non-overlapping magisteria).  He argues that Christianity makes many factual claims, that are going to intersect with science and history, and must either be supported or denied.  Meyer suggests science shouldn't necessarily be anti-God.  He prescribes a philsophy of "inference to the best explanation" or abduction. His findings suggest that "Science, done right, points to God."

He provided six examples that are best explained by theism.
   1. The Big Bang requires a cause
   2. Antrhopic Fine-tuning: The universe has finely tuned constants (e.g. Gravitational constant, expansion  rate, etc.) that if any different would make life impossible
   3. Information required for origin of life
   4. Irreducibly complex objects in microbiology
   5. Cambrian Explosion, or the biological "big bang" where dozens of new life forms seemed to appear without transitional intermediates
   6. The consciousness of man.

Strobel asked about supposed bad design (a topic called disteleology) and whether that points to a flawed designer.  Meyer suggested most bad design examples can be explained in three ways:
   1. We don't know enough yet
   2. The design was optimized and constrained -- a laptop user can complain that the screen is too small, but if it were bigger they would complain that it was too heavy, or too expensive.
   3. Theism also posits that the curse of sin is causing a decay of creation.

Articles by Stephen Meyer:
   Evidence for Design in Physics and Biology
   Modern Science and the Return of the God Hypothesis

Other Articles Mentioned:
   Dembski, William.  The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Book of Eli

Rented and watched this movie starring Denzel Washington.  It was the tale of Eli's journey across the country protecting the last known copy of the Bible after a war kills most of civilization. It contained some swearing, and a lot of close combat violence and blood and gore, so I can't recommend it for everyone. I was inspired by Eli's faith, and his devotion to understanding the Word. I won't spoil any pertinent details, but I will say I was disappointed at the ending. After such a long journey, and Eli's numerous claims of "It's not just a book" -- it ends up on a shelf, between the Koran and the Torah, as the camera pans out to view a hundred other books.  It ends up just another book in a giant library.

Eli's quote seems pretty applicable in these days:  "In all these years I've been carrying it and reading it every day, I got so caught up in keeping it safe that I forgot to live by what I learned from it." I think we often know what the Bible says but don't do what it says (see James 1:22).

Another quote I liked:
   Solara: I want to come with you
   Eli: No, you don't.
   Solara: I don't like it here.
   Eli: Then change it.

Blue Marble

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