Science vs. Religion

August 13th, 2004 Matt Jones 5 comments

This is something I wrote quite a while back but thought I would post it here and see if anyone else has anyone to say. :) (If you want to read any of the previous comments, head over here. [Sorry, the post and comments are no longer available]) [EDIT: I have made some additional remarks at my post Creation Science]

Since physics and astronomy have been a big portion of my life and interest, I enjoy thinking and writing about such subjects. The “String Theory” post was the first attempt at such a discussion on my blog. There is much discussion in and out of the Christian community about such things as the age one the universe / earth, evolution, big bang, “creationism” and other such scientific (and un-scientific) theories. This will be my first attempt to tackle such issue all at once. Obviously I won’t be able to address everything and I will try and be as concise as possible (I tend to ramble and I will apologize for that now). This will probably be a long post so bear with me (or not, your choice). Also, one thing to say before people jump on me for not supporting some of my claims with specifics – I will try and do the best I can to make references but I am moving soon so my books are packed up and are not at an easy reference point. If need be I will reference them after I move. So here it goes.

There are many Christians who believe in Creationism or Creation Science. I am not one of those people. This in NO WAY implies that I doubt their salvation. This merely means I disagree with some of their beliefs, these beliefs are not primary to salvation and therefore essentially DO NOT MATTER. That being said, I am a science guy and enjoy discussing such things and believe that people should always be furthering their understanding of God and His universe. What I have learned and believe does not fall in line with some of the main tenants of Creation Science. I guess the purpose of this entry is to suggest to both Christians and non-Christians that someone who is saved can still believe in the Bible as well as what science tells us.

It seems that most Creation Science is primarily used to go against evolutionist ideas as well as big bang theories (among others). The goal of Creation Science, I think, is good. It is an attempt to ratify things seen in the universe and to mingle them with ideas in the Bible. The problem that I see is that they don’t always really look at everything seen in nature. I suppose I should start with evolution. Evolution is the subject that I know the least about as it has not really been part of my studies so I will attempt to keep this brief. There has never been any proof that macro evolution (the changing of species from one to another) actually happens. This theory is followed like a religion and takes just as much faith to follow. Micro evolution (the adaptation and genetic changing of a species) has had reasonable evidence to suggest that it is possible and does indeed happen. Logically speaking it would be a fallacy to suggest that because micro evolution happens so does macro. On this topic I would probably be siding with the Creationist as there is little evidence to support this theory. The problem that arises is that evolution is often associated with the age of the earth because it takes millions and / or billions of years for evolution to take place. It is at this point that I generally break with beliefs of both evolutionists as well as Creationists. I do believe that the earth is approximately 4 billions years old but not because evolution mandates that. The evidence collected from both the earth and moon in a variety of ways suggests this age. I do, however believe in the timeline suggested in the Bible since the birth of Adam. The Bible puts forth that there is about 6000 years from Adam’s birth to current day. I have no reason to believe that the Bible would not be literal about these ages.

So why do I believe that humans have been since Adam about 6000 years ago while I do not believe that the age of the earth is similar? Because I believe in the Bible and in science. Let me start with the Bible.

Genesis 1.5: God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The Hebrew yom is translated primarily as “day” and is from a primitive root meaning day, but it is also translated as many other things such as age, always, Chronicles, completely, continually, eternity, forevermore, lifetime, period, some time, years, and multitudes of others, but you get the idea. To me it is clear that the mere use of the word yom does not necessarily imply a single day. It must be read in context in order to correctly translate the word. So how do we read Genesis in context so we can understand what “day” should actually mean to us? The Creation narrative tells us where we come from and that we are under God’s authority. I think ultimately the usage of “day” comes from the fact that it is something we can understand. The 7 day week we are used to, we understand the Sabbath and that there is a division between the days. I think that this usage helps us follow along with the narrative. There doesn’t seem to be anything explicit about the passage that would let us know exactly. It is not a simple matter of taking the text literal or not it is a matter of listening to the narrative and the narrative is not explicit about what a “day” means. I suggest, then, that we should turn to science to see when the universe did begin.

Research into the age of the earth yields an age of around 4.5 billion years. Determining this age can be difficult because of the earth’s molten core that causes surface features to be replenished. Even though many features change there have been rocks found that date to around 3.5 billion years using different radiometric dating methods. This therefore establishes a lower limit on the earth (which is much older than many Creationists assert). Because it is hard to directly measure the exact age of the earth, indirect methods must be used. The best way to do this is determine the age of the Solar System which should roughly have the same age as the earth. Meteorites that have fallen to the earth can be used to find the age of our system and generally turn out to consistently be between 4.3 and 4.5 billion years (I know I am not citing sources, I apologize, you can find them for yourself.). Also, magnetic “markers” at the mid-Atlantic ridge show an age of around 80 million years. This follows from the fact that as magma emerges from the mid-Atlantic ridge the earth’s magnetic field essentially imprints its signature into that rock. As is spreads away from the ridge on either side there are locations where the magnetic field drops to 0 and then comes back with the opposite polarity (Magnetic north becomes magnetic south and viceversa). This reversal has been observed some 170 times. There is some inaccuracy here because it is not completely know how long it takes for the earth to change its magnetic field (meaning the 80 million years is essentially an estimate). This age is definitely not the best in determining the age of the earth because of replenishment of the earth’s core as well as the inaccuracies of determining how long it takes for the magnetic field to flip. That being said, it still seems to suggest that it is older than what Creationists suggest. (note: it has also been directly observed on the sun that magnetic fields do flip)

What is my point? My point is simply that scientific evidence cannot be ignored. It is also that when you don’t ignore scientific evidence you don’t have to throw the Bible out. They can indeed coexist. Even if you want to argue the age of the earth it is now nearly impossible to argue the age of the universe (at least a minimum age). The Big Bang theory has significant evidence to suggest that it (or at least a form of it) is correct. Direct observations in the sky lead to an age of the universe of about 13 billion years. The big bang theory always blows my mind because to me it fits perfectly with Christian theology. It always confuses me when it is used by scientists to suggest that it shows Christianity is wrong and thrown away by Christians because they say it doesn’t fit with the Bible. To me, both parties are blind to what the big bang really tells us about God’s creation.

Big Bang theory suggest that at a quantum singularity (normal physics breaks down at a singularity, it should also be noted that this did not happen IN space as there was nothing at all before the big bang, not even space) 13 billion years (or so) in the past “exploded” (which is not the best description as it didn’t really explode, it just became and started to expand) and the universe came into existence.

Genesis 1.1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Ummmmm…. These two beginnings seem remarkably similar. The age can be extrapolated from current expansion of the universe as well as ages of stars and galaxies. All measurements of expansions lead to a singularity where density and heat are essentially infinite (check the Hubble Law as an example of such evidence). Cosmic microwave background radiation also points to a single creation event as the radiation is fairly smooth and even in all directions.

Personally, everything I have learned about physics and astronomy have drawn me closer to God and given me even more reason to believe. It blows my mind that some scientists can study the same things and not see a divine creator. It would be too much to go into here, but the complexities of the universe, cosmologically speaking, are so amazing that to deny a divine creator seems ludicrous. Similarly, it seems blind to me that many Christians can deny what legitimate science indicates. The science supports the Bible, it does not change it or challenge it.

There may have been a few more subjects I wanted to discuss, but it is getting late and I have forgotten what they are! I know this is a bit long, but I hope it has at least made sense. I really look forward to any comments that are out there. I will try and respond to them as I really do enjoy discussion. I probably won’t post another blog entry for a while as this is pretty involved and I do need to focus on getting ready to move to Canada, so possibly in another week I will try and get something else up. I named this entry “Science vs. Religion” because that always seems to be the argument, but indeed, they can coexist. Science cannot prove a religion but it can definitely support it.

I look forward to hearing from you! Shalom!

Original Post with extensive comments [UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!] and visit my newer post Creation Science for additional remarks.

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Categories: Apologetics Tags:

Jesus IS God

August 9th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

There is a lot of talk about this subject, naturally. One tenant of the Christian faith is that Jesus IS God and is also Man, both 100%. This seems to be a paradox that only the Godhead can understand. I am ok with that. This, of course, brings up controversy. Many people suggest that Jesus really is not God, just a good man. (There are many problems with this argument, I am only going to discuss one.) People will support this claim by saying that Jesus never actually said “I am God.” There are actually many instances where Jesus actually does claim that He is God just not in the way that we want Him to. Claiming authority over the temple is just one example of his claim that He is God (only God can claim authority over the temple), and this is only one of the examples. I would like to point to John chapter 8 as a full on claim that He truly IS God.

John 8.58 - Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

Please do go read this passage in context and it will have even more impact. Jesus states a few things in this passage. First, he is claiming that he has been around since before Abraham, this should make it very obvious that He is more than just a man. What really make this an “I am God” statement is his use of the phrase “I am.” Any good Jew would realize that this is a direct allusion to the burning bush. Exodus 3.14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Jesus is making a full allusion to something that the Jews would know about. Claiming “I am” is putting himself as God, as the burning bush, as the God of Israel. To further support the claim that Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, directly after Jesus says this, the Jews pick up rocks to stone Him as, in their eyes, he was a blasphemer and should, by law, be stoned to death. “I am” is not a simple statement. The OT ???? is used to replace the unspeakable YHVH ???? .

Anyway, this isn’t really the entry that I had been planning on tonight. Had a good Bible study and this stuff was brought up so thought I would think about it a bit more. I will hopefully get an entry up about stuff pertaining to age of the Earth and such things.

Shalom

Addendum in response to a question about Mark 10.18:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

I am assuming you are asking because this passage seems to suggests that Jesus is not God, yes? To me, and I haven’t done much research into this yet as I am at work, hopefully I can get more indepth later, I would say that Jesus is essentially speaking on behalf of all humans. Jesus is suggesting that humans are lacking and only God is complete. Humans fail and sin, God does not. Jesus is 100% man and could therefore speak on our behalf, but he is also 100% God and, unlike us, can resist temptation and sin. I hope that makes sense, and like I said, I will hopefully be able to look more into this one.

Let me quote William Lane as he put it better than I can.

Jesus responded by directing attention away from himself to God, who alone is the source and norm of essential goodness. The apparent repudiation of the epithet “good” only serves to radicalize the issue posed by the question of verse 17. The inquirer’s idea of goodness was defined by human achievement. He undoubtedly regarded himself as “good” in the sense that he was confident that he had fulfilled the commandments from the time he first assumed their yoke as a very young man…. Jesus’ answer forces him to recognize that his only hope is an utter reliance upon God, who alone can bestow eternal life.

Which I suppose is somewhat similar to what I stated above, just more eloquently. Jesus’ statement is not about being separate from God, it is about humans relying on God. I think this verse, along with the others you address are part of what makes the Trinity so confusing (and often a matter of faith). The Godhead IS indeed three separate “pieces” if you will. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are distinct in their attributes, but still God.

The Trinity should be kept in mind when reading Acts 7.55 (well and always I guess). Stephen is under the same persecution as Jesus was essentially, blasphemy. As he looks to Heaven he sees God who is bringing him into His kingdom because of the sacrifice of the “son of Man” in Jesus. The are two separate beings partly because they ARE separate beings in the Trinity but also because they have each played an important role in Stephen’s role and are important to the context of Stephen’s story.

I don’t feel that 1 Cor 11.3 is meant to contrast God and man in a similar way you would contrast man and woman. The passage is to convey a relationship between the two parties. Gordone Fee suggests “Paul’s understanding of the metaphor, therefore, and almost certainly the only one the Corinthians would have grasped, is “head” as “source,” especially “source of life.” … Thus Paul’s concern is not hierarchical (who has authority over whom), but relational (the unique relationships that are predicated on one’s being the source of the other’s existence).” So this passage directly relates to the Tiniity in that God truly is the Godhead and is the source of everything, including Jesus. But Jesus has a very close relationship with the Godhead being a member along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“Godhead” is merely a term used when talking about all three persons in the Trinity - God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Passages you have pointed out, and others, point to the fact that God and Jesus are separate, this is true. THere are also numerous passages where Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, the specific one I have used in this thread comes from John. The way this dichotomy is resolved is where the Trinity comes in. The Trinity is One being - God - that has different aspects to it that have different “roles.” “Roles” is a somewhat bad term to use because the lines are blurred a bit, but I will use it none the less. Some think of it like this (again, this can’t be done to strictly because each “role” does all of this things as well, but that is another issue): The Father is the one in charge, Jesus is our salvation and God’s “represenative” to us, Jesus is also able to relate very closely to each and every one of us because he is Man, the Spirit is, as you said, God’s “active force” essentially, the Spirit also is somewhat of a moderator between us and God the Father. Individual pieces of one God.

Let me (loosley) use a metaphor that Hugh Ross used in helping to understand the Trinity. If God exists He would have to be outside of our dimensions as He is all encompassing. There are probably 11 dimensions (at least that is what current String Theory tells us) and God resides over all of those dimensions. For simplicity’s sake, I will only make reference to our three space dimensions. If God is above all 11 dimensions, he is definitely over our three space ones. Let us go down even farther and imagine that we are two dimensional beings (this will help in understanding the three dimensional version becase it is difficult, even impossible, to imagine a 4 space dimensional being or object). As a two dimensional being you are constrained to a surface and can go left and right, forward and backward, but not up and down, you don’t even have any thickness. You are gliding along one day and all of a sudden three dots appear in front of you . . . seems odd that they would randomly appear, then those dots start to grow and turn into circles o o o they keep growing O O O until they get larger and they start to touch OOO as they continue on they actually merge into one large oval ( ) . This all seems very odd as they came out of nowhere, but none the less they were still in your two dimensions. Now, if you, being a two dimensional person, had the capacity and comprehension to visualize and see a third dimension you would have seen that it was merely a three dimensional person sticking three of his fingers through your two dimensional plane. (for this to make a little more sense, imagine the 2-d plane is your desk and imagine pushing your fingers through it, what the plane of your desk sees is a dot where your finger starts and then growing into a larger circle. Make sense??) Now, to the two dimensional being it seems very odd for this to happen but to the three dimensional being it was just normal, the 3-d person has a higher range of motion. Let us carry this over to our three dimensions. How would a 4-dimensional being interact with our 3-dimensions (or a much higher order dimensional being even)?? To us, it might look very strange, but to them it is normal. The other, and very important, thing to note here is that the two dimensional being saw three distinct circles. If the person had not continued to push his fingers through they never would have merged into one shape (part of the hand). To the 2-d person those three O’s were COMPLETLY separate, individual objects. It is only with the knowledge and understanding of a higher dimension that you would be able to see that those three separate pieces were indeed all part of the same unit - the hand. While the Trinity’s different pieces may seem completly separate, even if closely related, they may actually be part of the same object but because of our limited understanding, we cannot see the entire piece. Wow, I hope that made sense, I hope Hugh Ross doesn’t read this and plot my death.

[UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

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Categories: Theology Tags:

A Short Biography of St. Andrew

August 6th, 2004 Matt Jones 2 comments

Once again I was listening to one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy, and was listening to their song “The Cross Of St. Andrew.” I realized that I didn’t know much about Andrew. Theses are the things that I knew and found out (a lot of the info has come from “Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible,” here, and here.)

Andrew (which means “manly” in the Greek) was one of the 12 apostles and the brother of Peter. He was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee by trade. Tradition tells us that he went to preach in Scythia (Greece) and crucified in Achaia (a region in Greece) at Patras. There is an apocryphal book called “Acts of Andrew” which is largely thought to be fictional but in the spirit of the Christian mindset in the 2nd century. The story goes into Andrew’s missionary trips throughout Asia performing different miracles. The account tells of Andrew healing and converting the wife (who then takes an oath of celibacy) and brother of proconsul Aegeates. Aegetes then takes revenge by having Andrew flogged and crucified. Traditions has it that he was to be crucified in the same way that Christ was but objected saying he wasn’t worthy so the crucifix was turned sideways like an X (a saltire). Andrew preaches from the cross for three days and reportedly says “O good cross! Made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee!”

Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland whose flag bears the white cross (actually the X, saltire) of St. Andrew. Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia where many flags are also adorned with the saltire.

Andrew has become a symbol for spreading God’s Gospel and someone who truly understood Jesus’ grace and mercy at the Cross.

“The Cross Of St. Andrew” – Five Iron Frenzy

One missed step can make you stumble,
you set yourself up for a fall.
You punish yourself for each failure,
dogma beat out alcohol.
When all of your principles were fashioned,
you thought that your new rules made you new.
But maybe those X’s on your hands,
are what’s killing you.

[Chorus]

The Cross of Saint Andrew,
never meant to take His place.
The Cross of Saint Andrew,
echoes of His grace.

When Saint Andrew knew the measure,
he knew the cost of sacrifice,
he left all that he knew behind him,
great things come at such great price.
But all of this never brought the answers,
obedience comes with controversy,
what changed him changes me today,
Christ has mercy.

[Bridge]
All your sins can be forgiven,
all of this was always free.
Jesus loves without condition,
this is what freedom means to me.

Nihil ergo nunc damnationis est
his qui sunt in Christo Iesu qui non
secundum carnem ambulant.

[Translated: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8.1f)]

I found this to be a pretty interesting search for info on someone I didn’t know that much about!

Shalom

Addendum:
So here are a few thoughts of mine if reference to what the first stanza (especially the dogma beat out alcohol line).

I am not positive about this one, but this is how I see it: Christians set very high standards for ourselves because, eventhough we know it isn’t true, we feel we have to show ourselves worthy to get in to heaven. Because of this we are really hard on ourselves when we screw up. Hence the first few lines of the song. I think the next step is we can be come very legalistic about some things, including (especially?) relating to alcohol. We try and remove anything that could be construed as bad and become legalistic about things so we can try and remain closer to God. [Edit that wasn't in the email, thought I should be a little more concise here] This is what the “dogma beat out alcohol” line means, our legalism, dogma, have tried to remove anything “bad” eventhough alcohol isn’t necessarily bad. Then they go on to say “When all of your principles were fashioned, you thought that your new rules made you new.” They say this because it turns out that our legalistic nature is, indeed, not what has saved us but God’s good grace. The crosses on our hands are those rules we think we have to follow in order to be Christ but they are killing us because that has become our focus instead of Christ himself.

Any thoughts there?

[UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

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Categories: Religion Tags:

String Theory Primer

August 3rd, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

I am not completely sure how to write this blog as I am not really an authority on the subject. I have immensely enjoyed Brian Greene’s book “The Elegant Universe” and I highly recommend it to anyone (not just those savvy in the area of advanced physics). I do feel that I can talk about it some as I do have a degree in physics and astronomy and have dealt with it some both in and out of classes. I suppose I will try and give a “primer” on what String Theory is and tries to accomplish. If this entry ends up being too long, I am sorry, I really enjoy physics and it is fairly complicated and even more complicated to explain it on a somewhat non-technical level. I will apologized now for switching tenses throughout my writing, I tend to do that a lot and I don’t really plan on editing this very much for perfect grammar – sorry!

A large majority of physicists believe that there should be an ‘Ultimate Theory” or “Theory of Everything (ToE).”. This means that there would be a somewhat “simple” set of equations that would account for all the forces that we see in the universe. Progress in this area has been going on for many years with periods of great advancement and periods of sweeping it under the carpet. There are 5 forces that essentially hold the entire universe together: magnetic, electric, gravitational, weak and strong nuclear. As many of you are aware, the magnetic and electric forces have been successfully combined into the electromagnetic force. The four remaining forces are still waiting to be united into this ToE. The problem that arises is essentially scale. Gravity is EXTREMELY weak. For example, the gravitational attraction of two like charged particles is 10^42 times weaker than the electromagnetic repulsion. That is a HUGE difference in strength. Scale also comes into play in the physics used to describe different events. It had appeared that special relativity was incompatible with Newtonian gravity. Einstein was able to resolve the inconsistencies by showing that, as opposed to what Newton thought, gravity actually manifests itself at the speed of light and not instantaneously as previously believed. This was a great advancement because it brought Newtonian physics up to speed with the more modern experimental physics. It didn’t completely replace Newtonian physics, just modified it so it would not only describe classical physics but also relativistic physics. The next problem that arose was different in that it couldn’t be simply resolved with modification of an existing theory (like Einstein did with Newton’s gravity). General relativity is understood very well and predictions have held up in experiments but it seems to break down at the quantum level (quantum mechanics has also be very consistent with its predictions matching experiments). One thing string theory hopes to do is to resolve the incompatibilities between general relativity and quantum mechanics.

String theory essentially was born in order to describe how everything worked together, at both large and small scales and more importantly, incorporate gravity. Gravity has always been somewhat of a “black sheep” in the world of forces. It seemed like it was never really able to mesh well with any theory and any existing theory that it was added to seemed to break down.

Here is the basic idea of what a string is: every elementary particle is actually made up of a vibrating string, similar to that of a guitar or piano string. Each particle is a different note or different vibration. This helps support the merging of quantum mechanics and general relativity because string theory does not require events to occur at a single point as in particle physics.

Ok, there is MUCH more to this, I haven’t even really scratched the surface. This is already probably too long and I am kinda all over the place so I should stop now. I will hopefully get back to the subject and delve a little deeper into the elegance of string theory. I would recommend checking out PBS’ Elegant Universe page . It has a lot of Brian Greene’s stuff there from his NOVA series. Sorry if I was all over the place!

Shalom

[UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

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Categories: Science Tags:

Predestination and Free Will

July 28th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

There can be a lot of discussion in (and out) of the “religious” community about predestination and free will. I thought that I would share my thoughts on the subject and see if anyone else cared to share theirs.

The discussion (or arguments, depending on who you are talking with) seems to revolve around the fact that the Bible does not explicitly say “you have complete free will” or “your entire life is predestined.” Although, it does come pretty close to stating both.

Free Will (the ability to choose in any way desired without external circumstances getting in the way. This relates to the Christian faith in that God allows people to choose for themselves if they will accept salvation. Self-Determinism): These words never actually appear in the Bible but their concepts do. The Bible often suggests that we should conquer sin by choosing to repent from it and choose righteousness and follow Christ. The following verses definitely give rise to the thought that we do indeed have free will to choose things and that we do, indeed, need to choose Christ and repentance in order to be saved: Col 3.5 - John 3.16 - John 12.48 - Rom 10.9ff - 1 Peter 5.1ff

Predestination (all things are preordained, there is a sovereignty that has planned history and it is unfolding as time goes on, fate. More specifically, this relates to the Christian faith in that God has predestined, or already chosen, everyone that will or will not accept, and receive, salvation. “election”): The term “predestined” does appear in the Bible and does refer to the foreknowledge and sovereign power of God. The following verses lead directly to the conclusion that we are, in fact, predetermined to be (or not be) saved: Rom 8.28ff - Gal 1.15 - 1 Cor 2.7 - Eph 1.4f, 11 - 2 Thess 2.13

How does the Christian (or non-Christian, skeptic, atheist, agnostic, whomever) ratify the two seemingly paradoxical beliefs? The way I see it is that they are not paradoxical at all. Predestined means that God is sovereign and omniscient (has complete knowledge). Free will means that He has brought us into relationship with Him and has allowed us to choose Him or not. The two distinct beliefs only become paradoxical if we think 4 dimensionally. We would be confining God to our space-time. We are very used to things going forward in a linear fashion and, I think, have put God in the box of our timeline. What we fail to realize is that God is above that and does not have to be confined to the 4 extended dimensions that we are familiar with. String theory (which I who to write about at another time) suggests that there are actually 11 dimensions (10 space – the 4 that we know and 6 additional, very small, curled up ones – and 1 time). I will loosely apply a metaphor to this discussion that Brian Greene talked about in “The Elegant Universe” in describing other dimensions:

God is above time and can therefore see all choices (that we are free to make) at any point in time. Look at it like this (I discussed that a bit in another post): We walk along a string in one direction and from our vantage we can only see down the string. We can only walk in that one direction (like time). God, as he is above all dimensions, can see the entire string and therefore our entire life displayed before him. His foreknowledge is such that He can see the entire string and all of our choices. God knows who will choose Him and has known since before we were born. The fact that He knows does not me that we are REQUIRED to choose Him. Predestination, many people seem to think, means that we are forced into things and that therefore we have no freedom and then there would be no point. I believe that free will and predestination on their own lack completeness. If they are put together there is less chance we will but God in a box.

I think I have left some stuff out that I wanted to discuss and may remember it later. And yes I know I have rambled a bit, but deal with it. ? Please feel free to comment or add anything.

The discussion on multiple dimensions is pretty interesting and hopefully I will discuss that later along with string theory.

Shalom

Addendum:
A side comment about “predestination” and “foreknowledge.” The words are very closely related but are subtly different. Foreknowledge seems to merely refer to a knowledge about something before it happens. God does have foreknowledge but, more importantly, he has indeed predestined things to happen. The subtle difference is that knowledge is just an understanding that something will happen where as predestination is that God has indeed layed things out in a particular way. Predestination does mean that history will unfold in a particular way that God has described. This, to me, in no way takes away from our free will to choose.

Predestination has once been described in this manner (which I beleive incorporates free will): God is like a chessmaster. When a chessmaster is on top of his game (which God always is) he can see every move that his opponent will make and see the outcome of the game. Each move can still be made by choice but ultimately the chessmaster knows what will happen. I like this analogy because it implies at least one important thing: God helps guide us, if we listen. A chess master can make certain moves that will lead his opponent where he wants him to go, in a similar way, God allows us to choose but will also make certain moves (this can manifest in different ways in our life) that lead us a certain way. We can completely ignore those things and make other moves, but if we listen to God he will lead us where we enter into a deeper relationship with him. The analogy does break down here because a chessmaster makes his moves so that his opponent will lose the game, real life is not a game and God makes His moves so that we will draw closer to Him.

[UPDATE: Original post and comments are no longer available. :( sorry!]

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Categories: Theology Tags:

Who writes the headlines?

July 19th, 2004 Matt Jones No comments

Another funny post by Steven Den Beste. Basically he posted a snapshot from a Canadian news paper that states “World’s two most wanted war crimes fugitives still evading justice”

Now lets evaluate this jewl of a headline. To be a fugitive, don’t you have to be on the run? Seems like they are being a little redundant. Lets say, far argument’s sake, they aren’t being redundant and we have these two criminals evading justice. Now lets say they are caught, therefore the first and second most wanted criminals are out of commission, what happens to the third and fourth most wanted? Well it seems to me that they are now first and second (lucky them!). There is always going to be “two most wanted.” This headline could be said any any time of year and will ALWAYS be correct. ALWAYS. I thought this was very clever. :)

Shalom

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