Archive for December, 2012

Maybe I’ve been thinking too much this Christmas. Perhaps because of the school shooting in Connecticut, my mind keeps drifting back to some of the troubled people I’ve known. This week, I’ve felt like I should stop to remember Christmas. So, before I continue studying the evidence for Noah’s flood, I’ve hurriedly thrown this post together.

Christmas is about the birth of hope. We all have dreams, and we try to gather hope. Sometimes we reject the true and living hope, dreaming instead of something that only leads to deeper despair. If only their young killer had held real hope instead of a gun, the precious Connecticut children would be with their families this Christmas.

By the word “real,” I mean true and abiding. We would all like to have something tangible that we can hold onto, but we really need hope that will endure beyond that which is now tangible. That’s what is meant by the words from Romans 8:24, “Hope that is seen is not hope.” Those are very deep words. I’m sure there are many factors, but it seems to me that one of the targets of the school shootings was hope.

In each of our lives, there is a war against hope. I once had a friend who was prone to violence. He was married to one of my sisters for a short time. His lack of control seemed to surface more in his relationship with her than with others, but I only know of one person who seemed to be able to get along with him.

I once loaned him my car to take my sister on a trip to Florida; I didn’t find out until later that his intent was to haul drugs back to sell. Something went wrong, and there was some trouble, but they made it back home safely. It really worried me that he had led my sister into danger.

Several things went wrong between us. I helped him get a job where I worked, but he gave the manager a hard time. He later stole money from the place when I was on duty. That would have been trouble for me if the manager hadn’t figured out what happened.

Yet, for some reason that’s hard to explain, I’ve always thought of him as a friend. He and my sister divorced, and I didn’t see him much after that. He began breaking into homes and stealing, went to prison awhile for burglary, and stayed in trouble after that. From time to time, I heard stories about him fighting the police when someone called them, and things like that.

I ran into him once after he got out of prison. He seemed to be ashamed of the way he looked, and explained that much of his thinning hair had been yanked out during a fight in prison. I told him about the hope that I’ve found in Jesus, and apologized for my part in our problems of the past. He said something like, “It’s alright man,” but I’m not sure that it was. Everything he said was in a resigned sort of way, as if nothing mattered.

I know a lot of people tried to help him, and that some people loved him, but just couldn’t get through to him. I remember now that he once told me that he “couldn’t cry anymore.” I think that he meant he would feel better if he could. If I had believed in Jesus at that time of my life, Maybe I would have been able to answer him.

Not long ago, he apparently jumped off an overpass. I didn’t go to see him in the hospital; there was a little hope that he might survive, and that’s what I was praying for. I wanted to have a long talk with him later. One of my sisters, and her husband visited him, talking softly to him about their belief in Jesus, but he was never able to respond. It’s my belief that they would be the best people for God to send at that point in time.

I don’t have a lot of assurance that I’ll see my friend in Heaven, but I have a little hope that somewhere in that fog that exists between life and death, he could have accepted Jesus. I would dearly love to  meet him again some day, give him a hug and say, “The sacrifice of Jesus has been great enough to save us both.”

I wonder about another man I once worked with. I haven’t heard any bad news about him, and maybe “no news, is good news.” He lived in fear of the voices that he heard in his head. He would try to show a little humor about it, but I could see fear in his eyes when he talked to me about it.

He would tell me that he was possessed, and that he was crazy. He said more than once, “You don’t know man, if I was to forget to take my medicine, I might go off and start shooting people.” I would tell him, “Take your medicine, but you don’t have to obey whatever you are hearing, trust Jesus and ignore the voices.” He would ask me to pray for him, which I always thought was a good sign.

I told him that most people don’t hear audible voices, but all people have negative thoughts, and we all get bad ideas. I stressed that there’s not so much difference as we might think. I told him about some things in my own archives, and tried to give him the hope that I know is real.

Other people knew about his problem, and most of them kind of laughed about it. I don’t believe he was actually a threat to other people, but this may have cost him his job. I think I remember someone saying that he was on disability.

God would dearly love for all of us to have hope. In Luke 2:10, the angel told the shepherds not to fear, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The birth of Jesus was then announced.

There is a bit of disagreement over the translation of Luke 2:14. The King James Version has the angel’s parting words that we are most familiar with; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Most modern versions translate this as if God’s good will is directed more toward people of good will, but again, verse 2:10 specifically tells us the good news is for all people.

The difference apparently stems from a grammatical difficulty in translating the verse from the original Greek. God’s heart’s desire is for peace on earth, and he sent his son because of his good will toward all people.

As I look around this Christmas, at the atheist’s billboard that’s been in the news, and the many battles against real hope, I am not as merry as I would like to be. This is all part of Christ’s cross to bear, yet I have hope because of him, and Christmas will always be an especially precious time.

I wish that everyone could have a merry Christmas, but if that isn’t possible right now, let God give you hope, and a precious Christmas because you have hope. “Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all people.”

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The mass extinctions of Earth’s past are not happening today. The sedimentary layers are no longer being deposited as they were, and very few fossils are being formed today compared to the past. In the earth’s ancient history, many things have happened on a very different scale from today.

Today’s geological processes are not a clue that yesterday’s geological column was produced slowly, yet that was the idea behind the geological time scale of millions of years. It was assumed that if it would take millions of years for the sedimentary layers to form at the current pace, then millions of years must actually have passed. Most scientists today cling to that idea even though they know that Earth’s past was very different from today.

With a few exceptions such as the Himalayas, which are still slowly rising, geologists believe that an equilibrium has been achieved through isostasy. This would mean that the elevations of land areas are not rising and falling as they are once thought to have done. This also agrees with the promise made to Noah (Genesis 9:15) that a flood would never again cover the entire earth. There have been many earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and tsunamis since then, but nothing remotely comparable to Noah’s flood.

We need to remember that the Bible predicts the earth isn’t as stable as we think. An earthquake is predicted in Revelation 16:18,20 that will change the topography of Earth. Mankind will witness events taking place over a short period of time, that are presently believed to take millions of years.

Over the past few decades, scientists have become more accepting of the role of catastrophe in Earth’s geological history. Nearly 400 feet of strata formed from the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Mudflows there in a single day in 1982, eroded a canyon one-fortieth the size of the Grand Canyon. In a less recent incident, an underwater landslide from the Grand Banks earthquake of 1929, carried sediments 600 kilometers (372 miles) underwater from where the slide first started (ref. Wikipedia).

These events are clues that our geological scale is wrong. Drawn with its graduations of millions of years, it does not take into account Earth’s obviously more violent past. The geological column could not actually form at Earth’s present everyday pace; not in millions of years. It just wouldn’t happen. It would only form under severe catastrophic conditions.

The layers of sediment came from different places, some from very distant places. In some places, the order of the layers is different. Rock that is believed to be older sometimes covers “younger” layers, and some layers are often missing altogether. The answer to these things is that many cubic miles of sediments, from different environments, have been transported by water to different areas of the world. These have formed the layers that we see today.

Some layers, representing millions of years according to evolutionary thinking, are missing, not because they eroded away, but because the sediments from a particular area didn’t spread over the whole globe. The fossils preserved in the layers are from different habitats; not separated by millions of years of time, but by distance. That tells us why certain types of fossils are usually found in particular kinds of stone.

I think I’ll try to find an area where the geological strata is well-known. and see if I can determine where geologists believe the sediments in the various layers originated. Geology possesses so much detailed information that it can be hard to find what you’re looking for, so I don’t know if that idea is practical or not.

I pray along with millions of others for strength and help for the families of those killed in the Connecticut school shooting. I pray they’ll be comforted as much as is possible here in this world, until the time when they are reunited with their loved ones in Heaven.

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Evolutionary scientists agree with the Bible that mass extinctions have taken place in Earth’s ancient history. Many evolutionists would quickly argue that the extinctions took place over many millions of years. They think their time scale annuls any agreement with the Bible.

Not so. The fact that evolutionists and the Bible disagree about the time involved does not change the fact that there is general agreement otherwise. The interpretation of the passage of time is a highly subjective art which I hope to write more about later. On the other hand, the fossils found in sedimentary stone are real objects.

The agreement with modern science about the mass extinctions appears even more strange if you question how the writer of Genesis knew about such a thing. The vast fossil graveyards of Earth had not been uncovered when Genesis was written. I believe however, that the truth about them is better hidden now than it was then.

The writer of Genesis could have found some fossils and reasoned that they were formed underwater, but could not have anticipated how many of them would be unearthed in modern times. If the writer, or writers, had actually lived in the time of the mass extinctions however, that would explain their knowledge of this catastrophic loss of life. That’s what I believe happened. Any theory that attempts to explain the fossil graveyards should also explain how the writer of this section of Genesis knew so much.

Genesis agrees with science that there were multiple mass extinction events; the earth wasn’t submerged in a day, and those creatures which have turned to stone didn’t all die at the very same time. I intend to say more about the order of the fossil layers when I write about the evolutionary time scale.

By the way, to give credit where it’s due, “Mass Extinction Event,” is an evolutionary term that I am borrowing, as is the “Great Dying.” Science often shifts its position and many details are yet subject to dispute, but if they make sense and are a good fit with Genesis, why not put the pieces together and see what we get.

It wasn’t only rain that fell for forty days and nights that flooded the world; water trapped within the earth under tremendous pressure was suddenly released. In the words of Genesis 7:11, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” The writer of that verse notes that this happened the same day the rain began falling.

There were cataclysmic earthquakes as the supercontinent of Pangea fractured. Molten lava exploded from the earth, and great geysers of water and steam vented into the atmosphere. Ashes from burning sulfur mixed with the rain, and the days were dark all around the world. Rain came down like a waterfall. It beat the birds out of the sky when their shelters in trees and cliffs washed from under them.

Oceans were rising and land areas were simultaneously sinking (Isostasy). Tidal waves swept over the land burying plants and animals in low-lying depressions all along the way. Poisonous gases escaped under the seas killing many of the bottom creatures. Many others simply smothered in mud which settled to the sea-bottom where they lived. Swamps around the seas and lakes were swiftly buried. In places, fossilized trails exist where amphibians and other creatures wriggled a few inches before they died.

Perhaps an asteroid striking the earth triggered the event. I don’t think we can tell for certain, but there is evidence for that theory. Impact events, increased volcanic activity, coal fires, gas explosions, and the sudden release of methane clathrate from sea floors are some of the causes given for the Permian/Triassic mass extinction. That event, in which science says ninety to ninety-six percent of all species became extinct, is called the “Great Dying.”

Science divides the mass extinctions into five major groups, but that is largely an arbitrary division based on the kinds and quantities of fossils found in certain places. The extinctions overlap each other, so that while one may be interpreted to be ending, another was beginning. Looking at the fossil record, it is impossible to see a time when life would have proliferated between the events, for the fossil layers are a record of death.

The percentages of species that science tells us became extinct in these periods would amount to virtually all life on earth. Genesis teaches that except for some marine life, and perhaps some insect life, all creatures except those in the ark died (Genesis 7:22-23). One thing is certain; these fossilized creatures were buried in mud when they died, or very shortly thereafter. That is the way the billions of fossils found in the sedimentary rock layers were formed.

Many years before Noah’s flood, when the earth was first created, it was covered by water (Genesis 1:2,9-10). Land areas then formed, and the waters receded, leaving one large landmass which scientists call Pangea. This land was surrounded by an ocean which is believed to have been more shallow than our oceans today.

Water from the land creation process would have remained trapped within the earth. Some of this welled up in many springs and swamps. Genesis 2:6 tells us that the plants in the soil were watered by “a mist from the earth.” Also, the great river that flowed from Eden (Genesis 2:10-14) may have been primarily fed from huge underground springs (see “Rivers of Eden,” and “Gulf of Eden,” in my October 2011 archives). The potential for a chain of events to cause a global disaster existed from the time of Adam and Eve.

An idea present in some ancient myths is that God must, from time to time, “fix” the earth. I think that’s true in the sense that God must maintain the earth to protect its fragile forms of life. That becomes an insurmountable problem when we want God to go away, and yet at the same time, to fix everything before it goes wrong. We can’t have it both ways (see “a Random World” in my September 2010 archives).

When Adam and Eve loosed death upon the earth (see “An Unfinished Sentence,” and “Love or Knowledge” in my January 2012 archives), they set the stage for Noah’s flood to cause the mass extinctions.

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