Biblical Creativity: Summary

God’s creation is wonderful as any, even cursory, look over it will reveal.  I have really enjoyed meditating in depth about the 6 days of creation as it is literally revealed in Scripture.  It seems every day I spend some quality time with God on this subject I get a new insight.

However, I realise that it is hard for any reader to understand the journey I have gone on with Jesus to get to this point.  I doubt if anyone is as excited as I am about the connection between the Sea in Heaven and the water present at creation. Or the fact that quantum physics has been explaining (since the beginning of the 20th Century) some of the connections between the physical and spiritual creations (e.g. quantum entanglement – the relationship between two entities that transcends space and time including the speed of light).

But for those who are still interested here are a couple of mind maps summarising what I have written in this series so far:

God

Of course you may not agree with the above.  Personally I’m a young earth, 6 day literalist currently which probably means I’m mad as far as many people are concerned.  But I didn’t always hold this position and I would hope that I’m open to having my mind changed on such secondary matters.  The truth about these things matters but not as much as the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection for instance.

Either way I’ve really enjoyed taking the Genesis account literally, matching it with what I know of science and, as a result, getting some neurons connecting in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise done.  God knows whether I am discovering some of  His thoughts in the process, or whether I am, in fact, mad 🙂

Physical Creation

In my blogs on Biblical Creativity to date I have tried to understand what God would have had to do to create something from nothing.  This includes trying to understand what the word “thing” means when there was no such “thing” before any “thing” was created.

It seems that water was there before anything else.  If the spiritual was created first then that water could have been created as the Sea before God’s throne in Heaven.  Formless and void at first, it was the womb from which everything else physical had its birth.

Day 1: We now know that light is a phenomena which has an electric and magnetic component to it mixed in such a way (with a precise range of frequency and wavelength) that we can see it.  It is just a small part of a much larger range of similar possible EM phenomena much of which we use in communication.  Once light was created, we perceive its absence as night.

Day 2: Once God created objects He created the space between them as a immediate consequence.

Day 3a: It seems to me that the idea of physical movement is only introduced at this stage.  One of the most common movements is spinning and that could have been used to separate out the land elements from the overall watery mixture.

Day 3b: Plant life is created before the sun which is just a strong source of the narrow band phenomena called light.  I’m not sure why God did it that way (or got it recorded it in this order if you like) but maybe He couldn’t wait to start doing something that He knew we would enjoy.

Day 4: He stretches out the heavens.  The macroscopic and microscopic levels are the best places to look for contradictions to any simple mechanical understanding of the universe or ourselves. Einstein found them at the macroscopic level and described them in the theory of Relativity and Bohr found them at the sub-atomic layer and described them in quantum physics.  Quantum physics helps us understand free will through Heisenberg’s uncertainty theorem for instance (see Dr. Caroline Leaf’s excellent work for more details of this and other connections between quantum theory and the Bible’s descriptions of spiritual realities).

Maybe one day I’ll write a book about it all.

Well done if you’ve read this far.

The Abortion Debate

I’ve collected my thoughts as posted on Facebook below.  Hopefully, you will find it useful.

My Position

Just to be clear: I am for protecting babies from being murdered in this State whether in the womb or outside it. This means I support keeping the constitutional protection in place and I am against repealing the 8th Amendment under any circumstances. The current legal set up adequately protects the mother in all situations where her baby might endanger her life. Doctors and other medical staff who are put in the very rare and unfortunate position of having to deal with these cases are also well protected in the current set up. I don’t hold to the position that a woman who has been raped has the right to end the innocent life of the product of that union neither do I believe that a child with a life threatening condition or disability should have their lives deliberately shortened because of it.

Eugenics

One of my reasons for not wanting to repeal the 8th is the eugenics legalised abortion on demand encourages.  See this article from Christian Today.

Today’s Legal Position (while the 8th Amendment is in place)

According to Irish law it is a crime to murder an innocent person. It is immaterial what age that person is or who carries out the murder.

On the Irish Supreme Court Judgement of 7th March 2018

The phrase “the law is an ass” has taken on a new meaning for me after today’s Supreme Court judgement. How can seven learned people come to such a ludicrous conclusion: a child is not a child when it is in the womb? This means, that they have judged that a child at any stage in the womb has no rights at all under the constitution except the right to life guaranteed by the 8th Amendment. There is now every reason for keeping the 8th amendment in place.

Aontas.

Excellent statement from an association of bible believing christians which I fully agree with:

Aontas’ Statement on the Eight Amendment
As an association of Bible believing churches in Ireland, we are deeply concerned about the current proposals to repeal the 8th Amendment.
We hold that all human life is precious. The ultimate foundation of this is the Bible’s teaching that we are made in the image of God. That gives every human being immense dignity, worth, value and meaning, regardless of size, shape, nationality, ability or colour.
The circumstances surrounding this new life may be hard and difficult, but each life is valuable because God formed and shaped it for a purpose. We thank God for the life of every child, no matter the circumstances surrounding their conception, or the length of days given to them.
As a nation we have not excelled in living out the implications of the preciousness of all life. We have failed mothers and babies. We have created stigma and shame instead of creating an environment of grace and love. We need to do better at providing support: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. And we need to do better in providing loving, long-term alternatives like adoption.
But our shortcomings do not give us the right to determine who should be born and who should not. God alone is the author of life. His word is clear that life begins at conception (Psalm 51:5). Modern science has only underlined the truth of the Bible’s ancient claim.
Since God alone is the author of life, only he has the right to determine who lives and who does not. Much is made of the mother’s right over her own body, but from conception a new and separate person is formed within her. She has the responsibility to preserve the life of this new person but never the right to take it.
We acknowledge that difficult medical circumstances may arise where the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child cannot both be preserved. However the wilful killing of an unborn child by abortion is indefensible.
In choosing abortion we would declare that all human life is not valuable, that discrimination is permissible; we would make ourselves the determiners of a person’s worth, and worse still, take God’s work of divine skill and destroy it—denying His wisdom and purpose in creating it (Psalm 139).
There are some things we shouldn’t be free to do—denying another person their humanity is one of them, defacing God’s artistry is another.
The Irish Constitution magnificently recognises the worth of both mother and baby—far in advance of many other countries. It is not backward, but progressive. It is God-honouring and person-exalting.
We therefore urge our churches’ members and our fellow citizens to resist the call to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and to continue to work towards a richer, better, more grace-filled society.

Please consider posting this on your Facebook page and church Website.

The Only Real Answer

All sorts of issues, including important ones like abortion, can arise throughout the generations and in our lives. Ultimately the same answer has stood firm in every circumstance and generation: Jesus Christ the Son of God.

But how do you find that answer in the religious confusion and hypocrisy of this age? Come along on Sunday to clearly hear how and to meet others whose lives have been changed by an encounter with the living God.

The Connection between Life and Light

Being for (or pro) life is a more fundamental issue than any religion. It is tied in with the very nature of God Himself.

Ending a Cripple’s Life

RTE carried two stories on Morning Ireland at about 0845 today and yesterday. Both spoke about fatal fetal abnormality, one was supporting the repeal the 8th side, the other was supporting the movement to keep the 8th amendment. Both woman’s testimonies stressed how difficult the situation was. However it seemed clear from the interviews that the person who opted to go to the UK to get her baby terminated had had a more distressing time than the person who decided to let God take the child in His time. It also didn’t seem to be the case that had she been allowed to do the same thing in Ireland that she would have found the experience much easier. Notwithstanding individual cases like these in which an interview on a radio station for 5 minutes gives no one a real insight into the trauma of it all, it does seem to me that there is a principle in action here: God is the only one who has a right to take an innocent life for He knows what He is doing and where the person will be going afterwards. When we play God we put ourselves in a position we were not designed for and add considerably to our grief. In cases of fatal fetal abnormality I cannot see any justification for allowing abortion at any stage of the pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger (which is covered in the present legal regime). It seems much better to allow the life involved to take its (i.e. God’s) course. What do you think?

Edge Cases

One of the things I dislike most about the current abortion debate is the way it pushes people into “us and them” camps.  It’s as if there was no one in the middle contemplating the very real difficulties that any law based argument brings up.  Since I have taken a very “pro-life” stance on this question I seem to be on the receiving end of only one side of the argument.  It comes as a relief to hear the other side sometimes.

I have taken a firm stance on this issue because we are talking about changing a very significant aspect of our constitution: the spelled-out right to life of an unborn child.  Anything that I am about to say does not change my position on this: I believe that the best thing to do is to keep the 8th Amendment in the constitution for the many reasons I have articulated in other posts on this issue.

However laws cannot legislate for all aspects of life and, on their own, are a very poor basis for conducting civil society, even if, for no other reason than they are just writings and open to interpretation.

The bible has this to say about the letter of the law: “It kills” (2 Cor. 3:6).  There has to be a spirit behind the law, a spirit that informs how people interpret the law.  If there is no spirit there is no life in the law.

The way this works itself out in most civil society is in the people who interpret the law, i.e. the judges and the legal profession mainly but also anyone who has to work with the laws such as doctors and others in the medical profession.  As a Christian I could wish that the Holy Spirit informed more of the decisions of these people.

However, I am not a doctor nor do I work in the medical profession.  I have been in court many times as part of my expert witness work so I am more familiar with the workings of the legal profession.  But I am not a lawyer nor a legal judge.

I have noticed that my doctor friends have by and large stayed quiet on this issue.  They have had to face the reality of the circumstances of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, the real flesh and blood behind the situations women find themselves in.  I think they are less inclined to be black and white about the issues as a result.

And there are some very difficult edge cases that black and white letter of the law approaches cannot legislate for.  For instance, if we say that life begins as soon as life is conceived then even the morning after pill should be banned.  What about IVF?  There are often several fertilised eggs which are not implanted in the womb.  They all have the potential for life.  Should we make every effort to ensure they are all brought to full term?

Then there are the difficult cases where the mother’s life isn’t necessarily in danger but her ongoing health is.

Finally, there is the fact that abortions are going to happen whether we legislate against them or not.  By making abortion illegal under many circumstances we increase the risk to those women who do decide to go ahead and have an abortion anyway.

In a way, saying we have clear answers to all these questions is also playing God.  You are welcome to your opinion, as am I, but in the end we had better be prepared to put our actions where are words are for those who face realities we may never have to.  It is easy for me to talk, I don’t have to judge in an “X” case or counsel a woman who may be seriously injured as a result of carrying a child full term.

God bless those working in the medical and legal professions.  May we have more of you who are led by the Holy Spirit.

But I’m still going to vote to keep the 8th Amendment.  For what it is worth, on balance, I think you should too.

Biblical Creativity Day 4: Sun, Moon and Stars

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,

It is the glory of kings to find it out.

Proverbs 25:2.

Of all the things mankind has done over the last few decades, the joy of finding out new things through space exploration and technology is, for me, something that gives us all a glimpse of the glory of God shining through the darkness of man’s moral decisions.

Since time immemorial the human race has stared at the stars looking for signs. One of the things the bible says about the Sun, Moon and stars that were created on the 4th day is that they would be used as signs.  We use them to determine years, months and days and set our clocks by them.

However when it comes to being signs in a broader sense there are two theories that I particularly like.

The first of these is more speculative and less verifiable than the second.  However I think it has enough support to justify a closer look by those who might be interested.  There are at least two books written by two different authors within a year of each other back in 1892/93 which go into the details.  The idea is that before Moses wrote the first five books of the bible, God had written the gospel in the stars and explained it to Adam who then passed it on to his descendants.

The first of these books is called: THE GOSPEL IN THE STARS by JOSEPH. A. SEISS (1892).  I haven’t read this one but I like the way it starts out.  The second book is called: The Witness of the Stars by E. W. Bullinger 1893 which I have read and found really interesting.  More recent commentators urge caution when following this line of reasoning.

The second, more easily verifiable, sign is the Bethlehem Star.  Click on the link and enjoy the science.  The reason it is easy to verify these days is because the stars and planets have always followed predictable paths through the sky.  This means you can use a computer program to predict where the stars were on any particular night any time in the past.  So when someone says that the Bethlehem Star was actually the placement of two planets (Venus and Jupiter) so close to each other in the sky that they looked like one star then you can get some off the shelf astronomy software and see for yourself.

Another fact about the stars that I really like is the deep space photos that the Hubble telescope took.  The Hubble telescope is the most powerful telescope we have ever placed in space where it can see far more than we can here below the earth’s atmosphere.  Astronomers controlling the telescope pointed it at an “empty” piece of the sky and left the shutter open.  What they saw is an astonishing amount of galaxies.  To say they weren’t expecting that is an understatement.1024px-NASA-HS201427a-HubbleUltraDeepField2014-20140603

Like most things they have found out about space, there are usually more questions than answers opened up by discoveries like this.  For instance there is no sign of a “big bang” here.

 

Biblical Creativity: Light & Life

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. (John 1:1).

John the beloved disciple or follower of Jesus was a poet.  He inter-weaved the creation account throughout the opening verses of his gospel speaking of the two main principles of creation: Light & Life.  He wrote:

“In Him was life and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4,5).

According to John’s gospel, Jesus is for (or pro) life in the most fundamental way possible.  Like a pregnant woman He has life within Him.  Again, according to John, that life is intimately connected with light or understanding.  The life of Jesus gives understanding.

A few chapters later in the same gospel, Jesus ties together spiritual birth with physical life.  He says it is not enough just to be born as a human: “You must be born from above.”

The fundamental problems with our society stem from a lack of spiritual life.  The fact that so many otherwise seemingly sane people want to deny the rights of physical life to the most vulnerable members of our society can only be explained by this.  There is a darkness that comes over people’s minds when they refuse the light of Jesus’s words.

In Ireland many people have reacted vehemently against the hypocrisy of a religion which, on the one hand, promotes a pro-life campaign and, on the other, denies rights to women and covers up the abuse of children.  As a Christian with no denominational adherence I can fully understand that position.

However should we use that as a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Being for (or pro) life is a more fundamental issue than any religion.  It is tied in with the very nature of God Himself.

Biblical Creativity 3b (cont.): A Closer Look at Seeds

What is a seed?

A seed is a stored program.  A program is a set of instructions for doing something.  A seed stores a set of instructions for making a plant of some sort.  An acorn contains a set of instructions for making an oak, a hazelnut for making a hazel tree, etc.  So God’s idea was to enable plants to reproduce themselves by storing the instructions for making a new one in a secure capsule called a seed.seeds

The seed is perfectly designed to keep the information safe.  Keeping information safe in the event of an apocalypse is one of the things that mankind is concerned about.   The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is part of a global effort to preserve information and secure food supplies in the event of a nuclear winter or something equally as catastrophic. We can argue about how pointless that might be another time.

Seeds can last for millennia without decay and still work when planted in the right conditions.  They contain humidity, gravity and light sensors which constantly monitor external conditions.  When the right conditions occur the stored program is started and a plant begins to be born out of the death of the seed itself.

One of the reasons I think that God created seeds and plants first before He even made the Sun, Moon and stars is because a seed is such a fundamental idea:

  • We speak of something being seminal in the sense that it is the seed of an idea that gives birth to a whole series of consequences.  God’s idea of making seeds is, of course, the most fundamental of those ideas.
  • Jesus describes seeds as like the words of God.  If seeds fall into the right type of soil then they produce multiplicative fruit, seeds upon seeds.  Similarly if God’s word falls on the right type of soil in our hearts it also will produce fruit.  (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8 -see also my previous blog on this subject).
  • The idea of a stored program is fundamental to all creation.  It is only in the last few decades that we have discovered just how fundamental it is.  Every person has a unique identity contained in our genes, stored in the DNA in every cell of our body more efficiently than any storage method man has yet devised. If you were to take any cell in your body and put it under a microscope it could be identified as yours.  The same applies to every single person in the world (except identical twins – but even they are unique because of other genetic factors).

Unfortunately I haven’t studied enough genetics to really explore this fascinating aspect of creation in more depth.  But there is more than enough in what I do know to cause me to gasp in wonder at God’s creativity.

Surely with such creativity in our Maker it is surprising we are not far more creative ourselves?  I believe that creativity is released in us as we connect more closely with the creator, think His thoughts after Him and seek to implement them into the fabric of our everyday lives.

Can I encourage you to go and seek the creative Face of God?

He has – perhaps surprising and unexpected – creative answers to your daily dilemmas.

 

Biblical Creativity: Day 3a Motion

On Day 3 God introduces us to flow or motion for the first time.  This has the very significant effect of enabling the materials that were in suspension in the water from the beginning to separate out and so the dry land appears.

I’m loving this.  The elegance, comprehensiveness and beauty of the creation account is staggering:

In the beginning God creates all the materials (elements) that He wants to work with.  They exist in an amorphous watery mess suspended on nothing in darkness.  The Spirit is pregnant with ideas and the Word then is spoken.

On Day 1 the framework of time and space is spoken into being and light is the measuring tool that constrains and simultaneously illuminates everything.

On Day 2 space is created and so now objects can be made.  The first distinguishable objects are the heavens and the earth.

On the first part of Day 3 God introduces the idea of motion.  The earth (and everything else) spins and (just like in a centrifuge) dry land appears.

Now God has the base on which He can start making beautiful things.

Biblical Creativity: Day 2 Space

The concept of space is so fundamental we can easily miss its significance.  If there was no space there could be no objects.  You, I, trees, rocks and any of the myriad objects that exist can only exist in the context of their being a thing called space between them.

So the second day’s creation of this simple thing called space is as fundamental as the concept of light to all creation.  Without light we can neither see nor understand anything.  Without space we cannot even be defined.

The first thing God defines using space is the difference between the heavens and the earth.  These are the two fundamental objects of God’s project of creation.

In the world of programming where I work, man has also understood the fundamental importance of objects.  Object oriented programming is a way of understanding how to create anything in software and is based on this concept of defined entities with space between them.  The creation of space enables the creation of objects.

So you’ve taken space for granted but what an astonishing idea!

What are the fundamental objects of your project?

Biblical Creativity Day 1: The EM Spectrum

In my last post on this subject I looked at the raw materials God had to work with when creating everything.  Quite surprisingly the only raw material is water which somehow seems to have been there without God having yet said or done anything.

Peter says this about how it all happened:

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

2 Peter 3: 5-7

In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth and somehow there is water there from which the earth was brought out.  Before the flood a lot of that water circulated the earth.  The flood brought it down and now it is buried beneath the surface and the oceans cover 80% of the earth’s surface.  But that is a study for another time.

Back in Genesis 1:3 we see the creation proper starting with “And God said: Let there be light.”  We know from John’s gospel that the Word that was spoken with all that creative power is actually Jesus (John 1).  When God speaks He manifests His image and in a sense – from our point of view at least – begets His Son.  Of course Jesus was always there but He is not manifested to us until God speaks.  And the first thing God speaks is “Let there be light.”

Light is also a synonym for understanding – without Jesus we would have no understanding of God so that is the first gift God gives us all.

It should be noted that this light has nothing to do with the sun which isn’t created until the fourth day.  This seems counter intuitive – everyone knows that the day starts when the light from the sun appears above the horizon.

However light is fundamentally something different from what we see.  Light is part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum which consists of everything from gamma rays, through x rays, ultraviolet, visible, infrared and all the radio waves (HF, VHF, UHF, microwaves, etc.)  It is only in the last 150 years that we have been able to use a lot of these waves to communicate, heat our food and see bones under flesh.

These waves all obey the same God given laws.  They fundamentally frame everything we do.  Space and time are constrained by the speed of light (which is the same as the speed of all the EM waves in a vacuum).  Nothing can go faster than it.  As you approach the speed of light it always looks to you like it is travelling at the same speed.  Eventually time stops when you go that fast.  I mentioned all this in my last blog. So it is fitting that light frames the first idea of time, that of the day (with no sun involved).

So this first day light is more fundamental than the sun or any other source of light.

A practical application when you are creating anything is to start with making it clear what you are doing.  Communication is everything.  Unless there is first understanding (light) between all the parties involved nothing else can happen.

God said and so must we if we are to create anything.