Amazing Truths – 7/15/2017

Children born blind or otherwise disabled in Tibet are often treated cruelly.  Some will openly curse or spit at them publicly.  The documentary Blindsight shows a woman shouting at two blind children who stumble against her in the street:  “Look out, morons.  You deserve to eat your father’s corpse.”

Why?  Worldview makes a difference.  Buddhists believe in karma and a circular conception of time, in which such kids are reincarnations of people who misbehaved in a previous life.  In that documentary a child speaks to this:  “It’s because of my bad deeds in a previous life that I’m blind in this one.  It’s what’s written in my karma.”

The Biblical view of time is linear.  From Genesis 1 and the creation of the universe and man, through the history of the world with a focus on the Messianic line, to an assured prophetic future culminating in the final judgments and a glimpse into the ages to follow, time flows relentlessly in accord with God’s plan.  Christ was once offered on the cross at a particular point in space / time / history.    The antithesis of this concept is circular time, “that you and I wheel round and round in a temporal circle, or spiral, until or unless we somehow manage to escape from it.”  Consider Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, doomed to relive the same day until he shaped up.

Blog 103 image - poor children in TibetThe quote above, along with the Tibetan anecdote, is from Michael Guillen’s book, Amazing Truths:  How Science and the Bible Agree.  Guillen is a physicist, which is what intrigued me enough to buy and read his book, considering that physicists who write on Christian apologetics are a rare breed.

Overall, I find Guillen’s perspective flawed, naïve, and unsavory.  He sees science and the Bible in conflict, unfortunately he thinks, because “science and Scripture have both participated significantly in advancing the ball of human understanding.  Each in its own way has helped us to score objective truths.”  But it’s not science and Scripture that are in conflict; rather, it’s atheists employed as scientists who pretend that their expertise in the practice of the scientific method gives them authority to make pronouncements entirely outside the realm of science.

For example, the scientist / engineer can analyze the operational characteristics of an Indy race car, what fuel / air mixtures are optimal for various conditions, how quickly the vehicle accelerates in certain gears, how quickly the tires abrade, etc.  Science is all about measuring, weighing, and counting, to analyze combustion chemistry, or the physical mechanics of the drive train, or the frictional forces between tire and track.  What science cannot do is to explain the origin of the race car via naturalistic mechanisms.  Duh.  Really, what story could an atheistic scientist spin that you would believe, that attempted to explain the existence of an Indy race car via geological, environmental, and random chemical processes?  It’s obvious that a race car is designed, intelligently, with function and purpose.

Blog 103 image - Bill Murray in Groundhog DayIn the realm of life, biochemists work to understand the incredibly complex processes featured in cellular metabolism, reproduction, and intercellular communication.  Yet biochemists have no . . . zero . . . zip . . . nada . . . explanation for the origin of living cells, which are far, FAR more complex than Indy race cars or even supercomputers.  Similarly, astronomers count galaxies and stars and planets, measure their velocities, record their spectra, etc., but when they spin yarns about a naturalistic origin for the universe . . . out of NOTHING . . . in which a Big Bang turned NOTHING into our incredibly well-ordered universe of galaxies, with trillions of stars and planets in beautiful orbits, they aren’t doing astronomy . . . they are fantasizing.

Guillen sees science and religion as alternative methodologies for finding truth.  In so doing, he works to compromise Biblical truth with atheistic origin fantasies.  Rather, he should see God’s word as concretely foundational, establishing principles of truth and rational thought that allow man to employ the scientific method to count, weigh, and measure aspects of our physical universe so we can love and thank our Creator, and employ such knowledge via engineering to make our lives more comfortable and productive.  Additionally, it’s obvious . . . so obvious . . . that a Biblical worldview goes FAR beyond counting and weighing to establish the vital issues of life, including justice, integrity, honesty, love, hope, meaning, relationships, etc.  Science is built on top of foundations of the Biblical principles of man as a rational person, who finds purpose and meaning in exploring God’s creation, employing logic which is foundational to mathematics, and ethics which is essential to judgment and integrity in analyzing and reporting the results of scientific measurements.  All those italicized words reflect concepts upon which science is built.  Science is not able to exist without those foundations.   Science is servant, not master.

Blog 103 image - Indy race carWhy does Guillen, as representative of many others in evangelicalism, miss the Biblical perspective?  In short, he’s been conned by the atheistic, materialistic establishment, who have convinced him to be a Big Banger and a theistic evolutionist, and so he has to find a way to make peace between God and an atheistic worldview.  Sorry, Michael, there is no peace.

Nevertheless . . . Guillen offers some useful nuggets that we can enjoy from within a Biblical perspective.  That’s what the rest of this essay is about.

The Biblical perspective of linear time is essential to science, built into equations and theories which allow us to make sense of all kinds of physical processes.  Linear time is built into Newton’s laws of mechanics, used to track stars, satellites, and race cars.  Linear time is foundational to Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetics, the Navier-Stokes equations for fluid flow and heat transfer, and Schroedinger’s equation in quantum theory.  These differential equations allow expert counters and measurers (scientists) to predict the next solar eclipse, to design a laser to produce a specific color and power output, and to validate the performance of an HVAC system.

What can the differential equations associated with the scientific method not do?  The most brilliant counters / measurers cannot tell you what you will be thinking tomorrow, or whether you ought to tell your boss a lie, or whether your life has any meaning.

One thing I do like about Guillen is that he’s not a Calvinist:  “Heaven is not a gated community.  It is open to everyone . . . Heaven is a choice, not a chore.”  Also, he quotes:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  True equality, a concept not subject to the scientific method, must include an opportunity to trust the Savior.

Blog 103 image - spiral galaxyGuillen uses some physics concepts as metaphors for the spiritual.  What is a photon?  Is it particle or wave?  Or both, or neither?  A photon, like an electron, has characteristics like waves, but also like particles.  Analogously, the Bible teaches us that we are both flesh and spirit, with the two in contention.  Shall I love light or darkness, shall I exhibit arrogance or humility, shall I show love or selfishness?  In the end will I enjoy eternal life or eternal death?

God, however, is spirit, infinite in knowledge and power, eternal and unconstrained by space and time, unchanging.  Man, however, is tied to the physical and finite in knowledge, power . . . everything.

What about Jesus?  The Jews see him as a man, and often as a troublemaker, maybe a misunderstood rabbi, anything but Messiah.  The Muslims see Jesus as a prophet subordinate to Muhammad.  Buddhists see Jesus as an enlightened man, while Hindus have a variety of perspectives, with Jesus perhaps one of many (small ‘g’) gods.  Mahatma Gandhi said that Jesus “was one of the greatest teachers humanity ever had.”  Those that see Jesus as a good teacher have not, apparently, read His words in the Gospel accounts.  He didn’t leave open the possibility that He was merely a nice guy, a good teacher.  Jesus was as judgmental as God and declared His identity as one with the Jehovah revealed in the Old Testament.  Jesus was fully God and fully man.  And He still is!

Jesus called Himself “the light of the world.”  Another Guillen analogy:  We know from Einstein’s theory of special relativity and a myriad of experimental verifications that time slows down for objects traveling close to the speed of light.  For light itself, time must slow to a complete stop.  “Light and light alone inhabits a realm where past, present, and future have no meaning because the three exist all together and at once.”  Intriguingly, two high energy photons can collide and out pop two ordinary particles, a positron and an electron.  Alternatively, a positron and an electron in collision will disappear and out pop two high energy photons.  Light is special.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

In Scripture, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  (1 John 1:5)  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world:  he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

(I like the analogies that Guillen explores.  I can enjoy his book as a creative devotional . . . not an apologetic.)

Guillen sees the light metaphor as revealing a truth in line with modern scientific thought, that God’s identification with light is consistent with light’s special standing independent of time.  Psalm 90:2, for example:  “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”  Guillen:  “God existed before he created time.  For the Judeo-Christian God, as for light, there is no past, present, or future.  They are all one and the same to him.”

It’s not that God exists in linear time from eternity past to eternity future.  He’s outside of that.  Linear time is for us.  We look back, we look around, we look to the future.  But God is “I am.”  Yet in a moment in space-time / history, God’s ‘I am’ nature entered into linear time, and in analogy to photons of light turning into tangible particles, God the Son took on flesh in Nazareth (later born in Bethlehem).  The universe changed.  Jesus is one of us in linear time, forever, while at the same time God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the unchanging ‘I am.’

Got that?  Easy, huh?  Now, when we die, our spirit (immaterial) separates from our decaying body (particles).  In the resurrection, the believer’s spirit is reunited with an immortal body, in fellowship with Jesus who also inhabits an immortal, resurrected body.  How can anyone not want to investigate whether the Gospel might just be true?!?

What about evil?  For Guillen (and me) that’s a consequence of free will.  Creation will be cleansed from evil . . . in God’s eyes, that’s already happened, we just haven’t witnessed it yet, because we’re stuck in the timeline.  When Jesus proclaimed, “I have overcome the world”, He said that the night before the cross.  Yet He ‘was’ already present in eternity future.

Our present perspective should be taken from Paul (Eph 5:8):  “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord:  walk as children of light.”

Each chapter of Guillen’s book deals with a unique and interesting physical phenomenon.  The only other one I’ll mention in this review is quantum entanglement, which Einstein derided as “spukhafte Fernwirkung,” which means, roughly, “spooky action at a distance.”  Yet in recent years it has been verified experimentally a number of different ways.

quantum entanglement

quantum entanglement

The idea is that two subatomic particles, electrons for example, may be closely associated inside an atom, then fly apart, quickly increasing distance, even miles or light years between them.  In their initial association their net spin was zero, with one spinning say, clockwise, and the other counterclockwise.  (Every electron can and must spin in one or the other way . . . I am simplifying a bit, admittedly.)

A well-verified aspect of quantum theory is that until you measure the spin of one of the electrons, it exists in a probabilistic superposition of both spins.  When you actually measure it, though, you’ll find it in one spin or the other.  The oddity of quantum theory, which is truly a fundamental characteristic of the way God designed the universe, is that the electron you select is truly in a mixture of both spins, until you measure it.

So you let the entangled electrons separate to a huge distance, then measure the spin of the first.  Aha!  It’s clockwise.  If you measure the spin of the second just an instant later, that one is counterclockwise . . . as if the measurement of the 1st was communicated instantaneously, FAR faster than the speed of light, to tell the 2nd that it should reveal itself to be CCW.  You see, because each electron is in a true mixture of the two spin states until you measure it, if you had waited a bit to measure the first electron’s spin, it may have turned out to be CCW.  Then, measuring the 2nd an instant later, that spin would have been CW.  Spooky, huh?

Like I said, this effect has been verified experimentally, mystifying scientists who have been quite accustomed for the last century to the speed of light as an absolute speed limit, via Einsteinian relativity.  Which is still valid!  We can’t communicate FTL (faster than light), but entangled electrons or photons can.

Guillen sees quantum entanglement as an analogy to God’s ability to communicate instantaneously, without delay.  When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he suddenly hears God’s voice, commanding him to stop.  Any delay would have been unfortunate.

God’s voice can emanate from . . . anywhere, anything.  God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, with no indication of time delays during the dialogue, in contrast to the speed-of-light time delays we see on the TV news, during an interview between parties in distant cities.  (Some of that delay is electronic, of course, but electronic delays are, in fact, speed-of-light delays in electromagnetic propagation within material devices.)

Blog 103 image - tuning forksSaul of Tarsus heard the voice of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, apparently coming out of nowhere . . . omnidirectionally, perhaps, “as if the very molecules all around were behaving like loudspeakers.”

Indeed, God is omnipresent and can intervene whither He wills.  His very words sit on our bookshelf and can be illuminated by the Holy Spirit, who is not only omnipresent, but indwelling for the believer.  We don’t need a burning bush – that was good for Moses, and it’s good that we have the record of it, but apparently once was enough to make the point.  We don’t need to be struck blind on the road to Damascus; Saul of Tarsus was a fairly hard case and, apparently, needed such a startling intervention.  Far better for us if we get the message quietly, gently, and precisely . . . and then act on it.

Guillen observes that when we obey God’s word, it’s analogous to two identical tuning forks.  Strike one and the other vibrates sympathetically.  The second fork must be in tune with the first, though.  The out-of-tune fork doesn’t notice when the first fork vibrates its message.  It’s an impressive demonstration, though, to set a bunch of forks, all in tune, arrayed around the primary fork.

That’s what Christians should be, in tune with God and, therefore, in tune with each other.  “Sanctify them through thy truth:  thy word is truth.”  (John 17:17)  Find God’s truth (that’s easy).  Speak it to others (that’s easy, too).  If they get in tune, the message spreads and harmony grows.


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