Just how smart is God? – 9/15/2017

Seeds of wild wheat ride the winds around the world.  When the seed lands, who plants it?  Each seed has fiber strands called awns, extending outward.  As the seed falls, the fibers trail above the main body, working to make the pointy end of the seed stick into the ground.  As the humidity changes, the fibers change position; in dry air they spread out and apart; in air moistened by dew or rain, they revert to a straight side-by-side orientation.  This back-and-forth motion pushes the seed into the soil.  Small barbs on the fibers allow only downward motion.  If the ground is too hard for penetration, the fibers’ motions propel the wheat along the ground until it can find softer soil.

The filaree, another wild plant, enjoys a self-planting feature in its spiral-shaped seed stem.  Moisture variations cause the stem to rotate and drill itself into the ground.

awns

awns

Brilliant designs!  Scientists and engineers study such designs for ideas in micromachine motion and in the conversion of solar energy into movement.  The field of biomimicry (sometimes called biomimetics) is growing exponentially as engineers find solutions in God’s creation for human engineering challenges.

I pulled this discussion from a terrific little book, Discovery of Design:  Searching Out the Creator’s Secrets, by Donald DeYoung and Derrik Hobbs.  Especially if you have kids, this book should be on your shelf.  You could read one short 2-page chapter at dinner time as a devotional on God’s brilliant designs, some of which can be found in your own backyard.

In this essay I’ll interleave some examples from that book with some principles from another I just finished, Christian Apologetics, by Cornelius Van Til, a compilation of notes he used when teaching apologetics courses many years ago.  I don’t recommend this Van Til book for you, but principally because I have recommended so many more readable books in essays past.

Van Til defines apologetics as “the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life.”  He lumps all of philosophies and worldviews into two camps . . . Biblical and not.  Unbelief is unbelief, whether of the atheistic variety or Roman Catholic or Hindu or whatever.

Van Til likens apologetics to warfare, which includes a vast arsenal of weapons and logistical supplies, from bullets to bombers to ICBMs.  The ‘big gun’ in presuppositional apologetics (Van Til’s approach) is that only by presupposing God as Creator and Savior as revealed in the Bible, can you make any sense of anything and everything in the world.  The Christian declares his allegiance to the Biblical worldview and points out that on that foundation do human beings exist as personal, rational, morally sensitive creatures who can discern and value truth about the world, our relations with each other, and our relationship with God.

filaree seeds

filaree seeds

In the Biblical worldview, the resurrection of Christ fits as the long-prophesied act of redemption, vital for the assured hope of life-after-death salvation for every man, woman, and child who responds to the Gospel.  In an unbelieving worldview, the resurrection is simply a more-or-less probable strange event in history.  The secular historian starts with a presupposition that miracles cannot occur because God either does not exist or is not allowed to intervene in our world.  There is no joy in arguing with the secular historian on the merits of the historicity of the Gospel accounts while he is entrenched in his presuppositions.

Van Til insists that we defend Christian theism as a unit, that Biblical truth ties everything together and nothing else does.  In the area of creation vs. evolution everything in biology represents extraordinarily designed technology and should be presented as such atop the foundation of God’s creative power.  Don’t argue one little brick at a time; rather throw the whole house at the unbeliever.  DeYoung’s book does a good job of this, with 79 mini-chapters on design discovered throughout creation.  The debate is not about such little things as pepper moths or altitude adaptation or even ‘merely’ the design of a human eyeball.  It’s about a universe rich with extraordinary design and purpose.  So declare your Christian foundations and defy the naturalist . . . on his supposed integrity . . . to insist that what he sees around him is chance.

Here’s another example from DeYoung . . . African termite mounds can get big, as you can see in the photo, but the brilliance is in the self-cooling system.  The termites’ food supply is a fungus they ‘farm’ that must be kept at precisely 87 degrees F, while the ambient temperature varies from 35 to 104 degrees.  The termites build a system of heating and cooling vents connecting numerous tunnels, opening and closing the vents to maintain the mound at 87 degrees, and to keep oxygen and moisture levels within healthy bounds.

Architects used the principles of termite mound ventilation in designing the Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare.  It’s an 18-story shopping mall with no mechanical A/C or heating, yet it’s quite comfortable year round.  The structure gets by with just 10% of the energy requirements of a ‘conventional design.’  Brilliant!

termite mound

termite mound

The Christian worldview provides not only a philosophy of biology, but also of science in general, along with a proper philosophy of history, of psychology, of family life, of business . . . of everything that makes up life in the creation provided for us.  Van Til observes that “there is nothing in this universe on which human beings can have full and true information unless they take the Bible into account.”  The atheist / naturalist would look at termites and their engineering prowess as utter mysteries.  The Christian knows where the information for that design originated.

Van Til considers the biology of the snake in this context.  (I’ll substitute the termite.)  “We do not mean, of course, that one must go to the Bible rather than to the laboratory if one wishes to study the termite.  But if one goes only to the laboratory and not also to the Bible, one will not have a full or even true interpretation of the termite.”

Similarly, whether it is politics or history or geology or genetics, how can you make sense of the controversy over Israel, or the present global apostasy within Christendom, or the persecution of Christians, or miles-thick flood sediments all over the world, or the information content of DNA . . . and so on . . . without a Biblical worldview?  God gave us true perspective in His word.  Only by His word can we make sense of what we see and what goes on.  When we bring this message to unbelievers, let’s bring it with the authority which God intended  (Isaiah 58:1).

Bullet trains in Japan can exceed 200 miles per hour.  A design issue arises for exiting tunnels; the compressed air in front of the train expands so rapidly upon exit that a sonic boom can rattle a community, shaking windows and awakening people.  Japanese engineers found the solution in the beak of the kingfisher, a bird that can enter water at high speeds with very little splash, much to the envy of Olympic divers.  The long tapered nose of the kingfisher bill was copied by engineers for bullet trains and the sound from exiting tunnels is greatly reduced.  Additionally, this streamlined shape reduces total energy consumption by drag by 15%.  Biomimicry expert Janine Benyus comments about the kingfisher, “We are surrounded by genius.”  Indeed.  Everywhere we look we see God’s glory.

Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe

Eastgate Building in Zimbabwe

What kind of God is God?  He pays attention to the details, brilliantly, optimizing the kingfisher’s beak so it can provide for itself efficiently and comfortably, whether or not anyone is watching.  “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore:  ye are of more value than many sparrows.”  (Luke 12:6-7)

God is in the big picture, the prophetic sweep of history, but He’s also in the details of history, caring to answer my little prayers.  Getting the kingfisher’s bill right is God’s personal gift to that bird . . . God is a personal God.  God desires personal friendship with His children, contingent on our obedience (John 15:14).  You can be a child, but not in friendship at any given time, just as a young boy or girl can be out of sorts with mom or dad, yet still in the family.  Better to be ‘in sorts’, though, both child and friend.

Mussels are annoying marine animals who glue themselves to rocks, piers, ship hulls, and to each other.  They produce a strong and durable adhesive that works in turbulent salt water.  It’s also biodegradable!  Laboratory efforts to duplicate mussel glue have been only partly successful.  Interestingly, iron atoms are present in mussel glue, an unusual component of biological systems.

The mussel uses dozens of tiny filaments, each strand daubed with glue, to attach itself.  A key protein isolated from mussels has been used to bond human tissue after surgery, a technique that may hopefully lead to more precise surgical sealants in eye surgery.  One reason to understand mussel glue more thoroughly is to develop solvents or coatings to discourage mussels from fouling underwater effluent pipes and from colonizing ship hulls.

kingfisher

kingfisher

It’s easy to see that the problems mussels cause are due to the Fall.  God conveyed a truth of His created universe when He made it clear to Adam and Eve that God makes the rules:  Don’t eat of the forbidden fruit.  For man to survive and thrive in relationship to God within God’s created world, man needed to see God as the source of all truth, the source of the meaning of all facts.  Van Til:  “God did not, because He could not, look up to an abstract principle of Truth above Himself in order, in accordance with it, to fashion the world.  Satan, however, suggested to Eve that God’s statement about the relation of one temporal fact to another was not determinative of the nature of that relationship.”  Adam and Eve decided that they could autonomously decide what was true based on their reasoning power.  Who needs God?

Van Til:  “So man had to depend upon his powers of logic alone.  And he had to assume that these powers could somehow legislate what is to be in the future.  He had, in short, to assume that his powers of logic could legislate what is possible and impossible in reality about him . . . and he had to find this power of legislation exclusively within himself.”

We see autonomous man strutting his stuff in politics, continually and obnoxiously, attempting to legislate new realities.  What is liberalism?  What motivates liberal politicians and their mindless drones?  It’s not a conventional worldview like Roman Catholicism or Islam or even atheism, although liberals may attach to any of these worldviews.  Roman Catholicism, for example, has long asserted the authority of its Pope, it has long professed that God’s grace is administered through sacraments, and it has long affirmed a male and unmarried priesthood.  In these areas and others, the RC worldview has been constant.

But liberalism?  It changes with the wind.  In the 1950s and 1960s liberals weren’t insisting on rights for partial birth abortion; few were advocating abortion at all.  Through the 1990s and early 2000s liberal politicians affirmed traditional marriage, one man / one woman.  Until the last couple of years liberals had neither the guts nor even the concept of insisting that men and boys, by simple declaration of ‘gender identity’, should have access to girls’ restrooms and locker rooms, not just in big box stores, but in elementary and high schools!

In the 1980s liberals were always excusing the atrocities of the communist Soviet Union, always deriding conservatives who warned against the dangers of that genuinely ‘evil empire’ (a Reagan term), yet today liberals despise Russia and talk like they want to go to war, although Russia today has much in common with the Soviet Union of the 20th century; indeed its leaders were trained as Soviet communists.

A generation ago no liberals were for destroying American sovereignty, opening wide its borders, and even harboring violent criminals in so-called sanctuary cities, simply because the criminals are also illegal aliens.  But that’s a big liberal cause now.

Some things are constant in liberalism:  big government, big deficits, more control over the lives of people via health care or the global warming scam or whatever narrative works and, significantly, anything that contributes to the demise of America itself.  Also constant is deceit, lies to destroy opponents and to dupe the population, and no conscience whatsoever regarding dirty tricks.

Japanese bullet train

Japanese bullet train

Feminism is part of liberalism, of course.  So why are liberals enamored with sharia-loving Muslims, who are building dangerous communities throughout the West?  Don’t liberals know that Islam enslaves women and girls?  Of course they do.

Liberalism defies all authority except its own.  Historically in America, both liberals and conservatives accepted lost elections to some degree, especially conservatives, as long as our Constitutional republic was not threatened existentially.  That has changed.  Liberals today care only to undermine our Constitution and our republic.  America’s liberal campuses are microcosms of the left’s vision for America . . . suppression of free speech and mandatory group think, unbridled immorality, and destruction of any worldview that correlates at all with that of the Christian.

What’s going on?  What is this exponentially growing spirit of rebellion and chaos?

It’s simple, actually.  Liberalism is the ultimate Satanic worldview.  It is the antithesis of the Biblical view.  John 10:10 . . . “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Satan presently has authority in this world to run amok as the ‘god of this world’ (2 Cor 4:4).  His preference is always tyranny, as in North Korea, China, the old Soviet Union, and Muslim countries, but corruption and chaos will do until tyranny is achieved.  Whenever tyranny reigns, Christians are persecuted ruthlessly.  Satan’s ultimate goal is global tyranny under his antichrist.  The destruction or emasculation of America will certainly contribute to the conditions that facilitate the antichrist’s rise.

If you’re a Biblically focused Christian, all of the above should resonate, and so I won’t expand on the subject.  If you’re not, expansion won’t help.  By the way, when Christians organize their churches on the liberal, authoritarian model, with power concentrated in the hands of a Senior Pastor, they fail in their witness of God’s principles for government, epitomized in the New Testament.  The New Testament church is a city-wide house church fellowship.  Adults, both men and women, are seen as peers, with slightly different roles, and authority distributed among a group of elders, who work for consensus based on Biblical principles.  No Pope, no King, no President.  Even in Old Testament times, God’s plan for Israel abhorred a King, and depended on local judges.  So today we see little conviction within Christendom concerning the dangers of centralized government.  In fact, government dominates the attentions of most Americans.  Government is America’s god, and God has no place in it.  In this Americans forget their history.  Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were impressed with the principles of governance observed in local Baptist churches, employing what they learned in designing our Constitution, painfully aware that power must be distributed among executive, legislative, and judicial, and among federal, state, and local entities.

America still coasts on a somewhat Christian heritage.  Even liberals work to avoid being caught in lies.  Why don’t they brag on their successful lies?  In Satan’s worldview, lies are terrific.  Jesus called him the father of lies.  Satan’s followers should be proud, shouldn’t they?  But reality intervenes.  Even the wicked know that most people believe lying is wrong, even atheists, despite an honest atheist’s conclusion that there is no right or wrong, we’re all just molecules in motion.  Yet atheistic liberals live as if their causes matter, and get offended when their peers lie to them.  I found it ironic during the 2016 primary season that Bernie Sanders liberals were so incensed that Hillary Clinton liberals rigged the Democrat Party’s nomination.  Were they upset because the Clinton camp executed the liberal game plan more effectively?  They should have commended their opponents.

God has given us five senses plus a conscience plus a rational mind so we can stay in touch with reality.  Consider your sense of touch.  Recent discoveries indicate that your fingerprints are more than just helpful to the CSI team.  The grooves and swirls help us to grip slippery objects, but they also improve our sense of touch.  In a Paris lab an artificial grooved surface was fabricated, then rubbed across various textured surfaces.  Rapid micro-vibrations from the contact were recorded, showing that our fingerprint design amplifies vibrations most efficiently within the frequency band where our sense of touch is most sensitive.  A fingerprint-like grooved surface is 100 times more sensitive than a smooth surface.

From touch we can distinguish different textures and can identify specific objects.  Even the swirls are helpful, enabling the micro-vibrations to stimulate our nerves effectively regardless of which way we move our fingertips across a surface.  What about biomimicry applications?  Engineers are using God’s fingerprint designs to imprint prosthetic fingers for tactile feedback.

Blog 105 image - fingerprintOur engineering efforts in biomimicry, indeed our scientific knowledge across the board, can never be exhaustive.  But (Van Til) “man does not need to know exhaustively in order to know truly and certainly.  When on the created level of existence man thinks God’s thoughts after Him, that is, when man thinks in self-conscious submission to the voluntary revelation of the self-sufficient God, he has therewith the only possible ground of certainty for his knowledge . . . The psalmist does not say that the heavens possibly or probably declare the glory of God.  Nor does the apostle assert that the wrath of God is probably revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . (man’s) sin is a sin against the light that lighteth every man coming into the world.  Even to the bottom of the most complex historical situations, involving sin and all its consequences, God’s revelation shines with unmistakable clarity.”

Whether family life or business or politics or science or engineering, we defy God’s reality at our own peril.  Husband, if you fail to love your wife as Christ loves the church, you and your family will suffer.  Likewise for the wife who asserts her ‘rights’ against her husband’s leadership.  If your business dealings are dishonest, you will be judged, perhaps in this life temporally, but certainly in the Judgment to come.  If your politics works to deprive people of liberty and the enjoyment of their own labor, the nation and its economy suffers.  If you insist on spending billions of dollars looking for life on Saturn’s moons or a chemical explanation for the information content of DNA, you waste everyone’s money and foster phony science.  And don’t build bridges without an honest assessment of the strength of the materials you use.

Look around.  Be in touch with God’s reality.  Thank Him.  Praise Him.  Deal with others in light of the light you have been given as God’s child.

  • drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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