Breaking Bad


The end justifies the means – according to Walt.


Life hasn’t gone as it should have. He’s brilliant but unrecognized. His career began with such promise and yet his contemporaries have advanced far beyond him now, leaving him in a poorly paid teaching role. Oh – and in 18 months – he expects to be dead from cancer.


His family will be vulnerable when he’s gone – which is why he needs to make some serious cash to leave behind NOW. Even if it means breaking the law by making and selling drugs. . Yet his intentions are noble – right?


The end justifies the means. His means are breaking the law – the end will be financial security for his family. That is…according to Walt.


The truth of the matter tho – is that he’s not just breaking the law. He is being drawn in…changed. As he gets deeper into the criminal underworld…he is faced with choice after choice to become more and more like the bad people around him. He’s not just doing bad for a little while…he is becoming bad with no way out.


Tragically – he is alienating the family that he loves in the process. He is poisoning what little time he has left with them. Walt is poisoning the lives of people round about him. Like the very cancer that is eating at his body, Walt is becoming a cancer in his local community. He is becoming a destructive influence on so many lives…from his partner Jesse, to the users of his “product”.


Here’s the thing – the end NEVER justifies the means. The means matters as much as the end matters.


Whenever I  have to try to justify the means – it is because I am uncomfortable with the means. We instinctively know our actions are either morally wrong – or certainly dangerous.


And it is so easy to go there ourselves. I don’t think I am too different from Walt. I have such a fine tuned capacity for self-delusion. A little dabble here and there – it won’t hurt.  I am in control of this situation – I can opt out whenever I want to. Well – Walt’s story is an illustration of just what a dangerous delusion that is.


“Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”  Romans 12:21, The Message


God’s advice in all of this is – get real. If you play with fire then you will get burned. A little evil will eventually overcome us. The evil we so easily submit to in our lives will corrupt us. But the great thing about Christianity is this. The goodness and the love that God freely offers us will have positive trans-formative power on us. 


Have you ever noticed that – sometimes the kettle in your kitchen gets filled with an odd deposit called limescale? It is the result of minerals in your water supply. In some areas – the water is so hard and full of these minerals that they coat the heating element of the kettle. So we make a cup of coffee which ends up having nasty bits in it. This isn’t particularly nice to drink – and eventually the kettle will stop working all together.

But – the kettle doesn’t have to break. The coffee doesn’t have to be nasty. We can descale the kettle and keep it working properly. Of course – rather than descaling the kettle – most people today will simply throw the old one away and buy a fresh and new one.


But we can’t throw our hearts away and start afresh with new ones.


The little, self-justified, evil choices I make in my life will build up and deposit “limescale” in my heart. They will clog me up…and eventually get the better of me. But it doesn’t have to be so. I can descale my life. I do it by letting the goodness of God into the inside of my life…and let Him melt away the hardness that has formed there.


As he changes me on the inside – the quality of my actions also changes. People who allow God to descale their own hearts, become people who God uses to descale communities. They become positive change agents in the world. They become people who overcome evil by doing God empowered good. And that’s not hype or fantasy – it happens to ordinary people like you and me.


In the final analysis – however we might try to justify and argue – the choices we make matter. They have consequences – every single one. Consequences for us – and those around us. So surrender your heart to the one who loves you – who wants the best for you – and has the power to change you.


Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8, The Message


It’s OK to change our minds!


Imagine the most hardened atheist – someone who utterly dismisses the mere possibility of the existence of God or a creator behind the Universe. We might not have to go very far to find that person – as it could well be us!

I guess one of the most public and vocal atheists today would be either Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris or Daniel Dennett. All great guys, I’m sure. And stridently atheist in their worldview.

Anthony Flew was their forerunner.

Mr Flew was the public, strident atheist of the mid 20th century. He died in 2010 aged 87, but during his life he spent much of his time proposing his anti-God position.

He was a contemporary of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, but was not convinced by their own faith. Rather he believed that talk about God was meaningless and Gods existence could not be proved either way. He engaged in countless public and private debates with people of faith where he stood firmly against any form of faith or belief in a creator. He dismissed the claims of the Bible. There was no God, according to Anthony Flew.

That is…until the mid 2000’s when suddenly his position began to change. He never publicly admitted to becoming a Christian. But he very clearly stated he had been mistaken in his atheism and that he had become a believer in God – in other words, a Theist.

What began to change his mind? Well – listen for yourself to this short interview.

Anthony Flew began his journey toward God when he finally admitted that the case for a Designer was just so great – that he couldn’t deny it any more. The deeper that Scientists looked into the nature and structure of the Universe – everything just REEKED of design! He decided that he was done with NOT following the evidence where it lead. Instead he just followed the breadcrumbs. There had to be – in Anthony Flew’s thinking – a creative intelligence behind all of life.

And so – before his death in 2010 – he stridently changed his position and took up the cause of arguing for the existence of a Designer of our Universe. He co-authored a book which has an inescapable title – “There Is A God”.

The internet’s reaction was scathing. People who didn’t take the time to read Mr Flew’s book, or listen to his reasons, cruelly denounced him as confused and senile. But does he sound that way in the video clip? Not at all – his sharp and incisive mind is very much in evidence.

Now – who knows whether he finally decided to believe in the God of the Bible. I hope so – because I personally feel that only Christianity makes historical and intellectual sense of the evidence that we find in human history.

Anyway – however Anthony Flew’s story really ended – it reminds me of this. Atheists can and do change their minds. And – it’s OK to change your mind.

“Beneficial Mutations” is a Contradiction in Terms

ascent of man

Perhaps you’re reading this post on your laptop. Or maybe you’re using a phone or tablet? However you are reading – imagine something for me. What if the data in your device suddenly changes? The files on your hard drive…the apps on your phone…they began morphing. Now I don’t mean they instantly become something else. No – I’m talking about gradual slow change. Single bits of data start to flip…a number “1” becomes a number “3” instead. A “4” becomes a “5”…and so on. And let’s say…the change happens very slowly. Out of all of the gigabytes of data that make up the apps, the code, the operating system and the documents you have stored …a single digit flips every day. What do you think might happen?

Would the blog post or the essay you are writing begin to say something better than it did before (that’s a compelling fantasy, believe me). Would the operating system in your tablet begin to morph into a different but equally functional one?

I don’t think you need a degree in Computer Science to answer those questions with a shake of the head. Gadgets and anything with a microprocessor inside them are very sensitive objects. The software is carefully crafted by – probably – hundreds of engineers over decades of time. It is precisely aligned to do a job. And if something’s not right…your laptop and therefore your life is about to get very frustrating.  If you have ever accidently loaded the wrong driver or a virus into your laptop – you will know what I mean.

In my job I sometimes work with engineers who are designing flight computers to operate in the harsh environment of space. And they put an incredible amount of effort into designing their system to make sure that “1s” cannot turn into “5s” when cosmic rays blast the vehicle. Many software systems in space travel are designed to be self-diagnosing and self-correcting – because if it breaks down on the surface of Mars, there’s not a thing we can do about it!

What I am saying is – the specific information contained within a computer system is valuable and any random unforeseen changes to that information will degrade its function. And it will probably eventually break down as a result of the change.

Why am I bringing this fairly obvious conclusion to your attention today?

Because it strikes me that the popular (some would say undeniable) theory from Charles Darwin of Biological Evolution presents the same scenario in a different context. It proposes random mutations on biological systems. And it points to something called Natural Selection and says that this process will make sure the beneficial mutations are carried forward as animals adapt and grow into different types of animals. Over time.

Beneficial mutations? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

Now I grant you – organisms do vary over time based on their environment. Beak lengths, wing colours are well documented examples. Minor change…or minor evolution… can be observed within a class of creature. It’s observable because life is built so that it will adapt to survive. But what about gradual mutation from one class of animal to another?  (Darwin’s theory of Common Descent) I am skeptical and I think the phrase “Beneficial Mutation” is a contradiction in terms here. Why?

Well – I have two problems with Darwin’s theory. And frankly – I’m going to raise them whether it’s PC to do so or not!

FIRST – where did the original organisms come from? The fossil record seems to show that life began with very simple organisms. We know from recent study of simple single celled organisms that they contain an incredible amount of digital information and complex systems for processing that information and generating proteins to manage and control the organism. There’s a vast amount of digital code in simple organisms. Where did it come from? Why does it suddenly appear in the historical record? Evolution? I don’t think so because random change doesn’t create information – it degrades it.

SECOND – Following on from the simple organisms – suddenly a vast array of incredibly complex animals, all with different body plans, appear in the fossil record (a period often called the Cambrian explosion). The fossil record starts by presenting simple organisms…and then many years later in the record we are suddenly presented with a vast array of amazing new Cambrian fully formed animal fossils. Who wrote the code for them then? There certainly isn’t any evidence of transitions from a few simple forms to a vast array of fully functional complex animals! And nor would we expect there to be – because random change doesn’t create information – it degrades it.

Not only has no evidence of transitional forms been found – but Science has begun to understand more and more about life since Darwin’s day. Roy Davidson in the 1960s discovered that each animal inherits biological circuitry (Developmental Gene Regulatory Networks or dGRNs) when it is conceived. What is a dGRN? It’s a biological control system  – completely separate from the cell’s DNA – that ensures that the organism will grow two wings, two legs and a beak (if it’s a bird). These control systems are very specific to the beast in question. And what Roy found was that any minor change to this dGRN system will render the organism unviable…in other words mutation will kill it.  Just like what will happen to the tablet you are holding if its operating system software begins to randomly flip “1s” and “0s”.

If you are anything like me, we have gotten so used to hearing people say with authority that animals evolve from one physical form to another, we naturally accept it. They say that random mutations – guided by Natural Selection – move species forward over a long period of time.

Yet just because people say this with authority does not make it right.

I don’t buy it…not because I am a Christian (which I am) but because practical experience in life with our information rich Sat Navs, our Laptops and our Tablet Computers shows this theory to be naïve and improbable . I don’t buy it because complex information processing systems – and the information they contain – do not improve when the program randomly changes. They break down.

If information systems – electrical or biological – break down in the face of random change, then the mutations that Darwin was talking about couldn’t form new living creatures. Darwin’s mutations would lead to dead ends instead. So there would be no guiding job for Natural Selection to do.

“Beneficial mutations” is a contradiction in terms.

And it’s not just me saying this. Current Scientific discoveries presented by the likes of Origin Scientist Stephen C Meyer give real weight to this conclusion. A conclusion that applies to biology in the same way as it applies to our digital technology today.

Evolutionary biologists are fond of saying that “life gives the appearance of design.” Hey – so does my IPAD. Let’s at least consider the possibility that life looks designed because it is!

Miracles Point to Purpose in the Universe


I remember once watching a car accident unfold on a busy roundabout.

This guy clipped the back of my mate as he was driving clockwise in his big Volvo, spinning it 180 degrees before it came to a stop. In the middle of rush hour traffic. In the middle of a busy roundabout. In fact – I was queuing in my car a few feet away …which is why I witnessed the whole thing. Amazingly – my mate didn’t hit any other cars as his Volvo spun on the roundabout! In fact – I watched as he got out of the car…rush hour zooming past him…and he stood there shouting, “It’s a miracle!” I guess he was meaning – I cannot believe there’s no damage to my car. It’s also surprising that no other drivers were involved…or indeed that my mate wasn’t run over on the roundabout!

When the unexpected – or the extremely unlikely happens – we might be tempted to exclaim – “It’s a miracle!” And what we mean is – I simply do not understand how that could have happened (or not happened!)   Now – in my mate’s case – I don’t think I witnessed a supernatural miracle that evening. I don’t believe some unseen hand was protecting him. It was probably just a lucky escape.

But I’ll tell you something else – I have got no problem believing that sometimes real miracles do happen.  And they happen for a purpose. I have a great example from my life that I will come to in a bit.

You know – if the natural Universe is all that there is, if the laws of science define the boundaries of existence…if we are just the products of the blind forces of nature…then I grant you. Miracles are absurd.

But if God created this Universe, and if he sustains our planet and he is interested in each and every human being that has ever lived on it…then the miraculous ceases to be absurd. If we consider that God may exist (and I believe in God because of evidence…not in the absence of evidence) then miracles aren’t just highly likely…they are absolutely necessary.

This will be a problem for many thinking people. Why? Because we suspect that a miracle claim is a throwback to an uninformed, ancient and ignorant culture. Right? Well – no, not necessarily. Mankind may well have been unscientific 2000 years ago – all the modern the scientific disciplines hadn’t really taken hold at that point (altho its amazing what people were doing and understanding about the Universe in ancient cultures!). Human cultures were pre-scientific, but that doesn’t make people stupid. And it doesn’t demand that miracles can’t be real either.

You see – all a miracle actually is…is God feeding an extra unexpected influence into the Universe from outside of space and time. When a miracle occurs – it doesn’t violate the scientific laws. All a miracle does is redirect the normal flow of events (that scientific laws so clearly articulate) in that instance. Afterwards, the universe carries on as normal.

Consider it this way. When an apple falls from a tree, Isaac Newton tells us about a natural law that causes the apple to hit the ground; the law of Gravity. Gravity is ALSO an awesome movie released in 2013 by Alfonso Cuaron…but I digress.  Anyway – as the apple leaves the tree – we know it will hit the ground. Unless, that is, someone puts their hand out and catches the apple. If that was to happen, there would be a completely different turn of events – all because in that second, the apple was caught. But remember – despite the good catch – the law of gravity still holds on planet earth. Future apples will still fall to the ground – unless they too are caught on the way down. Intervening in the apple’s journey does not break the law of gravity at all. In a similar way – miracle doesn’t violate scientific law.

Miracles are similar to the intervention of the apple catcher.  The difference is – the divine miracle worker exists outside of time and space…whiles the apple catcher doesn’t. Yet the principle is the same.

The occurrence of miracle doesn’t negate any law of nature – miracle circumvents natural law in an instance – for a good purpose. In the apple’s case, someone was hungry and wanted a snack. In the Bible’s case, God raised Jesus from the dead so that we could know for certain that there is a way to heaven and a future hope for everyone. But the laws of nature aren’t broken as a result of Jesus’ miraculous resurrection. The Universe carries on regardless.

Miracle is God’s intervention for his good and loving purpose. Or as the Bible puts it…

“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” 1 Peter 1:3, The Message

I promised you a miracle story from my own life. Well…here it comes.

It was early afternoon, 21st October, 1971. May Gray, my Mum, tucked 3 year old me and 18 month old Annie into the back of our new Mini for a shopping trip to Clarkston on the outskirts of Glasgow.  May climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened. She tried again – click. She sat for quite some time trying again and again to get the engine to turn over – without success. In the end – and in sheer frustration – she unbuckled us from the back seat, and carried us into the house again. No doubt muttering about the stupid car and what she was going to say to my Dad when he got home.

At 2:50pm the row of shops that May was heading to with me on Clarkston High Street exploded in a fireball that took the lives of over 20 shop workers, shoppers and passing bus passengers. The horrific accident was the result of a buildup of gas due to a leak in the gas main.

Still at home – May listened in shock to the news on the radio. A dawning realization washed over her. We would have been in the middle of that explosion if we had left home when she intended to.

Amazing as this may seem – the story is not finished. Because after my father returned from work and listened to the shocking story, he made his way onto our driveway holding the car key. He opened the driver’s door, sat in the seat and turned the ignition. The car engine roared into life.

There are countless examples of this sort of thing – and even more amazing occurrences thru human history. Miracle is God’s intervention for his good and loving purpose.

It’s Bigger On The Inside


“It’s bigger on the inside!”

This is generally the reaction when someone first steps into the famous blue Police Box; the outer shell of the best ship in the universe. When you enter, you are stepping into a humming time and space machine with an interior sitting in another dimension, and an engine powered by an exploding star time-locked in the act of becoming a black hole. No wonder the Doctor’s latest companion starts out on their journey with a shocked expression.

There is something that fires the imagination when we suddenly get a sense that things are not necessarily what they seem. Whether we encounter it in fiction, or we sense it during of one of our own personal and very ordinary days. The realization that – ‘It’s bigger on the inside’ – can spark curiosity and excitement in some, perhaps even fear or cynicism in others.

But what if?

What if there really is something we have been passing by and ignoring in our lives. We’ve not taken any notice of it because it’s so mundane. Yet all the while, it is actually bigger and more striking than we could ever imagine. But we’ve got to look inside to realize it.

The average British man on the street wouldn’t blink twice at a blue Police Box in the 1960s. That’s one reason why it was a genius move for the BBC to make the Doctor’s TARDIS look like one. We’ve lost the sense of it a bit now, but Doctor Who posed a provocative statement to the people who first encountered it. The TV show declared that the mundane can be the door to the extraordinary! You might think you know all there is to know. But even the most ordinary and unexciting thing can be a door to stuff you just would not believe!

Now – I reckon you’ve lost count of the number of hotel rooms you’ve slept in that had a Gideon’s Bible in the drawer by the bed. Many times – you probably didn’t even open the drawer in the first place! But it was there. You have probably walked or driven past countless churches in your life. And you didn’t give them a second thought. Well – what I am saying today is this. ..

God and church might seem mundane – even out dated and as irrelevant as a 1960’s Police Box standing on the corner of a 21st century street. But guess what – there is adventure waiting inside. Christianity is the door to a future that you could never anticipate or imagine. Yes, you expect your eyes to fall on to the cramped space, 4 bare walls as you swing those doors inward. But what you actually get – blows your mind.

What I am saying  is this. There is a God…

Who crafted our Universe so that we could enjoy it

Who stepped into time so that we could know him (that’s who I and countless other Christians believe that Jesus is)

Who hand crafted us to achieve great things in the years we are alive on this beautiful planet


In fact – here’s a little bit of what he says on the subject:

“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jeremiah 29:11, The Message

Perhaps we’re thinking today – God show up? Yea right! He’s had plenty of opportunity to make a difference in my life already – and I’ve seen nothing of it. God show up? Give it a rest.

Well – maybe he’s actually been closer than you’ve realized. In the days, months and years that have led us to this point, we’ve thought that we were the master of our own destiny. But maybe he’s been waiting in the wings for longer than we knew. Maybe even in the midst of the tragedies we have suffered, he has been there.

And maybe – he’s just waiting for us to enter thru his doors. He’s not going to force himself on us. But he longs to travel thru life together with us. Caring for us, our special friend…on a journey full of the unexpected. A journey that will give us real…and perhaps unexpected hope.

I think Jesus knows what he’s doing. And adventure with him is just a step away.

But even more than that – at the end of the journey when our time aboard as his companion is drawing to a close…as we face our life’s end…he will take care of us and bring us safely back home. He promises it. He’s committed himself to it.

Our future will be better because there was a day when we personally and honestly discovered that God and church…the mundane …was actually completely extraordinary.

Wait a minute – “It really IS bigger on the inside!”