Responding When Life Gets On Top of Me

peace

Once upon a time, I saw the land of peace

          from a mountaintop of my own making.

And it appeared to me that what I needed

to sustain me on this path was

          one more project,

          one more possession,

          one more accomplishment.

But these were detours that sent me

          deep into the land of discontent.

More projects led to too much stress.

More possessions turned into too much stuff.

More accomplishments turned into too much of me.

Then I heard that simple voice,

          still echoing in the distance:

“Follow Me.”

“Rest in my footprints.”

“Meander in my footsteps.”

“Keep me in sight as you walk the path

          to the land of peace.”

Swept up in the warm echo of that voice, I realized this:

One day, when I have learned to live as if

You are always with me,

I will move beyond

          all of my stress,

          all of my stuff,

          all of myself.

And I will taste this truth:

Each moment that I spent in Your shadow,

          I was living in the land of peace already.

— Timothy Paul Jones

And as one ancient writer put it…many centuries ago…

This is what the Lord says:

          “Stop at the crossroads and look around

          Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.

          Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.

— Jeremiah 6:16, NLT

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Jesus Resurrection – As Unlikely as Alien Abduction Claims?

i_want_to_believe

 

In 1961, the first big Alien Abduction claim hit the public consciousness. Barney and Betty Hills, from Portsmouth New Hampshire, reportedly had a Close Encounter with…something. It has cemented them and their claims firmly in pop culture.

 

And this raises a question for me. As I raise my eyebrow at the Hills’ outlandish claim, I wonder whether the New Testament’s report of Jesus physical return from the dead is any less outlandish and fanciful?

 

Let’s go back for a moment to the cold war tensions and paranoia of 1961. It wasn’t just a new decade marked by musical brilliance and Moon shots. Aliens were also reportedly doing medical procedures on unfortunate folks who were going about their daily business!

 

What exactly was Barney Hills claim?

 

Driving home one evening, they thought they saw something unusual in the night sky. Actually – many people including the US Military later agreed that something weird was happening that night. They reportedly stopped the car and took a good look. But the bright lights – and the erratic behavior of the object – began to freak them out. So they hurried back to their car and drove on. Before long – it became apparent they were 35 miles further down the road than they should have been. They appeared to have lost time!

Many weeks later, following a period of disrupted sleep and nightmares, they reportedly went thru regression hypnosis. And this brought out vivid details of little bald grey captors, operating tables and medical procedures.

Actually this is only the first well documented case of Alien Abduction – throughout the next 20 years, a number of similar claims were made by apparently ordinary people with no apparent reason to lie.

 

The New Testament contains 2000 year old eyewitness reports from apparently ordinary people too.

  • Reports of the death of Jesus of Nazareth, followed by the grief and shock of his friends.
  • Reports that these grieving people then subsequently encountered their friend back from the dead at various different times and places over a 40 day period.

 

Sounds pretty unlikely – right? Dead people don’t come back. Aliens don’t abduct people driving home in their cars.

 

Whatever historical event you are trying to verify – whether mundane or fantastical – historians apply 5 criteria to test the solidity of the report.

A solid Historical claim will:

1 – be supported by multiple, independent sources

2 – be attested to by enemies (hostile witnesses) as well as friends

3 – include embarrassing admissions which reflect honest reporting rather than creative storytelling

4 – be supported by direct eyewitness testimony

5 – be supported by early testimony making legendary development impossible

 

The problem with the Barney and Betty Hills Alien Abduction claim is – by the criteria laid out above – we do not have a solid Historical report.

The only witnesses were the alleged abductees. There are no independent sources or witnesses – either friendly or hostile – to the Hill’s claim.  While other people agreed something strange was seen in the night sky that evening in September 1961, no other witness to the alleged Close Encounter exists. We’re right to be skeptical – their case is historically unverified.

 

So – what about the Bible’s claim that God raised Jesus from the dead? (Acts 2:24) Well – a historical case based on a minimal set of data does exist. What is this data and how solid is the case?

 

DATA POINT 1 – The Death of Jesus By Crucifixion

This fact is attested by every Gospel, and many non-Christian sources too. For example – Roman historian Josephus, Tacitus, the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata as well as the Jewish Talmud itself.

Jesus crucifixion meets the historical criteria of multiple independent eyewitnesses, early sources and enemy attestation.

Some have proposed that – maybe Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross. He merely swooned, was then buried and was then revived in the cold tomb.

But this doesn’t work.

  • Roman executioners were excellent torturers and executioners
  • Jesus faking his resurrection goes against his moral teachings
  • There are no early reports he was wounded and not killed
  • A half dead Messiah could not serve as the foundation for a belief in the Resurrection. If his friends had encountered him bloodied and bleeding…they would not have called him the Lord of Life. They would have called him a doctor!
  • Jewish thinking said, only once at the end of human history would the dead be raised. This means that – on encountering Jesus alive again after his crucifixion –his followers would naturally have just assumed he didn’t die. Yet this is not what they claimed. It is highly culturally unusual for the Jewish early Church to proclaim him as Christ crucified and raised from death.

 

DATA POINT 2 – The Empty Tomb

All naturalistic theories that attempt to explain away the Resurrection presuppose the empty tomb. The body was reportedly gone.

From the beginning, the hostile Jewish authorities claimed that Jesus’ followers had stolen his body to fake his resurrection. But this claim gives no reason WHY they would have done so.

Further – the claim that the disciples stole the body does not work within Jewish culture at that time. There was no expectation of a Messiah who would become the suffering servant; who was executed shamefully by the Gentiles, and then raised bodily before the general resurrection at the end of time. Rather – Messiah’s were ten a penny in ancient Jerusalem. If your Messiah got themselves killed – you either gave up and went home, or you hitched your wagon to a different one. But the idea that Jesus followers stole his corpse and faked his resurrection just wouldn’t have entered their minds at that point in Jewish history.

Finally – if the disciples stole the body – this doesn’t explain the conversion of Christianity’s 1st century enemy turned Apostle – Saul who became Paul.

Surely if someone had managed to produce his rotting corpse and deposit it in the middle of Jerusalem for all to see….that would have been an end to it. But they could not.

DATA POINT 3 – The Post-Resurrection Appearances

Scholars cite 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 as the earliest snapshot of Christian belief about Jesus. Paul claimed to receive this creed from the original Apostles many years before he wrote his letter. Scholars date the creed to within months or weeks of the crucifixion itself.

Three of our four minimal facts are recorded there as an early statement of belief – Christ died, his tomb was discovered empty and he was seen by his closest friends. And then more than five hundred people saw him at once.

The early date of this creed rules out legendary embellishment because there simply wasn’t time for legends to develop. And besides – the eye witnesses were still alive at the time this was passed on.

Yet over hundreds of years some legends did develop; they are referred to as the 3rd century Gnostic Gospels. In comparison to the New Testament’s stark and excited eyewitness reporting, the Gnostic Gospels are full of bizarre and fanciful imagery.

 

Some have suggested hallucination as an explanation for the appearances. People saw what they wanted to see. But Psychologists have ruled this out. Hallucinations are private experiences yet crowds of eyewitnesses reportedly witnessed the risen Jesus. Remember, Jews would not expect to see a raised Jesus anyway. And finally – hallucination does not explain the empty tomb itself or indeed Saul’s conversion to Christianity.

 

DATA POINT 4 – The Origin of the Christian Faith

Within one generation of Jesus crucifixion, “the Way” had spread to Europe, Asia and Africa. If Christianity is the effect – then what was the cause?

Well – surely the most obvious cause is the Apostles belief that God had indeed raised Jesus from the dead. And this belief transformed people’s lives. The cultural worship practices of Jewish people changed. Church moved to a Sunday.

Could the Disciples have stolen the body and made it all up? No lie or shared conspiracy or mistaken observation has the explanatory power to ignite the Christian church in human history.

 

IN SUMMARY

Jesus resurrection is based on historically verifiable evidence – it meets the 5 requirements outlined earlier in this blog. However unusual the event, there is powerful evidence of the event’s historical reliability. Even though we don’t understand how it happened – this does not preclude us from historically accepting that it did happen.

 

Really?

You’ve got to be gullible to believe Alien abduction reports – right? In the same way, dead men do not rise!

Hold on a minute –

The historical basis of the resurrection is incredibly strong. And no one claims Jesus was raised from the dead by natural means. Christians simply repeat what the Bible eye witness accounts say – that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Besides – you don’t have to understand something to accept the truth of it. Ask any Scientist to explain human consciousness; where does it come from? Then ask them what energy really is. They don’t really know. If Scientists can accept these things even though they don’t understand how and why they work – can’t we accept Jesus’ Resurrection as true based on observable and historically verifiable evidence?

 

Challenging the Blind Watchmaker

blind_watchmaker

“The only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics…the blind unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for…life, has no purpose in mind…If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is that of a blind watchmaker.”

 — Richard Dawkins

 

 

The Blind Watchmaker Thesis says that life has the appearance of design – but it not actually designed. It is the result of millions of years of gradual random unguided biological mutation and change acted upon by natural selection.

 

 

Our culture has – on the whole – accepted the Blind Watchmaker Thesis. And it has done so in spite of the despair filled destination to which this thesis leads us to. (Cue wails of…everything is pointless, there’s no real purpose to our lives, etc, etc)

 

 

I do not accept the Blind Watchmaker Thesis – I challenge it. I believe that there are good reasons to be skeptical of it. There IS a point to existence – and there’s a God given purpose for you and me THAT IS THERE FOR US…if we want it.

Here are two reasons I’m skeptical of the Blind Watchmaker.

 

 

1 – The Fossil Record Does Not Suggest It is True

2 – The Information at the Heart of Life Cannot (by normal human experience) Arrive by Random Processes

 

 

Would you give me a few minutes of your time to explain these reasons?

 

 

1 – The Fossil Record Does Not Suggest It Is True

This might sound like I’m completely denying the science of Paleontology, the institution of the Natural History Museum in London, etc! Not so – the Fossil record gives us a fascinating snapshot of ancient history. I’m simply repeating an objection that was levelled at Darwin’s Theory by one of his contemporaries.

Darwin looked at the layered fossil record…

older fossils lower down

more recent fossils nearer the surface

…and saw an increase in creature complexity the nearer to the surface he got. Surely a sign of evolutionary development?

 

 

The problem with this conclusion is – it ignores an important piece of data. There is a massive jump in complexity and diversity between each layer at various points in the fossil record. This period is usually referred to as the Cambrian Explosion – a period of time in earth’s history which is estimated to have lasted millions of years. But it’s a period where single celled forms of life were eventually joined by plant life…and then joined by small but complex forms of life like Trilobites (armoured beasties who had eyes, mouths, digestive systems, spines, etc).

 

 

The fossil record does not suggest that all creatures are descended from a single ancient primordial form. Rather – life appeared and existed for a while in history. Much of it died out – much of it is still living to this day.

 

 

If we look at the jumps in creature complexity between the geological layers with a mind that is not already decided about the truth of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – it looks for all the world like there were periods of time when complex life suddenly appeared on the planet.

Suddenly appeared? Sounds like magic rather than science!

 

It’s only magic if we decide ahead of time that life WAS NOT created by a designer. If we are open to the possibility of a designer – then doesn’t the fossil record leave the fingerprints of the God who injected life into his creation? This creation is outside of Science – but God’s creative results are study able BY Science. Which is great fun!

 

 

Darwin’s critic Agassiz put it this way.

“[Darwinism] contradicts what the animal forms buried in the rocky strata of our earth tell us…Let us hear them – for after all, their testimony is that of the eye witness and the actor in the scene.”

— Agassiz

 

 

In other words – these creatures lived. Their fossilized remains suggest appearance rather than gradual development. 150 years of Paleontology has not found the fossilized intermediate forms that prove Darwin right. We could hang on to Darwin’s  fanciful theory or – we could at least be open to following the available evidence of the fossil record where it leads. Life appeared. And this points to a Life Designer.

 

Ah – but that’s very closed minded. Isn’t it? Not very scientific. Why can’t I be more open to the possibility that the missing fossilised links will really be completely convincingly found?

Well…because of my second problem with the Blind Watchmaker thesis.

 

2 – The Information at the Heart of Life Cannot (by normal human experience) Come about By Random Processes

Darwin didn’t realise it – but each of the countless billions of cells in our bodies is an efficient factory. It’s a complex microscopic biological facility for storing and using information to create biological machines – or proteins. Don’t believe me? Just look at this.

 

 

 

Every car or TV production line (and the factory building it sits in) that you have ever seen was designed and built by clever people. Every instruction manual you’ve ever referred to was written by an eloquent author (sometimes Chinese!). Every machine you have ever used – whether it’s your microwave or your iPhone – was intentionally designed by a creative agency.

So why is it when we move from electronics or automotive engineering to Biology – do we suddenly throw away any need of a designer when we reach Biology?

 

 

The truth is that life is more complex than ANY man made mechanism.  It demands design even more than electronics or automotive engineering.

 

 

Consider for a moment the strand of DNA stored in each cell nucleus in your little finger. The DNA contains instructions for creating proteins, and instructions for managing the life of the cell. It’s the software that keeps the system working. The use of the word “software” is not a metaphor – this is an accurate description. Just ask the guys who are building storage devices today that treat DNA molecules as microscopic hard disk drives.

 

DNA ‘perfect for digital storage’

dnastorage

Just consider the way that – whenever a new organism is conceived – the cells that appear are hard wired with Gene Regulatory Networks (GRNs) to create specific body plans. The cells that comprise a fish embryo are hard wired to create the shape of a fish. The cells in a bird embryo know ahead of time how to create a bird shape, and so on.

 

 

I have worked in software and electronics for 20 years. My Manager’s expectations have never been met by accident or random chance. I’ve always had to work hard – and use as much insight and learning as I can – to build the circuit that will work, or to write the code that compiles and runs and performs its task correctly. Circuits don’t mutate into other circuits. They either do their job – or they don’t. And we fix them – or we give up on them.

 

 

Why should the situation be any different for biological software and circuitry? A creative intelligence was required to start life off. To deny this just doesn’t fit with normal everyday experience!

 

fiction

I find the idea of life arriving on planet Earth by purely natural processes as fascinating. But to my mind it sounds like a fiction book full of cool ideas – without any grounding in the real world. I do not accept the Blind Watchmaker Thesis – I challenge it. I believe that there are good reasons to be skeptical of it.

 

I’m much more willing to sing along with the ancient psalmist:

“O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24, New Living Translation

Christianity Compared to Racism?

odowd

 

I’m wondering whether Chris O’Dowd was caught on an off day.

He was recently quoted by GQ magazine as saying he reckons following a religion will eventually become as offensive and unacceptable as racism is today. He says…

 “…religion is ruining the world… you need to stop! There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You’re not allowed to say that weird sh*t! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!”

I’m guessing that by “religion”…Chris refers to people who believe in a higher purpose…and ultimately the existence of God (altho some religions don’t go that far). Whatever he means – his comments surely are leveled at Christians. Right? As a Christian, I believe in God…I believe in Jesus Christ. So I guess his comments apply to me.

The thing is… I’m completely baffled by Chris’s likening of Christianity to Racism. Christianity is not a threat. Quite the opposite – Christianity is the only life raft that’s available, folks.

And I’ll tell you why.

If we look back a few hundred years, we had a big problem in the British Empire (back when Britain was great – right?). Part of our African trade involved buying and selling African slaves. To Brits in the late 1700s, slavery was just part of everyday life.

Britain treated those of a certain colour as less important than everybody else.

Britain treated them as objects, as property.

Now – surely that describes racism applied on a national scale?

wilberforce

Enter one man – William Wilberforce – who challenged this appalling state of affairs. He stood against slavery – and therefore racism – in the strongest way. In fact – for 18 years he regularly proposed anti-slavery motions in British Parliament. And they were continually swept aside by the business people who profited from slaves. That is…until 29th July 1833 when the act to free slaves in the British Empire was finally passed in the Houses of Parliament.

The thing is – William Wilberforce was a very devout Christian. In fact – his Christian faith was one of the things that drove his anti-slavery activism.

You see – the Bible teaches that every person matters to God. There’s not one person we lock eyes with – that God does not care about. Now – groups of Christians will sometimes disagree on lots of things – it is not The Worldwide Church’s most attractive quality! But this particular fact is foundational to all followers of Jesus Christ. People are made in God’s image, they are precious, they are given a unique dignity by the Creator and God has gone incredible lengths to reach out towards each and every one of us.

People matter to God. William Wilberforce knew this. That’s why he gave his life to abolish the enforced slavery of people God loves.

So I would ask this. If Christianity can

  1. Propel William Wilberforce to dramatically reform the racist British Empire,
  2. Inspire him to work towards reclaiming and recognizing the inherent dignity of countless African people

…on what grounds can you claim that Christianity is a danger to society today? Christianity and racism are such polar opposites – that William Wilberforce devoted his life to eliminating institutionalized racism within the Great British Empire. What’s not to like?

I’m baffled that Christianity would be likened to such a hateful, segregating, controlling and evil period in Britain’s past. Jesus Christ came to bring freedom – not bondage. That’s the whole point.

shaftsbury

A contemporary of Wilberforce was Lord Shaftsbury who, in the 1800s, reformed appalling working practices that were springing up as a result of the new Industrial Revolution. The least important in society  – women and children – were abused in the name of business. Lord Shaftsbury transformed the lives of countless workers and is remembered as a reformer and friend of the poor. You know where I’m going with this…he was a committed Christian. There’s a direct line between his faith in Christ and his social action.

kingfisher

Thinking about the 21st century for a moment, the Christian Church that I serve in as a leader – Kingfisher Church – is also working towards reclaiming and recognizing the inherent dignity of marginalized people in British society. In our case – these people are adults with learning difficulties.  Without seeking to blow our own trumpet – there are Christian leaders at Kingfisher Church today who are moving in similar circles as William Wilberforce did so many centuries ago.

Why?

Because people matter to God. Every single one of us do. We always have done. We always will do. And anyone who has been a Christian for 5 minutes instinctively begins to long that society would reflect that.

What is so offensive about that? What is so abhorrent about valuing people so much that we choose to work towards making society a better place?

Jesus didn’t come to make everyone crazy.

He came as a Doctor to the sick,

As a Light in the darkness,

To bring Life to those facing death.

He brings Hope to the hopeless and

Sight to the blind.

And his intention is that Christians everywhere would join him on this path.

Christianity is not a threat – it’s the only life raft that’s available, folks.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” Luke 4:18-19, NLT

Artificial Cells and the Evolution Myth

AI

I’ve got a soft spot for the Stanley Kubric movie that Steven Spielberg finished after Kubric’s death – AI. Some people hate on this movie – mainly because of the jarring emotional meltdown that occurs in the final act of the piece. May I point you to the final sentence of the original short story that inspired Kubric? The hints are there in the text, my friends.

ai2

Supertoys Last All Summer Long

Now…odd as it may seem – we are closer to an artificial life form than you may realize. Zoom back in your time machine to 2010. Back then, the first replicating cells containing artificial, human designed DNA, were created in the lab. Small…fragile…but by any definition, surely that qualifies as Artificial Life? (tho not Artificial Intelligence!)

The J Craig Venter Institute programmed their own DNA chromosome by cutting and pasting existing DNA instructions together – and inserting some code of their own into the artificial chromosome. Including (oddly enough) an email address and some stirring quotes! As you watch the press conference below, they use words like “software”, “booting up the cell”, “debugging”. Clearly the human race has already entered the new world of biological software, of creating life for a purpose. We’ve actually been there for 4 years already.

venter

Craig Venter Unveils Artificial Life

In 2010 they had to inject the DNA into a natural bacteria cell to reprogram it. But in 2014, they are synthesizing the cell wall itself using fatty acids and many other chemical techniques. Does this life form do anything useful yet? Don’t count on it – but there are hopes that this research may lead to vaccines and new sources of fuel for our oil strapped planet.

We have some smart research scientists who are taking the “Lego Bricks” of life and building something new.

But here is something that they are NOT doing.

Despite what the media reports claim – they are not finally discovering how the first biological cell evolved billions of years ago from the primordial slime.

There is a lot of confused thinking around this point. We fixate on needing life to have a completely natural, non-supernatural cause; of deciding ahead of time that no Designer was responsible for life on our planet. And yet the very work our research scientists are doing proves the opposite. We are trainee Life Designers with “L plates” and “training wheels”. And we are following the work of the Teacher and the Master.

  • Scientists engineer a controlled Lab environment for the life experiments – this is done by design.
  • Scientists engineer using a vast chemical storehouse built for them and use complex stuff like fatty acids that come pre-prepared – this is done by design.
  • Scientists read and understand the pre-existing DNA instructions. And are now coding their own instructions themselves – this is done by (biological software) design.

In other words – no one is demonstrating the ability of Biological Evolution to create complex life. Rather – everyone is demonstrating the necessity of a Designer to get the conditions and the components of life aligned in the right way.

By research – humanity is actively affirming the truth that life came from a Designer – while confidently passing on the tale that life arose from the chemically random, naturally selected past.

Surely a mistaken contradiction that we need to wake up to?

But more than that – we need to wake up to the God who made us – and loves us. He’s not annoyed that we are learning about what he has made. I am sure He loves it when we ethically explore what He made with the minds that He’s given us.

Who knows when the first, true AI will occur?  I certainly don’t. But what I do know is that our Artificial creation – will be based on His creations. It doesn’t make him any less God that we can pick up little scraps of ideas from all that He has made.

But…doesn’t the fact that He made it all first…not just fill you with the slightest little twinge of awe?

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. 

Psalm 95:3-7, NIV

Wouldn’t “Designed” Eye Balls Work Better, tho?

Image

“My eye balls could work better, of course.”

 This is sometimes the response to the,  “Eyes are so complicated that God must have designed them” type of argument.

 

But it’s a response that’s a tad ungrateful, don’t you think?

“Yea – thanks to the Universe (or Evolution) for giving me eyes. But you could have done a better job of evolving them, eh?”

 Isn’t there a touch of ingratitude there?  

 

Often people point to:

  • the inverted nature of the image on the eye’s retina
  • the spot where our optic nerve goes thru into our brain where we all have a blind spot
  • nerves are actually positioned at the front of our retina, not behind our retina, getting in the way of the retina doing its job.

And then, if we are particularly on a roll, someone might point to the human Appendix and exclaim – “It has no purpose – why would a designer include it? It must be a vestige of evolution…just like the problematic eye design I have to put up with every day!”

 

 

In response I’ll suggest 3 things.

First – it’s much better to go thru life with an “attitude of gratitude”. And that includes gratitude for our health. Life looks and feels better for us when we are grateful for each day. When we are grateful – new opportunities open up for us. It’s a more healthy approach to life! Sermon over.

Second – I’m not a Doctor – and I don’t have a degree in Biology and Anatomy. But I know that Biologists have done some work to explain good reasons why our bodies are wired up as they are. Google is our friend if we want to investigate further.

Third – tricky arrangement of parts is NOT actually proof of NO design. What do I mean? Let me draw an analogy.

My first car was a rust coloured Mini Clubman – it was naturally rust coloured…and it was also actually falling to pieces because of rust. Now – whenever I opened the bonnet and tried bravely to do some work on it…I found myself hitting problems. There wasn’t a lot of space for that 1.1 litre engine in the tiny bay. If I wanted to try to get at the spark plugs, that was okay (although the skin on my knuckles was always at risk). But try to get to the oil filter or the Distributer cap? Forget it! Tried that – got frustrated – gave up. I had to take it to a mechanic who could do it.

My second car was a light blue Volvo 340. It wasn’t as rusty. But it was always better at driving in a straight line, rather than going round corners. This was a problem.  Anyway – it had a much bigger engine bay than the Mini. Open the bonnet – there was more space in there where than 1.4 engine sat. This time – the oil filter was much more reachable! It was to the side – easy to get to. Brilliant. And the Distributer cap? Yes – I could get to that easy enough. But the plugs were a pain and the sump to drain the oil was a nightmare. Tried it – got frustrated – and covered in oil – so I gave in and paid a mechanic to service the car instead!

 

I’m going to suggest two things from this analogy.

ONE – just because a mechanism isn’t put together as I would have liked it to be – does not mean it hasn’t been carefully designed. It just means that the designer hasn’t spoken to me first about how I would like it done! Frankly – I know nothing about car design – so why would the designer speak to me anyway? And I bet you don’t know too much about Biology either. Get my point? Let’s not be too complain-ey about how our bodies work – let’s just enjoy the fact we have them. And admit there are probably good reasons that we just don’t know anything about.

 

TWO – just because a Volvo engine is tricky to work with – doesn’t mean it wasn’t built by Volvo. It just means there must be a close relationship WITH Volvo for the car to work at peak efficiency. In my case – I would take it in to them to be serviced regularly. Tricky design means Volvo get money for car servicing. Funny that!

 

If our lives are a bit tricky right now…I wonder if this might just be the thing that God has allowed in order for us to come close to OUR Designer…to the one who has a service for our soul waiting for us? It’s just a thought. Why struggle – when the one who can do it for us…is just a word away?

 

Embark on a close relationship with the Designer – life runs better that way.

Is it Likely that Evolution Gave Us Working Proteins and Eyes?

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I remember having a conversation where my friend and I were discussing the origin of life. Where did we come from?

And he had no problem at all looking at the amazing complexity of the human eye (for example) and confidently asserting that this arrived as a result of random naturalistic processes. Evolution. After all, he suggested, all that is required to kick off Evolution is the sudden appearance of a single self replicating molecule on the surface of the planet. If you’ve got that – and you’re lucky – then eventually life happens. Right?

Now – I’ve known this guy for a long time. And I know that my friend is a smart guy. I think he’s smarter than me in many ways. And I also think something else. He has more FAITH than I have! Eyes have photoreceptors, lenses, an iris that lets the right amount of light thru…a cleaning system that kills off harmful bacteria. Eyes are fine tuned instruments. It takes alot of faith to believe they occurred as a result of random changes and natural selection.

My friend and I are both men of faith. He has faith in the natural processes that slowly but eventually formulate working eyeballs.

I on the other hand am a man of faith in a designer of eyeballs – God. I recognise the biological processes that underpin the physical beings that roam about on planet Earth. But I don’t look to these biological processes as an explanation for life itself. That would be like seeking to explain the existence of motor cars by appealing to the engine or the suspension. No – I look beyond our planet, our Universe and its constituent parts. I look to an agency outside as the designer of life. In other words I look to the designer of the car to explain why we have cars in the first place.

So I’m on a different page from my friend totally. That’s okay – we’re still friends.

But lets take my friend’s assertion and consider it for a moment. He said – all you need is a single self replicating (or reproducing) molecule to kick off the evolution of life…from simple molecules over vast periods of time…the staggering engineering evident in the human eye (for example) will arise thru evolutionary processes. How likely is this?

To examine his assertion – i’m going to describe a scenario to you.

 

 

 

Imagine you are sitting in a Costa or Starbucks Coffee shop – and you notice out the window someone kneeling by a bike rack across the street. You sense something’s not quite right. Well – you are right to be suspicious because this person is trying to nick one of the bikes on the rack! But to do so – he has to pick the lock that chains said bike to rack.

Picture in your head a bike lock with 3 dials that can each take the value between 0 and 10. How long do you think it would take for the thief to hit on the right combination, unchain the bike and escape? Well – he could be lucky and hit the right combination quickly. Or it could take him absolutely ages.

Now – imagine you decide to pick up your mobile phone and call the police and tell them that someone is stealing the bike. The thief doesn’t realise it – but the amount of time he has got to hit the right combination of dials has now been drastically reduced! Now how likely is it that he’s going to unchain the bike and cycle away? Yes – its possible (especially if he has a set of bolt cutters in his pocket!) – but its not very likely he will randomly hit the right combination. Is it?

 

 

 

I’m talking about bike locks – because they are a great analogy for Proteins. Proteins are one of the building blocks of biological life. Machines that make life work.

Haemoglobin is a Protein and its the mechanism that allows oxygen to be transported thru your blood stream to the organs of your body. Haemoglobin is made up of specific Amino Acids. And Amino Acids are composed of specific chemicals. Think of Haemoglobin as the biological equivalent of a bike lock. There are many combinations of these chemicals that won’t transport oxygen. But one combination that does the job perfectly. That’s Haemoglobin.

But Haemoglobin doesn’t have 3 dials. It has closer to 320 dials!

You know what I’m going to ask next, don’t you?

How long would it take to randomly select the right combination of dials for Haemoglobin to occur? Well – given the number of dials, there are just a staggering number of possible combinations. Probably more combinations than there are atoms in the Milky Way Galaxy! That’s a big number. And remember – there are a vast number of chemical combinations that don’t transfer oxygen thru your blood…and only a tiny number of combinations that will. Sounds a bit like our thief on an impossible mission to pick the bike lock, doesn’t it?

Remember our thief had the police on his tail – his time was running out? Well – the evolution of Haemoglobin had limited time too. If Science is correct when it calculates the age of the Universe to be 14 billion years then the plain fact is – there aren’t enough seconds from the Big Bang till now to go thru every possible combination of chemicals to find Haemoglobin (assuming it takes us a second to choose each one)

We’ve probably not had enough time since time began for Haemoglobin to occur thru random chance and natural selection. Yet that’s what evolutionary theory confidently asserts has happened. That’s what my friend believes.

Now consider this. Your body contains anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 different proteins working away, doing their jobs right now. But we’ve not had enough time for even one of them to occur by random mutation and natural selection.

 

 

My friend has faith that – as long as a self replicating molecule existed…in other words as long as you have a way to switch lock combinations…then life will happen. Have I gone some way to show how staggeringly unlikely that is? Just because I can change the position of a dial does not mean I’ll manage to hit the correct code in time on 10,000 bike locks!

Belief in evolution is putting one’s faith in something that seems completely unreasonable to me.

Belief in a designer on the other hand is perfectly reasonable. Why? Because it explains why we’ve got 100,000 different Proteins whirring and clicking away in our bodies. The molecules didn’t have to try to unpick the lock by going thru every combination. Instead, the designer knew the exact code for every Protein in our bodies and he dialed it in correctly with just one step.

I know for many people the thought of God is a tough one to accept. But based on this discussion alone – it seems the most likely explanation for the existence of my Proteins. Right? If its the most likely explanation for my Proteins, then its also the most likely explanation for the rest of the mind bending complexity at work in our bodies…like our eyes, for example.

Life couldn’t evolve from a self replicating molecule. Maybe the Bible has kinda been saying that all along…

“Ears that hear and eyes that see – the Lord has made them both.”

Proverbs 20:12 (NIV)