Sci-Fri Video! Camouflaging Cephalopods!

The heavens [and octopuses] are telling of God’s glory | Denny Burk.

This could become another regular “Friday Fun” feature – “Sci-Fri” videos (Science Friday)! I found this one yesterday on Denny Burk’s blog, and I am hooked! Amazing underwater pictures by a marine biologist of camouflaging cephalapods! OK, I will tip you off a little bit – these creatures include octopuses – and you will stand in awe of how God designed and created them!

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: Paper versus Screens

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens: Scientific American.

KindlePicAs studies continue on the difference that digital reading on a screen makes for our reading skills, this article (posted April 11, 2013) helps put things in perspective and offers preliminary insights. As it turns out, reading physical books may be better for us in the long run, though e-reading continues to rise. Read the entire article at the Scientific American link above. Here is part of it to show you what studies are showing.

Nevertheless, the video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? How reading on screens differs from reading on paper is relevant not just to the youngest among us, but to just about everyone who reads—to anyone who routinely switches between working long hours in front of a computer at the office and leisurely reading paper magazines and books at home; to people who have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, but admit that for some reason they still prefer reading on paper; and to those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely. As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly? How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper? Should we be worried about dividing our attention between pixels and ink or is the validity of such concerns paper-thin?

…Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

litclassics“There is physicality in reading,” says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, “maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.”

Milky Way arching over La Silla, Chile – EarthSky

Milky Way arching over La Silla, Chile | Today’s Image | EarthSky.

Last week (April 5-11) was International Dark Sky Week! At the EarthSky website (one I discovered recently and for whose daily emailings I signed up) you will find many beautiful pictures of the night sky, including this one. The glories of our Father-Creator are evident all around us, including high above us. Don’t forget to “read” (I.e., properly, through the lens of Scripture, such as Psalms 8 and 19) this most elegant book too! And to think that our God knows all these stars by name (Isaiah 40:26).

Milky Way Galaxy arching over ESO in La Silla, Chile.

“Imago Dei” (The Image of God in Man) – Mark E. Ross

Imago Dei by Mark Ross | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT April 2013As we noted last Monday, this month’s Tabletalk is devoted to the theme of “Defining Personhood”, being a form of “pro-life manifesto”. The second feature article on this subject is written by Mark E. Ross, associate dean and associate professor of systematic theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Columbia, SC (tied to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church). In this article he ties the theme of personhood and the Christian pro-life position to the image of God in man (“Imago Dei” is Latin for “image of God”).

We may have some theological points of difference with Ross on the nature of the image of God in man especially after the Fall (One has to be extremely careful about the language he uses about and the content he gives to the image of God in fallen man.), yet I believe Ross does a commendable job of showing how our Biblical view of life and personhood is also tied to the “Imago Dei”. You will not have to agree with every point to appreciate the God-centered perspective we must have as we look at our neighbor – and especially that unborn neighbor.

Her are a few paragraphs from Ross’ article; read all of it at the Ligonier link above.

When God makes man, He breaks the pattern that He has set by creating living things according to their kinds. The tenfold mention of this pattern causes us to expect it with each new living creature to appear, but something quite different happens when man is made; he is not made “according to [his] kind.” Neither is man created according to any other kind among the living creatures. Man does not, therefore, belong to their kinds, whatever similarities there may be between him and the other creatures. To put it in modern scientific language, he is not a particular species within a given genus of living creatures. Man is unlike any of the other living creatures (v. 26). Surprising as it is, man is made according to God’s “kind,” made in the image of God (imago Dei). Man, like God, is a personal being. God Himself, as the Bible later reveals, is three persons all sharing one divine essence. Human persons are created beings, and in that regard (as in others) they are similar to and share characteristics with other created beings. But what is most important about human persons is their likeness to God. This likeness is so very special that it sets them apart from all the other creatures God made. Man is not made according to their kinds; he is made according to God’s “kind.” In other words, man is made as the image and likeness of God.

…Further, as we are to respect God and bless Him by our words, so we must never curse those made in the likeness of God (James 3:9). The whole of human ethics is grounded in the imago Dei. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25–27). Fathers must discipline and instruct their children as the Lord does His children (6:4). The comforting love of a mother is the image and likeness of the comforting love of God (Isa. 66:13). Earthly masters should reflect the justice and fairness found in the heavenly Master (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1). Though sin has greatly defaced God’s image in us, by God’s grace in Christ that image is renewed (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Living by that grace, people see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). When our restoration is complete, we shall forever live in the presence of God, clothed with His glory (Rev. 21–22), having truly become His “kind” of people. Thanks be to God.

What’s Wrong with Theistic Evolution? – Kevin DeYoung

What’s Wrong with Theistic Evolution? – Kevin DeYoung.

On this Tuesday we will stay with a creation theme, and also post this fine 8-point summary by Wayne Grudem on why theistic evolution is at odds with the Bible and the historic Christian faith. With the historicity of Adam and Eve the current “hot button” in theistic evolutionary circles (so-called Christian science), this is a crucial matter for us who believe in the truth of literal creation (according to a literal/historical interpretation of Genesis 1-3) to face and be prepared to defend. At the end, pastor Kevin De Young gives his own conclusions (posted April 19, 2012).

Listed below are eight problems Wayne Grudem finds with theistic evolution. I realize he may not be an authority on these matters, but in typical fashion he distills the main points nicely and explain succinctly what unbiblical conclusions we must reach for theistic evolution to be true.

(1) Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were just two Neolithic farmers among about ten million other human beings on earth at that time, and God just chose to reveal himself to them in a personal way.

(2) Those other human beings had already been seeking to worship and serve God or gods in their own ways.

(3) Adam was not specially formed by God of ‘dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7) but had two human parents.

(4) Eve was not directly made by God of a ‘rib that the Lord God had taken from the man’ (Gen. 2:22), but she also had two human parents.

(5) Many human beings both then and now are not descended from Adam and Eve.

(6) Adam and Eve’s sin was not the first sin.

(7) Human physical death had occurred for thousands of years before Adam and Eve’s sin–it was part of the way living things had always existed.

(8) God did not impose any alteration in the natural world when he cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin. (Should Christians Embrace Evolution?, 9)

These are other questions theistic evolution raises for the Bible believing Christian. How can we uphold the special dignity and majesty the Bible accords human beings when we are only qualitatively different from other life forms and continuous with the rest of the animal world? How can God impute sin and guilt to all humans along the lines of federal headship when some of us have no physical connection with Adam? Likewise, if we are not all descended literally from one pair, how can we all have an ontological connection with Christ who only assumed the flesh of Adam’s race?

Of course, these problems are no problems at all (conceptually) without the Bible to account for. But theistic evolution purports to bring together the evolutionary consensus and a faithful doctrine of creation. That’s the whole appeal. And yet, I don’t see how the two are compatible, whether Adam really existed or not.

Estimating the Expanse of our Universe

scale2.swf application/x-shockwave-flash Object.

This is a great slide show of objects to scale in the attempt to estimate the size of the universe (developed by Carl Huang, 2012). After it has loaded (click on the above link), use your mouse scroll button to expand out farther and farther into the known universe – and pay attention to the measurements! In creation’s expanse, finite in itself, is revealed the infinity of our great God, Whose Being and glory have no bounds. View this graphic in the light of Psalm 8 – indeed, His glory is above the heavens!

Modern Science and the Bible Do Not Agree!

Grace Gems!.

In light of the ongoing and even escalating debate in evangelical circles about the relationship between the Bible and science, creation and evolution, etc., this “Grace Gems” devotional for this past Thursday (March 1, 2012) is very appropriate. May we never lose sight of the abiding character of God’s holy Word of truth over against all the claims of modern science.

Modern science and the Bible do not agree!

(William Bacon Stevens, 1815-1887)

What if science, as at present understood, and the Bible, do not agree? Shall we be troubled thereat? I think not. I rejoice to know that what is termed modern science and the Bible do not agree. I would be sorry if they did agree! Modern science is changeable–the Bible is unchangeable!

The science of today is not the science of last year, and will not be the science of the next year.

The Bible of today, is the Bible of all the Christian centuries; and will be a thousand years hence–just what it was nearly eighteen hundred years ago, when the canon of Scripture was closed!

Mark the changes which have taken place along the whole line of sciences since the beginning of this nineteenth century. What a catastrophe then would it have been–had it been proved that the Bible and science as known at the beginning of this century, fully agreed; that all the assertions of the Bible could be squared with the facts of science as then understood! The great tidal waves of science which have rolled over the world since, would have left the Bible stranded and ruined!

And just so now–could it be made clear today that every truth in the Bible accords with the received theories of science–what would become of the Bible fifty years hence, when science will have moved on with even more rapid strides, and left behind more wrecks of theories and more stranded speculations?

In the meanwhile, the Bible stands still in the solitary grandeur of its own perfection. It waits, as the ages roll on, for confirmation and acceptance. It was said by one of old, “God is patient, because He is eternal;” and the Bible, as the book of the God of truth, has this attribute of its divine Author. Its strength is to sit still. It does not go out hastily to meet a half-formed science, and embrace it as an ally–lest it should turn into a foe. It calmly tarries in the consciousness of its own truth–as the advances of science come nearer and nearer; and every advance of true science does bring it nearer to the Bible.

The opposition to that Bible, comes only from a class whose utterances, Paul has justly characterized as “the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called.”

These differences between science and Scripture cannot be settled–because science is not settled. And science will never be settled, so long as there is an undiscovered fact in nature, or an inquiring mind in man!

“Forever, O LORD, Your Word is settled in Heaven!” Psalm 119:89

“The grass withers and the flowers fade–but the Word of our God stands forever!” Isaiah 40:8

Israeli Library Uploads Newton’s Theological Texts

Israeli Library Uploads Newton’s Theological Texts – ABC News.

ABC News posted this news item Thursday, Feb.15, 2012. It is an interesting report about Israel’s National Library digitalizing and posting online a number of works by Sir Isaac Newton, famed Christian scientist who is also noted for his theological studies and writings. Here’s part of the story; read the rest of the story at the ABC News link above and visit the digital collection here:

He’s considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time. But Sir Isaac Newton was also an influential theologian who applied a scientific approach to the study of scripture, Hebrew and Jewish mysticism.

Now Israel’s national library, an unlikely owner of a vast trove of Newton’s writings, has digitized his theological collection — some 7,500 pages in Newton’s own handwriting — and put it online. Among the yellowed texts are Newton’s famous prediction of the apocalypse in 2060.

Newton revolutionized physics, mathematics and astronomy in the 17th and 18th century, laying the foundations for most of classical mechanics — with the principal of universal gravitation and the three laws of motion bearing his name.

However, the curator of Israel’s national library’s humanities collection said Newton was also a devout Christian who dealt far more in theology than he did in physics and believed that scripture provided a “code” to the natural world.

“Today, we tend to make a distinction between science and faith, but to Newton it was all part of the same world,” said Milka Levy-Rubin. “He believed that careful study of holy texts was a type of science, that if analyzed correctly could predict what was to come.”

Ten Really Bad Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam

Ten Really Bad Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam « Exploring Our Matrix.

 

Last week Thursday I made reference here to Kevin DeYoung’s recent blog post in which he gives 10 reasons for believing an historical Adam. Now James F.McGrath who teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, responds critically (and I mean critically!) with a post under the above title, which rather drips with his critical spirit – and with his higher critical view of the Bible. At least his comments reveal where many “Christian” scientists and Bible “scholars” are at today. Read his post and then tell me who has the really bad reasons! Here are McGrath’s first five; read the rest at the link above.

 

Someone drew my attention to a post at the blog The Gospel Coalition written by Kevin DeYoung, entitled “10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam.” Since the reasons are not good ones, I thought I would quote them and then comment on them briefly.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that if far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

It is all well and good to blame things on the Enlightenment. But the truth is that if we are to ask historical or scientific questions, we need to have methods and tools for answering them. Science raised issues for geocentrism, and more recently with a historical Adam, and in neither case can one simply argue that one must keep the Bible and science or the Bible and history in apparent harmony, regardless of the evidence. If one sacrifices the Bible’s teaching about truth and honesty in order to defend the factuality of some of its stories, has one really defended the Bible in any meaningful sense?

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

The attribution of the Genesis creation story to Moses is silly, and only possible if one ignores what Genesis actually contains. The attempt to read the author’s mind on the assumption that he is Moses is even sillier. There is also a profound irony in considering points 1 and 2 in relation to one another, since the conviction that Genesis cannot be an ancient Near Eastern mythical creation account actually reflects the concerns of the Enlightenment and not the concerns of ancient Israelites.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

To call Genesis 1 poetry is certainly an oversimplification, but it does have structure and parallelism which provide internal indicators that its order is about something other than chronology. But even if it is not poetry, who says that prose has to be more historically or scientifically accurate?

4. This is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

Ancient literature connects historical figures with prehistorical ones all the time. It is once again modern, post-Enlightenment fundamentalists who say that one cannot do this, seeking to impose their concerns on ancient literature. In the New Testament, two genealogies which do not agree with one another and which selectively omit generations connect Jesus with David, Abraham, and Adam. They provide further confirmation that ancient genealogies do not make the sorts of points or always provide the sorts of historical information that modern readers desire from them.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

So what? Genesis 1 treats a dome over the Earth as real. Matthew treats a mountain from which one can see all the kingdoms of the Earth as real. The Bible contains material that does not meet our standards of scientific or historical accuracy, and some of it clearly does not even come close to doing so. By simply pointing to some ancient authors and showing that they shared certain assumptions does not get one any closer to determining whether those assumptions are correct or erroneous.

Published in: on February 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

10 Reasons to Believe an Historical Adam – K.DeYoung

10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam – Kevin DeYoung.

Pastor Kevin DeYoung at his blog “DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed” posted 10 reasons why Christians should embrace the historicity of Adam (and Eve). At a time when this “next issue” has arrived in conservative Protestant churches and colleges, it is more important than ever to maintain the historic Biblical position. Evolution has made deep inroads into the church and Christian colleges. The “searchings and findings” of science are being elevated above the Scriptures. But true Protestants and true Reformed believers must not and will not depart from the truth of God’s Word. Without being too technical or detailed, DeYoung defends the Biblical truth at this point in this post. He also gives some good suggestions for reading in this area at the end of the post.

I post here DeYoung’s opening paragraphs and his first five reasons. You will find the remainder at the link above.

In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.

I’ll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

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