examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

ExamineScience in 2017

First, an apology about the silence on this blog. As a career Sailor, family man, and freelance writer, I have a lot of competing agendas vying for my time.

Through my research on cystic fibrosis, humanoid development, and the age of the earth, I’ve come to understand certain things that both worry me a little and give me hope. The research worries me because I have always taken the Bible as…well…gospel. I worry a little about what it means for the traditional reading of the text. Liberal Christians won’t have that problem. My research, however, gives me hope in that I think God’s ultimate truth will be revealed both in scripture and in nature. I don’t know how it all works out yet, but I keep thinking about Romans 1:20 as a reference point.

Anyway, I’ve been silent because there’s just so much going on. I was published seven times in 2016. Two of those articles came directly from the work I did on this blog.

The Only Patient in the Hospital (You and Me Magazine- Sept 09, 2016) is an essay about what it’s like to be in the hospital watching my child go through treatments for her genetic disease. It doesn’t deal much with the science of it and certainly not much about evolution vs creation, but it was the backdrop for my research.

Abortion is not valid Genetic Control (Baptist Standard – Sept 28, 2016) is a fact-based essay about the use of abortion to control genetic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. In researching the evolution of cystic fibrosis, I came across a study in France about the drop in CF patients due to an increase in prenatal screening that leads to abortion. Honestly it made me sick, so I had to write about it. Believe it or not, a Catholic publication passed up the essay. I’m glad the Baptist Standard gave it life.

There still is no book, though I’ve written parts of two of them. Will they ever see the light of day? I don’t know. They are certainly at a wall. I may go back and see if I can discover some articles from what I’ve written. I’m cautiously optimistic.

I haven’t given up entirely on the project. I have a few books that I’m bringing on deployment with me to continue my research.

Who was Adam – This book explains the creative model approach to human development. The book assumes, among other things, that Neanderthals did exist, so I’m interested on that fact alone. I’m hoping that this book, published by Reason to Believe, a Christian organization, will help me come to terms with some of my concerns.

Genesis and the Big Bang – This book purports that there is harmony between the Big Bang (and thus evolution as a whole) and the creative work mentioned in Genesis. I’m most interested in this book.

The Gap is not a Theory – I’ve been a ruin-reconstructionist in my past and I’m still intrigued by the theory that there is a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I’m not completely sold on its viability, but I’m, as I said, intrigued.

I’ve also invited a friend and atheist to write a post for the blog about the possible connection with creation and evolution, and how believing in evolution doesn’t immediately dismiss God. That should come out in the next few weeks.

So there is plenty of work going on, but it might take awhile to get it all down on the computer screen. Rest assured I’ll be keeping you up to date on research.

The beginning of our Cystic Fibrosis Journey

SamRose2BlogI’ve mentioned elsewhere that I decided to find out the truth of evolution, creation, and Christianity because of our daughter’s cystic fibrosis. We all have our prime movers in our lives, and cystic fibrosis is mine, at least as far as the research into evolution is concerned. So, to show you my prime mover, on the 10th anniversary of the fateful day that brought our lives into contact with CF for the first time, I give you the beginning of our journey.

12/8/2005-Samantha was born healthy after an uneventful pregnancy and planned C-Section. We were unaware at the time, but Samantha’s blood would be tested for CF in a standard newborn screening (NBS). This is now common practice in all 50 states in the USA and in many countries.

12/19/2005-Samantha’s cough concerned the lactation consultant who essentially ordered us to have her checked out. I remember thinking that the cough was odd, but it didn’t register in my mind that it could be something bigger than just a cold.

12/20/2005-General pediatrician dismissed the concerns about the cough. He talked about how God gives new babies lots of fat stores to protect them from weight loss in the first week or so after birth. He wanted to follow up, but wasn’t concerned. We now know that her weight loss was as much due to cystic fibrosis as it was my wife’s lactation issues.

12/21/2005-We received a voice mail message from the Pediatric Pulmonary department stating they had results back from Samantha’s newborn screening, and they needed to see us the next day to tell us the results. We googled the name of her doctor to see what he specialized in because we were terrified. They had cleared his lunch hour to meet with us. We realized immediately that this was a very big deal, though we couldn’t figure out what it meant by searching for him on the internet.

12/22/2005-Exactly 2 weeks from the day Samantha was born, we received the news that Samantha tested positive for CF. That was a very crazy day, with the corpsman announcing the news to us nonchalantly before the doctor got a chance to talk to us about it first. I’m still bitter about that idiot.

If you want to read more, Alicia has written about those first 2 weeks on her blog, and it gives an accurate and detailed description of what we were feeling.

Eric Metaxas and the Unprovable Theory

Even the most ardent evolutionary biologist would probably admit that finding that one moment in time where life suddenly happened from non-life is almost impossible. I know a few atheist apologists out there who might be willing to weigh in on the issue in the comments, and if they do, I’ll try to keep up.

I’ve used the argument before that we cannot know when the first cell developed. I’ve also asked the question, “where did the material come from for the Big Bang? Apparently, the answer to that one is that it came from a previously existing universe. Honestly, I can see how that might have happened. Of course, it doesn’t explain where the material from THAT universe came from, but this becomes a pretty circular argument and doesn’t prove creation any more than saying “God did it” and not having a better answer proves evolution.

Eric Metaxas, a writer I trust and enjoy (especially his biography of Bonhoeffer), wrote a piece on Break Point about how evolution is now even more difficult to prove since a discovery in Australia has shed some light on the earliest signs of life. In essence, the article suggests that life started further back than evolutionists currently claim. In Metaxas’ mind, this signifies a problem for evolutionists because it forces them to do two things.

  1. It throws off their numbers, beginning with when things first came to life. If it happened a few hundred million years before they originally thought, then they have to redo all of the other numbers too, and that presents problems.
  2. According to Metaxas, life started too early in the evolutionary timeline to allow for evolution. At the time of these living rocks, Earth was still too hot to really hold life. How could evolution have really happened?

So a few issues. First, evolutionists will quickly point out that life has been created in a lab. I disagree slightly with the idea that this equals life, since it was really a modification of an already existing bacteria. Still, it is life, as it were. Metaxas makes the argument that life cannot be created. That’s a side project in his article, and honestly I wish it wasn’t even there. It’s not relevant to his actual point.

Second, disproving evolution doesn’t prove God. This is something Christians have to stop doing. I’ll give you the atheist answer: We understand that this evidence disproves what we believed was true about life’s timeline. We’ll go back to the drawing board on that note and figure it out. You see, an evolutionist never stops trying to figure out the science of the issue.

Third, proving that life started earlier than scientists first imagined doesn’t prove creation because IT’S STILL HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO! By making his claim against evolution, that it started so much earlier than scientists first thought and that therefore evolution can’t be correct, Metaxas is saying that God created these living organisms millions of years before Christians accept his creation. It’s a horrible circular argument and a byproduct of trying to find the smoking gun against evolution.

Too many Christians think they can find evolution’s achilles heel. There isn’t one. Each obstacle in science merely produces a new direction for research.

Look, it’s hopefully become very clear over the last few months that I’ve tipped my hat toward creation. I am a Christian and I believe God created the world. I believe scientific thought can show us how that happened, not that I need to have it proven by science. Still, it’s so vitally important that we not shut the door to those doing this research for us because we need their research to understand God more. We’ve got to stop thinking that we have the smoking gun, especially when all we end up doing is alienating ourselves.

Creation, Evolution, and Apologetics Part I

I never wanted this project to be about apologetics. In my opinion, unless a person is already interested in scripture, or completely ignorant of the Bible, arguing (or debating) is just a waste of time. It is idle talk that takes away from the work of the kingdom (II Tim 2:16).

My only real desire for this research project has always been for it to be just that…a research project. I have hoped to bridge the gap between faith and science for me and my kids. You see, I had to know if these two poles were reconcilable for myself, and then I could help my kids see the truth.


Timothy Paul Jones, co-author of Practical Family Ministry, wrote, “Parents need to be trained to equip their children to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile context.”*

As much as I don’t want this project to be about apologetics, it has to be. Of course, that won’t happen until I’ve done the research that proves one thing or the other…and while I’m hopeful that, in the end, this research will prove God created everything (even if I have to reject what I grew up believing in order for it to be true). As I get further along, I hope to show how it’s not only true, but how to defend it in public.

Apologetics means to give a defense. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry  (CARM) defines it at, “Apologetics is the branch of Christianity that deals with the defense and establishment of the Christian faith.”

I used to be afraid of that word because I thought it meant to apologize, and as a young Christian man in a small town in Kansas, I didn’t do that. The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, clears up the issue: “The word, however, derives its meaning from the Greek apologia, meaning a ‘reasoned defence’.”

Here’s why we have to include apologetics, as much as I may reject the notion at first. The world wants me to reject that God created the world and I need to find and defend the answers to that issue.

There is another reason, however, and it’s an unfortunate one. I have to be ready to defend my faith and beliefs from conservative Christians who reject the notion of anything but a 6 day creation and expect me to do the same. So I plan to learn how to do that as well.

Here’s why: the original call for apologetics didn’t come from the church, but from God through the apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the old man says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

This would seem to include Christians and unbelievers. And why must I be ready, along with my children? Because the attack will come. I can still remember a lecture in my sophomore year of high school where I defended the creation against my biology teacher, who I think acquiesced because of time, not because of my sound theology and logic. Already, my son is bringing home study books dripping with the rejection of Christian faith and filled with evolution. I don’t believe I have prepared him well enough for defending his faith in school.

So the research will continue, and will in time develop into a proper defense, but I promise you sincerely, the defense is to bring Christ to the masses, not to shun or hurt people. We’ll see how it turns out.

*  Practical Family Ministry: A Collection of Ideas for Your Church, Pg 10.

Should a Christian Study Evolution?

I hesitate to even write this post. What if I sound fake? What if I sound like I’m throwing my conservative upbringing aside? What if I’m labeled a heretic and never get to minister in theologically conservative churches again?

Yes, Christians should study evolution. Here’s why: Your kids are in school! My son is in advanced biology. He brought home an assignment a few days ago that detailed a certain aspect of evolution. I talked with him about it, and it became clear that, while he rejected the notion because of what he was taught in church, he was still being fed evolution in the classroom. Our kids may not be able to differentiate the issue enough to know that they actually are the same. Instead of realizing that teachers are trying to tell him his God didn’t create the world, he’s compartmentalizing school and church.

And I don’t know that our church is teaching him this either. Not that it’s really my church’s purpose. I am his father. It is my job. Time to get busy. What I learn over time I will be teaching you.

As an involved father, at least as involved as I can be my navy career notwithstanding, I need to be a part of my children’s learning process. I can’t just say, “Well, it’s not true,” when they bring home an assignment. Why? Because their grade depends on them writing papers and doing projects that support evolutionary theory! So what do I do? I study the issues so I can arm my kids with facts.

Here are a few other reasons we should study evolution:

  1.  Some of it is probably true: I’ll be writing a post in the next few weeks about dating methods
  2. Evolutionary theory can show us how God created the world.
  3. Most importantly, studying evolution and realizing points 1 and 2 can help the conservative church restore humanity to God.

I don’t often agree with the strategy flavor of the week. I don’t think that churches should be marketing themselves (more than simply making themselves known in the community), I don’t think things are really “purpose” driven, or driven in any other way (Gospel, Community, whatever). I think churches should be places where the sick are cared for, the poor are elevated, where women and children are equals, and things like this.

However, after reading some of the book The Next Christians, by Gabe Lyons, I realized an unsettling truth…I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be separate from the world, and from less-conservative (theologically) churches. Lyons calls it restoring the world to a relationship with God, and that’s true. If our faith story starts in a perfect garden, but science doesn’t teach that, then we have an issue. My work on this project seeks to find the truth so we can restore the unbelieving world to a relationship with God.

So we study.

What’s faith got to do with Science?

In my estimation, the average atheist scientist has as much or more faith than the average Christian. 

I’ve been studying the ideas of evolution and creation for almost a year now. My reason for examining science has been many fold, and will be covered in a different post. I’ve researched cystic fibrosis, which is something near and dear to me as it runs in my family. From there I started studying human origins. To that end, I’ve written about Neanderthals and I’ve got a post in the works on Lucy, thought to be one of the first human ancestors.

In doing this research, with what I believe are now proper motivations, I’ve started feeling pretty good about myself. After all, I want to find out how God did it. How did he design the whole thing? Did he use a long time? How did he move one species to another? While sometimes I admit that the process gets me down, overall I’m quite excited about the research.

Until recently when I read Hebrews 11. Of course, as a person who grew up in the church, I have read the faith “hall of fame” many times. Hebrews 11:1 is a verse that (in KJV) I know by heart to this day.

The verse that got me thinking was the third verse: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Suddenly, I was unnerved by the Word of God. I do still believe in the Bible, don’t I? even if I’m willing to admit that Genesis 1 may not be the whole story, don’t I believe in the first verse? As I write this post, yes, I do believe that, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Scientifically speaking, this is the big bang. Whether the point of singularity was God-created (for Christians) or a dense piece of matter (evolutionists), the heavens and the earth were created at some point.

But do I believe that it was God? and if I do, isn’t that as far as I need to go? Shouldn’t it spell the end of the blog/research project?

 

I don’t think so, although the situation reminded me to keep this research project in perspective. I do believe it is important, from a purely apologetical perspective, to discover as much about science as we can. But more important than that, studying how this all came about helps us reach the lost. It helps us understand the average Joe’s base mindset going in to a discussion.

To answer the question posed in the title of this post, faith has everything to do with it. An evolutionary scientist does not know how everything came about, but he or she believes with great faith that science will betray the answers of the universe in time. In my estimation, the average atheist scientist has as much or more faith than the average Christian.

I don’t mean that flippantly, like some Christian apologists do when they say, “It takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does the Bible.” I don’t think that’s a true statement. I mean that, for the gaps that still exist in science (and there are plenty), the average scientist believes with an amazing amount of faith that the answers will be found and that those answers will continue to prove out the modified theory of evolution.

Yet I also have faith…faith that their research will give me answers in my research!

Because I’m convinced that this research project holds value as a tool to understand how God created everything, I will continue it, albeit at a slower rate than I had been going. Human evolution, or whatever it is, intrigues me, as does the overall age of the universe. I expect to learn a great deal while studying these things.

Until next time…

Dr. Ken Miller and the Missing Chromosome

A friend of mine suggested I listen to a YouTube video about evolution by Dr. Ken Miller. I had never heard of him before, so I gave it a look (took me too long to agree to that, by the way). Anyway, I listened to it and, if you dare, you can too:

So there are four points about the video I want to point out. First, Dr. Miller calls himself a believer in God toward the end. I thought that was most intriguing, though I had heard of Catholics doing that in the past. I think other non-evangelical sects do that too. Anyway, what I got from that is that it is possible to be a Christian and believe evolution occurred as a pathway to how we got here. I discuss the flip side of this situation in point four.

This leads me to point two. If evolution occurred, and if the 48 verses 46 chromosome issue is a fact (I’m still researching it), and if God does exist, then at what point did he first talk to humans? Was Lucy (Australopithecus Afarensis) God’s friend? What about Neanderthal? Or just Homo Sapiens like Abraham? This is a working thesis of mine, but it’s taking so long to develop it that I’m afraid it’s going to burn on the back burner where I’m letting it simmer way too long.

Third, and this actually struck me earlier in the video, he speaks about losing a pair of chromosomes. I appreciate him looking into it enough to realize that we didn’t just lose the chromosomes. In fact, any time a person is born without a Chromosome, it’s called monosomy, which is how we get females with Turner’s Syndrome. Humans can be born with an extra chromosome as well, and that is called trisomy, which is what causes Down’s Syndrome.

I’ve always held that mutations are bad, however they occur in nature. My daughter’s disease (cystic fibrosis) is a prime example. There is nothing good about the disease, yet plenty good about the individual (Samantha). In our quest for understanding science and the Bible, we cannot just assume that the chromosome issue (or genetics in general) has an easy answer or that it fits easily in the overall story. Dr. Miller is correct on that issue, though it was on of his least-labored points.

Fourth, Dr. Miller also inadvertently brings up the issue I’m most concerned about. In this one video, he purports to essentially destroy intelligent design and prove that we are descendants of apes. Yet at the end he calls himself a Catholic and believes in a God that wouldn’t mislead us. This seems to be the ultimate contradiction. It’s also one of the reasons I am very close to closing the door on the Gap Theory…it looks like a doctrine that would come from a God trying to trick us.

But what kind of God does Dr. Miller believe in then? And who is this god? The God I believe in led his original followers to write about him in a way that made him out to be the creator of everything. Dr. Miller’s god does not seem to be this being.

Of course my research is not complete. Dr. Miller’s argument, though seemingly rock solid, is but one area of research for me. Until next time…

Status of the Book

I wrote a few months ago that I was writing a book. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I do have a working title now. Guess what??? It’s called, Examine Science! I know, right?

Actually, the full title is, “Examine Science: A Father’s Journey into Science and the Bible.”

The title speaks to the fact that, when this started, I simply wanted to find out what science had to do with the Bible. I started where I was…cystic fibrosis. My first examination was to discover that cystic fibrosis has been around longer than Ussher thinks we’ve been on earth.

A cool title isn’t all that I’ve done. Aside from doing a good amount of research on cystic fibrosis (found in great detail on this blog), Lucy (Australopithecus Afarensis), and the age of the earth, just to name a few things.

Oh, and I typed upwards of 16,000 words. Yeah…that. I had another 7-8 thousand words too, but I’ve cut it and started developing it into a different book. My word count equals approximately 60 double-spaced pages.

My goal is 50,000 words, so I’ve got a considerable amount of writing to accomplish. I’m in no real rush either. Examine Science won’t be an epic, 150,000 word monster, but I do want it to be fairly comprehensive as a primer in Christian research. My goal finishing date is the end of my time on USS Hue City (CG 66), sometime next summer. I plan to polish it early during my next tour and then get published. My main focus this year is still periodicals, but I’m progressing on this as well.

This brings us to the issue. I keep setting the book aside, and this blog for that matter, because I’m scared no one is going to publish this book. I have enough rejection slips as it is. I can’t imagine how many rejections I’m going to garner from this sort of research. Research, mind you, that the rest of the world has already accomplished and much of the more “liberal” church denominations already accept. Yet I’m awful concerned it will be laughed out of the room.

I can publish independently. I’ve done it several times, often for things that I wish I had tried to do traditionally. The plan will undoubtedly be to attempt to publish traditionally and then decide within a year or so if I need to publish independently. Stay tuned! 

Romans 1:20- The Key Verse for my Research

 

img_0246Before we even get going, let me share with you the verse in question:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:20 is what I call the 2nd intersection of God’s creation revelation. Through the apostle Paul, God informed his followers that creation would support his claims as Creator. What does this mean? I propose 2 points.

1. Creation itself will tell us what God did at the creation point. What this means, I’m afraid (for some of you) is that the evidence of modern science must fit in somewhere with the creation story. Otherwise, there is no creation story. Since it is mankind reading the Bible who has placed a restriction on the age of the earth, not the Bible itself, we must learn to work through our presuppositions and find the truth from the Bible AND creation.

2. In the end, when all of the dust settles, people will be without excuse. If God did create the world, and if modern scientists ought to be able to learn about his creative acts through creation, then they are wildly off base when they claim it happened by chance. While Paul was talking more about pagan gods and Roman deities when he wrote Romans 1:20, we can reasonably extrapolate that to our modern situation.

My research continues of course, but I believe fervently that there is a viable intersection between the data that modern science is presenting and our ancient scriptures. I’m not completely certain as to what that intersection looks like, but I keep progressing down the road to find out. Stay with me on this journey and we’ll find out together!

Ussher was Wrong

800px-James_Ussher_by_Sir_Peter_LelyOutside of truly fundamentalist circles, very few people believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old. AIG and ICR still hold to the idea that the earth was created on or about October 23, 4004BC. The AIG article I linked to is much more extensive in its declaration that Ussher was right.

I grew up believing the data that Ussher calculated. I also grew up with the misconception that he calculated the data only based on the Bible. This gives the indication that, if the Bible is proved false in its interpretation of historical events, then Ussher’s calculation is automatically void. However, he based his calculations on much more data than just what is in the generational account of the scriptures. In fact, Ussher used sources from the Greek regarding the ages of the Babylonian rulers. The reason for this is because the Biblical account becomes somewhat muddy concerning generations and timeframes after that period. I suppose it’s hard to keep track when you’re a slave.

Ok, so what? Well, I want to present two facts about this.

  1.  Ussher did the best research he could considering what he had available. As a scholar, Bishop Ussher managed to cross connect a variety of sources. His efforts are to be commended. In fact, I would call it (without resorting too much to heresy) the third revelation of God in our lives. I will explain them in a future post.
  2. Ussher was wrong. Just because it was the best scholarship of the day does not mean that he was correct. He was just correct for his time. I don’t think I believe the six literal days of Genesis are correct, but they were correct for their time and for the purpose God intended.* It is not different for Ussher. He may have been on to something, such as delineating the generations since Hebrew civilization took hold, but he did not know the age of the earth.

Ussher did not have the benefit of radiocarbon dating, which in itself allows for things to be dated to around 50,000 years, almost ten times as old as Ussher would have ever allowed. Yes, the dating method has some issues, but it is far more accurate than it is not.

Further, we have other methods of dating objects and fossils. I will undoubtedly delve deeper into this at some point, but some of the accurate ones are radiometric dating and argon, etc. Almost all dating methods (outside of Ussher’s genealogy dating and tree-ring dating, etc) use half-life measurements of various isotopes (such as argon from potassium), which break down into other elements over time. These dating methods suggest the earth is very much older than Ussher thought (and Newton, Kepler, and others, by the way). A good, basic primer on dating can be found at this website.

Ussher was wrong, almost by any measurement of time. This doesn’t even account for the age of light coming from distant stars, which is a topic unto itself.

My research on the age of the earth will continue, as will the work on the evolution/creation of man. I have learned some things about Lucy that I’m particularly interested in getting your thoughts on. Until the next post…

 

*Some reading this, and perhaps someday if I ever get this data published, may say that I have flipflopped, or that I started with preconceived ideas about the age of the earth, man’s evolution, etc. That is the detrimental thing about a blog. As my impression of the evidence changes over time, I appear to flipflop like a politician. I am merely trying to make sense of the data, just like you might. In fact, I hope you will seriously look into this issue, wrestle with it, and see just how much you flipflop yourself.