The profundity of yellow & pink

In 1984, one the finest pieces of apologetic prose of the century came from a cartoonist and children’s author.  I could not find my copy, and I have not read it in years, but it came to mind the other day in a conversation and I want to try to creatively retell the story here.  But reading it firsthand is far better.  😉

William Steig wrote Yellow & Pink, a story about two wooden people who wake up suddenly to find themselves on a blanket of newspaper with no idea how they came to be there.

Yellow is a skeptic from the start.  He is sure that they came to be there by chance.  Pink, on the other hand, believes they must have been created by someone.  The argument ensues.  Yellow makes a case that a branch of wood might have snapped off a tree in a lightning storm, rolled down a hill and been smoothed by weathering processes, and rolled through a puddle of paint that had smaller puddle drips in circles for the painted-on buttons.  Although Pink doesn’t think his case is convincing at first, he begins to believe Yellow towards the end.  But then Pink makes a statement something like this,

“All right, okay.  Suppose you’re right.  The lightning broke the branch off, we rolled down the hill, all these weathering and chance processes happened . . suppose you’re right.  There’s still this one more thing.  How do we see out of these things called eyes?  How do I move my hands and feet?  How do I breathe with my nose?  How do I hear out of my ears?  How do I talk with my mouth?”

To which Yellow responds something like,

“What kind of question is that?  That’s what they do, dummy!”

Do Yellow and Pink ?accidentally? hit upon a profundity here?  (No, you and I know it is no accident, but the masterful work of William Steig–but that’s another story–or is it a different way of telling the same point?)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

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Tolkien and evolution?

I’m not sure when I wrote this, but it’s a funny look at why I think it’s more complicated to be an evolution-creationist than either one or the other.  😉

Heidi thinks J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Tim thinks that the book randomly evolved from a bunch of molecules.

Laura believes in J.R.R. Tolkien, but she feels like Tim has way more evidence on his side.  So she decides she’ll come to a compromise.  She will believe Tolkien made a book, but the words evolved on their own once the pages were in.

Laura isn’t really getting the best of both words.  Instead, she has to answer more tough questions because of her ‘two-sides’ approach!

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, HCSB)

 

(love)

I can’t remember when it was that I wrote this, but I’m reminded of why I came to faith when I read this over again and edited it.  It has been the love of Christ that has forever changed me.

People make fun of Christianity all the time as not evidence-based, but what they do not see is, when you have the Ultimate Evidence, you do not need any more evidence.  Even though I believe observational science points to God, even if a new scientific evidence was found to disprove the Bible, I wouldn’t believe it.  I wouldn’t believe it if all the current literature, all popular philosophy, all “developments” in psychology, and all calculations in math could be used as evidence to disprove the Bible.  Why?  Because God is more real to me than even my own senses or logic.

The best example I can give is love.  I know there is such a thing as love.  I love.  I have never “seen” love.  I have seen people draw hearts for love, but that is not really love.  I have seen what look like acts of love, but I can’t “see” love.  I have to believe love is taking place.  When a friend gives me a hug, there isn’t a sign that goes over our heads that says “love”.  And yet, I don’t need a sign.  In fact, it would be ridiculous to have a sign.  It would somehow cheapen love, because love is so deeply felt and intrinsically experienced in the soul, I don’t need “proof”.  Love is its own proof.

In this way, God is God’s own proof.  1 John 4:16b (NIV) tells us:

God is love.

What happened?

We live on a murderous planet.

. . and yet we know Eden in our hearts.

What happened?

God’s Word is God telling us our story.

Have you ever really read what He has to say?  From Genesis to Revelation?

Don’t you think it’s time to hear His story . . for yourself?

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8, NIV)

 

Underlies the whole universe

“Language is foundational to more than our communication. It underlies the whole universe.”

–Dr. John Oller, Jr., “Words are Us” http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v3/n3/words-are-us

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:1-3, NIV)

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Disturbance: Are Christians who believe in a literal 6-day creation causing an embarassment for the church and driving unbelievers away?

Answers in Genesis, in their review on the book Seven Days That Divide the World, wrote the following:

In his book Seven Days That Divide the World, Lennox explores the “potential minefield” of the controversy of Genesis and science. He wrote the book for people who have been put off considering the Christian faith because of the “. . . very silly, unscientific story that the world was made in seven days,” (Lennox 2011, p. 12) for convinced Christians who are disturbed by the controversy, as well as for those who take the Bible seriously but do not agree on the interpretation of the creation account (Lennox 2011, p. 12).

–from Answers Research Journal

Answers in Genesis is what could be termed a “young earth” or “back to the Bible” movement, depending on how you look at it, but in truth the six-day creation ‘issue’ is not only about the earth’s creation in six days, or even about simply ‘returning’ to the Bible, but instead about the authority of the Bible: that is, looking at the world through the scope of God’s Word.

Something disturbing began sinking in for me when I read the reason Lennox wrote his book.  Look with me again at this statement if you will:

He wrote the book for people who have been put off considering the Christian faith because of the “. . . very silly, unscientific story that the world was made in seven days,” (Lennox 2011, p. 12)

Here is what disturbs: the idea that we must conform to the evolutionary hypothesis (and this is an oversimplification, as there is not one singular evolutionary hypothesis) in order to make the Gospel ‘appealing’ or ‘acceptable’ to people.

This idea should send shock waves through the Christian’s soul.  And here’s why:

My goodness, but I can alter the Gospel message in better ways than that to make it appealing and acceptable!!

Is that what we’re aiming for?  Certainly I can do that!

No worldwide flood–it upsets evolutionists.  No flood at all–the theme of God’s judgment is always unattractive.

Now get rid of God’s judgment on Sodom & Gomorrah–how many people could we pull in if we got rid of the burning sulfur and fire?

Don’t talk about Abraham almost sacrificing his son–atheists get really offended by that event.

And cut out the Ten Commandments–they offend every sinner who is not convicted.

And the holy battles of judgment where God wiped out wicked people–we need to scratch them from the record.  For that matter, get rid of all the acts of judgment against immorality during the time of Moses.

But why stop there?  We can attract even more people if we get rid of the judges, since they were sent to be intolerant of sin and bring the people to repentance and obedience before God–and we know how offensive that message is!

What’s left of the Old Testament?  Nothing about animal sacrifices–that would offend PETA.  Nothing about the surety of God–that would make the Gospel less acceptable to agnostics.

You could leave in Ruth, I suppose–that’s not too offensive . . but you’d have to take out her devotion to one God (that would offend Hindus and Confucians, for example), and her submission to her mother-in-law, since the very concept of submission offends nowadays.

And for that reason, you’d have to leave out the book of Esther–Esther is submissive to the king, her husband, and that’s way unacceptable in our culture.

Now that there’s no Old Testament, let’s take a look at the new.

Jesus’ virgin birth creates a lot of controversy and drives naturalists away.  John the Baptist jumping for joy in his mother’s womb is highly offensive to the abortion movement.  Speaking of John, his message of sin, repentance, and change is a huge deterrent to keep people from accepting the Gospel message.

Let’s not even think of telling people Jesus’ words about selfishness, lust, and greed!  And none of His healings or miracles can be permitted–those make the Gospel seem silly to naturalists.

No parables–they invoke life change, and we all know life change is uncomfortable to people.

What about Jesus revealing Himself as the only atonement for sin?  Well, there’s no count of how many groups that offends, so that must go, too.

Since the plot against Jesus by many Jewish leaders is seen as anti-Semitic, we must cut it from the Bible as well.

And take out the cross–it offends Muslims.  Take out the resurrection–it offends atheists.

There can’t be any of James’ writing on faith in action.  Why, it’s so radical it would unsettle millions of complacent people!

Time to take out Paul–he offends basically all unbelievers somewhere or other in the revelations he shares from God.

That leaves Revelation, which too must go.  We can’t have God destroying sin, because that’s infuriating to everybody who loves sin.

The theme of Jesus as King–those who want to be their own god will never accept it.

Now make no mention of angels or demons–naturalists can’t accept them.  The Bible’s concept of Heaven with individuals rejoicing there–Buddists and Hindus can’t go for it, so remove it.  And the Bible’s concept of Heaven as being only by the merit of Jesus Christ–can any other religion accept it?

Fortunately, this is the last book that talks about sexual sin–let’s be sure to clip that out, especially sex before marriage, adultery, and homosexuality.

And can we dare to say that all people who do not believe in Christ go to Hell?  Remove Hell, too, and at we are at last almost done.

Is anything left?  It must go.  All of Scripture must go.  Everything.  Wiped away, empty, so that the Gospel can at last be appealing to all.

The Gospel of no gospel.

The no gospel is now acceptable to everyone!  No offense–no good news.  No God, no Law, no Redeemer, no forgiveness, no salvation, no redemption, no purification, and no eternal Life.

No longer must we fear appearing silly or unscientific or intolerant or anything whatsoever objectionable.

There’s nothing left, and at last we have pleased even the most difficult group to please: the Satanists.  There is plenty of room now for them, and everyone else, to write their own book to live their life by.

And no longer do we have Christ.

If you find this bearable, then you do not know the God who died for you.

But if you find this unbearable, then you must commit with me to stop trying to manipulate and alter Scripture for the sake of appealing to the unbeliever who must come to the Word, Christ Jesus, to be saved from everlasting Hell, just as every believer has already done.

An unoffensive and popular Jesus does not choose to lay His hands out on a crossbeam to have them nailed there by a wicked legion of soldiers and a mocking crowd.

An unoffensive and popular Jesus does not choose to be stripped of even the dignity of humanity for us.  The Bible says Jesus chose to be so tortured by our sin that He no longer even looked human (see Isaiah 52:14).

What about that was easy?  What about that was appealing?

We need to draw back our hands from trying to revise our God to try to ‘make’ Him be more acceptable to the world that crucified Him . . and we need to hold our hands in awed worship that He has saved us, the crucifiers, His way, from the powers and hold of Hell.

We need to stop treating God’s Word like some paperback we picked up at the bookstore and halfway like, and start treating it as the holy Message of Salvation for every sinner on earth.

The Good News isn’t good news when we try to distort its righteousness to conform it to the wickedness of the world.  God’s Word will not conform, and that leaves you and I with a question that will matter for our eternity:

Do we stand on God’s side, or do we not?

If we do, we need to start obeying Him in full of every letter of what He says, with the blood of Jesus to cover us every time we fail.

And if we don’t, we need to throw off any guise of following Him and make it clear that we abandon His Word altogether.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8, NIV)

Tomato Sandwich & Irreducible Complexity

I had a tomato sandwich tonight for the first time in I don’t know how long.  I’d had a craving for one for a few days.

First, I had to have bread.  Now I’m no cook, but I do know you have to have bread to make a sandwich.

Second, I had to have tomatoes.  Again, I’m no cook, but I do know that to make a tomato sandwich—unless it’s an artificially-flavored tomato sandwich—you have to have tomatoes.

Third, I had to have mayonnaise.  I know some people have strong feelings that mayonnaise is disgusting.  They are wrong.  I’m no cook, but I know the famous Mayonnaise Rule I made up just now: mayonnaise goes on any sandwich that does not have peanut butter or squid.

A tomato sandwich has irreducible complexity to me.  No bread, no tomato sandwich.  No tomatoes, no tomato sandwich.  No mayonnaise, and the tomato sandwich isn’t worth eating.  If any one of the ingredients is gone, the sandwich is ruined.

This is not like a club sandwich, where it still tastes okay without the bacon (arguably) or all right without the lettuce.  With a tomato sandwich, if any ingredient is missing, bye-bye sandwich.

I saw Unlocking the Mystery of Life last night and was reminded about irreducible complexity.  Turns out, bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex.  Now, I admit, that doesn’t sound too interesting.  If I’d heard that in high school, I think I’d have changed the channel.  But maybe not if I’d seen what a bacterial flagellum looks like.

I’m not a scientist.  I struggled mightily with science in college.  It seemed like so much algebra and expensive names and tiny germy things I didn’t understand.  But when I first heard science explained in easy words, I became keen on it, as keen as Commander Keen was on eating digital chocolate bars.  (If you are not from the 80’s, and that made no sense to you, do not feel bad.  You are normal.  If you are from the 80’s, I’m so sorry.  I understand.  Me too.)

So when I talk about bacterial flagellum, I’ll use words I understand.  I no longer think I have to be an expert in science to dive right in to the beauty and adventure of it.  But if you want a more technical explanation, I’m sure there’s lots out there.

A bacteria to me looks like a blob that can move.  That’s pretty cool when I think about it.  A blob of mayonnaise can’t move (and I’m happy about that).  But under the microscope, blobs move.  Hopefully not the mayonnaise blob.  But bacteria blobs move.

Now here’s what’s really, really cool about bacteria.  There’s this one “species” called bacterial flagellum.  And bacterial flagellum has this little propeller that whips around and moves it.  A lot like . . the propeller on a boat.  And since the bacterial flagellum came first . . . looks like somebody didn’t have an original idea, whether they knew it or not.

The propeller is “irriducably complex”, like my tomato sandwich.  Only . .  not.  On Wikipedia, 11 parts of the flagellum are labeled, including rings, the hook, junction, filament, rod, and secretion system.  If even just one part is missing, the propeller won’t work.  This makes sense to me.  This makes a lot of sense to me.

I’ve already said I’m no cook, but I’m a trillion times the cook I am the car mechanic.  I had to have somebody help me figure out how to get my hood up a few weeks back.  At a gas station.  Very fortunately, an older gentleman took pity on me.

But even though I’m no car mechanic, I do know this: I can’t take pieces of my car out of the hood.  No, no, no.  I can get away with taking out a few things like those little floor carpets or the antennae or glove compartment, but I cannot take things away from under the hood.  Big no-no.

In the same way, no part of the bacterial flagellum can be taken away and the propeller still work.

That makes sense, if the bacterial flagellum was designed, like a car.  But it doesn’t make sense if it just evolved randomly over time.  Here’s (one reason) why: for a living thing to evolve, it takes a series of tiny changes.  Each change has to help the living thing out.  This is what Darwin believed.

But the bacterial flagellum couldn’t have made a series of tiny changes, because many of those changes would not help a living thing out.  The propeller (which looks like a rat’s tail) would have just sat there until it worked.  That would mean many bacteria would have had to keep the propeller mutation before it served any purpose.  But evolution can’t plan for purpose.

Darwin never believed a zebra, for example, could think, “I will work really hard to evolve one stripe each generation for the next fifty generations of zebras until we are completely striped and harder for predators to see.”  That wouldn’t be evolution, anyway, that would be design: design by the zebra!

Irreducible complexity would be a real problem for me if I believed our universe was generated by a cosmic roll of dice.  But I don’t, and I can’t.  If a 3-ingredient tomato sandwich can’t make itself without my help, surely I know in my heart this universe didn’t make itself (out of nothing!), no matter how many zillions of years I factor in.

If I place even tomatoes, mayonnaise, and bread next to each other, they’re not going to make a sandwich in a zillion years.  They’ll rot before then—and that’s another problem.  Why didn’t the nonlife rot away before it became life?  Only life can make offspring.

And, an even bigger problem is, with my tomato sandwich, I have 3 ingredients to start with, at least.  With the universe, I have nothing.  Nothing means nothing.  I can’t even put it into words.  It doesn’t exist.  How does nonexistence turn into stuff that turns into life?  I have, in all my life, never seen something poof into existence from nonexistence in the physical world, and I have never seen  something that wasn’t living become living.  I don’t see rocks getting tired of their spot in the sun and packing up and moving.

Some people would say I’m in real contradiction to believe in God, because I believe God created and the universe came from nothing, and because I believe God can make the nonliving into living, like when He breathed life into Adam.  I am not ashamed of my faith, and I get that it takes faith to believe in God.  (However that faith is a free gift from God [see John 4:10, Acts 8:20, Rom 4:16, Rom 5:15-18, Rom 6:23,  2 Cor. 9:15, Rev 22:17].)

But what I don’t understand is how it can be that it doesn’t take faith to believe the universe came from nothing with no cause, and nonliving became living randomly without any help.

There is something supernaturally different between a baby I hold in my arms and the baby’s blanket.  There is not an instant of question to which is more valuable–which I will protect with my life, and which I couldn’t care less about in the event of an emergency.  But where do these beliefs come from?  And how can I trust them if I just came about from random chances?

There is irreducible complexity even in my morality.  I can’t take God away and expect to still have it.  Without God, morality is gone.  There’s no trustworthy way I could ever give value.  And I have to give value, every day.  If it’s cruel to step on the carpet, I need to know it.  Yet, if the carpet came about the same chance way as my cat, how is it any more “wrong” to step on my cat?

My tomato sandwich is irreducibly complex.  A bacterial flagellum is, too, and Unlocking the Mystery of Life does a great job showing the marvelous parts of the microscopic propeller.  But I don’t have to go to the bacterial flagellum to find irreducible complexity.  I see irreducible complexity everywhere in the universe around me.  From the perfect placement of the earth from the sun to the perfect placement of the hand on the arm . . . from the life of a baby I hold in my arms to the morality I hold in my heart . . . I am inundated with irreducible complexity.  And I have a decision to make: Will I see the Master Designer behind it all or will I reduce all the wonders of this universe to a level of complexity that blind, random chance will allow?

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18, NASB)

Sources

William Lane Craig, reasonablefaith.org

Answers in Genesis, http://www.answersingenesis.org/

Propeller (Marine), Wikipedia, accessed 2/23/2012

Flagellum, Wikipedia, accessed 2/23/2012

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

Photographs

Photograph of bread by Eric Fung, profile on

Photograph of tomato by Ajith Kumar, profile on

Photograph of mayonnaise by Jules, profile on

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Mom’s thought

What if science is an attempt to explain the miraculous?

Can I capture the identity of snowflakes in a text book?  Or the beauty in a single autumn leaf?  Or the unbelievable migration of a tiny bird across miles of ocean?  Or the mysterious creature hiding deep within the ocean?

Can I explain how the eyes of a chameleon came to be so marvelous?  Or the neck of an owl?  Or the stride of a horse?  Or the taste of chocolate (and the wonders of the tongue)?  Or the metamorphoses of a butterfly?  Or wonders of the human brain?

Science can try to explain the miraculous . . . but can never reach the end of the story on even the most simple created thing.  That is why we still wonder.  And that is how we see the artistry of God.

Miraculous.

But then, there is the greatest miracle of all:

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. (Matthew 28:6, AKJV)

and because of this, a second wonder:

Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. (2 Corinthians 5:17, GW)

Photograph by Puuikibeach, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/puuikibeach/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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If our science should contradict the Bible. . .

Our science would be wrong.

Changing the meaning of the Bible based on our science is a bad idea for any follower of Christ.  The Bible teaches we have chosen a path of separation from God, a path of lies.  We all know that we are easily capable of covering up, misunderstanding, and twisting information. So God is not the one who needs to change when we find a contradiction between what He thinks and what we think–in any category, including science.

The fool says in his heart,

“There is no God.”

They are corrupt, and their ways are vile;

there is no one who does good.

God looks down from heaven

on the sons of men

to see if there are any who understand,

any who seek God.

Everyone has turned away,

they have together become corrupt;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.(Psalm 53:1-3, NIV)

In the same way that I wouldn’t trust Nietzsche over the Word of God, I wouldn’t trust our science–or anything else made by us–over the Words of the living God.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. (Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a, NIV)

He [Jesus] is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. (John 1:1c-2, NIV)

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Theistic evolution: the rub

Here is the big rub of theistic evolution–the belief that God created the universe through the process of evolution over millions, or even billions of years: if you believe, if you truly believe, that God raised Jesus from the dead after three days . . . why would you have trouble believing God could create the world in 6 ordinary days?

People can be genuinely sincere about their belief in Jesus’ resurrection and still believe in theistic evolution, but they’re not consistent in their thinking.

I’ve heard the claim that the natural evidence leads us to conclude evolution took place and, since God is the creator of science, evolution (an atheistic, historical science philosophy) must therefore have taken place.   That’s a big jump. Then, these very same believers stand up to defend the resurrection of Jesus, an idea atheistic historical science philosophy does not support.

Why is the Bible supposed to yield in the first case (creation) and not in the second case (the resurrection of Jesus Christ)?

Each person must decide 2 Timothy 3:16-17 either is true or isn’t true.   What we can’t decide is that it’s true half the time.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

Published in: on November 5, 2011 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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