How Many Impossible Things Do You Need to Believe?

How many impossible things do you need to believe to not believe in God?

There is a decision to make.

Whether to believe in the existence of a single intelligent creator responsible for the complexity of the universe and life on earth – or to believe that an unimaginable number of spontaneous events somehow happened in order to bring about the same result, out of nothing.

The main difference as I see it, is that one scenario raises the possibility of us being accountable to a Creator God, and that can be a scary prospect for some people.

Over the past few days I’ve had a small discussion with a few unbelievers on a secular news site.

One of the responders asked a version of that old, naïve question:

…how do you explain your ‘single intelligent creator’, does he just pop into existence from, er, nothing?

Basically, if the universe and life within it required a creator, who created that creator?

To some that question must seem the pinnacle of sophistication – the argument to end all arguments, and yet there is a very clear and obvious answer that does not favour the doubter’s assumption.

The Bible describes God as being eternal with no beginning or end.

But Science recognises that the universe DID have a beginning.

Therefore, unlike the universe (according to the materialist viewpoint), God did not need to “just pop into existence from nothing”.

As for the question of how many impossible things need to be accepted in order to disbelieve in a Creator God, the following response in the same discussion shows how willing people can be to practice all manner of irrational, intellectual gymnastics to close their eyes and minds to God.

That ‘unimaginable’ number of spontaneous events took place over an equally unimaginable expanse of space and time, and if the many-worlds interpretation is correct, over an almost infinitely large number of universes. From another perspective, given these conditions, that series of spontaneous events had to occur somewhere, at some time. It just happens that here and now is where they occurred.

Just look at the many assumptions and speculations required to fuel that argument.

1) The assumption that given enough time, anything can happen no matter how improbable or impossible.
(Excepting the existence of a Creator to whom His creation might be accountable, of course)

2) If the “many-worlds interpretation is correct.
(One might as well say “if the easter bunny was real, chocolate eggs would magically appear at easter. Again – an avoidance of pondering whether the Creator God “interpretation” could be correct.)

3) An almost infinitely large number of universes?
(So now we have the existence of an infinite number of universes that spontaneously appeared, not just one).

4) Given all of those imagined conditions then this very real universe had to appear out of nothing.
(Do I need to comment further on that?)

So I’ll return to my original question…

How many impossible things does someone need to believe to not believe in God?

THE GRETA THUNBERG HELPLINE

Australian media identities lined up to attack the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg this week for her scathing speech at the UN.

From just one mention in the Australian media in September 2018, Thunberg’s prominence has grown to 2,848 mentions this month, according to Streem media monitoring.

The more the 16-year-old has been mentioned, the more annoyed some commentators have become.

There were the middle-aged white men who threw insults at the climate activist: the Nine footy personality Sam Newman, the broadcaster Alan Jones, the columnist Andrew Bolt, the Australian’s resident climate contrarians Chris Kenny and Graham Lloyd, and the Sky commentator Mark Latham. Then there were the middle-aged white women: the Tele’s Miranda Devine and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Amanda Vanstone. All very predictable.

from
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/27/how-the-herald-sun-turned-on-its-own-after-the-george-pell-scoop

children that you spit on

 

Greta Thunberg is a true leader by every definition” by Mitchell Adams,
Sydney Morning Herald. September 25, 2019

The lyrics in the second verse of Changes by the late great David Bowie perfectly capture the events leading up to this week’s UN Climate Conference.

“And these children that you spit on; As they try to change their worlds; Are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through.”

These incredibly potent words swirled through my head while I watched in awe as 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg gave heads of governments a well-deserved spray over their lack of action regarding climate change. Some of them, including our very own Prime Minister, couldn’t even have been bothered to show up to the conference.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/greta-thunberg-is-a-true-leader-by-every-definition-20190925-p52uqd.html

Amazingly, over the past few weeks, seemingly every conservative commentator, every internet troll and every tin hat-wearing conspiracy theorist has thrown one giant co-ordinated tantrum over Greta, all using some form of dehumanising and degrading language to describe her and paint her in as negative light as possible.

Under the weight of this constant harassment for weeks on end, even the toughest and bravest of adults would probably have a severe mental breakdown.

But instead, Greta responded in a manner that showed she possesses more maturity and leadership than any of her critics. Taking to Twitter, she said:

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers, and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”

There IS life beyond earth

Further to my post Life Beyond Earth found here:

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/life-beyond-earth/

In which I ask:

Can it be guaranteed that on all of that space-borne equipment not a single element of biological contamination has taken place? That every mission sent from various nations hasn’t transported a viable population of bacteria to the planets that were being explored?

No it can’t be guaranteed.

That last sentence is further confirmed by the following.

Tardigrades may have survived spacecraft crashing on moon
Scientists believe the Beresheet’s unusual cargo may be alive and well on the moon.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/06/tardigrades-may-have-survived-spacecraft-crashing-on-moon

What else has the space program left on the moon dating back to Apollo days?

Beyond the crashed, the ditched and the broken down are pieces of equipment and personal effects that astronauts left behind. The least charming are 96 bags for poo, urine and vomit…

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/19/moon-buggies-and-bags-of-poo-what-humans-left-on-the-moon

Life Beyond Earth

One of the aims of the Mars mission mentioned in my previous post, is to seek out evidence of some kind of life on Mars.
Last year I posted thoughts about the implications of the search for life beyond earth.

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/life-on-mars/

Within the comments section after that article I noted that any search for life elsewhere in space has already, most likely, been compromised by the many space craft and associated vehicles that mankind has already sent out there.

Can it be guaranteed that on all of that space-borne equipment not a single element of biological contamination has taken place? That every mission sent from various nations hasn’t transported a viable population of bacteria to the planets that were being explored?

No it can’t be guaranteed.

surevyor 3.jpgIn fact life has already been found on the moon, by the Apollo 12 mission. They retrieved equipment from the Surveyor 3 spacecraft that had previously landed on the moon. Upon that equipment they reportedly found biological contamination, the common bacterium Streptococcus mitis, possibly deposited by a technician sneezing on it during its preparation for launch.
Later assertions have been made that the contamination was caused during or after the return to earth – but could that be a case of attempting to convince the public that the stable door had remained securely closed, and that the bacterial horse had not actually bolted?

No matter how strenuous those assertions may be, it is clear that the possibility of contamination from earth remains a viable possibility.

…despite using plasma (matter composed of electrically charged particles), intense radiation and heat to sterilise the components, and using special “clean rooms” to assemble them, it has proved impossible to construct a microbe-free spacecraft. The heat, cold, vacuum and harsh radiation encountered during spaceflight will kill most of them, but some will probably remain alive long enough to reach the destination. Experiments on the International Space Station have proved that spore-forming bacteria can remain viable in space for at least as long as it takes to get to Mars. [my emphasis in bold – onesimus]  (from https://phys.org/news/2017-06-strict-contamination-hamper-exploration-life.html )

ISS photo.jpg

In last year’s blog post I suggested why the search for life beyond earth is so important to many people.

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

Maybe there’s a degree of irony in the possibility that mankind’s attempts to find definitive, incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrial life is being made impossible by the search itself.

Destination Mars

Gloria and I have our places booked upon the Mars 2020 space craft, due to be launched in July next year. Here is my boarding pass.

Tim BoardingPass_MyNameOnMars2020 EDIT

NASA are launching this new mission to Mars and have invited the public to submit their names to be sent on the Mars 2020 Rover.

The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will use an electron beam to stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). At that size, more than a million names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invites-public-to-submit-names-to-fly-aboard-next-mars-rover

Souvenir boarding passes can be downloaded by everyone who registers.

I’m now considering how to make the best use of my frequent flyer points.

UFO? NO!

The following is a still image from a video I took last night. Unfortunately this site won’t allow me to post the video file. Maybe if I had a YouTube account and posted the video there I’d be able to share the whole thing.

The video shows the white dot portrayed below, dancing around the screen at speed. The dot is a bright moving light I saw and recorded last night not long after sunset. What could that rapidly dancing light be?  A UFO, suggesting “we are not alone”?

ISS

The straight answer is no.

The light wasn’t an unidentified object, and it wasn’t actually dancing around in the sky. All of the movement came from my inability to hold the camera still, amplified by my use of the zoom lens.

What I had tried to film was the International Space Station (ISS).
I had recently registered with NASA to get notifications of when the ISS was visible above my town. Yesterday I received an email giving me the time and trajectory related to a potential sighting.

At 8.30pm Gloria and I went into the backyard and tried to work out where it would be first seen, and we concentrated on that part of the sky, just above our neighbour’s house. After a few minutes Gloria’s attention was distracted by a moving light significantly to the left of our chosen spot.

That was it.

It was surprisingly bright and moving quite quickly. We were able to watch it for around 6 minutes, moving from NW to SE at a comfortable viewing angle. The NASA advice had said it would be approximately 70 degrees – almost perfect, needing only a small backward tilt of the head.

It was a very exciting experience.

I have been interested in space exploration and travel since childhood,  when the Apollo missions leading up to the moon landings were big news. But that interest always had to be from a distance, not having any opportunity to observe any of it first hand. (I do have vague memories of seeing a Gemini capsule on display some time in the 70s, but I’ve not been able to find out any details to corroborate my “memory”.)

Last night that interest came much closer to home, seeing with my own eyes the large space facility orbiting the earth. It’s been there for many years, has certainly been visible countless times during those years – but not knowing where or when to look robbed me of the chance of witnessing it fly over.

The conditions were excellent for a perfect viewing. It was just after sunset, meaning we were in partial darkness but the ISS was still in full sun reflecting a lot of light, and  the trajectory was just right to give a comfortable and lengthy view. I’m looking forward to the next email advising when I can see it again.

It’s a shame about the video – it would have been a much more impressive (though deceptive)  illustration of the experience.
If I can get hold of a suitable tripod for future use, next time I might be able to get a better record of the station’s journey above my house. One that shows its actual movement, and not the erratic dancing captured last night.

A few stats.

Currently on board is a crew of three. Anne McClain (USA), David Saint-Jacques (Canada) and Commander Oleg Kononenko (Russia). The current mission is “expedition 58”.

crew portrait exp 58

The ISS orbits the earth at a height of 400km (250 miles), travelling at a speed of  27,600 kph (17,150 mph). A full circuit of the earth takes about 90 minutes.

Essential websites for ISS spotting.

Spot the station: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/

Live TRacking Map: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/tracking_map.cfm

Dawkins’ Delusion

Here Richard Dawkins, the great God-denying champion and promoter of atheism, admits to the possibility of Intelligent Design behind the creation of life on earth.

Just don’t call that creative intelligence “God” – and don’t suggest that the creative intelligence might take an interest in, or expect the creation to be accountable to the one who created it.

Dawkins also shows that he can’t progress beyond the kindergartenesque question, “If God created the universe, then who created God?” Stuck in this kind of thought bubble, he insists that IF there is some kind of intelligence responsible for life on earth, that intelligence itself must be the product of a long process of evolution.

But why? Isn’t it reasonable to expect Dawkins to justify such a categorical assumption with some kind of evidence? *

The silliness behind the question “who created God” can be seen when we recognise that science now agrees with what scripture has said for thousands of years, that the universe had a beginning.

But the same scriptures that revealed a beginning to the universe also tell us that God had no beginning, He is eternal, everlasting, therefore with no need to be “created”.

God is :

“the eternal God” (Gen 21, Deut 33, Rom 10)

“from everlasting to everlasting” (1 Chr 16, 1 Chr 29, Neh 9, Ps 41, Ps 90, Ps 103)

“the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King” (Jer 10)

“everflasting Father” (Is 9)

“from everlasting” (Hab 1)

“the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1)

The question about “who created God, is therefore based on a false premise – that a creator God also needed to be created.

Towards the end of this video segment, Dawkins is asked what he would say, should he die and find himself face to face with God. Dawkins refers to a quote from Bertrand Russell who when posed a similar question stated he would ask God “Sir, why did you take such pains to hide yourself?”

My response to both Dawkins and Russell would be to ask – has God been hiding? Or have they (and countless others) been refusing to see what God has made obvious?

 

“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.” (Rom 1)

 

“Professing to be wise, they became fools” (also Rom 1)

____________________________________________________________

 

* My friend Chris says he has read two of Dawkins’ books and tells me that he considers Dawkins’ best quote to be: “We must stop asking the question WHY?”.

 

 

Life on Mars?

 

It’s likely you would have heard about the great excitement about the discovery of a large body of water under the surface of Mars, and the possibilities it creates for there being life on Mars.

But what is the reason for the great interest in finding life beyond earth?

Maybe to some people it would legitimise their belief that given the right conditions and enough time, life could spontaneously come into existence without the need of a Creator?

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

But from a Christian point of view there’s no need to discount the possibility of some kind of life elsewhere. God could very well have created life beyond the earth for purposes of His own.
An account of that life beyond earth isn’t necessarily relevant to his relationship with mankind so didn’t need to be revealed in scripture

Blood Moon?

Blood Moon?

Blue moon?

Super moon?

All of those terms were thrown around and joined together to describe the phenomenon in the skies last night.  A lunar eclipse affecting the second full moon in a single calendar month when the moon’s elliptical orbit had brought it to  its closest proximity to earth.

A spectacular lunar event – or not – depending on your location.

At my place it came too late in the night to be seen at its most impressive. The peak of the lunar eclipse occurred at half past midnight, when the moon was almost directly over head. Such things are always more spectacular when they occur at moonrise, as the full moon lifts above the eastern horizon, and the angle of viewing creates the illusion of a much larger moon than when it’s overhead.

We also had some hazy cloud cover – not enough to obscure the sight completely, but enough to blur it. To us the moon looked like a dirty rust coloured smudge, and we got a much better view by watching NASA’s live feed of the event – although the NASA image showed a northern hemisphere view that was “upside down” from our Southern Hemisphere perspective.

Along with the live video feed, I noticed “live chat” was also offered to viewers. However, that “chat” had become a blur of activity where  countless brief statements scrolled up the screen too fast to read. Although among the speeding comments I did catch a glimpse of an expected bible reference:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

“Blood Moons” became a popular fad in Christian circles a year or two ago, when great significance was made of the fact that four lunar eclipses would occur during that year, with some coinciding with the dates that God  had given to the children of Israel as feast days. The Christian publishing industry seemed to go into overdrive with a variety of authors writing to detail the alleged prophetic significance.

Many years ago I considered the repetition of biblical references to the darkening of the sun, the moon turning to blood, and stars falling from the sky (there are several spread throughout both old and new Testaments). I made the connection between the darkening sun and a solar eclipse. I made the connection between the moon turning to blood with a lunar eclipse. I made the connection with falling stars and a spectacular meteor shower. I wondered whether there was a time ahead when all three would coincide  (but recognised that the closest a solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse could come together would be two weeks. A lunar eclipse happens at the time of a full moon, a solar eclipse at a new moon).

I also made the logical assumption that should those astronomical events be the way biblical prophecy would be fulfilled, then it is most likely they would be events viewed from Jerusalem and not general references to viewing events spread randomly around the world.

Will there be a time when Jerusalem will experience both eclipses and a significant meteor shower all within the two weeks required between solar and lunar eclipses? Or will the fulfilment of bible prophecy be entirely a supernatural event, where the sun goes dark, the moon turns red and stars do fall – for no natural reason at all? That God will shake the heavens and bring these things about when they are totally unexpected, and in the process confound the speculations of those who seek to exploit Him and His word for an agenda different to His.