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

Advertisements

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.

 

 

NASA Memories

As someone in primary school when the “space race” started, Astronauts and space travel were part of the excitement of growing up.

I wasn’t aware of most of the early manned NASA missions, but I recall when some of the Apollo missions were brought to class attention by a student teacher.
I’m not sure which mission was the first we followed, but the interest was maintained until the early moon landings starting with Apollo 11.

What I remember most about that first landing, was being in a crowded Catholic Club, where a small black and white TV was surrounded by club patrons as we waited to see man land on the moon for the first time. It must have been a weekend night, and my dad’s cricket team had gathered there for post-match drinks with their families.
From memory the TV coverage wasn’t anything exciting – and I seem to recall that the actual landing was broadcast as a message of text across the screen, telling us that “Eagle has landed”. In a way it was an anticlimax. Where were the pictures?

I don’t recall when I first saw any actual footage of Armstrong and Aldrin stepping onto the moon. I have a feeling it was a long time after the event.

Over the decades my interest in the space program remained, not obsessively enough to follow everything going on, but enough to keep an eye on major developments. I was also interested enough that had the impossible happened, and I’d been given the chance to board a NASA mission, I wouldn’t have hesitated. At the time, I even believed I would have eagerly boarded a shuttle mission the day after the Challenger explosion if I’d been given the opportunity.

Now approaching 60, even the wildest dream of becoming an astronaut has long gone, and my age would be the least of the disqualifying factors.
I’ve recently been listening to a series on NASA podcasts that have included details of Astronaut selection. Apparently, for the latest recruitment intake of 12, they received 18,000 applications. Those finally selected had multiple degrees, and an incredible breadth of extreme life experience. After listening to the podcast I had to wonder how any individual could fit so much into the first decade or two of adult life.

[https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP]

Today marks the 49th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 8, crewed by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders (Lovell would later go on to greater fame as the commander of the almost disastrous Apollo 13 mission).

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to leave earth’s orbit, and its crew were the first men to travel to the moon and back.

 

Entering lunar orbit on Christmas eve, the crew each read parts of the creation account from Genesis 1.

 

Scientific Observation Made During Furniture Removal

As I’ve grown older I’ve noticed how time passes much more quickly now than when I was young. I see this as evidence that time is actually accelerating.

Recently I’ve noticed another interesting phenomenon.

The force of gravity intensifies with the passing of time making household objects (like furniture) harder to move as we grow older. That gravitational increase also acts upon the aging body, redistributing body mass towards the abdomen causing the effect known as the middle-age spread.

furniture

Climate Change: Fact and Faith

An EXCELLENT interview – primarily on the issue of climate change, but also revealing the reality of political influence shaping the beliefs of Christians, as well as the motivation behind those influential political ideologies.

Caring about climate is entirely consistent with who we are as Christians, but over the last several decades we have increasingly begun to confound our politics with our faith to the point where instead of our faith dictating our attitudes on political and social issues we are instead allowing our political party to dictate our attitude on issues that are clearly consistent with who we are.

[Katharine Hayhoe]

We are being told things by people who don’t like the solutions to climate change and have decided that its a lot better and a lot smarter to deny the reality of the problem than to acknowledge it exists but say you don’t want to do anything about it.

[Katharine Hayhoe]

Space, the Final Frontier? Or another Babel?

Growing up during the Apollo era of the “space race” I was caught up in the adventure of men leaving this planet and heading for the moon. Even the black and white limits of TV and newspapers didn’t diminish the wonder of it all in my pre-teen eyes.

Like many boys of my era, “astronaut” was added to the desirable things to do when I grew up. But media disinterest when moon landings became almost “common place” not only led to the cancelling of later planned moon missions, it also diminished the appeal of space exploration in my own eyes. Skylab missions (even if I’d heard of them at the time) didn’t have the same excitement as visits to the moon.

But the interest didn’t disappear altogether. I remember my thoughts after the Challenger shuttle disaster: thinking I’d be more than willing to join a shuttle crew to go immediately into space despite what had just happened.

But while the fascination still remains today, I have to ask myself why. What IS the appeal?

It’s definitely not related to the hardware. I’d barely know one end of a rocket from another if one end wasn’t slightly pointy and the other didn’t spew fire. And it’s certainly nothing to do with any adrenaline rush associated with the danger – or the idea of speed and “g” forces stressing my body.

But is there anyone who could NOT be attracted by the opportunity to see the beauty of the earth from “out there” – or by the thought of stepping onto another world, whether moon or planet and being the ultimate tourist? Getting a new perspective of the wonders of creation…

And then I wonder – what does space exploration mean in the IMPORTANT scheme of things? Is there a legitimate goal to be achieved apart from possibly answering a few scientific questions while raising countless more? Is the financial cost worth it or could it be better spent here on earth? Does the exploration beyond earth contribute to a need in mankind?

Or is it an overstepping of boundaries, taking mankind into areas we do not belong? Is it exceeding God’s biblical command to “…be fruitful and multiply; fill the EARTH and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the EARTH…”

Would ambitions in space be exceeding that God given mandate? Or isn’t that even an issue to be considered?

And could entry into space even be the ultimate Tower of Babel reaching into the heavens to make a name for ourselves?

Whatever the answer, the thing I personally take from discoveries made through space exploration, is an even greater appreciation of an incredible creation and more importantly appreciation of the Creator who made it all.