Faith Doesn’t Mean the Same Thing as Stupid
Vol: 21 Issue: 18 Monday, April 18, 2016
It is no stretch to say that the world as we know it is in trouble, to say the least. To say the most would be to say that we’re witnessing our physical world, our environment and human culture heading into the early stages of demise.
If our world were a human being, we’d be wondering whether that cough we just heard was the first telltale sign of terminal lung cancer, or whether it was beginning to show signs of succumbing to old age.
If the earth really is millions, if not billions of years old, and if humanity has been here for a million years or more, then the ‘old age’ argument seems kind of weak. This sense of impending planetary doom has only been around since about 1948, when we invented stuff like atomic bombs and television.
Before that, it seemed as if the world would go on forever. Prior to that, there was no planetary sense of impending doom. There were no marches aimed at saving the planet. There were no symposiums to discuss the sustainability of life on earth.
Nobody was afraid of cow flatulence, air pollution, rising seas, global warming, solar flares, planet-killing asteroids or the death of the oceans, prior to 1948. Prior to 1948, there was no general sense of an impending mass extinction event.
Prior to 1948 there was no Doomsday Clock. While a Doomsday “midnight” was not even on the horizon prior to 1948, in the years since, the Doomsday Clock’s hands remain set at just before midnight.
And so, to return to the earlier point, sixty or seventy years out of a million years or more islike a split second taken out of a month of Sundays. On that scale, what we observe during that split second of existence is like hearing a single cough and diagnosing a case of terminal lung cancer.
On the other hand, if the earth is much closer to being just six thousand years old, then the slice of time in which we are making these observations is more significant. But how could the earth be just six thousand years old?
More than that, what about the universe? For example, if God created the universe six thousand years ago, then how can one explain light years? A light year is the amount of distance a beam of light can travel in a solar calendar year.
Today a beam of light (in a vaccum) can travel some six trillion miles in one year. So six trillion miles is a light year and Alpha Centauri, our closest cosmic neighbor, is 4.37 light years away. Expressed as a number, that is 26,000,000,000,000 miles away.
BUT, any effort to estimate the age of anything necessarily involves a number of assumptions; where to start measuring, constancy of rates, contamination of the system, on so on.
If any of these assumptions are wrong, then so, too are the conclusions reached. Take light years, for example.
If we assume that the current light speed has always been what it is today, then we reach one figure. If we make that assumption incorrectly, then the universe could be much younger.
But we don’t know if light speed has always been constant — it could have moved more quickly in the past. And changing the speed of light changes EVERYTHING, like the ratio of mass to energy, for example.
Science doesn’t know. It assumes.
Another assumption is that time has always flowed at the same rate, a seemingly reasonable assumption. But Einstein discovered that the rate at which time passes is affected by motion and by gravity.
For example, when an object moves very fast, close to the speed of light, its time is slowed down. This is called “time-dilation.” So, if we were able to accelerate a clock to nearly the speed of light, that clock would tick very slowly. If we could somehow reach the speed of light, the clock would stop completely.
Likewise, gravity slows the passage of time. A clock at sea-level would tick slower than one on a mountain, since the clock at sea-level is closer to the source of gravity.
The 2006 Indonesian earthquake that spawned the killer tsunami also shifted the earth on its axis slightly, affecting the space-time continuum and causing the earth to move several microseconds forward in time.
So in real-world conditions, we have empirical evidence that time is not always a constant, even if by microseconds. Now the question isn’t whether time is reliable, (we just proved it isn’t) but rather, it is a question of how reliable?
Since time can flow at different rates from different points of view, events that would take a long time as measured by one person will take very little time as measured by another person. This also applies to distant starlight.
Light that would take billions of years to reach earth (as measured by clocks in deep space) could reach earth in only thousands of years as measured by clocks on earth.
Imagine that a plane leaves a certain city at 4:00 p.m. for a two-hour flight. However, when the plane lands, the time is still 4:00. Since the plane arrived at the same time it left, we might call this an instantaneous trip. Except that the plane crossed two time zones.
Still, it was 4:00 pm when you left, and it is 4:00 pm when you arrived two hours later, as measured by universal time, not local time. There is a cosmic equivalent to local and universal time. Light traveling toward earth is like the plane traveling west; it always remains at the same cosmic local time.
Since God created the stars on Day 4, their light would leave the star on Day 4 and reach earth on Day 4 cosmic local time. Light from all galaxies would reach earth on Day 4 if we measure it according to cosmic local time.
Someone might object that the light itself would experience billions of years (as the passenger on the plane experiences the two hour trip). Except that according to Einstein’s relativity theory, light does not experience the passage of time.
So the trip would be instantaneous.
Another assumption made by science is the assumption that all phenomena can be explained in natural terms. That assumption by definition excludes the supernatural, an assumption whose flaws are self-evident.
God can, and usually does, use natural laws to accomplish His will, which is the reason that we have a word for when He does not — supernatural. Since God is supernatural, He is capable of acting outside natural law.
This certainly applies during Creation Week. God created the universe supernaturally. He created it from nothing, not from previously existing material. Today, we do not see God speaking into existence new stars or new kinds of creatures.
God ended His work of creation by the seventh day. Today, God sustains the universe in a different way than He created it. The naturalist erroneously assumes that the universe was created by the same processes by which it operates today.
Of course it would be absurd to apply this assumption to most other things.
A light bulb converts electricity into light, but it does not follow that electricity created the light bulb.
Since the stars were created during Creation Week and since God made them to give light upon the earth, the way in which distant starlight arrived on earth may have been supernatural.
Assuming that past acts of God are necessarily understandable in terms of a current scientific mechanism is misleading, because science can only probe the way in which God sustains the universe today.
It is irrational to argue that a supernatural act from the past cannot be true on the basis that it cannot be explained by natural processes observed today.
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
To summarize briefly before moving on, let’s recap what we know and what we don’t know.
We know the Bible says the universe was created in six days. We don’t know what the speed of light was at the time of creation, so we cannot categorically say that light and distance prove otherwise.
We know that the act of creation was by supernatural means. We don’t know at what point God spoke the natural laws that now govern the universe into existence. We know, for example, that science argues the Big Bang created the universe from a single pinpoint.
Evolutionists and proponents of Big Bang compress time, space and matter into the head of a pin, then take the opposite position to argue that the distance between the stars dates the universe.
In the 1650’s an Anglican bishop named James Ussher published his “Annals of the World“. Bishop Ussher was no ordinary man, but one who was unmistakably blessed with incredible intelligence and insight that he devoted entirely to the study of God’s Word. (By age 26, Ussher was chair of the Divinity Department at Dublin University.)
While that in and of itself would be worthy of a lifetime achievement award, Ussher went on to full professorship, served as vice-chancellor of Trinity College twice, and, by age 44, was elevated to the rank of Archbishop of Armagh, the highest position in the Irish Anglican Church.
The point is that Bishop Ussher was not just a smart man. He was an intellectual giant who used his God-given gifts to advance the understanding of God’s Word.
Bishop Ussher’s “Annals of the World” begins at the point of creation, which he determined was October 23, 4004 BC.
Ussher’s arrival at the date of October 23 was determined based on the fact that most peoples of antiquity, especially the Jews, started their calendar at harvest time.
Ussher concluded there must be good reason for this, so he chose the first Sunday following autumnal equinox.
Although the autumnal equinox is September 21 today, that is only because of historical calendar-juggling to make the years come out right.
In September 1752, eleven days were dropped to bring the calendar back in line with the seasons. Another day was dropped at the beginning of the 19th and 20th century for the same reason.
Ussher’s calculations, made centuries before these adjustments, are vindicated by them. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy working by candlelight centuries before the advent of a calculator.
The reason Ussher’s work is so accurate was because he relied solely on Scripture as his source of information.
Ussher arrived at the date of 4004 BC by taking known dates in history, and calculatingbackwards by using the chronologies of Genesis Chapters 5 and 11 and working backwards. The calculations themselves were so complicated that, in the original documents, they covered more than one hundred pages.
Using Bishop’s Ussher’s calculations, the Prophet Hosea lived from 3197 to 3246, or, BC 808 to 759. Ussher’s dating is expressed in standard years, although he worked from the perspective of the ancient calendar of twelve months of thirty days each.
At the end of each year, the ancients tacked on five days, and every four years they added six days. The prophet Hosea wrote,
“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:1-2)
Further on, the prophet predicted;
“Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.” (6:11)
Hosea began with the Promise of God that “He will heal us and bind us up” — a promise that was fulfilled with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah Jesus. We date our own calendar counting forward from Christ.
So does God, which brings us back to Hosea’s prophecy. “After two days will He revive us, and in the third day, raise us up,” writes the prophet. Twice in Scripture, God reveals His own reckoning of time.
“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4)
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that ONE DAY is with the Lord AS A THOUSAND YEARS, and a thousand years as one day.” (2nd Peter 3:8)
Using Scripture to make the calculations, Bishop Ussher’s calculation of creation as being 4004 years before Christ isn’t based on the year of Christ’s Birth. But Hosea’s prophecy IS.
Israel’s physical revival has been an ongoing process for sixty-four years as the world’s Jews, including members of the Ten Lost Tribes, are being re-gathered to the land of Israel. Ezekiel’s prophecy of Israel’s redemption process is almost complete.
Hosea said of the Jews, ‘AFTER two days will He revive us, and IN the third day . . we will live in His sight.’ And the Apostle Peter taught that;
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
It is clear that God is extending His ‘grace period’ (the Church Age of Grace) to give all men one last chance to accept the gift of pardon that He extends to them, but it is equally clear that His patience is being rapidly exhausted.
Bishop Ussher gave us at least as reasonable an estimate for the age of the earth as the most careful scientific calculations can, given that both arguments are based on assumptions. The secular scientist assumes that all his calculations are universally correct going back into the impossible, unknowable and incalculable reaches of time.
Bishop Ussher’s calculations were based on the assumption that the Bible is true. So here’s the deal.
Science used to think the world was flat. Wrong assumption. The Bible, on the other hand, always maintained the earth is round.
Science used to assume that light was static. It appeared and disappeared, depending. But the Bible teaches that light is in motion.
Science used to assume that wind moved in a straight line. But the Bible teaches that wind blows in a circular pattern. (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
Science once assumed air was weightless. Job 28:25 reveals that the wind has weight.
We don’t know everything. We aren’t supposed to know everything. We are supposed to live by faith. Here is something else we know. In every instance where the Bible can be fact-checked on matters of history, archeology, medicine, science, and times and dates, the Bible checks out accurately.
No single claim of Scripture has ever been conclusively disproved, despite the best efforts of every generation of scientists and skeptics since the Bible was first compiled.
If all of science’s assumptions are right, then so are the conclusions reached. But since science can be wrong, and often is, putting one’s faith in science is what it is.
Faith doesn’t mean the same thing as stupid.
This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on March 17, 2012.
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