Category Archives: Faith and Science

Glimpses of glory

A few days ago I was cycling along a pathway by the Ottawa River. I was perplexed about my current circumstances, and I stopped for a few minutes to sit on a bench and look at the river. As I told the Lord of my concerns, I sensed the Spirit prompting me to look at the fruit cluster on a sumac bush.

I went over to have a look, and was amazed. The Spirit reminded me of the thousands of cells of various types in each berry, each cell containing hundreds of complex organic molecules built with chains of atoms that are themselves fantastically complex. And this is just a single fruit cluster on a single sumac bush!  That’s not to mention the millions of other species of living things on earth, let alone the wonders of the mineral world and the vast galaxies that form outer space. My concerns fell into perspective as I realized that the God who made all this had a place for me in his plans.

All my life I have been enthralled by the wonder of God’s creation. The beauty of the created order – even in its fallen, marred state – reflects the glory, goodness and creative generosity of God, and brings rest to my soul. But more recently I have begun to find myself increasingly captivated by the beauty of God himself.

Several books of the Bible include descriptions of God’s throne room and the majestic splendour that surrounds him. Among the best known and most detailed visions are found in the Book of Revelation.

Sadly, many people tend to avoid Revelation. It’s an amazing book, written by a man with a deep love for God’s people. As a young man, John had been Jesus’ closest earthly friend. By the time he wrote the Book of Revelation, he was an old man, living in a prison camp on the Aegean Sea because of his faith in Christ. He was the overseer of several Christian communities in Asia Minor that were tasting intense persecution under the cruelty of the Emperor Domitian. John wrote to give them hope and encouragement.

Although John spoke a message of hope, it was also a sober message. The Lord would return to deliver his people, destroy evil and bring in the new age of righteousness and peace. But before his return, there would be a period of intense struggle. The Spirit revealed to John that there would be much turmoil and many painful trials before the final victory and the coming wedding feast.

Yet before showing John any of these gruesome details, the Spirit gave him several powerful encounters with the beauty and majesty of the Father and the Son. There’s a stunning vision of the Son of Man in Revelation 1, and an equally awe-inspiring description of the throne room of God in Revelation 4 and 5.

I am still very much a beginner when it comes to truly understanding these heavenly realities. But I am realizing in a fresh way why we need to feed our hearts on the beauty of God.

Of all the wondrous aspects of God’s glory, perhaps the most wondrous of all is that he is interested in us. The throne room contains not only the throne of the Ancient of Days but also the throne of the Lamb who was slain for us. Although God, He is also one of us, and he stands ready to open the seals of the scroll that will complete history and bring in a renewed, restored and glorified earth.

Over the past couple of weeks the world has been treated to the spectacle of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. These games were an amazing display of the glory of man. The Olympics showcase humanity’s drive to pursue and appreciate excellence, order and beauty in all domains of life. This drive is in us because we are made in the image of a great, glorious and creative God, who intended us to rule the earth on his behalf. Even in our fallen condition, having made quite a mess of things, we still bear His imprint. Yet if we pursue the glory of man without God, we end up empty, disappointed and frustrated.

I have known for a long time that I needed God. I know that I am daily dependent on His love, truth and power. But God is not just a source of gifts that I need to sustain my life. As long as I think of God that way, I still don’t really get it. I was made to worship and adore the Beautiful One. He is beautiful, delightful, exquisite in himself. You and I need to learn to feed our souls on his beauty. In the end, it is only His beauty that can satisfy us, sustain us, keep us from evil, and bring us through to the glorious destiny that we were made for.


Why evolution can’t save you – but Jesus can

John C. Sanford is one of the world’s premier plant geneticists.  A research scientist at Cornell University since 1980,  he co-invented the gene gun which is widely used in genetic engineering of plants.

Sanford began his career as an atheist and militant evolutionist, but his conversion to Christ initiated a process of reflection which eventually led him to re-examine all his presuppositions about science.  A few years ago, Sanford published a ground-breaking work (1, 2, 3) arguing forcefully that mutations in the human genome inevitably lead downhill, and that the “Primary Axiom” of evolutionary theory (that life is the result of mutations and natural selection) is demonstrably false.

Sanford is convinced that there is no way that the evolutionary process could have led to life as we know it.  There is only one reasonable conclusion that could be drawn by an objective observer : we were made by a Designer.

Even though advances in agriculture, medicine and sanitation have led to overall improvements in human health in the past couple of generations, Sanford shows that over time, as mutations increase, there will inevitably be more cancer, more birth defects, and shortened lifespans. His model, which predicts the degeneration of the genome over time, perfectly fits the Biblical narrative of decreasing lifespans and increasing pain and suffering following the sin of Adam and Eve.

This might not sound like good news. However, if the Titanic is going down, you’d want to know where the lifeboats are. Sanford argues that the evidence from science points us to our need for a Saviour, and declares that Jesus is our lifeboat, our way of escape from a dying creation. In his own words, ” … Jesus is our hope … He gave us life in the first place—so He can give us new life today. He made heaven and earth in the first place—so He can make a new heaven and earth in the future”.



The parable of Steve Jobs and the two iPhones

Once upon a time two iPhones were having a chat. It went something like this.

Phone #1 :  “I wonder how we got here?  We are so amazing, I think someone very smart – even smarter and more amazing than us – must have made us. ”

Phone #2 :  “No, I don’t believe that.  That’s just a fairy tale.  Don’t you know that there used to be other, simpler Apple devices,  not nearly as amazing as we are?  The landscape is littered with them.  No-one made us.  I think we must have evolved from a more primitive species of Apple.”

Phone #1 :  “No way, phone.  I’m way too amazing to have just happened by accident.  I think that human they call Steve Jobs must be responsible.  They say he started the whole Apple thing in the first place.  I’ve heard he’s a creative genius.  Nothing as amazing as us could have happened just by chance.  I think Steve Jobs must have designed us for some purpose.  Maybe we were made for him to enjoy. ”

Phone #2 :  “Steve Jobs?  Haven’t you heard that he’s dead?  No-one believes in him anymore.  I tell you, phone, you got here by accident – pure chance.  One day, a long long time ago, all the components for the first Apple device were just swimming around in a component soup, and there was a big explosion, and presto – the very first Mac just appeared, all by itself.  And that’s where it all started.  Then gradually they started changing, all by themselves, and then other forms of Apple devices began to emerge.  And eventually the first iPod crawled out of the slime onto land, and after that came the iPhone.  No-one made you.  I tell you, Steve Jobs never existed.  You just happened.  Get used to it.  You have no creator and no purpose.  Steve Jobs is just a myth.”

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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


Why I’m glad I’m not an atheist

I am so glad I am no longer an atheist.

If I were still an atheist, I couldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving with any integrity.  After all, how do you give thanks to someone who doesn’t exist?  If you don’t acknowledge the Giver of all good gifts, how can you thank Him for His blessings?

If I were still an atheist, I would have to resolutely close my eyes to the overwhelming evidence of beauty, design and order in the earth, the sea, the skies and the millions of life forms that inhabit them.  Against all reason, I would have to continue to insist that all the wonders of an admittedly damaged but still stunningly complex and awesome creation are purely accidental and totally devoid of meaning.  More than that, I would have to be content to view my own life, and the life of those I love, as empty, random and purposeless.

If I were still an atheist, I would have to live life without moral absolutes, with no remedy for guilt, no explanation for either beauty or pain, no answers to any of the big questions.  If I were still an atheist, I would have no-one to forgive my sins and restore my soul, no-one to anchor my life, and no-one to answer my spirit’s cry for transcendence.  If I were still an atheist, I would have no-one beyond myself to look up to; no-one to encourage me or hold me accountable; no-one to correct, protect, guide and direct my life; no-one to save me from myself and call me forward into my destiny.

If I were still an atheist, I would have no Messiah, and would have to live in the barrenness of despair, with the world’s wisdom my only explanation for life, man’s abilities my ultimate horizon, and the hope of a restored heaven and earth no more than wishful thinking.

If I were still an atheist, I’d be headed for an awful surprise on the Day of the Lord.

Although once I did indeed live without hope and without God in the universe, my life changed forever more than twenty-three years ago when I finally surrendered my pride and admitted that God was God.  I am profoundly grateful that the Maker of the universe opened my eyes and delivered me from despair, guilt, emptiness, misery, and eternal death.

So I will celebrate Thanksgiving because I know there is hope.  And yes, I will enjoy the turkey, and all the other seasonal foods.  It is a good and godly thing to enjoy the Father’s blessings, and to do so without apology.  This is a harvest festival, and it is right and good to celebrate the goodness of the Creator.  Especially in a climate of increasing hostility to all theistic belief, it is important to declare that it is God who is the Author of life and the Giver of every blessing.  But I will also be mindful that Thanksgiving Day is about so much more than the turkey and the vegetables.  It’s even about more than family, important as that is.  Thanksgiving is a declaration that God is good; that He made us for a purpose; that He has a redemptive plan which is still unfolding; that a harvest of souls is coming; that the earth will be full of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea; that Yeshua will appear once more when the time has come for Him to restore all things.

It’s good to give thanks.  This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks with understanding, in the freedom of forgiven sons and daughters, with our hearts full of gratitude, and with our eyes on the Coming One, at whose name every knee shall bow in heaven and earth.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Beyond Reason

Beyond Reason.

Margaret Trudeau wrote a memoir by this title in 1979, and in 2009 Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro wrote about the art of negotiation in a work by the same title.

Both books were best-sellers, but when I hear the expression beyond reason, I don’t think of either of them, nor the talk show by the same title.  To me, the phrase beyond reason suggests one of two things – either behaviour that is unreasonable and therefore hard to accept (“it’s beyond reason the way he carries on”), or a belief that is unsupported by reason and therefore unconvincing (“I can’t imagine that Jim still believes in Santa Claus at age 29 – it’s beyond reason“).

In this post, I am not going to get cranky about anyone’s unreasonable behaviour.  Rather, I want to focus on one very popular belief that I consider to be beyond reason, even though it is held by many seemingly rational people.  I am referring to the increasingly common belief that life on earth was not created by some supernatural intelligence, but “just happened”.  I was exposed to this belief in university and accepted it for a time, thinking it was undeniable because it had been proven by science.   I have since given the matter a lot of consideration and have concluded that this common conviction is in reality totally unfounded, and that far from being based on reason it is in fact quite unreasonable.

I realize, of course, that by definition beliefs about the origins of life are unprovable.  By its own standards, operational science can have nothing conclusive to say about such matters.  From a scientific perspective, the best we can do is talk about possibilities and probabilities, because no-one was there to observe what actually happened.

So let’s stick to possibilities and probabilities.

Today I did a Google search on “What do cells do”.  My first hit was a very informative site from the British Science Museum.  In it, I found this revealing description of just one of the functions of living cells
( How do cells make proteins )

Proteins are large, complex molecules, which all your cells are making continuously. Each protein is made up of many amino acids which must join together in the correct order for the protein to work properly. Imagine a car assembly line: to end up with a working car, the workers must know when and where to add each part. Likewise, the cell needs a set of commands for making proteins. This instruction manual is in your genes – found in the cell nucleus. 

This is just one of the many intricate processes that are going on constantly inside each living cell. I studied introductory biology in university almost 40 years ago.  Since then, what is known about cellular biology has increased greatly, but even what was known at that time was enough to amaze me. I was in awe of the complexity and level of organization involved in the structure and function of even the simplest living cells.  Yet, the lecturer was clearly hostile to Christianity and all forms of theism, and openly mocked any suggestion that such wonders might have originated from the hand of a Creator.  No, he insisted, any reasonable person would agree that they arose purely by natural processes.   Such confidence seems more like an article of faith than a scientifically-based conclusion.  It makes me wonder who is being unreasonable.

It’s a well-known fact of cellular biology that cells can only come from other living cells.  No scientist has ever observed, or been able to reproduce, the spontaneous generation of a living cell from inert chemicals.  So how did the first living cell arise?  The popular site How Stuff Works addresses this issue in an article entitled Where did the first living cell come from.  Despite being written with a clear evolutionary bias, the article still contains the surprising admission that no-one really knows how the first living cell could have arisen “spontaneously out of the inert chemicals of Planet Earth perhaps 4 billion years ago“.  Yet, the author assures us, one day science will find the answer.   Really?

I work in the field of information technology, writing PL/SQL code to implement business logic in Oracle database systems.  Someone had to create the PL/SQL engine that I use to write and compile my code.  Someone else had to design the core Oracle database engine and the SQL language on which the PL/SQL language is built.  Someone else had to design the C programming language in which most of Oracle’s core components are written.  Someone else had to come up with the basic binary logic that makes all computer languages possible.  And that’s only a small part of what is required for me to do my work.  There are layers upon layers of complex systems and sub-systems underlying every line of code that I write.  But even given the best tools to work with, if I blindly hit keys on my computer keyboard, my code would not be very good – in fact it wouldn’t work at all.  I have to apply structured reasoning and creative intelligence to the process of coding, otherwise I come up with nothing but a useless mess.

There is far greater complexity programmed into even the simplest living cell than what is contained in any computer program that I could ever hope to write.  Faced with this undeniable reality, an unbiased, unprejudiced observer could draw only one conclusion.  There must have been some creative intelligence involved in the process.   This is not provable, of course, but it is the only reasonable conclusion in light of the available evidence.  In fact, we can go farther and assert that it is beyond reason to suppose it all just happened by chance, spontaneously.

Francis Crick, the man who won the Nobel Prize for co-discovering the structure of DNA, and a self-proclaimed atheist, made this startlingly frank admission :

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going  ( Crick, F., Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1981, p. 88 )

Evolutionists typically scoff at Bible stories that include miraculous elements, such as the account of the virgin birth of Christ.  David White (Single Cell Irony, Creation 32(3):20, June 2010), has cogently pointed out that it really takes no more faith to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus than to believe that the first living cell could have arisen spontaneously.  After all, when considering the feasibility of the virgin birth, it is really only the origin of the first embryonic cell of Jesus that is at issue.  The first fertilized cell in a human embryo contains the entire human genome – all the information required to give rise to a fully-functioning human being.  Once this first cell was formed, Jesus’ embryo would have grown through natural processes, with no further miraculous intervention.  The Bible agrees with this statement, clearly indicating that it was only Jesus’ conception that was miraculous, initiated by the Holy Spirit.

While the thought of a miraculous conception of a fertilized human embryo may seem far-fetched to someone predisposed to believe that supernatural events cannot occur, consider for a moment.  Is it really any harder to believe that God could miraculously fertilize an already-existing egg inside Mary’s womb (an environment perfectly designed and suited for such a feat), thus creating the first embryonic cell that gave rise to Jesus, than to believe that the first living cell on earth arose spontaneously out of chemical soup in circumstances that “just happened” to be perfectly suited for its survival, growth and reproduction?

Yet, oddly, it is creationists who are mocked by evolutionists and criticized for believing in miracles.   It’s beyond reason … seems they must have a hidden agenda, no?

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 men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  (Romans 1:20-21, NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  (John 1:1-5, NIV)


Atheism – faith without evidence

This post is going to be a bit different from most.  I want to comment briefly on two related belief systems – atheism and evolutionism.   I will be making a number of claims regarding creation and evolution without backing them up in detail.   Supporting evidence and arguments for all my claims can be found on the web site of Creation Ministries International as well as elsewhere.

Atheists usually contend that atheism is based on reason whereas Christian faith is unprovable and non-rational.  My assertion is that this is a false contrast.   I maintain that atheism is not a rational position but an irrational one – that it is not based on reason or evidence, but on a decision of the will to reject God in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.  In the interest of keeping this post relatively brief, I won’t venture into a full discussion of these assertions here, but will content myself with a few points, hoping to spur you to further reflection.   My motivation for addressing these issues is to encourage my readers not to be intimidated by the claims of evolutionary faith, but to educate yourselves about these issues so that you are able to answer anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.

Atheism is not a new phenomenon.  There were atheists in Biblical times too, and the Apostle Paul describes their atheism as an intentional choice, stating that they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.  Interestingly, if you listen to an atheist for very long, they usually sound quite angry at the God in whom they claim not to believe – thus belying their claim that their atheism is based on reason.  Psychologist Paul Vitz concluded, after studying the lives of some of the most influential atheists, that they rejected God because they rejected their own fathers, whether due to a poor relationship with their fathers, the absence of their fathers, or their own rebellion (The Psychology of Atheism, Dr. Paul Vitz, 1997).

Atheism and Darwinian evolutionary belief go hand in hand.  Many Christians are handicapped in their faith due to having accepted the widespread belief that Darwinian evolution is a proven fact of science.   In fact, Darwin had no real evidence to support his theory of evolution (see The child is father of the man).  There is plenty of evidence of speciation (new species being formed) but absolutely no evidence that this took place via the mechanism proposed by Darwin, according to which totally new forms of life (eg. a fish becoming an amphibian becoming a mammal) arose through spontaneous mutations.

The only form of evolution that is provable by observational science is natural selection within an existing gene pool, in which the new species is clearly related to its originating species, can still interbreed with it, and is really a variant form of a very similar creature.   For example, all breeds of dogs, foxes and wolves probably arose through natural selection from a prototypical dog/wolf kind which would have had more genetic diversity than today’s breeds of dogs.  The differences between breeds of dogs were attained mostly through selective breeding (breeding for certain characteristics)  which is done by selecting from among existing genetic information, not adding new information.  Some characteristics of certain breeds of dogs also arose through mutations (see Is Your Dog Some Kind of Degenerate Mutant?), but these mutations again involve the loss of genetic material, not the creation of new genetic material.

There are many logical problems with Darwin’s proposal, but I will address only one.  If his theory was correct, there ought to be a myriad of transitional forms in the fossil record.  In fact,  no-one has ever found a fossil of a transitional form between two clearly different forms of life.  Dr. Colin Paterson of the British Museum, a highly-respected scientist and committed evolutionist, stated that there is not one fossil of a transitional form for which evolutionists could make a watertight argument.   On the contrary, a wealth of fossil evidence shows fully developed species which – leaving aside those that have gone extinct – are essentially the same as creatures that are alive on the earth today except in regard to size.

But why does this even matter?  Can’t you believe in Jesus and also accept evolution?  Yes, you can, but your faith will be severely compromised in many ways.   When I first came to faith in Christ I was a committed evolutionist.  I had some scientific training – some of which, at least when it comes to the topic of evolution, I now recognize as not far removed from brainwashing – and believed that Darwinian evolution was the only intellectually respectable option.  When I learned that there were intelligent, articulate, reasonable Christians who believed in creation, that most of the pioneers of science were creationists, and that many excellent contemporary scientists still believe in Biblical creation, my eyes were opened to new possibilities and my faith in God and his Word was greatly strengthened.  The Bible is clear that God made the world in wisdom.  It is liberating and faith-building to realize that God does not require us to suspend our intelligence in order to believe in Jesus.  On the contrary, faith in Biblical creation is intellectually satisfying and well-supported by an increasing body of scientific evidence – even though this evidence is not usually reported or interpreted as such in mainstream science.   Dr. Dudley Eirich, a molecular biologist at the University of Illinois, put it this way.

Once you understand evolution, it takes more faith [in the colloquial sense of blind credulity] to believe it than to believe in creation.  And there really is a lot of faith involved; they don’t have many answers to the big questions.  (Manipulating Life , Creation, December 2004)

I said at the beginning of this post that atheism is not based on reason – that it is a choice not to believe.  Christianity isn’t based on reason either.   Like atheism, faith in Christ is a choice — a decision of the heart, the mind and the will.  I’m convinced that it is a choice supported by far more evidence than any other choice you could make, but in the end it is still a choice.   Having at one time counted myself as an atheist, and having considered these issues very carefully over many years, I choose to put my faith in the One who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.  I invite, encourage and urge you to do the same.