Categories
Christianity Trials and temptations

Die to yourself

When Paul wrote “I die daily” what did he mean? (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Die Daily

Paul was discussing the sacrifices we as Christ’s disciples must make in serving Him. In the verses before this Paul is discussing that ultimately Christ will put His enemies under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25, quoting Psalms 110:1). This cannot be finally fulfilled until the resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming, because Christ sits with the Father, on His right hand until all His enemies are put under His feet. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-31.

1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

In the meantime, we labour for God, with the hope of the resurrection, else our labours are in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?

This is not teaching baptism for those who are dead yet unsaved, like some pagan Roman Catholic doctrine, but Paul is saying if those who are dead now, who were saved in life, but died in service to God, are not raised from the dead in the resurrection, then life is futile. So it would seem some people were baptized on their behalf, possibly because they died in the Lord before they could be baptised (by water) while alive. Death is extinguished in them because they were baptised into Christ. So in baptism (the outward sign of salvation) those dead have a remedy against death itself because baptism is symbolic of the resurrection to come. Their salvation was assured without the water though, like the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Physics

Is the Universe really expanding — the evidence revisited

3d expansion question markThe Hubble law, determined from the distances and redshifts of galaxies, for the past 80 years, has been used as strong evidence for an expanding universe. In 2011 I reviewed various lines of evidence for and against this claim. It included the lack of evidence for the necessary existence of time dilation in quasar and gamma-ray burst luminosity variations, angular size tests for galaxies as a function of redshift, the Tolman surface brightness test which is sensitive to expansion of the Universe, evidence that the CMB radiation is not from the background, which it should be if from the big bang fireball as alleged, intergalactic absorption lines due to hydrogen clouds and Lyman-α systems, and what they do tell us. Here I present that information again in light of my current understanding.

This review concluded that the observations could be used to describe either a static universe (where the Hubble law results from some as-yet-unknown mechanism) or an expanding universe described by the standard Λ cold-dark-matter model. In the latter case, the imposition of size evolution of galaxies is necessary to get agreement with observations. Yet the simple non-expanding (i.e. static) Euclidean universe fits most data with the least number of assumptions. I made a straw table comparison with the various lines of evidence to see how they stack up. It was found not to be definitive and hence the result equivocal. From this review it became quite apparent that there are still many unanswered questions in cosmology and it would be a mistake to base one’s theology on any particular cosmology. Far better to base you cosmology and theology on the clear narrative historical prescription in the Genesis account and elsewhere in the Scriptures. (This was first published in two parts in the Journal of Creation 25(3):109-120, 2011.)

Introduction

Ever since the late 1920s, when Edwin Hubble discovered a simple proportionality1 between the redshifts of the light coming from nearby galaxies and their distances, we have been told that the Universe is expanding. This relationship—dubbed the Hubble Law—has since been strengthened and extended to very great distances in the cosmos. Nowadays it is considered to be the established dogma of the expanding big bang universe. This means that the space that contains the galaxies is expanding and that the galaxies are essentially stationary in that space, but being dragged apart as the universe expands.

Hubble initially interpreted his redshifts as a Doppler effect, due to the motion of the galaxies as they rushed away from our location in the Universe. He called it a ‘Doppler effect’ as though the galaxies were moving ‘through space’—the space itself is not expanding but the galaxies are moving through space, and that is how some people, especially astronomers, initially perceived it. This is different to what has now become accepted, but observations alone cannot distinguish between the two concepts. Later in his life Hubble varied from his initial interpretation and said that the Hubble Law was due to some hitherto undiscovered mechanism, but not due to expansion of space—now called cosmological expansion.

The big bang expanding universe model essentially offers a coherent paradigm or explanatory framework which can, in principle, provide answers to a wide range of key cosmological questions; examples are the origin of extragalactic redshifts, the dynamical state of the Universe (i.e. not apparently collapsing under gravity), Olbers’ paradox (why is the night sky dark?), the origin of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, the origin of galaxies, and the origin of the elements. The fact that its answers to some questions are currently unsatisfactory or unconvincing does not change the basic point that such a model will always be preferred to a more limited model such as a static Euclidean universe, which does not attempt to address such questions. In this sense the big bang model is necessarily preferable regardless of one’s theological position.

Categories
Cosmology Physics

Dark matter search comes up empty

An online news reportfrom phys.org, titled “Scientists looking for invisible dark matter can’t find any,” reported the following:

Scientists have come up empty-handed in their latest effort to find elusive dark matter, the plentiful stuff that helps galaxies like ours form.

For three years, scientists have been looking for dark matter—which though invisible, makes up more than four-fifths of the universe’s matter—nearly a mile underground in a former gold mine in Lead, South Dakota. But on Thursday they announced at a conference in England that they didn’t find what they were searching for, despite sensitive equipment that exceeded technological goals in a project that cost $10 million to build.

7-scientistslo
Lead co-investigator Richard Gaitskell explains the experiment.

The experiment, called the Large Underground Xenon experiment or LUX, was found to be 4 times its original design sensitivity. It involves a detector that consists of about a third of a ton of supercooled xenon in a tank festooned with light sensors, each capable of detecting a single photon. As the so-called WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) pass through the tank, they should, on very rare occasions, bump into the nucleus of a xenon atom. Those bumps cause the nucleus to recoil, creating a tiny flash of light and an ion charge, both of which are expected to be picked up by LUX sensors.

The experiment is located in a hole a mile (1.6 km) underground in an old gold mine to exclude all sorts of background sources that might give false signals. The alleged dark matter particles are hardly affected by the intervening matter and pass mostly undisturbed through the planet, or so the theory alleges. But alas nothing has been detected. In fact for at least 40 years now no such local lab experiment has found anything.

Scientists are already starting to revamp the South Dakota mine site for a $50 million larger, higher-tech version of LUX, called LZ, that will be 70 times more sensitive and should start operations in 2020, said Brown University’s Richard Gaitskell, another scientific spokesman for LUX.1

Categories
Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 22

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The chapter opens with a description of the river of life that proceeds or flows from the throne of God inside the city where Christ is on the throne (v.1). On either side of the river was the tree of life (v.2). This is the same tree that was in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:9  And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is river pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

There also was a river that ran out from Eden.

Genesis 2:10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became into four heads.

The correspondence is very strong. You can see the connection between the paradise of the initial creation and the paradise of the final heaven on earth.

I believe also that the tree of life is symbolic of Jesus Christ, who is the source of life to all who believe. “In Him was life” (John 1:4).

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.

Christ is the fruit of the righteous, as only God is righteous. In Christ is the only way we can be fruitful to win souls. The Lord also says:

Categories
hermeneutics Paleontology Science

Unicorns are not mythological creatures

New fossil evidence shows that an animal, which could be described as a unicorn, once lived on earth. Quite apart from any folklore about magical horses this means the use of the word ‘unicorn’ in early English translations of the Bible is valid.

Like giants, dragons and cockatrices, as it now turns out unicorns also are not mythological creatures. I believe the notion developed that these are mythological stems from the assumption, born from disbelief, that the Bible is not an accurate record of either history nor of science.

I have already examined the claim that giants, dragons and cockatrices are mythological. Here I examine the claim that unicorns are mythological. And it may surprise you to find that they are not the product of an overactive imagination as people have believed. But we must first separate out the facts from the fiction, which may have developed from folklore, where they are alleged to have had wings and magical powers.

Unicorn
Figure 1: The unicorn isn’t just a myth, but it didn’t look like this either. Credit: GETTY (modified).

The word ‘unicorn(s)’ is mentioned in the King James English Bible many times. See Numbers 23:22 and 24:8 states “He [literally Hebrew El, meaning God] has as it were the strength of an unicorn” (KJVER). It was an extremely strong animal. Deuteronomy 33:17 mentions “the horns of unicorns”, which may indicate a two-horned animal. In Psalms 92:10 we read “But my horn shall You [God] exalt like the horn of an unicorn:” (KJVER). Here it had a single horn. And in Isaiah 34:7 the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; …” (KJV).  Also it is mentioned in Job 39:9,10 and Psalms 22:21, 29:6.

The Hebrew word רְאֵם (r’em) is translated ‘unicorn’ in the earliest English translations. In other (old) language translations: Greek ‘μονοκερωτος’ (LXX, Septuagint, 200-300 BC), Latin ‘monocerotis’ (Jerome’s Biblia Sacra Vulgata Latina, or Latin Vulgate, 405 AD), German ‘Einhorns’ (Luther, 1545), Italian ‘liocorno’ (IDB, Giovanni Diodati Bibbia, 1649). Each of these may be translated ‘unicorn’.

The Hebrew word r’em is given the meaning ‘wild bull’ in the Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. And in recent Bible translations it generally translated as ‘ox’ (BBE) ‘wild ox’ (ERV, ASV, NKJV, ISV) or ‘strong bull’ (NET) and in footnotes a synonym is sometimes given as a ‘wild bull’.

Categories
Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 21

The Apostle John writes that he saw “a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (v.1). The implication is that the heavens are remade by God or, at least, the surface of the earth is refurbished, because is it is described as “new.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

As I wrote in our Revelation 19 study, I believe some of this is symbolic language. Of course some is literal but we need to understand which. Read Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they? The word ‘earth’ in 2 Peter 3:10 means the earthlings. The people are judged according to their works. The ‘elements’ are the ‘fundamental principles’ by which the world has been governed by man. The Greek word translated ‘elements’ is στοιχεῖον (stoicheion), which is related to ‘something orderly in arrangement.’ But all order and government is changed at Christ’s return, which is followed by the new heaven and new earth. The old heavens, both spiritual heavens and the physical environment of the earth are changed. They are restored to the state of creation before Adam’s sin.

The earth is to undergo a purification and a renewal to make it fit for the home of the saints in glory. The old state of things shall be succeeded by a new order, both physical and moral. (This also strengthens the argument that the resurrected saints are not again to be found physically on earth until the earth is purified and prepared for them, which is after the millennium.)

Categories
Biblical doctrines Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Do the heavens literally pass away or don’t they?

What you believe of bible prophecy (eschatology1 in particular) affects how you interpret some passages in the scriptures. I have been often told that the universe is decaying away, which according to standard physics, one should believe. Then there are those who teach about future apocalyptic events and that God will destroy the entire universe and make a new one.

Alderaanexplosion
Figure 1: The planet Alderaan destroyed by the Death Star’s laser weapon. Screen capture from George Lucas’s “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”. Initial theatrical release was May 25, 1977 © 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd. Credit: © 1997 Lucasfilm / Courtesy Pyxurz.

Read,

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

Some cite verses such as the following:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found.

Revelation 6:14  And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

Isaiah 34:4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falls off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Categories
Creation/evolution hermeneutics History Paleontology Science

Dragons are not mythological creatures

Dragons are mentioned in the Bible many times, especially in the oldest English translations. Like giants, unicorns, satyrs and cockatrices these are not mythological creatures. I believe, the notion that they are mythological stems from two sources. One is the assumption, born from disbelief, that the Bible is not an accurate record of either history nor of science. The second is related to the first, that evolution is a fact, and therefore the only possible candidate for real dragons, dinosaurs, must be ruled out because “as everyone knows the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago and therefore could not have lived in recent times with mankind.” I have already examined the claim that giants are mythological. Here I will examine the claim that dragons are mythological. (Others will be examined in future articles).

Dragons today

dragon and knight
Figure 1: Dragon-slaying knight wins heart of damsel.

Nowadays atheist skeptics use the mythology of the dragon-slayer in their attempts to discredit belief in the Bible. For example,1

“We tend to think of tales of dragons as mere fairy stories, but they were once integral to the Christian faith, and featured heavily in factual accounts of the lives of saints, including the prime authority on them, The Golden Legend.

“In medieval times people gave credence to the dozens of saints who owed their position to the slaying of dragons. These huge damsel-eating, fire-breathing, scaly, flying creatures seem a little improbable now, even to the most devout Christians. But these stories were not originally presented as figurative. They were presented as factual, and were to be interpreted literally.”

I am convinced the Roman Catholic Church, as it rose to political power during the 4th and 5th centuries, developed bogus methods to delude the populace into their counterfeit religion.  So it is no wonder that such practices continued for the following thousand of years or more. That is an indictment not on the veracity of the Bible but on the deceptiveness of the corrupt heart of man.

Categories
Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 20

This chapter includes the one thousand year period, called the Millennium, when Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (v.1-3), the Second Advent of Christ (v.4-6),  followed by a short period of Satan being loosed out of his prison and the battle of Gog and Magog (v.7-10), and finally the Great White Throne Judgment (v.11-15). Satan is cast into the lake of fire where the AntiChrist “beast” and his “false prophet” are. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

Verses 1-3

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Firstly we read that an angel brings down from heaven the key to the bottomless pit (prison of some kind) (v.1) and the old serpent (the Devil, Satan) is bound there for a thousand years (v.1-3). The ‘angel’ must be stronger than Satan (Matthew 12:29). We’ll see that he is Jesus, who is more powerful than Satan (an angel is not necessarily stronger). After the thousand years bound in prison Satan is loosed for a short period (v.3).

So the question must be asked what does Satan being ‘bound’ mean? That is, Satan is bound “that he should deceive the nations no more”. Before Jesus came to Earth, the first time, all nations were ignorant of the one true God, except for God’s chosen people, Israel. And we read that after Jesus knocked the Apostle Saul (or Paul) off his horse, while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9 and 26), Saul asked Him who He was (Acts 9:5; 26:15). And Christ told him that He is Jesus, and that He had chosen him (Saul) to be a minister to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that is, to the rest of the nations of the world.

Luke 1018

Christ tells Saul the mission:

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified [set apart] by faith that is in Me.

Categories
Belief in God hermeneutics History Physics Science

Giants are not mythological creatures

I have been told that the Bible mentions several mythological creatures. These include giants, unicorns, satyrs, cockatrices and dragons. But are they mythological? Or is the assumption that they are only due to a prejudice born from a disbelief that the Bible is an accurate record of not only history but also of science? Let’s examine one of the claims that giants are a myth. (Others will be examined in future articles).

Giants today

jackbean
Figure 1: Children’s story of Jack and the beanstalk with the giant descending the beanstalk.

When people hear the word giant they are immediately drawn to the likes of “Jack and the beanstalk” (see Fig. 1) and other such fairy stories. But real life giants do exist today.

macaskill
Figure 2: Angus MacAskill was born in 1825 on the Isle of Berneray in the Sound of Harris, Scotland. His height was 7 foot 10 inches (238.8 cm).

There are records of true giants in modern times. In 1981 the Guinness Book of World Records recognized Angus MacAskill as the largest true giant to have ever lived, the strongest man who ever lived and the man with the largest chest measurements of any non-obese man.

In adulthood, MacAskill stood 239 cm (7 ft 10 in) tall and weighed an astonishing 263 kg (580 lbs). His shoulders measured 112 cm (44 in) wide, the palm of his hand was nearly 30 cm (1 ft) wide and his shoes measured 48 cm (19 in) in length.1

MacAskill was able to lift a 1.27 tonne (2800 lb) ship’s anchor to chest height. Was known to carry barrels weighing over 136 kg (300 lbs) under each arm, was able to singlehandedly set a 12-metre (40-foot) mast into a schooner deck and was also known to lift a full-grown horse over a 1.2-metre (4-foot) fence.1