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“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” This is the opening phrase of Genesis. The Hebrew phrase translated ‘the heavens and the Earth” means, literally, the entire universe. It means what we call space-time. This phrase means what we would call the beginning of time, space, matter, and energy.
Before the beginning of space-time, there was nothing. This is the conclusion of modern science, though scientists may define “nothing” differently than philosophers.
Going back to the biblical text, the rest of the Bible focuses on a single planet in a single solar system in that universe that the Hebrews call “the Heavens and the Earth”.
We now know from science that the planet, Earth, exists in a Goldilocks zone in the Milky Way which exists in a Goldilocks zone in the universe perfectly set for allowing the existence of life.
The Bible may imply that the beings on this planet Earth are the only life in the universe, and maybe it doesn’t. Science suggests that life may exist elsewhere in the universe, but so far science has not borne that conclusion out. So where does that leave us?
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I have tried to pay as little attention to pre-football game ceremonies as I possibly can lately. The public outcry and comment about it makes my avoidance a challenge. I haven’t formally weighed in on the crisis. I don’t like rushing to judgment. I like to let things simmer and stew and to consider the various angles. Social media is good for that. I get to see what everyone thinks, whether I like it or not.
I feel compelled, for some reason, to throw my two cents into the marketplace of ideas on the subject. But first, let me summarize some of the responses I have seen on social media. If I don’t get them exactly right, I hope you will forgive me. I have tried not to pay attention after all. You can set me straight in the comments below.
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Stephen Fry was posed with the question: “Suppose it is all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates and are confronted by God, what would you, Stephen Fry, say to Him”? This is Stephen Fry’s answer:
Bone cancer in children? What’s that mean? How dare you! How dare you create a world with such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right! It’s utterly, utterly evil! Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who created a world that is so full of injustice and pain?
To the following question, “Do you think you’re going to get in?” he responded;
No! I wouldn’t want to get in on His terms. They’re wrong! Now, if we find out it is Pluto, Hades, and if it was the twelve Greek gods, I would have more trust because … they didn’t pretend not to be human in their appetites and in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness. They didn’t present themselves as all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, and all-beneficent. Because the God who created this universe … is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish, totally! We have to spend our life on our knees thanking Him?! What kind of God would do that? [That God] made an insect whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children making them blind. They eat outward from the eye. Why?! Why did He do that? He could easily have made a creation in which that didn’t exist. It is simply not acceptable…. On the assumption there is [a God], what kind of a God is He? It’s perfectly apparent. He’s monstrous, utterly monstrous! He deserves no respect whatsoever.
The emotional tenor of Fry’s response hits like a ton of bricks. Confronting it may seem, at once, quite daunting for the Christian theist.
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I recently read an editorial by Jerry Davich, a Tribune writer, focusing on a new book by Kurt Anderson, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire A 500-Year History. The book chronicles the history of the American psyche on belief. It sounds fascinating. Davich says it resonated with what he believes about “Americans’ beliefs”, but what Davich says doesn’t resonate with me.
Davich quotes Anderson’s observation that “this post-factual, ‘fake news ‘ moment we’re all living through … is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character”. We are free to believe absolutely anything in this country, and so we do, “proudly so, ” says Davich!
I can see how the “wishful dreamers, magical thinkers and true believers” Anderson describes in his book could “be embedded in our DNA”. The United States of America was founded by dreamers and believers. And such wild thoughts of fancy as carried pioneers to our shores were likely fertile soil for the “hucksters and their suckers” who became a part of the American experience.
While these things do strike a chord and make some sense, the conclusions that Davich reaches about belief, itself, strike a discordant note with me. They throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. While mixing metaphors may be bad literary taste, I think the shoe fits.
Friends viewing the eclipse at a church in Missouri
Gerald Schroeder is a scientist with over thirty years of experience in research and reaching. He earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent the next five years on the staff of the MIT physics department prior to moving to Israel, where he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science and then the Volcani Research Institute, while also operating a laboratory at The Hebrew University. He has Doctorates in Earth sciences and physics.
In this video, he explains how science has discovered God.
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The New Atheists today scoff at people of faith. Richard Dawkins has even urged his followers to mock people of faith. The same people bristle at the suggestion that they, themselves, have faith.
Dawkins is sweeping in his statements, defining faith for the masses and allowing no prisoners. But his definition of faith is loaded with his assumptions about what faith is, ignoring the evidence – even the evidence right in front of him when he debated John Lennox.
To this point, we might even say that Dawkins is guilty of the charge he levels against Christians and other people of faith. Let me explain.