A Delicate Balance between Belief and Unbelief 2

Jesus says to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelves legions of angels?  But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Mt. 26:53-54).

The first Christian disciples have to physically see and speak with…to personally interact with…the resurrected Jesus.

Their message to the world…then and now…is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead…that Jesus is the Messiah…the Savior…and that He has the keys to hell and death.

Their bold and uninhibited message is that Jesus has defeated death and sin…having successfully made a full atonement…payment-in-full…for mankind’s sins as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice…Himself being sinless and blemish-free.

The free offer of God is a full pardon…amnesty…for our rebellion-in-sin apart from God…obtained through looking to Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

For this salvation to be completely free and un-coerced…to be a willing and voluntary coming to God by exercising faith in Christ…the critical element of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief must be in-place and functioning…otherwise the commendable and admirable feature of exercising faith in God has no meaning…has no independent value.

The vehicle that God has invented whereby we can get to know Him personally…must be on His terms…and not a human invention.

That vehicle is a walk…a journey…an adventure of faith…patterned for us in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

This divine blend of the physical appearances of the resurrected Jesus to the first Christian disciples…on the one hand…with Jesus the first week after His resurrection not walking down Main Street and into the Temple in Jerusalem…on the other hand…is a reality too complex…too highly-specified, and too coherently integrated within the biblical Old and New Testaments…to be the inventive product of human literary imagination.

Atheists and skeptics…over the past three to four hundred years…have used the immerging field of science to question the validity of the miracles and the supernatural in the Bible.

An equally important and valid question in support of the Bible…is where and how would the delicate balance between belief and unbelief come from…other than from God?

An even larger and more profound question in support of the Bible…is the WHY of its existence?

In my opinion, one reason for this delicate balance is that it enables a high-level type and quality of faith…defined succinctly in Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6…that creates the context…the free-will environment…for the development of a personal relationship with God…based primarily upon faith, trust, and mutual love (Jn. 20:29, 21:15-17)…which rises far above the mere acknowledgment of empirically observed facts.

The biblical narrative stories of faith of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, and Paul…are not just exciting bed-time stories for children.  They are a real pattern for a life of faith with the living God.

The question here is not whether the Bible contains supernatural communications between God and people…like the calling of Abraham to go to Canaan or the appearance of Jesus to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus…or miraculous events like the parting of the Red Sea or Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

The critical question here…from the standpoint of a compelling apologetic evidence for the defense of the Bible and of Christianity…is how and why this delicate balance between belief and unbelief…clearly discernable in the biblical narrative stories in the Old and New Testaments…could or would plausibly be the product of human literary invention…as a universal through-line skillfully moderated in the Bible…from beginning to end?

The dawn of modern-quality literature…arguably begins with Shakespeare in the early 1600’s A.D.  The composition of the “Joseph novella” (Gen. 37-50) is dated by conservative biblical scholars at around 1,450 B.C.  Some biblical scholars will date its composition to around 1,250 B.C.

This story of Joseph and his uniquely unconventional rise to power to become governor of Egypt during a widespread famine…is considered to be one of the great short stories of literature…ever written…in any time period.

With a composition date of 1,450 B.C. the Joseph novella predates Shakespeare by about 3,000 years…with nothing of equally comparable high-quality in-between.

Regardless of whatever date we assign in the past for the writing of the biblical Old and New Testaments…conservative or liberal…articulated within God-composed adventure of faith life-scripts like the story of Joseph…this unique feature of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…has no parallel in any other system of human experience, religion, philosophy, or worldview.

It is utterly and completely unique to the Bible…subtly interwoven into the biblical narrative stories of faith…in such a skillful and innovative way as to be undetectable and hidden to those people who choose to live in unbelief (1 Cor. 2:6-10)…charting their own life-course through self-sovereignty…rather than a journey of faith following the living God…after the biblical pattern.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

A Delicate Balance between Belief and Unbelief 1

In Acts 13:4-12… it is recorded that at the start of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas…beginning in the island of Cyprus…a sorcerer named Elymas sought to dissuade the deputy of one of the cities Paphos in Cyprus…from receiving a presentation by Paul and Barnabas of the Christian gospel message.

Acts 13:9-12 records the response of Paul to this sorcerer:

9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

10 And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season.  And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.

12 Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.

We observe in the remainder of the missionary evangelical ministry of Paul as recorded in Acts and in his letters to the early churches…that the Holy Spirit does not re-introduce this overwhelmingly persuasive technique of temporary physical blindness…for skeptics and critics…as part of the tool-kit to spread the good news of the Christian gospel message.

In the many ups and downs of his ministry…even though God uses supernatural signs and wonders to confirm the divine origin of Paul’s preaching (Acts 14:8-18, 16:16-18, 19:6-7, 19:11-12)…the method of conversion of new converts to Christianity was mostly by persuasion through preaching and teaching…producing a reasoned and heart-felt response of saving faith in those who accepted Jesus Christ into their lives as the Savior and Son of God…rather than through the means of an observationally induced faith by visually seeing signs and wonders performed by Paul and Barnabas…such as causing temporary physical blindness in skeptics and opponents:

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.  And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” (Acts 13:48-49).

“And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1).

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” (Acts 17:2).

“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23).

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” (Rom. 10:14-15).

One similar, supernatural account is given in Luke 1:5-22 of the angel Gabriel announcing to Zacharias in the Temple of the upcoming pregnancy of his wife Elisabeth and the birth of a son to be named John…Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth both being elderly…with the angel saying to Zacharias that he will be dumb and unable to speak for a period of time because of his unbelief regarding this very unusual, divine revelation.

In terms of the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…on Tuesday or Wednesday of the first week after His resurrection Jesus did not only…not…openly walk down Main Street and straight into the Temple…showing Himself to the general public and to the religious leaders in His new resurrected body…but Jesus the Son of God on several occasions during His ministry could have used the supernatural technique of causing temporary blindness…or like the case with Gabriel and Zacharias the temporary inability to speak…as a tool to generate a forced, coerced quality of faith.

Imagine if Jesus said to the Pharisees and scribes during His night trial in the house of the high priest Caiaphas: “You shall all be blind for three days…because of your unbelief”…and then walk out the door and out of the courtyard…collecting Peter and John along the way…and then connecting-up with the other scattered disciples the next day to freely continue His ministry.

Imagine if Jesus had said to Pilate, to the Roman rulers in attendance, to the religious leaders, and to the general populace…at His Friday morning public hearing…moments before His condemnation and crucifixion: “You shall all be dumb and unable to speak for an entire month…because of your unbelief”…and then disengage Himself from their custody and walk freely out of Jerusalem and back to Galilee with His disciples.

Yet Jesus does none of these things.

God does not want to upset the delicate balance between belief and unbelief…because developing faith and trust in God is the key underlying reason for the existence of our universe.

Love can never be obtained through coercion.  Love must be freely accepted and freely given.

Again, in terms of the apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible and its narrative stories of faith…it is not so much that we can see a moderated balance of the supernatural signs and wonders blended with the persuasion of truth and reason applied through preaching and teaching…but also that something as complex and premeditated as the existence of a delicate balance between belief and unbelief even exists…and is functionally operative over the thousands of years of human redemptive history.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Importance of the Abraham Explosion

The concept of the Abraham Explosion…borrowing the word explosion from the Cambrian Explosion to describe the similar phenomenon…in the moral reasoning realm…of a sudden, quantum-jump influx of information via the novel, unprecedented life-script for Abraham…may seem like a stretch…but only if one discounts the value of biblical faith.

Obviously, the physical body-plan architectures of the incredibly novel and complex creatures of the Cambrian Explosion…Opabinia, Marrella, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia, Anomalocaris, and Trilobite…have no correlation to salvation through grace by faith…other than that the information packages of both of these explosive events fall outside of humanistic invention or control.

The Cambrian geologic period predates us by 530 million years…so we cannot claim credit for the creation of complex life on earth.

And has been argued throughout this book…biblical faith is unimaginable through humanistic reasoning…and therefore falls outside of human literary invention.

The relative importance of the inauguration of physical life on earth, beginning with the introduction of single cell bacteria around 3.8 billion years ago and accelerating with the sudden appearance of complex creatures at the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary at 530 million years ago…compared to the sudden introduction of salvation through grace by faith starting with Abraham around 4,200 years ago…can be weighed in the relative balance scales of time in that one inaugurated temporary physical life…while the second inaugurated eternal spiritual life (Ex. 3:6; Mt. 22:32).

If we value the biblical faith component of every narrative story of faith in the Bible…that God can and will displace our normative worldly plans with His higher plans for our lives if we will walk with Him in faith…a novel and innovative concept so far outside of worldly conventional thinking that no human writer would ever invent it…then what occurred when Abraham obeyed God in taking his family and all of his possessions in a journey of faith from Haran to Canaan…truly merits the term of the Abraham Explosion. aran to

I sense in this one single topic that I have stumbled upon the equivalent invention of the paper-clip or sliced bread…in the area of Christian apologetics…so important are the implications.

Standard within orthodox Christian thinking today is the commonly held idea that God has a plan for our lives.  I would guess that there are many magazine articles and books written on this subject…along with the accompanying important scriptural admonition to take up our cross and to follow Jesus.

But what I perceive is missing in all of this is the connection of the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42)…integral within each narrative story of faith in the Bible…that authenticates and validates the extremely high worth of these biblical stories of faith…that in some Christian circles has dropped to the dangerously low-value level of being considered myth or fiction…as a result of the skeptical past three or four century’s incessant anti-supernatural bias in philosophy and science…which has seeped into and established a foothold within Christendom.

The reality is that this anti-supernatural bias has been debunked for over four or five decades now, and is no longer a tenable worldview from a philosophical standpoint.

Because the Big Bang is the first moment of the initiation of mathematics, physics, and chemistry into being in the physical universe…in a split-second accompanying the introduction of material particles and energy…in unfathomable quantities and precision…the notion of an intelligent designer inserting His free-will, creative agency into the natural world…can no longer plausibly be considered a violation of the those very same laws of nature…since they both came into being at precisely the same time and from the same source…intelligent agency.

The arguments for atheism are damaged and being eroded on a daily basis as new programs of complex, specified, and coherently integrated systems of information are being discovered and understood in science…which are otherwise inexplicable in the now outdated, Darwinian model of gradual evolution in small incremental steps through genetic mutation and natural selection.

This same quality of guided-to-an-end-point, premeditated information coming from an intelligent agency…God…can be seen in the biblical narrative stories of faith.

Everything we might want to do in our lives…as a practical matter…will not fit within one lifetime.

If God is going to be able to successfully insert His higher ways into our lives in the form of a coherent and functional God-composed life-script…then something else will have to give way.

In order to make the space for the new higher program of God to actualize…then some or all of our own horizontally conventional plans and aspirations will have to go.

This is what we see in the biblical journeys of faith.  This is the dangerous peril to our own autonomous individualism and sovereign will-and-way…within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that is purposely and by design under threat of displacement when in the presence of a biblical-quality journey of faith.

This is the innovative feature of the influx of new information that occurred in the God-composed adventure of faith life-script for Abraham…that puts it on an equal or greater footing with the Cambrian Explosion.

When combined with the concept of a vertical graph-line spectrum of goodness and light…with absolute good and brilliant pure light at the top…and decreasing goodness and light descending down the scale…with the novel and ingeniously innovative concept embedded in the biblical narrative stories of faith that God’s ways will displace our ways within an adventure of faith life-script…this authenticates and validates the high worth and value of these biblical narrative stories of faith.

The recognition of the mere existence of complex information…outside of and above humanistic invention…in Abraham’s calling to go from the city of Haran to the land of Canaan…essentially displaces Abraham’s otherwise normative aspirations…that would have been actualized in some manner or another within the Haran reality.

With a challenging journey of faith across the gap…from where Abraham starts to where he finishes as the “father of faith”…to millions upon millions of people following down the succeeding centuries in pursuit of crossing this same gap through biblical faith in their own God-composed journeys of faith…this argues compellingly for the divine origin of the Bible in the same manner as the Cambrian Explosion argues for an intelligent designer introducing the design information that produces the sudden appearance of new and highly complex life-forms.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Cambrian Explosion…and the Abraham Explosion 2

Although everything in the Old Testament of the Bible anticipates and foreshadows the coming of the messiah Jesus Christ in the first century A.D., the basic “body-plan” architecture of a journey of faith is first introduced in Abraham the “father of faith.”

From then on, each successive journey of faith recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible is mature, robust, and fully developed, containing information-rich storylines at the height of individual and group redemption, unparalleled character transforming power, originality, innovation, and complexity.

The variation in the storylines of each person of faith in the Bible represents micro-evolutionary development of a progressing revelation of “all truth” through varied scenarios of experience, but is always based upon the original, central body-plan theme of a journey of faith through the cross of Christ fore-glimpsed to occur sometime around the first-century A.D.

The cross of Jesus Christ is central to every biblical narrative story of faith.  The cross of Christ is integral to the stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, Elijah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to name only a few.

Like the front-loaded, top-down information found in the Cambrian fossil record, it would be impossible for anyone to retroactively insert the cross of Jesus Christ backwards thousands of  years into the “body-plans” of the narrative stories of faith in the Hebrew Bible…the Protestant Old Testament.

The information package of the cross is inseparable from the message contained within the brilliantly crafted God-composed journey of faith life-scripts contained in the Bible.

The concept of God displacing our way with His higher way, through God-composed life-scripts allowing no initial human collaboration, fully formulated from the start without the need for evolutionary development, lies outside of human imagination and invention.  No human writers could or would invent this concept starting around 3,450 years ago at the time the Israelites departed from Egypt.

A journey of faith in the discovery of the “all truth” of John 16:13 is therefore a divinely guided journey into fully adaptive…thoroughly overcoming…applicable in all eras…absolute truth.

A biblical-quality journey of faith is a fiat creation of God, designed to stand the test of time for all eternity in any and all situations.  This journey is at the pinnacle of the natural moral law that is the highest standard governing all applied right behavior and attitudes, because a biblical-quality journey of faith is divinely composed by God…and not man.

The unorthodox originality that underlies this concept of the cross of Christ applied to our lives is as revolutionary today as it was over 4,000 years ago.  This novel concept of God’s plans displacing our plans is central to the danger zone of godly living today as much as it was in the distant past.

The top-down arrangement of information interwoven within journeys of faith that appear at the very beginning of the Bible, reveals the same foresight and premeditation of brilliant intelligent design introduced in the information-rich body-plans of the creatures of the Cambrian Explosion of 530 million years ago, the Big Bang creation of the universe, and fully formed DNA and proteins…without transitional precursors.

To the Spirit-born Christian of today, who personally experiences the life-changing creative transformation that occurs internally at conversion…and manifests itself outwardly in a new outlook of improved attitudes and moral character…these scientifically empirical discoveries of top-down information content in the physical phenomenon of the natural world…are not a mystery at all.

The insertion of the Holy Spirit into Christians creating new people “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17) is an experienced  reality which is perfectly at home with the idea of the top-down, front-loaded information we find in the Cambrian Explosion, the Big Bang, and the presence of fully functioning DNA and proteins in every living cell.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Cambrian Explosion…and the Abraham Explosion 1

In the Cambrian Explosion of 530 million years ago, the information that went into the body plans of complex creatures appearing suddenly in the fossil record, without transitional, trial-and-error intermediates found in the Precambrian rock layers below the Cambrian level, represents a top-down arrangement of information…not a bottom-up arrangement of the gradually simple to the complex.

In the Cambrian Explosion, the bulk of genetic body-plan information is front-loaded at the beginning of the emergence of life-forms on earth 530 million years ago, creating most of the recognizably distinct groupings of well-defined characteristics in living creatures that form the basis for the modern scientific fields of classification and taxonomy today.

This sudden appearance of bizarre, complex, stranger than fiction, Cambrian creatures possessing most of the body-plan features of modern phyla groups still in existence today, during what scientists believe to be a 5 to 10 million year period (about 2 percent of the 530 year total for complex life on earth…starting at the Cambrian boundary line), is in direct contradiction to the macroevolution half of Darwin’s original thinking proposed in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species…the macroevolution of common descent.  

The scientific fact-based evidence for the sudden appearance in the fossil record of fully formed, discontinuous, complex creatures requiring the input of new, upfront design information…is in complete contradiction to the contrary notion of gradual, incremental genetic and physical body-plan improvements progressively generated over long periods of time…diversifying into new species.

The Cambrian Explosion likewise refutes the idea of the blind, mindless, random chance mechanism of cumulative natural selection acting upon a series of infinitesimally small genetic mutations to create the vast diversity of life on earth.

The geologically brief time period of 5 to 10 million years for generating the functionally beneficial accumulation of the large numbers of required variations, without the lead-up presence of transitional intermediates in the Precambrian rock strata as developmental precursors, is scientifically considered to be much too short for progressive, gradualistic development.

In other words, the quantum jump from tiny sponge fossil embryos in the Precambrian period, to jellyfish, sponges, and the Ediacaran creatures just prior to the transition from Precambrian to Cambrian, to the complex creatures in the Cambrian having compound eyes, spinal cords, nervous systems, skeletons, hard-shell membranes, and predator/prey relationships…with exotic names like Marrella, Opabinia, Wiwaxia, Hallucigenia, Anomalocaris, and Trilobite… should according to a naturalistic Darwinian explanation reveal a long, continuous progression of incrementally transitional, intermediate forms.

The Precambrian fossils reveal instead only a large, open void where these intermediates should be noticeably prevalent and innumerably widespread.

This top-down arrangement of complex information that is specified towards a definite function, in the biology of the living world, has to be fully in-place at the front-end of their initial existence to establish function, and not gradually and progressively developed over long periods of time as Darwin postulated in the biology of living things through common descent.

The top-down arrangement of fully formed body-plan architectures as seen in the Cambrian Explosion…turns Darwin’s hypothetical tree-of-life upside down…with the unbridgeable phyla differences…fundamental, characteristic discontinuities…in the life-forms exploding on the scene at the same time…and not expanding outward and upward from a single tree-of-life trunk.

This top-down introduction of information is likewise seen in the revelation of God-composed journey of faith life-scripts recorded in the Bible.

Like the presence of the vast amount of complex, directed, highly specified, and fully functional information contained within DNA…inexplicable and implausible through a naturalistic, random chance, trial-and-error assemblage…there is a similarly fully functional package of information in biblical journeys of faith, having complexity, specificity, and direction that is so far above horizontally conventional thinking …that this is also inexplicable in terms of random chance assemblage, of gradual evolutionary development over time, of humanistic imaginary invention.

The sample size of human thought is fixed in recorded history…in literature, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, political science, linguistics, and religious studies.

We do not have to dig up fossils going back to the Precambrian and Cambrian geological periods…because human cognitive reasoning…and the invention of writing…only goes back a few thousand years.

We do not find an infinitesimal multitude of transitional intermediate writers like Shakespeare, composers like Mozart, artists like Rembrandt, scientists like Einstein, or inventors like Edison…having incrementally progressive genius at 100, 90, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, or 30 thousand years ago…as transitional precursors to modern achievements…or at any other past time in history.

For this reason, I think it is fair to say that the sudden appearance of the highly sophisticated and complex information contained in the life-script of Abraham…creating the novel and innovative concept of God displacing our plans with His higher ways and thinking…through a life-script inserted into our lives…being the fundamental definition of the cross of Jesus Christ…and in complete contradiction to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…can be accurately identified and called the “Abraham Explosion” in relation to the similar occurrence 530 million years ago in the natural world during the Cambrian Explosion.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

An Introduction to Chapter Three

Over the last four to five hundred years…atheists and skeptical unbelievers have focused the big artillery of their attacks…on the miraculous events recorded in the biblical narrative stories of faith…the ten plagues in Egypt…the parting of the Red Sea…Joshua holding back the progress of the sun across the sky…the walls of Jericho falling down…and especially the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Obviously, the Bible has been critiqued and attacked from many other angles…archaeology, biology, paleontology, history, the accuracy of language translations, philosophy, religious studies, and the worldview of scientism attached to modern science…to name only a few.

But the one criticism that has seemed to stick…that has done the most damage…that has taken widespread root within our popular cultures around the world…is the idea that miracles in the Bible lower the narrative stories of faith down into the zone of children’s bedtime stories…into the category of human invented literary fiction…and thus render them bereft of their credibility to speak to a modern audience about divinely guided purpose, meaning, and direction for human life.

When I share my Christian testimony with other people…I sometimes come across people who have uncritically accepted this popular line of reasoning that says that the miracles in the Bible disqualify the narrative stories of faith…because miracles in our modern culture are considered unscientific…and for the same reason dismiss the creation account in Genesis chapters one and two as myth…because some people in Christianity still incorrectly contend that the Bible teaches a young earth of only six to eight thousand years old…thereby in their minds…the people I am speaking with…to serve as a basis to uncritically call into question the credibility of the entire Bible.

I then have to work uphill through these opening misconceptions…more often successfully but sometimes not…before I can establish the credibility of the statements about the natural world made in the Bible…and then move-on from there to share about Jesus Christ, the cross, and the resurrection.

There is actually nothing scientifically contrary or controversial in the words of Genesis chapters one and two that contradicts a modern scientific dating of the universe at 13.7 billion years old…the beginning of our earth at around 4.5 billion years ago…and the beginning of single-cell bacterial life on the slowly cooling earth at around 3.8 billion years ago.

Before the start of the Scientific Revolution, no one would have any reason to interpret the days of Genesis chapters one and two as anything other than 24-hour days.

It was the wrong interpretation by human beings of the words…that had to be corrected and updated by the discoveries of the modern sciences of geology and Charles Lyell in the 1820’s…and astronomy and Edwin Hubble in 1929…in this case.

The wording in the Genesis creation account concerning time was always accurate…is still accurate today in terms of a brilliant balance in giving just enough information without being too technically specific in details…achieving just the right sweet-spot to be functionally informative…yet carefully and reservedly economical in its information content…before and after modern science.

The four variations of the sophisticated use of the word day in the Genesis creation account have their best interpretation as periods of time that are not twenty-four hour durations (see the book Seven Days That Divide The World by John C. Lennox, pages 39-63).

The first use of the word day in verse 5 in chapter one…is not a 24-hour day…because it describes light as day and darkness as night…so day as used here is not a full 24-hour period…but is only a part of a full day.

The second use of the word day in verse 8 in chapter one…describes the evening and the morning as a day…the traditional Hebrew description of a 24-hour day.

In Genesis chapter two…verse 3…it says that on the seventh day… God rested from all of His creative work…starting a period of time in which God is still not creating…ongoing until the present time…and therefore definitely not a 24-hour day.

The fourth variation of the word day occurs in chapter two…verse 4…which says: “in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens”…describing a completely different use of the word day than a 24-hour day.

An additional argument for an old earth dating…is that the words of Genesis chapters one and two give no indication of the lengths of time between the end of day one of creation to the start of day two of creation…throughout all seven days of creation described in the Genesis creation account.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) has no direct correlation to the start of day one of the seven “days” of creation.

An open-minded person could ask: “in the beginning…when was that?”  The Bible does not say.

If modern astrophysics tells us that the Big Bang of the universe occurred at 13.7 billion years ago…then human scientific investigation gets a well-deserved pat-on-the-back for using our innate intelligence within the divinely created reality of the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world…for discovering this critical scientifically fact-based evidence…fixing this “in the beginning” open question at 13.7 billion years.

There is no conflict here between science and biblical scripture on this point.

The totally inaccurate dating of the creation of the earth at 4004 B.C. by Bishop Ussher is understandably excusable…made centuries before the start of the modern science of geology in the early 1800’s with Georges Cuvier, Charles Lyell, and Louis Agassiz…and long before the 1929 discovery by Edwin Hubble of an expanding universe

When interpreted correctly…in my opinion…the Genesis creation accounts in chapters one and two have no conflict with the modern scientific dating of 13.7 billion years ago for the beginning of the universe…4.5 billion years ago for the formation of the earth…and 3.8 billion years ago for the start of primitive life…and is an argument for the divine origin of this wording in Genesis chapters one and two.

Is God under some obligation to reveal all that He knows about the creation of the universe…and the varied life-forms He created prior to mankind?

Or is the extraordinary presence of the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world enough evidence…that God intended to encourage scientific investigation into the marvels of His creation.

In my opinion…this is part of the pride-filled hubris of humanism…that God must tell us about dinosaurs, mass extinctions, Ice-Ages, geological catastrophes, plate tectonics and continental drift, and the mystery of the origin of life…in the Bible…or He does not exist.

Would a two or three-volume appendage at the start of the Bible…explaining the past billions of years of the existence of the earth…which would still have to be in general terms and not at the level of absolute mathematics, physics, and chemistry…would this be a help or a confusing distraction?

The Bible was written over a 1,500 year span from 1,450 B.C. to around 90 A.D.

The observations in the Bible about the natural world are phenomenal…they are based upon what we observe as phenomenon…the sun rises and sets…a flat plot of ground has four corners.  These types of observations make no commitments as to the correct scientific discovery that the earth actually orbits around the sun…or that the earth is not flat but is actually spherically round.

These two examples are absolutely correct phenomenal observations.

The irony in this objection by skeptics that God did not tell us everything about the natural world…upfront in the Bible…is that the natural world is orderly and intelligible by design…so that we can discover these fact-based evidences through the practice of scientific investigation.

With the benefit of an excellent, undergraduate university level history of science class I took a few years ago…plus several decades of studying both sides of the Bible and science/evolution debate…and following closely the roughly two to three decades-old Intelligent Design arguments…I sense along with many Christians…a major shift in the accumulation and direction of the empirical data…and the conclusions this data now point toward.

I must disclose here that my bias and presupposition is for a divine fiat creation by God…ex nihilo…out of nothing…for the universe…and for all living things on the earth…according to the model of the Cambrian Explosion…the subject of the next topic.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

The Thief on the Cross 2

The thief on the cross could never have orchestrated the cascade of events that placed him that fateful Friday on a cross of execution alongside Jesus Christ the Son of God…with the opportunity to go along with the crowd in verbally mocking Jesus (Lk. 23:35-39)…or amazingly for the first and only time in his life…to discover the power, conviction, courage, and liberated audacity to resist the peer pressure in the moment…and to instead proclaim publicly through the Holy Spirit a faith in the God/man Jesus crucified alongside him…to his fellow thief and to any and all others standing around the crosses and listening…that would pass the test of saving faith for time eternal (Lk. 23:43).

On that fateful day…and over a few short hours…the soul of the thief on the cross was measured…and found brilliantly passing the test for salvation…according to God’s terms and standards.

The point I want to make here is monumental in its importance.

We need God-composed journey of faith life-scripts to actualize for us a context of life-events wherein our souls are measured…precisely so that we can succeed on God’s terms and by His standards…and not through the futility of good-works and self-realization according to our ways (Isa. 55:8-9).

This is the record of the biblical narrative stories of faith…including this incredibly inspiring story of the thief on the cross.

Choosing amongst the smorgasbord buffet of the wants and aspirations of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…a great education, a good job, high salary, good marriage, a big house, luxury automobile, European vacation, a stock portfolio, good health, and sending our kids to Harvard or Oxford…will not measure our souls in the way that the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, and the thief on the cross…were measured.

The thief on the cross could not have orchestrated the events that led to his salvation that day…any more than Abraham could have orchestrated his life-script of faith…any more than Paul could have orchestrated the events that led to him becoming the premier Christian evangelical missionary to the first-century Greco-Roman world.

The grand irony here…that is far beyond the contemplative imagination of human literary invention…is that the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes standing around and mocking Jesus on the cross…who attempted to self-craft “perfect lives” according to their way (Mt. 6:2, 5; 9:12-13; 10:33; 11:16-19; 15:7-9)…end up unknowingly killing Jesus their Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin (1 Cor. 2:8).

The grand irony is that the one person who obtained on that day on Calvary Hill the assurance of the eternal security of salvation…for the short but priceless few hours from sometime around mid-morning to when he died at dusk that late afternoon…was the thief on the cross alongside Jesus.

There are two massive takeaways from this dramatic scene taking place in Jerusalem in the first-century.

Imagine in our mind’s eye the religious elites standing around the three crosses…mocking Jesus…the Roman soldiers who carried out the execution nearby…the women disciples of Jesus including His mother at the base of His cross weeping over what has occurred…and the two thieves crucified on each side of Jesus.

The first massive takeaway from this scene is the huge gulf between the two opposing outcomes of going our own way in self-sovereignty…in contrast to God-sovereignty.

Jesus is the perfect, blemish-free Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.  To qualify to be the atonement for sin…Jesus must be perfect.  A flawed sacrifice…in terms of moral performance in life…would be unacceptable.  Wealth, popularity, and political influence are not qualifiers in this Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin.

The problem of human sin…is the precise target honed-in on by the blemish-free moral life of Jesus Christ…perfectly lived according to a life-script composed by God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit.

The perfect life and the perfect life-script of Jesus…lead to the cross on Calvary Hill.

But trying to be perfect…our way…as demonstrated by the religious elites mocking Jesus…leads to placing Jesus on the cross.  These two outcomes could not be more diametrically opposite.

The second massive takeaway from this scene on Calvary Hill two thousand years ago…is that the thief on the cross…immovably stuck there and not going anywhere or able to do anything…secular or religious in the slightest way…surprisingly and unexpectedly experiences that fateful day in his life the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” assurance of the eternal security of salvation for the otherwise physically agonizing hours he spends being executed by Roman crucifixion…through the sure words of promise spoken to him by Jesus the Son of God being crucified alongside him.

If we incorrectly believe that we can lose our salvation…this opens the door ever so slightly for self-achieved good-works and self-realization to creep in as the sustaining justification for maintaining our salvation.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.