By now everyone should know that there will be a total solar eclipse across the United States tomorrow. We have been writing about it in our posts for the past week. Please go back to any of them for more information. We hope that everyone knows that eclipses are not omens of some mysterious event. They are a natural phenomenon of the solar system that God designed.
The first written record of a total solar eclipse was in China in the year 2134 B.C. Apparently, that eclipse took everyone by surprise because two royal astrologers who failed to predict it, were beheaded for their crime. Since that time, people have often interpreted eclipses as omens or signs from God (or the gods) of some impending disaster. Human history has many instances of people interpreting an eclipse as a sign that something, usually bad, was about to happen. That is superstition and is not supported by the facts.
In recent years some Christians have declared eclipses, comets, or celestial alignments to be a sign that Christ is about to return or that God was about to send judgment on a nation. There have already been such claims about the total solar eclipse of 2017. That is both untrue and counterproductive for the Christian faith.
If you hear anyone saying that this eclipse is a sign of God’s judgment or Christ’s return, don’t believe it. Jesus made it clear that nobody knows when He will return. (Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32) We should always be prepared for Christ’s return because we can’t predict when it will be. It may be today, or it may not be in our lifetimes. Just remember that eclipses are not omens and neither are any other natural events.
Everyone knows that if you add the three angles of a triangle, the total equals 180 degrees. So how can you have a 270-degree triangle? This question can be applied to the much tougher challenge of understanding what God is.
Many of the struggles people have in understanding God are rooted in our inability to understand how God functions and what is the nature of God. Questions we hear are like: “What race is God?” “What sex is God?” “How can God hear the prayers of many different people in many different places all at once?” “Who created God?” “Why does God allow awful things to happen?” These questions are a reflection of our inability to understand God’s nature.
The Bible gives us many pictures of God’s nature. So what does the Bible say God is like? All of the biblical descriptions portray God as a being who exists outside of time and space. Since God is not limited by the dimensions that restrict us, then the rules that are inviolable in our dimensions create no barriers for God.
To illustrate, I suggest that you take a flat sheet of paper and draw a triangle that has three right angles of 90 degrees for a 270-degree triangle. You may reply, “It is not possible. Triangles have 180 degrees. Don’t you know the rules of Euclidian geometry?” I then suggest that you visualize this. On a globe of the Earth, start at the North Pole and draw a line down the Prime Meridian to the Equator. Then to make the first 90° angle, go west along the Equator to 90° west longitude. From that point make a second 90° angle by going straight north to the North Pole. That line will be perpendicular to the first line creating a third 90° angle. By changing from the two-dimensional paper to the three-dimensional globe, the impossible becomes possible.
Let’s apply that to our understanding of God. How do we, stuck here in our limited dimensions, have the power to comprehend God who is not limited to our dimensions? The answer is, of course, that we cannot! To answer the most profound questions about God, we have to be willing to enlarge our understanding of the nature of God. We must accept the fact that God is not limited to our dimensions. When we do that, we realize that the questions we asked earlier are meaningless. They come from the fact that we cannot see all of the dimensions of God’s existence. A 270-degree triangle is possible when it is not limited to two dimensions. For a dimensionless God, all limitations are gone.
As you read this, your author is in Bogota, Colombia, South America, presenting lectures at a university and in town meetings.
What has happened in Colombia is going on in many areas of South America. For years the Roman Catholic Church has dominated the country, and recent moral problems with some priests and Catholic leaders have disillusioned many Colombians. The result is that belief in God has dropped considerably and Colombia’s health minister has announced he is an atheist and is vowing to implement legal abortion.
Atheists are bringing in atheistic professor Richard Dawkins to challenge the Catholic Church to debate in Bogota in December of this year. The Catholic Church has accepted the challenge and an ordained priest of 50 years experience named Gerardo Remolina will oppose Dawkins. Remolina has written a book titled God and Religion, Illusion or Reality. He is the vice-chancellor of Bogota’s Catholic Javeriana Pontifical University and is the academic dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Tickets for the debate have already gone on sale.
The atheists are also sponsoring a national essay contest in which students are being asked to watch the BBC documentary entitled Beautiful Minds and then write a five-page essay on Dawkins’ godless belief system. The top ten students will then be invited to travel to London to visit the Natural History Museum, with a tour guided by Dawkins himself. You can read more about the Dawkins challenge on ColombiaReports.com.
About once a month, on an average, we get a letter or email from someone who wants to convince us that “God” is an alien who is in control of the Earth. The people who advocate this idea say that this alien is using religion to prepare us for some devious purpose. The purpose goes all the way from turning us into food for the aliens to being foot soldiers in a cosmic war. The usual claim is that the alien headquarters in Area 51, which is a military installation in Nevada. Area 51 and a restaurant/motel nearby known as the “Little Alien” (which has the heading “Earthlings Welcome” on the sign) have been referenced in numerous books, TV shows, and movies.
“Dreamland Resort” was an old code name for the military base. The area was a research facility for Lockheed Aircraft where they developed aircraft that could fly higher than the Soviet missiles could reach and fast enough to outrun any interceptor planes. In 1960 the U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union. That led to a new project titled “Project Oxcart” which produced the spy planes A-12, YF-12, and eventually the SR-71 Blackbird. Area 51 was also involved in the development of the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter which was kept a top secret until 1988 when a new plane called the A-22 Raptor was introduced. These planes could fly as high as 90,000 feet. Civilian aircraft cannot go higher than 40,000 feet. The testing and experiments on these aircraft gave visions from the Earth unlike anyone had seen before. To this day people are still reporting sightings of UFOs as military aircraft research continues. Remember that “UFO” (Unidentified Flying Object) simply means we have not identified what the sighting is. It does not mean an alien has abducted someone.
We have pointed out many times that life in space is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not tell us that Earth is the only place where God saw fit to create life. We have also labored to get people to understand that God is not a physical being nor is He limited by physical forces or environments. The Bible says that no one can look on God’s face and live for the simple reason that God is a Spirit and not flesh and blood. Living people cannot see a non-physical being. When people say that God is a physical being, they are creating their own badly-informed concept of God. God is not an “old man in the sky.”
We continue to get mail from dispensationalists who have two grievances. First, they have a denominational conflict with anyone who doesn’t believe the Bible teaches that the Earth is 6000 years old. Secondly, they continually attach the name Antichrist to anyone whom they feel is leading us into a physical war with political forces of today.
We are reading an excellent book by F. Lagard Smith titled After Life. (We will review it in the fourth quarter issue of our printed journal.) Smith has the best and most concise explanation of the fallacy of Dispensationalism we have seen. The following is an excellent footnote on Antichrist on page 263 of his book:
The message we have presented for many years is that science and faith are friends, not enemies. It’s important to hand that message down to the next generation.
When I was a junior in high school, I was fortunate enough to win the local science fair in Bloomington, Indiana. My exhibit was a survey done of southern Indiana freshwater rivers and streams. The purpose was to determine if the biospheres of these smaller bodies of water were a valid commercial source of food for human consumption. This was long before Indiana fish farms existed. My study involved pH, chemical factors, and populations of freshwater life such as turtles and frogs. It was pretty simple and far less complex than the work of Frank Sandy who did a study of new methods of solving complex cubic equations.
The National Science Fair that year (1954) was held at Purdue University and sponsored by Westinghouse. In the May 27, 2017, issue of Science News, there is an article about Aaron Yeiser who won second place in the 2017 version of the National Science Fair called the “Regeneron Science Talent Search.” Aaron says he was “encouraged to pursue his science career because of his grandfather” and because his father and grandparents work in computer science, technology, and chemical engineering.
We attempt to show the world that science and faith are friends and that the teachings of Christ are the best possible way for a person to live. We believe it is important to pass that message and ministry on to our children and grandchildren. If they see us committed to something spiritual, and they understand our love for God and His creation, they too will want to pursue that calling.
There has been a growing trend in the academic community to suggest that science and theology are two separate disciplines that cannot support one another. The position of this ministry has always been that science and faith complement each other and should never be viewed as opponents. The dictionary defines science as “systematic knowledge.” It defines theology as “science dealing with God and His relationship to the universe.” (Webster’s American College Dictionary) Bad science and bad theology are very much the same–systematic knowledge replaced by human opinion.
In the physical world, science is based on a method that precludes human opinion. The scientific method involves testing a theory by experimentation to see if it can be falsified. We can even expand and enlarge our fundamental knowledge. Our understanding of gravity, for example, has undergone several changes since Newton’s day when the first knowledge was derived by the tests available to him. When Einstein gave us an expanded understanding of gravity, it was based on several tests which could be duplicated over and over. Now there is a possibility that Newton’s ideas will be expanded even more as better experiments enlarge our understanding.
Interestingly, Isaac Newton also did experiments in theology. In theology, his experiments did not verify his personal opinions, so they never became science. Like much of astronomy, quantum mechanics, and cosmology, experiments in theology have to be conducted by observation of things we can’t control. Science provides facts about the physical world and our role within it, and many of those facts have theological implications.
Do our understandings in theology change? Certainly! Just as our understanding of gravity has grown, so too our understanding of God has grown. As we experience life and see what has happened in human history and in our own lives, our understanding grows. Even our understanding of the Bible has grown as we learn more of what Jesus and the Apostles taught and how they lived. Knowing that the cosmos is not just the Earth and the solar system has expanded our understanding of God and His power and intelligence. It is bad theology to take the knowledge of 500 years ago and force our understandings of the Bible on that knowledge.