Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fear Not 2. . .

2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

If there is one thing that we as Christians fear, I believe that in the deep recesses of our thoughts, more than anything other, we may at times fear science.  Christianity has taken stands, and retreated in the face of science numerous times in the past thousand years.

Galileo was put to death by the Church for threatening the doctrine of the day.  Men researching bacteria, other microorganisms, and the causes of disease were likewise persecuted by the church.  Men looking at comets and other signs in the sky were seen as threatening Church doctrine and were even put to death for their research.

Where the church has drawn lines in the sand in its interpretation of physical phenomenon, it has invariably ended up retreating in the face of science.  The labeling of scientific theory as heresy, does not prevent scientific research from continuing and going forward.

But science is nothing, if not Spiritual at its core.  A scientist observes and seeks to understand God’s creation more fully. A scientist worships God through his seeking knowledge of God’s creation.  Many scientists agree. . .

Psalms 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God;

and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

The problem Christianity gets into, is when we fix our understanding of Scripture, and attempt to cement it as complete and permanent and unchangeable, but it is Scripture which is perfect unchangeable, and not our understanding of it, which is perfect and unchangeable.

Some have drawn a line in the sand, contending that by the Biblical record, that the earth is 6,500 years old or so and that therefore all scientific discoveries and theories, which contradict this are heresy.

I believe the Bible literally, until it becomes obvious that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally. There are many examples of this in the Bible.  The easiest to demonstrate is:

Genesis 22:17
That in blessing I will bless thee,
and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven,
and as the sand which is upon the sea shore;
and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

This is God speaking to Abraham after offering Isaac to be sacrificed.  He will multiply his offspring as the stars of the heaven. . . and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.  This statement must be taken figuratively.

The visible stars of the sky, in a very dark location, with 20/20 vision are countable to about 6,500, so therefore it would make little sense for God to be speaking literally of Abraham’s offspring being as numerous as the visible stars.  For Abraham to have 6500 offspring would only take a few generations.  Conversely the total stars of the heaven number is now thought to be 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  That is 300 sextillion.  This number is beyond anything we can begin to even imagine. . . and the estimation of the number of stars in the universe regularly increases.

If I’ve done my math correctly. . .If each star, both seen and hidden, that astronomers estimate to be in the universe were .001 in diameter. . . a third the diameter of the cross section of an average human hair. . . if each star were this size and lined up tangent to one another in a row, this string of stars would create a line 51 light years long. . . in other words light traveling at 186,000 miles per second, would take 51 years to go from the beginning to end of this string of .001 of an inch diameter stars.

Similarly the metaphor for Abraham’s offspring being a numerous as the sand which is upon the seashore cannot be literal.  If each grain of sand were on average .010 in diameter, about 3 hairs thickness, then a line of them 1000 long would measure 10 inches.  A million is 1000 times a 1000, therefore a million grains of sand would take up a square 10 inches x 10 inches.  A billion is 1000 times 1000 times 1000, and it follows that a billion grains of sand would be a cube of sand, if we could stack it, 10 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches.

All the people of the earth. . . some 7 billions in number, could be easily represented by the grains of sand in a child’s small sand box.  The sand upon the seashore metaphor which God used to number Abraham’s offspring, must surely be figurative.

The story of creation is told of as occurring in 7 days.  I believe the Bible. . . I revere the Bible. . ., but God’s creation has all the appearance of great age.  God made it so.  We as apostolics, pride ourselves in our not twisting Scripture to fit our own beliefs as to what doctrine should be.  We pride ourselves in letting Scripture speak for itself and not going through convoluted gyrations of interpretation to bend Scripture to our will.

Likewise we cannot bend the physical world to fit creation.  Regardless of how creation occurred, we cannot fool ourselves into thinking that it is possible to compress all of the observable  geological, and astronomical processes into a literal 6,500 years.  It surely could have been, that God spoke all of creation into existence, in the blink of an eye at that time, with all the features of the universe in place, but it is ridiculous, to posit that the Grand Canyon. . . a mile deep of solid rock, was carved from the waters of the Biblical flood in order to wrest the observed physical phenomenon into agreement with the Bible account.

2 Peter 3:8

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing,

that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.

Does this not clearly tell us that God measures time differently than we do?  Do we attempt to limit this thousand years, to a literal thousand years?  Or can the thousand years, be read. . . as a long time.

Six times in the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I come quickly”:

Revelation 2:5
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen,
and repent, and do the first works;
or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will remove thy candlestick out of his place,
except thou repent.

Revelation 2:16
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Revelation 3:11
Behold, I come quickly:
hold that fast which thou hast,
that no man take thy crown.

Revelation 22:7
Behold, I come quickly:
blessed  is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

Revelation 22:12
And, behold, I come quickly;
and my reward  is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be.

Revelation 22:20
He which testifieth these things saith,
Surely I come quickly.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

In man’s measurement, it has been some 80 generations since Jesus said these words.  In man’s measurement, He has not come quickly. . .In man’s measurement, it has been a very long time. . . .BUT!  As God measures time, it has been but a day or two. . . or even a blink of God’s eye. . .

Fear not. . . fear not science, nor any philosophy of men, but fear rather falling away from God from failing faith. . . We must embrace science.  We should not embrace all the uses of science.  We do not necessarily embrace all the conclusions of science, but as science glorifies God through the exploration and investigation of His creation. . . It threatens not God, but may well challenge our understanding of Him. . .to know Him better is to love Him more. . .

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