Can Science Identify the Intelligent Designer

By Fazale Rana – July 16, 2015

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We live in a world that values tolerance and religious pluralism. Because of this widespread attitude, perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the questions I’m most often asked by non-Christian academics relates to the identity of the Designer. They want to know, how does the scientific case for intelligent design specifically identify the God of the Bible as the Designer?

I answer this question differently than many of my friends associated with the Intelligent Design (ID) Movement. They argue that scientific inquiry cannot determine the Designer’s identity. Christian ID proponents maintain that there are nonscientific reasons why they believe that the biblical God is the Designer, but they insist that the Designer’s identity is not a question science can address.

I respectfully disagree. I think that science has the wherewithal to provide sufficient clues that allow us to infer the Designer’s identity. To appreciate why I would adopt this position, I need to first explain why intelligent design has a place in science.

Intelligent Design Is Part of the Construct of Science

Because of the influence of methodological naturalism (the philosophical position that scientific explanations must be restricted to natural processes), many people assert that intelligent design lies beyond the bounds of science. Yet a number of scientific disciplines are predicated on scientists’ ability to detect the activity of intelligent agents and distinguish that activity from natural processes. For example, forensic scientistscan determine whether or not an individual died as the result of natural processes, by accident, or by the intentional action of another person—an intelligent agent. Anthropologists can examine pieces of rock and determine whether the stones were intentionally fabricated into a tool by a hominid (such as Neanderthals) or merely shaped by natural processes. In the quest to identify alien civilizations, researchers at SETI monitor electromagnetic radiation emanating from distant stars looking for signatures that bear the hallmark of intelligent agency. In the early 1970s, Leslie Orgel and Francis Crick proposed directed panspermia to explain the origin of life on Earth, and they even suggested ways to scientifically test this idea.

Science does have the toolkit to detect the work of an intelligent designer and distinguish it from natural causes and events. If so, then why can’t scientific inquiry determine if an intelligent designer played a role in the origin, history, and design of life and the universe? It seems to me that it can, and I would argue that it has.

Science, not only possesses the capacity to detect the work of intelligent agency, it also has the means to provide insight about the agent’s characteristics. Crime scene investigators can determine if a murderer was left-handed or right-handed, the probable height of the culprit, etc. Anthropologists can glean a tremendous amount about the biology and cognitive ability of hominids by examining the tools they made. If SETI scientists were to detect a signal that emanated from an alien civilization, no doubt they could discern something about the aliens that sent it by analyzing the signal’s properties and studying the star system that generated the signal.

The Scientific Case for God’s Existence and the Identity of the Designer

So, what can we infer about the identity of the Intelligent Designer from science? A handful of scientific insights provide some important clues.

Astronomers have learned that the universe had a beginning. This means that it must have a cause, and that this cause exists outside the universe itself. To put it another way, a transcendent cause brought the universe into existence. (For many people, this knowledge provides evidence for God’s existence.) If we take the transcendent cause to be the Intelligent Designer, then the Designer must reside beyond the universe and must be powerful enough to cause the universe (Genesis 1:1). Astronomers also believe that time began when our universe began, suggesting that the Intelligent Designer must operate outside the confines of time (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 40:28).

Astronomers and astrophysicists have learned that the fundamental parameters, constants, and characteristics that define the universe must assume precise values for life to exist. This fine-tuning suggests that the universe was designed for a purpose. (Again, many people view the fine-tuning of the universe as further evidence for God’s existence.) Design and purpose are qualities that derive from a Mind. This insight about the fine-tuning of the universe means that the Intelligent Designer must have personality (Job 38–41).

The constancy of the laws of nature and the orderliness of the universe indicate that the Designer is not capricious. Instead, the Agent responsible for the universe appears to be unwavering and unchanging (James 1:17; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

The repeated occurrence of the same designs throughout biology and the universal nature of biochemical systems imply that a single Designer produced life, not an ensemble of designers (1 Corinthians 8:6).

Advances in our understanding of biochemical systems revitalize William Paley’s watchmaker argument for God’s existence. The remarkable similarities between the architecture and operation of biochemical systems and human designs indicate that the cell’s chemical systems are the work of a Mind. This observation also suggests that a resonance exists between the mind of human designers and the Intelligent Designer. To put it another way, human beings appear to be made in the image of the Intelligent Designer (Genesis 1:26–27).

The beauty on display throughout the universe and the marvelously fascinating creatures that make up the biological realm demonstrate that the Designer possesses an artist’s flair and playfulness. The Intelligent Agent responsible for life seemingly takes great delight in what He has made (Genesis 1:31a; Psalm 104:26).

There are many such evidences, but I believe that this short list provides us with sufficient insight about the Designer’s qualities that we could reasonably conclude that the Intelligent Designer is most likely the God of the Bible.

But a skeptic might raise the question about so-called bad designs in nature. What about all the pain and suffering? Do these features of nature mean that the Intelligent Designer is malevolent? Do they imply that the Intelligent Designer is incompetent? Not necessarily. It is hard to argue that the Creator who could bring the universe into existence lacks competence. And when we examine supposed bad designs more carefully, we often find compelling reasons to view the “bad” designs as actually good designs. Junk DNA has become the quintessential case in point.

As for pain and suffering in the world, a number of philosophers have pointed out that there may be good reasons why the Intelligent Designer would create a world where pain and suffering exist. And science provides some clues as to what those reasons might be.

It is remarkable to me how strong the scientific case is for intelligent design. As a Christian, I don’t find it all surprising that the scientific evidence directs us to the God of the Bible. After all, Scripture teaches that God has revealed Himself to us through the creation.

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God’s Mercy in Death

By Hugh Ross – July 22, 2019

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A question that is frequently posted on my Facebook page is: Why, if there is an all-powerful, all-loving God, do good people die while they are still young? Here’s a recent example:

A famous Christian singer I admire, very passionate about his faith, died young from cancer. Doesn’t the Bible state that God will not let you suffer and will grant you long life if you are his faithful child? Why did this singer die of cancer? This death is messing up my belief in God.

From my scientist’s perspective, here is how I briefly answered this question:

First, none of us is “good” in a biblical understanding of goodness. Only God is perfectly good. However, God is on a mission to make people good who want to become good.

God subjects all humans to the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, and electromagnetism as tools to discourage us from committing sin and evil acts and to encourage us to come to him for redemption. These laws ensure that the more sin and evil we commit, the more pain, more work, and more wasted time we will endure. These laws and our biological makeup are such that we find extra work, pain, and time unpleasant and, thus, are motivated to avoid sin and evil. As we discover our inability within the laws of physics and our physical and spiritual makeup to entirely avoid sin and evil, we are motivated to seek deliverance from our sin and evil by the Redeemer-God who created us. I explain all this more completely and in greater detail in my book, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is.1

Humans need continual exposure to the laws of physics to have any hope of deliverance from our sin. Because of these laws of physics, though, we all experience decay, suffering, declining health, and eventual physical death. On rare occasions God miraculously intervenes to deliver someone temporarily from the consequences of the laws of physics, but only when that deliverance brings about a stronger response to his offer of redemption than allowing the laws of physics to run their course.

Isaiah 57:1–2 may apply to the singer you admire. God knows the future for each one of us. If that future involved suffering for the singer, God would have known it and may have decided to allow him to “graduate” early. Another possibility is that God used the death of this singer in a similar way he used the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), to bring others to faith in Christ.

As finite creatures, death can be perplexing to humans. As such, we can identify four categories of mystery: (1) Why does God allows “good” people to die young? (2) Why are “good” people required to spend much longer lives on Earth than what they desire? (3) Why are some evil people permitted to live long lives? and (4) Why do other evil people have their lives cut short? In each case there are Scripture passages that explain why. What follows are selections of Bible passages that first address the physical death of humans in general followed by lists of Bible passages that address each of the four categories of people.

Background References on Physical Death
Genesis 2:16–17 Isaiah 65:19–25
Genesis 3:22 Ezekiel 18:20–32
Genesis 6:3 John 16:5–11
Proverbs 16:4 1 Corinthians 3:12–15
Ecclesiastes 7:2–4 Hebrews 9:27
Ecclesiastes 8:8 Revelation 20:11–15
Ecclesiastes 9:2–6

The righteous sometimes die young
—to protect from future torment
—to protect heavenly rewards
—as an instrument for good
1 Kings 14:6–13 Isaiah 57:1–2
2 Kings 20:1–21:16 Acts 4:32–5:11
2 Chronicles 32:22–33:6 Acts 7:54–8:4
Isaiah 36–39 Acts 9
Psalm 23:4

The righteous sometimes die old
—to maximize heavenly reward
—to protect a spiritual heritage
—to provide an opportunity to achieve an ignored priority
Psalm 116:15 Ephesians 2:10
1 Corinthians 3:12–15 2 Timothy 4:6–8
Philippians 1:21–26 Revelation 14:13

The wicked sometimes die young
—because of a lack of wisdom
—because they are led astray by folly
—to stop the spread of wickedness
—to limit judgment on the wicked
—to limit the grief of their relatives
—to transfer wealth to the righteous
Genesis 38:6–19 Proverbs 5:21–23
Job 20:4–11 Proverbs 29:16
Psalm 55:15 Ecclesiastes 2:26

The wicked sometimes die old
—to give them time to recognize their evil ways and repent of their evil
Ezekiel 18:23 2 Peter 3:9
1 Timothy 2:4 Revelation 2:21

Whenever I conduct a funeral or graveside service, I always hand out these Scripture passages. Afterward, I hear from many people how much comfort, assurance, and understanding these passages bring. They also get people thinking about the most important issues of life, issues that all too often those who are “living the good life” ignore.

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Voted the Best Christian Book of All Time

By Kenneth R. Samples – July 23, 2019

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What is the best Christian book of all time? (Outside of the Bible, of course.) And how could something as grand as that claim ever be determined? Well, scholars are typically never afraid to take on big challenges.

Scholar Voting

In a bracket reminiscent of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, several years ago members of InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network picked 64 great books written by Christian authors in four categories: (1) Theology & Apologetics, (2) Christian Life & Discipleship, (3) Fiction & Poetry, and (4) Memoirs, Devotionals, & Spirituality. At the end of the voting, St. Augustine’s Confessions emerged as “The Best Christian Book of All Time.”1

C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity was runner-up, with J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship rounding out the final four. The elite eight also included The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, The City of God by Augustine, and Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. So both Augustine and Lewis had two books in the final eight selections—an amazing accomplishment for two of Christendom’s finest thinkers and writers.

A Winner for All Times

Considered both a literary and a Christian devotional classic, Augustine’s Confessions is one of my favorite Christian books. I’ve read the book numerous times, yet, like all great books, it continues to challenge me intellectually, morally, and spiritually. The great educator Mortimer Adler defined a classic as a book that a reader can never exhaust. The Confessions is listed in all of the great books programs offered in various institutions in America.

Confessions, written about AD 397, gave birth to the autobiography, a new literary genre in Western culture. The work chronicles Augustine’s intellectual, moral, and spiritual pilgrimage from paganism to Christianity. The title “Confessions” can be understood in a triple sense: Augustine’s candid and contrite confession of sin, his sincere confession of newfound faith, and his grateful confession of God’s greatness.

The content of Confessions may provide the most penetrating spiritual and psychological self-analysis of any work ever written. Suffusing his work with profound theological, philosophical, and apologetics insights, Augustine quoted from and expounded on the Scriptures throughout. He devoted the latter part of the book to an exegetical analysis of Genesis’s first chapters (the created world being the cosmic setting for the soul’s journey to God). Written in the form of a prayer to God (similar to the Psalms), the work also serves as thought-provoking devotional literature.

While Confessions records Augustine’s extraordinary life and spiritual pilgrimage, the book may really be about the human soul’s search for God. In reading it, people often feel they are reading about their own search for God. It’s no surprise to me that a group of scholars ranked Confessions as the best Christian book ever written. After reading it for yourself, you will likely agree.

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Reflections—Your Turn

Have you read Augustine’s Confessions? If not, does its being voted the number one Christian book motivate you to pick it up? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Endnotes
  1. Micheal Hickerson, “The Best Christian Book of All Time: the Winner,” Emerging Scholars Blog (blog), April 5, 2013, https://blog.emergingscholars.org/2013/04/the-best-christian-book-of-all-time-the-winner/.

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Is Faith in Progress Warranted?

BY GUEST WRITER – JULY 12, 2019

Mark T. Clark

 

Anyone who has lived at least a couple of decades has witnessed technological breakthroughs that have transformed society. Many people hold the ideas of “progress” and “progressive” in high regard. Who could be opposed to making progress toward a better future? As we consider an answer, this question raises another: To what end shall we make progress?

In chapter 9 of their book, Humans 2.0: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism, Fazale Rana and Kenneth Samples show that transhumanism holds great faith in progress. They note that transhumanism “relies on advances in technology to improve the human condition, bring an end to pain and suffering, usher in a utopian future, and even attain human immortality . . .” (p. 206). They also argue that “Transhumanism plays an eschatological role for people who embrace an atheistic, materialistic worldview.”1 But the authors also note that advances in science and technology lead to unease about the unintended consequences of such advances. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, progress can bring about both good things and bad.2

 

Origin of Secular Faith

Modern hope in the future and faith in progress come from nineteenth century political theories that largely remain with us today. In particular, a school of political thought called progressivism (which gave rise to our modern sense of the term) influenced American educational institutions. Progressivism is steeped in the philosophies of Georg Hegel and Karl Marx, who theorized that history unfolds in certain (progressive) directions and a robust faith in science and technology will aid in that progress.3 Progressivism came to the US by way of the many Americans who studied in German universities in the nineteenth century. They brought their training back to American higher education, influencing students and future policymakers. As these progressives fanned out into American higher education, they formed various academic associations late in the century that remain the premier associations of the social sciences to this day.4

Progressive intellectuals’ impact was achieved in successive waves through the elections of three presidential administrations. The first was Woodrow Wilson; the second, Franklin Roosevelt; and the third, Lyndon Johnson. All three presidents implemented important elements of the progressive agenda that have changed the American form of government to more administrative agencies (read: bureaucracies) that cover everything from health, housing, education, social safety nets, and the like.

The newer, more radical, and postmodern form of progressivism today has emerged from the older one and differs in significant ways—though it, too, holds to a faith in progress. Modern progressivism’s most important belief is an abiding faith in history unfolding favorably in the direction of progress.

Modern Progressivism

For modern progressives, the salient question is, To what end is history progressing? They affirm that historical progress has been leading toward a form of democracy to be headed by nonpolitical administrators, both here and abroad. The administrative state is to be staffed with “neutral” scientists who can solve society’s ills apart from the normal political process. At the same time, progressives hold “a pervasive distrust of private associations (family, church, business, fraternities, clubs, political parties, and lobbyists) and a corresponding confidence in the capacity of public officials to direct the lives of the people.”5

This is their eschatology (ultimate destiny of humanity), the democratization of the world through administration. As far back as 1888, for example, Woodrow Wilson asserted that the question of the best type of government (democracy) was settled by history.6 Despite setbacks during the twentieth century wars, both hot and cold, the faith (in progress) of progressives continues today. At the end of the Cold War, political scientist Francis Fukuyama proclaimed “The End of History,” the triumph of western liberalism over all other viable political systems.This triumph is upheld in the theory of democratic peace which arose after the Cold War, the idea that democracies do not fight other democracies.8

Thus, progressives view the democratization of the world as a worthy objective. Such a goal has led the US to promote “democracy” abroad while overthrowing or shaming authoritarian regimes. The unintended consequence of this strategy has resulted in increased resistance from illiberal (more authoritarian) regimes (e.g., China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea) and the emergence of a new nationalism throughout the world.9

Utopia or Redemption?

Perhaps progressives have too much faith in their views. Everyone should be cautious about an unrealistic hope in the future. Unbridled faith in the ability of some people to direct the progress of history toward their idea of the good can lead to unhealthy idolatry and unintended consequences.

When we think about the progressive view of the utopian future, we would do well to recall the irony in Sir Thomas More’s political thesis, Utopia (1516). In it, he compared the then-current social and economic conditions in Europe with an ideal, fictional society off the coast of the Americas. It was a useful way to highlight the appalling conditions of his time. However, More was a realist. He created the title from the Greek ou (meaning “no” or “not”) and topos(meaning “place”). Utopia literally means “nowhere.”

Christian realists do not dismiss that progress can be for the betterment of humanity, but we also caution that things can (and often do) get worse. Christianity has historically supported charities that alleviate hunger and suffering, helped the poor, provided medical relief, and defended the weak, and continues to do so today. The work of Christian missionaries in the developing world has led to the development of more stable, liberal (free) democratic societies in many of these countries.10 They brought about such changes by caring for the people they ministered to, not through regime change.

Thus, Christians can partner with some ideas of the modern progressive agenda but should be cautious about its potential for idolatry and a utopian future. Christians believe that history is unfolding in a different way; namely, it directs people at all times toward a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:24–27). The real future “good” will be the redemption of human beings from sin, a process that God must do through the work of Jesus Christ and not a political system.

 

Endnotes
  1. Fazale Rana with Kenneth Samples, Humans 2.0: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on Transhumanism (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2019), 206.
  2. C. S. Lewis, “Is Progress Possible?” in Walter Hooper, ed. God in the Dock: Essays in Theology and Ethics(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 312.
  3. Thomas G. West, “Progressivism and the Transformation of American Government,” in John Marini and Ken Masugi, The Progressive Revolution in Politics and Political Science (Lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005), 14.
  4. Tiffany Jones Miller, “Freedom, History, and Race in Progressive Thought,” Social Philosophy and Policy Foundation, vol. 29, no. 2 (2012), 224.
  5. West, “Progressivism,” 22.
  6. West, “Progressivism,” 22.
  7. Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?,” The National Interest, Number 16, 1989.
  8. See Dan Reiter, “Democratic Peace Theory” in Oxford Bibliographies, last modified October 25, 2012, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756223/obo-9780199756223-0014.xml.
  9. For a good series of articles on the recent rise of nationalism, see the special collection of essays on The New Nationalism, in Foreign Affairs, vol. 98, no. 2 (March/April 2019), 10–69.
  10. Robert D. Woodberry, “The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy,” American Political Science Review, vol. 106, no. 2 (May 2012), 244–74.

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Does the Universe Have a Purpose?

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – JULY 9, 2019

Life is full of big questions. And one of the most common is this: Does the universe have a purpose?

In 2012 the Templeton Foundation asked this timeless question to astrophysicist and popular science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the video below, he explains his answer while a hand-drawn animated video illustrated his ideas.

So does the universe have a purpose? According to Tyson, he’s “not sure” but he says “anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based upon empirical foundations.” Yet at the end of the video he asserts that “the case against it [having a purpose] is strong and visible to anyone who sees the universe as it is rather than as they wish it to be.”

I hope you’ll find my response to Tyson’s video helpful as you engage with others who hold a similar view. I think his answer to the question shows convoluted logic and selective reasoning (fallacy of stacking the deck). Here’s how.

Three Examples of Convoluted Reasoning

First, while Tyson says he isn’t completely sure that the universe has a purpose, he nevertheless presents a purposeful case for why he thinks it likely that the universe has no purpose. In other words, if the universe is indeed purposeless, then how is Tyson able to rise above that cosmic purposelessness and make such a purposeful case (a presentation reflecting purpose and meaning)? C. S. Lewis reasoned in his book Mere Christianity that meaningless (or purposeless) creatures would never know or discover that they are meaningless (or purposeless) because such a discovery would be profoundly meaningful (or purposeful).1

Second, Tyson seems to imply that it is arrogant and misguided to trust sources not based on or grounded in science (“empirical foundations”). But the necessary assumptions upon which science depends—like the truth and reliability of logic and mathematics—are not empirically derived. In other words, science itself depends upon nonscientific truths.

Third, Tyson asserts that it is obvious to anyone without a worldview agenda that the universe is purposeless. But Tyson does not come from an objective and neutral position in order to make such a claim because he also carries a worldview agenda.

Three Examples of Selective Reasoning

Selective reasoning (also known as the fallacy of stacking the deck) takes place when an arguer appeals only to evidence that favors his or her position and ignores counterevidence.

First, Tyson says that religious worldviews have been wrong about cosmological questions. But he ignores or is unaware that the Christian worldview historically birthed the prized scientific enterprise and that the philosophical assumptions that science is based on fit well in the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Second, Tyson ignores or is unaware that Christian theism possesses greater explanatory power and scope than does atheistic naturalism. Contrary to atheistic naturalism, Christian theism provides a plausible explanation for life, beauty, logic, mathematics, consciousness, morality, the human enigma, the universe’s beginning and intelligibility, and more.

Third, Tyson mentions the seemingly chaotic and inhospitable aspects of the cosmos that would appear to validate purposelessness. However, he ignores the elegant, aesthetic mathematical elements of the universe and the exquisitely fine-tuned constants of physics that are surprisingly intelligible to the human mind.

A Takeaway

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s case for doubting that the universe has a purpose reflects convoluted logic and selective reasoning. All people, regardless of their station in life, must subject their thinking to the universal laws of logic. While Tyson holds specialized training in science, his reasoning reflects glaring weaknesses in logic, philosophy, and worldview thinking.

Reflections: Your Turn

Have you watched Tyson’s video? If so, what did you think about his reasoning? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Endnotes
  1. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: MacMillan, 1952), 45–46.

About Reasons to Believe

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Seeking Holiness Through Righteousness

By Will Myers

One can seek holiness through the laws of God. One to seek Holiness is to seek God’s Holy Spirit Who is the fulfillment of life and is the Life. The life in this world can receive a taste of eternal life through our Savior Christ Jesus Who is the Righteousness of God.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)

Righteousness Through Faith ] But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
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When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;
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in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
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But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Man when first created was exposed to God’s perfect righteousness which is in the physical laws. The material gave support to our lives; also, the material was inducing knowledge to our minds. Psalms:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.

God’s equation in the creation reflects His perfect righteousness as the dynamics reveal multitudes of things as spoken of in Romans 1:20;

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

God’s equation can be symbolically represented as a metaphysical equation: UspaceVspace=Q, whereas Uspace is God’s perfect righteousness, and Vspace is the nexus of all things with Q being the thing that IS; the results that come into being and goes out of being. Although, as Apostle Paul stated in Romans 1:20 it’s the invisible thing that is responsible for the development of what exists which reveals the Godhead of Father God, God the Son, and God’s Holy Spirit. The Word of God encompasses science and all other disciplines. God created science alone with all other disciplines; man observes what God has created.

God’s Word is in the universe and the living Word of God is His Son, Jesus. Man’s fleshly nature is too weak to overcome sin and receive God’s Word which demands perfection void of sin. God desired that we all be saved in that He sent His Son to pay our sin debt by the shedding of His blood as a ransom payment. Through Him, we can receive from His perfect life. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, gives us the true Word of God.

נ Nun ] Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
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Responding to UFOs in the News

BY GUEST WRITER – JUNE 25, 2019

Is the US government interested in the UFO phenomenon again? A recent spate of news reports indicates so. What does this development mean for Bible believers who are skeptical of the idea? And how can Christians respond respectfully and helpfully?

 

More UFOs Being Reported

As of May 2019, the US Navy has drafted new guidelines for pilots and other military personnel to report encounters with “unidentified aerial phenomena,” usually called unidentified flying objects (UFOs).1 The guidelines are designed to destigmatize self-reporting of such observations and allow for assessments of them. According to the reports, there has been an uptick since 2015 in the number and frequency of unknown but “highly advanced” aircraft encroaching on US Navy aircraft and strike groups and overflying governmental facilities. Descriptions of these aircraft vary. Sometimes they are described as flying “tic tacs” and sometimes as oblong spheres. Most importantly, however, these objects act in ways that defy the laws of physics.

This news comes on the heels of a recently reported effort by the US to conduct research into “unexplained aerial phenomena” (UAP).In 2017, Politico reporter revealed that the Defense Intelligence Agency had funded more than $20 million of research into an Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) from 2007 to 2012. This research effort came at the request of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). At best, the research projects were intended to determine whether Russia or China were testing advanced propulsion systems; at worst, to determine whether such exotic (i.e., alien) technology could “enhance the human condition.” The five-year study was terminated in 2012, with little results from the research.

 

What to Think about This Recent News

In our book, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, Hugh Ross, Ken Samples, and I evaluate the US experience of the UFO and extraterrestrial phenomena. We do so through the prism of physics, philosophy, theology, government conspiracies, classified military research, and the occult. Several points can be brought to bear for those intrigued by this latest news and who seek to understand what it means.

First, most research shows that the vast majority (95–99%) of all UFO sightings have natural explanations. We give examples in the book where most sightings had naturally occurring explanations, including misperception, faulty instrumentation, and the like. This high number of false identifications remains constant over a long period of time (since 1947). Most of these reports can be explained by natural phenomena, including classified government research into new technologies.

Second, there remains a small residual number (1–5%) of sightings that cannot be explained naturally. We call this the residual UFO, or RUFO phenomenon. RUFO activity fails to conform to the laws of physics, just as these pilots have reported.

As with our military pilots, however, there exists a problem. These pilots are highly trained and very credible witnesses. In our book, we identify credible witnesses to real, but nonphysical phenomena that include UFOs. What things are real but nonphysical? The mind, unlike the brain, is real though nonphysical. As Christians, we believe that spirits are both real and nonphysical. Also, God is both real and transcends the physical dimensions of space-time. RUFOs, however, are not benevolent. We hypothesize they are, in fact, demonic.

We discovered something else as well. The credible witnesses to incredible physical phenomena we studied had open doors to the occult. Because so many investigations into UFO phenomena fail to ask the questions we pose, this can be best seen with the people who have reported alien abductions or contacts. These open doors could easily have been the result of “innocent” activities like participating in seances, Ouija board games, fortune telling or tarot card readings at a party early in life. Or, they could be the result of something more concerning, such as active involvement in cults, the occult and New Age religion.

This news will likely continue to generate public interest, but for reasons that may not be obvious. As reported in Politico, Bob Bigelow was a regular contributor to Harry Reid’s Senate campaign, and was the one that encouraged the Senator to launch the AATIP program in the first place. As founder of Bigelow Aerospace, he was also the recipient of some of AATIP research funding. He is an outspoken proponent that extraterrestrial visitors frequently travel to earth. In addition, the head of the AATIP program, Luis Elizondo, resigned from the Pentagon in October 2017, complaining that the administration was not taking these research efforts seriously enough. Both men have now joined with other, likeminded people to launch a for-profit company called To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science to continue promoting these ideas. They have a television series, titled Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, on The History Channel, which premiered May 31 of this year.

How to Respond

For Christians, there are some things we can do. Opinion surveys continue to show that at least 50% of Americans believe either in UFOs or extraterrestrials.3 Because of this widespread belief, most Christians will know someone with an interest in—maybe even a fascination with—these stories. I would recommend several things. First, get equipped for understanding UFOs, the precursor to the current UAP phenomenon. Our book can help readers get the background, history, and evidence needed to understand the phenomenon. Second, listen attentively and talk respectfully with those fascinated or enthused by them. Ask questions to elicit their or their friends’ interest. And third, see our book chapter dedicated to showing how you can help people close any doors they’ve opened to the occult. You may have the opportunity to show them how to allow the genuinely real but nonphysical power of God to enter into their life. As 1 Peter 3:15 commands us, “Always be ready.”

Endnotes
  1. Bryan Bender, “U.S. Navy Drafting New Guidelines for Reporting UFOs,” Politico, April 23, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/23/us-navy-guidelines-reporting-ufos-1375290. See also Marina Koren, “Just Don’t Call Them UFOs,” The Atlantic, April 27, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/04/us-military-wants-pilots-report-ufos-despite-stigma/588232; and Deanna Paul, “How Angry Pilots Got the Navy to Stop Dismissing UFO Sightings,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/how-angry-pilots-got-the-navy-to-stop-dismissing-ufo-sightings/ar-BBWgtkj.
  2. Bryan Bender, “The Pentagon’s Secret Search for UFOs,” Politico, December 16, 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/16/pentagon-ufo-search-harry-reid-216111.
  3. Jason Walsh, “Poll: Have You Had a UFO ‘experience’?,” Sonoma Index-Tribune, April 25, 2019, https://www.sonomanews.com/opinion/9535048-181/poll-have-you-had-a?sba=AAS.

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