Cosmic Creation Model Passes Another Test

BY HUGH ROSS – JANUARY 21, 2019

Last May I debated with Peter Atkins, Oxford University chemist and well-known atheist, on the Unbelievable? radio show and video podcast. Toward the end of the debate, moderator Justin Brierley asked each of us to name a possible scientific discovery that, if proven true beyond any reasonable doubt, would cause us to abandon the philosophical worldview we were advocating. You can watch the debate here.

Atkins was not very forthcoming, to say the least. One of the possible scientific discoveries I named that would cause me to abandon my Christian faith would be scientific proof that there was no cosmic creation event. I explained that if future scientific discoveries were to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe did not have a beginning and, therefore, that there was no cosmic Beginner, such discoveries would be catastrophic to the Christian faith and the clear teachings of the Bible.

The Bible says much more about the universe than that it had a beginning. Thousands of years before any astronomer speculated or articulated what we now know as the big bang theory of the universe, six different Bible authors in multiple books of the Bible declared the four fundamental features of the big bang creation model:

  1. The universe has a beginning that includes the beginning of space and time.
  2. The universe has expanded and continues to expand from its space-time beginning.
  3. The laws of physics that govern the universe have never changed.
  4. One of the laws governing the universe is a pervasive law of decay.

Any system that expands under a pervasive law of decay gets colder and colder as it ages. Hence, the Bible really is a big bang book.

Years ago, at the encouragement and with the assistance of theologian John Rea, I wrote an article entitled “Big Bang—the Bible Taught It First.”1 The article is available online here and (with minor edits) appears in my books The Creator and the Cosmos2 and A Matter of Days.3

In science, the success of any theory, model, or hypothesis is measured by how well the predicted features of the theory, model, or hypothesis are verified by advancing experiments and observations. By this measure, the biblically predicted big bang creation model has fared phenomenally well. In the four editions of The Creator and the Cosmos I have documented over a 25-year period how the more astronomers learn about the universe, the more observational evidence they accumulate for the veracity of the big bang creation model. Furthermore, the more astronomers learn about the universe, the more detailed a big bang model they have been able to build.

Today, astronomers possess a very detailed big bang creation model. In the astronomical literature it is referred to as the ΛCDM model. The ΛCDM big bang model refers to a universe with a big bang beginning where dark energy, Λ, is the dominant component of the universe, and cold dark matter (weakly interacting particles moving at low velocities relative to the velocity of light), CDM, is the second most predominant component.

A major prediction of the ΛCDM big bang model is that “hierarchical evolution occurs on all mass scales.”4 In layman’s language, this means that large galaxies will have smaller satellite galaxies and that the larger satellite galaxies will have still smaller satellite galaxies. The ΛCDM model also predicts the number and the sizes of satellite galaxies each galaxy of a given mass should possess.

A decade ago, many astronomers expressed doubts about the ΛCDM model because they were not seeing the number of dwarf satellite galaxies for the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies that the ΛCDM model predicted. It turned out that the majority of dwarf satellite galaxies were very diffuse and, hence, extremely difficult to detect. Only recently have astronomers developed the telescope power to find the full number of dwarf satellite galaxies for the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies predicted by the ΛCDM model. I wrote about the discoveries of these “missing” dwarf satellite galaxies here,5 here,6 here,7 and here.8 The biggest challenge, finding the Andromeda Galaxy’s missing dwarf galaxies, has been largely accomplished by the PAndAS Project.9

Now, for the first time, astronomers have found satellite galaxies of satellite galaxies. The Local Group is the small cluster of galaxies of which the Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy are the two largest members (see figure 1). The largest satellite galaxies in the Local Group are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (see the featured image). Both are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way Galaxy. Figure 2 shows a to-scale map that I constructed of the Milky Way/Magellanic Clouds system.

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Figure 1: Map of the Larger Local Group Galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy and its two largest satellite galaxies, M32 and NGC 205, are to the upper left. The Triangulum Galaxy is to the mid left. The Milky Way Galaxy and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are to the bottom right. The spatial separation between the Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies is nearly double that shown in the above map. Credit for the galaxy images: NASA/ESO. Credit for the reconstructed map of the Milky Way Galaxy: NASA/JPL-Caltech (R. Hurt). Credit for the map of the Local Group: Hugh Ross

blog__inline--cosmic-creation-model-passes-another-test-2

Figure 2: The Milky Way Galaxy/Magellanic Clouds System. Credit for the Magellanic Clouds images: European Southern Observatory. Credit for the reconstructed map of the Milky Way Galaxy: NASA/JPL-Caltech (R. Hurt). Credit for the map of the Milky Way Galaxy/Magellanic Clouds system: Hugh Ross

A team of astronomers from Canada, Spain, and the United States, led by Nitya Kallivayalil, presented proper motion measurements for 13 of the 32 newly discovered dwarf galaxies in the Gaia Data Release 2.10 A different group of astronomers had performed radial velocitymeasurements for all 13 of these dwarf galaxies. Therefore, for all 13 galaxies, Kallivayalil’s team knew the motions of these galaxies in all three spatial dimensions.

With these measured 3D motions of the 13 dwarf galaxies, Kallivayalil’s team was able to establish that 4 of the galaxies, Hor1, Car2, Car3, and Hyi1, were satellite galaxies of the Magellanic Clouds. Kallivayalil’s team also determined that two other dwarf galaxies, Hya2 and Dra2, were probable satellite galaxies of the Magellanic Clouds. Thus, another important prediction of the ΛCDM big bang creation model has now been confirmed: satellite galaxies of large galaxies themselves possess satellite galaxies.

The discovery by the five Korean astronomers and the implications of their discovery yield yet one more example of how the more we learn about the universe the more evidence and confidence we gain for what the Bible has taught about the origin and history of the universe and for One responsible for that origin and history.

featured image: The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds
The Large Magellanic Cloud to the upper right is the largest satellite galaxy in the Local Group. The Small Magellanic Cloud to the left is the second largest satellite galaxy in the Local Group. The bright spot to the left of the Small Magellanic Cloud is 47 Tucanae, a foreground globular cluster that is part of the Milky Way Galaxy.
credit: European Southern Observatory

Endnotes
  1. Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—the Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith, July 1, 2000, reasons.org/explore/publications/facts-for-faith/read/facts-for-faith/2000/07/01/big-bang-the-bible-taught-it-first!
  2. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2017), 25–31.
  3. Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, 2nd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2015), 135–44.
  4. Nitya Kallivayalil et al., “The Missing Satellites of the Magellanic Clouds? Gaia Proper Motions of the Recently Discovered Ultra-Faint Galaxies,” Astrophysical Journal 867 (November 1, 2018): id. 19, page 1, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aadfee.
  5. Hugh Ross, “Dwarf Galaxies Test Big Bang,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), Reasons to Believe, December 8, 2008, reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2008/12/08/dwarf-galaxies-test-big-bang.
  6. Hugh Ross, “Another Dwarf Galaxy Test of Big Bang Cosmology,” Today’s New Reason to Believe(blog), Reasons to Believe, April 27, 2009, reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2009/04/27/another-dwarf-galaxy-test-of-big-bang-cosmology.
  7. Hugh Ross, “The Least Luminous Known Galaxy,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), Reasons to Believe, July 6, 2009, reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2009/07/06/the-least-luminous-known-galaxy.
  8. Hugh Ross, “The Darkest Galaxy,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), Reasons to Believe, August 22, 2011, reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2011/08/22/the-darkest-galaxy.
  9. Nicolas F. Martin et al., “The PAndAS View of the Andromeda Satellite System. II. Detailed Properties of 23 M31 Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxies,” Astrophysical Journal 833 (December 15, 2016): id. 167, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/833/2/167; Nicolas F. Martin et al., “A Rogues’ Gallery of Andromeda’s Dwarf Galaxies. I. A Predominance of Red Horizontal Branches,” Astrophysical Journal 850 (November 20, 2017): id. 16, doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aa901a.
  10. Kallivayalil et al., “Missing Satellites of the Magellanic Clouds?.”

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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The Perils of Space Travel

BY JEFF ZWEERINK – FEBRUARY 15, 2019

If only space travel were as easy as depicted in Star Wars or Star Trek! Traveling a few thousand times the speed of light onboard the Enterprise or a hundred times faster by jumping to lightspeed enables these fictional ships to traverse stellar distances in fractions of a day. Unfortunately, the real world poses much greater constraints. Even cruising at one-tenth the speed of light (well beyond our current or imaginary technology), the trip to star system Alpha Centauri, our nearest neighbor, would take nearly 45 years. Some of the latest research reveals the damage even a few months in space causes to the human body. By contrast, Earth’s environment seems ideally suited for humans.

Perhaps the most well-known peril of long periods of time in space relates to bone density loss and kidney stones. NASA implements a strenuous exercise regimen, supplemented by medication, to combat these risks. Not surprisingly, muscle degeneration also occurs in the weightless environment of space. According to a recent study of zero gravity on the muscles supporting the back, staying aboard the International Space Station for 6 months resulted in a 5–10% decrease in muscle mass. Back on Earth, the astronauts’ muscle mass returned to normal values within a year or so. However, muscle density also decreased by similar amounts while in space. For some muscles, the effects of this density decrease were measurable 2–4 years later.1

Perhaps exercise and nutrient intake can counteract the effects of long-term space travel, but research also reveals human immune system problems. Another team of scientistsinvestigated the levels of “natural killer cells” (NK cells) for astronauts spending six months or more in space. These NK cells are white blood cells that kill cancerous cells and prevent viral cells within the body from reactivating. The team drew blood samples before launch, during flight, and after return for the astronauts, as well as a control sample of people who remained on Earth. The study showed that the level of NK cells on the long spaceflights decreased by 50%.2 If such an effect grows with flight duration, the consequences would result in most (if not all) space travelers developing cancer or succumbing to previous viral infections that immune systems on Earth naturally keep in check. Such problems become more severe considering that long-duration spaceflights induce a condition called HALS—hydrocephalus associated with long-duration spaceflight. The buildup of fluid in the brain causes increased brain pressure in the part of the brain responsible for body movement and higher executive function.

These problems result from spaceflights near Earth. Longer trips, like going to Mars, bring another, more severe problem. Flights to Mars require more than six months outside the protective confines of Earth’s magnetic field. Consequently, space travelers are exposed to cosmic radiation that the magnetic field deflects from Earth’s inhabitants. Mice provide a good proxy for the human physiology, so a team of researchers exposed mice to radiation doses similar to those encountered on a trip to Mars. The study showed that cosmic radiation dosage severely damaged the intestinal lining of the mice. Specifically, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has a 3- to 5-day self-renewing mechanism that keeps the top layers of the tract healthy. The cosmic rays disrupted this renewing mechanism, which dramatically affects nutrient absorption and leads to cancerous growth.3 Additionally, signs of the damage remain at least one year after the radiation exposure ends.

Taken together, these studies demonstrate two points. First, space travel may capture the human imagination, but the physiological toll of traveling anywhere beyond the Moon may destroy any hope to journey beyond our home planet. Second, the environment of space exposes humanity to seriously detrimental effects. However, our well-designed Earth provides an incredible environment for humanity (and an abundant array of diverse life) to not only survive but to truly thrive.

Endnotes
  1. Katelyn Burkhart, Brett Allaire, and Mary Bouxsein, “Negative Effects of Long-Duration Spaceflight on Paraspinal Muscle Morphology,” Spine, published ahead of print (December 8, 2018), doi:10.1097/BRS.0000000000002959.
  2. Austin B. Bigley et al., “NK-Cell Function Is Impaired during Long-duration Spaceflight,” Journal of Applied Physiology (November 1, 2018), doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00761.2018.
  3. Santosh Kumar et al., “Space Radiation Triggers Persistent Stress Response, Increases Senescent Signaling, and Decreases Cell Migration in Mouse Intestine,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 42 (October 16, 2018): E9832-41, doi:10.1073/pnas.1807522115.

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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Son Of God, Jesus, Has Always Existed

By Will Myers

The Son of God has always existed in the mind of God. Most all Disciplines of the bible concur that the Son was not created but was in the mind of God.  The Son is given eternal life upon obeying his Father God, by materializing in this world and being obedient to shedding his blood on the cross in order for us to be saved by paying the ransom price for our sins which began with Adam and Eve who forfeited their external life.

The God Equation, UspaceVspace=Q, is the form of Uspace being God’s perfect righteousness in all things even each soul; Vspace being the nexuses in the universe that which is observed, and Q is the thing that “IS” (principles, laws, tangibles, and potentials). UspaceVspace is creating Q. God created the universe through His Son who is God’s Word. The universe works to mold (Uspace) each soul into being like His Son; for we know that Jesus grew and waxed strong in the Spirit. This is the conjunction of the perfect book of life and the perfect book of nature.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Zion meaning “in the essence of things”)
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ROMANS 8:29; “ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

ROMANS 1:20; “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

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And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

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And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
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We can comfortably say that if God created righteousness than it is perfect (Uspace).  Mankind has always felt the calling unto a One God by the exposure to Uspace. The generation (Operator) UspaceVspace is displaying God’s glorious handicraft. His Spirit of love is in us and He will never forsake anyone. There is no divide between God, our Creator, and each soul.
(UspaceVspace, WGM)
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Love Is in the Air and It Smells Like Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design and Biblical Scripture

BY FAZALE RANA

     – FEBRUARY 14, 2018

Being the hopeless romantic, I worked hard last year to come up with just the right thing to say to my wife on Valentine’s Day. I decided to let my lovely bride know that I really liked her signaling traits. Sadly, that didn’t go over so well.

This year, I think I am going to tell my wife that I like the way she smells.

I don’t know how Amy will receive my romantic overture, but I do know that scientific research explains the preference I have for my wife’s odors—it reflects the composition of a key component of her immune system, specifically her major histocompatibility complex. And, my wife’s immune system really turns me on.

Odor Preference and Immune System Composition

Why am I so attracted to my wife’s scents, and hence, the composition of her immune system? Several studies…

View original post 1,441 more words

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Scientific Discovery and God: Planet Earth, Part 3

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – FEBRUARY 5, 2019

In the first two parts of this series (see here and here) I discussed how secular scientists, given their naturalistic worldview, expected to discover that we live in an eternal—and therefore uncaused—universe, as well as in an ordinary solar system. Yet on both scores scientists were surprised by what scientific advances revealed. In both cases, the great contrast for scientists who hold a purely secular worldview is that the universe’s and solar system’s features seem to best comport with the expectations of theism over atheistic naturalism.

In this article I will briefly discuss how the specific expectations of secular scientists concerning Earth’s characteristics were also very different from what science has shown. Again, the results follow a similar pattern of favoring the expectations of one worldview over another.

The Rare Earth Hypothesis

The consensus of secular scientists a half-century ago was that the earth is not a special planet, but rather a mediocre one, with no rare or unique significance. Many scientists thought that since Earth is not at the center of the universe, then it is merely ordinary. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s scientists like Carl Sagan and Frank Drake described the Earth as a typical rocky planet in a nonexceptional place in an ordinary galaxy.

However, this initial expectation has been challenged. The rare Earth hypothesis holds that the earth is distinct as a planet and may even be special. University of Washington scientists Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee have led the way in representing this perspective in their book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe.

They argue that the universe is fundamentally hostile to complex life and that microbial life may be common. However, the evolution of biological complexity from simple life on Earth requires an exceptionally unlikely set of circumstances; therefore, complex life is probably extremely rare.

“[A]mong the essential criteria for life are a terrestrial planet with plate tectonics and oxygen, a large moon, magnetic field, a gas giant like Jupiter for protection and an orbit in the habitable zone of the right kind of star.”1

Not all scientists accept this rare Earth view, and some have criticized the hypothesis (seehere). Yet scientists who embrace a purely naturalistic worldview expected Earth to prove to be commonplace, but instead they discovered viable reasons to think otherwise.

The rare Earth hypothesis seems to comport well with a theistic, even biblical, worldview, but appears unexpected and out of place from an atheistic, naturalistic perspective. So what would Earth look like if biblical theism were true? Evidently much like it appears right now.

In part four I’ll discuss the topic of human exceptionalism and what scientists anticipated and have discovered about it.

Reflections: Your Turn

For Christians, what does living on a planet that seems specially designed to allow for human life invoke? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

  • For more on Earth’s unique features, see Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 199–222.
  • For more on the argument to God from fine-tuning, see Kenneth Richard Samples, 7 Truths That Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 113–15.
Endnotes
  1. Wikipedia, s.v. “Rare Earth (book),” last modified December 8, 2018, 12:34 (UTC), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_(book).

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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God’s Existence Best Explains Life’s Most Profound Realities

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – DECEMBER 25, 2018

Can we justify concepts like logic, moral values, and universals from a naturalistic, atheistic perspective? Or do we need a transcendent grounding like historic Christianity’s explanation for these meaningful realities?

Using a type of abductive logical reasoning (referred to as an inference to the best explanation), I’ll illustrate how five profound realities are plausibly explained by Christian theism.

Accounting for Five Meaningful Realities

1. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of abstract, nonphysical entities.

Some of the most wondrous realities of life are things that cannot be observed by the human senses. These abstract, intangible realities are conceptual in nature and include such entities as numbers, propositions, sets, properties, the laws of logic, moral values, and universals. Many people consider these conceptual realities to be objective, universal, and, of course, invisible.

On atheism, it is difficult to ground these conceptual realities. However, the Christian theistic worldview grounds them in the mind of an infinite, eternal, and personal spiritual being. God is the Creator of both the visible and the invisible, the source of both the sensible and the intelligible.

2. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the reality of objective moral values.

Moral values are a fundamental part of human life, every bit as real as the law of gravity. And people are generally intuitively cognizant of their moral obligations. In their hearts, people experience the pull of moral duty. This sense of moral oughtness is prescriptive (how things should be) not descriptive (how things are) in nature, and it transcends mere subjective feelings.

Unlike secular attempts to account for morality, the ethics of Christian theism are grounded in the morally perfect nature of God who has revealed his will to humankind in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. God’s existence and nature provide a source and foundation for objective moral values.

3. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the purpose and significance that human beings yearn for in their lives.

If God doesn’t exist and the universe is merely the product of blind, purposeless, natural processes, then from a logical standpoint there can be no objective meaning to life. Given a nontheistic perspective, the fact that people exist becomes simply an improbable accident of evolution.

Humanity’s deep sense of, and need for, meaning comports well with the Christian truth claim that God created human beings in his image (Genesis 1:26–27) and that humanity’s greatest needs are to be reconciled to God and to enjoy fellowship with him forever. The Christian theistic worldview, with its unique gospel of gracious redemption in Christ, offers genuine meaning, purpose, and significance to sinners estranged from God and from their destiny.

4. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the enigma of human nature.

One of the chief realities a belief system must explain before gaining acceptance involves the enigmatic nature of human beings. Human nature poses a paradox. Humans are capable of greatness in mathematics, science, technology, philosophy, the arts, compassion, and generosity. Yet humans are equally capable of such shameful and evil acts as racism, robbery, rape, slavery, murder, and genocide. Explaining human nature apart from the reality of God represents an extraordinary philosophical, psychological, and spiritual feat.

The Bible seems to hold the secret to unraveling the enigma of human nature. The Christian theistic worldview asserts that humans’ greatness is a direct result of the imago Dei. As creatures made in the image and likeness of God, humans reflect the glory of their Maker. Human wretchedness, on the other hand, can be traced to the first human beings’ fall into sin. Thus humans are simultaneously great and wretched.

5. The existence of the God of the Bible provides a rationally plausible explanation for the extraordinary life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to the historically reliable documents of the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth made unparalleled claims to divine authority during his public ministry. Jesus fulfilled dozens of very specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the identity, mission, and message of the coming Messiah. These prophecies, which give precise details about the birth, heritage, life, and death of the long-awaited Messiah, were amazingly fulfilled by Jesus.

Jesus was a prolific miracle worker. He healed incurable diseases, restored sight to the blind, multiplied small amounts of food to feed thousands of people, calmed a storm, walked on water, and even raised the dead.

Jesus exhibited a matchless moral character during his three-year public ministry that changed the world. Not only did his teachings contain incredible ethical insight, but he also perfectly fulfilled his lofty moral ideals.

Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is supported by at least seven lines of evidence. These include: (1) his empty tomb, (2) his many postcrucifixion appearances, (3) the transformation of the disciples from cowards to apostles and martyrs, (4) the dramatic conversion of Saul of Tarsus into the apostle Paul, (5) the historical emergence of the Christian church, (6) the change in the official day of worship to Sunday to commemorate the day of Jesus’s resurrection, and (7) the fact that all alternative naturalistic explanations for the resurrection fail miserably.

Historical Christianity has both profound explanatory power and a considerable depth of explanatory scope when it comes to life’s most meaningful realities. Christians can use this explanation with confidence when engaging skeptics about the realities of life.

Resources:

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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Scientific Discovery and God: The Solar System, Part 2

BY KENNETH R. SAMPLES – JANUARY 22, 2019

In part 1 of this series, I discussed how scientific evidence demonstrates that the universe had a beginning and that such a notion best comports with the expectations of theism over atheistic naturalism. Yet that conspicuous beginning took secular scientists by complete surprise. In this article I will briefly discuss what the expectations of secular scientists concerning our solar system were, and what science has revealed. The results will also show which worldview— naturalism or theism—is preferred.1

Our Solar System

The consensus of secular scientists a quarter century ago when it came to our part of the galaxy was that the solar system was garden-variety typical. The thought was that our solar system was no different from any number of other systems throughout our galaxy or even throughout the expansive universe. Scientists viewed the Sun, Earth, and Moon in our system as being in no particular way uncommon or special. This was a broader implication of the Copernican principle (the idea that the earth does not rest in a privileged or special physical position in the universe).

However, this initial expectation has proved to be untrue. Astrophysicists now know that our solar system exhibits an exquisite fine-tuning that allows for the emergence of complex, intelligent life. Specifically, the relationship of the Sun, Earth, and Moon provide a rare, if not unique, habitable zone for life to thrive on planet Earth. These “just right” conditions of the bodies in our part of the galaxy seem to be unmatched from what scientists know about other systems. In fact, the number and exquisite combination of factors (at least 150) that require fine-tuning to allow for life are so exceedingly improbable, through purely natural means, that the intuition of cosmic design is utterly probative.2

While scientists who embrace a purely naturalistic worldview expected the solar system to prove to be commonplace, instead they discovered a seemingly unique system. Along with the universe overall, the solar system exhibits all the narrowly drawn parameters, characteristics, and content to allow for intelligent life to emerge and thrive. This discovery has led some members of the scientific community to conclude that divine design seems intuitively obvious.

This extraordinary fine-tuning comports well with a theistic worldview, but seems out of place and unexpected from an atheistic, naturalistic perspective.3 So what would our solar system look like if theism were true? Apparently, very much like it appears right now.

In part three I’ll discuss some of Earth’s features and what scientists both anticipated and have discovered about it.

Reflections: Your Turn

For Christians, what does living in an exquisitely fine-tuned world that allows human life to flourish invoke? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Endnotes
  1. For a discussion of naturalism and theism as worldviews, see Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), chapters 12 and 16 respectively.
  2. For more on the fine-tuning of the universe and the solar system, see Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018), 243–66.
  3. For more on the argument for God from fine-tuning, see Kenneth Richard Samples, 7 Truths That Changed the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012), 113–15.

About Reasons to Believe

RTB’s mission is to spread the Christian Gospel by demonstrating that sound reason and scientific research—including the very latest discoveries—consistently support, rather than erode, confidence in the truth of the Bible and faith in the personal, transcendent God revealed in both Scripture and nature. Learn More »

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