Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Countdown started

Well, it is now about time to start the countdown...

Nine days until I will go to Limerick to start the 5 day retreat as introduction to the start of the Noviciate with the Dominican Order (Order of Preachers) on the 14th when I receive the habit.

The noviciate is a year in which the Dominican order and myself will see if God calls me to the perticular vocation of religious life, and maybe in particular the priesthood. It will be a year of prayer, reflection, a bit of study and decernment.

I will be another few days home and must say that I get a bit anxious. Sometimes it is hard to see the way that is traced out before me, and sometimes I don't think I am doing the right thing. We have to trust however on God's plan, and trust His plan to be the best and to do the best to follow it.

The last years have been very exciting, and having a true relation with God really makes life one big adventure (and not a boring novel :) ). It hurts sometimes, and sometimes it is very difficult to do what is good instead of what I what the flesh wants to do, but it is worth it.

It is like clearing out the garden here at home. There was a piece of the garden which was kind of taken over by the forest, and we cleared it out. Hard work, and not always nice (being stung, bitten and scratched), but the result is a clear/clean space, and all the effort we put in was really worth it!

The same with our own purification. It sometimes hurts, but the result is that we get a clearer vision of what is good and what is bad, and appriciate the beauty of life! There is always joy, and although I have done a lot of things that were fun and pleasurable, they didn't give me this deep routed feeling of joy after some difficulties or when doing to right things!

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Practice faith

A lot of people nowadays don't see the reason to belief and practice a active Christian live because they don't have Jesus in their lives. The existence of God is not an issue for them, they don't belief because they don't feel the need.

Modern live is very comfortable in most cases, and it is usually not until a drastic change in people's live or the reaching of an old age that men seems to search for God. The reason for this is that the question "What is the meaning and reason for life?" raises.

The Bible is an very important part of the Christian live. The Bible is the Word of God, so God can speak to us though the Bible. Just reading a few lines of the Bible every day will without any doubt change somebody?s life. People will say: "I read the Bible for a few weeks but it did nothing for me!" but try to have faith, and be open and look back after 2-3 months, surely you see the influence!

Case for Christ

Although a lot of people are not active Christian believers, common belief seems to be that Jesus Christ did live in the first century.

For a lot of people this is how far they go though in their belief. Who he was, however, and what he did is a topic on which you can get a lot of sceptic looks. There are on the other side a lot of ways to proof existence of our Lord and to support his claim that he is the Son of God. The most obvious account of his live and most accessed and available to everybody is the Holy Bible, and in perticular the four Gospels, which gives an detailed account of his preaching and the miracles he performed. Our start in our case for Christ will be to discuss the trustworthiness of the bible, since this can be used as an account of Jesus life, and help to get deeper understanding of what happened in those times.

The historical background of the Bible and therefore its trustworthiness can be examined in three rough steps, the first step is a bibliography test, which all historical documents have to pass. Then there is the internal evidence in which the writers and writing were creditable and how reliable the witnesses can be. Finally an external evidence test will look if the content of the document is consisted with writings and events of that time.

The Bible has also over hundreds prophesies which have been fulfilled, and Christianity is the only religion where prophesies have been given and fulfilled (except the Islam where Mohamed prophesised that he would return to Mecca and he did). If we can accept that the accounts of Jesus as described in the New Testament are right, who was Jesus then? If all these stories are true , how could that be without the involvement of God, and then even more important without him being God.

You can reason out that with the accounts given, and the wisdom, knowledge, miracles, love and self-sacrifice that he was not a lunatic or an evil lair since the first would not have the knowledge and wisdom and the latter won't be so stupid to let himself crucify by proclaiming to be God. It is as well hard to explain the many miracles that look place during that time without the power of God.

The coming of the Messiah was exactly prophesised in the Old Testament and Jesus gave a perfect prophesy himself by telling that the generation to which he was speaking would see the destruction of the temple which happened in 70 AD (A Jewish generation is 40 years!)

Why it is important to know about God's existence

(Copied from my blog Witness Christ)

It really does matter, and matter very much, how we think about the cosmos" are the words of Dr. George Roche [1]. If the universe is uncreated, eternally self/existent, or accidental then it has no purpose and, consequently, we have no purpose. Determinism rules. Morality and religion are ultimately irrelevant. People have a comfortable life, or at least most who life in the Western world, and are more and more educated by one of the marvels of the world: the television! More and more documentaries throw so called fact about the big bang and the birth of the earth at the viewers and explain how life really started, at least that is the impression one gets when reading a common paper or when watching television.

The result is that Christianity is pushed more and more to the background, sometimes even suggested old fashion or revered at as a fairytale. This is a pity since Christianity is actually a very modern and an actual topic especially if it comes to the topic of science, but concerning social behaviour of the communities. Some of the articles presents on this blog try to give a short introduction to the numerous (scientific) facts reasoning for the existence of God and the His son our Lord Jesus Christ.

I also try to explain what the meaning of life is in other articles, what the point of our existence is, why we know what is right and wrong and why we have a moral law. There are a few approaches you can take to discover the existence of God and the Truth this knowledge brings to you, and the most interesting or appropriate way depends on the person. The most important thing is however to be open for the Word of God, and ask him (pray) to help and guide you on the way of exploration.

In our article the case for Christ is evidence given for the accuracy of the Bible, and so the accounts of Jesus round the years 30 AD. This gives already a whole new look and dimension on the Bible and will help to boost the faith of a lot of people. Following on this article are some more scientific and historical fact concerning the existence of our God.

1. George Roche, A World Without Hero's (Hillsdale college press, 1987)

The mystery Right and Wrong

Where does right and wrong come from? Most people will answer that it doesn't come from anywhere because it is personal and that it depends on the opinion of the person and the culture someone is living in. Making it subjective however does not really make sense if we really think about it. That would means that you cannot put somebody into prison because for example someone stole something since he though it was completely right or he needed some money to buy food. Personally he thought he was right, and let's say he is from another culture, it wouldn't be right to judge him according the subjective idea of what is right and wrong in the locality where he stole the object.

We can neither judge the slavery occurring a few hundred years ago since the culture at that time regarded it as right and didn't have any problems with the human trade according. If the idea of "right and wrong" is subjective, then what they did was not wrong looking at the culture at the time, and few would agree with that.

Humans seem to justify their behaviour according to a higher law that they suppose everyone is aware of, and which can be referred to as the moral law. You would be very annoyed if you are waiting in line at the bank and somebody skips the queue, however, you would probably not be as annoyed if you knew that the other did not see the queue or did not know that he had to queue? This is completely illogical since both the instances have the same effect but are judged on in a different way.

A remarkable fact is as well that only humans have a sense of right and wrong, animals don't. Animals have, what humans have as well, an instinct and have an instinctual behaviour. An example is the instinct to protect their offspring, or the sexual drive to reproduce since this is needed to insure the survival of the race. Many animal parents will even sacrifice their live for their offspring. They don't act on decision of right and wrong but only on instinct. Does this moral law (the sense of right and wrong) the fruit of the combination of instinct and the human intelligence? Most animals have intelligence as well in a greater or lesser degree, for example look at Dolphins or a cat teaching a kitten to hunt. This intelligence however helps the instinct and works with it, where we usually want to act against the moral law.

If there is no logic reason for the existence of the moral law (as Einstein pointed out), where does this law come from? An explanation comes from the tree of knowledge of good and evil as pointed out in Genesis: "Yahweh God called the man saying 'Where are you' He said, 'I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.' God said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree I ordered you not to eat?'" (Gn 3:9-11).

Could this be true and could we accept that the moral law come from the creator like the laws of physics? I certainly never saw a dog covering his male parts because he was ashamed! Does this not tie in with the separation from the Creator since we tent to disobey this law? This ties in exactly with the Christian teaching and gives an understanding how we can get closer to our God by following the moral law he has given us and listening to the Words he has spoken to us to help us to repent. You will find that this is what Jesus tries to teach us during his time of ministry on earth. The closer you come to God the better your understanding of right and wrong gets.

Some people find it perfectly to watch television after 10-11 pm and watch some interesting biological programs, a closer relation with god will teach you that there is something wrong with that. This understanding and guidance of God can grow as you are more open for His guidance in you life and you can even experience a total feeling of wrong at watching anything on television that has not a possitive contribution to your life.

The conclusion of the short article above is that there is no logical explanation of the existence of right and wrong as it is given to us humans. Other created live forms as we know don't seem to have this sense of a moral law and are solemnly acting on their instinct support by their intelligence to improve their change to survive. Humans however have the daily battle with this moral law, which urges us to do good instead of acting solemnly for our own salvation or the salvation of or kind. The root of this can only be explained by the root of good which is God, and is in fact described in Genesis 3:9-11. The more we follow the moral law the closer we can get to the Creator, or the closer we get to our Creator the closer we want to follow this moral law, the law which Jesus tried to help us to start to follow during his ministry on earth.

The meaning of live and the Truth

A central question in the existence of every human being is: What is the meaning of live? Although it might be a subject that most people put deep away or is might be a question they don't really want to be answered. The question usually comes back though, especially when times are hard or when we get older and the end of our live in this world is drawing nearer.

The answer to the question is however not as difficult as someone expects. It is not bound to different personalities or any personal position in live as might be the popular belief. Cutting straight to the point, the meaning of life can only be found in having a relation with God and accept his son Jesus Christ in your life as Saviour. In this way we come to know the only Truth. The meaning of life is to start to understand the reasons for our existence by building up a relation with God and to grow towards eternal life where you will join God, the Angels and Saints in the paradise of Heaven.

Here on earth, God gives you a chance to make up your own mind of what you want to do in eternity, how you want to spend it. In this life on earth he gives you the choice to choose for or against him, to start a relation with him which continues into eternity or not. He gives you the opportunity to accept him and enjoy a relation with him and feel his love in your live now and into eternity. God loves all people on this earth since he created them all, and his love goes so far that He also allows you to reject him, for you to choose to take things in your own hands and live without Him.

Part of our exsistence on earth can be seen as a chance to make a choice to join God in Heaven and worship Him and give him praise along with the Angels and the Saint or to reject God and be in self control as did Lucifer and the fallen angels. This choice is given at the beginning of the world where the serpent tells Eve in the garden of Eden to eat from the tree of knowledge and the first lie in the world was told: "You will be like gods, knowing good and evil?" (Gen 3:5).

Once you make the choice to follow God, you have to make the next step is to live a life according to the objective Truth. The Truth is partly revealed by God in the form of the Scriptures as found in Holy Bible, and in fullness in His son Jesus. Through these the Lord want to help you to follow Him. Living in the Truth does not mean that you have to suffer, that life has to be hard or that you have to become moody as that is not Gods intention of our stay on earth. To be a christian is to life in the Joy of knowing God, and to spread this joy among others.

Following God is not difficult, as He also gave us the Spirit in our baptism to help and guide us. God is very willing to help us to fulfil this live according to his plan as long as we are prepared to live a live of Truth and are willing to listen to his guidance.

Start of Life

A lot of people belief or are made to belief that evolution is the only possible base of the human existence. The explanation of the start of life is that it sprung forth out of a random fusion of atoms, coincidental being all together in a nice little warm pool of mud. Leaving in the middle of Evolution is of any importance at all for a debate about the excistence of God, as off course for a few atoms to meet and start life those atoms are required first, this short article will look at the possibility that life started by a random occurance or chance.

Biochemistry research presented in another article (which will give supporting references) leaded me to the conclusion that the possibility that random atoms would line up and attach them self to each other to potentially even form the first basic element needed for life is near to impossible (or actually near to imposable is still to close). The required atoms for the most basic element required to start building the simplest cell don't naturally look for each other and line up in the right way. With the chance being so small only an infinite repetition of all the required elements being together in the perfect atmosphere could possibly result in a (one) amino acid to be formed.

There are different theories thought out regarding the existence of the universe. One of these theories, the oscillation model or the continuous creation model, would be in favor of the theory of evolution since it gives an infinite or near infinite amount of cycles. There is a chance that even the smallest chance of spontaneous life will occur when something is repeated an unlimited amount of times. This is however not the case as we discussed in the article on the Big Creation.

Then looking at the plausibility of a life sustainable environment, the article "Astronomical Evidences for God of the Bible" [1] gives 28 parameters crucial for the earth to sustain life which needs to be within critical limits for life even to be possible let alone spontaneous start to be. Observing these few parameters mentioned only a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all stars will have a planet capable to sustain advance life. When you consider that that the observed universe has less than a trillion galaxies with each on average only a hundred billion stars life would not even be likely to be found possible on one planet.

Philosophers William Lane Craig and Richard Swinburne's reply to the non-theists explanation shows how extremely unlikely the event is that the life on earth did indeed start by chance by the following example: Suppose a hundred sharpshooters are sent to execute a prisoner as a firing squad and the prisoner survives. The prisoner should not be surprised that he does not observe that he is dead. After all, if he were dead, he could not observe his death. Nonetheless, he should be surprised that he observes that he is alive [2].

Dr. Ross' extend to Craig's argument: the prisoner could conclude, since he is alive, that all the sharpshooters missed by some extremely unlikely chance. He may wish to attribute his survival to an incredible bit of good luck, but he would be far more rational to conclude that the guns were loaded with blanks or that the sharpshooters all deliberately missed. That is, someone must have arranged that he should live. Likewise, the rational conclusion to draw from the incredible fine-tunedness of the universe and the solar system is that someone arranged that we should live.

Also, there is more and more development on the 'intelligent design' thesis. With intelligent design in this article is meant a very clear indication that the world is the way it is, not by chance, but by a guiding hand. There are multiple interpretation around of the term 'intelligent design', which do not all mean the same, but I like to look at it in a broad sense: the evidence supporting an intelligent force influencing the world.

This means, that there is no real problem with evolution, although I don't know if I agree with all the statements and claims that are made around the evolution theory, in a way it is not important for me. The definition of the intelligent design thesis as "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection".

Currently the main opposition against intelligent design are scientist who do not want to accept intelligent design as a science as it cannot be tested, and thus, deny that it exists. Dr. Dembski has written a lot on the topic of intelligent design and reasons why we should be open to accept it as science.

However, independent of the fact of intelligent design being a science or not, the examples of Dr. Behe most strike me, as they give concrete examples of irreversible complex organism in micro biology. Irreversible complexity is a description of a part of an organism, which could not be formed by natural selection. This would be the case where for example one part out of a complex 'machine' in a cell will render the whole 'machine' useless. This means that the only way that the organism through natural selection (something is further evolved as every small little change makes the organism stronger and as such natural selection will favor this organism to dominate) dominate when all the elements needed for the function of this 'machine' come together at once.

(work in progress... to be continued)

  1. H. Ross, "Astronomical Evidence for the God of the Bible", Reasons to Belief

  2. W.L. Craig, "Barrow and Tipler on the Anthropic Principle vs. Divine Design," in British Journal of Philosophy and Science, 38. (1988), p.392

Big Creation

A lot of people now a days belief or at least give consideration to the views of the atheist that the world is not created by a higher being and not depended on it. This view however has a lot of logical and scientific questions around it! I will point out a view of them on a low level in this article and give my own opinion on them. I will give some references to provide material for further reading.

First we can have a look at scientific, and specific astrological evidence as the existence of the world itself is the most obvious example of the creation by a higher being. As sources I used the article "Astronomical Evidences for God of the Bible" and others[1]. Einstein stated the equations of special relativity and later general relativity in the beginning of the 20th century. Resistance to the theory of special relativity was broken down early as the success of the equations to predict observations and experiments was overwhelming. Einstein' s equations of general relativity prove that everything in the universe expands and decelerates simultaneously. The only known phenomenon that behaves the same is an explosion resulting the all accepted conclusion that the universe is the result of some kind of "Big Bang". Soon the Astronomer Edwin Hubble proving that the galaxies do expand as Einstein predicted [2]. However, a following conclusion is as well that there is a beginning and we can then reason that there has to be as well a Beginner as we will see below.

The response from the non theistic world view was a variety of alternatives for the "Big bang" theory to rule out the beginning and the need for a Beginner. Three British astrophysicists [3,4] proposed in 1948 a "continuous creation" where the creation is ongoing all the time, but this theory was proven wrong when with performing a simple test that was proposed in 1920 by Sir James Jeans stating that there should be a "steady population" in the universe in case of a "continuous creation" but he showed that no stars have been found older than 16 billion years and (very nearly) all galaxies are middle aged.

There are more invented theories about the creation as for example the "oscillating universe", where the universe is wrapped in an ever continuing cycle of explosion, collapse and then an explosion again. This theory does not hold however for various reasons as for example the fact that the mass of the observed universe is only half the mass needed for the universe to collapse to start it next "oscillating cycle" and the huge entropy of the universe would not permit more than a few bounces anyway [5]. With the evaporation of the hesitate, steady state and oscillation models evaporates also the foundation of the eastern beliefs of reincarnation and the basis of Hinduism, Buddhism and its New Age derivatives. The impossibility of an eternal existing cosmos translates also into the impossibility of the pantheism and all its daughter faiths.

We can establish that time has a beginning according to the equations of general relativity as three British astrophysics established [6]. Their papers showed that if these equations are valid for the universe, then, under reasonably general conditions, space and time also must have an origin. With the knowledge that time has a beginning, and a relatively recent beginning (17 +/- 3 billion years), all age-stretching attempts to save non-theistic science should cease according to the article.

Other evidence of an intelligent design of the universe can be found when looking at 18 parameters as summarised in "Astronomical Evidences for God of the Bible" [1], where the degree of fine-tuning is utterly amazing. The degree of fine-tunedness for many of these parameters is utterly amazing. For example, coated from Dr. Ross [1], if the strong nuclear force were even two percent stronger or two percent weaker, the universe would never be able to support life. More astounding yet, the ground state energies for 4He, 8Be, 12C, and 16O cannot be higher or lower with respect to each other by more than four percent without yielding a universe with insufficient oxygen and/or carbon for any kind of life, and the expansion rate of the universe is even more sensitive. It must be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in 1055! Clearly some ingenious Designer must be involved in the physics of the universe. It is possible to continue the publications of prove for the existence of the Creator but we leave it at this to prevent this article from being blown out of proportion and the references at the end of the article should be a good start if you are interested in continuing the research.
We could have a look as well at the fact that the universe needs to have a beginning and beginner following the philosophical reasoning as well. One reasoning for this is called "kalam cosmological argument" [7], but we won' t explain this argument in this article as we try to use physical evidence as a source for our proof, but encourage you to read the article following the link below if you are interested in philosophical reasoning.

My own conclusion from above and from reading the various articles is that a lot of scientists have tried to find loopholes in the theory of creation and a Creator, but that after detailed and extensive examination all those theories they don't seem to undermine the possibility of a creator in my view.
It seems to me that a lot of people try to find a reason not the belief in God but fail in doing so since everything seems to point only in one direction, the one Truth and the one God. The approve is only a few short points on topics related to the creation of the universe to give a start for further research possible with the references below.
  1. H. Ross, "Astronomical Evidence for the God of the Bible", Reasons to Belief
  2. E. Hubble, "A Relation Between Distance and Rasial Velocity Among Extra-Galacticebulae", in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 15. (1929), 168-173.
  3. H. Bondi and T. Gold, "The Staty-State Theory of the Expanding Universe", in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 108. (1948), 252-270.
  4. F. Hoyle, "A New Model for Expanding Universe", in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 108. (1948), 272-282.
  5. A.H. Guth and M. Sher, "The Impossibility of a Bouncing Universe, in Nature, 302. (1983), pp.505-507
  6. Stephen W. Hawking and George F. R. Ellis, "The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe," in Astrophysical Journal 152. (1968), pp. 25-36.
  7. The existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe, William Lane Craig, Truth Journal

Holidays!

I am in the middle of my months holiday at home, and I am really enjoying it.
The weather so far has been very good, and today is the first really rainy day.

I decided to post the articles I wrote 4 years ago and posted on the website http://www.christianevidence.com on my blog. I haven't done any maintanace on the website for years and don't know if it will stay online.

So there will hopefully appear some articles on science related issues connected to our faith soon.

Articles

The Irish Dominicans have a website called Dominicans Interactive with online resources. We also have an iPhone/iPad App, which can be found in the iTunes App Store.


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