Posts Tagged ‘faith’


The following parameters of a planet, its moon, its star, and its galaxy must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for life of any kind to exist. Characteristics 2 and 3 have been repeated from [Appendix A] since these apply to both the universe and the galaxy.

1. spiral galaxy disk shape
if too elliptical: star formation would cease before sufficient heavy element build-up for life chemistry
if too regular: radiation exposure on occasion would be too severe and heavy elements for life chemistry would not be available

2. supernova eruptions
if too close: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
if too far: not enough heavy element ashes would exist for the formation of rocky planets

if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminate
if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes would exist for the formation of rocky planets

if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes would exist for the formation of rocky planets

3. white dwarf binaries
if too few: insufficient fluorine would be produced for life chemistry to proceed
if too many: planetary orbits would be disrupted by stellar density

if too soon: not enough heavy elements would be made for efficient fluorine production
if too late: fluorine would be made too late for incorporation in the proto-planet

4. parent star distance from center of the galaxy
if farther: quantity of heavy elements would be insufficient to make rocky planets
if closer: galactic radiation would be too great; stellar density would disturb planetary orbits out of life support zones

5. number of stars in the planetary system
if more than one: tidal interactions would disrupt planetary orbits
if less than one: heat produced would be insufficient for life

6. parent star birth date
if more recent: star would not yet have reached stable burning phase; stellar system would contain too many heavy elements
if less recent: stellar system would not contain enough heavy elements

7. parent star age
if older: luminosity of star would change too quickly
if younger: luminosity of star would change too quickly

8. parent star mass
if greater: luminosity of star would change too quickly; star would burn too rapidly
if less: range of planet orbit distances appropriate for life would be too narrow; tidal forces would disrupt the rotational period for a planet of the right distance; uv radiation would be inadequate for plants to make sugar and oxygen

9. parent star color
if redder: photosynthetic response would be insufficient
if bluer: photosynthetic response would be insufficient

10. parent star luminosity relative to speciation
if increases too soon: would develop runaway greenhouse effect
if increases too late: would develop runaway glaciation

11. surface gravity (escape velocity)
if stronger; planet’s atmosphere would retain too much ammonia and methane
if weaker: planet’s atmosphere would lose too much water

12. distance from parent star
if farther: planet would be too cool for stable water cycle
if closer: planet would be too warm for stable water cycle

13. inclination of orbit
if too great: temperature difference on the planet would be too extreme

14. orbital eccentricity
if too great: seasonal temperature differences would be too extreme

15. axial tilt
if greater: surface temperature differences would be too great
if less: surface temperature differences would be too great

16. rotation period
if longer: diurnal temperature differences would be too great
if shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would be too great

17. rate of change of rotation period
if larger; surface temperature range necessary for life would not be sustained
if smaller: surface temperature range necessary for life would not be sustained

18. planet age
if too young: planet would rotate too rapidly
if too old: planet would rotate too slowly

19. magnetic field
if stronger: electromagnetic storms would be too severe
if weaker: ozone shield and life on the land would be inadequately protected from hard stellar and solar radiation

20. thickness of crust
if thicker: too much oxygen would be transferred from the atmosphere to the crust
if thinner: volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great

21. albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on the surface)
if greater: runaway glaciation would develop
if less: runaway greenhouse effect would develop

22. collision rate with asteroids and comets
if greater: too many species would become extinct
if less: crust would be too depleted of materials essential for life

23. oxygen to nitrogen ratio in the atmosphere
if larger: advanced life functions would proceed too quickly
if smaller: advanced life functions would proceed too slowly

24. carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: plants would be unable to maintain efficient photosynthesis

25. water vapor in the atmosphere
if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
if less: rainfall would be too meager for advanced life on the land

26. atmospheric electric discharge rate
if greater: too much fire destruction would occur
if less: too little nitrogen would be fixed in the atmosphere

27. ozone levels in the atmosphere
if greater: surface temperatures would be too low
if less: surface temperatures would be too high; there would be too much uv radiation at the surface

28. oxygen quantity in the atmosphere
if greater: plants and hydrocarbons would burn up too easily
if less: advance animals would have too little to breathe

29. tectonic plate activity
if greater: too many life forms would be destroyed
if less: nutrients on ocean floors (from river runoff) would not be recycled to the continents through tectonic uplift

30. oceans-to-continents ratio
if greater: diversity and complexity of life forms would be limited
if smaller: diversity and complexity of life forms would be limited

31. global distribution of continents (for Earth)
if too much in the southern hemisphere: seasonal temperature differences would be too severe for advanced life

32. soil mineralization
if too nutrient poor: diversity and complexity of life forms would be limited
if too nutrient rich: diversity and complexity of life forms would be limited

33. gravitational interaction with a moon
if greater: tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe
if less: orbital obliquity changes would cause climatic instabilities; movement of nutrients and life from the oceans to the continents and continents to the oceans would be insufficient; magnetic field would be too weak

[1] Hugh Ross, PhD, (1995), The Creator and the Cosmos, (138-141), Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress.

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I began a summary discussion of the credibility of the Bible in the previous article. In it I addressed the first of three questions that should guide inquiry into this subject:

Are today’s Bibles accurate copies of the original writings?

Were the original writers recording the events accurately?

Is the Bible, in its entirety, really God’s personal message to mankind, that is, the inspired (directed by God) and inerrant Word of God?

This article will look at the second question: Were the bible’s authors accurate in recording biblical events?

In recent years authors of fictional writings such as The Da Vinci Code have raised controversy about the accuracy of the Bible. Their story line is admittedly fiction. The problem comes from their treatment of the historical background which is portrayed as authentic to help create realism in the story. Any reasonable examination reveals gross inaccuracies in this facet of the novels.

Arches of Chorazin (Luke 10:13)

Archaeological findings consistently substantiate biblical accuracy. As the noted Dr. J. O. Kinnaman said: “Of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by the archaeologists, not one has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies one word, phrase, clause, or sentence of the bible, but always confirms and verifies the facts of the biblical record.”[1] This holds for both the Old and New Testaments as more and more excavations of ancient sites have shown. A few such discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, have become well known; most have not. “Any student of archaeology familiar with specific sites like Megiddo, Samaria, or Lachish, can multiply such instances of confirmation for every era of Hebrew history.”[2]

“There have been thousands — not hundreds — of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the picture presented in the biblical record. There was a discovery not long ago confirming King David [Old Testament, 1,000 BC]. The Patriarchs — the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [also O.T., 2,100 BC] — were once considered legendary, but as more has become known these stories are increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is ‘permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in the long distant past’.”[3],[4]

“In principle the archaeologist has no particular interest in “proving the truth” of the Scriptures, and it is obviously impossible for a spade or a trowel to prove or disprove the spiritual revelations and assertions of Scripture. But it is fair to say that archaeology validates Hebrew history and explains many formerly obscure terms and traditions in both the Old Testament and New Testament.”[5]

Consistency with non-biblical ancient writings also adds to the veracity of the authors of the Bible. “Sometimes uninformed critics of the Bible, particularly of the New Testament, claim that since there are no references outside the New Testament to events of the New Testament, therefore the New Testament testimony is suspect. The truth is that there are several references to New Testament events outside the New Testament. For example, Suetonius, in his The Twelve Caesars says:

Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Crestus [a Latin reference to Christ], he [Claudius] expelled them from the city.[6]

Compare this reference to Acts 18:2 which clearly refers to the same event.

And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.

Another clear reference outside the New Testament to a New Testament event is found by the Roman historian Tacitus in his work The Annals of Imperial Rome.

To suppress this rumour [that the massive fires of Rome had been deliberately set by men], Nero fabricated scapegoats – and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus.

The Jewish historian Josephus (ca. 90-95 AD) mentions the martyrdom of the apostle James, refers to James as Jesus’ brother, mentions the martyrdom of John the Baptist, and mentions Jesus a second time. Other references include the Roman historian Thallus (ca. 52 AD) as quoted by Julius Africanus concerning the darkness at the crucifixion, the Roman author and administrator Pliny the Younger’s (ca. 112 AD) mention of the early Christians’ worship of Christ, and historical references from the Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian.”[7]

Scripture often verifies itself. In his excellent book, The Reason For God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Timothy Keller, Pastor of the 6,000 member Redeemer Presbyterian Church, in Manhattan, New York, NY, points out three compelling arguments for self-verification of Scripture. First, the timing is far too early for the Gospels to be legends. As cited in my previous article, virtually all of the New Testament was written within 25-50 years of the recorded events. Keller comments that Richard Bauckham’s research[8] revealed that “at the time the gospels were written there were still numerous well-known living eyewitnesses to Jesus’ teaching and life events. … the gospel writers named their eyewitnesses within the text to assure readers of their accounts’ authenticity. Mark, for example, says the man who helped Jesus carry his cross to Calvary, “was the father of Alexander and  Rufus” (Mark 15:21). There is no reason for the author to include such names unless the readers know or could have access to them. Mark is saying, “Alexander and Rufus vouch for the truth of what I am telling you, if you want to ask them.”[9] Similarly, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 refers to 500 eyewitnesses who saw the resurrected Jesus. You can’t make up a story like that in a public document while those witnesses are still alive. To do so would discredit the entire document which the rapid spread of Christianity shows did not happen. Many, many instances like these fill the New Testament.

Secondly, the content is far too counter-productive for the gospels to be legends. Keller observes the working theory of many people today is that the gospels were written — not by the apostolic authors — but many years later by the leaders of the early church to promote their policies, consolidate their power, and build their movement. He cites several passages in Scripture that, if that theory is true, what these bogus writers wrote would jeopardize their own self-serving purposes.[10] For example, in those times the accepted public view of any who were crucified was that they were the worst of criminals. So in what way would the early Christian movement benefit by making Jesus out to be a terrible criminal by extolling his crucifixion? And how would it be advantageous to portray Jesus as just a weak human by writing of his begging God in the garden of Gethsemane to let him out of his reason for coming to earth? (Matthew 26:39). Or why depict the apostles — the eventual leaders of the early church — as petty and jealous, almost impossibly slow witted, and in the end as cowards who either actively or passively failed their master (remember Peter’s denial of Christ three times, Matthew 26:69-74)? And if the New Testament message was fabricated how can we explain how each of the twelve apostles (except John) and countless of the early Christians died for their belief in known lies by horrible, tortured deaths — sawed in half, boiled in oil, torn apart by wild animals for entertainment, set afire as human torches? How could this have been sensible faith?

Third, and finally, the literary form of the gospels is too detailed to be legend. C. S. Lewis, renown Oxford and Cambridge professor and scholar, and a world class literary critic, when reading the gospels, noted:

I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this. Of this [gospel] text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage … or else, some unknown ancient writer … without predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic, realistic narrative …[11]

Lewis meant that ancient fiction was nothing like modern fiction. The latter contains details and dialogue and reads like an eye witness account. This genre of fiction, however, only developed in the last three hundred years. … The gospel accounts are not fiction.[12]

So I come to the conclusion: were the original writers recording the events of the bible accurately? It certainly appears that they did. I suppose the accounts of research from which I have drawn this summary have not accounted for every sentence and verse in the Scriptures. So unless the forty or so authors of the Bible were supernaturally inspired and guided, one could always raise a remote question about the accuracy of this detail or that. So, …

Next time:

Is the Bible, in its entirety, really God’s personal message to mankind, that is, the inspired (directed by God) and inerrant Word of God?

Until then, consider:

You don’t need to have all your questions answered to come to faith. You just have to [acknowledge] that the weight of evidence seems to show this is true, so even though I don’t have all the answers to all my questions, I’m going to believe and hope for the answers in the long run.[13]

Ask yourself: Is Faith Sensible?

That’s what happened with me.


End Notes

[1] Dr. Paul Lee Tan, ThD (1996) Encylopedia Of 7,700 Illustrations: Signs Of The Times, (391), Bible Communica­tion, Inc,.

[2]Henry, C. F. H. (1999). God, Revelation, and Authority (4:79). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

[3] See: Clifford A. Wilson (1977), Rocks, Relics, and Biblical Reliability (42), Grand Rapids, Mich, Zondervan.

[4] quoting Norman L. Geisler, PhD, Philosophy, Loyola University in Chicago; Lee Strobel (2000) The Case for Faith (128), Grand Rapids, Mich, Zondervan.

[5]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (160). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

[6] Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, (4:202),trans. Robert Graves, revised (1989) with and introduction by Michael Grant London: The Penguin Group.

[7] The Issachar Institute (1994), http://www.answering-islam.org/Case/case2.html

[8] Richard Bauckham (2006), Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, (chps 2, 3, and 6), Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.

[9] Rev. Timothy Keller (2008), The Reason For God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism, (104-105), Riverhead Books, New York, NY

[10] ibid. (107-109)

[11] C. S. Lewis (1967), Christian Reflections, (155), Walter Hooper, ed., Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich.

[12] ibid, Keller (110)

[13] Lee Strobel (2000) The Case for Faith (61), Grand Rapids, Mich, Zondervan

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The following are 26 of the estimated 50 constants and quantities, which, had there been any variation in their primordial values, our universe – at least as we know it – would not exist (ref 1: The Creator and the Cosmos, Hugh Ross, PhD, astronomy, p 118-119)

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1. Strong nuclear force constant
if larger: no hydrogen; nuclei essential for life would be unstable
if smaller: no elements other than hydrogen

2. Weak nuclear force constant
if larger: too much hydrogen converted to helium in big bang, hence too much heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
if smaller: too little helium produced from big bang, hence too little heavy material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars

3. Gravitational force constant
if larger: stars would be too hot and would burn up too quickly and too unevenly
if smaller: stars would remain so cool that nuclear fusion would never ignite, hence no heavy element production

4. Electromagnetic force constant
if larger: insufficient chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron would be too unstable for fission
if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding

5. Ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
if larger: no stars less than 1.4 solar masses, hence short stellar life spans and uneven stellar luminosities
if smaller: no stars more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production

6. Ratio of electron to proton mass
if larger: insufficient chemical bonding
if smaller: insufficient chemical bonding

7. Ratio of number of protons to electrons
if larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star and planet formation
if smaller: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star and planet formation

8. Expansion rate of the universe
if larger: no galaxy formation
if smaller: universe would collapse prior to star formation

9. Entropy level of the universe
if larger: no proto-galaxy formation
if smaller: no star condensation within the proto-galaxies

10. Mass density of the universe
if larger: too much deuterium from big bang, hence stars burn too rapidly
if smaller: insufficient helium from big bang, hence too few heavy elements forming

11. Velocity of light
if faster: stars would be too luminous
if slower: stars would not be luminous enough

12. Age of the universe
if older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of galaxies
if younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed

13. Initial uniformity of radiation
if smoother: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
if coarser: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space

14. Fine structure constant (a number used to describe the fine structural splitting of spectral lines)
if larger: DNA would be unable to function; no stars more than 0.7 solar masses
if smaller: DNA would be unable to function; no stars more than 1.8 solar masses

15. Average distance between galaxies
if larger: insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation over an adequate time span
if smaller: the sun’s orbit would be too radically disturbed

16. Average distance between stars
if larger; heavy element density too thin for rocky planets to form
if smaller: planetary orbits would become destabilized

17. Decay rate of the proton
if larger: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
if smaller: insufficient matter in the universe for life

18. 12Carbon (12C) to 16Oxygen (16O) energy level ratio
if larger: insufficient oxygen
if smaller: insufficient  carbon

19. Ground state energy level for 4Helium (4He)
if larger: insufficient carbon and oxygen
if smaller: insufficient carbon and oxygen

20. Decay rate of 8Beryllium (8Be)
if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic in all the stars
if faster: no element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible

21. Mass excess of the neutron over the proton
if greater: neutron decay would leave too few neutrons to form the heavy elements essential for life
if smaller: proton decay would cause all stars to collapse rapidly into neutron stars or black holes

22. Initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
if greater: too much radiation for planets to form
if smaller: not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form

23. Polarity of the water molecule
if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist
if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life’s existence; liquid water would become too inferior a solvent for life chemistry to proceed; ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up

24. Supernovae eruptions
if too close: radiation would eliminate life on the planet
if too far: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated
if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets

25. White dwarf binaries
if too few: insufficient fluorine produced for life chemistry to proceed
if too many: disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated

if too soon: not enough heavy elements made for efficient fluorine production
if too late: fluorine made too late for incorporation in proto-planet

26. Ratio of exotic to ordinary matter
if smaller: galaxies would not form
if larger: universe would collapse before solar type stars could form

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Billions of stars in each galaxy. Billions of galaxies. Therefore, many billions of planets. There must be millions of civilizations scattered through the universe. This was widely accepted as a reasonable conclusion throughout the 1900s by science and laypersons alike. Later in that period astronomers and astrophysicists began getting data showing that, for the most part, the universe is a violent, unfriendly place. Yet there seemed to be “safe zones” …

The hot big bang model says that the entire physical universe — all the matter and energy, and even the four dimensions of space and time — burst forth from a state of infinite, or near infinite, density, temperature, and pressure. The universe expanded from a volume very much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence, and it continues to expand[1]. But how did the galaxies form? According to the physical laws galaxies should not have happened. Indeed galaxies, stars, planets, life, would not exist – at least as we know them – if there had been any variation in the primordial values of an estimated 50 constants and quantities, 26 of which are shown in Appendix A (click here). For example, renown physicist and mathematician Dr Stephen Hawking calculated that if just one of these constants, the universe’s expansion rate, one second after the big bang had been smaller than one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have collapsed into a fireball[2]. If the expansion rate had been any larger, matter would have dispersed so efficiently that none of it would clump enough to form galaxies, and therefore no stars, no planets, and no life[3].

The COBE satellite (Cosmic Background Explorer) provided the data that established that there is, throughout the universe, very small amounts of residual heat/radiation from the big bang. Not only so, but in later refinements it was shown that its distribution is splotchy – precisely what must happen for galaxies to form. The COBE findings were extolled across the science community with superlatives. Stephen Hawking, usually a master of understatement, said “it is the discovery of the century, if not of all time”[4].

Initially, the big bang consisted of nothing but energy; extreme temperatures. In the first four minutes there was enough cooling for the universe’s first matter to form: hydrogen (in the form of deuterium) and helium. Practically all that exists today of these elements formed then.

What does all this have to do with sensible faith and “safe zones for life?” First of all, the extraordinary, extraordinary odds against the occurrence of these events by natural processes would hopefully lead the atheistic or skeptical reader to wonder if his faith in chance happenings is sensible. Maybe the existence of a transcendent intelligence designing and guiding these incredible events is more likely and more sensible (in all fairness impossible odds, by themselves, is technically not conclusive. More about this in a couple of articles hence).

Secondly, safe zones for earth-like planets depend upon the foregoing galaxy-building events. For example, the heavier elements essential to form rocks, planets, and life have to come from stars which “burn” that hydrogen (fuse hydrogen atoms into heavier atoms), and eventually explode (supernovae) scattering their heavy material through space where gravity can draw it together into new stars and their orbiting planets. While this cycle can happen almost anywhere, earth-like planets can exist only if:

There has been enough supernovae cycles to provide a rich environment of the life-essential elements. For example, a very young galactic region cannot have had enough star cycles to provide sufficient planet-building material.

The occurrence of supernovae, new star births, collisions with other galaxies, black holes, white dwarf binaries, gamma bursts, and other violence has quieted enough so as to not disrupt/destroy planets and life.

The density of neighborhood stars, other bodies, and even other planets is sparse enough to provide low enough gravity fields to permit stable, near circular orbits of potential earth-like planets around their parent star.

The luminosity (brightness) of the parent star has to be sufficient to provide hospitable levels of stable heating.

Candidate earth-like planets have to orbit their parent star at the right distance and have a gas-giant type of planet in orbit close enough to attract planet-killing asteroids and comets, but far enough away to allow the earth-like planet to have a stable orbit with manageable tides.

These are just a few of the “neighborhood factors” narrowing the galactic zones safe for life-sustaining planets to exist. Carl Sagan (of Cosmos fame) and Iosef Shklovskii were the first astronomers to provide evidence of these intricacies[5]. In 1966 they had determined it takes a certain kind of star [size, brightness, stability] with a planet located just the right distance from that star to provide the minimal conditions for life[6]. Working with just these two [of many] parameters, they estimated that only 0.001% of all stars could have a planet capable of supporting advanced life[7].

With the foregoing as background let’s look at the universe where the stars are — in either globular clusters or in the three basic types of galaxies — together with a few of their life-sustaining characteristics, or absence thereof.

Globular clusters are one of the worst places to expect life because of, first, the low abundance of life sustaining heavy elements due to the young age of its stars. Secondly, globular clusters are so densely packed with stars that stable, circular orbits of planets would be impossible – assuming planets could even form. Zero “safe zones” here.

Galaxies are of three basic types: elliptical, irregular, and spiral.

Most galaxies are elliptical and less massive having mostly young stars in random orbits, like bees swarming a beehive. Consequently, the stars visit every region of the galaxy including the denser, inner regions where a black hole is likely[8]. Under these conditions, star formation ceases before the interstellar medium becomes enriched enough with heavy elements. Without these heavy elements earth-like planets cannot form nor, if formed, could they support life[9]. Again, zero safe zones.

Irregular galaxies exhibit worse conditions for life than elliptical galaxies. They’re distorted and ripped apart with supernovae going off throughout their volume. There are no safe places where there are fewer supernovae exploding, such as Earth enjoys resting as it does between two of the arms in our  spiral galaxy[10].

Spiral galaxies are the least common in the universe comprising only 5% of all the galaxies[11]. Spiral galaxies also tend to be the most massive and luminous – the Milky Way being in the top one or two percent of all massive galaxies. This makes for an abundance of the heavy elements needed for life. Galaxies have varying degrees of star formation where gases coalesce to form stars, which then super novae at a fairly high rate[12]. In a spiral galaxy these “star nurseries” are primarily in the spiral arms – well away from our planet which is situated safely on an edge between two arms. The inner regions of the spiral disc are also inhospitable to life with high levels of radiation, supernovae and almost certainly a black hole.

So where are the “safe zones for life in the universe”? In the narrow regions on the edge of the arms of spiral galaxies, not too far out toward the perimeter of the galaxy disk where the heavy elements are thin, and not to far toward the center of the disk where violence is more common. How common are these safe zones in the universe? Very rare. The vast majority of galaxies are eliminated from contention, and the vast majority of the stars in the few remaining galaxies are also eliminated[13].

What do you suppose is a sensible estimate of the number of “safe zones” occurring by accident in the universe?

More next time . . .

Appendix A, A Universe Fine Tuned For Life


[1] Hugh Ross, PhD, (1995), The Creator and the Cosmos, Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress

[2] Stephen W. Hawking, (1988), A Brief History of Time, New York, NY, Bantam Books

[3] ibid, Ross, (114)

[4] ibid, (19)

[5] ibid, (131)

[6] Iosef S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, (1966), Intelligent Life In The Universe, (343-350), San Francisco, CA, Holden-Day.

[7] Ibid, (413)

[8] Guillermo Gonzalez, PhD, summa cum laude astronomy and physics, University of Arizona; masters and doctorate, University of Washington, interview, Lee Strobel , (2004), The Case For A Creator, (170), Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan,

[9] ibid, Ross, (132)

[10] ibid, Gonzalez, Strobel, (171)

[11] ibid, Ross, (132)

[12] ibid, Gonzalez, Strobel,, (166-172)

[13] ibid, Ross, (133)

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Among the top issues which challenge assertions for the existence of God is the disputed age of the universe. So if atheists, skeptics and Christians can possibly be “on the same page” in reading future articles here, we have to try to clear up this disparity.

Without question, scientific findings firmly establish the age of the universe at some 15 ¾ billion years. Yet the book claiming to be God’s Word (see future posting #4, AUTHENTICITY OF THE BIBLE) sets that age at about 6,000 years. However, it’s the first six days of those 6,000 years, “the six days of creation,” that seem the hardest to accept in view of solid scientific evidence.

Future posting #3f, THE SIX DAYS OF GENESIS, is going to address the events contained in those six days as well as the conflicting science. This posting discusses the timing disparity – six 24-hour days or 15+ billion years?

Most of the content of this posting is my understanding of the excellent work, The Science of God, (1997), by Dr. Gerald L. Schroeder, Ph.D. My apologies to him for any unintended misrepresentations I have inflicted on his work. Dr. Schroeder received both undergraduate and doctorate degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the latter in Nuclear Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences. Pursuing his orthodox Jewish faith, he emigrated to Israel in 1971 after serving on the faculty of M.I.T.  for some years. As a researcher and applied theologian, he does work at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Volcani Research Institute, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Wikipedia).

What is so remarkable about Dr. Schroeder’s work I will discuss here is that he has reconciled the Genesis and science perspectives of the age of the universe by showing that the perceived flow of time for a given event in an expanding universe varies with the observer’s perspective. Applying Einstein’s Law (no longer a theory) of Relativity leads one inexorably to the conclusion that the six 24-hour days of Genesis and science’s 15 billion years are exactly the same! Indeed, Dr. Schroeder verifies this with a convincing numerical calculation (see below) based upon the scientifically accepted Expansion Coefficient, that is, the rate at which the universe expanded following the big bang, 1 X 1012 or a million-million (It is significant to point out that Dr. Schroeder’s work on this subject has been formally peer reviewed for accuracy by members of the relevant fields of science).

All too briefly, here is my understanding of what this means: When the universe – and time – was rapidly expanding from the big bang, the unit of time defined today as a “year”, if applied then, would contain many, many more events than today’s year could hold. So a “year” then had a greatly different meaning than it does today. If, from today’s perspective, we could look backward from here and watch those events occur we would feel things were moving really, really fast, that is, “time” was moving much, much faster then than it is now. Science records that period of rapid time expansion in terms of how many of those events would “fit” into today’s year. The result: science greatly increases the number of today’s years in the early universe so we can understand it with a unit of time with which we are familiar.

Another way of looking at this effect is to imagine we could actually be there at the big bang. Let’s say we could remain in one place right at the point of the big bang and watch everything expand into stars, galaxies, and space. If we could do this, our conception of a unit of time wouldn’t change, that is, an “hour” before the Big Bang would remain an hour, a day would continue to have 24 of these constant hours in it and all events would appear to be moving at a normal rate. If we wanted to write down everything we saw happening in one of these pre-big bang 24 hour days we would have a diary of all the events that today – looking backwards in today’s time – we see occurring in billions of years.

This imaginary diary is not so imaginary – it’s called the Bible. The account is in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1.

I think many, perhaps most, seminaries haven’t yet found and incorporated Dr. Schroeder’s reconcilia­tion into their curriculum. Consequently, the popular Christian explanation of this glaring disparity in the accounts of time is to translate the word “day” in Genesis 1 as an undefined epoch – a rendering that conflicts with the original Hebrew. Interestingly, the Bible’s time reference shifts from pre-big bang time to today’s Earth time when mankind came on the scene late in the 6th day of the Genesis account.

Dr. Schroeder confirmed this time dilation as it’s called with a numerical calculation summarized in the following table:

From the Bible’s perspec­tive looking forward in time from start of day one Time in each day from Earth’s perspective looking backward in time from the present Approximate Earth years before Adam at the start of each Biblical day looking backward from present
Day one 8 billion years 15 ¾ billion years
Day two 4 billion years 7 ¾ billion years
Day three 2 billion years 3 ¾  billion years
Day four 1 billion years 1 ¾ billion years
Day five ½ billion years ¾ billion years
Day six ¼ billion years ¼  billion years
Total: six 24-hour days 15 ¾ billion years

As if to provide a simple proof calculation, Dr. Schroeder concludes with:

“In terms of days and years and millennia, … stretching of the cosmic perception of time by [the Expansion Coefficient     1 X 1012], the division of fifteen billion years by a million-million reduces those fifteen billion years to six days!

Genesis and science are both correct. When one asks if six days or fifteen billion years passed before the appearance of humankind, the correct answer is “yes!”” (emphasis added)

For the next article in this series click here: #3d  NARROW SAFE ZONES FOR LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE

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Some say you can’t be an educated, thinking person and believe there is a God. The existence of God cannot be “proved” anymore than it can for any other spirit being. In fact, so goes the argument, just because man is a self-aware creature doesn’t mean he has a spirit or that there is any such thing as a spirit. It can’t be proved.

Fair enough. Let’s accept that. So then, what’s with all these Biblical Christians?

In the first two postings we examined what “faith” is and “how we choose to trust.” How do I choose to have faith that driving is save on the interstate with all those trucks and crazy drivers? (clarity of the following depends on your already having read those postings).

Does the decision to be a Christian involve study of the factual evidence for the existence of God? Can there be any “factual evidence” for His existence? Or does being a Christian simply rest on a few magic words and a strange little procedure. Maybe, sorta like choosing a political party, a lot of people decide to be a Christian only because their parents were. Then they find that their church is a warm, friendly place so, like membership in the Rotary, they decide to stay and “play church” without ever looking much for factual evidence.

Can we be any less harsh on the unchurched person? How has he decided to ignore the existence of God, if God really does exist? Do scientists reason that since the existence of God cannot be explained by the physical laws of nature, He cannot exist? Therefore, any evidence suggesting His possible existence is categorically discarded without serious consideration. Such thinking does not substantiate the conclusion that God does not exist, it only establishes that the scientist exercised no thought process at all, that he decided to reject objective examination of the question. Very human.

Is faith sensible for either of the persons described? And make no mistake about it – contrary to what you might think, the scientist’s choice to place no faith in God requires every bit as much faith [that he is right] as that held by some Christians who choose the opposite. So, is science right or is Christianity right? Or what if our examination of this question in the upcoming postings turns out that both are right?

To quote Werner von Braun: The vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator. I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.

To repeat all the pros and cons on each side of this so-called “war” is way beyond what can be done here, especially in view of all the issues to be addressed beyond this one. But I think I can summarize most of the main arguments and refer you to good, reliable reading covering material we can’t get to here. I’m going to try to cover: (3a) this posting, (3b) The Big Bang, (3c) The Age Of The Universe, (3d) Life’s Safe Zones In The Universe, (3e) Fine Tuned for Life: Planet Earth, (3f) The Six Days of Genesis, (3g) Origin of Life, Evolution and Darwinism, (3h) Statistics Versus Random Mutations, and (3i) The Watchmaker and the Watch.

For those who would like to read along as I develop these topics, you may want to get Darwin’s Origin of The Species, Craig and Smith’s Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, and, of course, the Bible, probably an NIV or ESV translation. With the exception of the Bible, these books demand pretty focused reading. Therefore, you may be happier with the excellent The Case For The Creator (Lee Strobel), and equally outstanding The Science Of God (Gerald L. Schroeder).

Some may find this “war” between Christianity and science interesting but, c’mon! Eight postings, all on this one subject?! So I’m going to try to find a way to make postings beyond these available in a parallel stream so one can move on without having to wait. If that will work, posting (4) will be: The Authenticity Of The Bible (Parts I, II, and III), and (5) will be: The Garden, God’s Perfect Creation, and (6) What Happened To Paradise? Beyond these? There’s much, much to get to, but my crystal ball gets a little cloudy way out there in the future.

Click here for the next article in this series, #3b “God, Are You There?” – The Big Bang.

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Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “faith” as:

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one’s promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

None of these is satisfactory for how I will use “faith” in the postings here, although I can find elements of some of my thoughts in some of the definitions.

I think our society tends to use the word faith only in the religious sense. We can see that influence in these dictionary definitions. Unfortunately this tends to relegate the term away from the things we focus on in the main stream of our daily living. This leads to serious misunderstandings about life, living, and choices.

“Faith,” as I will use it in these writings permeates every thing we do. Illustrations:

Our exposure to aircraft (TV, movies, books, school) convinces us that these big, heavy machines do fly, and reliably so. Commercial airliner crashes are so few that it doesn’t diminish our faith in flight safety sufficiently to relegate our travel only to ground transportation. We even have faith that the pilots (whom we have never met, nor do we know their qualifications, nor even their state of health) will operate the plane safely, even in stormy weather which we also know little or nothing about when we make reservations for our next trip. Yet we have enough faith in air travel to walk on that airplane and have a seat.

Every time we drive to work or the grocery store, we have faith that each one of the multitude of drivers we will meet on the road will stay in his lane and will stop at stop lights/signs, that is, will drive according to the rules. Highway accident statistics are terrible yet our faith in auto travel is unshakable. Why is that?

We also have faith in institutions, like banks, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. We have faith that they will keep our checking accounts with honesty, heal us, care for our loved ones, and teach our children truthfully.

Perhaps it is in individuals where we place our deepest faith, for example, doctors, pastors, friends, family, parents, and spouses.

Instances of faith in the daily stuff of our lives is almost endless. This is the sense in which I will use the term “faith” in these articles. In only a moment of reflection each of us will realize that “faith” saturates our lives, whether intentional or not. How does it happen that we have faith in something or someone? We’ll discuss that.

Notice how easily we can substitute the word trust for faith without changing meaning. Even the dictionary definitions do this. Indeed, trust is a true synonym for faith, certainly so in the contexts of this blog. However, we must be more careful how we use the word belief. We can, and often do, believe some information about something or a person without trusting them or having faith in them. It is important that we make these distinctions carefully.

So now we’re close to being able to think correctly about the question “is faith sensible?” First we need a few minutes with the question of how we come to place our faith in something or trust someone. But that’s a good place to start the next posting.

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“Faith is a choice” many will say. “I don’t need a lot of information.” Many others will say, “I won’t trust something I don’t understand.” People are different. Before we will trust something or someone, each of us needs to come to our own level of prerequisite factual information, whether through study, knowledge, first-hand experiences, or simply listening to a loved parent or respected clergy. The spectrum is wide. The consequences of our choices?  Maybe trivial. ‘Depends on what the choice is about. Maybe life or death.

My guess is that the choice to fly or drive a 1,000 mile cross country trip is, for most of us, based on how much time we have and the cost. Beyond time and cost, consequences aren’t really thought about. The chances of being killed in an auto accident are about 1 in 5,000; in a commercial airliner, 1 in 11 million, or 2,200 times safer, based on US Department of Transportation data (1999-2000). Yet which do we usually choose? In which do we have greater trust/faith?

It has long seemed odd to me how little our society thinks about risk. Especially when the consequences of a choice are great, why don’t the overwhelming majority of us ask ourselves the obvious question, “what am I risking in making this choice? Is the risk very much different if I do this rather than that?” Generally, I think we just don’t know much about risk.

Perhaps too many of us are inclined to replace a thoughtful reflection on facts and risk with what our friends or colleagues think, or what ‘everybody else is doing’ when making similar choices. Peer pressure from friends or work as well as the news media and activist groups strongly influence our sense of risk, choice, and trust in many cases. For example, did you know that each year, 10,000 to 50,000 Americans die from respiratory diseases due to coal fired electric generation plants, and 300 more are killed in mining and transportation accidents? In contrast, no Americans have died or been seriously injured because of a reactor accident or radiation exposure from American nuclear power plants. But what perception do you think most of us have?

So is faith sensible? I have a hunch our choices to trust someone or something could stand a lot of improvement. For example, how do we choose to trust a person? By their place in society (doctors, scientists, pastors)? Are they a part of our social group (neighborhood, Rotary Club, school team)? Surely skin color (ethnicity) has nothing to do with trusting them or not! And let’s not even get into how we choose a mate.

Maybe a lot of our faith choices are just based on what “feels right” or what we really want to do. I think our advertising industry capitalizes on this. For example, do we choose to buy a specific car because it looks cool or because it is the most reliable and safe? Yet we’ll drive that car in snowstorms through remote, potentially hazardous, areas and spend more money for it than anything else except our house. Is our faith in those choices sensible?

You probably won’t be surprised then when I tell you that I’m not at all impressed by the arguments that fill so many books and often get so heated on talk shows about the so-called “war” between faith in religion and faith in science. Remember, I’m talking about “faith” as being an accepted truth based upon factual evidence. No, no – wait – check those immediate reactions our minds have become conditioned to have about claims of  “factual evidence” on both sides of this “war.” If we are so defensive of our past choices that we can’t look fairly at the other guy’s factual evidence, there’s no point in going on to the next posting(s). But before you turn away, think a bit about the consequences and whether your faith is sensible.

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