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Rev. VanBaren is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

Some (Unscientific??) Musings

An interesting article from the Associated Press appeared in the Grand Rapids Press, March 17, 2006, as proof of the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe. The article was titled: “Now that’s ‘inflation'” and subtitled: “Evidence shows universe expanded in a trillionth of a second.” The article made astounding claims:

By the faint cosmic glow of the oldest known light, physicists say they have found evidence that the universe grew to astounding proportions in less than the blink of an eye. 

In that trillionth of a second after the big bang, the universe expanded from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space through a process known as inflation. At the same time, the seeds were planted for the formation of stars, galaxies, planets and every other object in the universe. 

“It’s giving us our first clues about how inflation took place,” said Michael Turner, assistant director for mathematics and physical sciences at the National Science Foundation. “This is absolutely amazing.” 

Researchers found this long sought “smoking gun” evidence by looking at the cosmic microwave background, the oldest light in the universe. The light was produced when the universe was about 300,000 years old—a long time ago, but still hundreds of millennia after inflation had done its work. 

Even so, the pattern of light in the cosmic microwave background offers clues about what came before it. Of special interest to physicists are subtle brightness variations that give images of the microwave background a lumpy appearance. 

Physicists presented new measurements of those variations during a news conference Thursday at Princeton University. The measurements were made by a space borne instrument called the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe, launched by NASA in 2001. 

“It amazes me that we can say anything at all about what transpired in the first trillionth of a second of the universe,” said Charles Bennett, a Johns Hopkins University physicist who presented the research with Lyman Page and David Spergel, both of Princeton. 

Earlier studies of the space probe’s data determined the universe

is 13

.7 billion years old, give or take a few hundred thousand years.

Now for some unscientific (?) musings.

1. Amazing that there is a scientific (?) theory called “inflation.” In less than a blink of an eye, in less than a split second, the whole of the universe expanded from something the size of a marble to the vastness that we now observe. This is supposed to be part of the evolutionary theory—the “big bang” origin of what we see today. It is the beginning of the whole “evolutionary” process that is presumably “science.” Normally nothing can travel faster than the speed of light—so I have read. It presumably takes billions of years for the light of the more distant stars to reach the earth. By what scientific law could the universe so suddenly come into being? “Inflation”?

2. What scientific proof could there be that a marble-sized object could suddenly explode to form the vastness of the universe with all of its myriads of stars? Was this “marble” eternal? What would set off the kind of explosion that “inflation” would require? There must be some explanation. One cannot insist on teaching this in “science” classes in the schools unless there is some semblance of a scientific explanation for the eternal “marble” that explodes and spreads almost infinitely and fantastically quickly.

3. Scripture does indeed provide the far more reasonable answer to the “big bang” theory.Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” There was nothing before that creation except God. There was no marble-sized ball out of which the universe originated. There was no time, no space, no matter. Then God said, “Let there be light. And there was light.” In less than the blink of the eye the whole of the universe was made. What the scientists claim to have discovered fits far more with the statements of Scripture than with the “scientific” explanations of man.

Evil Attacks Against the Gospel

At the very time when churches commemorate that great victory of Calvary, the resurrection of our Lord, one sees attempts of the unbelievers to belittle, deny, and distort that great victory. It is no wonder! From the time of Adam man has sought to rid himself of God and His work. He would do this especially by trying to destroy the faith of God’s people. That old lie of the devil is still behind this attempt (“Yea, hath God said…”).

It is not surprising, then, that unusual means are used to suppress the truth of the very existence of Christ. The Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2006, reports concerning legal action taken against a priest in Italy by an atheist who demanded the court there stop his teaching concerning Christ.

An Italian court has given a village priest a tough assignment for a man of faith: “Prove it.” 

In essence, Rev. Enrico Righi was told to either put up or shut up. His legal problems began four years ago when he wrote in his parish bulletin that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a father named Joseph and a mother named Mary. That message hardly originated with Righi, pastor of St. Bonaventura Catholic Church in Bagnoregio, a hilltop hamlet north of Rome. Myriad others have proclaimed it, but a resident of a nearby town cried foul. 

Luigi Cascioli is an atheist, as passionate about his faith as the priest is about his. The Italian Penal Code is his bible. “According to article 661,” Cascioli wrote in a complaint to the provincial court, “there is an abuse of popular credulity when someone, by means of fraud, deceives a great number of people.” 

Joseph and Mary, he claimed, are “two totally imaginary characters and therefore historically non-existent.” Thus the Catholic Church deceives its followers, conning them into putting coins on the collection plate—an abuse of article 464 of the penal code, as Cascioli reads it.

The article continues by presenting many different and erroneous claims concerning religions and miracles of Scripture in particular. If the report accurately presents the teaching of that priest, he too teaches things contrary to Scripture (that Jesus was born of a humanfather and human mother). It gives some indication, however, to what extent unbelief and atheism go to destroy the truth—even to challenge in the court that the teaching of Scripture must be “proved” scientifically or not taught at all.

Cal Thomas in the Grand Rapids Press, April 14, 2006, comments about similar attacks against scriptural truths:

It happens twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. 

The newsweeklies sometimes carry cover stories. The newspapers print items calling the reason for these seasons into question. 

This Easter is no exception, but the intensity level seems to have increased. 

This year’s first attack came from St. Paul, Minnesota where local officials decided to ban the Easter Bunny from City Hall. They said it might offend some non-Christians, as if the Easter Bunny has anything to do with Easter’s real significance. Apparently it escaped the notice of the City Council that the Easter Bunny might offend Christians, because, like Santa Claus, it is a counterfeit…. 

Newspapers also carried a story about a Florida State University scientist who speculated that Jesus didn’t really walk on water; he walked on ice. The scientist theorized there must have been an unusual cold snap 2,000 years ago that froze the Sea of Galilee. This begs the question how Jesus was able to pull off such a stunt when Peter also walked on water, before his lack of faith sank him…. 

Next was a story on the “Gospel of Judas,” a work written between 130 and 170 A.D., long after the events it purports to describe. In this document, Jesus is revealed as having urged Judas to betray him. That a number of Judas’ contemporaries said otherwise in Scripture matters not to skeptics. 

Adding to the gospel of unbelief is the movie version of the best-selling novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” which, if it is faithful to the book, will mix a few historical facts with a great deal of fiction. The book claims Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children. The film is scheduled for release next month. Like the book, the movie will have as much to do with fact as Oliver Stone’s film on the Kennedy assassination. 

What is responsible for this flood of skepticism, heresy and outright denial of the biblical record? Why is there not a similar cultural onslaught against other faiths? Only the suicidal would treat Islam in this way….

Thomas continues by commenting on the unbelief of so many. He characterizes the opposition as “hostile and unbelieving.” He points out the errors of those who so greatly oppose the work of God in sending His Son. He then correctly identifies the faith of the Christian as that which assures him of the truthfulness of the biblical account:

Christians who believe the Bible’s account of Easter believe it because they also believe God’s spirit guarded human hands from making errors in recording these events. Skeptics have no such guide. They should be humbled that God is far wiser than the wisest man.

I Corinthians 1:25-27

Before accepting what heretics and unbelievers say, consideration should be given to what is contained in the guidebook.

Our confession is a matter of living faith worked in us by the Spirit of the Son. The reprobate unbeliever will not repent nor turn from his evil way though he see the angels of God, as did the guards at Jesus’ tomb. Not only does he not believe, he seeks also fervently to destroy the faith of those who do believe. Such attacks will surely continue and increase until Christ comes again.

Bodily Resurrection

The Grand Rapids Press, April 8, 2006, reports on a poll taken recently that indicates that most Americans do not believe in the bodily resurrection from the dead. Perhaps that should surprise no one. The article stated:

Most Americans don’t believe they will experience a resurrection of their bodies when they die, putting them at odds with a core teaching of Christianity. 

…Only 36 percent of the 1,007 adults interviewed a month ago by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University said “yes” to the question: “Do you believe that, after you die, your physical body will be resurrected someday?” Fifty-four percent said they do not believe and 10 percent were undecided. 

“This reflects the very low state of doctrinal preaching in our churches,” said Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and editor of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. 

“I continually am confronted by Christians, even active members of major churches, who have never heard this taught in their local congregations,” Mohler said. “We have a lowest-common-denominator Christianity being taught in so many denominations that has produced a people who simply do not know some of the most basic Christian truths.”

What is particularly disturbing is that the survey shows that even a sizable minority of those called evangelical (born-again) Christians do not believe in the bodily resurrection. The conclusion of Mohler (quoted above) surely appears correct, “This reflects the very low state of doctrinal preaching in our churches….”

One gains the impression that the preaching ought not so much emphasize “doctrine” today as to emphasize “love.” An emphasis on “doctrine” seems to divide, while emphasis on “love” presumably unites. However, there is no disjunction between doctrine and the scriptural view of love. Love as taught in Scripture is doctrine. However, the love that receives most of the emphasis today is based on the Arminian emphasis that “God loves everyone.” Such love minimizes doctrinal distinctives. That love becomes the basis for a social gospel that ignores the doctrines of Scripture. This “love” often is presented as God’s attitude toward all people that will not even allow for the scriptural concept of hell or of the one way of salvation through Christ’s cross. It is sad indeed that lack of doctrinal preaching has had the troubling effect that many do not even know anymore some of the basic teachings of Scripture.