Archives for February 2014

Why the Bible Doesn’t Explain Evolution or the Big Bang

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I only got to see snippets of the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate on evolution versus biblical creationism, but upon first glance it appeared that winning over the audience wasn’t going to be as easy for Bill Nye as I would have expected.

Evolutionist Bill Nye had a disadvantage right out of the starting gate: Ken Ham is Australian. He speaks with a polished Australian accent. Most viewers I’m sure thought he was British, because most Americans can’t distinguish between British and Australian accents, even though there is a difference. Whether it’s a polished British or a polished Australian accent, people think such accents sound “smarter” or more intelligent to most Americans. That’s why when a TV or radio advertisement contains a British accent, the advertiser often wants to convey the impression that it’s coming from someone who is wiser or more schooled.

There’s tremendous evidence that the universe began with the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago. Physicists, cosmologists and astronomers almost universally agree that the universe started with the Big Bang. Key evidence includes the observation that most galaxies are moving faster and faster apart from one another (except those close enough to be held together by gravity, such as the Milky Way and Andromeda), and the cosmic microwave background radiation or CMBR, which is a low-level radiation that’s uniform throughout the universe and that scientists think only could have come from the Big Bang.

Contrary to biblical creationists’ contention that the earth is 6,000 years old, the earth actually started to form about 4.5 billion years ago – shortly after the birth of the sun – through rocks and planetesimals colliding with and sticking to one another.

So why would the Bible indicate that God created the earth in seven days, and that it’s only about 6,000 years old?

Physicist and Catholic priest Robert Spitzer has a good explanation for that. He notes that the Bible isn’t meant to reveal scientific truths. In 500 BC let alone 1500 AD, readers of the Bible wouldn’t have understood anything about the Big Bang.

Says Spitzer, “Quite frankly in 500 BC not a single person would have understood the scientific account. They didn’t have the mathematics. They didn’t have the scientific methodology. They didn’t even have the conceptual basis to conceive of the scientific account of creation.” He explains that the biblical author wrote in language that the people of the time could understand.

The whole point of scripture is to reveal truths that are necessary for salvation. Back then for example, many people believed in multiple gods – gods that treat humans like mere playthings and cannon fodder for the gods.  Contrary to educating the people back then about science, scripture aimed to educate them that there’s just one God, that the whole of reality is a creature of God, that humans are created in his image and likeness, and that humans have a divine dignity that stems therefrom.

“That’s the reason why we can say in one breath that the biblical account is correct for the truths of salvation, and that the scientific account is correct – the 13.7 billion-year-old universe with all the various stages of development,” he observes.

Is it OK for Christians to believe in evolution? Of course. Spitzer indicates that Pope Pius XII developed a doctrine stating that any Catholic can believe in evolution so long as science supports it in a probative way – i.e. in a way that has enough proof to be valid or at least persuasive. So Christians can indeed believe that humans descended from non-human species such as ape-like creatures. (Remember that we didn’t descend from modern apes, but modern apes did descend from the same ancient species from which humans descended.)

As long as you don’t reduce human beings to physical material organic beings alone, evolution is fine. In other words Christians cannot deny that there’s a trans-physical or trans-material soul that survives bodily death.

In this particular talk, Spitzer didn’t address Adam and Eve, but we can draw similar conclusions to which Spitzer refers. People back then didn’t have the scientific framework to understand evolution. Moreover the Bible wasn’t meant to be a scientific treatise. It was meant to help people achieve salvation. So it was written in language to which people could relate, like the story of Adam and Eve. Few if any people back then would have understood let alone believed in the concept of evolution. It merely would have been a distraction from the Bible’s main task at hand.

How a Movie Almost Wrecked a Life

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The passing of Harold Ramis was big news today. The actor/writer/director wrote or co-wrote such classic comedies as National Lampoon’s Animal House, Stripes, and Ghostbusters. His talents certainly brought a lot of laughs and good cheer to America.

But there were downsides too. Just today I read an account told by a former alcoholic. It’s as-yet unpublished so I wish to respect his anonymity. At age 16 he saw Animal House. He really got turned on by John Belushi’s character, the hard-drinking, reckless and care-free slob that brought so many laughs to millions of Americans. Upon leaving the movie theater he decided to start drinking, in order to shed his mellow and upstanding image in favor of someone wild and crazy like Belushi. He said to himself, “I wanna be just like Belushi.”

That’s what he did, re-creating the Belushi experience for the following six years. They were miserable years. Often homeless and on the verge of suicide, he eventually landed in a psych ward, which shocked him into finally getting sober at age 22.

One wonders how many others were thus inspired by John Belushi’s character, and who never were so fortunate as to eventually get their life back on track.

And that was just one aspect of the movie. It also was a ground-breaking movie with regard to the amount of sex and sexual imagery it contained, influencing untold millions of young people into suppressing their raging hormones no longer. The resulting looser sexual mores and coarsening of the culture had to have been a contributing factor in the wreckage of families and relationships that so afflicts America today.

Co-star Dan Aykroyd wrote of Ramis’ passing, “May he now get the answers he was always seeking.” One wonders if those answers will include a full accounting of the impact of his movies on people’s lives, both for the better, and for the worse.