Where Science and Faith Converge
  • How Do We Know the Bible Is 100% Accurate?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jul 03, 2020

    Question of the week: The Bible is a great book that has many important lessons in it but how can we be 100% certain that EVERYTHING in it is truly accurate and totally represents the Word of God? There could be parts of the Bible that don’t hold water. The only information in the Bible that I know of that came directly from God himself were the Ten Commandments as God wrote these on two stone tablets which he gave to Moses. The rest of the information in the Bible came from other people that God somehow allegedly communicated with. Also, the words that Jesus spoke were communicated to us via other people years after Jesus said them. The only other time when God may have communicated with us directly is when Jesus was baptized but I’m not certain.

    My answer: I have yet to find a provable error or contradiction in the Bible, except when Satan or humans are being quoted. That is certainly not the case for the other holy books that undergird the world’s predominant religions. Furthermore, the Bible has demonstrated unique predictive power. It predicted future historical events and future scientific discoveries specifically, frequently, and accurately. The Holy Spirit inspired the human Bible authors to write what God intended. 1 Peter 1:10–12 and 2 Peter 3:15–16 indicate that Bible authors understood that they were inspired by the Holy Spirit and longed to understand all that the Holy Spirit had inspired them to write. Jesus himself declared that the Scriptures were inerrant in John 10:35 when he said, “Scripture cannot be broken.” Years ago, I debated the religion editor for Skeptic magazine, Tim Callahan, on the subject, “Does the Bible Have Predictive Powers?” You can listen to a recording of the debate here: https://shop.reasons.org/product/566/does-the-bible-have-predictive-powers-downloadable-mp3.

  • How Can God Be Everywhere in Space When So Much of Space Is Already Occupied?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 26, 2020

    Question of the week: How can God be everywhere in space when parts of space are already occupied by other things?

    My answer: Several Old Testament passages declare that God indeed is omnipresent. He is everywhere in space and beyond. Perhaps the best-known passages are:

    • Jeremiah 23:24: “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and Earth?”
    • 1 Kings 8:27: “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you.”
    • Psalm 139:8–12: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

    Even though God is omnipresent, existing everywhere in space and time, he is “beyond our reach” (Job 37:23) and it is impossible for any human to see him (1 Timothy 6:16). God not only fills the entirety of space, he transcends space and time. He is the author of space and time. He existed and functioned before space and time (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2, Hebrews 11:3). As the Bible declares and the space-time theorems prove, he created the cosmic space-time dimensions.

    Referring to God the Father, John 4:24 states that “God is Spirit.” Since God is spirit, he cannot be constrained by space and time. Since God is spirit and, thus, capable of existing and operating without a body, he can be everywhere in space without in any way disturbing the parts of space that are already occupied by physical entities.

    Many religions teach that God is transcendent; that is, outside of the cosmic space-time dimensions. Other religions teach that God is immanent; that is, manifested everywhere in the material world. Christianity and Judaism stand alone among the world’s religions in teaching that God is simultaneously and always both. I explain this biblical paradox in chapters 7 and 8 of my book, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition.1 Anyone can get a free chapter at reasons.org/ross.

    blog__inline--how-can-god-be-everywhere-in-spaceFigure: Doorway to Heaven?
    Image credit: Hugh Ross

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2017): 65–80, https://shop.reasons.org/product/270/beyond-the-cosmos-3rd-edition.
  • Can God Work through a Stubborn Christian?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 19, 2020

    Question of the week: Can God still work through a Christian even if that Christian has many stubborn tendencies?

    My brief answer: The short answer is yes. A slightly longer answer is that since all Christians have at least some stubborn tendencies and God wants to work through all Christians, God will work through a Christian even if that Christian has glaring stubborn tendencies.

    My longer answer: Christians in their lives on Earth will experience God delivering them from many of their stubborn tendencies. However, it is a process, and complete deliverance will not occur in this life. Complete deliverance happens when we are glorified in the next life. That complete deliverance is described in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15.

    The process of our being delivered from consistently insisting on our way is for us to come to God to be “tamed” by him. In the last four chapters of the Book of Job God reminds Job and his friends that it takes a higher being to tame the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field. Likewise, he tells them it takes a higher Being to bring humility to a proud human heart.

    There are many biblical examples of God working through his human servants in spite of their stubborn ways. Two prominent examples are Abraham and Moses. Probably the most dramatic example is Jonah.

     

    God not only works through believers. He also works through unbelievers. God’s common grace is poured out upon all humans. Prominent biblical examples of God working in the lives of unbelievers despite their stubbornness are Xerxes (Esther 1) and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3).

    The posed question probably has in mind the degree of stubborn tendencies. Degree is certainly important. As the Bible repeatedly declares (for example James 4:6), God grants grace to the humble but resists the proud. One of the symptoms of pride is stubbornness. Therefore, if we want God to work through us more consistently, it is important that we do what we can to put aside our stubborn tendencies.

    Most of us are blind to our stubborn tendencies. Personally, I have found one of the more effective ways of dealing with my stubbornness is to ask the people who are closest to me to point them out. When I see them especially eager to point them out, then I know I have a big problem that needs immediate attention and correction! I also know it is a big enough problem that I will need God’s help.

  • Did King Nebuchadnezzar Become a Believer in Christ?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 12, 2020

    Question of the week: Did King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon become a believer in Jesus Christ?

    My brief answer: Referring to Jesus, Acts 4:12 declares, “Salvation is found in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” However, the second person of the triune God has many more names than Jesus. The Old Testament alone has over 80 different names for the Advocate-Redeemer-Messiah. These names refer to the different attributes of God. Romans 1:20 states that God’s attributes have been clearly revealed from what has been made (the natural realm) so that all people are without excuse. The question then is did Nebuchadnezzar come to believe in the Advocate-Redeemer-Messiah revealed in the Old Testament and the record of nature.

    The book of Daniel records one of the most dramatic conversion stories of all time. King Nebuchadnezzar went from being a man who demanded that everyone worship him as God to a man who submitted his life to the God of the Bible. Daniel 3:28–30 and 4:34–37 declare that King Nebuchadnezzar indeed became a believer and a follower of the God of the Bible.

    Since Daniel wrote about the Trinity (Daniel 9:24–27), we can presume that Nebuchadnezzar believed, at least in part, in the doctrine of the Trinity. Nebuchadnezzar also seemed to be a student of nature. As I explained in this article,1 science only makes sense if God is triune. As I explain in Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job,2 the record of nature reveals our need for an Advocate-Redeemer, the undeniable existence of such an Advocate-Redeemer, and the means by which we can receive redemption from our sin and evil.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, “How to Persuade a Skeptic That God Must Be Triune,” Today’s New Reason to Believe (blog), July 13, 2016, http://www.reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/todays-new-reason-to-believe/2016/07/13/how-to-persuade-a-skeptic-that-god-must-be-triune.
    2. Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 201–213, https://shop.reasons.org/product/273/hidden-treasures-in-the-book-of-job.
  • Why Does God Not Need a Cause?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Jun 05, 2020

    Question of the week: Why does God not need a cause?

    My answer: I provide a comprehensive answer to this question in my book, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition. My briefest answer to this question is that every entity constrained to a single time dimension where time cannot be reversed must have a cause and must be created. This limitation applies to the universe and to every component and body that is subject to the laws of physics and the cosmic space-time dimensions. However, the God of the Bible is in a different category. He is not subject to such a dimension of time. He created that dimension and all the cosmic space dimensions and he established the laws of physics.

    The space-time theorems and several Scripture passages establish that the cosmic Creator is capable of cause-and-effect operations independent of the universe’s time dimension. This property implies that the cosmic Creator, at a minimum, has the power to operate in the equivalent of two independent time dimensions. Using diagrams that I illustrate in Beyond the Cosmos (both in the book and in the DVD by the same title), I show how such a Creator would have no beginning, no ending, and no creation or cause. The Bible repeatedly declares that God has no beginning and no ending and that he is neither created or caused.

    Resource

  • What Is the Best Evidence for the Big Bang?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 22, 2020

    Question of the week: What is the strongest physical evidence for the big bang?

    My answer: I frequently get asked this question by people who lack formal education in physics and astronomy. I tell them that the strongest physical evidences for the big bang creation model are technical and need careful explanation for laypeople to understand and appreciate. I have provided those explanations with extensive documentation in my book, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th edition.1 I find, however, that most people who ask me this question are satisfied with me giving them one or two visual demonstrations that we must be living in a universe that has been continuously expanding from a big bang beginning.

    A big bang universe is one in which the universe starts off near infinitely hot and cools down from that initial hot state as the universe continues to expand throughout its history. Astronomers possess the tools to measure the present temperature of the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event and also the past temperatures at different look back times. (The look back time is the time it takes light to travel from a galaxy—in which the temperature of the radiation remaining from the cosmic creation event is measured—to the astronomer’s telescope.) Figure 1 shows the expected cooling curve of a big bang universe that is 13.8 billion years old overlapped with actual measurements astronomers have made of the present and past temperatures of the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event. The most accurate of the past measurements is the one in the middle of the cooling curve. This measurement fits the curve predicted by the big bang creation model to better than the thickness of the plotted curve.

    blog__inline--what-is-the-best-evidence-for-the-big-bang-1

    Figure 1: Evidence of Cooling from the Big Bang Creation Event
    Credit: Hugh Ross

    Hubble Space Telescope images of distant galaxies provide a different visual demonstration that we must be living in a universe that arose from a big bang creation event. The photo at left in figure 2 shows galaxies located 12 billion light years away, meaning that we are seeing them as they were 12 billion years ago. The photo at right in figure 2 shows galaxies 2 billion light years away, meaning that we are seeing them as they were 2 billion years ago. Both images have the same spatial scale. In the photo to the left galaxies are jammed so tightly together that it is common for them to tear spiral arms off from one other. In the photo at right, thanks to the expansion of the universe predicted by the big bang, galaxies have spread so far apart from one another that the ripping off of spiral arms is a relatively rare phenomenon.

    blog__inline--what-is-the-best-evidence-for-the-big-bang-2

    Figure 2: Galaxy Separations at Two Different Distances
    Image credits: NASA/ESA/ACS Science Team, N. Benitez and H. Ford (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University, M. Clampin and G Hartig (STScI), G. Illinworth (UCD/Lick Observatory)

    Laypeople seem especially impressed that we can actually watch the big bang phenomenon of the universe. These visual demonstrations typically motivate them to examine the even stronger physical evidences.

    Endnotes
    1. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th ed. (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2018).
  • Impact of Satan’s Rebellion on the Very Good Creation

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 08, 2020

    Question of the week: If everything God created by the end of the sixth creation day was “very good,” does that mean that Satan had not yet rebelled against God? If Satan already was in a spiritually fallen state, where was he and what impact did he have on the environment where he was and upon our environment?

    My long answer is in two of my books: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is; Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition.

    Here is my highly abbreviated answer: The Bible tells us (Job 38:7) that the angels were witnesses to God laying down the foundations of Earth. So, the angels have existed for a lot longer than have we human beings. The Bible, however, is silent on exactly when Satan’s rebellion against God occurred. Clearly, Satan was in rebellion against God when he entered the Garden of Eden. However, his rebellion could have occurred much earlier, conceivably before God created the earth and even before God created the universe.

    While God does declare the present creation “very good” at the end of the sixth creation day, he does not declare it to be the ultimate, perfect creation. The new creation is the ultimate perfect creation where evil will not exist nor will there even be the possibility that it could ever exist in spite of the fact that all the angels and humans there fully retain their free-will capacities.

    The present creation is “very good” in that it is the best possible creation for God to conquer and eradicate evil and suffering while enhancing the free-will capabilities of humans who choose to accept God’s redemptive offer. It is the perfect creation for doing so. In the context of God’s purpose for creating and designing the universe the way he did it does not matter when or where before entering Eden Satan chose to rebel against God. In that context, the present creation remains “very good.”

    It is important to add that the physics and dimensions of the universe did not change either at the time and place of Satan’s rebellion or at the time and place of Adam’s rebellion. As Jeremiah 33 and Romans 8 make clear, the laws governing the heavens and earth have been and are fixed; that is, changeless. Astronomical measurements affirm that there has been no change in the laws of physics over the past 12 billion years. What changed was humanity: “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). Because of the sinful state of humanity, the ground does not produce like it would if humans had remained sinless.

  • Is the Bible a Flat-Earth Book?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | May 01, 2020

    Question of the week: How can one refute the claim made by atheists, skeptics, and even some Christians that the Bible is a flat-earth book?

    My answer: First of all, the idea that the Bible promotes a flat-earth doctrine presupposes that people living 2–3 thousand years ago lacked the capacity to determine the true shape of Earth. That presupposition is incorrect. The fact that at different locations on Earth different stellar constellations are seen and they are seen at different orientations was sufficient to persuade ancient peoples that they were living on a spherical body. Aristotle writing in the 4th century BC cited this evidence as proof that Earth is spherical. However, documented mentions of a spherical Earth by Greek philosophers date back to the 6th century BC. Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC used the sunlight lines at summer solstice in wells at different latitudes to determine the diameter of Earth to 1% precision. Both ancient Greek and Egyptian astronomers pointed to the semi-circular shadow of Earth on the Moon during lunar eclipses as evidence for the sphericity of Earth.

    The biblical texts most often cited in the claim that the Bible teaches a flat Earth are Job 38:5, 12-14, Isaiah 11:12, 40:22, and Revelation 7:1, 20:7. Of these passages, the most cited is Isaiah 40:22. The relevant part of Isaiah 40:22, referring to God, states, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.” Whether the “circle of the earth” refers to a human on Earth or God looking down on Earth from above, in both cases the phrase would be consistent with a spherically shaped Earth. It is worth noting that only a sphere always looks like a circle when seen from above.

    The Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1, 20:7 verses all refer to the “four corners of the earth.” However, even today, astronomers, physicists, and educated people around the world recognize and use the “four corners of the earth” as phenomenalogical language referring to the most distant parts of Earth from the standpoint of an observer at a specific location on Earth. It is clear from an examination of the context for all three of these passages that the most distant parts of Earth is the intent implied by the use of the idiom, the four corners of the earth. As the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament points out, the Hebrew word for “corners” used in Isaiah 11:12, kanap, in most of its appearances in the Old Testament is used figuratively.

    The passage in Job 38:5 referring to Earth states, “Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” The inference made by those claiming that the Bible is a flat-earth book is that the “measuring line” is a straight line which would be suitable for measuring a flat disk but not a sphere. This is an overinterpretation. Lines can be straight or curved. Also, it is customary to measure the diameter of a sphere with a straightedge ruler.

    Job 38:12-14 refers to the dawn seizing “the edges [or ends] of the earth” and Earth taking “shape like clay under a seal.” What is interesting here is that for a spherical
    Earth the arrival of dawn first shows up at the most distant horizon, end, or edge of the point of view of a human at a fixed point upon Earth’s surface. The taking shape like clay under a seal would apply to either a disk or a sphere and may be saying more about Earth’s rotation or its manufacture than its actual shape.

    The irony of choosing Job 38:5, 12-14, Isaiah 11:12, 40:22, and Revelation 7:1, 20:7 to sustain the claim that the Bible is a flat-earth book is that these biblical texts better fit a spherical Earth than they do a flat Earth. While it would be an overinterpretation to conclude that these texts explicitly teach that Earth is a sphere, nowhere in the Bible do we find any text saying that Earth is flat. The Bible remains the only holy book for which we can say that it contains no provable errors or contradictions.

  • Where Is the Ark of the Covenant?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Apr 24, 2020

    Question of the week: Where is the ark of the covenant? Will it ever be recovered and used again?

    My very brief answer: Ask Indiana Jones.

    My slightly longer answer: The last time the ark of the covenant is described in the Bible as an existing object is in 2 Kings 23:21–23 and 2 Chronicles 35:1–6. In those texts, Judah’s King Josiah asks the Levites to return the ark of the covenant to the temple in Jerusalem. In this context, Jeremiah prophesies that the ark would soon cease to be a significant item of worship and implies that the ark would be destroyed and not remade. According to Jeremiah 3:16, “This is the Lord’s declaration—no one will say again, ‘The ark of the Lord’s covenant.’ It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. Another one will not be made.” This text is not saying that no one will ever again mention the ark of the covenant. Clearly, the context indicates that it was mentioned. Rather, this text is saying that never again will the ark of the covenant or a reconstruction of the ark of the covenant play a significant role in Jewish worship.

  • Other Dimensions of String Theory and the Angelic Realm

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Apr 17, 2020

    Question of the week: Do you think there is any correlation between the other dimensions in string theory and the spiritual/angelic realm?

    My answer: This question reminds me of the one about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The other dimensions in string theory refer to the six space dimensions that are hypothesized to be very tightly wrapped around the three large space dimensions of length, width, and height. Specifically, the extra six space dimensions of string theory must be shaped like a Calabi-Yau manifold. (See the figure below for an artist’s attempt to show a cross section of such a six-dimensional manifold). As I explained in my book, Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition, physicists involved these six extra space dimensions as a way to bring consistency to and complete integration of particle physics, cosmology, quantum mechanics, gravity, and general relativity. String theory models are not the only models claiming to produce such consistency and integration. However, all the viable models to date do invoke extra space dimensions.

    blog__inline--other-dimensions-of-string-theory-and-the-angelic-realm

    Figure: Artist’s Depiction of a Multidimensional Calabi-Yau Manifold
    Credit: public domain

    Many people have further speculated that perhaps in these extra space dimensions is where the angels dwell and where spiritual phenomena emanate. From a biblical perspective, one reason to question such a conclusion is that the angelic realm and the source of spiritual phenomena survives the eradication of the universe and its laws of physics. As God spoke the universe, its laws of physics, and space-time dimensions into existence, a time will come immediately after God permanently eradicates evil when he will speak them out of existence and replace them with a new creation with different laws of physics, and different dimensions. When this future event occurs, we are informed in the Bible that the angels and spiritual phenomena survive this transition. This survival implies that the angelic realm, heaven, hell, and all other possibly existing spiritual realms are in no way constrained by any of the space-time dimensions of the presently existing universe.

    Incidentally, the hypothesized six extra space dimensions of string theory are extremely tiny. One can visualize them as akin to 2-dimensional sheets wrapped as very tight scrolls around one of the three large space dimensions of length, width, and height. The cross section of any one of these scrolls would be less than a billionth of a trillionth of the diameter of an electron. If those extra space dimensions really were the angelic realm, I leave it up to my readers to calculate how many quadrillions of angels could dance on the head of a pin.

  • Did God’s Seventh Day End in Eden?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Apr 10, 2020

    Question of the week: Is it possible that God’s seventh day (Genesis 2:1–4) refers to the extended period of time that Adam spent in the Garden of Eden?

    My brief answer: I give an in-depth answer to this question in my book, A Matter of Days, 2nd edition, pages 85–87. Very briefly, there is no closure on God’s seventh day in Genesis 2:1–4. The lack of the “evening was, morning was” phrase for God’s seventh day indicates that in the time frame of Moses the seventh was not yet completed. Three other Bible texts, Psalm 95, John 5, and Hebrews either directly declare or imply that we are still in God’s seventh day. Thus, God’s seventh day must extend up until at least the time of the author of the book of Hebrews.

    Theologically, the seventh day is when God ceases from his work of creating. The ongoing fossil record enigma (the enormous amount of speciation events before the advent of humanity and the near total lack of such events after the advent of humanity) affirms that we are still in God’s seventh day. The seventh day will not end until the full number of humans God intends to redeem are in fact redeemed (Romans 8:22–25) and God creates again in the new creation (Revelation 21).

  • If There Is a God, Why So Many Beetles?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Apr 03, 2020

    Question of the week: If there is a God, why would he create so many different kinds of beetles?

    My answer: This is a famous and oft repeated question. Its origin usually is attributed to Charles Darwin who is claimed to have said, “From the fact that there are 500,000 species of beetles, the Creator, if he exists, must be inordinately fond of beetles.” The true origin of the question is the biologist John B. S. Haldane. In a speech Haldane gave to the British Interplanetary Society in 1951 and reported in volume 10 of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society Haldane said, “From the fact that there are 400,000 species of beetles on this planet, but only 8,000 species of mammals, the Creator, if he exists, has a special preference for beetles.”

    The not-so-subtle implication of Haldane’s statement is that a God who loves beetles more than he loves mammals appears to contradict the description of God presented in the Bible. When one considers the physics of beetles, however, Haldane’s statements proves precisely consistent with the description of God and his stated goals presented in the Bible.

    Psalm 104, the longest and most detailed creation psalm in the Bible, describes God packing Earth with as much life as physically possible and with as great a diversity of life as physically possible. We humans are the beneficiaries of this creation strategy. It is this strategy practiced by God over billions of years that has endowed us with over 76 quadrillion tons of biodeposits—limestone, marble, coal, oil, natural gas, etc. that we can use to launch and sustain global high-technology civilization and use that civilization to take the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to billions of human beings.

    Given God’s goal of packing Earth with as much life as possible and as diverse as possible, the physics of Earth and beetles mandates that God will create many more species of beetles than of mammals. The number of species on Earth has been steadily increasing since the origin of life some 3.8 billion years ago. God created humans on Earth when the number of species of life he had placed on Earth had reached the theoretical maximum permitted by the laws of physics God had chosen to govern the universe.

    The physics of the universe and the physical characteristics of Earth determine what the maximum number of species will be for animals of different size scales. For an 8,000-mile-diameter Earth, the greatest theoretically possible number of animal species peaks for animals with adult body sizes equal to about one centimeter. The average adult body size for beetles is about one centimeter. Therefore, given God’s goal to pack Earth with as much life as possible and as diverse as possible, it should come as no surprise that there are so many species of beetles.

    We should not be surprised either that at the time of the creation of humans there were only about 8,000 species of mammals. Given the diameter of Earth, the average body size of mammals, and the complex warm-blooded nature of mammals, Earth’s theoretical maximum carrying capacity for mammals is close to 8,000 distinct species.

  • What Is Love? Where Did It Come From?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Mar 27, 2020

    Questions of the week: What is love and where did it come from?

    My brief answer for both: God

    My expanded answer: Love has always existed because God has always existed. As John has explained in his first letter, “God is love” and “love comes from God.” God is love because God is triune and altogether righteous, holy, good, and truthful. Without the triune God of the Bible there is no love.

    An insurmountable problem for Islam, Judaism, and cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the absence of any answer for the origin of love. In these religions God is a single person. Love is not possible unless there are at least two persons to express and receive love. For strictly monotheistic religions, a nonloving entity supposedly creates beings with the capacity to give and receive love. The claim is that a lesser entity creates that which is greater—a clear violation of the principle of cause and effect.

    A common rebuttal from strict monotheists is the hypothesis that their single-person God had the capacity to experience love and created humans so that he could begin to give and receive love. In this scenario God is unfulfilled until he creates. He is compelled to create in order to experience love. For the trinitarian God, creation is not a need. It is an option.

    The problem for polytheistic religions is the lack of a single essence among the panoply of Gods. This lack of a single essence results in different character attributes, goals, plans, and purposes. The resultant lack of complete harmony inevitably diminishes and even destroys love. Contrastingly, Jesus told his disciples, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).

    We experience love because God is love and love comes from God. However, the love we currently experience is not yet at the level that God intends. Once God permanently eradicates evil at the Great White Throne, we who are followers of Jesus Christ will become one as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:11). Our love for one another will become greatly multiplied as we more fully and intimately observe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit loving one another and as we more fully experience love from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and from one another.

  • Are People Living in Villages Where There Is No Christian Message Going to Hell?

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Mar 20, 2020

    Question of the week: What about villagers in other countries who die of starvation and disease. Are they going to hell?

    My answer: I address this question in much detail in my book, Beyond the Cosmos. (Anyone can get a free chapter of the book at reasons.org/ross.) Quick answer: Everyone receives some spiritual light from God (John 1:3-13). God’s light is defined and explained in 1 John, chapters 1–4 as a combination of God’s life, love, and truth. If you receive that light, God will find a way to give you more of his light. You will proceed toward salvation. On the other hand, if you reject the light that God has given you, you will proceed toward condemnation. It does not matter what farm, village, or city you live in, how long a life you experience, or how much or how little you have suffered. Everyone receives some light from God.

    In many respects, villagers have an advantage over people who live in densely populated metropolitan cities. Villagers are in much more intimate contact with the natural realm that God created. Hence, they are more likely to see the righteousness, glory, and attributes of God revealed in nature (Psalm 19:1-4, Psalm 97:6, Romans 1:19-20).

  • Scientific Discoveries that Would Cause Me to Abandon Christianity

    by Telerik.Sitefinity.DynamicTypes.Model.Authors.Author | Feb 15, 2020

    Question of the Week: Are there potential scientific discoveries that would ever cause you to abandon your Christian faith?

    My Answer: I get asked this question nearly every time I publicly debate atheist scientists. The atheist(s) posing this question anticipate(s) that my answer will be that no potential scientific discovery would ever cause me to abandon Christianity. They then would be correct to conclude that my faith is not based on physical evidence. A belief system that is not falsifiable is simply wishful thinking.

    There are several potential scientific discoveries that if proven beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt would, in my opinion, be catatrophic to the Christian faith. Here are four examples:

    1. proof that the universe had no beginning
    2. proof that humans compared to all other Earth life are not exceptional; proof that humans differ from all other animals only by degree and not fundamentally in kind
    3. proof that there are humans who have never expressed any sin or evil
    4. proof that Jesus of Nazareth did not rise to life from death

    Personally, I do not see how Christianity could survive as a rational truth claim if any one of these four potential scientific discoveries were proven true. Concerning the fourth example, the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19 agrees.

    My being quick to admit potential scientific discoveries that would shatter my Christian faith strongly communicates to my audiences that my faith in Jesus Christ indeed is based on physical evidence. It also allows me to graciously turn the tables. Having volunteered without hesitation where potential scientific discoveries would force me to abandon my faith in Christ and in the Bible, I can ask the non-theists on the platform with me and in our audiences what potential scientific discoveries would persuade them to abandon their non-theistic worldview and adopt theism and, specifically, Christianity.

    Typically, when I ask non-theists to list a few potential scientific discoveries that would cause them to become theists, they claim that they cannot think of any, or they will say that there are no such possible discoveries. Such an admission establishes that they are non-theists not for rational reasons but for irrational reasons.

    I have found that the most common irrational reason is some past hurt(s) they experienced at the hand of someone who claimed to be a Christian. In that event, presenting additional rational reasons for my faith in Christ can be counterproductive. I have learned that I must stop and invite them to tell me their story, compassionately listen, and gently suggest ways that their past wounds can be healed.

    Frequently, when a non-theist struggles to come up with a potential scientific discovery that would be catastrophic to non-theism, they ask me if I can suggest one. The advantage of the four potential scientific discoveries I listed above that would refute Christianity and belief in the Bible is that the reverse of each refutes non-theism and establishes theism and Christianity in particular. Atheism and agnosticism are indefensible if we can show beyond any reasonable doubt that 1) the universe had a beginning, or 2) humans compared to all other Earth life are exceptional, or 3) all humans are sinners, or 4) Jesus of Nazareth really did rise from the dead.

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