Reasons to Believe

Connections 2003, Vol. 5, No. 3 & 4



Time Dilation Attests Cosmic Creation Models
Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

The biblical creation model—starting with a universe that began transcendently, then continually expands and cools through time1 (popularly known as the big bang)—has passed yet another crucial scientific test, the time dilation test. Here’s some background: If the universe is expanding from a big bang creation event, the most distant objects observable must be moving away from Earth-bound observers at very high speed, as fast as 10 to 80 percent the velocity of light. At such speeds, according to special relativity (the familiar E=mc2), time on such bodies would run more slowly than on comparable “clocks” in Earth’s galactic neighborhood (because of the way velocity impacts the time factor).

Perhaps few people realize that clocks exist throughout the universe. An astronomer can tell time by Cepheid variable stars’ pulsation periods, by novae and supernovae’s progression through various eruption phases, by the rates at which certain stars form, by stellar burning rates, and by galaxy rotation periods. One barrier they have faced, however, in confirming the fundamentals of big bang creation is this: In the farthest reaches of space, at distances great enough to put the big bang model to a definitive test, astronomers could read only the very brightest clocks. And until recently, only a few of these clocks could be seen.

One breakthrough came in 1995 when astronomers first detected the time dilation effect in a certain class of supernovae (giant star burnout explosions).2 They found that very distant type Ia supernovae, located a few billion light years away, took about 10 percent longer than nearby type Ia supernovae to proceed through their eruption phases (from normal brightness to maximum brightness to minimum brightness). Now, in 2003, astronomers can observe more than a hundred type Ia supernovae, some as distant as eight billion years. The slowing they see matches the predictions so well as to give them overwhelming support for their model—the universe has indeed been continuously expanding for nearly 14 billion years.3

Meanwhile, this research has been boosted by study of an even brighter set of clocks: gamma ray bursts. First detected in the early 1990s, these gamma ray events have proven especially helpful because they are bright enough to be detected at distances approaching 12 billion light years. More than 400 gamma ray bursts have now been analyzed by various teams of astronomers worldwide, and the time dilation observed in them powerfully corroborates the dilation data from type Ia supernovae.4

Taken together with other findings (including the Tolman test, described in  Facts for Faith5) these verifications of time dilation establish with considerable solidity that the redshifts (spectral lines’ stretching toward redder wavelengths) astronomers see in distant quasars and galaxies actually do reflect the great speed with which these objects are moving away from observers on Earth. This confirmation is important to Christians because thousands of years ago a half dozen Bible writers described the universe in various metaphors and direct statements—all depicting ongoing expansion from a transcendent creation event.6

Time dilation measurements provide dramatic and emphatic results. For this reason, two groups of people are bothered by the time dilation findings: 1) atheists, dismayed by the theological implications of a finely tuned universe about 14 billion years young—too young and with too much design for naturalistic evolution, and 2) proponents of Dr. Russell Humphreys’ model for a few-thousand-year-old universe, proposed to support a 24-hour interpretation of the Genesis creation days. According to Humphreys’ model, astronomers should see distant bright clocks running faster (a million times faster), not slower (by 10 to 60 percent), than similar clocks in Earth’s vicinity.7

For more detailed information, particularly on the topic of gamma ray bursts, readers may wish to access the July 15 (2003) “Creation Update” Web cast via our site.

References:

  1. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, 3d ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001), 23-29; Hugh Ross and John Rea, “Big Bang—The Bible Taught It First!” Facts for Faith 3 (Q3 2000), 26-32.
  2. B. Leibundgut et al., “Time Dilation in the Light Curve of the Distant Type Ia Supernova SN 1995K,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 466 (1996), L21-L24; Garson Goldhaber et al., “Observation of Cosmological Time Dilation Using Type Ia Supernovae as Clocks,” in Thermonuclear Supernovae, Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute, held in Begur, Girona, Spain, June 20-30, 1995,eds. P. Ruiz-LaPuente, R. Canal, and J. Isern, series C, vol. 486 (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997), 777-84.
  3. A. G. Riess et al., “Time Dilation from Spectral Feature Age Measurements of Type Ia Supernovae,” Astronomical Journal 114 (1997), 722-29; G. Goldhaber et al., “Timescale Stretch Parameterization of Type Ia Supernova B-Band Light Curves,” Astrophysical Journal 558 (2001), 359-68; Bruno Leibundgut, “Cosmological Implications from Observations of Type Ia Supernovae,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 39(2001), 67-98.
  4. Ming Deng and Bradley E. Schaefer, “Time Dilation in the Peak-to-Peak Timescale of Gamma-Ray Bursts,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 502(1998), L109-L114; Rong-Feng Shen and Li-Ming Song, “Characteristic Variability Time Scales of Long Gamma-Ray Bursts,” Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan 55 (2003), 345-49; I. G. Balåzs et al., “On the Difference Between the Short and Long Gamma Ray Bursts,” Astronomy and Astrophysics 401 (2003), 129-40.
  5. Hugh Ross, “Tolman’s Elegant Test,” Facts for Faith 8 (Q1 2002), 10-11.
  6. Gen. 1:1; 2:3-4; Job 9:8; Pss. 104:2; 148:5; Isa. 40:22, 26; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12, 18; 48:13; 51:13; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Zech. 12:1; John 1:3; Col. 1:15-17; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2; Heb. 11:3, The Holy Bible.
  7. D. Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time (Colorado Springs: Master Books, 1994).


Natural Evil or Moral Evil?
Fazale R. Rana, Ph.D.

Why does God allow bad things to happen? How can He if He is good and all-powerful? These questions identify the “problem of evil” that for many people represents a significant challenge to God’s existence—and to personal faith.1

Philosophers and theologians recognize two kinds of evil: moral and natural.2 Moral evil stems from human action (or inaction in some cases). Natural evil occurs as a consequence of nature—earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, diseases, and the like.

Natural evil seems to present a greater theological challenge than moral evil does. A skeptic might admit that God can be excused for the free-will actions of human beings who violate His standard of goodness. But natural disasters and disease don’t result from human activity, they reason. Therefore, this type of “evil” must be attributed solely to God. Recent work, however, aimed at reducing cholera in rural Bangladeshi villages suggests how precarious this reasoning can be.3

Cholera, a disease characterized by diarrhea, extensive dehydration, and rapid death if not immediately treated, is caused by ingestion of the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. This microbe naturally associates with a microscopic crustacean (copepod) that floats as part of the surface water zooplankton in Bangladesh. During the late spring and summer, phytoplankton blooms with rising water temperatures. This, in turn, leads to blooms of zooplankton and toxic levels of V. cholerae in rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Rural villages of Bangladesh rely heavily on surface water as a source of drinking water. As a (sometimes deadly) result, cholera outbreaks routinely occur in the fall after the zooplankton levels explode.4 Bangladeshi villagers cannot turn to wells for drinking water since over half are contaminated with arsenic. Boiling surface water is rarely an option because wood fuel, used to sterilize the water, is scarce and expensive. In light of this seemingly hopeless situation, skeptics and Christians alike are justified to ask, “Why would an all-powerful and good God create a world in which V. cholerae is inevitably a part?”

In response to the cholera crisis, an international research team developed a simple filtration procedure to remove zooplankton (and accompanying V. cholerae) from surface water and deployed it in sixty-five rural Bangladeshi villages. The research team instructed the villagers to use an inexpensive cloth commonly found in households to filter drinking water. Laboratory studies demonstrated that the folded cloth retained zooplankton and removed about 99% of V. cholerae from the drinking water. In the field, the cases of cholera plummeted by 50% over a two year span. Moreover, the cholera cases reported were less severe, since the disease’s impact depends on the amount of V. cholerae ingested.

The suffering caused by cholera—and other water-borne diseases—is rooted in man’s failure to act, not in God’s design. V. cholerae, a natural symbiont of zooplankton, comes into contact with human beings largely due to poverty and questionable resource and land management, not as an inevitable consequence of the natural order. Even then, a simple filtration process offers protection from this microbe’s devastating effects, allowing people to coexist with a natural realm that God pronounces good.

References:
  1. Ronald H. Nash, Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 177-221.
  2. Nash, 178.
  3. Rita R. Colwell et al., “Reduction of Cholera in Bangladeshi Villages by Simple Filtration,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100 (2003), 1051-1055.
  4. The problem is not limited to Bangladesh. In 2001, 58 countries reported 184,311 cases with 2,728 deaths, but the World Health Organization estimates that the officially reported cases represent around 5-10% of actual cases worldwide. From http://www.who.int/csr/disease/cholera/ihrnotification/en/; accessed May 9, 2003.

A Bright Young Sun
Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

Caltech astrophysicists Juliana Sackmann and Arnold Boothroyd have achieved a breakthrough. In spring 2003, they unveiled a new and more accurate model for the Sun’s life cycle, a model that addresses and may help resolve “the faint Sun paradox.” This new model has significant implications for God’s involvement in life’s origin on Earth—as well as for the subsequent history of life, including human life.

Sackmann and Boothroyd see evidence that the Sun started off with 4 to 7 percent more mass than it has today.1 This extra mass translates into a significantly brighter Sun in its earliest days. (A star’s luminosity is proportional to the fourth power of its mass.) A brighter Sun means a warmer Sun, and warmth is what astronomers have been looking for since discovering that the Sun was fainter in the past—some 25 percent less luminous, according to the old model—near the time of life’s origin.2 To account for the heat that sustained early life, they had relied heavily on the presence of extra “greenhouse gases,” such as ammonia and/or methane, in early Earth’s atmosphere.

According to this new model, the Sun was at its peak mass early, prior to its 40 millionth year. From that time until it was about 1.0 to 1.5 billion years old, it gradually shed some of that mass and grew dimmer. At 1.0 to 1.5 billion years old, the Sun reached its dimmest point and stopped shedding mass, and from that time onward the Sun has gradually grown brighter and brighter as its hydrogen burning has progressed. (Solar burning converts hydrogen into helium, the extra helium leads to more efficient hydrogen burning, and more efficient burning yields a brighter sun.)

When hydrogen fusion burning first ignited (4.52 billion years ago), the Sun would have been no less than 90 percent and possibly as much as 105 percent its current brightness, says the new model. At the time of life’s origin on Earth (approximately 3.8 billion years ago) the Sun would have been only 14 to 16 percent less luminous than it is today, as compared with 25 percent less luminous in the old model. From 3.0 billion years ago to the present, the two models are essentially the same.

If the Sun began with greater mass, early Earth’s atmosphere would not require the quantity of powerful greenhouse gases such as methane and ammonia for warmth at the time of life’s origin. In fact, it would require no methane or ammonia at all. This lack of dependence on ammonia and methane seems critical for explaining life’s stability, abundance, and diversity on early Earth since both ammonia and methane are problematic. They are very difficult to produce in Earth’s atmosphere and extremely unstable. Lessening the dependence on such greenhouse gases to sustain adequate temperatures for life allows for greater temperature variation over Earth’s surface. (The greater the quantity of greenhouse gases, the less temperature variation is possible in Earth’s atmosphere.) Greater temperature variation accommodates a wider diversity of bacterial life in the era when life began.

Increasing the diversity, abundance, and stability of life on Earth previous to 3 billion years ago serves to speed Earth’s preparedness for humans and human civilization. This speed is important since Earth and the Sun can only sustain human civilization for a relatively brief period in which just-right conditions, including solar stability, prevail.

Astronomers’ discovery of a brighter, younger Sun speaks of God’s intricate and optimized design in preparing Earth for life, and especially for humanity’s life—and quality of life. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the advance of science, the development of new and better models, sustains rather than negates the case for faith in the biblical Creator.

For more discussion of Sackmann and Boothroyd’s discovery readers can access the February 18, 2003 Creation Update Web cast.

References:
  1. Juliana Sackmann and Arnold I. Boothroyd, “Our Sun. V. A Bright Young Sun Consistent with Helioseismology and Warm Temperatures on Ancient Earth and Mars,” Astrophysical Journal 583 (2003), 1024-39. Astronomers observe that solar-sized stars throughout this galaxy lose significant mass during their infancy and youth. Sackmann and Boothroyd also note that old lunar rocks and old grains from meteorites show evidence for a much more intense solar wind (the mechanism for solar mass loss) 3 to 4 billion years ago.
  2. Hugh Ross, “The Faint Sun Paradox,” Facts for Faith 10(Q3 2002), 26-33.


Animal Death Prevents Ecological Meltdown
Fazale R. Rana, Ph.D.

Did animals die before the Fall? Did they kill and eat each other or drop from disease and old age? While this emotive concept troubles many Christians, a recent ecological study from Venezuela can help calm the emotion and bring insight regarding God’s original plan.

Most Christians agree that no humans died before the Fall. Adam and Eve, as the first humans, rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden and thus brought on human death, both physical and spiritual. However, some Christians interpret the creation days of Genesis 1 as calendar days (24 hours in length) and maintain that no creatures died before the Fall. These people cannot envision how a loving God could declare his creation good, and yet allow the death of animals. Therefore, they blame Adam and Eve for all death as though their rebellion against God initiated predatory behavior as part of the curse.

Other Christians view the Genesis 1 creation days as long time periods and contend that animal death and carnivorous activity are part of God’s original creation. These Christians see predation and animal death as serving a good purpose and playing a necessary role in nature.

Science offers a unique perspective on this issue. Numerous scientific studies indicate that animal death and carnivorous activity keep ecosystems stable. One recent study uncovered a direct relationship between shrinking coyote population and increased extinction rate of scrub-breeding birds in Southern California coastal regions.1 Unlike most studies that uncover correlations between carnivore behavior and ecosystem health, a breakthrough from the Venezuelan field study allowed scientists to observe a direct cause-and-effect relationship. An international team of researchers were able to test, for the first time, two competing models—“top-down” versus “bottom-up”—for ecosystem regulation.2 A hydroelectric enterprise created a reservoir by flooding the Caroni Valley in Bolivar, Venezuela. The rising waters formed a number of islands that became the focus of ecological study. As it turned out, two of the islands formed without predators, whereas the other islands emerged with complete ecologies. The islands were too far apart to permit migration of species among them. This event provided the ecologists with a well-designed experiment, complete with controls. They could directly assess the role predators play in ecosystems’ stability.

Broadly defined, four major categories of organisms comprise ecosystems.3 Primary producers (plants), which convert sunlight and inorganic materials into biomass and stored chemical energy, form the ecosystem’s base. Primary consumers (herbivores) feed on plants. Carnivores, located at the ecosystem’s top level, consume the herbivores. And finally, decomposers convert the ecosystem’s detritus (remains) into inorganic materials used by the primary producers.

Ecosystem stability requires a means to regulate the levels of each category of organisms. The amount of sunlight, nutrients, moisture, and temperature regulates the abundance of primary producers. Herbivores also affect plant levels through consumption. If not checked, exploding herbivore numbers will cause an ecosystem to collapse by over-consuming the primary producers.

Ecologists debate the mechanisms that regulate herbivore levels. Some favor top-down regulation in which carnivores control herbivore numbers. Others advocate bottom-up regulation, in which altered foliage and plant defenses control herbivore levels.

Each of these two models for ecosystem regulation aligns with one of the two theological positions on animal death before the Fall. Top-down control of herbivore numbers would explain, in part, why God would have instituted carnivorous activity prior to the Fall. On the other hand, the theological model that espouses “no animal death before the Fall” would require a different means to regulate herbivore levels. Calendar-day creationists have suggested mechanisms similar to bottom-up ecosystem regulation as a way to control herbivore overpopulation in the absence of predation.4

Top-down ecosystem regulation predicts that carnivore loss should result in an explosion of herbivore numbers followed by ecosystem collapse. Bottom-up ecosystem regulation predicts stable ecosystems, whether carnivores are present or absent.

The research team found that over the course of several years, fauna measurements matched the predictions of the top-down model. Islands without predators manifest runaway herbivore populations. Changes in plants on these islands indicate that the islands’ ecologies will soon collapse.

These results demonstrate the critical role predation plays in ecosystem stability. Ecological meltdown occurs without carnivorous activity. This scientific insight reveals the greater good that undergirds animal death. It also shows that the theological position asserting “no animal death before the Fall” is scientifically untenable. Carnivorous activity is the key to ecosystem regulation and stability.

References:
  1. Kevin R. Crooks and Michael E. Soule, “Mesopredator Release and Avifaunal Extinctions in a Fragmented System,” Nature 400 (1999), 563-66; Bernt-Erik Saether, “Top Dogs Maintain Diversity,” Nature 400 (1999), 510-11.
  2. John Terborgh et al., “Ecological Meltdown in Predator-Free Forest Fragments,” Science 294 (2001), 1923-26.
  3. Robert Leo Smith, Elements of Ecology and Field Biology (New York: Harper and Row, 1977), 47-71.
  4. Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, and Carl Wieland, The Revised and Expanded Answers Book, Don Batten, ed. (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2000), 111.

Attack the Argument, not the Person
Kenneth Richard Samples

General George S. Patton, Jr.’s standing order during the Second World War was to “attack, attack, attack, and, if in doubt, attack again!” That approach certainly worked well for the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. However, when it comes to logic and peacetime, the attack needs to be focused on the argument, not on the person.

Informal fallacies—defects or errors in reasoning—cause arguments to break down. The ad hominem fallacy (argument against the person) occurs when one arguer presents his point and the second arguer ignores the point, instead attacking the character of his opponent. This tactic is not only personally offensive but also logically unacceptable because it violates two core principles of reasoning. First, a person has an intellectual responsibility to respond to the content of an argument. Second, the character attack itself is irrelevant to the person’s argument (whether or not it is true). Even morally flawed people can present sound arguments.

The ad hominem fallacy comes in three identifiable varieties:

  1. abusive: directly denouncing character (old-fashioned name-calling).
  2. circumstantial: raising special circumstances in an attempt to discredit a person’s motives (also known as “poisoning the well”).
  3. tu quoque: accusing the other person of hypocrisy as an attempt to avoid personal criticism (tu quoque is Latin for “you too”).


To criticize a person’s character may be appropriate—if the person’s character is the logical issue at hand. For example, jurors in a courtroom need to know if a witness has been found guilty of perjury in the past. Believability is closely connected to the issue of discerning truth.

For dealing with ad hominem attacks, I offer two recommendations: (1) Don’t give in to the temptation to respond in the same abusive manner, and (2) help the arguer (and others) to see that the attack is logically irrelevant and then refocus attention on the argument at hand. Once the focus is back on arguments and not a person, listeners (even opponents) are likely to consider and be persuaded. The Christian’s goal is to present arguments shaped by sound logical and moral principles and to trust God to use them as He pleases.
For Further Study

    Attacking Faulty Reasoning, by T. Edward Damer
    A Concise Introduction to Logic, by Patrick J. Hurley


The Chapter Factor
Hugh Ross, Ph.D.

During my ministry travels I meet many people who think Reasons To Believe is a very BIG organization. They usually express some amazement when I tell them the actual (relatively small) size of both our staff and our budget. Though friends may jokingly credit my get-a-lot-for-a-little Scots heritage, the real reason we can do more than our size predicts is that volunteer apologists and regional chapters make us large. They multiply the efforts of our staff scholar team many times over. They are also chiefly responsible for following up RTB outreaches.

From the very start Reasons To Believe focused on equipping faithful men and women in the different places where I would speak to get involved in evangelism and pass on whatever they learned that proved useful. This emphasis eventually led to the spontaneous formation of Reasons To Believe chapters—groups of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers in different cities and on college campuses across the U.S. and in six other countries, as well. Some of these chapters number a few dozen members. Some include more than 400.  Many include distinguished scholars. I’m happy to report that last year our Denver chapter sent five members to India to give apologetics talks on ten different university campuses. The impact was great! And I was at home writing.

If you would like to find out what it takes to start a Reasons To Believe chapter, I invite you to contact either Bob Stuart or Ken Hultgren at (626) 335-1480. They may be able to link you with other interested people in your area. Bob or Ken can also provide you with a chapter start-up kit they’ve prepared. They’ll even assist in planning your first meeting—or an outreach event, if you’re ready. Consider becoming a part of this ministry multiplication.

Sincerely,

Hugh Ross

P.S. For a list of existing chapters and contact information, visit www.reasons.org.


2003 Conference Well-Attended, Satisfying
Joe Aguirre

“The conference presented first-rate scientific and Christian expositions. It was both spiritually inspirational and intellectually stimulating.” –James from Placentia, CA

Enthusiastic praise typified the reaction of the nearly 450 people who attended (plus 81 who participated online) Reasons To Believe’s third biennial conference, “Who Is the Designer?” this past summer at Seacoast Grace Church in Southern California. The event brought together some of the leaders in 21st century apologetics—including many impressively qualified attendees—representing a spectrum of disciplines. The audience learned how cutting-edge scientific discoveries, buttressed by philosophical and theological evidences, gave discernible clues to the Designer’s identity.

Ten speakers (five from RTB) delivered twenty talks over the three-day conference, with Q&A sessions following each presentation. Experts in astronomy, physics, biochemistry, biology, anthropology, philosophy, and theology helped answer questions such as:

    Does the created realm adequately support a search for the Designer?
    If so, where does the evidence point—to the personal God of the Bible, to the god(s) of other world religions, or somewhere else altogether?
    How can I gain the wisdom to examine the evidence and draw sound conclusions?
    How can I most effectively discuss and defend my conclusions among those who are undecided or disagree?

Participants seemed to have these questions in mind when they filled out conference evaluations:

“This is an incredible way to tie together the scientific, verifiable world with the God of the Bible.”
–Michael from Beaverton, OR

“In a world of shifting values and morality, it is liberating to learn I believe in a worldview (Christianity) based on hard facts and lasting faith.”
–Bruce from Shreveport, LA

“The cutting-edge topics and the superior presentations are edifying, life changing, and a source of powerful reasons for belief in Christ as the Savior and the Creator.”
–Don from Whittier, CA

Audiotapes of the entire conference are available ($49.95 for twenty tapes) from Reasons To Believe and the video web cast is still available online. Visit www.reasons.org to learn more.

EDITOR’S WORD
Kids Ask the Toughest Ones

Joe Aguirre

“Dad, does Jesus work for God?”

“Uh, well, Jesus IS God. He doesn’t have a boss. But He’s also the Son of God. I mean, He did work for God by coming to Earth to die for our sins. But He did his work for us, too.”

“What?”

My theologically inquisitive four-year-old stumped me with another tough one. At minimum I had to explain the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. As I struggled to explain them I realized how inadequate my answers were. How do you explain the Trinity to a four-year-old (or a forty-year-old, for that matter)? I also realized that a study of these great doctrines can and should be a lifelong work.

The temptation to “move on” past a rudimentary understanding of Christian doctrine seems ill-advised to me now. How can I move on from these teachings—they are the hope of humanity? We don’t have a Christian faith apart from the mind-boggling conception that God Himself became one of us, paid the penalty we should have paid, and loves us with a love we don’t deserve and can’t fathom.

Christians sometimes get the message that we simply need to focus on putting our faith into practice, thereby authenticating our witness. Yes, that’s true, but this faith must be properly grounded so that the practice becomes a joyful testimony to the grace of God.

I want to be the best father I can be for my children. But, if I can’t answer their questions, what’s to keep them from gravitating toward easier-to-grasp self-help religions or any other belief system? I wouldn’t dare let them sort other issues out all by themselves as they work through the educational system.

Hmm. I better keep some of those thick, doctrinal books with plain covers on the lower shelves.


New Life for a “Burial Policy”
Alan Graas

My father died recently. As my mother predeceased my dad, my sisters and I had the difficult task of going through all of his belongings. I loved my dad, and we had good communication in spite of the many miles between our homes. So I was a little surprised to find three small life insurance policies in his well-organized files.

He never mentioned them. He probably forgot about them long ago. The three policies ranged from $800 to $3,000 each, a tiny fraction of his estate. Years ago, these small policies were called “burial policies,” providing just enough cash to pay for burial costs. Many parents bought these policies for their young children, with the thought that the cash value would eventually be used for college.

My sisters and I never used the policy proceeds for college or for Dad’s burial expenses. These costs were taken care of in other ways. How about you? Do you have a small “burial” or  “college education policy” that you haven’t thought about in years? If you do, you may want to reconsider whether the policy proceeds will really be necessary for your survivors or become forgotten in the files, like my dad’s.

Did you know that life insurance policies of any size could be donated to Reasons To Believe? Under most circumstances, you can take a tax deduction for the full cash value of the donated policies. Your policies can be put to immediate use while you’re still alive, without taking any money from your budget, and you get a great tax benefit. For more information on donating life insurance policies or annuities to our ministry, call me directly at 559-658-5192.


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LETTERS

I’ve been truly blessed by your ministry. The wide gap between scientific data and popular biblical teachings was a major impediment to my acceptance of the gospel message. Your explanation of the original Hebrew texts regarding the creation event presents a strong correlation between the Bible and established scientific evidence. Your ministry has provided a sound foundation for my faith in the Bible and my salvation in Jesus’ finished work.

Phil Mangiapane
Oakton, VA

I was educated in the field of biology at a conservative Christian university and through my 20s felt a strong conflict between what I was being taught biblically and scientifically. I never had the answers I was looking for until a friend gave me a set of your tapes which I listened to and devoured on an eight-hour road trip.

I cannot tell you the incredible weight that was lifted off of my shoulders, mind, and heart as the truth of your words flooded over me. I finally had the freedom I had been looking for. I now share this freedom with my students!

Kim Whelan
Parachute, CO

I enjoy your monthly newsletters greatly. It is always good to hear from those on the “frontlines” and the related inspiring stories. Yours is a ministry that must continue. So hang in there, keep traveling, keep teaching, and keep [writing] those books.

Dave Atkins
Cape Coral, FL

Your ministry has done a great work towards the reconciliation of science and faith and will be remembered for bringing reason to the church. Bravo and keep up the good work!

Josh Kelley
Assistant Pastor
His Place Community Church


Pray-ers
Kathy Ross

After walking steadily, at times steeply, uphill for nearly an hour, I’d had enough.

“That’s it. I want to go back,” I hollered ahead to Hugh with perhaps a little irritation in my voice.

Bugs attacked my face. Solar rays crisped the back of my neck. Weeds whipped my shins. My shirt was dripping with perspiration. And now my allergies were beginning to flare. Not even the lovely purple, yellow, pink, and red wildflowers lining the trail could keep me going any farther. Or so I thought.

“There’s a beautiful meadow just a little ways ahead,” Hugh prodded, slowing his pace but not stopping. Somehow he never seems ready to turn back. Nor does “a little ways” ever really mean “a little.” For some odd reason, perhaps purely inertia, my feet kept moving.

As they did, I began to consider what keeps a hiker going. Anyone who has chosen a trail based on the guidebook’s description of the destination has more motivation to get there than does someone who hasn’t read it. And the one who’s really inspired to keep going through thick and thin has either been there before or talked personally with someone who has—enough to be convinced it’s worth the pain.

Today I hadn’t read the book for myself. All I knew was “up.” And I didn’t even know, until I threatened to quit, that Hugh had been to this “up” place before.

Now I had a metaphor to keep me going, a new picture of my walk with Christ. As I pondered it, I began to smile and gravity lost some of its grip. A few sneezes later I didn’t even care if the meadow was as near or as gorgeous as Hugh said. I was glad and thanking God just to be moving in the right direction.