Reasons to Believe

Staying Connected 2004 August

 

* Due to copyrights, original graphics and tables do not appear in these articles


What It's All About

Finally Able To Love God With All My Mind!

I was brought up in a secular home with almost no spirituality other than my mother's dabbling in New Age occultism from time to time. Science was my savior and I felt that man's ingenuity, coupled with proper education, would eventually produce utopia. I had no need for God. If He existed, He was either the watchmaker God (who wound up the universe and let it go and had since become disinterested) or He was a cosmic killjoy. I didn't need that kind of god.

While involved in pre-marital counseling at my fiancée’s (now my wife’s) home church, one of the pastors tried to preach the gospel to me. I was a tough nut to crack, but what whacked me upside the head and made me sit up and take notice was when he quoted Robert Jastrow:

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, p. 116)

This forced me to drop my pride and other impediments and give the Bible and Jesus a chance. I became a Christian soon thereafter, but still pretty much kept my old worldview. Eventually I realized that I could not reconcile my Christianity with what I was sure was true about physical reality.

At church I stumbled across materials from a prominent young-earth creationist (YEC). I was greatly relieved to find something that addressed the subject of faith and science. Things were better, now that I could finally begin to love God with all my mind. Many of this YEC’s critiques of evolution were quite good, but I struggled with issues such as the age of the earth, a global flood, and some Christian doctrines. One day I stumbled across a critique of this YEC’s proofs. I was stunned. All the niggling things in the back of my mind came to the forefront. My faith was severely shaken.

I was reeling for a few days. I knew God was real, but I had serious doubts. I began trying to rebuild my faith. I read a transcription of a debate between Dr. Hugh Ross and another prominent YEC. What struck me when I first read it, while still a YEC myself, was how much the person debating Dr. Ross avoided issues raised by Dr. Ross and seemed to prefer personal attacks. Also, Hugh’s presentation sounded eminently more reasonable. So I surfed the Reasons To Believe Web site. Based on the RTB site and materials, as well as links it suggested (e.g., ARN), I was finally able to get back on solid ground and love God with all my mind. (from Sean via email)


Fun With Science

Watch the Meteor Shower

One of my favorite things to see in the night skies requires neither telescope nor Ph.D., just clear moonless heavens and an appreciation of beauty—okay, maybe some mosquito repellent too.

Meteor showers are spectacular nighttime events that are actually related to comets, of all things. As comets orbit the sun they shed some of their dust and gas along the way. This debris spreads out but takes on the same basic orbit as the mother comet. After years of this “littering,” the orbit of the comet becomes like a tenuous train of rubbish circling the sun.

The meteor shower connection? If our planet in its orbit happens to cross paths with this trail of trash, it’s like driving your car through a swarm of bees: there’s a one-sided collision with a lot of destruction.

As these small bits of comet crud crash into our atmosphere at high speed, tens of miles per second, they vaporize, lighting up the air around them brilliantly. But we need not fear that these meteors (or shooting stars) will hit us. Their average size is about that of a grain of sand; they will never make it to the ground.

Every year around August 11 or 12 a famous and spectacular meteor shower, called the Perseids, occurs as Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. This year the conditions for viewing will be especially good—relatively moon-free.

A meteor shower takes place all over the sky so all you have to do to enjoy the Perseids is to dress warmly, remember the repellent, go outside (the best time is after midnight), and look up. (Lying down  spares considerable neck pain.)

Meteor showers provide clues to how the Lord made our solar system. Like a psalmist, we can rejoice that He made them beautiful, too.

Contributed by Mark Ritter, www.swordandspirit.com


Teachable Moments

Recently, I took my daughter Emily on a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. During our visit, we strolled through some man-made caves which the zoo had constructed to simulate the dwellings of early humans. As we looked at various exhibits of primitive human clothes and tools, I drew Emily’s attention to some paintings on the wall and immediately seized an opportunity. I asked her, “Do you think that an animal could paint that?” Without hesitation, she proclaimed, “Mommy, that’s silly. Animals can’t draw.”

Even at four years old, Emily intuitively understood a fundamental difference between animals and humans. Adam and Eve are the only creatures the Bible describes as being made in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:27-28). Humans stand apart from the animals as the crown of God’s creation (Psalm 8). This may very well explain why humans are the only species that scientists have observed as being capable of sophisticated artistic expression.

As we exited the cave, one of my friends who overheard this exchange with Emily remarked that she had never thought about the differences between animals and humans before. I guess “teachable moments” aren’t just for children.

Krista Bontrager, RTB scholar

Krista holds an undergraduate degree in communications and graduate degrees in theology and Bible exposition. She moderates and produces our weekly Web cast, Creation Update, and coordinates development of new audio and video products for the ministry.


New Tool For You!

Reasons To Believe is delighted to introduce a brand new tool to support your personal ministry efforts—science apologetics outreach brochures! Produced in full color, these “tract-like” brochures spark the reader’s interest in four key science-faith topics:

  • How Did Life Emerge on Earth?
  • What the Big Bang Says About the Existence of God and the Design of the Universe
  • Is the Universe Designed for the Benefit of Humanity?
  • How Long Were the Genesis 1 Creation Days?

Tastefully designed, these brochures give readers a brief overview of the topic and direct them to RTB for more information about science and faith. Useful for initiating evangelism or for introducing someone to the relationship between science and Christianity, these brochures are available for $3 per pack of 20 brochures. In addition to these 20-packs on each topic, we offer a combination pack with five each of the four topics. These brochures are ideal for distributing to skeptical friends (and strangers) and for placing on information desks at churches, hospitals, bookstores, workplaces, and elsewhere. To order, call 1-800-482-7836.

Special thanks to the RTB Seattle Chapter for initiating this powerful new outreach tool!


Reasons Institute - Launching This Fall!

Another new resource is about to be launched—Reasons Institute, our very own online educational program. If you have ever felt the need for a better grasp of the exciting information coming from the frontiers of science and how it relates to the Christian worldview, here is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for! Reasons Institute is designed to equip you—in the convenience of your own home—with the cutting-edge information RTB is known for producing.

Here are comments from students who have “tested” our course material.

I once thought that science was voodoo and it held no viable answers. However, I know that it does have its place in my faith. Thank you for a wonderful class. (Joshua)

I am currently watching a TV show about the creation of the universe and the source of life on earth. It is amazing all that I now understand after what I learned with you in my classes. With programs like that [TV show], it is just more difficult to talk about Christ unless you have the correct understanding like we do through your class. I just want to thank you for RTB. (Peter)

I think that for me the most important thing was being able to look at science and discover that the evidence that science is uncovering is actually making a stronger and stronger case for the correctness of the biblical creation model. I have been amazed by the design features of the universe—the anthropic principle that points to such great care on the part of the Lord to fashion a just-right place for us to live. (Jerry)

How Does This Institute work?

When you enroll in Reasons Institute, you become part of a larger online class that may include students from around the world. A course typically runs for six weeks, with weekly assignments. Students log on any time of the day or night to listen to the lectures by RTB scholars and to submit assignments. There are no specified times when you must be online, but you can, if you wish, enjoy the benefit of online interaction with professors as well as with classmates. Reasons Institute uses the popular WebCT e-learning platform. As long as you have a basic working knowledge of computers you can enroll, make use of our orientation program, and be on your way to a new educational adventure. Courses may be taken for personal growth OR for college credit! Taking these courses can prepare you to become one of RTB’s volunteer apologists. Each six-week course costs $75.

Two courses will be offered this fall

  • Integrating Science and Theology. Learn why Christians should care about science. Explore the historical alliance between science and Christianity, and see how worldviews shape what people believe about creation and the Bible. Learn how, using a “testable” approach, both the words of Scripture and the facts of nature point to a specially created universe. This course was developed from the first portion of the Science & Evangelism Correspondence Course. (This is the first of four required courses to earn a “volunteer apologist” certificate.)
  • The History of Christian Apologetics - Part 1. This course, featuring RTB philosopher/theologian Kenneth Samples, surveys prominent apologists from the time of the apostles through St. Augustine. Students will learn about the shifting goals, audiences, and methods in the historical development of the Christian apologetics enterprise. Some discussion will also be devoted to the historical context from which various approaches to defending the faith emerged.

How to Register for Reasons Institute

Classes begin September 20, 2004, and Reasons Institute will be enrolling students through September 10. To register, go to our Web site at www.reasons.org and click on the Reasons Institute icon.  Or, simply call us toll-free at 1-800-482-7836. 


Computer Changes - Please Be Patient

In late August through October, we will be instituting a major change to our computer system. We will do our best to manage this change without affecting donors, customers, and others on our mailing list adversely. However, in the event that we encounter some unexpected problems, we will need and appreciate your patience. If you notice any problems that arise from this computer transition, we ask that you let us know by calling our toll-free number at 1-800-482-7836. We look forward to being able to serve you more efficiently once the new system is up and running!


Events

ALASKA

CALIFORNIA

  • Fresno
    • September 16, 2004
      • People’s Church
        • 7:00 P.M. (PT)
        • Speaker: Hugh Ross
        • Contact the church at (559)298-8001
    • September 17, 2004
      • Fresno Pacific University
        • 10:00 A.M. (PT)
        • Speaker: Hugh Ross
      • Connecting Businessmen to Christ (CBMC)
        • 12:00 P.M. (PT)
        • Speaker: Hugh Ross
  • La Puente
    • September 18, 2004
      • GKI in America Church
      • 6:00 P.M. (PT)
      • Speaker: Hugh Ross
      • Contact the church at (909)597-5000
  • Sierra Madre
    • August 29, 2004
      • Skeptics Forum
        • Sierra Madre Congregational Church
        • 11:00 A.M. (PT)
        • Contact Ross Hoagland at (626)390-0236
    • August 30, 2004
      • Skeptics Forum
        • Sierra Madre Congregational Church
        • 7:00 P.M. (PT)
        • Contact Ross Hoagland at (626)390-0236

TEXAS

  • Houston
    • September 7-8, 2004
      • Rice University
      • Speakers: Hugh Ross
      • Contact James Tour at tour@rice.edu

CANADA

  • Vancouver, BC
    • September 24, 2004
      • St. John Anglican Church
      • 6:00 P.M. (PT)
      • Speaker: Hugh Ross
      • Contact John Duerksen at (250)245-0012

Resources

Apologetics Hotline   (626) 335-5282

Discuss your science-faith questions with a trained apologist. Available daily from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. (PT)

Creation Update Web Cast

Listen live through our Web site on Tuesdays, 11:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. (PT)

Prayer Team

Prayer on behalf of Reasons To Believe is a precious gift. A hearty thank you to all who pray for us! If you would like to join the RTB prayer team, please contact us at PrayerPraise@reasons.org.

Science and Evangelism Training Course

Learn the facts behind the compatibility of science and the Bible through this in-depth, online training course.  May be taken for college credit.  Please call Bob Stuart at our toll free number for more information.

Web site:

www.reasons.org

Toll Free Number:

1-800-482-7836