Is Nature Smarter Than Us?

“It’s so obvious there’s no excuse for doubting it. By observing all the incredible things around us, we must logically conclude they were made by a powerful, imaginative and highly intelligent Being whom we cannot see.” —Romans 1.20

The Biomimicry Institute’s mission is  investigating the genius of the natural order to solve global problems like pollution and finding better energy sources. These scientists admit they see sophisticated intelligence in the natural order.

This isn’t a new idea. The ancients used building methods they found in the architecture of insects. Long before the Wright Brothers, Leonardo knew human flight was possible by imitating birds in flight.  Here are ways the Institute proves nature is often smarter than we are.

  • NASA was stumped trying to develop a land rover that could negotiate the tough terrain of Mars until they designed one mimicking the locomotion of the humble inch worm.
  • By observing how certain wasps bore effortlessly into wood, Japanese researchers found techniques to aid neurosurgeons make safer, intricate incisions in the human brain.
  • By studying the prairie’s ecosystem, The Land Institute has devised better agricultural methods to reduce the need for fertilizers and insecticides that damage our environment.
  • The intricate structure of termite mounds inspired the creation of an efficient climate control system now installed in a Zimbabwe office complex that reduces need of electricity.

How did these inventions come about? How did the honey bee, for example, discover that hexagonal cells, not circles or squares, are the  very best shape for storing their products. And how did they learn how to build them?

They say evolution. Yes, there are scientists who, against all reason, attribute these intelligent designs of nature to inanimate forces such as natural selection.  The modern world has sadly  swallowed this myth that a mindless process can actually create intelligence.

While studying evolution at Cornell,  the prof stated, “You may wonder why we discount the possibility of God. Simple,” he explained—“You can’t put God in a test tube.” At the time I could find no reason to doubt that. Years later it dawned on me! We’d been snookered! Evolution can’t be put in a test tube either! It would require millions of years to test it.

“The fool has said in his heart–what an incredible leap of faith for otherwise bright folks (whose eternal prospects may not be so bright). How is it they can believe that the exquisite computer in our skull, vastly more complex than the best IBM can make, is nothing more than a happy accident? If they found a simple mechanism like a wristwatch on the moon, wouldn’t they instantly think. Someone is here!  Isn’t it more logical and far easier to grasp that only Divine Intelligence can beget intelligence? How can they fail to see God alone can create something out of nothing?

What triggered the Big Bang? It’s not a what, it’s a WHO! Common sense dictates a force of that nature doesn’t happen by itself. Only Someone, a wise and mighty Designer. could do that, and then from it construct the heavens and the earth. Can the finest theories of Darwin and his kin do that?

Hound of Heaven: God, Quincy and Me.

The Hound Of Heaven. This poem by Francis Thompson, a brilliant but tortured drug addict, hits home. It exquisitely describes how a friendly but persistent God pursues us with patience and love. Saints in every age, prodigals all, grasp the pure joy of being caught in the Divine Chase and the utter misery of running away from Him.

Charles Schultz’s hound, Snoopy did something similar, but in a subtle and light, tongue-in cheek style.  It’s interesting that in his Gospel According to Peanuts, the author, Mr. Short reminds us dog is God spelled backwards.

Quincy is my “some-timey” hound. Why do I say my 10 pound poodle is some-timey? The other night I kindly let him do his business out back. When I whistled for him,  he ran to me, likety-split, happily wagging his tail. Hugging him I said, “I just love it when you obey me like that!”

Today–a very different story. When I whistled, he glanced up and gaily went back to exploring all those lovely smells he’d found. I called, yelled and cajoled. Nothing. The pleasures of his doggy world had him in its grasp. Sadly I had to go and fetch him.           (I’m so like that).

So I’m thinking God must feel joy when I obey him—delighted when I come into His presence at his call–sad when I put him on the back burner, caught up in worldly cares and pleasures. Yeah, I think that’s probably right.

Some, with a puritan bent might raise an eyebrow at the notion that God feels joy or disappointment over us… or anything else for that matter.

Others might scoff that it’s anthropomorphic—projecting human traits and feelings onto the Divine. But isn’t believing we can attribute good stuff like love, joy, or bad feelings onto the King of the Universe rather like saying we invented ourselves?

King David, had deep insight into such things. No mean song and dance man, he also wrote some really cool lyrics to a bunch of songs, called psalms. One of them shouts, “Hey, it is He who made us! We did not make ourselves!” Dummy!  Wasn’t David the guy  ”after God’s own heart?” So isn’t it just plain whack-o to buck his insights and talk about projecting our feelings onto the Creator when it’s so completely the opposite.     

The prophet who heard God sing. Zephaniah wrote, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save and He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in his love. He will joy over thee with singing.” Zeph. 3:17 (Good old KJV)

In the very front of the book, we read how we are all made “in His image.” So, when we sing, dance, celebrate, feel joy, love, peace, good stuff like that, we are reflecting Daddy God. To say he reflects us is absurd, like saying the sun reflects the moon. A more recent song puts it this way, “I find beauty looking through my Father’s eyes.”

So in my relationship with Quincy, my hound, I get a glimpse of how God is happy with me when I trust him, obey him and love Him and others. It’s a good bet, like me with Quincy, Jesus is delighted when I come running at his call.

Thanks for reading us. We live for your comments. They keep us going.

 Next post: The Humanity of God? Sound like heresy? Let’s talk.

Why So Little Interest in Jesus?

Jesus and “born again” were hot topics in the 60’s and 70’s. Today people suppress a yawn when we bring Him up. We can feel the growing anti-Christian sentiment around us, but what’s more alarming is that our neighbors’ have no interest when we bring up Jesus, our faith, Jesus, or things Christian.   Polls by Gallop and Barna document the decline of the church’s reputation over the last 50 years. But they fail to note that Jesus’ popularity has plummeted along with the church.

What’s behind His eroded reputation?  How about direct disobedience of His command to “love one another.” and his prayer, “Father,may they be one.”

 We have failed  to reach two generations of young people and are losing a third, many of whom are being taught to actually hate Jesus. Has our failure to obey Jesus’ mandate  a reason why?

Billy Graham s success wasn’t primarily his preaching. I helped lead two of his campaigns in New Jersey. He  would not come to a city if a sizable number of church leaders there did not join together in prayer and support of the campaign. This was one of the keys to his popularity and his fruitful efforts to win others to Jesus. .

 What was his authority? By this shall all men know you are my disciples, “If you love one another as I have loved you.” John 13, 34,35. And Jesus’ prayer, “May they be one Father, as we are one that the world may believe.”

The Love Revolution  a book about Jesus’ forgotten and neglected command ,  written by Pastor Gaylord Ens, greatly impacted the men’s group I am in. He, myself and other believers are praying for the body of Christ in the U.S. to wake up to the Great Command of Jesus  to “love one another,” and his prayer, May they be one Father, as we are one that the world may believe.”

Doesn’t the failure of Christian leaders to bring their flocks together and competition among churches rather than cooperation, show our disrespect for Jesus’  New Covenant command–His new order for a New Order? What if leaders would reach out to neighboring churches and explore ways to bring their flocks together to witness and do good works? What if local  churches were known for their mutual cooperation and united loving actions rather than their competition? Jesus promised obedience to this agape love would make a positive impact on our neighbors. Why don’t folks get this?

Please pray with us to lift Jesus higher as we recall and practice His mandate for us to love one another and his prayer for our spiritual unity.

Your comments are valuable. Please let us know you are out there. Thanks.

 

When God Reveals Himself

“When you said, ‘Seek my face’, my heart answered, ‘Thy face, Lord, will I seek’--Psalm 27.8 “Ask, and it shall be given; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it will be opened.” Matt. 7.7

Imagine the mystery of the universe lying behind this great, heavy curtain.

  • The atheist stands before it, declaring, “There’s absolutely nothing back there.”
  • The agnostic comes and has no doubts, “We can never know what’s back there.”
  • The philosopher expounds on and on about what lies behind the curtain.
  • The religionist explains it with a host of creeds, doctrines and rituals.
  • The humble penitent comes to the curtain, asks, seeks and waits…until the curtain opens and the Lord God, King of the universe, reveals Himself

God revealed Himself first in real history. That first Christmas He actually did show up, coming to us as a babe. He lived among us, suffered with us, forgave us, saved us from sin and guilt and proved his love by dying for us. We celebrate Easter because He really did rise up from the tomb, conquering our worst nightmare—death. To top it off, he offers those who will ask and receive, the incredible gift of eternal life.

God reveals Himself today to us if we ask and seek. Surrounded by skeptics at an Ivy League University, I was on my way to becoming an atheist. But I had not given up my  curiousity, so I must have been asking and seeking. One weekend I chose to be among bright, eager, young believers. They lived out their faith, sharing their love for Jesus Christ with me. I joined them singing a hymn by Charles Wesley: “Amazing Love, How can it be, that thou my God hast died for me.” Those words floored me.

Could it be true? Is Jesus, who I heard all my life, died for me, really God?  I had to know, so I got alone and—well I guess you would say I prayed, though it was more like a challenge. “God, if you really love me and died for me, surely you can reveal this to me, can’t you?” Then I waited and guess what. That curtain opened for me. I knew and felt to be in the presence of the Holy. There was no doubt. It was all true, so I surrendered to Him and my life changed forever.

We come to know God the way we come to know anyone. Let’s say I go into McDonald’s, sit down next to this guy and we get talking. After some small talk, we ask each other some personal questions. By asking and answering we come to know something about each other. We might continue with this and eventually form a friendship. But if I don’t care enough to ever ask or he doesn’t ask, can we ever come to know each other?  Wouldn’t we leave McDonald’s as we came—complete strangers. To know God or anyone, we must care enough to ask and seek.

I am still asking God questions. I have found prayer includes asking, seeking, listening and waiting. God, as it turns out, delights in opening the curtain, revealing Himself and answering my questions. Over the years, we have formed a close bond this way, as He continues to reveal Himself to me. He speaks to my heart by His Spirit and to my mind by His Word, the Holy Scriptures. God’s servant, Paul surely grasped this, writing, “…that I may know him in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.” 

Would you consider taking this challenge by honestly asking Him, seeking Him and knocking. He will surely open that curtain for you.

Please make comments. They keep us going.

What Holds the Universe Together?

“We say atoms are bound together by weak attractors, but let’s admit the truth.  We know the universe is held together by LOVE.”  M. Von Kerr, Mystic and Physicist, CY 9942

The quote above is from an episode of a TV series inspired by Gene Roddenberry.  Dylan Hunt, captain of the Star ship Andromeda, bridges time and space to be reunited with his long lost love, Sara, who is leading an expedition to rescue him from the death grip of a black hole. While she does save her great love, they realize they must acrifice their personal love for a higher purpose–for Dylan to pursue his heroic mission to restore a fallen, darkened universe. In the end, their painful decision bears fruit. The Star ship captain does restore his fragmented kosmos and brings peace to those who inhabit it.

Pretty heady stuff! But let’s look at another quote, not from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, but from the mind of God. “Everything in the universe was made through God’s son and everything is held together by Him.”  Colossians 1: 17

Now, let’s bridge these thoughts with another, even more astonishing revelation–one  that comes to us, fittingly, from the disciple whom Jesus loved.“He that does not love, does not know God, for GOD is LOVE.”—1 John 4: 17

This revelation that GOD IS LOVE is without a doubt, the greatest single statement ever made about God, answering many questions and unlocking a multitude of mysteries. It also reveals the profound insight of Roddenberry’s quote. Christ, who is one with the Father, is Love and is the source of energy that created the kosmos, holds it together and keeps it going with remarkable mathematical precision.

This gives me profound hope for our own darkened world. What do you think?

P.S. The revelation that God is love answers some of our most basic questions .

  • Why are we here? We have been created because it is the nature of Love to require another to love. God created us to love us and to be loved in return.
  • Are we free to choose or not? Love, by nature, requires a free response. To be truly free to choose Love, we must be free to reject Love. This explains why the Creator placed that tree in the garden. It was there to give us freedom to choose God.
  • Why is the world filled with evil?  Since God loves us enough to give us freedom, we are free to reject Him, which we have done, thereby opening a Pandora’s Box of evils such as hatred, strife, abuse, greed, selfishness, violence and wars.
  • Does God watch over us or has he left us to fend for ourselves? Love does not abandon his beloved, but seeks her best. God watches over us and has chosen to preserve us, even though we reject Him. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my all.

There is hope for the human race.

Friendship and Eternal Security

A certain theologian advocates eternal security, declaring, “those who have been genuinely saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. shall not be in danger of God’s condemnation or loss of salvation, for God’s grace keeps them forever saved and secure.”

I see merit in his statement, but have some questions. (1) Who of us dare say whom are saved and who is not saved? Isn’t that God’s domain? (2) Since friendship with Christ is a covenant–an agreement between two parties–what is our part in the covenant?  (Calvin is dead wrong to exclude believers from the covenant, teaching it exists only among the trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. That notion has no support in Scripture.)

 Friendship with Christ: Jesus tells us that true friendship includes sacrifice, i.e. “laying down one’s life.” (John 15:13). Life (Gr: psyche) implies dying to self or laying down one’s ego for his friends. Jesus adds,  You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Our friendship with God is a great gift, but not one based just on a past decision made to trust him.  It rests foremost on God’s steadfast love, but includes obeying his command.  What command?–the mandate he gave at His table which he repeats twice in this discourse: (15. 12, 17). “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus laid down his life for us. If I am his friend, I will obey him by loving my fellow believers which includes  laying down my life, i.e. my soul, my ego, for them.

My best friend and I became pals years ago. We continue to enjoy that bond, but it means calling and meeting each other; helping when and if needed. But what if I make no effort to nurture our friendship? Would we remain friends? Clearly not, since Jesus defines friendship as a two way street. Friendship in his covenant is with Jesus on the vertical plane but includes loving others. This what we mean by “the horizontal church.”

 ”If you abide in Me…”Three things I see in this phrase, (a) Abide is a remaining or continuing in Jesus; (b) The little word “if” means I must do my part. (c) Abide is in the present tense. We remain in Him today not  just yesterday or 40 years ago at conversion. Salvation is past, present and future. Today is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2) andToday. if you do not harden your hearts…” (Heb. 3:16)

Jesus’ Prime Directive is his order for a new order: “Love one another as I have loved you. -–John 13: 34. Many professed believers are apparently in for a shock.  ”Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy… cast out demons…and perform wonders in your name?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.” Matt. 7.21, 22” Again, in his parable of the sheep and goats, Jesus rejects professed believers he terms “goats.” In shock, they ask, “Lord when did we see you…. and not help you?” He answers, “when you refused to help the least of these my brethren, you were refusing to help me.”  Their sin? Disobeying Christ’s prime directive.

Don’t get me wrong. I have full confidence in God’s ability to  ”work in me to will and do his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:12). Without his daily grace, I am lost. But I shun the arrogance that says, “It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do, I’m going to heaven.” I’m  a sinner whom God has reconciled himself to by Christs death and am “being saved by his life (within me). (Romans 5:10) And so I …work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.”–Phil 2:11. I also try to be “diligent to make my call and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:10). So,

Your comments and thoughts are important to us. Thanks.  

P.S. From Genesis to Revelation, we God’s relationship with his people is reflected in  marriage. I would hazard then, what is true for friendship, may go double for marriage. I’m just saying.

The Ambiguities of our Faith

It’s a strange but true fact that we are often held captive by our culture. For example, in the West, we believe truth is usually black or white.

I was sitting in a lecture hall at Yale University, scratching my head, trying to decipher Dr. “Freddy” Wang’s accent. “Chinese is wery ahm-big-oo-us.”  Forty of us were there to learn Mandarin, courtesy of the Air Force. NSA would then train us to spy on the Chinese mainland. Anyway, after his lecture, we were laughing at Freddy’s repeated attempts to say, “Very ambiguous.”

Years later it dawned on me. In that phrase, our professor was sharing with us the wisdom of his ancient culture. We johnny-come-lately westerners are clueless about the oriental insight into the dynamics of ambiguities such as yin and yang.  Webster’s defines ambiguous as” having two or more possible meanings. In the West, we keep trying to force reality into “‘either…or,” a rather static view of the world and the Word.

English has many synonyms for ambiguous. Paradox is one. Dialectic is another. The dialectic method holds that two contrasting ideas (dualities) may be in tension with each other, to reconcile the two into one new meaning, called synthesis.  In simple terms it means life is not always “either… or.” Sometimes it is “both…and. Our Christian faith has such ambiguities. Not convinced? How do you answer these questions?

  • Is Jesus man or God?
  • Is God one or three?
  • Are we saved by God’s grace or by our faith?
  • Are we going to be judged by our faith or our works?
  • Is salvation a present or future reality?
  • Which testament portrays God’s true nature, the Old or the New?
  • Does God judge us in our sins or extend forgiveness?

Congratulations if you answered “both” to all seven. Paradoxes like these have sadly been the cause for dividing Christians for centuries. Often it’s because the western mind fails to grasp what the eastern mind does–reality is not always a one-edged thing. Sometimes it has two-edges, as we see in this passage, “God’s word is living and active, as sharp as a two-edged sword, dividing asunder soul and spirit, where joints and marrow join, for God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions.” –Heb. 4:12.

Did you notice the five underlined pairs? They are dualities. I believe the inspired writer put them there purposely, to help us see truth often has two edges—two contrasting ideas in harmony with each other.  This insight helps us resolve so-called discrepancies found in Scripture. It also may help us reconcile doctrinal controversies.

Consider two passages, quoted by opposing sides of one such controversy. “I have written these things that you may know you have eternal life – 1 John 5: 13. “How can those who abandon their faith be brought back to repent?”-Heb. 6:4. It’s tempting for one who is zealous for his doctrinal position, to twist a text to make it agree with his view, or to manipulate one to disprove the other. But why not let God’s Word be His Word? ”Let God be true and every man a liar– Romans 3.4. We can solve the dilemma when we hold these two truths in tension with each other. We are not forced to choose one over the other.

Once on a long car trip, I sat between two pastors. Each of them was as dogmatic as the other, heatedly arguing Calvinism vs. Arminianism, proof texting their positions from Scripture. After many miles of this, I finally spoke up. “You know, I believe you are actually both right. But is it “right” to let your doctrinal views come between you as brothers?”

Many church splits have been caused by these kinds of disputes. How sad, when the inspired Word clearly states,  “Be in harmony; show love for one another; be united in spirit and agree with one mind”– Phil, 2.2.  Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah,[o] I urge all of you to be in agreement[p] and not to have divisions among you, so that you may be perfectly united in your understanding and opinions. –I Cor. 1.10

Paul is just following Jesus when he made this fervent prayer before his passion. ”Father, may they all be one, as you and I are one…may they have such perfect unity that the world will know you sent me.”–John 17.21-23.

Please add your comments. They keep us going. Thanks