Mars Curiosity: The Martians are coming — well, not quite

Several news outlets, including National Public Radio (NPR), are saying that the Mars Curiosity vehicle being monitored by NASA on the Martian surface has made a big discovery in its analysis of Martian soil, but scientists are cautiously waiting for further verification of their measurements. The NPR report suggests that in early December the announcement will be made that they have discovered evidence that Mars once contained living things.

This announcement, if it comes, will create a huge media splash. Some will claim that UFOs are now arguably more credible. Others will say that such a discovery shows that life is not so rare in the cosmos as had been thought, and they will suggest that the discovery undercuts the biblical account of creation, including God’s primary role. Such a conclusion is not logical, but you should get ready to hear it.

Many Christians are already afraid of science, ignore science, or deny many of its claims without good reason for doing so. Just for the record, I fully accept the creation of the universe and human life by God using whatever means he alone chose. Neither the universe nor human life developed apart from God’s ruling hand. Having said that, I also accept scientific conclusions about the age of the earth (just over 4.5 billion years) and global warming accelerated by human activity. [Those Christians who think global warming is a political agenda created by American political liberals (e.g., Al Gore) should explain why every national academy of science on earth, including our own, affirms global warming and our part in it.]

If Mars once hosted living things — or even if it still does — that does not alter the fact that all life exits by the creative act of God. Such a finding changes nothing about Gods role in dictating the terms for creation of the universe. So, why will some very smart people use this upcoming news to bash Christians and undercut God?

They will do so partly because the unbelieving world always opposes God (John 1:9-10). Let me be clear: if they attack us over the cross of Christ, over our teaching about Jesus sacrificial death for our sins, so be it. Such attacks would show that we are doing exactly what Jesus put us here to do, proclaim the gospel.

But, they will also attack because many Christians have behaved in such a foolish way as to make our shared faith a target. First, they have constructed an alternate, fact-free reality. In this fact-free reality, America was always a Christian country, its founders were fully orthodox Christians, and God intended our nation to be a theocracy. Second, we have allowed certain people to claim to be leaders of evangelical faith, allowed those leaders to lead us into becoming a political agency rather than a gospel-teaching church, and followed those leaders into the expression of hatred and contempt for those who oppose us. This is not what Jesus put us here to do! Worse, it creates stronger enemies who oppose the gospel.

So, if NASA announces the discovery of ancient life on Mars, get an understanding of what has been discovered. Dont retreat into the anti-science bunker. Dont be intimidated by those who make exaggerated claims about how the discovery disproves Gods role in creation. Above all, keep proclaiming Christ, loving others and studying what God has revealed in his Word and in the cosmos.

Copyright 2012 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.

Almost “Alone in the Void”

Adam Frank, a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Rochester, has done us a favor. His op-ed in the New York Times forces us to face the music about our future prospects of mastering interstellar travel. His conclusion is that There will be nowhere else to go for a very long time. As a man who grew up with an astronomy book in one hand, a science fiction book in the other and a telescope of my own making in the garage, I find that a very hard pill to swallow!

Yet, as a physics major with a graduate degree in engineering, I understand the scientific principles that lead to Frank’s pessimistic assessment. He speaks of our love for Star Trek and Star Wars, but he says, The truth is we propel ourselves into space using much the same physics as the Chinese played with when they discovered what we came to call gunpowder more than 1,400 years ago.

Frank calls on us to think about it:

No salvation from population pressure on the shores of alien worlds. No relief from the threats of biosphere degradation in the promise of new biospheres. No escape from our own destructive tendencies by spreading out among the stars like seedpods in the wind. For as many epochs in the future as there are epochs of human history in the past, we may simply have to make do, get by with what we have and, in the end, learn to get along.

In light of our shared history, what would you estimate to be the chances of our learning to get along? Not so good!

Ah, but we are not alone, in spite of Dr. Frank’s realistic estimates. God created our cosmos and ever lives as its master. He pierces the vast, lonely void in the person of Jesus Christ to offer us salvation from ourselves, our sin, and our cosmic isolation. He offers us a purpose, a destiny, and, yes, he even offers us the only viable opportunity we will ever have to see what he has made.

I suggest you put down the astronomy book and the science fiction book and pick up the Holy Bible, which contains God’s offer of a relationship that will span the ages and the awesome distances that chill our human hopes. Trust in Jesus Christ, who alone can fill your spiritual void and show you the wonders of all he has made.

Copyright  2012 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.

God and the so-called “God particle” (the Higgs boson)

On July 4, 2012, particle physicists announced the confirmation of the Higgs boson, an elusive particle they had been expecting to find for over fifty years. Their excitement is based on the importance of this discovery in (1) confirming the Standard Model that physicists rely on the predict particle interactions, and (2) providing a mechanism for particles to have mass and experience gravity. We need not understand the details of the physics, but the attribution to a particle of credit that belongs to God alone is another matter.

The Higgs boson is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who was the foremost among six physicists who predicted its existence. In 2006, Nobel Prize winning physicist Leon Lederman proved that even brilliant men can be tasteless when he wrote a book titled The God Particle about the search for the Higgs boson. Physicists avoid the nickname the God particle, but the media loves it and it will spread.

The human arrogance of using the term the God particle is enormous. The Higgs boson, if now better identified, is nothing more than part of what God created long ago. Just as he brought light into existence with a word (Gen. 1:3), God can create Higgs bosons or send them into oblivion with a word. One day he will banish heaven and earth (Rev. 20:11) and judge the wicked dead. The so-called “God particle” is not doing anything except what God created it to do!

Physicists exercised their faith in the Higgs boson for fifty years. Now they know it exists and does what they expected. They have no reason to criticize us who put our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that will also be vindicated one day. In the final analysis, it is not the Higgs boson that holds the universe together by creating gravity. Instead, Jesus is the one who created the universe, sustains it and holds it together, just as Paul explains to us in Colossians 1:15–17:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

However, while we watch for Jesus’ return, we might as well learn a little about how he has set the universe to function. The following link does a great job of teaching about the Higgs boson and the search for it: “The Higgs Boson Explained.”

Copyright © 2012 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.