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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Three (Good) Reasons to Believe in God

The problem with God...
According to the New Atheists, faith in God is no longer necessary and dangerous. No longer necessary - because scientific explanations have filled all the gaps in our knowledge -and dangerous because it causes war.

Dear reader if you truly believe those two myths, you really are out of date.

Reason 1: I believe in God because of the universe
There is simply far too much grandeur and complexity in the universe to believe it came about without a great Mind and great Power. The fine-tuning of the universe (cosmology) reveals a Creator. The very fact that we walk around on the surface of the earth without a space suit, but would instantly die 10 miles above the earth is testament to the very rare conditions - many of them - that conspire to make the earth habitable. Distance from the sun, temperature, atmosphere, size, tilt and moon are all prescribed precisely to produce conditions suitable for life. What is more the very laws of nature are tuned finely. Many physical constants (numbers) that have to do with the forces and particles of matter are so finely tuned that any small change would result in no universe and no life. How come all these factors come together except that a great Mind and Power designed it like that. systems like the cell require a Designer (biology). The unbelievable complexity of one single "simple" cell demands a Designer. Each cell is a suite of chemical factories which then has the ability to reproduce itself. Can you imagine a suite of chemical factories on an industrial estate all working together and then having the corporate ability to build another suite of chemical factories just like itself? Such complexity requires a great Mind.

But perhaps it could all come about by chance? Not at all. Law and Chance can take us only so far (physics). Law and chance left to themselves can give us tornadoes, crystals, wind dunes and snow flakes but they cannot give us cells. The probabilistic resources of the whole universe are insufficient to produce even one protein, let alone a whole cell, according to Stephen Meyer.

Reason 2: I believe in God because of you and I
Human beings are absolutely remarkable. We tower above the animal kingdom in our minds, language, creativity and so on. Our biochemistry is the same but our minds are in another galaxy. In every area of comparable activity human beings are infinitely greater. And the question is, why the gap, the infinite gap?

Could evolution have come up with the items in the gap? The answer is no! None of the things which make us human are necessary for survival - indeed they could hinder survival! To think about whether to run from a lion or to take a stand is not an advantage, when running could save your life. Art and maths are a precious waste of energy if you are a hunter.

The only explanation for our grand differences is that we were made in the image of God.

Reason 3: I believe in God because of Jesus Christ
There is no other explanation for his birth, life, miracles, teachings, death and Resurrection than his own witness to who he was, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). The question is not really is there a God? but what is God like? And Jesus Christ has come from God to reveal to us what God is like. A God full not only of truth but of grace and compassion.

Of course in addition to reason, we need the gift of faith. Human resistance to God is so great that even when presented with all the facts, we don't want to believe in God, because then our lives will by definition have to change - for if God is, then God is God, and we prefer to go our own sinful ways rather than to submit to God.  Faith is not anti-reason, faith is another way of knowing something in addition to reason, but never contrary to it. Faith is a gift of God, a free gift God gives to those who ask him.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The difference between Earth and Space - Tim Peake's Sky Walk

Tim Peake

A Marvel of Human Engineering
Tim Peake, the English astronaut will take a space walk out of the space station to replace a faulty component. His suit is a marvel of human engineering, for it will keep him alive during the walk.

Why a marvel?  

First, it has to keep him at the right temperature, so it is equipped with both cooling and heating capabilities.

Second, it has to keep him pressurised, at around earth pressure (1 bar, 14.5 psi).

Third it has to keep him protected from the dangers of space junk. Without an atmosphere, sun light is bright and harsh and bright, so the glass visor must be tinted (other protection is also needed to filter out harful radiation). Without the protection of atmosphere and travelling at 17,000 mph (about 8 km per second) a tiny particle, perhaps left by a previous exploded satellite would go right through his suit - and him - unless the Kevlar protection built into his suit stopped it.

Fourth to thousands - he'll need to come back for food, etc., etc.

Years of development and millions of pounds to make..... 

A Marvel of Divine Engineering
Tim's space walk should alert every human being to a most remarkable fact: we don't need a space suit to walk on earth. We continually forget, because it is so 'normal' for us, that the many conditions all required to come together for life to be sustained are around us every day of every year on this planet. We do not need space suits to live on earth. This unremarkable fact is absolutely remarkable when you think that every other place in the known universe is hostile to life.

The earth is an absolutely remarkable feat of divine engineering. Countless different properties and conditions come together to make life on earth possible and joyous.

The very fact that we don't wear spacesuits on earth is evidence for a Creator and cause for praise......

Monday, 4 January 2016

Hope for 2016

A million reasons for hope in 2016
Christians can look to the future with great hope! There are more reasons than we could ever list. Our God is the sovereign Ruler of the universe - and over our individual lives. He is our loving Father in heaven. He has in mind only good plans and intentions for his children. He watches over us day and night and has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He forgives all our sins. By his Spirit he is with us continually - indeed even in us. He has given us a loving family in the people of God to encourage and care for us. Even in the face of death we have the hope of eternal life because Jesus rose from the dead - all who believe in him will also one day rise to inherit a world of joy.

The reality of fear and worry
And yet in spite of these assurances worry and fear can - if we are honest - often flow across our hearts. We worry about what might happen, we can worry about what may not happen. We may even worry about our weaknesses and sin - will they result in our ruin?

How then do we move from FEAR to HOPE?  In Isaiah chapter 7, we are given five steps to hope. God's people were fearful of a coalition of two kings who had vowed to destroy them; so fearful they were shaking as trees shake in a wind. Into this fearful situation, God sends Isaiah with words of hope. That is the key to hope - to hear the words of God rather than listen to the lies of Satan.

"Do not be afraid" - is God's first word to fearful saints (verse 4). This is a word we need to hear every day, a word often on the lips of Jesus to his disciples. A simple word, just "don't be afraid".

"The harm you fear will not happen"  (verses 4-7). The two threatening kings might look fearsome but they are nothing more than two near-burnt-out stubs of smouldering wood. The harm you fear will not happen, full stop! God watches over us and will guard us from all harm. Mark Twain once said "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." This is the nature of worry, we worry about things that will not happen, that will not harm us.  Why fear? Harm cannot touch us?

"God is in sovereign control" (v.7-9a). The true King is God Most High, not these two little tin pot earthly kings. God not ISIS, God not government, God not Satan. His ways may be mysterious, but they are trustworthy. Why fear when God is at the helm?

"Stand firm" (v.9b). This is the only exhortation - thing we have to do. The other four steps to hope are promises. Here God encourages his people to stand firm. This is not a time for wavering or giving up or giving out to the enemy! Seasons of fear are just the seasons for standing firm in our faith.

"I am with you" (v.14). God gives to his people a sign - a baby born among them by the name of Immanuel (God with us) as a visual aid. "Who is that boy?" "Why that's Immanuel, God with us." We have no need of signs for by his Spirit the true Immanuel dwells within us. Why fear when God is with us?

Believers stand at the portal of 2016 with great hope, because they have a Great God, a great Saviour,   great promises! The best, indeed is yet to be!