The Flagellum: Science and Christianity

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Often times, people like to use science to describe or even prove religion, for example, evolution. But what specifically are each of these terms and their relationship together? Science is a way to explain what happens in nature or why nature is the way it is. Religion is similar in that explains why things are the way that they are, but they don’t really specify in nature too much, or at least where Christianity is concerned. In the Bible, we are given the explanation for how the world, man, and the universe were created. We are shown the purpose of the rainbow, and why some of the geography is the way it is. It discusses it at a very basic level.

On the other hand, science tries to go as in depth and specific as possible. The only things that are stated are the things that can be proven. The things that cannot be proven are called theories, and they stay theories until someone figures out a way to crack to their code, which then makes it becomes a fact and no longer a theory. For example, if a person wanted to know how to make a plant grow, they could look in a book and look at the properties of a plant that have been analyzed. Therefor by gathering information about the plant, you can discern that plants need water and sunlight to grow. But science is not limited to fact; science can also be proven through observation. Going back to the plant example, if you give a plant water and sunlight, it will start to grow. If you just let it sit there by itself, it will die. Thus through observation, we can discern that plants need water and sunlight to survive.

Here’s where the main difference between religion and science comes to light: observation. Of course, we can observe rainbows in the sky, but we can’t technically prove that they came from God, unless someone observed God putting the rainbow in the sky. But just because you cannot observe it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. With the naked eye, humans cannot observe electrons, neutrons, and protons and how they interact with each other. In fact, 90% of electrical engineering is based on millions of math equations, formulas, and theories about trying to prove how these three things interact. They don’t actually see any of it happening, but that doesn’t mean that what they were studying is wrong at all.

A lot of people argue that science and religion have little correlation and we shouldn’t use one to explain the other. I don’t think that this is the case. I would now like to discuss the flagellum. The flagellum is a machine that lives within a cell. It has parts like a hook, a motor, a filament, and some membrane and stuff. Flagellum is Latin for “whip” because the cell needs a few whip-like structures in order to get things done. They’re main function is to move a cell through sperm or bacteria. I remember learning about it during 10th grade biology. Mrs. Zachey was telling us that there’s no way the flagellum could’ve happened by chance. The motor alone is so complex and so tiny and there are so many of them within each cell, and in just one thimble of water can contain about 4 billion cells. The flagellum is just one example of how science and religion interact, but it is a pretty big one.

Now how does philosophy fit into all of this? Honestly I think the class we are taking this year is a philosophy class with an emphasis on Christianity, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t it be learning how to defend our Christian worldview? ANYWAYS….. I think that religion is somehow apart of every aspect of your life, big or small, at least in Christianity. So from this perspective, I’ve already shown how science and religion interact, but how do religion and philosophy interact? According to Thomas Aquinas, “The philosopher considers the nature of things as they are in themselves, whereas the theologian considers them in their relation to God conceived as being both their origin and their end.” Thomas is saying here that Christians base everything in philosophy, science, or just in general, in accordance to God and the gospel. Furthermore, proverbs 2:6 comments, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Knowledge and wisdom come from God, thus Christians use Him and His words as the basis for everything.

 

Sources:

http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2014/09/01/how-do-theology-and-philosophy-interact/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaVoGfSSSV8

https://biologydictionary.net/flagellum/

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Justice and Benevolence

Mash-up: Bat-Hobbes and Calvin

Justice is often given when it is deserved, like in a courtroom where the judge convicts the defendant of being guilty. That act performed by the judge is justice. Some people try to inflict their own justice. They do to other people what they feel they deserve. However, this is not to be confused with revenge, which is an action performed as retaliation to another action. The main difference between revenge and justice is that the law and authority determines justice, but revenge is more personal. For instance, if John murders Jack’s sister Suzy, John would go to jail or get the death penalty. That’s justice. But if Jack tries to get vengeance for Suzy and murders John, Jack would go to jail for murder. John may have deserved it, but the law determines punishment. Why? Because that’s how the American government and the judicial system work.

Now there is benevolence: compassion, kindness, generosity etc. How do benevolence and justice interact? Parents call it tough love. Of course a parent loves their child, but when the child does something wrong, a parent is going to punish them. They still love their children, but they need to be punished for the action. Who gives parents the authority? One, the US government declares people to be the legal guardians of a child, biological or not, and two, God gives them authority in Ephesians 6:1-3, where it commands, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

So when a child gets punished, a parent is being just (unless of course it turns into some sort of abuse, then the parent is acting outside of God’s and the government’s law, in which the parent will get a punishment for themselves). But they still love the child. They are simply punishing it because it broke the law of that household. A parent can both love its child and be just.

Similarly, God is the ultimate judge and the perfect Father. He is a just God. Psalm 9:7-8 says, “But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” This verse says that God is a just God, but He is also righteous, thus his judgment is perfect. As Christians, we understand that we are sinners, and the penalty for that sin can be discovered in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So we deserve death according to the law. But God is also a benevolent God, so he chose to save his children from eternal death because he wants to be with them, as a parent usually does. Thus God gave us the free gift of eternal life through Jesus as a free gift, also known as grace. Side note: the difference between grace and mercy. If you owe a debt to a King, and the King says that you are no longer indebted to him, that’s mercy. If you owe a debt to a King, and the King takes away your debt AND gives you more money, that’s grace; a gift someone doesn’t deserve. Anyways, yes, benevolence and justice can co-exist.

As for the standard of value thing, I don’t think that Christians value all life the same. Christian or not, not one person’s life is better than the other. Now someone who has done more things in his or her life may have more value here on earth, but spiritually, everyone is valued the same by God. Here’s the question though, does God value non-christians? In the bible it says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So God loves us in our sin. But it also says in Mathew 7:23, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” when those who are not saved come before God on judgement day. I think that God loves all people, even when they are sinners. He holds all of us as equal in terms of the weight of our sin. But for those who choose to follow Him, they will receive their reward in Heaven. Anyone can receive the gift of God, so in that case, a person’s standard of value, spiritually is the same. But earthly, an atheist, or others may say that other people are better than others. And this causes problems, i.e. the civil war.

The Knowledge of Christianity as told by Christians

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Most of my time in this blog post is spent arguing against Christianity and religion itself in the search for answers to questions. Please comment any responses or arguments you may have to defend Christianity.

Epistemology is the study of acquiring knowledge. Basically, it answers the question, “how do we know?” It gets really fun when we try to figure out, “how do we know what we know?” But on a more fundamental level, epistemology is the basis for logic, values, concepts, memories, and sometimes our morals (though that is more related to ethics). Some scientists and religion experts argue that Christianity and other religions refute the characteristics of epistemology, and are therefore irrational. How can someone live in a physical world, yet believe in a higher power that is not physical? Even shorter, how can we know that God exists?

Some Christians would argue that the Bible is true, that they’ve “felt the presence of God”, or even that they have found remnants of the ark in the Himalayas. If the first, the Bible was written by man, supposedly “inspired by God”. But if God does not exist, so how can you prove that God inspired by God? They might say, “Well it says that God did in the Bible.” This is a concept called circular reasoning: proving two or more things based on each other’s definition. So a Christian might say, “Well the bible talks about how God uses rainbows to symbolize his promise to Noah, and we still have rainbows today.” But that doesn’t mean that God inspired the Bible, it means that the guy who wrote that book could’ve just looked outside and saw a rainbow. Though some of the events in the Bible may have taken place, they do not prove the existence of God.

Many famous preachers, authors, and my friends would tell you that they have experienced the power of God or his presence in their life at some point. They feel that when they are in the heat of the moment during a worship service, they can feel God’s presence in them, and they feel all good inside. That could just be a combination of hormones, peer pressure, and adrenaline. When you are in a worship service, and no one is really into it, everyone is just kind’ve mouthing the words or goofing off, little to know people will raise there hands in worship to God, because they would be judged and looked at strangely, even in a Christian school. But when you go to a Christian concert or church camp, and the lights are dimmed and everyone is raising their hands praying in the name of Jesus, you might be tempted to also raise your hands. Peer pressure can lead to the action/dis-action of worship that one performs, especially among young believers or self-conscious people.

Hormones can produce feelings based on the atmosphere you are in. They are proven by science and observation to exist within humans. These hormones cause humans to have emotional reactions/attachments to certain situations that we encounter. If one says that they “felt” the spirit of God moving over them, they could possibly just be experiencing their hormones reacting within them.

So, how can the study of knowledge and Christianity co-exist? Do Christians really know anything about their religion? Basically all of Christianity is dependent upon faith and trust in God, which pretty much seems to be the answer to any question they cannot answer. But it’s not fair to simply pick on Christianity. One must look at all the religions. Muslims also have a book based on their belief system, the Quran, which they believe is also a “revelation” from their god, Allah (who is similar to the Christian God). They believe that this book was revealed to Muhammad, who wrote it down, much like how God words inspired Moses. So Islam is in the same boat as Christianity, they cannot prove that their god exists. Other religions are similar to this in that no one can actually prove their theory of existence, creation, or a higher power. Yet followers of Christianity, Islam, etc. would die for their religion and for their God. This begs the question, which religion is correct? Most people try to avoid these hard questions, because they make us doubt our faith and our comfortable reality. If someone was born into a Christian family, forced to go to church, and in some cases, even forced to participate in a Christian education, they will most likely become a Christian. Yet, the Bible preaches that we have “free will”. But most people are uneducated in other religions, so they see Christianity as the best and only good option because they were raised with a biased opinion. Muslims are no exception. In fact, they explicitly force their children to become Muslim, and if they try to escape this fate, they are punished, exiled, or even killed.

So does our home-life dictate what religion we are? In most cases, yes. The only way to avoid this fate is to educate yourself about all religions and actually make the decision for yourself, but even then, biases can creep in. Last year, a college survey showed that 70% of people entering college as a Christian lost their faith in college. There are obviously many reasons for this, but the main culprit is that Christians leave their safe bubble and experience the world for what it is, and as a result, begin to doubt themselves and their fate. Christians cannot use epistemology about pretty much anything in their own religion, because how can they really know anything about their religion or about their God, other than by reading a Bible that was written by man.

God’s Reality

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Speaking from a Christian’s point of view, God’s existence is the basis of my religion. Christians characterize God as eternal, there was no beginning to his life and there will never be an end, He was just there. The never being an end to his life is not like a huge mind boggler to me, I can kind’ve imagining never dying, its more the fact that he never was born is what blows my mind. He NEVER had a starting point. But the eternal aspect is just one part of God’s identity. There are multiple qualities of God, but three stand out amongst them all: omnipotence, omniscient, and omni-present. Omnipotent means to be all powerful, omniscient means all knowing, and omni-present means that He can be anywhere or everywhere at anytime. God in himself is three different people: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each are all 100% God, but they all have different roles. God the Father created the world, Jesus saved the world, the spirit is currently with us in the world. Each are equally important, and none is better than the other.

In Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I, the LORD, do not change,” and Hebrews 13:8 says that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Thus, God remains constant in his identity, in his power, and in his love for us. He does not change on new knowledge as we do because God is omniscient. He knows everything that is going to happen, whether it is good or bad. Here is where predestination comes into play. A lot of non-christains and even some christians question free will vs. predestination. If God is all knowing, does he somehow select who “chooses” to become a Christian before they actually do in reality? This is where we need to differentiate knowing and acting. God knows everything. He knows how many hairs we have on our head, he knows what we ate for breakfast yesterday and he knows what we will eat for dinner tomorrow. This is completely different from forcing us to choose what we will have for dinner tomorrow.

But here, a second question can arise. Can we stray from God’s plan for us? One of the most popular life verses for Christians is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the LORD, “’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” I believe that we can. God does not intend for us to get hurt or do evil or make bad decisions, but because we are sinners, these choices are unavoidable. But I believe that in all of our choices, good or bad, God uses them somehow to turn into good. He takes are brokenness and uses it for his purpose to help us grow in our faith to Him. But this brings us back to the original question. Can God’s plan for us as sinners be to become Christians? Does God select who he wants to be Christians? He selected Noah to build the ark, he selected Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He selected Abraham, a non-christian, to become the first Patriarch, Jesus selected tax collectors to become his disciples. So does God somehow “select” who is going to be Christians or not? If he does, isn’t that completely unjust and frankly disheartening?

But now back to that whole existence thing; would there be a reality if God hadn’t created the world? I mean of course there wouldn’t be a reality for humans, because we wouldn’t exist. But there would be a reality for God and his angels (assuming he still created them). All reality is, is the state that something exists in. So God exists in Himself, so God is his own reality, and the reality for all that surround Him. God created the world, so that to became reality, and when He created humans, both the world and God became their reality. But when we sinned, the world was still our reality, but it changed, thus our reality became broken. God’s reality still exists, that was never broken, we just became separated from it. By becoming christians, we have the promise and the hope of rejoining God’s reality, which perfect, which is what we were created to live in. If you guys think you have some great ideas about some of the questions I asked, please leave them in the comments below, Thanks!

Blog 1: The Fall and the Problem of Evil

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In the Genesis 1:25, we see that, “God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” This means that God intended snakes to be made by Him, to be good. I believe that Satan took the form of a snake, and when God cursed Satan, he cursed the snake to walk on its belly, which is often why we associate snakes with evil today. As to evil itself, I believe that it was introduced before creation, when Lucifer rebelled against God. His pride drove him to deceive man into leaving God’s realm, to have man serve himself instead of God. As a result of man’s disobedience to God, we are separated from Him. Thus, we cannot go to Heaven, which means we are damned to hell. Hell or “Sheol”, where Satan resides, existed before creation. We must pay the debt for our sins, which is eternal death (Romans 6:23). When Adam and Eve sinned, all mankind was doomed to this fate. Psalm 51:5 says, ““Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” Ephesians 2:1-3 also says that, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” God created us perfectly in His image, but when we were born into this world, our sinful nature took over. We are sinners. And only by acknowledging our perfect weakness can we ever enter into a relationship with God.

Because of these basic principles, certain questions may arise such as; if an infant dies, does it go straight to hell? What if a two year old dies, is it also condemned, though it is unable to fully understand sin, God, and his promises? In response to the first question, some may argue that the text never specifically says “infant”, but only references man and occasionally children. But, this could simply be a matter of translation of the text from language to language, or a misinterpretation of what the author originally intended. Others may say that God loves all of his children and would not leave them behind like that. Although, the Bible repeatedly shows examples of God being just, and the classic verse (Romans 3:23) says that ALL have sinned, and the punishment for that sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible does not give a clear answer to either of these questions. In 2 Samuel, when King David’s son dies just days after birth, David is convinced that he will see his son again one day in paradise, though it is never directly said that this is the case. Also, in Matthew 18:3-5, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Furthermore in Luke 18:16-17, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Christians usually associate these verses with this topic. Saying that if a child or any human is under the age of accountability (age a person reaches where they are able to determine right from wrong), God will show mercy on them and bring them to Heaven. Christians ultimately do not have a direct answer, which I find frustrating because this seems to be the case in most discussion questions. So where do we go from here? We return to the basic principles of Christianity; God created us and He loves us, but because we rebelled against Him, we needed a Savior to save us from our eternal punishment. So God sent Jesus to save us, and because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we can have a relationship with Christ, and one day, we will live for eternity with God in Heaven.

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/486/Lucifers-Rebellion.htm

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-the-biblical-evidence-for-original-sin

http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1201