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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Sunspots 739

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

The Arts: Gizmodo shows us some amazing photos of flowers and insects.

(And Science) NASA's entire media library is now free for public use.
Relevant displays some amazing mobiles. Really amazing.
Christianity: FiveThirtyEight analyzes a recent poll on what Americans know about religion (not just Christianity). Not as much as they should. 

He Lives discusses the chronology of creation.

Computing: Several experts don't believe that a recent ruling by the government will have any affect on Facebook's use of our private information for its own purposes.

Relevant reports on a study that says that 88% of us are looking at some screen while we eat.

Politics: Catherine Rampell on the severe anti-immigration actions of the Trump administration.

Catherine Rampell also points out that President Trump and other Republicans have been acting as socialists a lot lately.

Michael Gerson on Mueller's appearance before Congressional committees.

Politico on how environmental concerns are being set aside, and the Trump administration is pushing for fossil fuel development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I thank one of my brothers, who pointed me to this article.

Relevant on what the Christian community should be doing about gun violence

Science: An article on the largest organism on earth, which seems to be dying.

Listverse tells us some interesting things about tears and crying.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight suggests that really tall players will be featured more often in the National Basketball Association, as they used to be.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.
Thanks for looking!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 86

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 10. Let us often compare our condition. Make this five-fold comparison.

Comparison 1st. Let us compare our condition and our desert together; if we have not what we desire, we have more than we deserve. For our mercies, we have deserved less; for our afflictions, we have deserved more. First, in regard of our mercies, we have deserved less.

What can we deserve? Can man be profitable to the Almighty? We live upon free grace. Alexander gave a great gift to one of his subjects; the man being much taken with it, “this,” saith he, “is more than I am worthy of.” “I do not give thee this,” saith the king, “because thou art worthy of it, but I give a gift like Alexander.” Whatever we have is not merit, but bounty; the least bit of bread is more than God owes us; we can bring faggots to our own burning, but not one flower to the garland of our salvation; he that hath the least mercy, will die in God’s debt. Secondly, in regard of our afflictions, we have deserved more: “thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve. (Ex. 9. 13) Is our condition sad? we have deserved it should be worse. Hath God taken away our estate from us? he might have taken away Christ from us. Hath he thrown us into prison? he might have thrown us into hell; he might as well damn us, as whip us; this should make us contented.

Comparison 2d. Let us compare our condition with others; and this will make us content. We look at them who are above us, let us look at them who are below us; we can see one in his silks, another in his sackcloth; one hath the waters of a full cup wrung out to him, another is mingling his drink with tears; how many pale faces do we behold, whom not sickness, but want hath brought into a consumption! Think of this, and be content. It is worse with them, who perhaps deserve better than we, and are higher in God’s favour. Am I in prison? Was not Daniel in a worse place? the lion’s den. Do I live in a mean cottage? look on them who are banished from their houses. We read of the primitive saints, “that they wandered in sheep’s skins and goats’ skins, of whom the world was not worthy.” (He. 11. 37,38) Hast thou a gentle fit of an ague? look on them who are tormented with the stone and gout, etc.
Others of God’s children have had greater afflictions, and have borne them better than we. Daniel fed upon pulse and drank water, yet was fairer than they who ate of the king’s portion; (Dan. 1. 15) some Christians who have been in a lower condition, that have fed upon pulse and water, have looked better, been more patient and contented than we who enjoy abundance. Do others rejoice in affliction, and do we repine? Can they take up their cross and walk cheerfully under it, and do we under a lighter cross murmur?

Comparison 3d. Let us compare our condition with Christ’s upon earth. What a poor, mean condition was He pleased to be in for us? he was contented with any thing. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. (2 Cor. 8. 9) He could have brought down an house from heaven with him, or challenged the high places of the earth, but he was contented to be in the wine-press, that we might be in the wine-cellar, and to live poor that we might be rich; the manger was his cradle, the cobwebs his canopy; he who is now preparing mansions for us in heaven, had none for himself on earth, “he had no where to lay his head.” Christ came in forma pauperis; who, “being in the form of God, took upon him the form of a servant. (Ph. 2. 7) We read not of any sums of money He had; when he wanted money, he was fain to work a miracle for it. (Mat. 17. 27) Jesus Christ was in a low condition, he was never high, but when he was lifted up upon the cross, and that was his humility: he was content to live poor, and die cursed. O compare your condition with Christ’s!

Comparison 4th. Let us compare our condition with what it was once, and this will make us content. First, let us compare our spiritual estate with what it was once. What were we when we lay in our blood? we were heirs apparent to hell, having no right to pluck one leaf from the tree of promise; it was a Christless and hopeless condition: (Ep. 2. 12) but now God hath cut off the entail of hell and damnation; he hath taken you out of the wild olive of nature, and ingrafted you into Christ, making you living branches of that living vine; he hath not only caused the light to shine upon you, but into you, (2 Cor. 6. 6) and hath interested you in all the privileges of sonship: is not here that which may make the soul content. 
Secondly, let us compare our temporal estate with what it was once. Alas! we had nothing when we stepped out of the womb; “for we brought nothing into this world.” (1 Ti. 6. 7) If we have not that which we desire, we have more than we did bring with us; we brought nothing with us but sin; other creatures bring something with them into the world; the lamb brings wool, the silk-worm silk, &c. but we brought nothing with us. What if our condition at present be low? It is better than it was once; therefore, having food and raiment, let us be content.
Whatever we have, God’s providence fetcheth it unto us; and if we lose all, yet we have as much as we brought with us. This was what made Job content, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb;” (Job 1. 21) as if he had said, though God hath taken away all from me, yet why should I murmur? I am as rich as I was when I came into the world? I have as much left as I brought with me; naked came I hither; therefore blessed be the name of the Lord.

Comparison 5th. Let us compare our condition with what it shall be shortly. There is a time shortly coming, when, if we had all the riches of India, they would do us no good; we must die, and can carry nothing with us; so saith the apostle, “it is certain we can carry nothing out of the world; (1 Ti. 6. 7) therefore it follows, “having food and raiment, let us therewith be content.” Open the rich man’s grave and see what is there; you may find the miser’s bones, but not his riches, says Bede. Were we to live forever here, or could we carry our riches into another world, then indeed we might be discontented, when we look upon our empty bags. But it is not so; God may presently seal a warrant for death to apprehend us: and when we die, we cannot carry estate with us: honour and riches descend not into the grave, why then are we troubled at our outward condition? Why do we disguise ourselves with discontent? O lay up a stock of grace! Be rich in faith and good works, these riches will follow us. (Re. 14. 13) No other coin but grace will pass current in heaven, silver and gold will not go there; labour to be rich towards God, (Lu. 12. 21) and as for other things, be not solicitous, we shall carry nothing with us.
Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Scripture on scripture -- how scripture was important in Bible times

Scripture on scripture
Luke 24:27 Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (All scripture quotes are from the World English Bible, public domain.)
24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

John 5:38 You don’t have his word living in you; because you don’t believe him whom he sent. 39 “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me.

Acts 8:35 Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached to him Jesus. 36 As they went on the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Behold, here is water. What is keeping me from being baptized?”

Acts 17:10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” [Genesis 15:6]

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

2 Peter 1:19a We have the more sure word of prophecy; and you do well that you heed it … 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. 21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 3:15b Paul also … wrote to you; 16 as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119, which is about God’s word.

The New Testament depended on the Old Testament. For example, Hebrews 1 and 2 have at least 10 quotations from the OT scripture. Jesus quoted scripture many times.

Thanks for reading. Read the Bible.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Sunspots 738

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Christianity Today interviews Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The State Department is hosting a major event, focusing on religious freedom all over the world.

More from Speculative Faith on engaging (or not) with the culture.

Computing: Gizmodo reports that almost all activity of users on pornography web sites is tracked by Google and other companies, including Facebook. The study did not answer the question as to what, if anything, that data is used for. The study looked at over 22,000 pornography web sites.

Health: NPR reports on a study, indicating that, world-wide, we don't grow enough fruits and vegetables for everyone to have recommended amounts of them.

An NPR writer tells us how to know if we really need surgery, and how to find the right surgeon, if we do.

NPR also reports on a study of teeth, around the world. We are eating way too much sugar, and not doing preventive practices.

Humor: (or something) Listverse tells us about some elaborate and amazing things made with Legos.

Politics: An NPR person thinks that President Trump's statements about certain House members should have been reported, but that calling them "racist" was opinion, not reporting. Not everyone at NPR agrees.

Catherine Rampell summarizes several recent actions, by the Trump administration, to make immigration from the South even more difficult. Most of these actions violate US and international law, she says.

Science: Gizmodo reports that the temperature at the northernmost settlement on earth reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit, for the first time ever, recently.

An environmental success story. Thanks to heroic efforts (and funding) from many people, the California condor population has grown from 20 or so to 300 wild birds.

Gizmodo reports on studies of the frequent volcanic activity on Io, a moon of Jupiter.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, I believe, it is public domain. 

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 85

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 9. Let not your hope depend upon these outward things. Lean not upon sandy pillars; we oft build our comfort upon such a friend or estate; and when that prop is removed, all our joy is gone, and our hearts begin either to fail or fret. A lame man leans on his crutches; and if they break, he is undone. Let not thy contentment go upon crutches, which may soon fail; the ground of contentment must be within thyself. The Greek word which is used for contentment signifies self-sufficiency. A Christian hath that from within that is able to support him; that strength of faith, and good hope through grace, as bears up his heart in the deficiency of outward comforts. The philosophers of old, when their estates were gone, yet could take contentment in the goods of the mind, learning and virtue: and shall not a believer much more in the graces of the Spirit, that rich enamel and embroidery of the soul?

Say with thyself, “if friends leave me, if riches take wings, yet I have that within which comforts me, an heavenly treasure; when the blossoms of my estate are blown off, still there is the sap of contentment in the root of my heart; I have still an interest in God, and that interest cannot be broken off.” O never place your felicity in these dull and beggarly things here below!

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Animal suffering in the Old Testament

Jeremiah 14:1 The word of Yahweh that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought. 14:2 Judah mourns, and its gates languish, they sit in black on the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up. 14:3 Their nobles send their little ones to the waters: they come to the cisterns, and find no water; they return with their vessels empty; they are disappointed and confounded, and cover their heads. 14:4 Because of the ground which is cracked, because no rain has been in the land, the plowmen are disappointed, they cover their heads. 14:5 Yes, the hind also in the field calves, and forsakes her young, because there is no grass. 14:6 The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights, they pant for air like jackals; their eyes fail, because there is no herbage. 14:7 Though our iniquities testify against us, work for your name’s sake, Yahweh; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. (World English Bible, public domain. See Joel 1 for a similar passage.)

The above passage indicates a time of animal suffering in Israel, as a result of a drought. Apparently the drought was a consequence of sinfulness in Israel.

For centuries, people have wrestled with the question of suffering in the world. This post will not attempt to present a solution to those wrestlings. However, one aspect of suffering, not as commonly dealt with as human suffering, or, in particular, my suffering, is the suffering of animals. There are at least two important questions related to this topic. The first is the general question: "How could a good God allow animals to suffer?" I refer you to this post, by BioLogos, on this topic.

The second question is "How could God have used natural selection, which involves animal death, to bring about the present diversity of animals?" and the related "How could God have used millions of years of natural selection to bring about the life forms we now have?" The second question implies an argument for young-earth creationism -- "wouldn't it have been more merciful for God to have specially created each type of animal a few thousand years ago, than to have used natural selection for millions of years, to accomplish basically the same thing?"

A few remarks on that subject. First, the vast majority of land/air dwelling organisms are not animals, but plants. Second, natural selection does not always require animal suffering. In many, maybe most cases, animals die of old age without having reproduced successfully, rather than being torn limb from limb by a predator. In many others, they die of starvation, or cold, or disease, or parasites. Some of these deaths may be painful, but perhaps some aren't. (I won't claim, as some have, that animals cannot suffer.) This post, again, from BioLogos, considers suffering and natural selection, and probably brings up ideas you haven't had before.

Some young-earth creationists argue that God wouldn't have allowed natural selection, over a long period, to bring about the organisms which are alive today, in part because God doesn't like animal suffering. But some, maybe the very same, young-earth creationists argue that the Ark held no more than about a thousand different kinds of land animals, of all kinds, and the variety that we have today is due to natural selection, acting much more rapidly than mainstream scientists believe it did. But if that was true (and there are good reasons for doubting it) then lots of animal suffering and death must have occurred after the Ark landed.

Back to animal suffering. If the Flood was, indeed, world-wide (many Bible scholars doubt this) then there would have been massive, world-wide, animal suffering from drowning.

There are many references to hunting and fishing in the Bible, without, so far as I know, a single condemnation of these practices. Jesus, Himself, may have caught fish. 

The Old Testament has lots of references to the use of live animals, which were killed, as part of the rituals of sacrifice. Leviticus 4 is one of these. See 2 Chronicles 29 for a description of the sacrifice of thousands of animals on a single occasion.

Job 4 mentions animal suffering: 10 The roaring of the lion,
    and the voice of the fierce lion,
    the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
11 The old lion perishes for lack of prey.
    The cubs of the lioness are scattered abroad.

So does Psalm 34:10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger,
    but those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing.

I see no scriptural justification for being cruel to animals. In fact, there is plenty of scripture teaching that we should care for them.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Abortion and the use of fetal tissue in research

Abortion is an important subject. Many people, Christians and others, are convinced that it is wrong, perhaps even a form of murder, and believe that it should be outlawed, except, perhaps, in case of the continued pregnancy putting the mother at grave health risk.

Here is a long essay by me, on abortion, which includes, among other topics, discussion of the question of whether the Bible prohibits abortion.

As Michael Gerson points out, concerning Christian opposition to abortion, "The Bible is pretty much silent on the topic [of abortion]. Instead, [evangelical Christians'] religious beliefs inform a certain anthropology -- a belief that humans have rights and dignity because they are created in the image and likeness of God."

Relevant has compiled the positions on abortion, of the many Democratic Presidential candidates.

Science cannot set a stage of development at which life begins. That would be something like asking a baseball umpire to establish policy for the Federal Reserve. The two are different fields, and the umpire would have no particular expertise in that area. When life begins is a legal, moral, ethical, religious, and philosophical matter. Scientists can provide evidence that may bear on when an individual human life begins. But they can't, and shouldn't, claim that they can establish the stage at when life begins, because "life" has to be carefully defined. The more important question, also controversial, is "how should we treat a developing human at this particular stage?" This is a legal, political, moral, ethical, religious and philosophical matter.

A recent ruling by the Trump administration will drastically curtail research on fetal tissue, according to Gizmodo and other sources. However, the House of Representatives has introduced language that would prevent the establishment of ethics committees to review research on fetal tissue. This provision, if agreed to by the Senate, would continue to allow research using fetal tissue. However, since the legislation is part of a spending bill, its future is uncertain, until that spending bill is finally passed. Whatever you think of fetal tissue research, prohibiting ethical examination seems to be a potentially dangerous step.

See this historical summary, describing various governmental actions, and other developments in fetal research, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The same web page also lists and identifies the terms used for various stages in embryonic development. Among other things, the page indicates that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 1954, was for the development of anti-polio vaccines, developed using fetal tissue. I have not been able to determine how that fetal tissue for that research was obtained. But such a breakthrough is contrary to a statement by Oregon Right to Life, which says that "Fetal tissue research has also not successfully helped treat a single patient." As has happened all too often, those passionate about making abortion readily available, or those passionate about restricting it, depart significantly from the truth.

With the background out of the way, we now come to the matters directly related to the title of this post

Note that fetal cells can multiply, so that large numbers of cells of a given type can be produced and used. (HeLa cells, which were not derived from a fetus, but from a tumor, are widely used all over the world. They were obtained -- without getting her permission -- from a woman who died in 1951.)

Why use fetal tissue at all? 1. Vaccines are produced by viruses growing in fetal tissue cultures. This includes those against measles, rubella, rabies, chicken pox, shingles and hepatitis A.
2. Fetal tissue can be used to study basic developmental questions on how the body develops. 
3. Fetal cells are used to study the effects of various substances, including medicines, on fetuses.
4. Fetal tissues can be used to study diseases that affect fetuses, such as the Zika virus.
5. Some fetal cells lack surface markers, which are those used by the immune system to reject tissue. Therefore, it is possible to transplant fetal cells into the brain, or other places, and they won't be rejected by the host. There have been attempts to treat Parkinson's disease in this way.

USA Today has a web page "What you need to know about how fetal tissue is used for research."

President George W. Bush attempted a compromise, namely that fetal cell lines already in use could continue to be used. This resulted in 21 cell lines which might be used in research, and cut off use of tissue resulting from abortions after that attempt. Like many compromises, this one didn't satisfy a lot of people, who either thought no fetal tissue should ever be used for research, or that 21 cell lines were too restrictive.

Recently, scientists have produced a sort of substitute embryo, from embryonic stem cells.

What are the objections to using fetal tissue for medical research? 

The objection that has gotten the most attention is objecting because fetal tissue must have been obtained from a fetus, by an abortion, or possibly a miscarriage, and a fetus is a potential human being. If God wants fetuses protected, then, it is argued, fetal tissue research should be banned. However, as is pointed out in the "Is abortion murder," and "Was killing babies considered murder in the Bible?" sections of this post, and Gerson (see above) points out, the Bible says next to nothing about abortion, and it is not absolutely clear that the Bible prohibits it. That doesn't mean that Christians can't oppose abortion, and, indeed, many Christians believe strongly that they should oppose abortion. Opposition to abortion might include opposition to the use of fetal tissue in research.

It seems doubtful that anyone would have an abortion for the purpose of providing fetal cell tissue lines for study. I have never read of this. So, if a woman can obtain an abortion, some cells might be available, and they would be a side product of the abortion.

Some draw an analogy between use of fetal tissue and use of body parts. It is doubtful if anyone has shot someone else for the purpose of making, say, their kidney, available for transplanting. But kidneys, and other body parts, do become available, and are used, because of murders and car accidents. Few people would argue that using such body parts is wrong, even though murder and drunken driving are wrong. On the contrary, as a society, we seem to accept that good consequences may come from these terrible actions, and we don't blame organ transplanting for murders and car accidents. Does the same argument hold for using fetal tissue? One difference between these is that kidneys, livers, etc., can be obtained from a recently deceased person who knowingly gave permission for such use, whereas that is not possible for fetal tissue. For that, and other reasons, the analogy may not be valid.

No doubt there are other aspects of this subject that I have not considered. Please comment, if you can. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Were land-dwelling vertebrates the only organisms preserved on the Ark?

Genesis gives the impression that the animals preserved from the Flood of Noah's time were mostly, or entirely, land vertebrates -- mammals, birds, and land-living reptiles and amphibians, although it doesn't explicitly say this:
Genesis 7:1 Yahweh said to Noah, “Come with all of your household into the ship, for I have seen your righteousness before me in this generation. 7:2 You shall take seven pairs of every clean animal with you, the male and his female. Of the animals that are not clean, take two, the male and his female. 7:3 Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the surface of all the earth. 7:4 In seven days, I will cause it to rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights. Every living thing that I have made, I will destroy from the surface of the ground.” (World English Bible, public domain)

Leviticus 11:20 “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are an abomination to you. 21 Yet you may eat these: of all winged creeping things that go on all fours, which have legs above their feet, with which to hop on the earth. 22 Even of these you may eat: any kind of locust, any kind of katydid, any kind of cricket, and any kind of grasshopper. 23 But all winged creeping things which have four feet, are an abomination to you.
This passage from Leviticus may indicate that Arthropods (insects, spiders, and more) were classified, by God, as clean or unclean, just as mammals and birds are. That doesn't prove that, say, butterflies and centipedes were on the Ark, but it is possible.

Some questions come to mind. (In 2007, I posted a series of questions about Noah's Flood. There is some repetition with the previous post in the current one, but the two are significantly different.) The questions here are related to the variety and care of the animals on the Ark.

1) Does the Bible really describe a world-wide flood? Others have considered this, and there are plenty of opinions available, so I won't attempt to answer this, except to say that there seem to be these possibilities:
a) there was a world-wide flood.
b) there was a localized flood, but it was experienced by ancestral humans, who thought it was world-wide, or described it as if it were. (perhaps they were living in a large basin, which became the Mediterranean Sea after the flood.) See here for a discussion by theologians who believe that there was an important flood, but that it was not actually world-wide. Here is a discussion of the literary genre of Genesis 1-11. At least some important early theologians did not take Genesis 1-11 to be strictly historical.
c) The entire story of Noah and the Flood is a parable, or just a story, in the Bible to emphasize the dangers of evil living, and God's care for His creation.

Added May 19, 2020:
Here's a post from a Christian geologist who believes that there really was a flood in Noah's time, but does not believe that the Bible really teaches that it was world-wide. He also does not believe that that flood was responsible for as many geological phenomena as many Young-Earth creationists claim that it was.

2) If there was a world-wide flood, how did animals from, say, New Guinea, get to the Middle East, in order to get in the Ark, and, if they did, how did they get back to their origin, without leaving evidence of their passing through, including offspring and fossils, behind them? Joel Duff has considered this question in depth for armadillos and their relatives.
3) How were pairs of unclean animals selected? I have done some bird sexing, and, although, in many cases, it is easy to distinguish males from females, in some cases, it isn't, and the same would be true of many reptiles and amphibians, and even some mammals. Did the animals come marching, or slithering, or hopping, or flying, into the Ark in pairs by Divine impulse of some kind? Genesis seems to indicate that Noah was to do the selecting. {"you shall take with you")
4) Some mammals, such as anteaters, have insects as their diet. Was it necessary to have not just a pair, but, say, an entire termite nest, on the Ark, for the feeding of such mammals? That would be far more than a pair, or seven, of termites.
5) Some bees, ants, some wasps, termites, mole rats, and other animals are eusocial. Would a pair, or seven of these, be able to survive? For example, honeybees would presumably need a queen, a drone, and workers of more than one type.
6) Many animals eat living, fresh plant material, such as pollen, nectar, leaves, or fruit. Would the Ark have needed a bamboo grove for giant pandas, or a field of flowering plants for bees and butterflies? Living plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, leading to growth. Would the ark have had provision for lighted plants? The diets of some animals (like pandas) is restricted to a single type, or very few plants, and it is difficult to see how conditions on the ark could have been able to support all of the different types of plants needed by the variety of animals. Answers in Genesis has considered these questions. Basically, their claim is that the animals on the ark were not specialized as to diet.
7) Many salt-water organisms don't do well if suddenly immersed in fresh water, or are unable to survive in fresh water at all. The reverse is also true. (See here.) Presumably the flood, if there was a world-wide one, was of fresh water. Either the oceans of Noah's day were fresh, or marine organisms of that time were much better able to survive sudden immersion in fresh water than most current organisms.
8) How could there have been room for all the types of animals? Answers in Genesis has considered that question, and their belief is that there were less than 150 types of animals on the Ark, and that all of the variety of land animals now in existence evolved (although they don't use that word much) from these. I find such a proposal impossible to believe. (So do others!) There's no fossil, traditional or artistic evidence for such rapid changes and diversification in animal form and behavior -- lions seem to have been lions for at least the past few thousand years for example. If this rapid evolution occurred after the Ark landed, why didn't it occur between Adam's time and Noah's, so that there would have been much more than 150 kinds by Noah's time? See here for a fuller discussion.
9) If there was a world-wide flood, how were land-living invertebrates, such as snails, insects, centipedes, spiders, annelid worms, and more, stored, fed, and protected? (See question 6, above.)
10) If there was a world-wide flood, why is there little or no geological evidence for this?

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sunspots 737

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: A disturbing Relevant article about the shallowness of Christians, such as me.

A Christianity Today article on animal suffering and the Fall.

A Christianity Today writer says that embracing partisan politics has a serious detrimental effect on carrying out Christ's mission.

Christianity Today also says that religious persecution, world-wide, is getting worse.

Finance: NPR discusses the effects of forgiving college student's debts. It would be a mixed bag.

Health: (or something) The Associated Press reports on the tallest man in Pakistan -- he is 8 feet tall.

NPR points out that, for some of us, our doctor should have discussed climate change. Some doctors have, but most haven't.

NPR also discusses how to cut down on the number of falls taken by senior citizens.

Politics: (and History) NPR examines the history of Nativism in the USA. (For example, at one time, people of Irish descent were considered a threat by many.)

FiveThirtyEight discusses how the electorate reacts to a female candidate for President.

Surprise! Relevant reports that children are less likely to die from gunshots where there are stricter gun controls. (Gunshots are the second leading cause of death in children in the USA.

Science: Gizmodo has an article about the origins of domestic cattle, based on DNA studies. Some of those origins aren't clear.

Gizmodo also asks (and gets some answers) if the butterfly effect is real.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, I believe, it is public domain. 

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 84

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 8. Consider in what a posture we stand here in the world. 1. We are in a military condition, we are soldiers, (2 Ti. 2. 3) now a soldier is content with any thing: what though he hath not his stately house, his rich furniture, his soft bed, his full table, yet he doth not complain; he can lie on straw as well as down; he minds not his lodging, but his thoughts run upon dividing the spoil, and the garland of honour shall be set upon his head; and for hope of this, is he content to run any hazard, endure any hardship. Were it not absurd to hear him complain, that he wants such provision and is fain to lie out in the fields? A Christian is a military person, he fights the Lord’s battles, he is Christ’s ensign bearer. Now, what though he endures hard fate, and the bullets fly about? He fights for a crown, and therefore must be content.
2. We are in a peregrine* condition, pilgrims and travellers. A man that is in a strange country, is contented with any diet or usage, he is glad of any thing; though he hath not that respect or attendance which he looks for at home, nor is capable of the privileges and immunities of that place, he is content; he knows, when he comes into his own country, he hath lands to inherit, and there he shall have honour and respect: so it is with a child of God, he is in a pilgrim condition; “I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.” (Ps. 39. 12) Therefore let a Christian be content; he is in the world, but not of the world: he is born of God, and is a citizen of the New Jerusalem, (He. 12. 22) therefore, though “he hunger and thirst, and have no certain dwelling-place, (1 Cor. 4. 11) yet he must be content: it will be better when he comes into his own country.
3. We are in a mendicant condition; we are beggars, we beg at heaven’s gate, “give us this day our daily bread;” we live upon God’s alms, therefore must be content with any thing; a beggar must not pick and choose, he is contented with the refuse. Oh, why dost thou murmur that art a beggar, and art fed out of the alms-basket of God’s providence?

*"Peregrine" here means "coming from another country."

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.