Janice Boekhoff
 

Designed or Random?

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ID 9127613 © Mashe | Dreamstime.com

How do we recognize design? Is it through order? Not really. There are many natural processes that are ordered. Like the formation of a quartz crystal. The silicon and oxygen atoms are attracted to each other because of their respective charges. This causes them to stack up hexagonally which creates beautiful elongated crystals. But is this design? I could argue that it is—in the sense that God created the world—but it’s not what most of us consider to be designed.

As I write this, I sit in the parking lot at church surrounded by cars, vans and trucks. These aren’t things you would find organizing themselves out in the wild. How do we know they’re designed? Of course we know what they’re used for, but what if we didn’t? Pretend you’re part of an African tribe of hunter/gatherers and you’ve never seen anything modern. You stumble upon this large, square, hard contraption (an SUV) sitting on four round legs. Would you think it’s an unusual part of the savannah or a strange animal? Maybe, especially if it “ran” away fast.

Even if our African tribe decided the SUV was just another strange wildebeest, it wouldn’t change the fact that someone in a factory designed and built that vehicle. Evidence of the design is there, in the welding, in the stitching on the leather seats, and especially in the way it functions. Perhaps the tribe missed the signs of design because they could only explain it using the world they knew. None of them could imagine a beast built in a factory.

Scientists do this, as well. Many of them miss the obvious signs of design in the complicated workings of our bodies because they are searching for an explanation from only the world they know. Others, recognize the evidence of design, then credit mother nature or natural selection for it. If we saw an SUV sitting in the jungle, we wouldn’t think natural selection designed it, but still many believe our bodies (which are a thousand times more complex) are the product of random chance.

Let’s think about that for a moment in terms of our simplistic analogy. Even if we could explain how the material came together for the SUV (like metal for the frame or parts for building the motor), we’d still have the problem of the blueprints. Where did the blueprints come from? Somebody had to decide which parts went together to build the motor or where the frame needed to be welded so it would hold together. The blueprints are what make the design.

We have that same question to answer for our bodies. Where did the blueprints—the DNA—come from?

DNA is a plan for a human being. Some creative force had to come up with that plan. I could leave the parts for an SUV sitting in my back yard for a million years and they will never form themselves into a vehicle. The same goes for us. Our bodies need certain raw materials to form plus the blueprints, given by the hand of our Creator.

What do you think? Are we designed or the product of random processes? Are there problems with my made-up SUV analogy?

Coming Soon: I’m designating May as Dinosaur Month on my blog! If you love dinosaurs (as I do), keep checking back!

Devotion

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Matthew 6:25-27

Have you ever heard that worry is a sin? No, it’s not one of the Ten Commandments, but worry and fear are a breach of trust in God. I’m not talking about being cautious or responsible planning. God wants us to plan, but not to worry. A book I read recently put it like this:

“Worry is momentary atheism crying out for correction through trust in a loving and sovereign God.” The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn.

Although, I’m not a natural worrier, I have struggled with this issue from time to time. God wants us to take our worry and our fearful thoughts to Him, so He can replace them with peace. But sometimes we hang onto the worry, thinking we can somehow control things, make things different, or impose our own agenda by worrying.

Have you ever noticed the things you worry about change over time? As God works out His plan and we follow, we learn answers to the questions we worried about. If what we feared does happen, we experience His peace in the hardship. Our worry didn’t change anything, and yet, when God takes care of one worry, we find another to take its place. Until worry itself becomes the end goal. What a waste of life to spend it absorbed in fear of things that haven’t happened yet.

Dear Lord, help me to give over everything in my life to Your will. Help me to pray through all my fears, trusting in Your goodness and Your plan. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Fun Science Fact

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ID 23471371 © Benjamin Todd Shoemake | Dreamstime.com

Now that we’re entering thunderstorm season, I thought I’d put a few facts about lightning out there. I love to watch thunderstorms, but I don’t want to get up close and personal with lightning. I’m sure you don’t either.

Since NOAA began keeping records in 1940, 9,200 people have been killed by lightning strikes in the United States. This is more than the total of people killed by tornadoes (7,400), floods (7,500), or hurricanes (3,000). However, the deaths per year have been decreasing. In 2013, only 23 people died from lightning strikes, most likely due to continued improvement in warning systems and education about the dangers of lightning.

Although some victims are stuck by the main lightning strike, many victims are struck as the current moves along the ground. The fourth of July is one of the deadliest times of year for lightning strikes.

Lightning can strike you up to 10 miles from the source. For your safety, use the 30-30 rule. After you see the lightning, count the time until you hear the thunder. If the time is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is less than 6 miles away and you should seek shelter. Also, stay indoors for 30 minutes after a storm has passed over to ensure the lightning is out of the area.

Be safe this spring everybody!

References: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/02/22143525-lightning-strikes-killed-fewer-americans-than-ever-in-2013?lite,  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0623_040623_lightningfacts_2.html

Is there a God gene?

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ID 12942212 © Tatiana nikolaevna Kalashnikova | Dreamstime.com

One scientist has claimed to have found a God gene. A gene that causes some part of our brain to be susceptible to the idea of God. Another study showed that identical twins with a particular version of the God gene who were reared apart were twice as likely to become religious as those without that version of the gene.

Based on these studies, some scientists have concluded faith is biological. In their opinion, those of us with faith are being led around by our DNA. I can see how this makes sense if you believe in evolution. If we are all evolved animals, then most of our behavior should be explained by how our DNA has evolved. So to explain a belief, it must be rooted in our genes and it must have an evolutionary advantage somehow. But is there an evolutionary advantage to faith that would cause the God gene to propagate?

Perhaps the scientists think the God gene would help people to cooperate enough to create a society and live peacefully together (assuming we actually do that now). I could see the evolutionary advantage to that.

In all honesty, I wouldn’t put it past God to give a genetic susceptibility for belief to those people who He already foresaw would come to Him. But then again, maybe not. The Bible says, He gave us the choice. To explain away faith as the product of a gene minimizes the role of our free will.

It isn’t faith if it’s forced. And it isn’t faith if it’s biologically programmed.

Scientists may try to consign God to a portion of DNA, but He is bigger than that. He is working out His plan. He is crafting the fabric of our lives. He is watching and listening to our limited, human attempts to define Him.

What do you think? Is belief genetic? If so, could you enhance or destroy that part of you? Where does free will come into it?

 

Reference: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/14/20041114-111404-8087r/, http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/what-twins-reveal-about-god-gene

 

Devotion

On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.

Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the Lord’s command they encamped and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Numbers 9:15,22-23

The children of Israel followed God in a pillar of fire. When the pillar of fire moved, they moved and when it stayed, they stayed. Sometimes I think they had it so easy. Think about it – clear, powerful evidence of God right in front of them and all they had to do was follow. But the children of Israel had the same problem that many of us have today – they wanted to go their own way. It’s hard to imagine why some of them would think – “yeah this fire is pretty amazing and it’s going that way, but this way over here looks like more fun, and you know what? I think I’d rather not have God at all, this golden calf looks cool.”

Would it really have been easier to follow God back then? When I’m tempted to think so, I remember the gift God has given us as believers in the time after Christ—the Holy Spirit inside of us. And He has given us plenty of other ways to know his will, like reading the bible, listening to other believers, and prayer. It might be easier to ignore the little voice inside you (as opposed to a pillar of fire) but God will help you to find Him if you seek Him.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your patience with us when we are focused on our will, not Yours. Help us to be yielded to You today. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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