The Apple Of God's Eye

March 15, 2011

Joshua: A Man Overshadowed By His Deeds

grace2live.org

Only a few times in history has a person been born who accomplishes so much that his deeds are remembered as much or more than the person himself. Such a man was Joshua.

Have you ever noticed that Joshua is not even named by Paul as one of the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? Yet far lesser known personalities such as Barak, Samson and Jephthah are cited as examples.

Why not Joshua? Joshua who took charge of Israel after the death of Moses? Joshua who gave instructions to carry the ark across the Jordan, which parted as the Red Sea had in the days of Moses? Joshua who led Israel around the city of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down? Joshua who led Israel’s conquest of the promised land? Joshua who commanded and the sun stood still for one whole day?

Are there more dramatic examples of faith in the entire Bible? Why, then, did Paul leave Joshua out of Hebrews 11?

Perhaps the answer is found in the long list of Joshua’s accomplishments. What he did — or, better, what God did through him — was so great that the events actually overshadow the man.

The first time we hear of Joshua in the Bible is during the second month of the Exodus.

Under Moses, God led Israel out of Egypt by way of the Red Sea. After dividing the Red Sea for Israel, God killed the pursuing Egyptians in the returning water. The Israelites journeyed into the rugged mountains of the southern Sinai and camped in a plain called Rephidim.

At Rephidim, Israel entered into their first battle against hostile forces — the Amalekites.

You remember the story. When Moses held his staff high in the air, the Israelites were victorious. When his hands fell to his sides, the Amalekites were victorious. Finally, at the end of the day, Moses sat on a rock with his hands held up by Aaron and Hur. Israel was victorious. (more…)

October 9, 2009

The Earth: The Only "Goldilocks" Planet!

Mixing astronomy and fairy tales isn’t commonly done, but scientists studying the “Goldilocks Zone” may have found the perfect spot, and it’s right in our back yard. It’s a spot in space that’s inhabitable to life forms — not too hot and not too cold — just right!

Many scientists are now realizing that the factors required for a civilization to exist are almost impossibly complex – and must be exceedingly rare, even in a universe as incomprehensibly vast as ours. Consider the following facts and how perfectly aligned they had to be to even entertain the notion of life. Then realize how foolish it is to believe that life on earth came from nothing:

The Earth

  1. Is the perfect distance from both the sun and moon to have a stable, predictable orbit. Twenty four hour days ensure the earth’s entire surface is properly warmed and cooled daily.
  2. It is the perfect size and mass. If it were less dense, an atmosphere wouldn’t form and remain. If it were more dense, the atmosphere would be uninhabitable. As it is, our atmosphere allows just the right amount of radiation to keep us warm, but not kill us.
  3. Earth’s metal core produces a magnetic field that protects the surface from radiation from space. Radioactive heat from the core, mantle and crust creates plate tectonics necessary for life.
  4. Humans need 27 elements to live. Earth has just the right mix of them.
  5. Earth has just the right amount of water in the proper ratios of liquid, solid,  and gas. A little more and the continents would be drowned. A little less and the planet would probably be too hot to host life.

The Moon

  1. The mass ratio of the moon compared to the earth is 50 times greater than that of any other known moon-planet combination. Yet it is the perfect size to stabilize the tilt of earth’s rotational axis. Without our moon, the tilt of our planet would vary from zero to 85 degrees, producing catastrophic climate changes.
  2. The gravity of the moon creates tidal movement. Thus, ocean waters do not stagnate – they clean the waters on the coasts from toxins and enrich them with nutrients. Yet these massive ocean movements never spill over across the continents.
  3. The ocean currents also regulate climate by circulating enormous amounts of heat.

The Sun

  1. Most stars (2/3 to 3/4 of them) are found in groups of two, three, four and more. If we had more than one sun, it would make life far less stable on earth because of erratic gravitational effects, and/or possible dangerous eruptions of tidal gas passing between the stars.
  2. 95% of all stars are less massive than the sun. A smaller, less dense sun would mean we’d have to be much closer to it to stay warm. The tidal locking would create synchronous rotation – where the same side of the earth always faced the sun. Thus, half the planet would freeze.
  3. It has the perfect luminosity. Because it is a yellow star, its energy lies mostly in the visible part of the light spectrum – not even 10% of its energy is ultraviolet. If it was much hotter, producing mostly ultraviolet light, life would be impossible. If it was a small red star, the supply of visible light would be inadequate.
  4. The sun’s size and distance from earth creates stable temperature fluctuations that allow the earth’s water to remain in perfect balance among its three phases: liquid, solid and gas.

Solar System

  1. Giant planets act as “comet and asteroid catchers.” Their gravity cleans up our solar system of space junk that might otherwise collide with earth. Cosmic collisions can cause mass extinctions.
  2. Our solar system is unusually rich in metal content, necessary for advanced life.

Cosmic Location

  1. Evidence suggests that elliptical galaxies lack enough elements heavier than helium to host advanced life. Spiral galaxies like ours have enough.
  2. Within the Milky Way, we sit in the “galactic habitable zone,” – far enough from the center that we’re not killed by radiation, but close enough that sufficient heavy elements needed for life are present.
  3. We’re nowhere near dangerous star clusters, quasars, nebulae, neutron stars, or supernovas.
  4. Real estate brokers often say the key to property value is location, location, location. If this principle applies to the cosmic scene, earth’s location would be considered way beyond prime. The earth appears to reside in the only neighbourhood in the universe where human life can exist and thrive long enough to enjoy a global, high tech civilization and to discover how rare they are.

For decades, scientists have been debating the conditions needed to replicate an Earth-like probablility of complex beyond the microbial level. We now know that the number of planets in our own galaxy alone could easily tally in the hundreds of billions. Astrobiologist vainly cling to the faint hope that a number of these could be carpeted in the  chemistry we call life, thus proving that life on Earth may be unique, but not miraculous.

Well, good luck because as I’ve shown, there needs to be an exceedingly (and almost impossible) complex host of conditions present for such a scenario. This cannot happen by fiat, nor can it be sustained. Yes, scientists will keep looking, but they won’t find a penny’s worth of evidence otherwise.

August 1, 2009

The Earth: A Perfect Spot For Viewing The Cosmos

Editors Comment: A beautifully written column on the greatness of the cosmos and our view of it in the perfect spot of our galaxy. The article is originally from the Trumpet.com.

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Some folks saw a black sunrise last Wednesday. The Gulf of Khambhat, just east of India, experienced an unusual total solar eclipse at sunup. (For an idea of what it looked like, click here.) It lasted 6 minutes, 39 seconds, the longest eclipse of the sun projected to occur this century.

It’s extraordinary that our gargantuan sun—864,300 miles in diameter, 332,840 times the Earth’s mass—can be visually obscured by the moon, which is a tiny two tenths of 1 percent of its size. But the relative distances of these two heavenly bodies from Earth, coupled with their unusually exquisite roundness, make the perfect solar eclipse possible.

This has proven quite helpful to scientists who are trying to unriddle the mysteries of the universe. Hundreds of years ago, a perfect eclipse helped observers confirm that stars are composed of gas. More recently, an eclipse helped verify the theory of relativity, showing that light is bent by the sun’s gravity. That we see a perfect eclipse (rather than a super-eclipse, in which our moon would completely obscure the sun) gave us our first glimpses of the sun’s gaseous chromosphere, which has yielded additional insights about stars.

Aren’t we lucky?

No other planet has the perfect configuration of sun and moon sizes and relative distances to view a perfect solar eclipse that enables astronomical observations such as we can make on Earth, this jewel of a planet.

But this is only one of several unique physical conditions that make our study of the heavens possible, and so richly rewarding.

Case in point: We can’t see our air. Imagine how motivated you would be to contemplate the night sky if all you saw was a canopy of impenetrably thick clouds of particles and gasses. Happy for us, Earth’s atmosphere is transparent. Not only is our oxygen-rich air necessary for life, its invisibility also happens to make gazing up at the stars a whole lot more interesting and informative than would be the case on most planets.

Another favorable circumstance: our position within our galaxy. The Milky Way is an incomprehensible 100,000 light years across, and we sit in its slim “galactic habitable zone” (ghz)—just far enough from the center that we’re not killed by radiation, but just close enough that sufficient heavy elements needed for life are present. At the same time, our position is a perfect seat for viewing the rest of the cosmos.

Why? Many reasons. For one, it is so beautifully dark here. Light can be the enemy of astronomical discovery—for basically the same reason that you want the lights off in the theater while watching a movie. Conveniently, our solar system is in the darkest part of the galaxy’s ghz, far from all the Milky Way’s brightest lights. We live almost exactly halfway between two of the Milky Way’s spiral arms, which are crowded with radiant stars and thick dust clouds that would obscure our view. Our vision is also free of any nearby gaseous nebulae. We likewise live thousands of light years away from the galaxy’s many blinding star clusters. In his book Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, Dr. Hugh Ross explains how the same cosmic dust that shields us from the radiation emanating from the galactic core “also blocks out most of the blazingly bright light shining from the thousands of dense star clusters situated in the core that otherwise would ruin astronomers’ efforts to explore the universe.”

Making matters even more favorable, the Milky Way happens to be in the darkest habitable area of its galaxy cluster. While a typical galaxy cluster has over 10,000 tightly packed galaxies, ours has only about 40, all but two of which (one being the Milky Way) are small or dwarf galaxies. On top of that, our galaxy cluster, called the Local Group, is in the darkest habitable part of its supercluster of galaxies, the Virgo supercluster.

Thus, there is virtually nothing in the way of our peering deep into the outer reaches of the cosmos.

Another convenient feature of our cosmic vantage point is how protected we are from potential collision events. The four gas giant planets in our solar system—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune—do us a big favor by shielding Earth from dangerous space projectiles like asteroids and comets. Their gravitational pull tends to absorb or deflect the most dangerous of these colliders. Yet they’re not too efficient: The few smaller asteroids that have made it through and hit Earth have actually aided in scientific discovery without wiping humans out. (It’s also worth noting that these huge planets are not so close as to block or wash out our view of space. If gigantic Jupiter resided where Mars currently does, it would be 1,550 times brighter to us than it is now.)

The more scientists learn about the universe, the more of these outstandingly helpful conditions they identify. “For some reason our Earthly location is extraordinarily well suited to allow us to peer into the heavens and discover its secrets,” say the grateful astronomers who authored The Privileged Planet. A host of finely tuned factors “are not only necessary for Earth’s habitability; they also have been surprisingly crucial for scientists to measure and make discoveries about the universe. Mankind is unusually well positioned to decipher the cosmos.”

Scientists have come to refer to Earth as a “Goldilocks planet.” That is, in every conceivable way, conditions aren’t too hot or too cold, too large or too small, too close or too far—too anything. No matter what is measured, it is “just right.” Not only for the existence of life, but also for discovery. And to a mind-boggling level of precision. Even the minutest deviation would make cosmic observation difficult or impossible—or would wipe out the prospect of life.

Maybe it’s not luck after all.

A growing number of astronomers are acknowledging the possibility not only that the precise conditions for life on Earth were specifically, painstakingly established by a creative mind of extraordinary intelligence—but also that this Power ensured we would be able to follow the signs back to their source. The multiplicity and exactitude of these signs “reflects masterful engineering at a level far beyond human capability—and even imagination. It testifies of a supernatural, superintelligent, superpowerful, fully deliberate Creator,” wrote Dr. Ross.

Yes it does. As King David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1). He was celebrating the fact that God revealed Himself to us in the universe He created. Perhaps he knew more than today’s astronomers would give him credit for.

God wanted us to make these cosmic discoveries. Romans 1:20 says that “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Revised Standard Version). It is there for everyone to see—and more and more as our technology improves. All we need to do is open our eyes and acknowledge its Author.

“Clearly, Someone wanted human beings to exist and thrive. Just as clearly, Someone wanted us to see all He had done in the universe,” Dr. Ross continued. “His purposes for human existence must be highly valuable.”

May 31, 2009

The Universe: Evolution Or The Work Of God’s Fingers?

antifan-real.deviantart.com

Whenever we read about evolution, it’s usually preceded by the word theory. A theory, according to Webster’s, is described as “speculation, an idea, hypothesis or a scheme.” A theory then is an unproven statement.

Darwin’s theory of evolution teaches that the first life upon the earth came by “spontaneous generation,” or by “electrochemical action,” or some unknown process millions of years ago in the warm ocean slime. Thus it is the theory of evolution that life sprang out of dead matter, or that the living came from the non-living.

Now probability is the mathematics of chance, and therefore probability should have a great deal to do with evolution.
Given a monkey, a typewriter and a stack of paper, by chance alone, words, sentences, even whole books could be written, right? This is a doctrine deemed holy by a not-insignificant number of educated men in the biological and geological sciences today. (more…)

February 28, 2009

What Is A 19 Year Time Cycle?

A brief comparison of the Gregorian and the Hebrew calendars will help us understand the 19 year time cycle. The calendar commonly used today is of Roman origin. It is based on the solar year. That is, it contains about 365 1/4 days. And though the word “month” means “moon,” the months are not governed by its phases. They are of arbitrary beginning and length.

On the other hand, the Hebrew calendar is based on both the sun and the moon. The length of the year differs significantly, and the months are directly related to the phases of the moon. In the Hebrew calendar, 12 lunar months result in a year that has about 354 days (about 11 days shorter than a solar year). Such common years, as they are called, are regularly balanced by leap years, which contain 13 months each. Leap years are about 384 days in length (about 19 days longer than a solar year). Notice how these lunar months are related to the solar year.

Every 19 solar years the moon revolves around the earth 235 times. In other words, 235 lunar months equals about 19 solar years. This remarkable astronomical relationship makes it possible to combine 12 common Hebrew years (of 12 months each) and 7 leap years (of 13 months each) together every 19 years. This means that the solar (Roman) calendar and the lunisolar (Hebrew) calendar very nearly coincide as the sun, moon and earth return to their approximate position of alignment with each other every 19 years.

Nineteen-year patterns can also be seen in history. For example, ancient Israel spent 38 (19 x 2) extra years wandering in the wilderness (Deut. 2:14; Num. 14:33-34).

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