Sunday, March 8, 2015

SETI to knock on ET's door: who will answer?

Of the groups searching for extraterrestrial life, SETI is probably the most well known. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and by their own definition is an exploratory science that seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology. [1]

The modern SETI era can be defined as beginning in 1959. In that year, Cornell physicists Giuseppi Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in Nature in which they pointed out the potential for using microwave radio to communicate between the stars. In the spring of 1960, a young radio astronomer named Frank Drake conducted the first microwave radio search for signals from other solar systems. Their work caught the attention of the Russians who then dominated the SETI field for nearly a decade, using nearly-omnidirectional antennas to observe large chunks of sky, hoping there were a few very advanced civilizations capable of radiating enormous amounts of transmitter power. No such luck.

At the beginning of the 1970's, NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California began to consider the technology required for an effective search. A team of outside experts, under the direction of Bernard Oliver, from Hewlett-Packard Corporation, produced a comprehensive study for NASA known as Project Cyclops. The Cyclops report provided an analysis of SETI science and technology issues that is the foundation upon which much subsequent work is based.

By the late-1970s, SETI programs had been established at NASA's Ames Research Center and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. These groups attempted to examine 1,000 Sun-like stars in a Targeted Search, capable of detecting weak or sporadic signals as well as systematically sweep all directions in a Sky Survey. In 1988, after a decade of study and preliminary design, NASA Headquarters formally adopted this strategy, and funded the program. Four years later, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World, the observations began, however, within a year, Congress terminated funding.

More recently, (1994 - 2004) the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute was funded entirely by donations from individuals and grants from private foundations.  In 2005, a NASA grant was awarded for work on signal detection for the Allen Telescope Array.  Donations and non-governmental grants still comprise the vast majority of funding for the Center.

SETI asks the questions, "What if space alien's landed? Would it be War of the Worlds, Independence Day, or The X Files?" SETI representatives believe Sundance Film Festival Danish director Michael Madsen lays out "a more cerebral storyline, and one that might be more realistic.

In The Visit, a fictional piece presented as documentary, real scientists, politicians, military types, and United Nations officials sit behind their stunningly neat desks and mull over what to do about a house guest who's arrived from the stars."

The movie portrays officials in complete control, the visitor almost a bystander, offering no risk, threat, or it seems, benefit. The focus of the film seems to be our reaction, as if, the visitors, or guests, simply await our apparent wisdom-fueled reaction to their arrival.

SETI researchers are in fact, so sure extraterrestrials are just blithely unaware of our awesome existence and will surely be so wowified to discover we exist they are pushing for a cease of passive listening for life elsewhere in leui of an aggressive attempt to initialize contact ourselves, kind of a celestial doorbell... a really annoying, in your face kind of doorbell.

To date the only known space messages sent out from the earth have been a graphic message was sent into space by the Arecibo radio telescope in the 1970s, a radio message broadcast from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico toward a cluster of stars 25,000 light-years away, in 1974, and in 2008, Doritos company sent an advertisement from a radar station in Norway to a potentially habitable star system 42 light-years away. Because any decent space alien has got to be craving some cool ranch Doritos, y'all.

Other researchers seek a more cautious approach, demanding an international consensus before "outing" Earth to the rest of the universe. [2] Scientists in both camps faced off on February 12, 2015 at a debate held at a meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science:)

"Advocates for active SETI say that keen-eared aliens could already pick up some of Earth’s ambient transmissions. Current radio and TV transmissions could be heard only a few light-years away with the current radio telescope technology on Earth, but Vakoch says that an advanced civilization would have far more developed techniques for listening. Brin says this is the “barn door excuse” and adds that many active SETI techniques would send out focused, powerful messages that would travel many times farther than the day-to-day transmissions from Earth. He views active SETI messages as cosmic pollution, rather than exploration. Although he’s not worried about alien invasions, he thinks the assumption of benevolence—or even the existence of aliens—is overstated."

Did I actually hear a voice of reason? The assumption of benevolence is overstated? To my understanding, there has not been one instance of a benevolent meeting between "alien creatures" and human beings. There have been multiple encounters with people who have reportedly been kidnapped, examined, physically violated, and even claimed to have had unborn children removed from their wombs.

Similar to the belief in evolution, despite the magnitude of evidence pointing elsewhere, SETI researchers seem determined to force their ill-advised agenda on the world at large, seeking to increase communication and interaction with beings that thus far, have shown themselves to be nothing but malevolent.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, people want so badly for someone other than a moral and just God to have designed, created, and ultimately to judge this planet and those that dwell on it, that they are more willing to reach out to an "unknown" and definitely self-serving force that surely, will allow humans to also serve themselves, thereby deceiving themselves to their very doom.

1. Web. Accessed on 2015/03/07

2. Hand, Eric. Researchers call for interstellar messages to alien civilizations. 2015. Web. Accessed on 2015/03/07

Monday, February 23, 2015

A brief history of Replacement theology

Replacement theology, also called Supersessionism, is is the teaching that the Christian church has replaced Israel in regards to God's purpose and promises. (1) Dr. Chuck Missler breaks it down with two main points:
  • Israel rejected her messiah; therefore she forfeited the promises God had made to her.
  • The Church has replaced Israel, becoming "Spiritual Israel." (2)
Neither of these views are Biblical. Israel and the Church have will certainly travel different, and equally important paths, but for all those who accept Jesus Christ as Messiah, we will eventually reach the same destination: heavenly life with our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is very clear in Ezekial 38 & 39, Psalm 83, and according to the promises of the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7, that Israel is very much still in the palm of God's hand and continues to have prominence and importance in His plans.
For example, in Israel and the Church: The Prodigal Heirs Dr. Missler cites four prerequisites that must be in place before the 70th Week of Daniel 9:
The nation of Israel reestablished as a soveriegn state
The nation be militarily secure
The nation be at apparent peace in the Middle East
The nation have restored material fortune. (3)
While Israel is indeed a sovereign state, it is yet to be militarily secure, at peace, or have restored material fortune. With the discovery of oil in Israel, we may be on the brink of the final three conditions being met. Regardless it is clear that without Israel's part in God's plan, we will never see the 70th week ushered in leading to a mere 7 years before Christ returns to rule in the Millennial Kindgom.
How prevelant is Replacement Theology in the Church? Rev. Brian D. Warner, M.A., of Wheaton College Graduate School believes Replacement Theology is a myth and is a devisive tool used by some Christians to attack and marginalize other Christians. (4) He gives quite a bit of evidence to suggest the theory is wrong, however offers no proof that denominations do not believe and promote the concept.
This subject can easily become an entire book on it's own, so to be brief, I have included a definition of the ways Replacement Theory can be expressed that may lead interested parties to further research on the subject:
"R. Kendall Soulen notes three categories of supersessionism identified by Christian theologians: punitive, economic, and structural:[3]
Punitive supersessionism is represented by such Christian thinkers as Hippolytus, Origen, and Luther. It is the view that Jews who reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah are consequently condemned by God, forfeiting the promises otherwise due to them under the covenants.
Economic supersessionism is used in the technical theological sense of function (see economic Trinity). It is the view that the practical purpose of the nation of Israel in God's plan is replaced by the role of the Church. It is represented by writers such as Justin Martyr, Augustine, and Barth.
Structural supersessionism is Soulen's term for the de facto marginalization of the Old Testament as normative for Christian thought. In his words, "Structural supersessionism refers to the narrative logic of the standard model whereby it renders the Hebrew Scriptures largely indecisive for shaping Christian convictions about how God’s works as Consummator and Redeemer engage humankind in universal and enduring ways."[7] Soulen's terminology is used by Craig A. Blaising, in 'The Future of Israel as a Theological Question.'[8]" (5)
According to this source, early church fathers who purpoted this theory included, to name just a few:
1. Justin Martyr
2. Hippolytus of Rome
3. Tertullian
4. Augustine
In addition, the Roman Catholic Church, prior to Vatican II, offered many teachings consistent with Replacement Theory, one of which continues to this day: "The Codex Justinianus (1:5:12) for example defines "everyone who is not devoted to the Catholic Church and to our Orthodox holy Faith" a heretic." (5) lists the following church denominations as officially making statements of belief in Replacement Theology. (6) I was not able to find a date of publication, however the site did go on to list sources and quotes. It would make an interesting start to further research.

John J. Parsons, offers additional insight to the different view of the relationship between the Church and Israel. (7)
In conclusion, while Christians will likely always be divided in areas of denominational opinion, as we draw closer to the Millennial Kingdom, and the blindness of Israel is lifted, I pray that the blindness of Christians will also be lifted in regards to the place of Israel in the heart of our mutual Lord, and that we bless Israel instead of cursing her, for we all know how that works out (Genesis 12:3.)
1. Slick, Matt. Christian Apologetics and Research Minisitry. 2015. Web.
2. Missler, Chuck. The Prodigal Heirs: Israel and the Church. Couer d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 1995. MP3
3. Missler, Chuck. Israel and the Church: The Prodigal Heirs. Couer D'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2012. DVD
4. Warner, Brian D. Replacement Theology. 2012. Web.
5. Wikipedia. Supersessionism. 2015. Web.
6. Is the Church Israel? 2015. Web.
7. Parsons, John J. Israel and the Church. 2015. Web.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Evolution or Intelligent Design in scientific progress

What do evolutionists mean by their catch-term? According to the dictionary, evolution is "any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane. 2. a product of such development; something evolved : The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research. 3. Biology. change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift. Latin ē vol ū ti ō n - (stem of ēvolūtiō) an unrolling, opening, equivalent to ē vol ū t (us) [1]

Interestingly, the authors at give a slightly different twist on the dictionary definition: "Evolution is technically defined as: "a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form." Notice the reference to a more complex or better form.

Let's contrast the term "Intelligent Design": the theory that the universe and living things were designed and created by the purposeful action of an intelligent agent. [1]

One theory suggests more complex and better forms of animals, or people, are derived from a gradual process, with no guidance or intentional direction, the other that an intelligent agent purposefully guides creation and development of life.

So, if evolution is the process by which we get better, more complex beings, surely today's scientists capitalize on this phenomenon in the development of transhumans: post-human super-beings evolved from lesser forms currently on the earth....right? No, wait a minute, evolution takes billions of years and there is no guarantee of the outcome, not to mention that evolutionary processes in the short term (i.e., genetic mutation) results in only one outcome: cancer.

How come evolution (as defined by the evolutionist) in the short term creates nothing but death and disease, but in the long-term creates more complex and better beings? I'm confused.

Scientists have been manipulating the gene pool of plants, animals, and now humans, for decades in an attempt to intelligently design a better food source, and a superior human race. So far we know that genetically modified food is linked to tumors, cancers, and auto-immune disease (look up GMO's and disease for a long list of resources) so what can we expect with genetically modified humans?

Regardless, the hypocrisy of a group that claims life changes are directed by evolution, yet continually demonstrates the knowledge that no cross-species changes are possible without intelligent intervention and purpose seems lost on the multitude. If evolution can create cross-species beings, why have we not seen cross-species beings, or had a need for legislature defining the rights and treatment of "humans with unique physical, emotional, or cognitive abilities"? [3]

?? Retrieved 2015-02-19. Web.

2. What is evolution. Retrieved 2015-02-19. Web.

3. Horn, Tom, Chuck Missler. The Hybrid Age. Couer d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2012. DVD


In The Hybrid Age, Tom Horn discusses Transhumanism, the creation of enhanced human-animals chimeras. It seems the stuff only seen in science fiction, but the idea of transhumanism has been around for thousands of years, and the technology, while it might seem recent, has roots that go back as far as time.

When did science fiction begin to influence our minds and even, technological endeavors?

"Johannes Kepler's Somnium (1620-1630) may fit, since it describes a trip to the moon and the earth's movement seen from that perspective. One might make a case for Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels of 1728 as an example of science fantasy used as a vehicle for social satire á la H.G. Wells. But the philosophical and the scientifically possible—as well as thrills and chills—get a convincing combination in Mary W. Shelley's 1818 classic Frankenstein, to which she added The Last Man in 1826, dealing with a plague-driven world apocalypse - See more at"[1]

With the story of Frankenstein, Shelley introduces the possibility of a creature reformed from parts of man, but not truly a man. This creature is stronger than a man, and possibly immortal. The seed was sown.

Man has always desired to be greater than he is: smarter, faster, more bionic... Who doesn't love the 6 Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, the X-Men, SuperMan, SpiderMan, etc.

Of course, the entertainment gurus that be have typically fashioned heroes who were kind, intelligent, trustworthy, brave, and possessing super-human integrity to boot. Recently we've seen a shift back to the antihero: "a main character in a book, play, movie, etc., who does not have the usual good qualities that are expected in a hero." [2]

Although the term antihero was first used as a literary term by Dostoevsky, and repeatedly on the stage in Greek drama, greater differences between the characteristics of a hero and and antihero have become apparent in the present age. The antihero can hardly be called a hero in any sense of the word, since he works what we call good, only for his own personaly gain. An example is the character "Red" in the t.v. show Blacklist, played by James Spader. The character works with FBI to catch the worst of the bad guys on the "blacklist" only to bring him closer to a young FBI agent we are led to believe is his daughter.

His only reason for anything good or helpful he does, is to endear himself to the woman, or to further his own illegal and immoral interests. Yet, for all intents and purposes, he is the hero, or antihero of the show. He murders without remorse, uses people to his own ends without concern for their well-being, kidnaps and tortures people, but is also highly intelligent, skilled in fighting, espionage, and manipulation. The viewers eat it up.

In A Genealogy of Antihero, the author states, " In contemporary literature, antiheroes have begun to outnumber heroes as a result of historical, political and sociological facts such as wars, and literary pieces have tended to present themes of failure, inaction, uncertainty and despair rather than heroism and valour. This study argues that Second World War has the crucial impact on the development of the notion of modern antihero. As a consequence of the war, “hero” as the symbol of valour, adventure, change and action in the legends and epic poems has been transformed into “antihero” of failure and despair, especially in realist, absurdist and existentialist works written during/after the Second World War." [3]

I offer a different theory. I believe that if you tell generation after generation that God is dead, that we are worthless specks in the vast universe evolutionally developed from nothing who will return to being nothing after death, that we are likely the genetic experiment of alien creatures who stand aloof and appraise us or even kidnap and experiment on us with no concern or empathy for our it any wonder that we have begun to seek value for ourselves through power and material gain?

If there is no reason to be good, why not be evil? If there is no heavenly treasure, why not cling to life on earth, even eternally, and seek the rewards of this world, not matter the cost? Science fiction, and all literature or entertainment, reflects what is in our hearts, what has been lurking in our hearts since the Serpent seduced the first man and woman. If there is no one greater than I am, I can be the greatest.

1. Guttman, John. Weider History. 2015. Web.
2. "Antihero - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2015-02-19. Web.
3.  KADİROĞLU, Murat. A Genealogy of Antihero. Web.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The seven species in the land of milk and honey

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study! Are you ready for some spiritual food? I've got something really tasty for you today: it's all about the land of milk and honey.

Today, I watched Revealing Jesus, by Dr. Dan. Stolebarger is one the instructors in my doctoral program. He was discussing Deuteronomy 8:7-10 in which God tells the Israelites all about this wonderful land to which He brought them: the land flowing with milk and honey.

But, to get a really good picture of what's going on in the bible, I've always found it useful to back up and read a few verses previous to get some context. Here, God is reminding the Israelites of just how bad it was. Because, when things are good, we can forget where we came from.

In verse 3, it says, "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and [then] fed you with manna...your garments did not wear out...nor your feet swell these forty years...therefore" [NKJV] and God shares with them the blessings of this new land.

We say we can't appreciate joy without sadness, or the sun without the rain, well, the Israelites could not even begin to appreciate the blessing of the Land, without first learning what it was like to hunger. God hopes his children will appreciate the blessings all the more because He allowed them to experience, deeply, what it is like to go without.
Once in the land, the people were given plenty to eat, and God specifically mentions 7 Species: 2 grains and 5 fruits. In Revealing Jesus, Dr. Dan Stolebarger suggested each species reflects Jesus Messiah (1):
Barley - it is separated by the wind, or the Breath of God. Jesus spoke in the wind to the Israelites. He spoke all of creation into existence with the breath of his nostril. It was used to purchase Gomer, as Jesus' body was used to purchase each of us. Barley loaves fed the multitude, and His body is our Living Bread, feeding our spirits.
Wheat - it must be pressed down to release the grain from the chaff. Jesus was pressed down with the weight of sin on our behalf. It is the bread of life, while Jesus is The Bread of Life.
Grapes - must be completely crushed to release their juices, which run red like blood. Jesus, of course, was crushed and bruised by his captors; his body was pierced and his blood spilled to save us. He is the vine, we are the branches, grafted into His body.
Pomegranate - the 613 seeds (has anyone counted?) may represent the 613 mitzvoth, or commandments of the Torah, the word of God. Jesus, the Word of God, came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.
Olives - Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. He is our light, as olive oil is burned in lamps, He burns in our hearts.
Date Honey - Israel is the "land of milk and honey." Dr. Stolebarger said that the honey in this case is date honey, since bees are non-kosher. Rabbi Menachem Posner, of confirmed this fact in his article, "Why is Israel called the land of milk and honey." (2)

However, elsewhere in scripture, we are advised to eat honeycomb. The words used are:
nopet: honey of the honeycomb. Prov. 5:3; 24:13; 27:7 Song of Solomon 4:11
d'bas: honey, honeycomb plus ya'ra: forest, honeycomb plus ha: the, a, who , this, that i.e., the honey of the forest, (a liquid.) Isa. 14:27 [KJV]
ya'ar: p.n. honeycomb, also refers to forests and woods. Song of Solomon 5:1
and the kicker:
melissios: pertaining to the bee, honecomb. Luke 24:42 [kjv]
Why would the land of milk and honey refer to date honey which must be processed, instead of a food readily available from God? If bees are not kosher, why would Scripture advise us to eat honey? I had to know!

While Israel is the land of milk and date honey, bee honey is also eaten by Kosher Jews according to Rochel Chein, of

"Honey consists of nectar, which bees gather, store and transport to their honeycombs. While in the bee, the nectar is broken down and transformed into honey by enzymes in the bee. But it is not actually digested by the bee. So the honey is not a product of the bee itself--as is milk.
One hundred percent pure, raw honey is kosher." (3)

The last of the 7 species is the fig. I never understood why Jesus cursed that fig tree in Matthew 21. It seemed almost petty, and I know Jesus is not petty. Finally, an explanation!

Dr. Stolebarger taught that a fig tree is representative, among other things, of the followers of Jesus, the Church members. Let me explain.
A fig tree produces fruit before it leaves out. Once it is full of leaves, it should also have borne much fruit. The fig tree in the bible had plenty of leaves, but no fruit. It looked the part, but it was all a sham. There was no productivity, there were no works indicative of the Spirit within. It was a fake, a phony, a liar. It was a religious person with no faith and no fruit.
That's why Jesus cursed it, and it withered and died. It represented what will happen to believers who are all show and no substance. Those who go to church, but have nothing to show for their religiosity. It wasn't the tree, it was that the tree was unproductive and useless. Let's not be the fig tree, but instead be the grafted-in vine.
1. Stolebarger, Dan. Revealing Jesus. Coeur D'Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2011. DVD
2. Posner, Menachem. Why is Israel called the land of milk and honey?. 2015
3. Chein, Rochel. Why is honey kosher? 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Why is prophecy a more sure word than eye witness testimony?

Photo courtesy of digidreamgrafix,
In 2 Peter 1:19, Peter has just discussed some of the things which he has personally witnessed: the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain, and even God speaking from heaven telling us that Jesus is His Son, whom He loves, and in whom He was well pleased. But Peter tells us that an eyewitness account like this, even in Scripture, is incomparable with the word of prophecy.

 "We have also a more sure word of prophecy." 2 Peter 1:19 The word for more sure here is bebaios, meaning firm, more sure, certain, binding, and steadfast.(1) Peter says prophecy is more sure, more certain, and more binding that eye witness testimony. Why?

One reason is that, disregarding the inerrancy of Scripture, typically eye witness testimony is considered a less than reliable body of evidence.

"Since the 1990s, when DNA testing was first introduced, Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses."(2)

Eye witness accounts are highly susceptible to the passage of time, to preconceived beliefs, to the effects of fatigue, patience, and by "filling in the blanks" of information to speed processing/cataloging/retrieval of information. The term we used in practice was a form of generalization, however, currently University College London neuroscientist Karl Friston has expanded on the theory, calling it a process of "predictive coding."(3)

Our brains actively predict or guess what we are seeing when there is not enough information, or even when the image is first coming into our brains, predicting what is going to be visualized and as a result, the brain accepts that guess as an accurate representation - even if it is totally wrong.

Have you ever seen the video in which a man in an ape-suit runs across the court during a basketball game and people interviewed afterwards say they never saw the "ape," even though it ran right across their field of vision? Pretty funny. Here is a link to a site where you can watch an example of this phenomenon.

A Stanford University paper lists the following about the accuracy of eye witness testimony:

"Accuracy of recollection decreases at a geometric rather than arithmetic rate (so passage of time has a highly distorting effect on recollection); accuracy of recollection is not highly correlated with the recollector's confidence; and memory is highly suggestible people are easily ‘reminded’ of events that never happened, and having been ‘reminded’ may thereafter hold the false recollection as tenaciously as they would a true one." (4)

In addition, truthfulness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. While in grad school, I performed an experiment to determine if good looks or race had any affect on one's perception of truthfulness. I showed a picture of an attractive, blond, white male, white female; black male; and black female; as well as unattractive versions of the same along with a vignette (short story) about the person. The participants were asked to decide if they thought the person's dialogue in the story was truthful or not.

In short, the experiment revealed that white, attractive males were perceived as the most truthful and honest, followed by attractive black males, then attractive white females, then attractive black females, and then all followed by unattractive subjects. Attractiveness counts, as does race and gender. Remember, this was all unconscious processing happening as far as I could observe. The results were consistent with similar studies done, so this was not relative only to my sample.

This is all interesting, but since Scripture is inerrant, I believe in this case, Peter had another reason for considering prophecy a more sure word: eye witness testimony requires at least two witnesses, and is even then questionable, but prophecy is objectively self-validating. It either comes to pass or it does not.

"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." [Deut.18:22 KJV]

"The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him." [Jer. 28:9 KJV]

You can't get better evidence than that.

1. Strong, James. The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001

2. Arkowitz, Hal and Lilienfeld. Scott O. Scientific American, 2009

3. University of Glasgow. What our eyes can't see, the brain fills in. Phys.Org. 2011

4. Engelhardt, Laura.The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony: a talk by Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology and George Fisher, Professor of Law. 2015 citing from Krist v. Eli Lilly and Co., 897 F.2d 293, 297 (7th Cir. 1990), (listing the findings of various psychological studies.)