Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Accidents

Thoughts on the Sabbath School Lesson for 1.14.12

Has this ever happened to you?  You’re watching a wonderful nature program with fantastic film of some animal, all up close and personal.  The voice over is calming, resonant and sincere:
“Hummingbirds are the lightest birds in the sky. Of their roughly 240 species … the largest, an Andean ‘giant,’ is only eight inches long; the smallest, the bee hummingbird of Cuba, is just over two inches long and weighs a single gram.
“Delicacy is the trade-off that hummingbirds have made for their unrivaled powers of flight. Alone among birds, they can hover, fly backward, even fly upside down. For such small birds, their speed is astonishing: in his courtship display to impress a female, a male Allen's hummingbird, for instance, can dive out of the sky at sixty-one miles per hour … (Diving at 385 body-lengths per second, this hummer beats the peregrine falcon's dives … and even bests the space shuttle as it screams down through the atmosphere at 207 body lengths per second.)
“Hummingbirds' wings beat at a rate that makes them a blur to human eyes, more than sixty times a second …. They are little more than bubbles fringed with iridescent feathers—air wrapped in light …. In most birds, 15 to 25 percent of the body is given over to flying muscles. In a hummingbird's body, flight muscles account for 35 percent. An enormous heart constitutes up to 2.5 percent of its body weight—the largest per body weight of all vertebrates …. A person as active as a hummingbird would need 155,000 calories a day …. Each [hummingbird] is just a speck … yet each is an infinite mystery.”[1]
And then the voice says something like, “Millions of years of evolution have brought the hummingbird to where it is today.”  Essentially saying that this amazing and complex creature is nothing more than a happy biological accident. 

At that point I want to throw something at the television!  Don’t misunderstand, I believe the world is full of happy accidents:  hitting all green lights on the way to work, the elevator doors opening just as you get there,  and being able to get your phone out of your purse/pocket before it stops ringing.  Those could all be described as happy accidents, but a miraculous creature like the hummingbird?  I don’t think so.

The problem, for me, isn’t creationist or evolutionist, it’s who you believe came first – God or man? 
“[In his talks, author Phillip Johnson quotes] the Gospel of John, which states: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’
“After reading this, Johnson asks: ‘Is that true or false?’
“Then he turns this Scripture inside out and creates a credo for use in sanctuaries aligned with the National Center for Science Education. It sounds like this: ‘In the beginning were the particles and the particles somehow became complex, living stuff. And the stuff imagined God.’
“After reading this, Johnson again asks: ‘Is that true or false?’
“Johnson argues that today's debates over science, creation and morality are, literally, clashes between people who believe there is scientific evidence that God created man and those who believe there is scientific evidence that man created God.
“‘If there is no Creator who has a purpose for your life, then there is no such thing as sin,’ he said. ‘Sin would mean that you are in a wrong relationship to your Creator. Well, you can't be in the wrong relationship with the particles. They don't care. So you don't need a Savior to save you from the consequences of your wrong relationship with the particles. …
“‘When you give away creation, you have given away everything.’”[2]
I’ve never heard the creation/evolution debate brought down to such a clear line before, but I believe he’s right.  If you give up the Creator, you also give up the Redeemer.  You also end up losing a clear cut reason for being here, and if you have no reason for being, no purpose, what’s left? 

But if God put us here because He has something for us to accomplish, that puts a whole new slant on things.
“Man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life; he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, but the Spirit that works in him can and will accomplish this. But man is no passive instrument to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle in the struggle for immortality, yet it is God that supplies the efficiency.”[3]
What would you rather believe, that you and I are the result of biological mutations that happily mutated their way into human beings or that a God who wanted companionship placed us on a planet made just for us?
“Dr. Seth Shostak, an astronomer with the SETI Institute, points out in his course ‘The Search for Intelligent Life in Space’ what conditions favor the development of life in the universe:  The system's star ("sun") must not be a giant star, because these burn out too quickly before life can fully develop.  The system's star must not be a dwarf star, because such a star locks in the close planets, meaning ‘one side of the planet forever faces its sun, resulting in horrific weather and unlikely venues for life.’  The system's star cannot be a double star, because the unusual gravitational forces created by a double-star sun might not allow stable planetary systems.  The system's star must not be a young star, because stars less than 1 billion years old have not had enough time, so astronomers think, for life to develop.
“Ideally, the planet would have a large moon, which creates active tides.
“The planet should have tectonic activity, which causes metals to be pushed up to the surface, since metals are valuable to technological civilization.
“The planet should have a large planet farther out in its solar system, which by its great gravitational pull cleans the inner solar system of deadly asteroids and comets.
“The planet should not have a highly elliptical orbit, which is unsuitable for incubating life.
“For life to live on the surface, the planet must have an atmosphere. ‘Very small planets lose their air, and very large planets tend to sport poisonous atmosphere. Earth-sized planets are ideal.’
“And it just so happens that all these conditions fit our earth!”[4]
Hmmmm, the creation of a loving God or a happy accident…I choose God; what about you?

[1] Sy Montgomery, Birdology (Free Press, 2010), pp. 78-103
[2] Terry Mattingly, senior fellow for journalism at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, from his column “Phillip E.”
[3] E.G.White, Our High Calling (1961), page 91.
[4] From "The Search for Intelligent Life in Space" course outline (The Teaching Company Limited Partnership, 1999); submitted by Kevin A. Miller, Vice President, Christianity Today International

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