Author Archives: michaelroberts4004

About michaelroberts4004

A mixture; geologist, Christian, priest, cyclist, mountaineer, heretical environmentalist(i.e. a Bright Green) , retired, historian of science and a few other things. Oh, and I don't like creationism!

Mary Anning and the Hunt of Primeval Monsters.

This gives a good outline of Mary Anning and her fossils – and other geologists of her era – buckland and Coneybeare

Letters from Gondwana.

mary_anning_plesiosaurus Autograph letter concerning the discovery of plesiosaurus, from Mary Anning (From Wikimedia Commons)

Since the End of the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th, several discoveries of dinosaur remains and other large extinct ‘saurians’, were reported for first time. It was an exciting time full of discoveries and the concept of an ancient Earth became part of the public understanding. The most popular aspect of geology was  the collecting of fossils and minerals and the nineteenth-century geology, often perceived as the sport of gentlemen, was in fact, “reliant on all classes”.

The study of the Earth became central to the economic and cultural life of the Victorian Society and Literature influenced the pervasiveness of geological thinking. The Geological Society of London was founded on 13 October 1807 at the Freemasons’ Tavern, in the Covent Garden district of London, with the stated purpose of “…making geologists acquainted with each other, of stimulating…

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A European Parliament without Science?

A warning about letting the Green Party have too much influence in the EU parliament. Also of other green groups by implication.

I may not agree with every word, but with the daftness of Extinction Rebellion etc , people should be wary of voting Green – at any level

The Risk-Monger

This document is a follow-up to my Science Charter blog.

German Green MEP Maria Heubuch has spent more time campaigning against agricultural technologies (and Africans) than representing her constituents. When she went to Berlin on the public purse to attend a secret NGO meeting to campaign against the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, she used her Gmail account so her activities could not be officially recorded. A few weeks later, she stood up in the European Parliament and demanded that a Commission official be transparent. MEPs Bart Staes, Pavel Poc and Michele Rivasi spend public funds obsessively campaigning against a single company and flying in non-scientific activists from as far away as the US and Australia to speak in the European Parliament. No scientists were invited to speak at their public events. The chair of the Parliament’s PEST Committee, Eric Andrieu, has tried to change the…

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Weird Worldview Warriors take on 350 years of geology.

In August 2018 I was asked to write of blog entitled

10 questions to ask a young earth creationist

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/10-questions-to-ask-a-young-earth-creationist-premier-christianity/

It was fairly basic focussing on creationist flaws and then to my amusement an Amercian Steven Risner devoted several blogs on it in worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com. I presume he meant keyboard warriors. I just luv werldvew warriers!! It’s so pretentious!  He came about with the usual young earth stufff,

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but more recently focussed on who geologists have got their geology wrong for 350 years. I suppose most geologists are plain thick to do this. According to Risner there have a succession of thicko geologists teaching at all the universities of the world, from Oxford to the University of Lower Piddle in Dorset and are blissfully unaware that all their teaching is based on false assumptions. How thick can the Goulds, Lord Oxburghs, Arthur Holmes , Tuzo Wilsons and the rest be? They should have more perception.

So let’s consider Steven Risner’s gems of critical thinking.

http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-are-all-geologists-wrong.html

He posted this on 11th April and he may wonder why I spent so long in replying. My first delay was due to Holy Week and the business for a priest in that week and I’m sure he’d approve of that. (Maybe I am an imposter!) And then a bit of time off!!

Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

As is my custom, I try to answer short and sweet if possible. This has more than one answer that’s fairly obvious, at least to me.The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible’s clear teaching on earth’s history. It doesn’t get any more obvious. However, the second answer is a little more detailed.

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible. If we reject the clear teachings of the Word of God, how can we even suggest we are following the God of the Bible? Sure, many of these old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists will say they accept Christ’s teachings and the apostles’ teachings, but why? If we reject some of it, what standard do we use to know if we should accept what the Bible says in one place and reject other parts? I’m seriously asking. If the answer is “science,” then we’re lost already.

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you’ve placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you’re choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith.

Now there is a lot here but our warrior makes three points

  1. He assumes the Bible has a clear view of earth history
  2. Geologists start with wrong assumptions that there is Deep time and no global Flood
  3. Geologists place the authority over that of scripture

If he is right then the whole of geology must be rejected as intellectual codswollop. If even one is partly true then all geology is nullified

Now to consider his main points in turn

  1. He assumes the Bible has a clear view of earth history

The first one is that the last 350 years of geological study disagrees with the Bible’s clear teaching on earth’s history.

This is a standard appeal from Young Earthers that the Bible is absolutely clear on the earth’s history. Yet apart from the claims that  Genesis 1 and a few psalms (poetry) speak of earth history, the Bible says nothing that could even considered as earth history, and even that is questionable, as all have either a poetic or stylistic form There is simply nothing of the earth’s history in the Bible, and those who claim there is do not read the Bible for what it is. It is like going to Genesis to find the Periodic Table. On early Genesis there is no consensus down the two millennia on what it means beyond God as creator, with some taking Genesis one as something other than a historical account. Augustine simply regarded the whole of Creation as instantaneous and not spread over six days. Further there was no consideration over the time of earth history until proto-geologists started to consider the order of strata. A little thinking would show that there couldn’t have been.

It was only in the 1680s that questions were raised about time. Before that there was much vagueness but a tendency to a shortish chronology. Even Calvin who assumes a young earth gives us no earth history. Seventy years later the Roman Catholic Fr Mersenne is his literally mammoth commentary gives no earth history either. It was memorable reading Mersenne in Latin as the volume was so large – about 24 in x 15 ins x 5ins.

So none of these learned clerics give us earth history, and the the Theories of the Earth at the end of the 17th century give no coherent account because they are so variable.

Oh for a clear view of Biblical Earth History!!

2.Geologists start with wrong assumptions that there is Deep time and no global Flood

Over the last 350 years, geologists frequently have started their observations of the evidence with the wrong assumptions. These assumptions force geologists to interpret the evidence a particular way. Those assumptions are that of deep time and that there was no global Flood as described by the Bible.

 

Now that is a bold statement! As these putative assumptions have gone back 350 years we should be able to identify who put them forward. And so someone or a group of savants decided sometime after 1660 to argue  WITHOUT EVIDENCE, as it was an assumption, for Deep Time and the absence of a Global Flood. If it were so pervasive, then historians could identify the culprits. I claim to have read a vast number of writers from 1660 onwards on geology (and its relationship to Christianity), yet I have failed to find one possible suspect. Better historians of geology, like Rudwick and Ellenberger have been equally unsuccessful.  If Risner’s claim were true, then all of us would have found several examples where a writer made a garatuitous assumption of Deep Time. At best this is arguing from lack of evidence, or is it simply codswollop?

The period 1660 to 1710 is pivotal in the study of earth history from Nils Steno through John Ray to the Theories of the Earth and the known and unknown William Hobbs. Before 1660 virtually none had any inkling of Deep Time. Here James Ussher was reflecting the views of most with an age for the earth of about 6000 years. Yes, he argued for 4004BC and others went for some date within a thousand years of so of his date – including Sir Walter Raleigh, who wrote a history of the world while waiting execution. There was not much geological research in the 1610s!!

Having read many works from this period, I found no example of an assumption of Deep time , but rather the opposite. In fact, all savants in the late 17th century made the tentative assumption that the earth was young and Ussher’s figure of 4004BC was in the right order and that the global Flood had laid down the strata. They went into the field with that in mind and initially interpreted the strata according to their assumptions and gradually many found that the evidence went against their assumption of a young earth, so corrected them!

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The earliest example of question the young earth and global assumption I have found is the Oxford scholar Edward Lhwyd, who was a good friend of Rev John Ray.

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See this for detail where referring to Lhwyd’s letter to Ray

The Royal Society of London, founded in 1660, epitomised the flowering of science both in Britain and the continent. The work of Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and others in physics and chemistry needs no introduction. Less well-known is the natural history of John Ray (1627-1705), Edward Lhwyd (1660-1709) and others. The period also saw the beginnings of a scientific study of the earth and their findings were published in turgid volumes known as “Theories of the Earth”. On a first reading these seem to be a literal reading of Genesis stories with a few semi-scientific glosses. A closer read shows them to be more profound as they meld together the Bible, the classics, almost mediaeval “book” learning with the citing of endless authorities and scientific insight in a Chaos-Restitution interpretation of Genesis One. Here they shared the outlook of most theologians (except Ussher!) and literary writers such as Thomas Traherne and Alexander Pope. Instead of taking the Creation story to teach creation in six short days, writers, following an interpretation going back to the early Church Fathers, claimed from Genesis (Chapter one verse one) that God first created Chaos (without form and void) and after an interval recreated it in six days. The duration of Chaos was undefined. With Ussher it was twelve hours, but for most it was a long and unspecified duration.  Some, notably Thomas Burnet (1635?-1715), Edmond Halley (1656-1742) and William Whiston (1667-1752), reckoned the days to be more than twenty-four hours. Halley attempted a calculation of the age of the earth from the sea’s salinity, but came to no firm conclusions other than it was tens of thousands of years old. Likewise theological writers of the day; Bishop Simon Patrick (1626-1707) reckoned that God first created Chaos and then later re-ordered it in Six Days. He said of the duration of Chaos, ‘It might be … a great while;…’ Few accepted Ussher’s date of 4004 BC for the initial Creation, though most accepted that humanity first appeared in about the year 4000 BC, hence the general acceptance of the rest of Ussher’s chronology. The extension of time by the “Theorists” and contemporary theologians was minute compared to the billions of years of geological time, but was, as Stephen Gould wrote of Whiston’s argument that the day of Genesis one was a year long was, “a big step in the right direction.” In Britain the way was open for a longer time-scale.

Fossils and Geology

Not until the late 17th Century were “formed stones” or fossils recognised as imprints of dead creatures rather than formed as “sports of nature” in place. Only then could “fossils” be used to demonstrate former life and it took a century before the succession of fossils was used to put strata into historical order. Possibly the first person who used the succession of fossils to demonstrate evolution was Charles Darwin in a notebook in 1838, shortly before he “discovered” Natural Selection. In the 1690s there were insufficient grounds to suggest “Deep Time” or the continual reworking of the earth’s crust as understandings of erosion were rudimentary. Ray, Whiston and others cannot be expected to have done otherwise.

Most of the writers had some “scientific” understanding and often spent as much time refuting each other as suggesting new ideas. Some were mostly speculative, as was Thomas Burnet’s The Theory of the Earth. Despite his devotion to the Deluge, he sought to explain phenomena naturalistically and somewhat extended the duration of Genesis One. John Ray’s Miscellaneous Discourses concerning the dissolution of the worldshows the beginning of careful observation on earth processes and questions over geological time. After reading the first edition of Ray’s Miscellaneous Discourses, Lhwyd wrote to Ray on 30 February 1691, ‘Upon the reading on your discourse of the rains continually washing away and carrying down earth from the mountains, it puts me in mind…which I observed’, and then described what he had observed in Snowdonia. He described innumerable boulders which had “fallen” into the Llanberis valleys. (Most of these are glacial erratics.) As ‘but two or three that have fallen in the memory of any man…, in the ordinary course of nature we shall be compelled to allow the rest many thousands of years more than the age of the world.’ Ray commented on Lhwyd’s findings and seemed deliberately to avoid facing the logic of Lhwyd’s comments. He nailed his colours firmly to the fence, and did not explicitly reject an Ussher chronology. However from his discussion of Chaos and other comments, it is fair to conclude that he accepted that the earth was considerably more than five-and-a-half thousand years old, but left the reader to decide.

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An erratic block in Nant Peris, Snowdonia, near where Lhwyd had his ideas. They are scattered both along the floor and sides of the valley. Occasionally a higher one may roll dwon, but I can think of no example recently.

And so some thought time might be less shallow. They had no assumption of deep or shallow time, but carried out geological investigations, starting with a tentative young earth.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century a large number of theories of the Earth were  published, mostly in Britain by writers such as Burnet, Whiston, Woodward, Ray and Hobbes (Roberts 2002, pp. 144–150). These were an attempt to rationalize the early history of the earth into six days to uphold the text of Genesis. The authors allowed an indefinite time for chaos and combined Genesis, classical writings, scientific observation and speculation into a fascinating melange of ideas. Burnet wrote of the indefinite
chaos, ‘so it is understood by the general consent of commentators’ (Burnet 1681, chap IV, p. 30) and the commentator Bishop Patrick wrote of the duration of chaos that ‘(I)t might be a great while’ (Patrick 1854, Vol. 1, pp. 1–3). Exactly how long chaos lasted was never made explicit. Most accepted that the ‘days’ of Genesis 1 were of  twenty-four hours duration, but Burnett and Whiston argued that each day of creation could have been a year in duration and the obscure William Hobbs suggested an even longer time basing his ideas on 2 Peter 3:8; ‘one day is as a thousand years’ and ‘I say, why may not one such day, be equall to many years’ (Hobbs 1979, p. 110). Writing about Whiston (Whiston 1696), who extended each day to a year, Stephen Gould said that this ‘was a big step in the right direction’ (Gould 1991, p. 372).

These remarks lifted from two of my published chapters show there was no dogmatic assumption of either Deep Time or a young earth in the late 17th century, but rather savants trying to make sense of the rocks they saw and beginning to stumble towards Deep Time as a result of their research. They started with an initial assumption of a young earth, as that was the culture they lived in. Slowly they changed their minds . They were gradually wading out to deeper water from the shallows.

What we have is that early geologists/savants took their working assumptions form the prevalent culture, hence they initially started with a young earth and found that what they observed in rocks did not fit. Lhwyd is an example – even though the many boulders in Nant Peris had not rolled down the hillsides but were transported by glaciers. He gives an excellent example on how geologists were thinking things through

Because of this I never mock Ussher or anyone else from that period who tended to accept a young earth. They were excellent scholars for their day and slowly worked out details of geological time.

As we move into the 18th century more and more “geologists” became convinced of a deeper time, though there was still considerable variance of conclusions. Thus Hutton, of unconformity fame

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

accepted a vast amount of time of many millions, whereas J. A. de Luc seemed to accept only hundreds of thousands. A minority like Kirwan still held to thousands. Among the geologically literate few held to a young earth by 1800 and those who did were changing their minds. One was William Smith who worked out how to relatively date rocks by fossils in the 1790s, he produced a succession of strata in historical order and the fist geological map ever of a country (England and Wales) in 1815, which was remarkably accurate by todays’ standards..

200px-william_smith_geologist

 

Yet in the 1790s he was young earth not for dogmatic reasons. In ten years he realised the earth was old – probably due to his mentors the Revs Samuel Richardson and Joshua Townsend, who as Christian clergy accepted an old earth! Then James Parkinson d1824 – the first to diagnose Parkinson’s disease – wrote the first volume of Organic remains of a former world in 1804. There he described the earth as some 6000 years old. But four years later in volume ii , he explicitly avowed an ancient earth.

Did they change their assumptions or were they following the evidence? I’d say they modified their working assumptions as they went along, and had the nouse to do so.

Smith and Parkinson show the gradual shift over geological time, and  with only one or two exceptions all competent in geology accepted Deep Time well before 1820. It is instructive to see how Christian writers changed their views over time. Thus Dean Close of Carlisle was young earth in the 1820s and fully accepted Deep Time by 1850. Thre are many other examples.

This shows a slow gathering awareness of Deep Time from 1680. By 1800 Shallow Time was a thing of the past.

As usual Answers in Genesis in the incarnation of Mortenson argue that the church compromised.

https://answersingenesis.org/creationism/old-earth/deep-time-and-churchs-compromise-historical-background/

As for a Global Flood, most savants in the 17th century simply assumed a Global Flood, as did most theologians. However William Poole in his Commentary argued for a local flood and our unknown William Hobbs refused to grant geological efficacy to the Deluge. This continued right into the 19th century.

Willaim Smith accepted a global flood which laid down the most recent strata as did many others until the 1830s. Most interesting is William Buckland who wrote Reliquiae Diluvianae in 1823. There he limited flood deposits to the uppermost strata, which today are seen as pleistocene. The volume was dedicated to his mentor Bishop Shute Barrington of Durham, who was then a crusty and conservative reactionary octagenarian bishop! (I think he holds the record for the time he was a bishop.) On theology he looked to evangelical scholars like John Bird Sumner. Buckland held on to diluvialism right up to the 1840s and at Oxford are some of his almost illegible musings of the flood in relation to glaciation written in the 1840s.

To sum up, Risner fails to identify who made these assumptions of Deep Time, which would guide all geological thinking. He produces no evidence for his claims.

WHO MADE UP THE ASSUMPTION OF DEEP TIME?

I could say more but you could read Davis Young’s The Biblical Flood. or the Bible, Rocks and Time

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3. Geologists place the authority over that of scripture

The bottom line is this: if your worldview places the authority of science (or in this case what you mistakenly believe is science) over that of Scripture and you use that so-called science to determine how the Bible is to be interpreted, you’ve placed something before the authority God has over you. This is especially true if those portions of Scripture you’re choosing to reinterpret based on your view of nature are major foundational points of the Christian faith

This needs to be reworded;

The bottom line is this; if your worldview places the authority of science…………. under your inconsistent interpretation of Scripture……

This many Creationists cannot see. They force their literal view of scripture onto Scripture. This was challenged 500 years ago by Calvin and his view of accommodation.

The period of the Reformation resulted in a more rigorous biblical interpretation with an emphasis on the literal, or plain, rather than allegorical, meaning of scripture. This  inclined most theologians and savants to understand the ‘day’ of Genesis Chapter 1 as of twenty-four hours and thus the earth to have been created in about 4000 BC, be they Luther, Calvin, Mercator, Raleigh or Columbus. Despite the emphasis of both Roman Catholic and Protestant exegetes on the ‘literal’ meaning of Scripture, this ‘literalism’ never went to the extreme of insisting on a flat earth, which is demanded by a literal reading of Genesis 1:6–8, and Exodus 20:4. In fact, very few Christian theologians had ever considered the earth to be flat, a myth demolished by Russell (Russell 1991).  Literalism was tempered by ‘accommodation’. This refusal to adopt a slavish literalism can be seen clearly in Calvin’s understanding of the accommodation of Scripture. In 1554, eleven years after Copernicus published De revolutionibus, Calvin published his commentary on Genesis in Latin. Calvin

calvin

made no reference here, nor probably anywhere else, to the Copernican theory, but he stressed that Genesis was not written to teach astronomy. As he dealt with the Mosaic description of the firmament of Genesis 1 he wrote, ‘He, who  would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere’ (Calvin 1847, p. 79). He considered the firmament of Genesis 1:6–8, not to be the solid crystalline dome, which is implied by Egyptian astronomy, but a representation of rain clouds, because ‘nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world’ (Calvin 1847, pp. 69–88). Calvin was wrong at this point as most ancients considered the firmament to be a solid dome. But he considered that Moses accommodated himself to the limitations of human thought and as Calvin commented on Genesis 1:15, ‘For as it became a theologian, he had respect to us rather than the stars’. Calvin approached his task with Ptolemean assumptions of a spherical rather than a flat earth. He also did not question a 6000- year-old earth nor a universal flood. Calvin’s  accommodating interpretation eased the path for many Calvinists to accept  Copernicanism, with  the result that some Roman Catholics referred to the ‘Calvino–Copernican’ theory. In the following centuries Calvin’s doctrine of  accommodation allowed devout Protestants to accept the findings of science, whether astronomy or geology, without the rejection of the authority or the teaching of scripture (Hooykaas 1972, pp. 114–130).

Calvin’s idea of ACCOMMODATION shows there is no theological objection to an ancient earth as the Bible is not written to give that information, but rather is ACCOMMODATED to the thought forms of the time it was written.

The most apt quote is that of Calvin

He, who  would learn astronomy and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere’

We go elsewhere on most things. Trivially I do not go to the bible to find out how to fix my bicycle, nor when I should plant certain seeds or prune plants. Calvin was clear, the bible is not a source for astronomy – and we can add, any other science.

Behind Calvin’s comment is that we need to know where biblical authority lies and what for. There are so many things which the bible does not mention and thus we do not go to it to see whether we should use oak or balsawood for the framework of a house. !! Nor will it tell us whether coal or gas is a better fuel. It goes on.

To most Christians the Bible is the ultimate authority, but for moral and theological principles and not details on science, mechanics or gardening. However on ethical issues we are not given blanket rules but ideas to give as Middle Axioms as William Temple called them. This is clear in his Christianity and Social Order. Thus a National Health Service as in Britain is not prescribed by biblical authority, but the principles of love of neighbour and even some OT teaching we can see it as an outworking of biblical teaching and authority. Hey I’m going to be called an extreme socialist for this!!

By claiming this Risner actually destroys the authority of scripture as it then is seen to be risibile.

I look to the authority of the Bible on what is revealed about Jesus Christ and why I should love my neighbour, not tell lies or steal etc, but not whether Lyell, Buckland or Steno gives me the better basis for geology, or which month I should plant my runner bean seeds.

For all normal Christians the Bible is the authority for doctrine and ethics, but not whether fish preceeded dinosaurs on this planet.

Risner has a perfect way of undermining the authority of the Bible

Augsutine

What Monty Python can teach us about Extinction Rebellion

A excellent take down of Extinction Rebellion.

I am sure he could do something on Rowan Williams’ part in it. – some friar from MP and the Holy grail

The Risk-Monger

Unless policy-makers act immediately, the planet will cease to be able to support human life in twelve years, three months and seven days … this event will happen on a Tuesday … after lunch.

No, that is not a skit from Monty Python but an approximation made by the latest virtue signalling publicity craze, Extinction Rebellion. This motley crew of eco-rednecks was founded in October, 2018 and quickly created a loose network from eco-conscious hippies to students on Easter break to antagonised aging Marxists. Together they have managed to show how social networks can be utilised to control an agenda with stunts that require limited funding, planning or intellectual coherence. The media, during a slow news cycle, are lapping up these attention whores who use the microphone and a myriad of intertwined social media accounts as acts of virtue signalling liberation.

There is one nagging question that won’t go away: Was…

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Extinction Rebellion gives us a new Christianity

Methinks there is a new version of Christianity to compete with Moonies and other cults

Now I may be a bit slow but I thought Good Friday was about Jesus dying on the cross and not what “Christian” Climate Action want

“What a better way to spend Good Friday than getting yourself down to the #ExtinctionRebellionprotest sites and standing up for Gods creation.”

Or

“Observe meat free day and remind the world of the damaging effects of deforestation and meat production”

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I am afraid we were very wayward today and simply focussed on Mark chapter 15 on the death of Christ.

If the Christian faith is not focussed on the death and resurrection of Jesus, then it is not the Christian faith

Hence we considered Mark chapter 15

11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
21They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 28 29Those who passed by deridedhim, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
The Death of Jesus
33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole landuntil three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
40There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome
The most important is ;
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In that we see the Christian Faith at its baldest; God the son dying on the cross, soon to be followed by the resurrection.
But a result of that is to care for God’s creation and use it wisely.
None of this Green gnosticism
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And now Christian Climate Action had an Easter service blocking the road at Marble Arch
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Sex differences in the brain

An interesting blog on whether there a sex differences in human brains

It does seem that there are and no amount of pleading can deny it!!

Why Evolution Is True

For a while I’ve been criticizing ideologically-based scientific claims, including the arguments that “evolutionary psychology is bunk” and “there are no differences between male and female brains in either structure or wiring”. These claims are based on ideology because both are palpably ridiculous from what we know about biology or from recently published research, and yet people maintain them because they want the brain to be a blank slate and they want there to be no average differences between men and women in brain structure and function. These wants come from left-wing ideology.

Although these claims are ideological and not scientific, they are based on a well-meaning philosophy: the view that people should be treated fairly and given equal opportunities. But this has engendered the fears that distort the science:  a fear that if we’re not blank slates, but that sexes and different ethnic groups differ genetically—perhaps in part because…

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Why does a good God allow disasters?

Why does a good God allow disasters?

Whenever there is a major disaster the question arises for both believers and unbelievers, “Why would a good God allow this?” Some will ask it after the Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. And so it is raised after every earthquake and will be in the future after any similar event. However suffering is not limited to such big events as there is always death by disease, especially early death, lesser catastrophes which kill or maim a few people. (I think of a smaller earthquake in Uganda decades ago which killed a friend’s child.)

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In all of this is the cry “Why did God allow this?” or a dismissal is that there can be no God if this happens. Too often believers come out with trite answers which don’t help and at times are so hurtful as to be evil.  The worst case I know of is a vicar who (decades ago), told a family who had just lost a child through cancer, this was god’s punishment for sin. Words fail me.

Suffering is the hardest problem of all if you believe in God, as it is difficult to reconcile suffering with a loving God. Some extreme evangelicals claim that suffering came in as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden some 6000 years ago as after that God cursed the world with suffering, disease and death and introduced earthquakes and volcanoes. I am not jesting, but wish I were. This makes God an ogre. To put this rather flippantly Richard Dawkins says that it seems an unjust punishment for scrumping. He was right. Daft beliefs encourage atheism.

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So we what are we left with?  We live on a planet which has supported life for four billion years and all that time there has been life, suffering and death, with earthquakes, volcanoes and floods. It is a world which has suffering and death written into it and it is impossible to deny that this has been the case on planet earth for 4 billion years. Ultimately we can either say there is no God or believe in the love of God despite suffering. That is in fact the traditional Christian position. There are problems in believing in God, but then there are a lot of problems in being an atheistJ

I find I get help from appreciating the wonder of the creation but cannot begin to explain suffering. When considering suffering we need to think of Jesus’ death on the cross and his cry of dereliction, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I also gain strength form the book of Job, which is a poem exploring suffering. Job was suffering without reason but all his advisors told him that God was punishing for wrong-doing. Job knew he hadn’t and finally we get to Job 38 where God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind and asks Job if he was there at creation. In other words, we do not know God’s ways but we do know God’s son Jesus Christ.

 

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As we approach Good Friday and Easter we need to focus on Jesus himself. We will never have a full understanding about why Jesus died and rose again – if anyone thinks they have, then they clearly haven’t!

As we consider Good Friday we need to focus on our Lord’s suffering and death and that he both died for our forgiveness and entered into human suffering. In the words of the hymn Abide with me , “Hold thou thy cross before my closing /open eyes”. We then move to Easter Day when we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, conquering death and inaugurating the New Creation and so we will sing “Thine be the glory, risen Conquering Son.”.

I hope that this reflection is helpful to all readers as they go through Lent and come to Easter.