Rather than just sharing a single topic from the Bible in this newsletter, here are some updates you can catch up on, found mostly in new articles on my web site.
1. The Speed of Light and the Age of the Universe.
For many years I have been following the work of Australian astronomer and physicist Barry Setterfield. Barry and his wife Helen are in fact very dear Christian friends. Years ago Barry made a careful study of the measured speed of light over the last 300 years and concluded the speed of light has dropped and therefore "c" is not therefore a fixed constant of the universe. Another good friend Canadian Statistician Alan Montgomery, and others, have confirmed that the confidence levels for a decreasing c are at least 95%--no matter how one sorts the data. All this is carefully documented on my web site. For the technically minded, start at http://ldolphin.org/constc.shtml.
This summer Helen Setterfield wrote a very fine summary article of this subject for the laymen. It was published in Chuck Missler's Personal Update newsletter. See: Upheaval in Physics: History of the Light-Speed Debate, by Helen D. Setterfield, http://ldolphin.org/cdk-helen.html. What is most interesting is that the Creationist communities in both the U.S. and in Australia have fought tooth and nail against Barry's work even though his science and methodology is reputable and sound. In the past few years a flood of secular scientific papers have suddenly hit the prestigious science journals with new claims that the velocity of light is not a fixed constant after all. It is as if all sorts of people are clamoring for a Noble Prize, while going out of the way to ignore Barry's much earlier, and much better work. Barry's latest paper, Is the Universe Static or Expanding? (http://ldolphin.org/staticu.html) was summarily rejected by Creation Science Quarterly this summer. Therefore we have gone ahead and posted it on my web site, and on Barry's web site, http://setterfield.org. If you are scientifically inclined feel free to offer us your comments and suggestions. I personally expect this work will stand the test of time. Barry's paper may be a bit technical for some of you, but basically he suggests that the universe underwent a rapid expansion and reached a fixed diameter early in creation week. Thus the universe is "static" and not now expanding. (The old Big Bang theory of a continuously expanding universe is fairly bankrupt nowadays in any case-more and more cosmologists are admitting this in recent years).
The evidence concerning the velocity of light is that it may have been faster in the past by a factor of ten billion times or more. A much faster speed of light in the past would have little effect on ordinarily daily life and macroscopic events outside of the atom. The most significant result on non-constant c is that atomic time and the run-rate of radiometric clocks are all proportional to c. "Dynamical time"-the motion of the planets, moon and heavenly bodies has not changed since creation, but the run rate of the atomic clock has evidently slowed by a factor of at least ten billion. If c has indeed dropped by a factor of 10 billion since creation, then the universe is young after all--perhaps less than 10,000 years old as the internal indirect evidence of Scripture suggests. Naturally our prevailing secular "old-universe" scientific community is not likely to latch on to this kind of evidence with enthusiasm--entrenched as they are in the atheistic humanism which prevails these days. Reputations, careers, textbooks, and research funding would all be seriously in danger if this new paradigm of physics caught on and was widely accepted. On the other hand the Bible is clear that men who ignore God will eventually makes fools out of themselves.
Ray Stedman commented some years ago on the many myths secular society embraces as substitutes for the truth that is in Christ Jesus.
"If you want to know whether a group you are listening to, or are in touch with, is preaching and teaching true Christianity, ask yourself: "What do they say about Jesus? Who is he? Is he God appearing as man? Did he come in the flesh? Is he the Savior who has in himself accomplished all that God requires for the redemption of humanity?" Ask yourself, "What part does the blood of Jesus play in this teaching? What is said about his Person?"
The central deviation of all religious error is a negative testimony to the centrality of Christ in the universe. Even the unseen forces of life know that Jesus is central. Jesus is truly Lord, so the thrust of error is to attack him.
This is why in a university like Stanford it is possible to teach Buddhism, or some other teaching, and find it widely approved and supported by the faculty and the administration. Someone told me this morning that he took a course at Stanford University on Druids and Druidism and the religion of King Arthur. It became evident through the course that the teacher believed these things and was actively propagating a belief in Druidism -- and nobody objected. But when Jesus, when true Christianity, is presented, there immediately is sharp and subtle opposition against it. This is what the apostle is pointing out.
Paul reveals the ultimate origin of these cults as coming from "deceitful spirits." Men do not invent errors like this. They come through men (Paul is going to say something about that in a moment) but the actual origin of these distortions of reality about our Lord are coming from deceitful spirits, lying spirits, whose very nature is to lie.
When we compare this teaching with other parts of Scripture we learn that these are fallen angels. At a time even before the world was created, these angels followed their leader, Lucifer (Son of the Morning), highest of the angels of God, into a rebellion against the will and purposes of God. Thus they became identified with Lucifer's nature, which Jesus himself informs us is that of a "liar and a murderer," (John 8:44).
Yet that being, that strange, malevolent, being who is by nature a liar and by intent a murderer, is called everywhere in Scripture, "the god of this world" (2 Cor 4:4). That is a frightening thought. The god which the world ignorantly, and innocently, in many ways, follows blindly, like an animal being led to the slaughter, is a murderer and a liar. These hosts of spiritual beings, which Paul recognizes in Ephesians 6 as the ones with whom we Christians wrestle -- "Not flesh and blood but principalities and powers, wicked spirits in high places, the rulers of the darkness of this world" (cf, Eph 6:12 KJV) -- are the very ones who originate these false and twisted ideas about Jesus.
We learn from Scripture that these spirits have access to the inner thoughts and feelings of men, including Christians. We are all affected by strange urges, feelings, and desires that arise within us. But those desires do not always originate with us. We need to learn that all the thoughts that cross our minds are not necessarily coming from us. Those thoughts are what Paul calls, "fiery darts of the wicked one" (Eph 6:16 KJV), against which faith must continually wrestle. These strange, sinister, unseen beings who have access to the minds and hearts of men, mislead and misdirect by what seems to us and to many to be logical and essential things that human nature should accept and even require. All that becomes expanded and supported by intricate arguments and rationalizations until it takes the form of what Paul calls, doctrines, i.e., formally reasoned presentations. But Paul clearly calls these, "doctrines of demons."
These doctrines are not always overtly religious either. What Paul is talking about in that First Century day is clearly religious, and he is warning Timothy about it, but these "doctrines of demons" oftentimes come cleverly disguised as scientific theories, psychological approaches, or even economic theories. But the result of them is always the same: they confuse, they mislead, they distort reality; and they end, ultimately, in the destruction of human life. One way or another, that is the devil's aim.
Take, for instance, humanism. This is probably the most widespread philosophy of our day. All the great institutions of our country, such as Stanford University, are almost visibly dedicated to the propagation of secular humanism. Humanism says that man is his own god, there is no being greater than man, we are able by our intellect and by our technological abilities to control the universe to our purposes, that this is the whole purpose of life and nothing is greater, etc. This exaltation of man, this worshipping at the shrine of human wisdom and human knowledge is a "doctrine of demons." It is not reality; it denies reality. It denies the greatest fact of the universe, that there is a Creator from whom we came and to whom we are ultimately accountable. It is a doctrine that is widespread, propagated by lying spirits.
I believe evolution also to be such a doctrine. Evolution finds recognition and honor in the scientific community, yet hardly a shred of evidence links evolution to empirical facts of the material universe. Yet evolution has been accepted, propagated widely, and taught in all our schools as though it were truth. When compared to the actual findings of scientific endeavor it can never find support. It is a doctrine of demons. (Ray C. Stedman, Fraudulent Faith, http://raystedman.org/timothy/3774.html)
2. Perilous Times: Speaking of perilous times, Christians in other parts of the world die daily because of their faith while we in America sit comfortably back in front of the TV and sing hymns and choruses on Sunday--oblivious to the suffering of our fellow-believers in other countries. An excellent article in the current National Review is all about this, Do Christians Bleed? http://http://ldolphin.org/nr.html.
Teaching through 2 Timothy in recent weeks, our home group was amazed at the relevance of Paul's advice to Timothy regarding the nature of the culture we live in. I've written up notes on this, drawing from William Barclay and Ray Stedman. See Perilous Times, http://ldolphin.org/perilous.html
3. The Paraclete Forum (http://paracleteforum.org) is made up of team of about a dozen men and women who answer email and pray for people. Our new bulletin board is up and running and quite active on a number of diverse topics. We are archiving some of our best email discussions (anonymously) A fine article, A Biblical Worldview: narrow is the gate, by our team member Prof. Fred Field is available and ought to be interest to all of you, http://ldolphin.org/ngate.html.
4. Family Breakdown: I have long felt that our society must be very near total moral collapse because of the very widespread divorce/family breakdown problem. A local paper reported this summer that 60% of the couples living together in this area don't bother to marry. By accident I ran across a fascinating book this summer The Divorce Culture by Sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. Here a few brief experts from her book-do get the book and read it all:
"Divorce is now part of everyday American life. It is embedded in our laws and institutions, our manners and mores, our movies and television shows, our novels and children's storybooks, and our closest and most important relationships. Indeed, divorce has become so pervasive that many people naturally assume it has seeped into the social and cultural mainstream over a long period of time. Yet this is not the case. Divorce has become an American way of life only as the result of recent and revolutionary change.
The entire history of American divorce can be divided into two periods, one evolutionary and the other revolutionary. For most of the nation's history, divorce was a rare occurrence and an insignificant feature of family and social relationships. In the first sixty years of the twentieth century, divorce became more common, but it was hardly commonplace. In 1960, the divorce rate stood at a still relatively modest level of nine per one thousand married couples. [emphasis added] After 1960, however, the rate accelerated at a dazzling pace. It doubled in roughly a decade and continued its upward climb until the early 1980s, when it stabilized at the highest level among advanced Western societies. As a consequence of this sharp and sustained rise, divorce moved from the margins to the mainstream of American life in the space of three decades.
Ideas are important in revolutions, yet surprisingly little attention has been devoted to the ideas that gave impetus to the divorce revolution. Of the scores of books on divorce published in recent decades, most focus on its legal, demographic, economic, or (especially) psychological dimensions. Few, if any, deal fully with its intellectual origins. Yet trying to comprehend the divorce revolution and its consequences without some sense of its ideological origins, is like trying to understand the American Revolution without taking into account the thinking of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine. This more recent revolution, like the revolution of our nation's founding, has its roots in a distinctive set of ideas and claims.
This book is about the ideas behind the divorce revolution and how these ideas have shaped a culture of divorce. The making of a divorce culture has involved three overlapping changes: first, the emergence and widespread diffusion of a historically new and distinctive set of ideas about divorce in the last third of the twentieth century; second, the migration of divorce from a minor place within a system governed by marriage to a freestanding place as a major institution governing family relationships; and third, a widespread shift in thinking about the obligations of marriage and parenthood.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Americans began to change their ideas about the individual's obligations to family and society. Broadly described, this change was away from an ethic of obligation to others and toward an obligation to self. I do not mean that people suddenly abandoned all responsibilities to others, but rather that they became more acutely conscious of their responsibility to attend to their own individual needs and interests. At least as important as the moral obligation to look after others, the new thinking suggested, was the moral obligation to look after oneself. [emphasis added]
People began to judge the strength and "health" of family bonds according to their capacity to promote individual fulfillment and personal growth. As a result, the conception of the family's role and place in the society began to change. The family began to lose its separate place and distinctive identity as the realm of duty, service, and sacrifice. Once the domain of the obligated self, the family was increasingly viewed as yet another domain for the expression of the unfettered selfThe conception of divorce as both an individual right and an inner experience merged with and reinforced the new ethic of obligation to the self. In family relationships, one had an obligation to be attentive to one's own feelings and to work toward improving the quality of one's inner life. This ethical imperative completed the rationale for a sense of individual entitlement to divorce. increasingly, mainstream America saw the legal dissolution of marriage as a matter of individual choice, in which there were no other stakeholders or larger social interests. This conception of divorce strongly argued for removing the social, legal, and moral impediments to the free exercise of the individual right to divorce.
But the failure to address divorce carried a price. It allowed the middle class to view family breakdown as a "them" problem rather than an "us" problem. Divorce was not like illegitimacy or welfare dependency, many claimed. It was a matter of individual choice, imposing few, if any, costs or consequences on others. Thus, mainstream America could cling to the comfortable illusion that the nation's family problems had to do with the behavior of unwed teenage mothers or poor women on welfare rather than with the instability of marriage and family life within its own ranks.
Nonetheless, after thirty years of persistently high levels of divorce, this illusion, though still politically attractive, is increasingly difficult to sustain in the face of a growing body of experience and evidence. To begin with, divorce has indeed hurt children. It has created economic insecurity and disadvantage for many children who would not otherwise be economically vulnerable. It has led to more fragile and unstable family households. It has caused a mass exodus of fathers from children's households and, all too often, from their lives. It has reduced the levels of parental time and money invested in children. In sum, it has changed the very nature of American childhood. Just as no patient would have designed today's system of health care, so no child would have chosen today's culture of divorce.
Divorce figures prominently in the altered economic fortunes of middle-class families. Although the economic crisis of the middle class is usually described as a problem caused by global economic changes, changing patterns in education and earnings, and ruthless corporate downsizing, it owes more to divorce than is commonly acknowledged. Indeed, recent data suggest that marriage may be a more important economic resource than a college degree. According to an analysis of 1994 income patterns, the median income of married-parent households whose heads have only a high school diploma is ten percent higher than the median income of college-educated single-parent households.' Parents who are college graduates and married form the new economic elite among families with children. Consequently, those who are concerned about what the downsizing of corporations is doing to workers should also be concerned about what the downsizing of families through divorce is doing to parents and children.
Widespread divorce depletes social capital as well. Scholars tell us that strong and durable family and social bonds generate certain "goods" and services, including money, mutual assistance, information, caregiving, protection, and sponsorship. Because such bonds endure over time, they accumulate and form a pool of social capital which can be drawn down upon, when needed, over the entire course of a life. An elderly couple, married for fifty years, is likely to enjoy a substantial body of social and emotional capital, generated through their long-lasting marriage, which they can draw upon in caring for each other and for themselves as they age. Similarly, children who grow up in stable, two-parent married households are the beneficiaries of the social and emotional capital accumulated over time as a result of an enduring marriage bond. As many parents know, children continue to depend on these resources well into young adulthood. But as family bonds become increasingly fragile and vulnerable to disruption, they become less permanent and thus less capable of generating such forms of help, financial resources, and mutual support. In short, divorce consumes social capital and weakens the social fabric. At the very time that sweeping socioeconomic changes are mandating greater investment of social capital in children, widespread divorce is reducing the pool of social capital. As the new economic and social conditions raise the hurdles of child-rearing higher, divorce digs potholes in the tracks.
More significantly, in a society where nearly half of all children are likely to experience parental divorce, family breakup becomes a defining event of American childhood itself. Many children today know nothing but divorce in their family lives. And although children from divorced families often say they want to avoid divorce if they marry, young adults whose parents divorced are more likely to get divorced themselves and to bear children outside of marriage than young adults from stable married-parent families. THE DIVORCE CULTURE: Rethinking Our Commitments to Marriage and Family, by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.
New York 1998
For a strong reminder of how God really feels about sexual purity and morality see Sex and the Environment, from Ray Stedman's studies in Leviticus, http://ldolphin.org/sexriver.html
5. A fun new book, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, Dave Burchett, WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2002, http://daveburchett.com/index.htm, provides a refreshing break from all the doom and gloom in the daily news.
Other News: My recent class in Hebrews at PBC is in RealAudio on my web site, http://ldolphin.org/audio.html. Or, the entire series in a twelve-cassette album is $30 plus $4.00 shipping from Discovery Publishing, 3505 Middlefield Rd. Palo Alto, CA. 94306. Order Form: http://pbc.org/dp/orderform.html
New or revised articles on my web site will be found at the top of my library page, http://ldolphin.org/asstbib.shtml. Archived newsletters are found at http://ldolphin.org/news/.
Contributions: I am very grateful for the financial help of friends who help me stay actively answering email, growing my web site, teaching the Bible and spending lots of time with individuals. Your contribution should be addressed to Peninsula Bible Church (include a note that it is for my ministry support). 3505 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306. I do not receive a list of contributors. I am grateful to friends who contribute. Your prayers are even more valued and important.
Sincerely, Lambert Dolphin.
September 11, 2002. Web Archive for these newsletters: http://ldolphin.org/news/