Archive for April, 2010

That little bit of wisdom comes from a man recognized as one of the most brilliant minds on the planet. Stephen Hawking warns that aliens from space are dangerous and if they come to earth it will be devastating. The TimesOnline reports that Hawking is certain such beings exist and if they come to earth it will be bad for us. Just like Native Americans suffered when Europeans conquered The Americas, so all humanity will suffer that and worse when Aliens show up.

Now before we get to far in this, I am not arguing against the existence of life on other planets. The Bible says nothing about the subject and like the late singer/songwriter Larry Norman I would say that if there is life on other planets, I am sure that He has been there and died for them as well. At the very least they are there because God made them to be there.

What I am arguing with and what I find so fascinating is the position held by Dr. Hawking that such life must exist and that he knows a bit about what they life might be like. I find it fascinating because there is absolutely NO, I repeat NO scientific evidence for the existence of any life on any other planet anywhere in all the created universe. None what so ever! Yet in spite of that fact that even scientists acknowledge, there are many brilliant people, like Dr. Hawking, who are convinced that such beings surely must exist.

Why are they convinced such being exist? There are two reasons most often given why people, even Ph.D. scientists, for the belief that life exists on other planets. First, the shear probability of it all. To quote the late Carl Sagan, There are “billions and billions” of stars out there. With so many stars there must be billions of planets around them. There must be life on some of those planets just based on probability. Now we need to understand that probability is not proof. If there is a billion to one chance that something is possible, that does not make it true. There is always that small percentage left over for it to be otherwise. To be fair, Hawking leaves that door open if ever so slightly. In fact I would argue so slightly as to make it a non-factor. Instead it seems that he and others take the probability as true. That sounds a lot like faith. You are trusting that the odds are on the side of what you believe to be true. The second reason we are told that there must be aliens out there is that it would be the height of human pride and arrogance to think that earth is the only planet with life and that we are the most intelligent life form on earth, therefore the most intelligent life form in the universe. That is a philosophical position and not a scientific position. It is so far from a scientific position that I find it incredible that a scientist would use it as “proof”.

I find it extremely curious that people who claim that there is no God because there is no proof for such a being will at the same time be willing to grant that there are beings on other planets, even when there is no proof for such beings. If they are willing to admit at all that there is some higher being out there, the most they will grant is that it is possible but since we can know nothing of importance of such a being, that being is irrelevant. Yet, Hawking and others are able to give us a very detailed description of what unknown, unseen, undiscovered aliens from other planets would act like, what their motives are, and how it would impact us. And they can do this while at the same time pronouncing that theists, people who believe there is a God, are fooling themselves and not using the brain cells that evolution has granted them.

Now here is the real irony in all this. By claiming that there is a God out there, theists can and do use the same type of arguments for the existence of God as does the “alienist”. There are numerous arguments that point to the existence of God but there are two that match the argument for aliens. First, basic probability can be used to say that given the vastness of the universe and all that we do not know and have not been able to test scientifically, there is most likely a being out there who is so far above us and so much more powerful and intelligent than us that we would consider that being to be God. Secondly, to deny that there is a higher being out there, a God, would be the height of human pride and arrogance.

Many in science would have you think that no intelligent, thinking person could possibly believe in God because there is no evidence for such a being. Yet they will use some of the same non-scientific reasoning to argue for the existence of aliens. They will also use pure speculation to decide what type of beings they are and how they would impact the Earth. This is not the stuff of science, it is science fiction passing itself off as intellectual brilliance.

What should be noted is that there is far more evidence for the someone having come to Earth from “out there” than people want to acknowledge. Any historian worth their salt will tell you that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person in history. He lived in the first century, had an itinerant ministry as a teacher, was eventually arrested and crucified, and that his followers claim he rose from the dead. Christians add to that historical reality by claiming that Jesus came to Earth as God in the flesh in order to be an atoning sacrifice for our sin so that anyone who puts their faith and trust in Him, will have eternal life. Unlike Hawking’s prediction that a visit from someone “out there” would be bad for humanity, the visit by Jesus was the best thing that ever happened to the world.

You probably remember something from a history class somewhere in your past that during the first few centuries after Christ, that His followers were periodically arrested, beaten, thrown to the Lions and under Emperor Nero, covered in tar and set on fire as street lamps for the city of Rome. But you probably have the opinion that such persecution and danger for followers of Jesus is a thing of the past. Surely in 2,000 years we have progressed as people and there is a tolerance for people of other faiths. Live and let live.

In spite of our optimism, some reports claim that more people have died as martyrs for Christ in the past 100 years than in all the 1900 years prior. Such statistics can leave you overwhelmed and staggered, searching for some way to block out their significance and more one in life pretending that it doesn’t impact you. Such a notion runs totally counter to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:16, “When one of us suffers we all suffer”. Every once in a while such numbers get personal and hit a little closer to home. That happened on April 17th 2010 in the town of Selaiya in central India.

For me it started in November of 2009 when I was at a conference in Delhi hosted by Rod Gilbert. Rod is an Indian who loves Jesus and is a leader in the House Church Movement in his country. He is a gracious man who is sold out for Jesus along with many members of his extended family. On April 17th the persecution of Christians struck very close to home for him. Rod has a cousin whose family follows Christ. On that day, Amit Gilbert, a member of that family was attacked by members of Bajrang Dal. These are Hindus who worship the Monkey God. Amit had been sharing the Gospel in that town and these men did not like that. So that beat him to death and threw his body down a well. That is not an isolated occurrence. Christians around the world are having their homes burned, being beaten and threatened, as well as kid-napped never to be seen again.

Two things come to mind when I consider the persecution of Christians around the world. First is that Jesus promised this would happen if we followed Him. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. John 15:20-21

Certainly there are Christians who invite suffering simply because they are obnoxious and argumentative. That is not persecution for following Jesus. That is a just reward for being Un-Christ-like. But there are those who do follow Jesus, loving their neighbor, reaching out to those in need, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, setting people free with the life changing message of forgiveness. Those people are being persecuted and killed all around the world. It is just as Jesus said it would be. Following Jesus is not for sissies.

The second point that comes to mind is this. If you are following Jesus and never been ridiculed, laughed at, rejected, or mocked, are you really following Jesus? You may believe in Him and have knowledge of Him that includes things like going to church. But if you have never faced anything close to the rejection that Jesus promised, are you really walking in His footsteps? Again that doesn’t mean you go out and make a nuisance of yourself. But trust me, if you decide to go feed some homeless people, or use your vacation for a mission trip to New Delhi instead of a beach trip to New Smyrna, if you tell people you believe in a God of absolute truth, or that Jesus is the only way to heaven, you will find opposition and rejection. You will be persecuted as Jesus promised and if you are not that maybe you need to reassess how closely you are following Jesus.

Lest you leave this all bummed out and depressed let me share this final thought. Many in the west think that Christianity is on the decline. We look around us and think the influence of Christians is less than ever and fewer people are following Christ. Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that around the world, Christianity is growing like a weed. It is growing in places like India, China, all over Africa and South America. It is growing in spite of a lake of resources and in spite of, or maybe because of life threatening persecution. Maybe the persecution exists in those places because more and more people are truly following Jesus by being loving, gracious, hospitable, committed to the poor, sacrificing for their neighbor in ways the west does not. And so as more people follow that kind of Jesus, the opposition grows and so does the church. Maybe the lack of persecution in the west and the decline of Christianity are linked. When it is so easy to follow Jesus, few people see the need and few people do, so few people bother to make Christians suffer.