Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Norman Nevin Sermon Transcript - God and the Cosmos

This transcript is additional material for this post.

Norman Nevin

Welcome and Prayer - acknowledging you as the creator God etc.

In 1799 the great French physicist Laplace presented his thesis entitled Creations and  celestial mechanics to the new French president Napoleon Bonepart.  Three years later he invited Laplace to discuss his findings with him.  The questions that Napoleon Bonaparte asked of Laplace “When I think of Isaac Newton and his thesis, he made great play of God as the creator, I have read through your thesis and their is no mention of God.”  Laplace’s famous reply was sad, “I have no need of that hypothesis”

I believe that was indeed the turning point at which scientists of the nineteenth century turned away from God as the creator.  Indeed one has seen this in the 2oth and the 21st century.  

What I would like to do this evening is to look at something of the greatness of Gods creations and to try to highlight to you that what e see in  this universe and what we see in this solar system could not have come about by pure chance, that behind that there is the hand and the finger  of a designer.  I direct you attention to Galatians Chapter 1, this is an abbreviation of the two verses; “All things were created by him and for him, he is before all things and  in him all things come together.”  In the book of  proverbs we read these words. “Every word of God is flawless.  He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

You see the battle that is taking place at the moment is a battle between the veracity, the truthfulness of the word of god and that of science.  Last year was the 400th (SIC) anniversary of the birth of Darwin and there were many celebrations, and the voices of many atheist and theistic evolutions  were heard very frequently on the media and the sad thing today is that many christians are also turning away from the word of god and saying that what we see in fact is the consequence of natural selection and Darwinism.  Now I understand that at some stage you will be looking at the book of Genesis and so that’s where I want to start this evening as we think of God and the cosmos. And I sat down and I was thinking about why do I believe the first eleven chapters of Genesis as the word of god and as historical fact.   Let me give you one or two reasons that might set, particularly the young people, thinking a little bit about why we should believe in Genesis.

First of all Genesis is the foundation of God’s word and I believe that it is crucial  to our understanding of the rest of scripture.  When you look at the references that are made to the book of Genesis, particularly the early chapters you find in fact that it is quoted more than 100 times in the New Testament and every new testament writer makes reference to the book of Genesis.  If it were a book of myths , if it were a book of legends, would indeed new testament writers make historical reference to that book and those particular sections.  Indeed the eleven chapters, the first eleven chapter of the book of genesis, are referred to in the new testament.  So the book of genesis is foundational to the word of god. It indeed is referred [to SIC] by many writers in support of arguments that they put forward.  But for me, more importantly is the Lord Jesus Christ, his attitude to those frost eleven chapters of the book of genesis, at least on six different  occasions, the lord jesus christ refers to one of the first seven chapters of the book of genesis.  I’ll just highlight some of those, for example, when he talks about marriage and divorce he makes reference to Adam and Eve, not as mythical figures but as historical realities, Matthew Chapter 19, and when he is arguing with the Pharoses and the priests he tells them, he says, look god has sent you preheats and teachers and what have you done, you have turned your back upon them, you have killed them and you have slain them, and indeed Matthew 23 he links the deaths of prophets from the murder of able by cain to the murder of Sacarias who was killed within the temple.  So the lord Jesus christ looked upon Adam and Eve, he looked upon Able and Cain as historical figures, not as mythical legends that we are supposed to believe, and when he discuss the flood and noah, when he  discusses the question of him returning again he paints the picture that just as society was degenerate in Noahs day and had turned their backs upon god , so that before he comes, society will suffer a similar change.  So the lord Jesus Christ looked upon these early chapters as historical fact, so over the next 4 weeks we are going to look at some of those aspects those first 11 chapters.

Now I want to try to paint an over-picture for you, and I think that this little diagram illustrates it.  The 50 chapters in the book of genesis,and you can divide it up into two parts, you can divide it up into the first 11 chapters, which in fact is the four great events, the creation, the fall of man, the flood and the distribution of nations and it is interesting that the remainder of the book of genesis really concerns four people Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  Now lets look at God and the cosmos and the creation of the cosmos.  “In the beginning”, now I believe that that word “beginning”, actually means time, when time began, there actually was a start to time, “god created the heavens” a reference to the general space and the earth.  Now, “the earth was formless and empty and darkness was over the face of the earth, and the spirit of god was hovering over the waters and god said let there be light and there was light”, so that on the first day I believe that the references made to time and space and earth, now it says that earth was without forms and I believe that later in that first day that the earth was formed into a sphere, we read in the book of proverbs that god drew a circle on the face of the deep and light was produced, I believe that light was a supernatural light not the sun or the moon, it was indeed produced by god himself. Now it is interesting that reference is made in the word of god to the fact that earth was formed as a sphere in 1519 Magellan sailed around the world, sorry for the mistake, to prove that the earth was flat, however, 700 BC in Isiah chapter 40 chapter 2 we read that “god sitteth upon the circle of the earth” so there was no need for all those investigations to find out if the earth was round, it was already there from 700 BC as far as gods word would proclaim.  

Then god said “let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let it divide the waters from the waters, thus god made the firmament, he divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so and god called the firmament heaven”, so what does that all mean?  Well let me give youth way that I think this happens, it that on day 2 god created the firmament, he separated the waters from the waters, so I think this  is what happened, you have earth, that circle, you had it surrounded by water and then the firmament was made and there was further water above that. Now that becomes very important when we begin to think of the flood and we read that indeed the fountains in the deep where opened and indeed the windows of heaven, and I believe that was that second lot of water that was actually part of the flood.  Then as we move on we read that “god said let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place, let dry land appear and it was so and god called the dry land earth, and the waters he called seas and god saw that it was good and then we have the bridging forth of grass herb and fruit tree according to their kind on the earth and it was so”, so really on  day three we have the creation of land, sea and vegetation.  The earth was complete before the sun the moon and the stars appeared  and then we read that god said “let there be lights in the firmament and then god made two great lights the greater light to rue by day and the lesser light to rule by night, he made the stars also, and god saw that it was good and the evening and the morning were the fourth day”.  So in the firth day we have the creation of the sun the moon and the stars what was happening?  I believe that what god was doing, and we point this out in a moment, that god was creating earth to be inhabited by man, it wasn’t a pure chance event but was being prepared for the coming of man.  You know the cosmos is fascinating even if we just take the solar system in which we live, we are sitting here or standing here and the earth is rotating, it is rotating at a speed of something like a thousand miles per hound yet we don’t feel and movement.  Not only that but the earth is actually moving around the sun and it is moving around the sun at a speed of something in the order of sixty seven thousand miles per hour.  This earth is in the milky way galaxy and is towards one end of that and that galaxy is traveling at a speed of something like 1.1 million miles per hour, absolutely fascinating, the earth in which we live.  

Now I want to say one or two things about the universe, first of all it is a beautiful universe, and that has really come to light through the last few years by the Hubble telescope in particular and from the various probes that have been sent out into space it is a vast universe and I wanted to try to convey this, if you have a child that takes a grain of sand and holds that up at arms length, the grain of sand is actually covering  something like 10,000 galaxies, we are in one galaxy, we are in the milky way, and one grain of sand held at arms length hides something of the order of 10,000 galaxies, what a universe.  No wonder laplace, no wonder these thoughts came to him when he declared that the glory of god and the firmament show god and his handiwork and Job too who was amazed at the creation of god who said that “by his spirit he adorned the heavens”.  Let me just run through one or two of what I feel are the beauties in this universe, I start with earth and I move out, but this is perhaps the most beautiful view in all of the universe, it is taken from the surface of the moon and you can see earth. that blue diamond as it were in the blackness of space and when you come up close to that you can actually see just how beautiful that is.  The planets, and we hear a lot of this in the news, particularly scientists trying to determine whether there is water on Mars or water on the Moon, and indeed these are some pictures of Mars, you can see the surface from one of the probes that was sent, you can see that it has a polar cap there is water there and indeed it is known as the red planet.  Now this is the most beautiful picture of all in the universe, the rings of Saturn and recently probes have been sent past and through those rings and has taken such beautiful pictures as this from the Hubble space telescope.  It’s interesting that when we read in genesis that he made the greater light the sun, he made the lesser light the moon, and then there is a phrase which says “and then he made the lesser lights also”, in 1 Corinthians we read that the sun is one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another the stars differ from star toaster in splendour.  Stars are being formed and here are some of, I think, the most beautiful pictures of stars shrinking and exploding and merging together, galaxies like a cartwheel or in a circle or sometimes just an agglomeration.  Now I think it is important just to remember those pictures because I will come back to them in one moment, some of the galaxies are in a  spiral a beautiful galaxy there known as the whirlpool galaxy, and there is an infinite variety of shapes, even the gas clouds that are within the galaxy are beautiful to look at and these are some, again taken from the Hubble telescope, you’ve got the horse-head nebulae and the eagle nebula and so we are living in a  world that is beautiful.  I just want to look at two groups of stars because to me it conveys something of the accuracy of the world of god.  We read in Job chapter 38,and I have put it down in 3 translations because it is important, “cans’t though bind the sweet cluster of pleiades or loose the bands of  orion”, remember that word bind.  These two words occurred in the new king james version; bind pleiades and loose orion, and again in the NIV version, bind pleiades or loose the cords of Orion.  Now what was Job trying to convey?  Now I find this absolutely amazing, on the right hand side of the screen you see pleiades a cluster of stars, now that cluster of stars is so overcome with gravity that the stars can’t expand, they can’t break the bonds, they are bound by gravity.  Bind beautiful pleiades, and when we look at Orion which you can see in the sky, and you will recognise the belt of orion the three stars there in a line, what is happening to them, they are steadily expanding, they are being loosed.  So what a confirmation of , and what a wonderful display of accuracy of gods word.  He made the stars also.

It was Isaac Newton, who I already made reference to at the beginning and he said that this is a most beautiful system of the sun the planets and the comets and it could only proceed from the council and the dominion of an intelligent and powerful being, this being controls all things and is the lord of all.  Isaac Newton is probably one the greatest scientists we have ever had and he was a tremendous christian and strong in his faith and what he saw in the universe reminded him of a creator god.  Now not only is the universe that we live in and the earth so beautiful but it is also finely tuned.  It is a finely tuned universe and particularly earth and I want to focus mainly on earth.  I mentioned galaxies, there are two types of galaxies, there are what we call spiral galaxies, like a catherine wheel, and there are elliptical galaxies.  Now earth is in the right galaxy, its in a spiral galaxy and only 5% of all of the galaxies indeed are spiral.  Not only is it in the right galaxy but it has got the right star, the sun and this is about one hundred and fifty million km from the sun now that distance is important because if it were closer to the sun. life could not exist, if it were further away from the sun, life coulee not exist, it just in the right position within a fraction of a percentage, and if it were to move either way, life would not exist.  So not only are we in the right galaxy, we have the right star and we have the right tilt of the earth.  The earth is tilted about 23.5 degrees and it is rotating and that the earths rotation brings us day and night and the tilt brings us the various seasons, spring summer, autumn and winter and earth has the right moon, it has a stabilising moon.  If in fact we were closer to the moon than we are, earth would be flooded, if we were further away then the earth again would degenerate simply because of the cleansing effect that the moon has on the earth.  Now one,and we’ve got the right planets near us because we are very near to the meteor belt and if we didn’t have the right planet such as Jupiter between the meteor belt and ourselves the life could not exist because it would be destroyed by meteors.  Now all of these things fit together.  Now i could go on and on and give you examples of just how finely tuned this earth is.  The earth is the only place in this universe that indeed life could exist.  Earth is prepared for life through a variety of finely tuned characteristics in our galaxy in our star, in our planet and in our moon.  Although I only mentioned about four or five, in fact there are something like 35 different characteristics that must be within a certain limit to support life on this earth.  So not only is it a beautiful universe it is s finely tuned universe and indeed the astrophysicist Hugh Ross wrote that “much fewer than (now listen to this) a trillionth of a trillionth of trillionth of a percent of all the stars could possibly posses without divine intervention a planet capable of sustaining life” just absolutely a fantastic. . . indeed he goes on to say” not even just one planet would be expected by natural processes alone to posses the necessary conditions to sustain life.  So in other words when we look at this universe and we look at the earth there is no doubt that behind the fine tuning and the balance that exists there must be a designer, there must be a hand that has controlled an sustains the universe.  
I was just doodling last night and I thought I would throw this in, this is a perfect solar eclipse where indeed the moon actually covers the sun and you can actually see the outline of the craters of the moon actually shining through.  And when you look at how an eclipse is actually made its like this, if you have man then the moon then the sun, the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun and the moon is 400 times nearer to man do you know that it is the only planet from which a total solar eclipse can be seen.  When you look at other planets and when you do calculations and so forth you find that none of the other planets ever experience a total solar eclipse, only the earth.  Design or pure chance?  

Let me give you one or two quotes from scientists who are not christians, Paul Davies an astrophysicist” it seems to me that someone has finely tuned natures universe, the impression of design is overwhelming”  another scientists involved in cosmology Bernard Carr, he says, “one would have to conclude that the universe was indeed tailor made for life, I will leave it to the theologians the identity of the tailor.”, so many scientists, especially astronomers, cosmologists, they look at the universe and they say there is evidence of design in this it could not just have occurred by chance.  Roy Peacock who’s an aerospace scientists who says “from the scientific viewpoint alone I see a designer who has contrived the most amazing cosmos whose characteristics are balanced a the knife-edge of improbability, ready to topple over should there not be a corrective hand at the windlass.  So not only did he create this universe but he is also the sustainer.

When I read those verse in genesis as to how god has created the universe and the earth I ask myself the question why, why should god go to all of that trouble to create a beautiful universe, a universe that is finely tuned, a planet like the earth which is the only planet that could sustain life, why?  In psalm 115:16 we read these words “the heavens, even the heavens are the lords, but the earth he has given to the children of mean”, Isiah 45,” who created the heavens, who is gd, who formed the earth and made it, who established it did not create it in vain, who formed it, why?  To be inhabited , I am the lord and there is none other.”

Now let me just say something about the scientists view as to how this universe and this earth came into being.  The current theory is the big bang theory.  That at a point in time matter was so compressed that it exploded or expanded and it is still expanding and that from that we have the formation of galaxies, we have the formation of planets like earth.  Now one of the staggering things is that this is the only scientific theory at the moment about the origin of the universe.  How should we as christians approach this.  I know that many christians say yes there must have been a point when god created and thats the point at which the big bang occurred.  I just want you to pause because there are a number of reasons why I think this theory is totally flawed, first of all it cannot explain how matter came to be, it says that at a point in time matter became so compressed that it exploded, they can’t answer the question, what is the origin of the matter.  Where did it come from , how did it arise.  I think if you ask your science teachers these questions I think that you will get a stony silence.  

It cannot also explain why it occurred at a particular time, why it only occurred once and why it hasn’t occurred on other occasions.  It can’t explain why stars are born and why stars are decaying, if in fact they say that what we see of the universe is something that happened at a point in time in the distant past.  The interesting thing is that when you look at this universe it is not uniform.  You get a planet here, you get a galaxy there and it is not uniform, it is spread out, I put it this way, it is spread out as lumps and it snot homogeneous or its not uniform.  And why I emphasise that is simply because scientists came back a number of years ago and said that when they looked at the universe and saw radiation, in fact this is what they saw, they saw a homogeneous distribution of what we call microwave radiation.  I have taken this results form the new scientist and from a non christian and he says the results of the cosmic background explorer, that was the probe that went to measure the various microwaves radiation in the universe, he says it is relentlessly uniform this contradicts the theoretical big bang predictions.  So theres a scientist who actually arguing against the current theory of the big bang, he says it is astounding that the big bang hypothesis is the only cosmological model that physicists take seriously.  

I just want to take a few minutes, I know its just turned half past, but I want to take a few moments because just earlier this year was the 50th anniversary of scientists setting up a project to see if they could listen in to life elsewhere in this universe, and it is known as SETL, SETI, fifty years, millions of pounds spent on this project and what they are doing is they have sent out messages into space and they are still waiting for message sot come back.  I think it is millions of pounds actually wasted because there is no evidence on life on any other planet.  Are we alone?  I do think that man is the only inhabitant in this universe on planet earth.  but you have scientist such as this russian scientist who has examined this rock from Mars and if you look at the lower picture you can see a long thread like body which they say “well it looks like a bacterium it looks like a big and they say therefore this is evidence.  Other scientists have looked at this and said it is shear rubbish.  So scientist shave spent a lot of time looking for the prescence of life in the universe but without success, but we are not alone, because we read that earth has been visited, not by aliens but by gods son, the lord Jesus Christ and we read that for god so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.  That if we believe in him we shall not perish but have eternal life.  Why did Jesus come?  Well we will look at this another evening, how man sinned and disobeyed god and that god because of mans sins sent his son the lord jesus christ to die for us at calvary that we might have amen,a  way back to god, that we might indeed by able to put our trust in him and accept him as our saviour and have eternal life, for this is what the lord says, “ he who created the heavens he is god, he who fashions the earth he made it he created it he did not make it empty he formed it to be inhabited, the creator of this cosmos this beautiful cosmos this highly tuned cosmos, invites each of us to come to him and accept him as our saviour.  As apostle Paul puts it in Corinthians he says now is the time of god favour now is the time of salvation.

Thank you very much.

Next week we will be looking at Adam, and the historicity of Adam and a little bit about the garden of Eden.

Closing prayer

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