Defending the Faith: 'Is the universe friendly?'

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  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 9:21 p.m.

    The Parable

    In a jungle, two explorers came upon a clearing filled with many flowers and weeds. One explorer says, ‘Some gardener must tend this plot’. The other disagrees, ‘There is no gardener’.

    They pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen.

    ‘Perhaps he is an invisible gardener.’

    So they set up an electrified barbed-wire fence and patrol with bloodhounds. But there are no shrieks from a shock, no movements of the wire, and no cry of bloodhounds.

    Still the Believer insists ‘There is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, who has no scent and makes no sound, who comes secretly to look after the garden he loves.’

    The Sceptic despairs, ‘What remains of your original assertion? How does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even no gardener at all?

    Antony Flew in his right mind loved this parable.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 13, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    "You also didn't tell where you're getting your information from."

    Various New York Times articles allege that Flew was in serious mental decline and he was highly influenced by Varghese and others at the time of his conversion.

    What is so unreasonable about considering a person's age, mental state, and the influence of others after someone has had such a drastic change of heart? After all, two-thirds of Antony Flew's book was written by Roy Varghese himself, for Flew, with Bob Hostetler, an evangelical pastor, re-writing many of the passages.

    Isn't it ironic that those who complain about "guilt by association" readily embrace "credibility by association?" A deist like Flew ostensibly switching to a theistic belief has no more credibility than the myriad of highly intelligent theists who switch to really doesn't matter.

    Falsification of deism is also attempted in many untenable ways. The fact is that no proof in favor or against deism really exists. What we do have, however, is the ability to reason. Reason and the scientific process is the only authentic means of grasping reality and acquiring knowledge.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 13, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    A Scientist,

    "Nobody worth their philosophical salt is convinced by Flew's "deathbed conversion" in dementia, nor by Craig's or Habermas' arguments."

    I don’t intend to convince but rather to encourage an open mind on questions that elude easy definitive answers given the limits of human knowledge. We must never put answers ahead of questions. Daniel Peterson envisions a time when science awakens to discover that theology had it right all along. I can’t picture that given how theologians hold such widely dissimilar views in what is obviously a highly speculative field of study.

    For centuries, the Christian Church held itself up as the penultimate authority on matters of learning. Science itself felt constrained to bow to religious authority until rising secularism grew into an irrepressible force the Church could no longer contain.

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    Jan. 13, 2014 7:29 a.m.

    "My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I'm 84 and that was Roy Varghese's role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I'm old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking." -Flew

    Verdad's comment is apt at this juncture. You also didn't tell where you're getting your information from.

    This is no appeal to authority. Flew's conversion doesn't justify the position and I never said it did; however, it does show that the position is indeed rationally compelling.

    Falsification of theism is attempted in many ways; one example would be the deductive argument from evil, which aims to show the incoherence of the classically understood nature of God, entailing his non-existence. This argument fails as a naturalism-of-the-gaps fallacy, but that is beside the point.

    Flew described his previous work as "a historical relic." I suppose he'd know his own work best.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Jan. 12, 2014 6:38 p.m.


    Justin Martyr preceded both Tatian (who was his pupil) and Irenaeus so his writings represent earlier thought in the Christian church. And, they demonstrate that ex nihilo creation was not the gold standard of the early church.

    I am totally unclear as to why the thoughts of a modern French writer (Sartre) are even an issue.

    I am well aware of what traditional Christians believe. But what did Christ believe?

    “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 12, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    @Twin Lights “we can see that the whole structure of the world, and the whole creation, has been produced from matter, and the matter itself brought into existence by God; …”Tatian (Address to the Greeks 12)

    … He(God) Himself called into being the substance of His creation, when previously it had no existence.” (Against Heresies 2.10.2-4)

    Even J. P. Sartre understood,” No finite point(Man) has meaning without an infinite reference point(God).”

    … God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (II Peter 2:4).…

    … I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority(first estate) God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment(Jude 6 NLT)

    These verses indicate that some of the angels who fell with Satan were not content with their ‘first estate’ and began to live among men (and women) as men. Not pre-mortal humans.

    Christians believe, God becomes man not man becomes God.

    Last post(4)

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    Jan. 12, 2014 12:59 a.m.

    Twin Lights
    I continue to be impressed you understand what sharrona is posting, I for the most part, don't

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 11, 2014 6:23 p.m.


    And that is my point as well. As you know, I do not believe that Nicene Christianity is that faith.

    Reference the creation. I don’t think it is as clear as you make it. Not appear is not the same as not exist and the other translations I looked at don’t put it that way either.

    Justin Martyr said “And we have been taught that He in the beginning did of His goodness, for man's sake, create all things out of unformed matter; and if men by their works show themselves worthy of this His design, they are deemed worthy, and so we have received-of reigning in company with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering.”

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 4:21 p.m.


    Any quotes you provide are really Varghese's words and ideas anyway.

    Nevertheless, even IF Flew did "convert" (and it was not a function of evangelicals exploiting his dementia or end of life anxiety), that still leaves your argument little more than a very thin appeal to a weak "authority".

    Excluding appeals to authority, we must look at the strength of the arguments. And many scholars agree that the arguments of the atheist Antony Flew thoroughly and completely devastate the arguments of the theist Antony Flew.

    Early in his career, Flew asked interlocutors to answer "the simple central questions: 'What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of the love of, or of the existence of God?'"

    Nobody has been equal to the task of answering that question, not even the theist Antony Flew. And without falsification criteria, no theistic argument can possibly be rigorously entertained by any serious philosopher or scientist.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 11, 2014 1:25 p.m.


    Thanks. Again, I don't think these prove what you believe they do. The translations you like (by experts) do not say what you say.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 12:16 p.m.

    "A Scientist":

    From what I know of Antony Flew's conversion, just about everything you've said about it (and him) here is factually incorrect. Worse, though, your comment appears to be a textbook ad hominem attack intended to poison the well and discredit Dr. Flew without taking his position seriously. This sort of response, hardly unique to you, was absolutely predictable (and was actually predicted) when Dr. Flew announced his changed opinion, but, frankly, it's more than a little shameful.

    Jan. 11, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    Upon deeper reflection, I infer that you (Chymist) are saying that intelligent action doesn't reduce entropy except on a local and temporary basis. It also creates the necessity of the universe originating at a higher degree of order, which I suppose is why the singularity that existed prior to the theoretical Big Bang is so important to some.

    But I've fallen into the trap of trying to unveil God, which is not unlike the trap of trying to disprove God. He has told us how we may find him, but it's personal, not public. God is interested in teaching us how to overcome entropy, as he has, but respects our agency and won't do it without our willing participation. He purposefully has placed us in a situation where the evidence cannot compel belief in him - it has to be our choice. Those who make the choice to believe, as witnessed by their obedience to his word that comes to us through his servants, receive additional light and knowledge until they, through the grace of Christ, become as he is. There is no back door.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 11, 2014 11:00 a.m.

    @Pops – “My suspicion is that many reject the notion of a Creator because they aren't comfortable with the concept of an absolute moral authority,”

    What is your evidence for an absolute moral authority? And I’ll even consider anything you may want to reference from the Bible…

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 11, 2014 9:55 a.m.

    RE: Twin Lights My point is: … to contend for the faith which was ‘once delivered’ unto the saints.(Jude 3)
    Through faith we understand that the worlds=(time G. 165) were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.(Heb 11:3). An explicit statement of creation ex nihlio.

    (Jude 1:6 KJV) the angels which kept not their first estate= (*arche, G. 746) but left their own habitation,… See Abr 3:26, . *first place, Fallen angels/devils, Nothing to do with Ante-mortal being... JS mis-understood poor translation,i.e..

    ( Jude 1:6 NIV) And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home., principality, authority, of Angels/ Demons.

    (John 4:24).God [is] spirit. ( *pneuma ο theos). There is ‘*no article’ in the Greek text before the word spirit, and that emphasizes the quality or essence of the word. Furthermore, the word spirit occurs first in the sentence for emphasis. The literal idea would be something like, “Absolutely spirit in His essence is God.” Jesus did not leave any doubt about this truth. God(The Father)= spirit!

    Jan. 11, 2014 6:50 a.m.

    Chymist wrote "...they use their faulty understanding to attract people to their point of view..."

    I suppose that applies universally if at all.

    It turns out that the sun and the earth don't constitute a closed system, either, as there are spatial and temporal intrusions that you haven't factored into your analysis. It isn't reasonable to resort to a purely hypothetical interpretation of the Second Law when there are no pure closed systems to which it can be applied. The best we can do is find reasonably pragmatic applications of the law that are consistent with our observations.

    I'm personally skeptical of the concept of photons striking matter and creating sentient life because isn't consistent with what I observe in the world vis a vis the Second Law. The statistical probability of that happening through random action is indistinguishable from zero.

    But it's clearly a judgment call either way. My suspicion is that many reject the notion of a Creator because they aren't comfortable with the concept of an absolute moral authority, and are thus compelled to cling to hypothetical explanations that exclude our Creator.

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    Jan. 10, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    "[T]hese critics had concluded that expectations of an impending entrance into the afterlife had triggered a deathbed conversion. Clearly these people were familiar with neither my writings on the nonexistence of an afterlife nor with my current views on the topic. . . . For the record, then, I want to lay to rest all those rumors that have me placing Pascalian bets." -Antony Flew

    I would further point out that Flew's change of mind occurred prior to the interviews with Habermas or Strobel, contra your contention. There was a full year between his 2003 debate and when he confided in Habermas that he had become a deist.

    You're always welcome to come back to the table, friend. What would it take for you to change your mind, to accept the existence of the Creator? Have you established some specific standards or an evidential threshold, beyond which the scales tilt in favor of theism?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 10, 2014 5:47 p.m.


    I am not sure why you are addressing me. I was talking about the dependence of ecosystems.

    I am aware of the differences between traditional (Nicene) Christianity and Mormonism.

    Your scriptural references are not new to me or any LDS. They are all used and widely taught by the LDS. But they do not appear to support what you say reference God.

    I agree that God exists out of time. That would be consistent with his creating our universe (space/time). Of course we believe that we too are eternal.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    RE: Twin Lights,In the beginning God created heaven and earth ... (Gen 1:1)

    Christianity,and Judaism believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo (out of nothing). Mormonism is quite different in its cosmology, claiming that God fashioned the universe out of preexisting material. God is eternal in some forms of LDS theology, but so is preexisting matter, including the material used by God to create human beings.

    Greek philosophy is the origin of this type of philosophy,not the Bible. The Bible teaches in1 Cor. 15:46-47: “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second is man is from heaven.”

    For in him we live and move and have our Being...(Acts 17:28)Creation is dependent on God for it’s very existence.

    (Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

    In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God existed before time, implying he created time.

    … God who gives life to the dead and Calls into Being things that were not.(Romans 4:17 NIV).

    Aseity, the Judeo/Christian belief that God is the uncreated creator.

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    Jan. 10, 2014 3:43 p.m.

    I'll call your hand, scientist. Maybe you'd be willing to share some of the names who gave you your information-- the ad hominem, guilt by association, information that ignores everything that Flew himself has stated on the matter.

    I'd be more than happy to give you some of Flew's own words on the matter if you'd like.

    As I stated in my first comment, Flew embraced deism, not Christianity, meaning that the second part of your comment has missed the mark. As I've mentioned elsewhere, such a view does eliminate atheism as a possible worldview. Christianity accepts the deist's view of God, only adding that this deity interacted with humanity in a particular time and manner.

    It is true that Flew never embraced Christianity (at least that we know of). However, it is patently false that he possessed equal disdain for Christianity with any other religion (especially Islam).

    “The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It's outstandingly different in quality and quantity.” -Antony Flew

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 10, 2014 2:15 p.m.

    There is a universal difference between organic growth and inorganic manufacturing. It is like comparing apples and sledge hammers.

  • Bobster Boise, ID
    Jan. 10, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    I always enjoy reading Brother Peterson's thoughtful articles. This one was a great one. I also enjoyed reading many of the comments.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    Some people need to give up on the constant pushing of the debunked teleological argument and the sad story of Antony Flew. Flew was in the early stages of dementia when two evangelical apologists browbeat ("interviewed") him into "embracing deism." Nothing Flew had done after 2004 has been taken seriously except by the evangelical con-men who exploited an old, senile philosopher.

    And at most all Flew did was admit that in his cosmology, the universe may have been the product of "an Aristotelian deity" - hardly a conversion to Christianity, which he continued to denounce as little better than a joke, as he did all other religions.

    Nobody worth their philosophical salt is convinced by Flew's "deathbed conversion" in dementia, nor by Craig's or Habermas' arguments.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 9:05 a.m.


    What I said wasn't any sort of argumentum ad hominem. I pointed out a lack of understanding of the second law of thermodynamics that many creationists have, and stated that they use their faulty understanding to attract people to their point of view. This is actually a pretty mild statement.

    The second law of thermodynamics states that in any closed system, the entropy of the system never decreases. The system always moves toward a state of maximum entropy. The mistake that many people make is to treat the primordial soup as a closed system. It is not. The input of energy from the sun shows that the "soup" is not a closed system. If one considers the entire system, consisting of the "soup" and the source of the input energy (the sun), then the gain in entropy occuring in the sun greatly exceeds the loss in entropy due to the formation of more complex molecules in the "soup". There is no violation of thermodynamics.

    Likewise, no violation of the second law occurs when the complete system is examined in the production of a smart phone. My point - that no violations of the laws of thermodynamics are required - stands.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 10, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    The mystery of life that science has no explanation for is how matter becomes aware of itself. The why is even more elusive and intriguing. But we’re living proof of it whether or not what we call consciousness is no more than an organic phenomenon. It’s no great leap of reason to imagine a more advanced conscious entity we longingly label God. It’s a logical conjecture for creatures whose nature drives us to want to know things.

    Some find God too much to swallow. Patience and enduring curiosity are slow processes. Faith is more immediate and satisfying for some. But you don’t have to believe that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom to acknowledge that the extent of our knowledge is tentative. Meanwhile, it’s to the benefit of us all to help each other along as best we can.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    To brokenclay:

    So how does "classical theism" explain the question of who created the creator?

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Jan. 10, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    It only seems logical for any thing to materialize it has to matter. It mattered to someone.

  • brokenclay Tempe, AZ
    Jan. 10, 2014 7:51 a.m.

    The teleological argument is stronger now than it has ever been in history-- sufficiently strong, in fact, to have persuaded such an atheist, intellectual heavyweight as Antony Flew to embrace deism. Flew cited this argument as the single greatest reason for his "conversion." It may be worth your time to look into the design argument. I suspect that it will tip the philosophical balance in science away from atheism and toward theism before too long.

    The standard Big Bang model is thoroughly grounded by modern science, confirmed again and again. It boggles my mind that people are citing the completely theoretical multiverse hypothesis as the most cutting-edge science in cosmology. The implications of a universe ex nihilo are disturbing, indeed, when even scientists have to abandon science to avoid it.

    The philosophically naïve Dawkins' jab, "Who created the creator?", works well against an LDS conception of deity but misses the mark with classical theism.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Jan. 10, 2014 6:55 a.m.

    Tyler D,

    Reference fish and the oceans.

    The truth is both are adapted to the other. The evidence is that life changes its surroundings.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    Jan. 10, 2014 5:58 a.m.

    I think humanity thinks much more of itself than it should. I'm not so sure that "humans" are the top of the food chain. I think death will be a big surprise to many.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 9, 2014 8:04 p.m.

    @coltakashi – “Tyler, you don't understand what the Strong Anthropic Principle means.”

    You’re probably right… and from everything else you said it’s obvious you know much more about science than I do.

    Still… I can’t help but think that the Strong Anthropic Principle sounds curiously like Anselm’s “proof” of God – i.e., like a tautology.

    If that’s not obvious, think about it this way – what would a universe look like that could not support conscious life (from the point of view of a conscious observer)? See what I mean?

    And is the implication from the theory that there must be a God? I don’t see how that follows. We could be in a simulation running on some alien kid’s incredibly advanced computer. And from what the universe dishes out sometimes (e.g., life destroying asteroids), I’m not sure we could conclude that kid is particularly nice.

    Also, I thought the science depicted on CSI was more along the lines of evidence and induction vs. the pure logic (often tautological) of deduction.

    But like the rest, I could be wrong… thanks for your comments.

    Jan. 9, 2014 8:03 p.m.

    @Church Member: you didn't have to make the leap to God as the intelligent force of creation. Richard Dawkins is apparently more comfortable with "extraterrestrials" as the answer. I'm not going to pretend to know the answers to your questions, because I don't.

    @Skeptical Chymist - thanks for trying to provide one of the "sophisticated" explanations I mentioned in my comment, although all you did was make an assertion backed by argumentum ad hominem. I suppose what you meant to say was that in the long run the Second Law wins. The problem with that explanation is that by observation the Second Law also wins in the short run - the very short run. Maybe you assume the sunlight in the soup and theoretical result of intelligent life is the evidence supporting your position, but then that would make your argument rather circular.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 7:09 p.m.

    Ernest T. Bass:

    I expect that Drs. Jastrow, Dyson, and Hoyle were aware that things in the universe die. That wasn't their point. And that wasn't what Professor Haeckel's question was about.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 5:46 p.m.

    The Universe isn't friendly to life. Investigate the fate of the Earth. Life will die out.
    Of course if you believe the myth that the Earth will become smooth as glass like the U & T then there is no discussion.

  • urroner Titusville, fl
    Jan. 9, 2014 5:46 p.m.

    The ancients told stories to communicate truths, not history. For me, the creation story in Genesis is not history.

    Also, according to the latest science, an infinite number of universes are being created and destroyed all the time. Some of these universes have the right physics laws that life like we have is possible; laws which are fine tuned enough to permit us to exist. I don't know how God is involved in this, but I believe He is.

    The more we learn, the more we learn the less we know. We have gone from a geocentric universe to heliocentric, then to a universe composed of a galaxy to one of many galaxies, and now we are to the point of we exist in a universe within an infinite number of universes and most of this change came within the last 100 years. What will we know in another 100 years.

    Again, I don't know how God made us, but I'm sure glad He did.

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    Jan. 9, 2014 5:43 p.m.

    Tyler, you don't understand what the Strong Anthropic Principle means. The characteristics of the universe are determined by both a combination of certain laws with certain initial conditions, involving things like mass, electric charge, and the strength of various forces. It turns out that the laws of physics do NOT dictate the numbers, and scientists have no idea what determines the numbers. BUT they have figured out that if any of those dozen or so numbers was different by a small amount (in some cases 10%, in others by less than 1%), then the universe would be so different that LIFE could not exist. Somehow, all the important numbers, which appear to be arbitrary as far asphysics is concerned, have been set at precise values that are all essential to LIFE coming into existence and being sustained long enough for mankind to have evolved. The chance of all these numbers having the right values by accident is incredibly small. When a forensic scientist finds facts that are highly unlikely to occur by chance, he suspects that the facts were created intentionally. That kind of deduction is the essence of the investigative science we see in the CSI TV shows.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 4:59 p.m.

    The laws of thermodynamics have never been violated in any verified experiment. They are still obeyed even when an intelligence is involved. The production of your smart phone did not violate the laws of thermodynamics. Likewise, no laws of thermodynamics are violated if sunlight shining on a primordial soup causes some chemicals to reproduce themselves, and eventually something is formed that we call life.

    The idea that life developing from a primordial soup violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics is an error in the understanding of thermodynamics that is propagated by creationists. No such violation is required.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 4:41 p.m.

    RE: We are here by a deliberate plan. Why?

    The Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Sanctification is making us into people who glorify God and imitate Him in all things.

    How we might glorify God. Genesis, 1:26–27,all human beings are made in God’s image. This may be hard to conceptualize, for God does not have a physical body like we do, and He also lacks our limitations as created beings.

    Nevertheless, like our Creator, we are rational beings who are able to communicate in words. We possess minds, wills, and hearts, all of which are analogous to God’s own inner life,unlike Him our knowledge is finite and we are not laws unto ourselves.

    We bring the Lord the most glory when we reflect His character. His goodness, love and holiness. Our ability to do this is hampered by sin, but our Savior, by His Spirit, restores our ability to reflect God’s image truly over the course of our lives (2 Cor. 3:18).

    Christians will reflect the divine image to the fullest extent, glorifying Him forever in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21).

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 9, 2014 4:22 p.m.

    If you want to read an interesting analysis of religion and science written by a devote Mormon who has quietly worked behind the scenes as one of the leading nuclear physicists of our time you can look on Amazon for the book Religion and Science in the Last Days.

  • Samson01 S. Jordan, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 3:34 p.m.

    I think the Lord has summed it up nicely when he said:

    "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord."

    I think the eternities will offer us many opportunities to evolve our understandings.

    My favorite part of this article is the line:

    "I’m confident that our understanding of both scripture and science will need to have improved a very great deal before we can say fully and precisely how they relate to each other."


  • Brother Dave Livermore, CA
    Jan. 9, 2014 2:12 p.m.

    I like this story, Especially the Last Paragraph!!

    Thank You Daniel Peterson for your weekly thoughts!!!

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Jan. 9, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    Forgot to add a very important data point: The Universe was created 12.7 +/- 0.5 billion years ago, while the earth was created 4.4-4.5 billion years ago.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    Jan. 9, 2014 1:26 p.m.

    There is a very logical theory that has much credibility among many Christian scientists that God created the heaven and the earth 12.7 +/- 0.5 billion years ago per Genesis 1:1-2 and Isaiah 45;18, but completely "renewed the face of the earth" slightly over 6000 years ago per Psalm 104:30, the vast intervening period allowing for the rebellion in heaven and the dinosaur periods.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    "I'm not surprised, therefore, that essentially the same story is repeated, beyond Genesis, in the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price..."

    Precisely what essentially "same story" can one find, aside from in the LDS Book of Abraham, that our Sun is a planet and "borrows its light from Kolob" and also receives its power from two other stars, which in turn receive their light from Kolob?

    I'm curious as to where that can be found? Of course, modern science agrees that our Sun gets its light and power from an internal process called thermonuclear fusion, not from an outside source such as from another star.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Jan. 9, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    I believe the Universe is friendly in the same way a fish would think the ocean is friendly – i.e., the ocean is not adapted to the fish but the fish to the ocean.

    Jan. 9, 2014 11:47 a.m.

    It is nice (comforting, strengthening, wonderful, amazing) to know that we are His work and glory.

  • Church member North Salt Lake, UT
    Jan. 9, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    To Pops:

    You say "any fool knows that the iphone was created by intelligent action. So any fool knows that our planet is made by intelligent action".

    So if all "complicated" things are made by intelligent action, then who created God"? Who created the first God? Did he evolve to be God or was he created by someone?

    Please don't say that he has always existed. Because that is more unlikely than evolution explaining everything.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 9, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    “As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming.”
    -Freeman Dyson

    That sounds almost like a prayer.

    I trust that God will indulge us in a hubris or two down here in what might be an obscure out of the way outpost of creation. The Creator must have billions of magnificent projects going on across the vast reaches of the cosmos. How consequential we are in the big picture is a question of proportions for us sleepy passengers on this tiny little ball we call home.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 9, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    With the dearth of information on what all is out there, the 'friendliness' of the universe will for now have to remain as relative as Einstein labeled time and space. We've only scratched the surface in human knowledge of that from which we sprang, guided or unattended.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 9, 2014 7:21 a.m.

    “This is an exceedingly strange development,” wrote the late NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow, “unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created heaven and earth ... (But) for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; (and) as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    Another excellent article Dr. Peterson. Thank you!

    Jan. 9, 2014 6:51 a.m.

    Great column, Dr. Peterson.

    I've always scratched my head over this aspect of many scientists (and believers in scientism) today: as we learn, we begin with the Laws of Thermodynamics, but eventually reach a point of sophistication that requires us to abandon them. Does this make any sense at all? (Of course one does not abandon the Laws of Thermodynamics willy-nilly; one must come up with some sufficiently convoluted explanation as to why it only _appears_ that the Laws of Thermodynamics are being violated.)

    But, to be blunt, they HAVE been abandoned. Any fool knows that a smart phone is created by intelligent action. Any fool ought to know that galaxies, solar systems, planets, and life itself can only be the result of intelligent action, as they are many orders of magnitude more complex and beautiful than any smart phone could ever hope to be. Go figure.