Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bacterial Power

Uncounted trillions of planets in our universe possess the chemical elements of which life is composed. In our own unique solar system the exact proportions of elements may not match the distribution of elements in other planetary systems. Life as we know it, therefore, may not be feasible anywhere else in the universe. The more we discover about the quantities and proportions of elements on Planet Earth, the more it appears that the earth is a very special body in our enormous universe. Beyond proportions of elements present, there are hundreds of other conditions necessary (fine tuning parameters) which make the earth habitable. Not only do we have the suite of physical constants by which our orderly universe operates, but we also have those physical constants operating in almost limitless combinations of circumstances. For example, Earth’s Solar System is incredibly and uniquely structured to allow life to exist.

Sometime after the elements were present in necessary combinations in our primitive solar system, life appeared in the form of bacteria. These morphologically simple yet biochemically complex life forms appeared suddenly. One-celled bacteria are visibly simple in their structure, but far from simple in the complexity of their biochemistry. A naturalistic process is unknown to account for the bacterial origin of life on Earth. Proponents of scientific naturalism vow to continue the search to explain abiogenesis—the appearance of life from non-life. Today scientists freely admit there exists no “standard model” for the origin of life.

For many hundreds of millions of years bacteria were the only living things on earth. They formed many of the resources still used by our modern civilization. Cyanobacteria generated constituents of the early atmosphere, particularly oxygen. In turn, reactions in the atmosphere ultimately produced minerals for use in life forms past and present. Some oil deposits result from the activity of cyanobacteria. Sulfate reducing bacteria aid in recycling of carbon compounds and many other life sustaining chemical reactions in nature.

The appearance of bacteria on earth has not proven to result fro a gradualistic, evolutionary process. The onset of bacterial habitation on earth was relatively sudden. No hypothetical “primordial soup” preceded the appearance of bacteria. We view the appearance of bacteria as a divine creation event, or a divine series of creation events on earth.

Bacteria manifest all the characteristics of living things. It may seem inappropriate to connect the list of life characteristics to forms as simple as bacteria. The same list applies to both simple and advanced life. We review the characteristics from our post of 7/23/13 titled “What is Life?” Living things are (1) organized into cells, (2) manifest metabolism—processes of energy use for construction or breakdown, (3) respond to stimuli, (4) have homeostasis—the ability to maintain internal stability, (5) grow and develop, (6) reproduce, and (7) change and adapt.

However simple bacterial life forms may be, they manifest characteristics of sensory ability at a primitive level. Bacteria do not have advanced sensory systems like the nervous systems in higher animals and humans. However, their simple sensory system helps identify environmental factors working to their advantage or disadvantage. Bacteria were divinely created for the purpose of providing future earth inhabitants with beneficial resources. Many cyanobacteria and sulfate reducing bacteria species are still present on earth. Microbiologists variously estimate bacterial species at upwards of 100,000. Some scientists declare Earth’s bacterial biomass exceeds the biomass of all earth’s plants and animals combined. In light of the fact that there are 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and one million in a milliliter of water, this statistic is easy to accept. All considered, we should not be too upset that relatively few bacterial species cause disease. 90% of bacteria are beneficial or harmless.

With apologies to those who prefer more inspiring topics of discussion than sensory mechanisms of bacteria, we remind readers that life on earth benefits from many favorable past and present conditions. We see Planet Earth as a multidimensional miracle of intelligent creativity. Our God is the Intelligent Creator. 




    

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sensory Systems

The approach of warm weather in spring and summer heightens awareness of the body’s auditory system. One could cite spring and summer sounds of birds, mammals, a few amphibians, and insects to augment frequent sounds of rain, wind, and thunder. The sense of hearing is a gift for which we offer God our humble thanks.  

Our auditory system is but one of six major sensory systems. The systems are visual (sight), auditory (hearing), somatic sensation (touch), taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory), and balance (vestibular). To one degree or another, most of these sensory systems are present in all animals. They are more highly developed in some; less highly developed in others. For example, vision is highly developed in hawks; smell is more developed in animals such as turkey vultures. Hearing is highly acute in owls and bats. In lower animals, sensory systems are present but may be more primitive.

We rejoice in references to the wonder of bodily senses from the church pulpit. Such awareness is part of our recognition that God’s grace is manifest in multiple ways each moment of the day, each day of our lives. In his most recent sermon our pastor quizzed his congregation, “What is the correct response to the breath you just exhaled? to the chair you are sitting in? to the roof over our heads? the fact that you are able to hear and comprehend? Those are all examples of grace given to us.” Several years ago we were blessed by a missionary speaker in our church pulpit. He uttered a similar exultation: “As you’re sitting down there you’re breathing, you can see, you can walk.” After that sermon, my personal commentary in a post entitled “Mundane Miracles” was, “Understanding the grace of God in the complexities of respiration, vision, and motion as well as dozens of other bodily systems, is an occasion to worship the God of creation just as surely as understanding the grace of God manifest in his plan for man’s redemption.”

Sensory systems in the bodies of all living creatures are Creator-provided gifts of grace. They were conceived in the mind of God long before living things were created on our planet, and later incorporated into their physical bodies at the moment of their creation. We apply the term grace in describing bodily sensory systems as treasured gifts from God. Preachers more often use the term in connection with God’s gift of salvation of sinners. However, grace defined as “the free and unmerited favor of God” was in the pre-creation mind of God as he waited to physically create living things. Later when man’s need for redemption became apparent, grace became operative in another context. Some theologians distinguish between common grace and special grace. Common grace is the grace shown by the Creator to and for his creation. Special grace is bestowed upon those who enter a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ.  

Highlighting the wonders of bodily sensory systems from the pulpit may strike some as a substitution of scientific knowledge for more familiar and traditional spiritual truths. Writers on the subject of the science/faith interface find these references entirely appropriate. If grace is a theological concept, we urge pastors to reference topics of biological science (or other sciences) from their pulpits whenever appropriate to strengthen the imagery of the multidimensional majesty of God and his gifts of grace.  




     

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Spectrum of Worship

The potential for worship occurs across a broad spectrum of life experiences. Humanity is created with a special ability to enjoy life and value life’s gifts. People are born with diverse interests and preferences. In the spiritual realm, the concept of worship revolves around recognizing worth and value in an entity outside ourselves. Most often the worship is focused upon a deity—God—but any object could be the recipient of worship if we recognize value and worthiness in the external entity.

Many people loosely use the term worship to express non-theological sentiments. For example, a young athlete could declare he “worships” soccer. He could also state he “worships” the coach who teaches him athletic skills and models values for his team members. Most often, worship connects with a theological concept. If we use the term in connection with living creatures such as birds, one reason may be that we recognize the handiwork of the Creator who ultimately originated the creative ideas for design and function of the wide variety of aves, (birds), a class of animals of the familiar phylum chordata. Therefore, if we humorously refer to “bird worshippers,” we realize many expand their worship to embrace the Creator of all things including birds.

Since moving to our small corner of northwest Illinois called the “Driftless area,” I have enthused about this region as “bird heaven.” Perhaps I was unable to devote enough time to avian observation activities in previous residences during my years of active employment prior to 2000. Since retirement, my definition of “worship” has expanded: it has broadened considerably. My theological concept of worship has broadened as well. Worship experiences may be described on a worship spectrum. Even though I do not claim to be an expert on birds, I shall use Driftless area birds to illustrate an expanded vision of worship.

The opening sentence in the current post used the term spectrum in a broad sense. Summer Driftless area birds display every color of the electromagnetic spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We must not neglect to mention birds with black or white plumage. Even the cold, snowy midwest winter features startling reds from male cardinals and brilliant blues from a few lingering bluebirds who choose to remain behind in the harshest conditions of the polar vortex.

Spectrum is sometimes used to express a range between limits. The range of bird weights is from 0.1 to 0.2 ounces for hummingbirds to 0.5 ounces for indigo buntings to 20 ounces for crows and up to 20 pounds for tom turkeys. Habits of flight and preferences for habitat, nesting sites, unique behaviors, and food vary widely as do their many different vocalizations. A search of nature manuals tells the complete story. Birds are characterized by their startling differences as much as their similarities. As with all the uncounted millions of earth species, we may credit the Creator with a fascinating multitude of design concepts as he fulfilled his ideas for the class aves. We reverently credit the Creator of earth life with a sense of humor in executing his creation activities, particularly for the variety within hundreds of North American bird species.

During this spring and early summer 2014, we have easily observed dozens of bird species in our corner of the Driftless area. There are many more species seen less easily. Bear with me while I develop a case for personal “worship” to enlarge upon the more familiar corporate church worship. In all cases our personal worship recognizes the Creator as our ultimate object of worship. To support our proposal that God’s living handiwork sometimes manifests a sense of humor, we cite a few examples. Their entertaining antics are a gift for human observers to enjoy.

Cliff swallows make their annual appearance under a small culvert one mile from our home. As I approached to observe the temporary home of about 200 swallows inhabiting the small culvert, they all took wing in about one minute. While I examined the culvert with field glasses a few dozen feet away, the birds circled far overhead, possibly consuming a few insect meals. A few barn swallow relatives joined the scene from a nearby farm with their characteristic calls. Cliff swallow nest architecture is a marvel of engineering consisting of numerous closely spaced intricate mud structures adhering to the vertical culvert walls, each sporting a small opening for entrance and egress. It has been discovered that some birds take one of their own eggs and deposit it nearby in another bird’s nest, perhaps a model of the phenomenon of adoption from the world of nature!

Barn swallows visit our immediate neighborhood only infrequently but my last lawn mowing experience was occasioned by the deliberate circling of a single healthy barn swallow for fifteen minutes. Once he flew dangerously close to my head. Perhaps he was expressing gratitude for the tiny insects I disturbed as I mowed. We both benefitted from the temporary interaction on my lawn. The swallow received a meal. I received satisfaction associated with a sense of wonder at his adaptive ability.

We cannot forego one more opportunity to cite the behavior and appearance of one of the favorite birds of our neighborhood residents—the indigo bunting. The longest surviving indigo bunting achieved an age of eight years. I have been aware of unique indigo bunting behavior in our neighborhood since 2010 when I first noticed the attraction of one special dead branch in one particular walnut tree for one resident  male indigo bunting. Could it be the same bird migrating by memory year after year to the same walnut branch in Illinois from its winter home in Central America? Or could this be the manifestation of a genetic factor passed on to hatchling buntings of several years ago, aided by their recognition of visible dark sky constellations proven to aid these birds in their night migratory flight? One last observation relates to my noisy lawn mower passing under the bird. The shattering noise does not phase him. He seems to sing even louder. The male bird serenades while females raise their babies. Psalm 103 reports “birds of the air…sing among the branches” and “make their nests.” 


Resisting the temptation to extend the chronicle of our Driftless area bird behavior, I offer one more Driftless area bird for consideration—the wild turkey. We are plentifully supplied with these large avian occupiers. I have exchanged turkey stories with many local residents. Three hen turkeys recently shepherded their collective babies to our front porch. There they shook off dust on our porch they had accumulated from dust baths on our next-door neighbor’s property. They left behind four-toed imprints in the dust as if to leave a signature of their visit. The family group lingered in our flower bed mulch before moving on. Birds and humans often coexist with what seems to be mutual respect.

The psalmist David begins his descriptive exultations of the natural world in Psalms 103-104 with “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2 NIV). The benefits of the wonders of life surrounding us include the supply of plentiful opportunities to worship the Creator.

  





















         

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Worship in Nature

Observation of the living animals and plants in our neighborhood afford our family ample opportunity to worship God in the setting of nature. For Christians, worship is defined by adoration, respect, reverence, and love for the God of the Bible. Apart from the Christian worldview, our post title may be cause for misunderstanding. Worship of nature is not identical to worship in nature. Pantheism is a term in which everything, including the world of nature and its living creatures, could be regarded as God. In the view of pantheism, God does not exist as a personal Being. Christians worship the Creator of Scripture without assuming a pantheist identity. The Person of God in the Bible is the Creator of all things. 

While the study of worship in group gatherings of God’s people in settings such as a church building may help define worship, Christians may experience worship experiences wherever and whenever the reality of God’s creative handiwork is observed. Many locales offer opportunity to fulfill the experience of worship. Having enjoyed the natural world throughout life, we propose that the outdoor setting is an appropriate and meaningful worship venue. Many phenomena tangibly lead us to the experience of worship. Observation of animal life is perhaps one of the best examples. For young children, questions and answers to “Who made these wonderful creatures with their outstanding beauty and ability?” has incredible value.

Understanding the dimensions of worship and means of experiencing worship is a complex topic. If we propose an outdoor setting for worship and suggest study of the characteristics of animals and plants to enhance our experience of worship, some acquaintances might believe we misunderstand the concept of worship. They may endorse a traditional and overly narrow concept. Many Christians traditionally worship most effectively in church at definite scheduled times. We hasten to affirm the appropriateness of this sort of worship experience, but one’s view of worship will broaden as knowledge of the natural world increases.

While observing the wildlife in our surroundings we experience a blend of emotions. From a purely analytical approach, we may describe the physical appearance and behavior of the area wildlife as if we were writing a biology textbook. Observing the animals more carefully and deeply we observe complex physical design features and unique behavioral characteristics. In past posts we have referenced “soulishness” as a characteristic of some higher forms of animal life. Even less advanced forms of animal life without soulishness manifest complex physical and behavioral traits. We experience worship because we believe God is the Creator of all things including our neighborhood wildlife.

Some may cite the wonder of living creatures as evidence of the existence of God, giving them occasion for worship of the Creator. Naturalist biologists may scoff at this idea, claiming bio-science is completely naturalistic. Theistic believers, however, claim design and behavioral characteristics of living creatures give evidence of activity of the Creator. 

Even if evidence for God is not present in a scientific sense, such observations support an interesting concept proposed by theistic philosophers and theologians such as William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga. As creatures made in the Image of God we are gifted with an inner awareness—a God-consciousness. In the Craig and Plantinga proposals it is reasonable to believe in God (and worship him) without physical evidence. They have written entire volumes on their concept of “properly basic beliefs.”

Lest we fail to simplify the point of this post, we claim worship experiences emanate from a variety of events and are experienced by different individuals in diverse ways. As we reinforce our belief that God created all things, we encourage readers to search for opportunities to worship God in ordinary and mundane events.







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Monday, June 30, 2014

Knowledge Validation

Epistemology is a study of knowledge. Searching the topic further, we find that our knowledge must be validated. We must strive to achieve justified true belief. We strive to be sure our beliefs are true, not merely our opinions. Brief statements about knowledge, validation, and justified true beliefs are inadequate to describe topics about which philosophers have produced plentiful writings to help us locate correct thinking. Knowledge is a more difficult concept than we suppose.

In matters of the science/faith interface we may investigate how science relates to our faith. Science is a vehicle leading us to knowledge of our natural world in many different fields. Knowledge of physical, biological, and earth/space sciences has expanded exponentially in our lifetimes. Going back roughly 400 years, the scientific revolution greatly expanded our knowledge of the universe. In terms of the interface between science and faith, has science increased our knowledge of God? Or is our science a self-contained sphere of knowledge, neither enhancing nor detracting from our God-awareness and God-knowledge?

Is the existence of God affirmed or weakened by the knowledge of science? We posit that the existence of God is strongly affirmed by the discoveries of science. Therefore, knowledge of the discoveries of science as well as knowledge of how science works validates our knowledge of God’s existence as well as the fact that God created all things. Not only did God create, but we have knowledge of how God created. For example, we have knowledge that there was a beginning of our universe in an infinitely small speck. We have knowledge of how the universe has developed since that beginning. Our knowledge confirms the orderliness of the created universe. Atoms, the particles out of which the visible material of the universe consist, in turn are composed of an orderly array of subatomic particles. The particles possess fundamental forces called strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational. We do not fully understand these forces beyond the truth that they are necessary to hold our  universe together in an orderly way.

Some information about our universe is still unknown. Discoveries in the last two decades have advanced our knowledge. For instance, there is a mysterious unseen “dark energy” which comprises a large fraction of the mass/density (68.3%) of the universe. We know, however, that the amount of dark energy along with dark (26.8%) and visible (4.9%) matter must be fine tuned to an incredible degree of precision in order that the expansion of the universe may allow life to exist.

With respect to life, evolutionary science does not have an explanation for the origin of life in our universe. The Judeo-Christian Bible claims God created life. It is one of the fundamental mysteries confronting the naturalistic science profession. In terms of physical processes governing matter, most interactions of matter ultimately yield their secrets to the discovery processes of science. Discovery of the secrets of the beginning of life on earth is a notable exception. Many scientists optimistically speculate on the probability of life on even one or perhaps many other planets circling the trillions of other stars in our universe. With each passing year, dozens of additional fine-tuned characteristics necessary for life on even one other planet are described. The probability of life on any other planet in our universe becomes more incomprehensibly remote with each passing year.

Since the days of Charles Darwin, bio-scientists have created their elaborate theory of molecules to man evolution whereby modern man evolved from LUCA, the “last universal common ancestor.” Every organism, according to the theory, evolved from one common living organism at some time in the past four billion years. Darwin wrote “Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed.”

Humanity has been characterized by a tendency to propose their own intellectual constructs. Our blog has compared creation proposals with evolutionary proposals along earth’s lengthy timeline to explain the beauty and complexity of life forms and life processes. Evidence for creation events to explain the many rapid appearances of magnificent and diverse life forms is plentiful. The ancient Cambrian Explosion is one of many examples. In contrast, evolution depends on repeated hypotheses of evolutionary branching transitions resulting in speciations.

Our quest for knowledge of origins must strive to achieve the standard of “justified true belief.” Some may offer their opinion that “justified true belief” applies to their embrace of organic evolution. Opinions on evolution may connect broadly with a naturalistic world view. Or, we may endorse supernatural creationism for our explanation of life origins. We must insure that our belief that God’s existence and his power to create connect standards of validation and “justified true beliefs” to our claim of knowledge.  

  




  





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Is Text "King?"

What does the text say? Pastors refer to the biblical text. They repeat this question when introducing their preferred pulpit topics. A favored topic giving voice to this question during pulpit studies on Genesis is the important question of origins. Not only do pastors deal with the question of the divine creation of the universe, but also time frames for the creation of the universe, the earth as a separate body, and the sudden appearance of complex bacterial earth life. More detailed studies deal with the onset of multicellular life during the Pre-Cambrian, the startling explosion of diverse, complex life during the Cambrian, the progression of animals and plants making their appearance on the planet in the eons since then, and finally the creation of humanity in God’s image. These topics are difficult, hot button issues.

In dealing with the question “What does the text say,” we offer a caution: Interpretation of the Bible text assumes even more importance.

Detailed textual treatment of any subject frequently opens with an introductory chapter. In scripture, nothing in the introductory statements is false or misleading, but the text may cry out for more detail. The introduction serves a specific purpose. Its purpose may be merely to provide an appetizer to set the stage for consumption of the main literary meal. Discovery of details of the creation story is still ongoing. 

Genesis 1-2 provides a brief textual account of the creation of the universe and the appearance of life on our planet. Verse 1 begins the account: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Chapters 3-4 follows with a chronicle of early human families. In terms of thoroughness, my personal desire includes a quantitatively expanded version of events in Genesis 1-4. Nevertheless, we do not second guess the human writer of Genesis or question the abbreviated length of the Genesis narrative. God inspired the human author to produce the desired length as well the appropriate content.

In terms of the origin of the created universe and operation of our cosmos as it continues today, we ask if the text of the first few chapters of Genesis should be regarded as king? What does “Text Is King” mean in this context? May we use the divinely inspired, authoritative text of the opening chapters of scripture to establish a detailed timeline for creation events, to determine if the creation days were 24-hours long, or to answer other specific questions about creation that occur to us? We respectfully state that in this sense, a singular interpretation of text is not king. We long to read extended additional chapters of the story of creation. But the Bible does not provide extended informational chapters on the subject. The authoritative meaning of God’s inspired introductory creation account in Genesis 1-4, however, is utterly undiminished. Genesis 1-4 reads as introduction to a wonderful creation narrative. It introduces fundamental truths.

Beyond the introduction of core truths of the creation saga in the early text of  Genesis, detailed truth discovery awaits us. The terms special revelation and general revelation are not used in scripture but these familiar concepts are derived from the Bible. Special revelation predominates in scripture—the message of God’s redemptive love for man and how he reaches out to humanity. In our day the Word of God communicates special revelation primarily through textual historic records of God’s dealings with humanity and the revelation of Jesus Christ to man by his incarnation. In contrast, general revelation is the message told concerning the Creator by his created works and clarified by our discovery of specifics concerning operation of the physical creation. Famous passages from Psalm 19 and Romans 1:20 describe instances of general revelation.

Some theologians conflate textual special revelation with interpretation of details concerning physical creation events, linking doctrines of salvation and our relationship with God with general revelation. Some believe their favored interpretation of Hebrew language subtleties is beyond error with respect to physical creation events. The several meanings of “yom” (day) provide an example with respect to duration of creation days.

Is text “king?” Our multidimensional God reveals himself in multidimensional ways. We need not stop off at the text of Genesis 1-2 and pronounce our interpretation “king” with respect to topics of physical creation. To do so would limit our knowledge of both God and God’s created works. The above-referenced scriptures from Psalms and Romans refer to the general revelation of God in creation. It remains for man to discover rich information concerning details of creation events. In our modern age, plentiful knowledge has been gained from correctly interpreted science. Detailed specifics of Genesis 1-2 events are now accessible. As science methods improve we acquire more and more information concerning the age and history of the universe, our solar system, and Earth life. Our blog has stressed the sudden appearances of life forms and the basic changelessness of species after they appear. We have described these events in bio-history as divine creation events in conformity with the introductory chapters of the Book of Genesis.     






   






  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Convincing Proofs

Luke the physician, author of the New Testament Book of Acts and the gospel named for him, was apparently an evidentialist. Even in Luke’s day doctors were required to be skilled diagnosticians able to observe and report carefully. We are unsure what sort of medical training physicians received in the days of the early church. We assume physical effects were linked to causes in Doctor Luke’s office even in those nascent days of medical practice.

The King James version uses an interesting phrase to support belief that Christ rose from the dead: “…he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 KJV). Translators have used “infallible proofs” in Luke’s account of Christ’s resurrection. Faced with doubt and disbelief many were startled by Christ’s resurrection. Early followers of Jesus needed reassurance that the event really happened. Most people trusted numerous eyewitness testimonials cited by Luke. Other modern translations such as the NIV use the term “convincing proofs” instead of “infallible (not subject to error) proofs.” The meaning is very clear. Luke’s evidence for Christ’s resurrection is convincing.

Romans 10:9 attributes the resurrection of Christ from the dead to the work of God. The miracle of resurrection from the dead is a transcendent miracle, perhaps the most “spectacular” sort of miraculous event, surpassing more common transformational and sustaining miracles. Transcendent miracles supersede established physical laws by which the world operates every day. When we believe in a transcendent miracle, we also believe in the God who performs the miracle: “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Roman 10:9 NIV).

In Bible times we encounter many people who did not believe in God. Even the miraculous works of Christ did not persuade them. Luke 16:31 refers to people who would not believe or repent even though someone were to rise from the dead. Such a miracle may persuade a non-believer to become a believer. However, there is no guarantee that witnessing a miracle, or many miracles, is sufficient to convert from  non-belief to belief. Free will, one of God’s surpassing gifts to man whereby we choose to believe or disbelieve, is still operative in every human.

Our science/faith blog assumes that for many observers, faith in God is strengthened by knowledge of wonders revealed to us from the world of science. Others believe many interrelated phenomena are to be regarded as events that “just happen.” This is the view of naturalism, that “nature is all there is,” and that God does not act. Intuitively many observers conclude that God is the author of our spectacularly ordered universe.

There is no guaranteed path to faith even in the face of the best reinforcing evidence for belief in God from the world of science or any other world. As Doctor Luke stated, we have confidence in “convincing proofs” as we study evidence for the transcendent miracle of Christ’s resurrection. The degree of our confidence in the proofs depends on our personal willingness to believe. We study the evidence of sustaining, transformational, and transcendent miracles. Then we decide whether or not the evidence tilts us toward belief in the reality of God and the reality of creation events spoken of throughout scripture.