Category Archives: Journey of Faith

Caesar Proclaimed the Resurrection

My last post was prompted by an article from the Associates for Biblical Research. While poking around their website, I learned an astonishing fact.

In the late 1800’s, a French collector acquired an ancient stone from Nazareth. The stone, now in the Louvre in Paris, is a marble tablet about 24 inches by 15 inches. It contains an edict by Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) ordering the death penalty for stealing bodies from Jewish tombs. Bodies?. Grave robbers steal valuables, not bodies. Why would stealing bodies from Jewish tombs, a pathetically trivial subject for the Empire, merit an imperial decree?

Below I quote the Book of Matthew. This comes immediately after the death of Jesus on the cross:

The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The scene is set. Jesus is dead. Powerful Jewish leaders, the chief Priests and Pharisees, post their top guards and make the “tomb as secure as [they] know how.”

Now back to Matthew.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

This is the key event of the Christian faith. Jesus is risen. Matthew tells us the cover-up began immediately.

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

That’s the cover-up. Tell everyone a totally disorganized group of backwoods, uneducated disciples came in while the elite guards were sleeping, and not only were able to unseal a large stone but, even more amazing, were able to do it without waking the guards. Not a believable cover-up story, but that is the best they could come up with. The empty tomb was on public display; they couldn’t deny that.

As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Government propaganda lies are not new. Almost two thousand years ago, the Emperor of Rome, then the most powerful person in the world, tried to prop up this absurd story that uneducated peasants snuck by an elite guard and opened a sealed tomb while the guards were sleeping! Emperor Claudius probably issued the edict when he took control in 41 AD, at the request of his childhood friend, Jewish King Herod Agrippa I. That’s just eight years after the Resurrection. The authorities wanted to control the situation. Tensions between the Romans and the Jews were high, partly because just before his death Caligula (whose assassination brought Claudius to power) had ordered that his statute be placed in the Temple in Jerusalem. Also, the news of Jesus’s Resurrection had spread, Jesus had appeared to hundreds of people (500 at one time, according to St. Paul), and the Romans and Jewish leaders were trying to control what they perceived as a serious political threat. No doubt as news of the Resurrection spread travelers came to Nazareth to learn more about Jesus.

The cover-up continues to this day. Notoriously anti-God Wikipedia writes. “As the original location of the stone is unknown, no clear argument can be made for the stone to be a Roman response to the empty tomb story.” Seriously? They can’t figure out the argument? What else could the Roman edict be about? And exactly what difference does it make what spot in or near Nazareth the stone originally occupied? Nazareth was an absolute no place in the Roman Empire, a small backward town on the wrong side of the tracks. To find an edict from a Roman Emperor anywhere in the vicinity, with a message so clearly aimed at denying the Resurrection, is astonishing.

The Resurrection is the most documented event in the ancient world. It changed the world more than any other event. As Billy Graham said: “There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived.” Without the Resurrection, there is no reason why all (but one) of his disciples chose to suffer a brutal death rather than deny Jesus. No one dies for a lie. There is no other explanation for the growth of the Christian church.

Even Caesar proclaimed the Resurrection! He affirmed the most important event in history. He just didn’t mean to do it.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

The Old Testament and the Chronology Back to Adam

I recently learned there are different versions of the Old Testament. One is the Masoretic Text, or MT. The MT was put into its present form in the 10th century by Talmudic scholars. Another version is the Septaugint, which means 70 in Latin, also known as the LXX. The LXX was created much earlier, perhaps around 250 BC by Hebrew scholars at the request of King Ptolemy II of Egypt. It is the first translation of the Bible, and is written in Greek.

Opinions differ on which is more reliable. The Orthodox Church leans toward the LXX. The New Testament contains quotes from the LXX. However, some believe the LXX omits parts of the books of Job and Jeremiah. The Old Testament in today’s Christian Bible is a translation of the MT.

The two versions have different chronologies going back to Adam. For the most part, the list of patriarchs is the same. For the most part, the life spans of the patriarchs are the same. The key difference is in “begetting” ages, the time elapsed from one generation to another. For example, in the LXX Seth is born when Adam is 230, and Adam lives another 700 years after Seth’s birth, for a total of 930 years. In the MT Seth is born when Adam is 130, and Adam lives another 800 years after Seth’s birth, again for a total of 930 years. If it were just Adam, you might think this a simple mistake. However, this exact 100-year difference in the space between generations appears for 12 patriarchs (six before the Flood, six after), and, in the case of Nahor, Abraham’s grandfather, there is a difference of 50 years. This is no accident. Someone or some group deliberately either added 1250 years to the time going back to Adam, or shortened that time by 1250 years.

Scholars have debated which chronology is accurate for two thousand years. Most ancient Christian scholars argued for the originality of the LXX’s primeval chronology, and that consensus lasted over 14 centuries until the Reformation.

The Winter 2018 issue of Bible and Spade, the magazine of Associates for Biblical Research, contains an excellent article on this conundrum by Henry B. Smith Jr. He concludes “the MT’s primeval chronology was deliberately reduced in the second century AD by 1250 years.”

Why? Smith provides a motive. Around 150 BC, an unknown author deceptively claiming to be Moses penned the Book of Jubilees. In Hebrew tradition a jubilee is a period of 49 years. Jubilees rewrites Biblical history into periods of 49 years. In Jubilees, Joshua enters and conquers Canaan on the 50th Jubilee since creation, or exactly 2450 years after creation. To make this work, the author had to do some serious cutting, and slashed 1250 years off the begetting ages.

Jubilees claimed to be a new revelation, originally written ages before on “heavenly tablets” that pre-dated the Torah. Jubilees was extremely popular, and considered authoritative in some early traditions. Smith suggests Jubilees induced Hebrew scholars to adopt lower begetting ages.

Jubilees proposed lower begetting ages than found in the LXX, and the MT authors ultimately adopted many of them. For the first five patriarchs, from Adam to Mahalalel, the MT slices exactly 100 years off the begetting age, as was done in Jubilees. However, for three of the next four patriarchs –Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech – the begetting ages were not reduced. Why not? Smith suggests that the authors of the MT realized that these additional reductions would result in patriarchs (other than Noah and his sons) living beyond the Flood.

One of Smith’s most compelling arguments is that the longer chronology in the LXX is affirmed by at least four independent ancient works. One of these is Antiquities of the Jews by Flavius Josephus, who was a very careful historian. Smith writes: “All reliable external witnesses before AD 100 outside rabbinic influence unanimously testify to the longer chronology.”

This is deep subject, and I can offer only a glimpse of the issues and arguments. I have brutally oversimplified. There are many issues in the chronology back to Adam. However, the 1250-year difference in the begetting ages between the MT and the LXX is the most important. Some try to discredit the LXX, because in some later copies Methuselah lives beyond the Flood, but that has been shown to be a copying error from early versions.

Associates for Biblical Research uses archeology to confirm the biblical record. Smith’s article is important because under the MT chronology there isn’t enough time. If the Flood occurred around 2500 BC, as some might place it based on the MT, many of the dates established by archeological findings and historical records don’t work well. Smith dates the Flood at 3298 BC, and Creation at 5554 BC. These dates leave adequate time for repopulation after the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the spread of humanity.

I must note I find this post disturbing. I am suggesting the Bible in your house is not completely accurate. I don’t like that, and it doesn’t feel right. I am not telling you what to believe. My goal is to give you facts you may not be aware of, and let you decide.

This post doesn’t contradict in any way the enormous evidence of modern science that the universe and life were designed. This post doesn’t contradict in any way the overwhelming scientific evidence the Earth is young. In past posts I have touched on some of that, such as dinosaur “soft tissue,” Flood memories in societies around the world, and strong DNA evidence. With the LXX chronology, we get times that agree with the archeological and historical evidence.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

Full Strength Christianity

Christianity is on the decline. A recent poll found the percentage of Americans professing to be Christians declined by 7. 8% between 2007 and 2014. I’m back from Europe, where I was able to visit churches and cathedrals. Some took a century or more to build; they represent the greatest architecture and art of the Middle Ages; they are increasingly empty.

To what do we attribute this loss of faith? Our “popular” media twists true science and often mocks belief. Our tax dollars are used to indoctrinate children in the Darwinian delusion that technology so advanced we cannot understand it (like the human brain) arose by accident. Our scientists invent nonsense theories, theories without a shred of evidence, to remove God from the creation of the universe and the creation of life.

Sadly, many churches share the blame. Many offer watered-down Christianity. Some acquiesce to the contradictions of “theistic evolution,” they embrace the Darwinian delusion of technology by accident, yet try to convince people God is in control. Some treat Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood, as fable. Some even question the divinity of Jesus.

This retreat can lead to spiritual death. I quote now from an Atheist. His starting premise is wrong, but his logic from that false premise is compelling:

The most devastating thing though that biology did to Christianity was the discovery of biological evolution. Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed. If there never was an Adam and Eve there never was original sin. If there never was an original sin there is no need of salvation. If there is no need of salvation there is no need of a savior. And I submit that puts Jesus, historical or otherwise, into the ranks of the unemployed. I think that evolution is absolutely the death knell of Christianity.

Do you see my point? Without the metanarrative, the overarching theme, of Creation – Fall – Redemption, what is the purpose of the cross? How can Jesus be the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45) if there was no first Adam? The Christian faith is diluted to something like “please love your neighbor and do good things. ” Why get out of bed on Sunday for that?

Another way of looking at it, as a friend pointed out to me, is if you don’t believe that Adam and Eve were real people, at what point do you start believing the Bible? Until recently, I didn’t grasp this logical problem. I would not consider the evidence for Adam and Eve, and Noah and the flood, just as many will not consider the overwhelming scientific evidence for the existence of God. I was afraid others might think me crazy. Now that my eyes are open, I am astonished by the evidence.

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend “Is Genesis History?” which is available on Netflix. It will answer many of your questions and concerns.

I have learned to embrace the Bible as the literal word of God. When my eyes were opened to the true evidence, I felt a great peace. When I learned I could trust the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, from sin to salvation, I was overjoyed.

I invite you to take Christianity full strength. Full strength Christianity can satisfy your soul. Overall, Bible-based churches with full strength Christianity are growing. This is great news. Modern science increasingly, with new discoveries every year, backstops full strength Christianity. In recent posts I’ve touched on DNA evidence of Adam and Eve, and memories of Noah and the flood. There is so much more that supports the literal truth of the Bible.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate the work of many of you to share the good news of true science. Together we can change the world.

Breakfast with Mary

I’m back from five wonderful days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The scenery was spectacular, and the total eclipse inspiring. Maybe someday I’ll post on how perfectly right everything has to be to get a total eclipse, and the evidence for God in that. Today I’ll share another spiritual experience, breakfast with Mary Neal.

Mary is an orthopedic surgeon in Jackson. She died in 1999 while kayaking in South America. Yes, DIED! She was underwater for perhaps thirty minutes, was with Jesus, and experienced Heaven. Many find that hard to accept. I assure you, if you were sitting across from Mary at breakfast, you would know it was true.

Mary wrote a book about her experience: To Heaven and Back. It was published in 2012, and became a New York Times #1 Best Seller. It is fantastic (I recommended it in Counting To God). The book describes miraculous things in Mary’s life. For whatever reason, Mary has a special connection with God.

Our breakfast was a blur, even though it lasted more than an hour and a half. Here’s what I remember:

  • Mary says they’re “death experiences,” not “near-death experiences.” She did die, and she came back.
  • Mary says God welcomes us at death in a personal way. She loves colors and flowers. Mary told me the colors and flowers God presented her in Heaven were beautiful beyond description. She thinks each of us will be greeted in a way we will find overwhelmingly wonderful.
  • Mary thinks suffering often has a purpose. It can bring us back to God.
  • Mary feels sorry for Judas. Somebody had to betray Jesus, to fulfill the prophecies, and Judas got the short straw.
  • Mary is not a fan of overly “literal” interpretations of the Bible. We discussed John 14:6, where (English Standard Version) Jesus says “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Some interpret this to mean that only Christians can be saved. Mary disagrees, as do I. Just three verses later Jesus states: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus then asks, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” The point is Jesus is God, there is no separation, so if you get to God you get to Jesus.
  • Like me, Mary isn’t sure what to believe about hell. We both think that God, being a perfect gentleman, will respect it if you absolutely refuse to let him into your life, although he will give you plenty of opportunities to change your mind. But if you always push him away, you will likely be by yourself after death, and that will be hell.
  • We discussed the stresses of modern life, and the pressures people put on themselves. Mary suggested we forget about the past, we can’t change it; if we are upset we should ask God for peace, and if we feel guilty or inadequate we should ask God to forgive us. We should do our best for the future, but not worry, only God is in charge. Mary said she lives a life of joy.
  • Mary compared our relationship with God to the relationship of a child with his/her parent. God created us, but in his image with the ability to choose, and knowing that, as we grow up, we will make mistakes. But God is a loving parent, and, no matter what we’ve done, still loves us. She says of course God knew Adam and Even would eat the apple. You can tell a child a thousand times not to touch the hot stove, but eventually they will want to see what happens.
  • We spoke of the wonder of biologic design (OK, I admit I brought this up), and how most people are stuck in this neo-Darwinian nonsense, despite overwhelming evidence of design.

Mary has written a new book, Lessons From Heaven, which will be released September 19, 2017. She sent an early version to me about a month ago, and I loved it. It goes into more detail about her experience in Heaven, and how we can all use the lessons she learned to find joy and peace. She also documents death experiences going back millennia.

It was a privilege to have breakfast with Mary. I love hearing or reading about death experiences, experiences of Jesus and Heaven. Some Atheists deny God by saying that, even if the universe is perfectly designed (which it is), and even if all creatures were designed (which they were), it must have been aliens! They would rather believe in little green men than a loving God. As Mary’s new book documents, millions of people have had death experiences, or other direct experiences of God. God is real.

Thanks for reading. Please spread the good news of true science.

The Astronomy of Jesus

Two years ago I posted an item on the Star of Bethlehem. I love evidence for the truth of the Gospels.

This month I gave two talks at my church (Trinity Church, Vero Beach, Florida) on the Star of Bethlehem and the Astronomy of Jesus. Here is a video of the first, which focuses on the Star and when Jesus was born:

I like giving talks and interacting with people, and I also like that, when preparing, I learn wonderful things. Here’s a fact that blew me away – Marco Polo visited the tombs of the Magi (translated in the Gospel of Matthew as “wise men”)!

“In Persia is the city of Saba, from which the Three Magi set out… and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, beautifully kept. The bodies are still entire, with hair and beard remaining.”
–Marco Polo 1299 AD

This city is now called Saveh, and it is about 60 miles southwest of Tehran. The Magi traveled about 1200 miles to see Jesus.

My second talk focused on the date of the cross:

Multiple lines of evidence point to April 3, 33 AD. I learned that a Roman historian wrote that “on the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness” on the day that Jesus died. This great darkness is recorded in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as taking place from noon to 3 pm, the hour that Jesus died. How stunning to find an independent Roman record of this “most fearful darkness”! The Roman record also notes the great earthquakes mentioned in the Gospels.

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!

Reality and the Monarch Butterfly

This week I have another amazing animal story, this time about the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs are gorgeous, and found in most parts of the United States and Canada.

Scientists didn’t know where Monarchs went in the winter. We now know Monarchs from the Eastern United States and Canada spend the winter in Mexico. They migrate thousands of miles, and often know exactly what tree they are looking for, just as salmon return to the stream of their birth, and loggerhead turtles return to lay their eggs on the beach where they were hatched.

All of these species, and some other species like birds, have this impossible-to-obtain-by-chance technology built in. They know the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field (birds can “see” it with their eyes), and they can feel the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field (birds have this technology in their beaks). They have the ability to process this information, and to adjust to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. We humans have learned how to do this only recently, using sophisticated measuring instruments and complex computer programs. All of these animals, including tiny Monarchs, have this technology built in, and are born knowing how to use it.

Complex technology in unrelated species proves the existence of God. Clearly a common designer placed it there for a purpose. As I have shown before, it is mathematically impossible to get technology this complex by any chance-based process, such as Darwin’s theory of natural selection acting on random mutations and gradually, slowly, with very small steps, each one of which has some survival advantage, improving species.

What really shocks me about Monarch butterflies is that, in this migration of thousands of miles, no butterfly has ever made the round trip. Monarchs typically return to the same tree where their great-great-grandfathers were hatched. There are at least four generations involved. Each generation goes from egg to caterpillar to butterfly. The fourth generation, the generation that spends the winter in Mexico, typically lives about 6 months, the other three generations each live about two months.

It appears Monarchs have built-in technology that stores memories – information – from their great-great-grandfathers. This technology is way beyond human understanding. We don’t know how to begin to modify life to do this. It is absolutely stunning technology.

Two key points: First, this four-generation migration pattern, apparently using technology to remember what your great-great-grandfather did, and different life spans for different generations, absolutely shatters Darwin’s theory. It couldn’t have arisen from gradual, small changes.

Second, is it possible the Monarch Butterfly gives us a glimpse of God? We don’t know how our brains store memories. The popular perception is that memories are electrically coded into our brains, much like computer memories have information stored in them. Maybe so, but with Monarchs I wonder whether there might be more, whether memory is stored in the “cloud,” so to speak, meaning outside our space-time reality. We don’t understand consciousness. To me, the thousands of similar near-death experiences, with bright lights, fantastically beautiful colors and sounds, meeting deceased relatives, and often meeting Jesus, prove we have eternal souls. So I ask you whether, just possibly, the Monarch Butterfly is giving us a glimpse of something eternal, of a new reality.

Thanks for reading!

Proof of God

This week’s blog post is the flyer for a conference I am giving outside Orlando in early October. It’s going to be an amazing weekend where I will preview sections of the new book I am writing, called “Proof of God.” Please spread the word.

Thanks for reading.

    PROOF OF GOD

October 2 – 3, 2015 Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center

Stunning new discoveries in biology, cosmology, physics, and planetary formation all point to a transcendent intelligence that created space and time, and designed every species on Earth. Join us for an amazing weekend that will leave you with a rock-solid foundation for faith.

Our speaker is Douglas Ell, a former atheist and MIT graduate, and a prominent attorney in Washington DC, who has spent 30 years reconciling science and God. Doug is the author of Counting To God – A Personal Journey Through Science to Faith. Doug has lectured at MIT, and enlightened audiences at conferences and churches.

WHY: Doug is driven by his passion to fight the false perceptions of our mass culture, and the bullies who deny and try to hide the overwhelming evidence of God. With double MIT majors in math and physics, a graduate degree in theoretical math, and decades of experience sifting through competing arguments and facts, Doug is uniquely poised to untangle the often emotional relationship between science and religion.

WHO: This seminar is for anyone who wants to help those who doubt their faith. It is for anyone curious about the amazing discoveries of modern science. It is for anyone who seeks the truth.

HOW: Using everyday language, and simple multiplication, Doug will interpret the latest scientific results in a way that will astonish you. The only prerequisite is curiosity.

WHERE: October 2 and 3, 2015, at Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center in Oveido, FL, just 30 minutes from Orlando International Airport. Space is limited: register online at canterburyretreat.org or call 407-365-5571.

Seminar Outline

Session One: Proof of God – A straightforward yet astonishing proof that every species on Earth has been designed. This session alone could change your life.

Session Two: The Evidence from Physics – A romp through space and time, from cosmology to the fine-tuning of the universe to the formation of Earth, highlighting the overwhelming new evidence of a created and designed universe and the extraordinarily special qualities of Earth.

Session Three: The Wonder of Life – A fresh look at the origin of life and the creation of new species.

Session Four: Empowerment – How can the proof of God change your life, and how together can we make known the objective basis for faith? This session will seek to empower you to spread the word of God in a way you have never done before.

Faith, Belief, and Facts

When it sticks to science, New Scientist magazine usually does a good job. It reports experimental results in a reasonably non-technical way. But when it touches on religion, it lapses into the usual blunders.

A good example is a letter recently selected as the “editors pick.” The letter claims “Science is belief based on evidence; faith, on the other hand, is belief regardless of the evidence.” So the letter defines faith as having no objective support, and then goes on to bash religion.

English is a complex language, and many words have multiple meanings. The first definition of “faith” in my dictionary is “a confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.” The first definition in a popular online dictionary reads basically the same – “confidence or trust in a person or thing.” The second definition in my dictionary is “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence,” the third is basically allegiance (as in “keeping faith”), and the fourth is belief in God. So this New Scientist item ignores the most common usage, the first definition, picks up the second definition, and uses it to bash the fourth definition.

This is not just semantics. At stake is the foundation of Christianity. Is it based on blind trust? To me, belief in God is based on rock-solid scientific evidence. Christianity is based on rock-solid historical evidence. In the Bible, especially the New Testament, you see over and over miracles to prove the existence of God. The Bible doesn’t tell us to believe blindly; it tells us to believe because of the facts. Here’s John 20:30-31:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Atheists claim religion is based on blind faith. Unfortunately, they are aided in this deception by church leaders who don’t know the scientific evidence. Here’s a nice excerpt from another blogger (Wintery Knight) on how dangerous this is:

Suppose a pastor or campus group leader wants to avoid having to learn physics and cosmology, or the minimum facts case for the resurrection, or how to respond to apparently gratuitous suffering, or the problem of religious pluralism. Suppose he thinks that Christianity, if it is about anything, is about his feeling happy and comfortable with a minimum of effort and work. So, he diligently avoids reading apologetics, because learning evidence is hard work. He avoids watching debates on God’s existence and the resurrection, because this is hard work. He avoids conversations with people who do study these things, and implies that there is something wrong with them for studying these things. He endeavors to conceal his laziness and ignorance and cowardice from his flock with much pious God-talk and fervent praise-hymn-singing.

Eventually, some member of his church asks him to go for lunch with an actual non-Christian family member. The pastor agrees and when he meets the unbelieving family member, he has nothing at all to say about typical challenges that unbelievers face. He has no knowledge of evolution, the problem of evil, the hiddenness of God, or the hallucination theory. He has never read a single atheist, and never read a single piece of evidence to refute them from Christian scholars. He lacks humility, refusing to admit that other Christian scholars may know more than he does because they have studied other areas. Needless to say, he fails to defend God’s reputation to the non-Christian.

I think this excerpt does a good job of showing why we must understand and share the evidence. Yes, cosmology and physics and molecular biology are hard subjects (and quantum mechanics is in a class of its own). But we need to stand up for God.

We all believe in various things. One definition of a fanatic is someone who believes in something contrary to the evidence. To me, Atheists are fanatics. They deny the overwhelming scientific evidence that our universe was created, that the universe is fine-tuned, that life was created, and that every species on Earth was designed.

Be careful of those who suggest religious faith is blind. They spin a false web of hopelessness that ensnares many good people. Rejoice in God because of the facts, not despite the facts.

Thanks for reading.

Holy Week

It’s been a few weeks since my last post; I’ve been speaking at conferences. Just two weeks ago, at the Westminster Conference on Science and Faith outside Philadelphia, I met John Lennox and Michael Denton, two published and well known scholars. If you go to my Facebook “author” page https://www.facebook.com/Douglas.Ell.Author you can see our smiling faces!

Today is Good Friday. The astronomical evidence is that, if you project the modern calendar backwards – in other words if you pretend the present calendar was in effect during Jesus’s lifetime – then Jesus died on the cross exactly 1,982 years ago today. He died April 3, 33 A.D. This follows from the Biblical references that Jesus was crucified just before Passover on “Preparation Day.” Other references from the Book of Acts and the Old Testament indicate that there was a “blood moon” – a lunar eclipse – the night he died. These events and other historical evidence suggest Jesus died April 3, 33 A.D., exactly 1,982 years ago. If this is true, then of course Easter this year will fall exactly 1,982 years after the day Jesus rose from the dead. The website Star of Bethlehem does a great job of explaining this.

The next year that Easter will fall on April 5 is 2026.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed Easter!

The Star of Bethlehem

Was the Star of Bethlehem myth or fact? I am greatly indebted to Wayne Taylor of Louisiana for pointing me to Rick Larson’s excellent video on this subject. It is yet another example of modern science supporting belief in God.

Computers today can reproduce how the sky looked from any point on Earth at any time in history. Armed with this new knowledge, here is a spectacular theory that supports every claim in the Bible. To shorten this, I’ll give you the events in chronological order, and you can go back yourself to check how these match exactly up with the Biblical statements in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, and with dozens of other Biblical references and historical facts. I haven’t personally been able to confirm all the details, but I have summarized the theory below.

Mid-September, 3 BC – Babylonian astronomers, the best in the world at that time, who are probably of Jewish descent (remnants of the Babylonian captivity), witness a spectacular triple conjunction of Jupiter (known to the ancients as the “King Planet”) and the star Regulus. The Babylonians called this star “Sharru,” meaning “the King”, and Regulus was also known as the “King” star by the Romans). Jupiter passes Regulus three times, and traces a crown above it. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo the lion. The Bible in different places compares the Israelite Tribe of Judah, the tribe of King David and Jesus, with a lion. This triple conjunction of the two kings is a very rare event, and suggests at least that something kingly is going on or is about to happen in Judah. This could be the date of Christ’s conception, where the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary. Remember that planets in those days were thought of as wandering stars, because they appeared to move around the heavens.

February 5, 2 BC – The Roman Senate orders an empire-wide census. Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem, the town of King David, to be counted.

June 17, 2 BCNine months after the Jupiter/Regulus conjunction, the King Planet Jupiter joins the planet Venus, universally associated with femininity, in conjunction. This is the closest alignment of Jupiter and Venus in thousands of years on each side of this date. The planets are so close that they appear to the naked eye to be touching. It is the brightest “star” the Babylonian astronomers will ever see. This conjunction takes place in the constellation of Virgo the Virgin. Jesus is born. The sacrificial “lamb of God” is born in Bethlehem, which is where thousands of sacrificial lambs that were bred for the Temple at Jerusalem were born. He is born in the late spring, not winter, and the shepherds who cared for those lambs were out in the warmer weather sleeping with the flocks during birthing season.

Late December 2 BC – The Babylonian astronomers, known as “magi” or wise men, arrive with their entourage in Jerusalem. It’s a long and difficult journey, and there was doubtless time needed to prepare. They ask Herod “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star [rising] in the East, and have come to worship him.” Herod doesn’t have a clue. (This shows the star was not a comet or supernova.) Herod asks his priests where the Messiah is to be born, and they quote him the Old Testament prediction of Bethlehem of Judea. Herod tells the magi to go and report back.

December 25, 2 BC – The magi leave Jerusalem and head due south to Bethlehem, only five miles away. Jupiter is directly south on this date as they walk out of Jerusalem, and they get to Bethlehem by following the “star.” On this exact date Jupiter goes into retrograde motion, it appears to “stop” its wandering among the stars. The magi bring gifts; it is the first Christmas. Jesus is no longer a newborn infant; the original Greek refers to him as a toddler at this point.

The heavens operate like clockwork. For these cosmic events to have accompanied the birth of Jesus, God had to have known the exact dates when the Solar System was created 5 billion years ago, and perhaps when God flung the universe into existence 14 billion years ago.

Merry Christmas!