Why Darwin’s Theory Doesn’t Work

A new study found that 54% of Americans accept Darwin’s theory, and believe human beings descended from earlier species of animals. This is not surprising given our society’s hostility to God. But it is contrary to modern science. In this post I will try to explain, as simply as I can, why modern science shows Darwin’s theory doesn’t work.

“Survival of the fittest” is not a force; it’s the self-evident statement that the organisms most likely to survive (the “fittest”) usually do survive. Big deal. There is no “search” button; there is nothing in Darwin’s theory that builds complex structures when needed.

We know from modern science that all creatures have very complex systems. We know from modern science that these systems are built from, and operated according to, code. Human beings have 3.2 billion “letters” of DNA code. In 2012, scientists studying human DNA found it contains four million switches to turn the systems in our body on and off. Each “switch” is complex code.

Mutations can and do occur anywhere in DNA. Over 99.99% of mutations are harmful or have no immediate effect. Mutations pop up in DNA at random, like typos in the text of a book.

Now imagine random changes, mutations, occurring throughout the 4,000,000 sections of our DNA that are switches. These mutations will degrade the vast majority of those switches. The overall trend will be downward, not upward. All the computer simulations show this, as I noted in this prior blog: https://countingtogod.com/mendels-accountant/

Darwin’s theory imagines that gradual changes to just one switch will eventually result in a better switch. But, even if that occurs (and no one has ever seen that occur), the other switches are being degraded. You can’t just “freeze” one switch, and try to improve that over eons, and pretend that the other switches are not harmed. It’s a simple numbers game; overall mutations degrade systems. Think of typos in the text of a book, or random changes in the programming behind the apps on your smart phone. Not likely to make the system better, and by not likely I mean never if you do the math. I made this point in both of my books. Mutations are a downhill slope. Mutations are like rust spots on the surface of a car. A few won’t slow down the car, but eventually the car will fall apart.

And that’s it! It’s really simple, despite the mindboggling refusal of many “educated” persons to see the obvious. Random changes to complex code, that can and do occur anywhere in the code and have no purpose or pattern, will not get you a better system. They will not build a new kind of animal.

This simple and obvious conclusion is supported by:

  1. The second law of thermodynamics — All systems are running down.
  2. The fossil record – the myriad varieties of “intermediate” organisms predicted by Darwin don’t exist.
  3. Laboratory experiments on bacteria showing a decline in function over tens of thousands of generations.
  4. As noted above, complex computer simulations of the effects of mutations.
  5. The existence of structures like the human brain, so complex that we cannot begin to understand how it works, that could not possibly have arisen from random changes.

Human beings are special. Don’t let anyone claim we are descended from pond scum. God designed us.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

Abraham the Astronomer

I am a fan of the website Watch Jerusalem. I copy below one of their articles. It is a fantastic story that combines astronomy, mathematics, history, and the Bible. Click here for the original article if you are interested.

History records a man who lived 10 generations after a great flood who used celestial science to prove the existence of God. He was a skilled scientist, astronomer and mathematician. His astronomical discoveries shook the foundations of Babylonian religion. He heavily influenced Egyptian and Mesopotamian scientific thought. He led armies that altered the course of world history. And all this took place before he became the forefather of the Arab, Turk and Israelite peoples!

This man’s name was Abraham. Yes, the astounding evidence of both biblical and secular history proves that the patriarch Abraham was not only real; he exerted tremendous influence on the entire ancient world!

This influence is recounted in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, the Babylonian historian Berossus, the Roman historian Eusebius and others. These records reveal that Abraham used mathematics and astronomy to discredit the pagan priesthood of his time and to prove the existence of the one true God.

Chief Scientist of the Chaldeans

Abraham was born in the city of Ur, in the land of the Chaldees, sometime in the early second millennium B.C.E. This city was then near the outskirts of the rapidly expanding Old Babylonian Empire. The pagan Babylonian priesthood publicly taught the masses to believe that the sun, moon, stars and planets were gods. These priests used their knowledge of astronomy to predict the movements of the heavenly bodies, deceiving the masses into thinking they could communicate with the gods of the Babylonian pantheon (Israel Smith Clare, The Standard History of the World, Vol. 1).

This was the political climate into which Abraham was born.

Now consider the record of third-century B.C.E. Babylonian historian Berossus: “In the 10th generation after the Flood, there was among the Chaldeans a man righteous and great, and skillful in the celestial science” (emphasis added throughout). While Berossus doesn’t give this great scientist a name, first-century Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Berossus was writing about Abraham.

There is even an ancient hymn cited by Clement of Alexandria (second century C.E.) about “a certain unique man, an offshoot from far back of the race of the Chaldeans.” This man was “knowledgeable about the path of the star and how the movement of the sphere goes around the Earth, both in circular fashion, but each on its own axis.” The poem related that this chief scientist of the Chaldeans was the only man of his era to see Zeus, “the ruler of mortal men.”

Of course, ancient Greek poets tended to call the chief god of any religion by the name Zeus. The fact that this poem speaks of a Chaldean scientist who had a special relationship with “the mighty God” isn’t coincidence!

Fourth-century C.E. Roman historian Eusebius cited an earlier source by a man named Eupolemus (second century B.C.E.), titled Concerning the Jews of Assyria. Quoting this source, Eusebius says Abraham “surpassed all men in nobility and wisdom, who was also the inventor of astronomy and the Chaldaic art, and pleased God well by his zeal towards religion.”

Josephus further records that as a young man, Abraham “determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to publish this notion, that there was but one God, the Creator of the universe” (Antiquities of the Jews, 1.7.1).

Abraham was teaching the people of Chaldea about the one true Creator!

Babylonian Mystery Religion

The Babylonian priesthood established after the Flood by Nimrod and Semiramis was teaching the masses to believe that the sun, moon, stars and planets were manifestations of the gods. They deceived people into thinking priests could communicate with these gods. In addition to being a scientist, however, Abraham was a great teacher. He taught the people physics and mathematics, and showed them that celestial bodies moved according to preordained laws.

Josephus paraphrases Abraham’s words: “If these bodies had power of their own, they would certainly take care of their own regular motions; but since they do not preserve such regularity, they make it plain, that in so far as they cooperate to our advantage, they do it not of their own abilities, but as they are subservient to Him that commands them, to whom alone we ought justly to offer our honor and thanksgiving” (ibid).

Abraham taught the Chaldeans what the priests secretly knew: The movements of the stars and other heavenly bodies are one of the greatest proofs of God’s existence. The presence of law demands the presence of a lawgiver!

Abraham taught that the stars and planets were only physical objects created by the one true God. What many historians are unwilling to admit is that Abraham possessed advanced astronomical knowledge that would not be rediscovered for thousands of years. Josephus further records that Abraham wasn’t the first astronomer in his family. The study of astronomy originated with Seth, the third son of Adam. He wrote that “God gave [those who lived before the Flood] such long life that they might perfect those things which they had invented in astronomy” (Antiquities, 1.3.9).

Other records, such as Jean Lemaire de Belges’s Illustrations of Gaul and Peculiarities of Troy (1513), indicate that Noah had knowledge of maritime astronomy involving navigating by the stars, and that he established a college in ancient Armenia to teach religion and astronomy. This noble and elderly patriarch likely brought knowledge of mathematics, astronomy and other sciences from one side of the Flood to the other, passing it down from generation to generation to Abraham!

Father of the Faithful

When the pagan Babylonian priests gained power and influence, they lost patience with Abraham and his teachings about the one true God. Josephus records that the Chaldeans and other peoples of Mesopotamia “raised a tumult” against Abraham, forcing him to flee the country. Unlike the priests of this Babylonian mystery religion, Abraham refused to teach lies to receive the praise of men. These pagan religious leaders would have killed Abraham for publishing the truth and likely did kill his older brother Haran. The Bible records only that “Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees” (Genesis 11:28). Josephus adds that a monument was erected in Haran’s honor, and that “Terah [hated] Chaldea, on account of his mourning for Haran” (Antiquities, 1.6.5).

While Terah himself fell into idol worship, Abraham never lost faith in the existence of the great Creator of the universe.

To recount all the various histories of the things Abraham suffered during this period would fill many pages. Through his trials and tribulations, however, Abraham stayed faithful to his belief in God. And when Abraham was 75 years old, God Himself actually appeared to him and spoke to him to make a covenant that would change the course of history!

I hope you will agree this historical background on Abraham is wondrous. What resonates with me is that, around 4,000 years ago, Abraham used science and mathematics to show others the existence of God. That is what I have tried to do in my books.

May the Lord bless you and hold you in the palm of his hand.

Doug Ell

130,000 New Reasons for God

To me, the 1953 discovery that DNA contains information, the discovery that all life is built from a four “letter” code, was conclusive proof, right then and there, of the existence of God. The “letters” of this code are incredible molecules. All life contains 3-D printers that read the information in DNA, how these molecules are ordered, to build proteins, the machine parts of life. All life uses the information in DNA to know how to assemble the proteins into working systems, and to know how and when to turn the systems on and off. There is no atheist explanation for how any of this, the code or any of the machinery, could have arisen by chance. There is only nonsense about life forming in some dirty pond many years ago (or raining down from outer space (I know this is ridiculous but I am not making this up)) and then somehow getting “better,” a fantasy that gets sillier each year as we reveal the sophistication of even the simplest forms of life, and as computer simulations continue to show Darwin’s mechanism doesn’t work.

But that didn’t happen in 1953. Hard core atheists like Francis Crick, one of the discoverers that DNA is code, immediately suggested the complex and beautifully designed double helix of DNA (the strong phosphate bonds of the outer helix protect the weaker bonds of the inner code, which allows the molecule to be “unzipped” for copying and to read the information inside) arose without a designer. Darwinists fantasized that, by keeping the “best” mistakes, the “best” mutations, accidental errors in coding, DNA eventually “evolved” into the 3.2 billion letter code that builds a human being, with our trillions of fantastically complex cells and the still unexplored wonder of the human brain. This also is nonsense. My new book, Proofs of God, explains, in simple language and pictures, using concepts a high school student can understand, that “evolution” can create nothing, that accidental errors in coding lose information, they don’t create it, that the arrow of evolution is down, not up.

This Darwinian delusion of complexity from chaos lead to the prediction of “junk” DNA. Darwinists predicted, since they falsely believed our DNA was formed through a random process of keeping the best mutations, that most of it is useless “junk.” To me, this prediction took a fatal hit in 2012 when the initial results from the ENCODE project were published in 30 major papers worldwide. ENCODE is an international consortium of over 400 scientists studying human DNA. They found at least 75% of the code is functional, and there are at least two layers of complexity. “It’s likely [this percentage] will go to 100%,” stated one of the lead researchers. “We really don’t have any large chunks of redundant DNA. This metaphor of junk isn’t that useful.”

But our society is hostile to God, and Darwinian delusions die hard. Even today many cling to the irrational belief that our DNA was not designed. That is why I was wondrously struck by recent articles in Nature magazine. Nature is considered the world’s most prestigious scientific journal. One article states that over 130,000 “genomic elements, previously called junk DNA,” have now been discovered. Another article notes that some of these “genomic elements” cause severe limb abnormalities if deleted.

So there you have it. 130,000 new reasons for God. 130,000 newly discovered sections of code that must exist to build a human being. Each section is complex, and the odds against it “evolving” by chance are astronomical, like picking one special marble out of a pile of marbles as big as the known universe. My new book explains the math. Human beings were designed; God is real. It’s an undeniable conclusion confirmed by new findings published in the world’s most prestigious scientific journal. Click here for more details if you are interested.

Thanks for reading. Please share the good news of modern science. Together we can defeat the atheist paradigm of a meaningless world.

Peace be with you,

Doug Ell

Can One “Prove” God?

In my last blog I noted an endorsement of my new book, Proofs of God, from the Discovery Institute in Seattle, the world’s leading proponent of intelligent design. The author of that review, David Klinghoffer, loved the book but doubted one can “prove” God. Let’s look at that today. I’ve seen other comments insisting God cannot be proved. These comments reflect confusion about the nature of proof, and a misunderstanding of what I am saying. I claim modern science “proves” the existence of God. So what do I mean by that, and what is the debate about?

To prove anything you have to start with certain fundamental truths, certain unprovable assumptions. They are sometimes called axioms, sometimes postulates. You start by assuming some things are true, then use that foundation to prove other things are true. What you can prove rests on, depends on, your starting truths.

As the third chapter of my book makes clear, my logical proof of God starts with three assumed truths. The first is that there is an objective reality. Things are real; we are not beings in some sort of computer simulation. My second assumed truth is that our senses generally provide accurate information about that reality, about our world. We can trust clear signals from our senses. If we run into a stone wall, we say that “proves” both that the wall exists and that it is hard. If scientists around the world find all living creatures contain coded groups of atoms we call DNA, we say that “proves” the existence of DNA.

These two assumed truths are the foundation of the scientific method. If you deny them, you deny all of science – all that the human race has ever figured out by observation, experiment, and reason. My first two assumed truths are so fundamental that one rarely talks about them. If you agree scientists have “proved” that DNA is real, you are agreeing with my first two assumed truths.

My third assumed truth is that if there is only one explanation for something, then that explanation is true. If, in all of science and in all of history, there is only one explanation for something, then I assume that explanation is true. In my book I give the example of a person who puts money in a securely locked safe, and comes back the next day and finds the money is gone. She would know someone had stolen the money. She would not say that an invisible money-eating monster got hungry, because there is no historical evidence of invisible money-eating monsters, and there is no scientific reason to think they exist.

With these three assumed truths, it is straightforward to prove human beings were designed. Science has found fantastic technology in all life, and especially in human beings. Plants have sensors that detect variations in both light and temperature. Some fish, turtles, and even butterflies detect both the direction and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field, coupled with navigation systems that allow them to travel thousands of miles and return to the same field, stream, beach, or tree. This technology is complex almost beyond imagination – much more advanced than anything humans have created. We are only beginning to understand how DNA works, with overlapping layers of information.

In all of human history and experience, only an intelligent being can create technology. In all of science, there is no other known explanation for the existence of technology. Chance is pathetically inadequate. No one has ever seen new technology created by chance, and the odds against that ever happening are fantastic.

Therefore, using my third assumed truth, the technology of life was designed. I call that designer God. This does not prove that the God of the Bible exists, but it does prove that there is a greater intelligence that designed life. This gets one to “first base,” so to speak. You have to accept that humans are created beings.

Darwin’s theory is zombie science. As I show in my book, it is a dead delusion, it has been disproven in multiple ways. Almost all top scientists know this, and all the computer simulations show that mutations reduce information, they don’t create it. You can’t get advanced technology by keeping the best mistakes.

So there you have it. God is real, and we know that as sure as we know anything in this world. Our society is confused and hostile to God. But science tells us God is real.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Ell

ID Made Sassy

The Discovery Institute is the world’s leading proponent of Intelligent Design. Their scientists include Stephen Meyer (Darwin’s Doubt, Signature of the Cell), Michael Behe (Darwin’s Black Box, A Mousetrap for Darwin), Michael Denton (Evolution Still a Theory in Crisis), and Douglas Axe (Undeniable).

I was delighted to receive their endorsement of my new book, Proofs of God.

Click here for their review: I invite you to check it out; it showcases many of my book’s best cartoons. It also understands and highlights my purpose, which was to translate the science to make it accessible to young readers, and to all others who may be uncomfortable with technical details. To date, I have not had a single person tell me they were unable to understand my book.

Thanks for reading. Together we can change the world, and free it from this pathetically depressing Atheist paradigm of a meaningless universe. God is real.

Doug Ell

Proofs of God

It’s been six and a half years since my first book, Counting To God – A Personal Journey Through Science to Belief — was published. It “counts” through seven areas of modern science, seven areas where experimental evidence confirms the existence of God. I consulted with top scientists to make sure everything was correct. I did my best to present the overwhelming case, based on recent discoveries in the last few decades, that all life was created and designed, and this universe was designed. To date, no one has ever challenged me on any of the science; no one has ever suggested I got any of the facts or analysis wrong.

But I was told my book was not an easy read. “Put in more pictures,” said my minister. I worked on how to make the subject fun and enjoyable. The result is my new book – Proofs of God: A Conversation Between Doubt and Reason – recently published by Covenant Books. It is now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and on Ingram for retailers), although as of now the full details are not on the links. An e-book version should be out in the next month or so. Click here for the Amazon listing.

As the title suggests, it’s a dialogue between two characters – Doubt and Reason. They argue, they tease, they joke, they challenge. I hired a cartoonist/illustrator to create a dozen or so illustrations. Boxes highlight key quotes and concepts. I kept it short, 133 pages with large font. Over the internet, I found a cover designer in Eastern Europe (not sure exactly where she lives, but she did a great job).

Proofs of God

In my view, the book absolutely does prove the existence of God. I show, using numbers (no formulas, just simple powers of ten), common sense, and logic, that there is no explanation for the technology of life other than it was designed. I show the “cumulative selection” argument used to get around this is nonsense; I show why Darwin’s theory has no scientific basis and is plainly rejected by the evidence; and I show that life and this universe could not have arisen by chance. If you’ve ever wanted a short, easy-to-read book on the scientific evidence for God, this could be your book.

The publisher wanted to price it at $19.95, but I talked them down to $11.95. For that I had to give up on color illustrations, but the illustrations are still powerful. I will donate any profits to Christian causes. If you like the book, please help me by recommending it to others and please, please give me a good review on Amazon. It’s amazing how helpful good reviews can be.

Did I mention that it makes a good Christmas gift?

Thanks for reading,
Doug Ell

New Marvels from ENCODE

ENCODE stands for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements. It is hundreds of scientists worldwide working to understand the human genome, working to understand how our 3.2 billion letters of DNA code build and operate a human being. Perhaps more than any other set of scientific discoveries, the ENCODE findings lead to the undeniable conclusion that human beings were designed, and God is real.

I noted initial findings of ENCODE in my book (Counting To God, pp. 128, 155-157, 201). Darwin’s theory is that all living creatures “evolved” through a process of mutation and selection, a process of keeping the best mistakes in our DNA. Because of Darwin’s theory that we were created from a series of random mutations, prior to ENCODE many scientists believed the vast majority of human DNA, as much as 98%, was useless “junk.” ENCODE shattered this delusion. In September 2012 the front page of the New York Times announced “The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as ‘junk’ but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs, and other tissues behave.” The lead paper in Nature noted that scientists were able to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the human genome.

These initial ENCODE findings provoked angry responses from Darwinists. One admitted “if ENCODE is right, then Darwin is wrong.” In December 2012 ENCODE drove a second stake through Darwinian theory, when it reported that human DNA contains at least two layers of information.

The new findings are even more amazing. ENCODE now reports “staggering complexity” in human DNA, “much more complex” than they imagined, so much so that “it’s very hard to get over the density of information.” This short video explains the new findings:

Staggering complexity and dense information can only come from a mind. As my book shows, it is mathematically ridiculous to believe that one can get complex code from random mistakes. That mutations destroy information, not create information, is common knowledge yet commonly ignored.

The arrow of modern science points directly to God. When we were less informed, when we didn’t fully understand the laws of chemistry and physics, when we were ignorant of the wonders of DNA and the complexity of life, we developed superstitions to deny God, superstitions like Darwinism and the multiverse. But as our knowledge advances, as the technology of life and design of the universe come ever sharper into focus, ever more clear and stunning with each passing year, the old superstitions must go. As the light of science grows brighter, we see God more clearly.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will share the good news of modern science. Together we can defeat the atheist paradigm of a meaningless world.

Doug Ell

Is Genesis History?

Last month I gave a talk in Florida on the book of Genesis. The subject was whether key events in Genesis, including Adam and Eve and a global flood, actually took place. The 53 minute video is below if you are interested.

As you may know, my views are contrary to what you read in the newspaper. If you are not open to a different interpretation of the scientific evidence, you should not watch this video.

We Saw His Star When It Rose

This is one of my favorite lines in the Bible. Only in recent years, with modern computers and a fuller understanding of ancient texts, can we understand its power.
It appears in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, which begins:

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’”

This is the story of the Star of Bethlehem. The word translated above as “behold” means pay attention, you are about to read something important.

Who were these “wise men,” these Magi? From Marco Polo we learn they came from Saba, now called Saveh, about 60 miles southwest of modern day Tehran:

“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

The Magi were a priestly order of elite, royal Persian scholars. They were masters of astronomy and doubtless many other subjects. They could have been, at least partially, of Jewish descent, and they were certainly familiar with the Hebrew prophecies of a Messiah. Daniel, who survived the lion’s den, was head of this order five centuries earlier. The Magi came from the Parthian Empire, an empire that lasted close to 500 years, and was at the time of Jesus’ birth a formidable if not equal counterpart to Rome. The Parthians defeated seven Roman legions in 53 BC in the battle of Carrhae, one of the worst defeats in Rome’s history. Around perhaps 37 BC they forced Herod to flee to his fortress at Masada. It is now 2 BC, and an uneasy peace prevails. Yet these royal scholars have traveled 1200 miles, by camel, over mountains, without an army, to Jerusalem.

Why? The answer comes from modern computers, which tell us with precision how the sky appeared from any point on earth at any time in history. Modern computers tell us that about 15 months earlier, in September of 3 BC, there was 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 passed Regulus three times, and traced 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 happens only twice in every 83 years.

On September 11, 3 BC, as the triple conjunction begins, the Sun rises with behind it (an experienced astronomer would know this) the womb of the virgin in the constellation Virgo. At the foot of the Sun is a slim crescent moon. The Sun appears here only one day every year, and the moon has this shape one day each lunar cycle (29 days), so this combination is a very rare event. All signs point to the coming birth of a King 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. Compare this also to John’s vision in Revelation 12:1-2:

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

And then it happened. The greatest event in history. On June 17, 2 BC, nine months after the Jupiter/Regulus conjunction, the King Planet Jupiter joined the planet Venus, universally associated with femininity, in conjunction. The planets were so close they appeared to the naked eye to be touching. It was the brightest “star” anyone alive had ever seen. It is visible for an hour after sunset. Such an event has only occurred three times in the 2,000 years since, and the other occasions were not visible in the Middle East. This conjunction took place in the constellation of Virgo the Virgin. Jesus is born. The sacrificial “lamb of God” is born in Bethlehem, which is where sacrificial lambs were bred and born for the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus is born in the early summer, not winter, and the shepherds who cared for those lambs were out in the warmer weather sleeping with the flocks during birthing season.

The Magi are stunned. All the signs, and doubtless there could have been others not mentioned here, point to the birth of a great king of Judea, perhaps the long awaited Messiah. The Magi decide to make the dangerous journey to find out. They need months to prepare, and 1200 miles by camel probably took at least two months. As they traveled Jupiter stayed ahead of them in the Western sky, pointing the way.

They arrive in Jerusalem in late December, 2 BC. (Computers also tell us that Jupiter went into retrograde motion, or “stopped,” on December 25, 2 BC, when the Magi arrive in Bethlehem and present gifts, the first Christmas.) The Magi ask “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” They put this to King Herod. (You may read that Herod died in 4 BC, but the original copies of Josephus place his death at 1 BC, after the birth of Jesus.) This is Herod the Great, who had at least two of his own sons killed because he was afraid they might take his throne.

Imagine the irony. The Magi walk into the court of one of the most murderously paranoid rulers in all history, and ask to see the new king. They claim they “saw his star when it rose.”

Why? The Jupiter/Venus conjunction appeared in the West, shortly after sunset. Why do the Magi say they saw it in the East, “as it rose”? I think only one reason. The Magi are showing off; they are bragging. They are saying that, because of their advanced knowledge of astronomy, they knew the Jupiter/Venus conjunction would take place, and they knew exactly where to look for it rising in the morning sky. The conjunction was bright enough to be visible in daylight, if you knew where to look. The Magi are bragging, they are demonstrating knowledge far beyond anything Herod, or anyone else in the Roman Empire, had at that time. Herod is confronted with elite representatives from a rival power who are bragging about their sophistication. Herod didn’t even know the conjunction had occurred; he had to ask his advisors.

You may think the ancients could not have possessed such knowledge. If so, you would be wrong. In 1901 sponge divers discovered the Antikythera Mechanism in a shipwreck in Greece. It dates back at least to 100 BC, and possibly centuries earlier. It is the world’s oldest known analog computer, with over 30 precise gears. It could predict planetary positions and eclipses.

“We saw his star as it rose.” The Magi throw it in the face of the murderous Herod. It is a daring boast, and perhaps claim of hope. When you put it all together, with ancient text and modern computers, it all amounts to a spectacular confirmation of Matthew’s Gospel, and of the truth of the miracle of the birth of Jesus.

I am indebted to Rick Larson and his excellent video The Star of Bethlehem, and to Gerald Culley and his extremely well-researched article The Star of Bethlehem in Bible and Spade magazine.

One final note: 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 universe was created.

I hope this post will add to your faith this Advent. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Doug Ell

The Garden of Eden

Where was the Garden of Eden? I get asked that question sometimes when I give a talk. Over the years, I’ve changed my response.

The second chapter of Genesis records that “God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” Genesis 2:8. In the garden was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9. “A river went out of Eden to water the garden,” and divided into four rivers: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Genesis 2:10-14.

Today the Tigris and Euphrates are major rivers that flow from Turkey through Iraq. Does this mean the Garden of Eden was in Iraq, or perhaps at the headquarters of the rivers in the mountains in Turkey? I think not.

The reuse of names from the Bible is common, so the reuse of old names proves nothing. Today, there is no place of Earth where one river divides into four. And one cannot ignore the Flood of Noah. The Flood obliterated the prior landscape; today, much of the Middle East is covered with two miles of sedentary rock; rock laid down by the receding waters of the Flood. Yes, the ark landed in the mountains of Turkey, mountains pushed up by the volcanic activity accompanying the Flood, as were all mountain ranges on Earth. But the Bible doesn’t say where the ark was built, and the ark was severely tossed during the months of the Flood. The Ark could have come from anywhere, and its landing place in the mountains of Turkey does not help locate where it came from, much less suggest the location of the Garden of Eden.

But the Bible does give a powerful clue. The more I study the Bible, and I certainly have a long way to go in that process, the more I find recurrent themes and patterns. These themes and patterns connect and unify the Bible. I am told there are 1800 connections between the Old and New Testaments, prophecies of things to come and references back to prior sections.

Of all these themes and connections, the most important relate to the life and death of Jesus. The overriding metanarrative of Christianity is Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Resurrection. The Fall came after Adam and Eve stole from the tree of God, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Redemption came after Jesus had died on the “tree” of man, on a wooden cross of suffering and death.

Is it possible both trees were located on the same spot? I think yes! God placed Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, five miles south of Jerusalem, where the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were raised. There is tremendous symbolism in this: Jesus, the “sacrificial lamb of God,” was born in the town where the sacrificial lambs of man were raised. Jesus was born in a manger, probably a cave, exactly as a newborn sacrificial lamb. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Sacrificial lambs had to be perfect and, to protect the clumsy critters from injuring themselves, the shepherds would wrap them in swaddling clothes, probably scraps of used priestly garments.

If God went through all that trouble to connect the birth of Jesus with his mission to be the sacrificial Lamb of God, why wouldn’t he connect Jesus’ death? By dying on the “tree” of man, by giving himself to the tree of man, Jesus healed the break that occurred when Adam and Eve stole from the tree of God. If the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an apple, then in a sense Jesus put the apple back on the tree, he paid the price with his life.

Is it possible that both trees were located on about the same spot? Yes! Why would God choose any other place? No other location would so powerfully connect Jesus’ death to his mission.

If you demand scientific evidence for the location of Eden, you will find none. But if you look at the Bible as a whole, if you realize it is connected from the beginning to end, then I suggest only one place fits. I suggest the Garden of Eden was located below present-day Jerusalem.

Thanks for reading.
Doug Ell