Category Archives: Journey of Faith

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!

An Inconvenient Truth

You may remember a 2006 documentary with Al Gore talking about global warming. It was titled “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film described global warming as “an inconvenient truth,” because, although the scientific evidence was overwhelming, many people were in denial.

Could the existence of God be an inconvenient truth for our society? The scientific evidence is overwhelming. My book “counts” through seven areas of science where, in the last few decades, new mainstream scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the existence of God. To name just two, there is no atheist explanation for the origin of life, and Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution has been emphatically disproven. The “emperor” of Darwinian Theory has no mathematical clothes.

So why is our society so hostile to God? I think the answer is complex, and varies from individual to individual. Perhaps part of it is we don’t want to be bothered. We don’t want to take time on the weekends to go to church or synagogue or mosque; we don’t want to part with any of our income, which of course we attribute solely to our own talents and not to God.

Perhaps another part is that we like to think we are in control. We like to think we are the masters of the universe. We don’t want to acknowledge a higher power.

Perhaps a third reason is that advertising dominates our culture. You can talk all you want about the glories of your favorite professional sports team, but know this – that team exists because its sponsors want you to buy their products. Advertising is everywhere, and it bombards us with the message that life is about money and spending it to buy the right products. Advertising and God don’t mix well.

I’m not sure about these reasons. I majored in math and physics, not sociology. So in this week before Christmas I’ll just leave you with a question. Do you think that, for some people, and perhaps even for yourself at certain moments at least, the existence of God is an inconvenient truth?

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

Let’s Be Thankful

In this week of Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to God.

We don’t normally put our lives in historical perspective, but the average person in the United States today has a quality of life superior to that of even royalty as recently as 100 years ago. We have better food and nutrition, better entertainment, better medical treatment, better transportation, and on and on. Personally, I’m not willing to give up modern dentistry.

Compared to earlier generations, we are incredibly spoiled and easily annoyed. We drive around in our modern cars, with radios and GPS and heated seats, and get annoyed if we get delayed in traffic. We complain if our restaurant meal is not hot enough or exactly what we ordered. We get enormous benefits from our society and government yet love to complain about taxes. Consider that, for almost all of human history, when the sun went down, there wasn’t a lot to see. Average life expectancy in the Bronze and Iron ages was 26. In medieval England, even if you made it to age 21, and even if you were a member of the aristocracy, you could only expect to live to age 64.

So let’s be thankful for what we have. Let’s also be thankful for a universe that reveals evidence of a Creator in so many ways, such as the fine-tuning of the constants of nature, the origin of life, and the creation of new species. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

Thanks for reading.

Pope Francis

As you may have read, Pope Francis recently made some interesting remarks on evolution and the Big Bang. The media coverage of those remarks has been pretty confused, to say the least, and often hostile.

Here’s what I believe the Pope actually said (translations may differ):

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that… And thus creation went forward for centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge [demigod] or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities.”
“The Big Bang, which is today posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creation; rather, it requires it. Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”

Now the Pope is not a scientist, but I think he got it pretty right. The Big Bang is a theory of creation. It stuns me how often people don’t get that. I was on a syndicated radio program, and the host said to me something like – “Religious people believe in creation, but scientists have the Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang is all about creation – all of time and space and matter and energy created in a single instance from absolute nothingness. It is scientific verification of the first words of the Book of Genesis. Until the 1965 discovery of relic photons from the Big Bang, many scientists objected to the Big Bang Theory because they said it was too religious. Now that it is mainstream, accepted science, atheists somehow want to pretend that it is contrary to God.

As for evolution, the key point to keep in mind is that the Pope is using that word in its normal sense – as a process of change. He certainly isn’t referring to Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution. What the Pope is saying is that life evolved over billions of years into what we see today, that all of life was not teleported onto this planet, that God worked over billions of years to create each species. That is absolutely consistent with the scientific evidence. As I’ve noted before, Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution has been emphatically disproved in recent years, although you won’t find much evidence of that in the popular media. But mainstream evidence, such as the findings of 450 scientists working on the ENCODE project to map the human genome, that our DNA is mostly or entirely functional and has more than one level of information buried in it, clearly disproves unguided evolution.

So the Pope got it right. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I’m finding a lot about Pope Francis to like.

Thanks for reading.

Different Paths

This week I drove across Florida to be a guest on “It’s Time with Herman and Sharron,” also known as the “Herman and Sharron Show.” I had never heard of Herman, or Sharron, or their show, but I thought it could be fun. I also thought that perhaps it was an invitation I was supposed to accept.

The show is produced by the Christian Television Network, is widely syndicated, and has been rated in the top 10 Christian programs on cable television. I bumped into Herman backstage before taping, and he radiates genuine warmth and peace. He proudly introduced his bride of 51 years. The half hour went by too fast. I’m told it will be broadcast on Monday, September 15, beginning at 10 am on the East Coast. As they say, check your cable listings. The show will also be available on YouTube a few days after that.

Herman and I have taken different paths. His show focuses on prayer and faith healing. He noted, at the beginning of the show, that most of his programming assumes no more than a 5th or perhaps 8th grade education. Yet he clearly wanted to reach beyond that, and I guess that is why he invited me. I did my best to explain the scientific evidence for God, the subjects of my book. I noted that you can’t get meaningful information by chance, and that scientists have found tremendous new information in every species. We discussed how many people are not willing to adapt their views when the evidence changes. We chuckled at the truth that, although many perceive believers as refusing to adapt, in reality it is Atheists who ignore the evidence of modern science. I have a tendency to get too technical, and I was probably guilty of that again. But Herman kept smiling and wanting to learn more, and I loved it.

I envy Herman his path to faith. I often wish I wasn’t a sort of scientific doubting Thomas, a person who took decades to sort through the evidence of science. But that’s my path. As I say in my book, there are many paths up the mountain, many different ways to seek God. Whatever your path is, I wish you the best. If you can achieve the faith of Herman and Sharron, you will be high up on the mountain.

Thanks for reading.

The Best of Science and Religion

My publisher has promoted my book as combining the best of science and religion. I like that. It’s a succinct statement of why I wrote the book.

Of course, you have to be careful with terms. By “science” I mean the basic definition in the dictionary: observation, experimentation, and reasoning – what I call “figuring it out.” By “religion” I mean the essence of Abrahamic faith – the simple belief that our universe and life were designed, that we are not here by accident.

The basic theme of my book is that when you do true science, when you try to “figure it out,” the evidence that our universe and life were designed is overwhelming. Evidence from established, mainstream science — cosmology, nuclear physics, molecular biology, the fossil record, planetary physics, quantum physics. I am constantly astonished by the general but false perception that science and religion are in conflict. I had one person recently ask me three times: “So you think science and religion are compatible?” He had a hard time even hearing my message.

He and many others confuse “science” with a belief system that attempts to make a religion out of “science,” which says that the natural world is all there is and that there are no truths other than the truth of science. That belief system has different names – Scientism, Naturalism, Materialism – but one purpose, to deny the existence of God. Scientism is not science. Scientism puts a box around science, and says you can’t look outside the box for truth, even when you ask how the stuff in the box came to be.

We need both true science and religion. We need to keep figuring out how our world works and how to make it better. I, for one, am not willing to give up modern dentistry! There’s no going back on the comforts and wonders of modern science.

We need religion too. Science without religion is empty. Scientism would have us believe that existence is pointless, and that human beings were created by random events, mere “chemical scum.” That pathetic philosophy is the cause of many of our social problems. How wonderful and liberating that true science supports the existence of God.

Pope John Paul II wrote: “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” I like that. As we move forward in this third millennium and twenty-first century, let’s combine the best of science and religion

Thanks for reading.