Archive for the ‘Science’ Category


Featured-Image-History-Channel-The-BibleAs it was to be expected, the internet is flooding with comments, reviews and complains about this series. Yesterday #TheBible trended on Twitter higher that one may think of a Bible based event. As the famous theologian Nate Rector pointed out: “Mission accomplished, Mark Burnett. The day after, people are talking about the Bible on Facebook”.

Nevertheless, with all the buzz, certain comments have not waited and –no surprise, a variety of critical arguments are raising. Someone here alluded to it as “wonky with the theology” of the series. Others, argue that it is not fit for kids.  Still, a group demands for more Biblical “accuracy”, to the point that a renown theologian claimed that some parts of The Bible “were meant to be fiction” 

First of all, let’s take it for what it is” A Hollywood production. Mark Barnett  is not God, or God’s messenger or even a theologian. He is a man, a man who happens to be extraordinarily good at doing what he does: making movie productions. He is not the incarnation of Christianity, and if, God forbid, he or anyone else were to ‘fall from public grace’ somehow (remember Mel Gibson?), it is not to be blamed on all Christians. He is a movie producer and as such, he did a tremendous work at it, aside from what his personal beliefs might be.

Second, there has to be some imagination mixed in when we don’t know all the details. We need to understand that if you make a movie form a text, you will have to make some assumptions and make some things up. Just write a 5-lines text on something you experienced. Then hand the paper to a friend and ask him to draw a picture that portraits it. More likely than not, there will be elements on that picture that you had not imagined so. Even worse, have them to make it into a three dimensions representation with sound. You get the idea. Now try making a 10-hour movie based on a document that contains more than 800,000 words and your imagination will be challenged. The Bible shows many facts without many minor details that the movie producer has to make come together. For instance, we know from Gen 19:1 that “the two angels came to Sodom…”, but doesn’t tell us the insignificant details (were they wearing a red or blue cape?, did they look like Jacky Chan or Terminator? did they have swords or AR-15’s?).  Here is where the movie producer uses his imagination and brings us the Call-of-duty/ninja-like angels we saw. 100% accurate? No. Did it convey the point from the Bible? Most certainly.

Third, it may be a little bit inaccurate, on the known details. So what?!?. From what I can see, nothing major was twisted from the facts that the Bible represent. For instance, we saw the serpent (looking like a serpent) tempting Adam and Eve. Well, that was not factual. One could make the point that considering that God, after the temptation, cursed the ‘serpent’ with “On your belly you shall go”. Therefore, we can safely conclude that before and during the temptation, the serpent had legs –more like a lizard. So what?. With or without legs on the ‘serpent’, it was clear that the point of the story was “bad choices’ (repeated several times), and that is what I hope my kids took away. That sinning against God is a bad choice –and there are bad consequences, whether eating from the forbidden tree, cheating on a test, or disrespecting their mother.

And now that we mention kids, fourth: is it not fit for kids? Hhhmm, you can make your own conclusion, but from what I saw, there wasn’t any more skin that what they would see on a football game, commercials, or at the mall. People kissing? Yes they know people do that. Violence and blood? Nothing too far from the war movies they may watch (have you seen the video games your kids play with?). On the other hand, like my wife pointed out, it’s a portrayal of the Bible. We are sinful people who hurt each other (fact), God deals seriously with sin (fact), God defends His people (fact). God is more than a sweet tame long-white-beard grandpa. He is a warrior who is loves us too much not to fight for us at any cost. If they understand, with such visual impact, the caliber of miracles God has done in the past for His people, they will perhaps more easily accept that, the same God, will protect them and keep them through a situation with a bully kid, a dangerous person, a storm or a terminal illness.

Finally, this stuff happened. Let’s not forget that what we have here is a cinematographic masterpiece on the ancient writings with more archaeological and historical documentation that any other religious text ever.  I don’t know if Pharaoh actually looked like Newsboys’ Peter Furler. One thing I do know is that they have found and excavated chariot wheels from the sea floor at the Red Sea crossing site.   These wheels found using a molecular frequency generator, happen to have four spokes, same as others found in an Egyptian tomb from the same time period, which were only used at the same time during the 18th dynasty or 1446 BC when the exodus took place. What a remarkable opportunity to explore The Bible, not as a collection of stories but as the HISTORY that brought salvation to us today.

Yes, there are things that I would have done different. Maybe I would have shown how the blood marking on the doorposts (horizontal and vertical in the corner) happen to make a particular shape: a cross –as it is a ‘picture’ of the blood of Jesus which PASSes OVER the wrath of God if we believe. Or maybe I would have made a point to show that the same geographical place where Abraham almost-sacrificed his son, and ‘God provided for himself a sacrifice’ , is the same place where almost 2,000 years later, God, would provide himself as a sacrifice for us.

My point is, there are way more reasons to take advantage from this TV series, than to stay away from it. What an opportunity to get a visual understanding of the big picture (The whole Bible from cover to cover is about Jesus and His plan of salvation). What a chance to, as parents, study and prepare to teach our kids. What an opportunity to have conversations with others and present, in a loving, cordial and intelligent way, the reason for what we believe.


This woman’s proposition, with all due respect, is the most preposterous, ridiculous and nonsensical argument I’ve heard in recent times.

If you haven’t seen or heard it yet, this lawmaker is proposing that, since women are being banned from aborting their babies, then men should be banned from having a vasectomy. Are you kidding me here?

Please someone correct me if I am wrong:

1. Abortion kills an already existent human, a living person.
2. Vasectomy is a surgery for men to keep them permanently from the possibility of being able to  ‘make’ babies.
3. Abortion, 100% of the times, terminates a life.
4. Vasectomy avoids what otherwise may or may not happen in the future.
5. The women’s procedure that would be logically and medically equivalent to vasectomy is tubal ligation
6. Women and men have under current laws -as far as I know, the same equal right to exercise permanent contraception (vasectomy / tubal ligation), which happens to be the responsible thing -besides saying “no”.
7. If she or anyone is so truly concerned about the “thousands of children deprived from birth”, then fight against abortion, not for it.
8. The judgement of a man or woman exercising permanent contraception is, in my humble opinion, better than the judgement of the ones who kill an innocent baby because they couldn’t keep their pants on.
9. Men’s choice on vasectomy should be legally unilateral because the ‘possible’ baby is not in existence yet (and may never exist) and, in some cases, the identity of the mother who would contribute, may not even be known yet.
10. On the other hand, a baby in the womb,  already exists and by definition has a father and a mother and therefore, if her logic followed suit, the men should have a say on the abortion decision.

Finally, I find difficult to believe that you can identify any scientific data whatsoever that shows a remotely comparable set of emotional, physiological and cultural effects in a man who had a vasectomy vs. a woman who had an abortion.

Please click here to see an article on the AJC

Please see below Rep Yasmin Neal (GA House District 75)  defending her argument.


This week marks the first year anniversary of Thoughts With Accent.  As I shared  on the very first entry, it started at the suggestion of my wife to better share thoughts (with accent  🙂 ), as opposed to Notes on Facebook.

Since then, I have written about personal topics such the typical “about me“, my cologne , my travels , lost friendships, and even famous people I’ve met. Holidays, politics and some music have also been topics of discussion.

I have likewise enjoyed considering serious issues in Christian life like judgingconflict devotional life, and “coincidences” from the Bible.

 

After 1 year, 90 posts and 15,000 viewers, these were the most viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended by readers:

1st-year’s top 5 most  viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended blog entries:

5. Beaten by an Atheist; healed by a Muse”; what I have come to conclude 

4. Judging and de-friending 

3. More than just “wash each other’s feet” 

2. My name is Luis, and I am a Pharisee. I’ve been clean for 48 hrs 

1. Born Identity

 

 

Happy 4th of July!!


If you are reading this post, it is of course already passed the famous May 21st Judgment Day. There are three potential scenarios:

  1. Something DID happen and I am gone. Please, feel free to take my special Starbucks coffee from the kitchen table, my guitars, watches and my recently repaired/updated SUV. Sorry I didn’t leave much.
  2. Something DID happen and you still saw me driving around. That means I was left behind; I was somewhere wrong in my theology …so , please don’t talk to me, I am depressed and confused; just leave me alone.
  3. [what is most likely to be the case] NOTHING happened. If so, by this time tweeter, Facebook and news media are being flooded with “nah nah nah nah nah”’s, bashing and mockery against Christians.

The irony is that some bloggers including one at CNN.com and other media, predicted a few days ago that this ‘event’ (or lack of thereof) would cause to Christianity a huge black eye. And they were right, weren’t they.

Let’s use this uneasy and unpleasant situation to remember a few key points that may save us, as individuals, from giving more black eyes to Christianity and the name of Christ.

–       You could be wrong. Although the truths and events (past and future) from the Bible are undeniable and certain, we are to keep ourselves humble and open to the possibility that we may, just may have understood it wrong at some points. We could have the wrong interpretation, the wrong data, the wrong translation, the wrong whatever… There is a balance between standing strong in what believe while acknowledging the possibilities of our weaknesses and limitations. God never fails, God’s word never errs –we can, we often do.

–       Be dogmatic in what matters most. If you give 100% to defend a political candidate or a scientific finding or a tv series episode –and you happen to be wrong, everything else you say will be compromised. Your credibility is at risk when the same weigh you give to “Jesus rose from the dead” is given to ”The KJV is the ‘true’ word of God” or if the same weigh you give to “Jesus is coming back”, you give to “I know Jesus will come tomorrow”. Anyone can say, “If you were wrong about his coming, you most be wrong about his resurrection, his existence and his word as well.”

–       We are not all the same. In spite of the fact that a few doctors have left scissors and towels inside patients during surgery to be discovered years later,  we all still go to the doctor as they, on-and-all, can save our lives. Some of us Christians are more or less crazy than others but it doesn’t deny the reality of God’s existence, the longing for spiritual fulfillment everybody experiences, the express words from Jesus that He is the only one who can fulfill those needs and the admonition that one day He will come back to earth as He did 2,000 years ago, this time to radically change things and give everyone what they deeply desire: forever with Him or forever without Him.


Let’s say that I come up with the crazy idea that I am not who you all think I am.
Let’s say that I come up with the idea that I actually come from a different dimension in time and space -a planet, a place thousands of years far away. What if I claimed to be a man from the future?
What if  I claimed to know how this planet was really formed and why things work the way they do and even how is everything going to end.

Would you believe me? Probably not… but

What if I said that I can prove I come from the future by telling the future? what if I said that I can prove I come from a timeless place and dimension by telling you -in advanced, what the news paper will read next week; and it happens exactly as I said? What if I predict even the most unlikely scenarios and craziest events, and they do come to happen? Would you believe me then?

This week I came across just another one of many interesting facts that remind us that this kind-of actually happened. Of course, not me, but there was one -a few hundred years ago, who claimed to be from a ‘different place and time’

He dared to say that he could prove who he said he was, by telling what would happen before it happened. The big question is, if he was right, would you listen to everything else he has to say about the world, about the universe and most important, about you?

A few years ago, some archeologist found a rock buried deep inside a historical place. After scientists and smarter people than you and me did their tests, they came to the conclusion that this rock come from 100-200 bc.

The interesting thing is that the rock claims that someone would come in the future (a couple of hundred years later) and die and resurrect from death “for the sins of the world” -does the story sound familiar?
Just if it wasn’t enough, many other manuscripts found which date 100-400 bc claim as well about this character who would come. With great specificity about the time, the place, the city, the conditions and the family this man would be part of. Not only that but also details about his life, and of course how he would die… and resurrect.

And it happened. You know who -Jesus of Nazareth. Not the fancy fable fairy tale. far-removed from real life you may imagine, but the one who historians still talk about today. Was he who he claimed he was?

Well, he dared saying that he could prove it by telling the future: “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am God” (John 13:19 and 14:29)

Some claim that up to 2/3rds of the Bible’s contents are  ‘prophecy’ -understood as ‘fore-telling of events not occurred at the time of its writing’. If this is true; if God does exist and is behind the inspiration of the Bible; if Jesus is God as He claims, what does that mean for you and me today?


What’s the line –if any, between using too much technology in church and not using enough?

As I was listening to a series of lectures on Biblical Preaching from a respected and prestigious traditional seminary, I was shocked when I heard the speaker mentioning the using of holograms by a local church in the Atlanta area. “Are you kidding me?” – I thought to myself. I knew some churches use video feeds to broadcast their main site’s sermon to other satellite locations –or overflow rooms, but, “hologram? The church is advancing faster than I knew!; this is cool!” I excitedly thought

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t surprised by the technology. I knew this was available in the market. One of the things that make my job fun is that week in and week out I get to discover, learn and test new technologies that later we get to implement on a variety of government applications related to homeland security and defense. I’ve seen and used holograms and Telepresence and other similar technologies but I was surprised to see it in use in a church.

Immediately I started researching and learned a bit more about who is trying it and how. The bigger shock came to me as I read some of the different comments, blogs and opinion articles in the matter.*

On the one hand, we have what I will call the Futurama believers”. I would define this group mainly and generally as one that argues that John, Jesus, Peter, Paul and the rest, used the best, greatest and latest in communications and technology available in their time (Roman roads, horses, carriages, local market, synagogues, boats in highly-acoustic lakes, Papyrus and so on) to spread the Gospel and therefore so should we.

If we were to judge by growth in numbers of attendance, It seems to work!. Most churches using modern technology and media/production approaches seem to be attracting people and –if the result is that those masses are hearing the message of salvation –The Gospel of Christ, and getting saved, then by all means, like Paul wrote to the Philippians (1:18): “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way…Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice”

On the other hand we have theIndiana Jones Believers”; those who argue that whatever method worked for Paul, Luther, Wesley and Spurgeon, should work for us as well. They sometimes seem to argue that the use of technology is gently but swiftly watering down the human element of Christendom making The Gospel just another faceless marketing area in this consumer-driven i-society. Not to mention the opinion that multicasting one preacher’s message to, dahh! Multiple locations, tends to centralize and idolize the preacher beyond the message.

And they may have a point.. or two. If a congregation of 200 or 500 or 5000 people ‘grow’ so much that they need an additional auditorium or an additional city or satellite church BUT only one person is found capable of teaching the Word of God in an acceptable effective manner, is the church really growing? Are we growing people to “go therefore” but not giving them the opportunity to do what they were called and gifted to do? What are we doing then with “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” ?  Even worse, is it the case that none of the hundreds or thousands is actually growing spiritually enough to teach the Bible?

I like technology, I use technology. I even want an iPad badly. I believe there is a place, and a use and perhaps sometimes a danger with technology. However, technology like most things in life, is morally neutral; the issue is not about what technology we use but why and how we use it. Some people may like to learn the Bible from a hologram and will fill the place. Some others may prefer the old style preacher-in-pulpit, we all have differences in preferences and there seem to be about 200 churches for each style and variation –even online-churches with video message, community chats and tithe-via-paypal bottons (I’m not sure about that by the way)

A good congregational and personal evaluation criteria may be: Is this technology or the lack of it helping us to live out Matthew 28:19,  Colossians 1:10 and 2 Peter 3:18 ?

“So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…”

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

 

*These are some of the articles I read:

The Christian PostTony Morgan,  Writing on a VTX, The Deliberate Disciple, Open Heaven, and Sola Dei Gloria.

 

Holidays and history

Posted: December 22, 2010 in Christmas, Holidays, Science, The Bible

If it’s true that “History is boring unless you find it to be relevant to you”, here are some historical facts that could very much be of relevance to you as they are for me.

In 1868, Union General John A. Logan designated a specific day in which the graves of Civil War soldiers would be decorated. Originally known as Decoration Day, within 20 years, the holiday was changed to Memorial Day, becoming a holiday dedicated to the memory of all those who died in war.

A few years earlier, both houses of United States Congress had gathered for a memorial address in a tribute to the assassinated President Lincoln, and thus, along with celebrating President Washington’s Birthday, President’s Day had its origin.

Other important events in American and world history are brought back to mind across the seas of time. We can track down the beginnings of Thanksgiving back to 1863; Labor Day, which is today observed all around the world, back to 1856; Independence Day is traced back to the day of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and even further back, Columbus Day, which commemorates America’s discovery in 1492.

Of course, this week’s talking point an holiday at hand is Christmas day. Christmas day was instituted officially as a holiday by the congress in 1870.

It is commonly accepted that the Christmas season is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. However, scholars and historians agree that Jesus was actually born more likely in September. The reason why we celebrate it in December comes from a combination of pre-Christian era traditions and political influences in the first centuries. Nevertheless, off-season celebration and honor is better than no celebration at all.

Since the title of this entry is Holidays and History, here are some old historical documents from the first centuries, written by non-Christians,  that give us an idea of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Most of these documents are available in museums and University libraries.

–  Tacitus (ad.56 – ad.117), writing in his Annals mentions Christianity and “Christus”, the Latinized Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. In describing Nero’s persecution of this group following the Great Fire of Rome c. 64, he wrote:

“Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus [Jesus], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

– Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ad. 69 – ad.140) wrote the following in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars about riots which broke out in the Jewish community in Rome under the emperor Claudius:

“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [Jesus], he [Claudius] expelled the Jews from Rome”

– Flavius Josephus (ad. 37– ad. 100), a Jew and Roman citizen and historian who worked under the patronage of the Flavians, wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in 93 AD:

“About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day”

– Mara Bar Serapion, (~3rd century). Syrian Stoic who wrote a letter to his son that includes the following text:

“For what benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death, seeing that they received as retribution for it famine and pestilence? Or the people of Samos by the burning of Pythagoras, seeing that in one hour the whole of their country was covered with sand? Or the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them? For with justice did God grant a recompense to the wisdom of all three of them. For the Athenians died by famine; and the people of Samos were covered by the sea without remedy; and the Jews, brought to desolation and expelled from their kingdom, are driven away into every land. Nay, Socrates did “not” die, because of Plato; nor yet Pythagoras, because of the statue of Hera; nor yet the Wise King, because of the new laws which he enacted”