by Dr. Larry Vardiman, Answers Magazine, 12/27/15
Used with permission.
How can one type of crystal adopt so many beautiful forms? Some of the world’s greatest scientific minds have puzzled over this question.
Cloaked in the mid-winter darkness, John quickly made his way across the Charles Bridge to the newer residential section of town. His destination was on the opposite side of the river from downtown Prague and the castle. He was running late for the New Year’s Eve party. To make things worse, the shops were closed where he might have purchased a gift for the host, his patron who had paid for his scientific research over the past year. As he passed under one of the lamps on the bridge, he noticed snow had begun falling lightly. Small, individual snow crystals were collecting on the dark fleece of his jacket. He stopped abruptly and watched with fascination as one geometric shape after another fell onto the arm of his coat. Their designs glowed brilliantly in the flickering light from the lamp above. Here was a small hexagon; there a featherlike pattern; a third, the shape of a star. Yet each crystal had six corners.
Why Are Snow Crystals So Varied?
When water freezes, it forms a simple, solid, six-sided crystal. As each crystal falls through the cloud, the crystal grows. Depending on the water in the air (humidity) and the temperature, the shape and direction varies. While the possibilities are infinite, two basic shapes are most common: columns and plates. The large, branched stars (the most familiar type of plate) require both high humidity and a very specific cold temperature (around 5°F, or –15°C).
Never before had John taken the time to investigate individual snow crystals. Normally in snowstorms a dozen or more crystals would fall jumbled together in a large snowflake so he couldn’t discern the individual crystals. But tonight they fell individually. The air was probably so cold and the snow falling so lightly that they didn’t clump together. As John studied the various shapes and sizes, an idea began to form—he would explain why snow crystals all had six corners and present his thoughts to his patron as a gift!
He began to speculate. What if snow crystals are built from small particles, so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye? Could these particles fit together in a pattern to form hexagonal shapes with six corners?
He didn’t just think in two dimensions. How could particles fill three-dimensional space to form hexagonal shapes? He visualized a stack of cannon balls and realized, when viewed from above, the stack forms a hexagonal pattern. He considered why bees construct hexagonally shaped honeycombs and why flowers have different numbers of petals. He considered how pomegranate seeds fill space and other objects form hexagonal patterns, always with the question in mind—“Why do snow crystals have six corners?”
Today John is known as Johannes Kepler, the famous German astronomer who later developed the laws for elliptical orbits of planets. His laws formed the basis for Newton’s law of gravity. He didn’t have microscopes to validate some of his ideas. But even today with high-power microscopes, we don’t have a complete explanation for how snow crystals grow. It’s a source of endless fascination. Because of the pamphlet he later presented to his patron in 1611 (On the Six-Cornered Snowflake), he is recognized by many today as the father of crystallography.
He was unable to prove to his own satisfaction that the packing of small particles adequately explained six-cornered snow crystals, but he was on the right track. His insightful treatise shows how the relatively new scientific method combined careful observation and testing theories.
In addition to his proposal that particles fill space to form snow crystals, Kepler suggested that the Creator instituted a built-in “formative principle” which determines the shape. We know today that information is built into water molecules, which causes them to form hexagonal shapes when they freeze together as snow crystals.
If the humidity is too dry or the temperature too warm, the crystal will remain solid without branching patterns. Despite centuries of study, scientists still haven’t figured out all the laws of water crystal growth.
Today crystallographers have classified over 80 basic types of snow crystals. Some patterns are even more complicated than six corners. The basic hexagonal pattern can be modified in a number of ways as the cloud’s temperature and moisture varies. Snow crystals grow in one dimension faster than in the other, depending on the temperature. As humidity increases, the corners develop more branches. Kepler’s argument for a “formative principle” is still valid today, not just for snow crystals but for all types of molecular processes. These are our God-given laws of chemistry and physics.
The marvelous rules that govern such processes do not produce “organized complexity.” Molecules like DNA are examples of organized complexity because they use a language and store information to be retrieved later. Snowflakes are complex but not “organized” in this sense. So we can’t argue that the beautiful designs of snowflakes disprove evolution.
What does contradict evolution is the existence of the unchanging chemical and physical laws, attributes that our Creator God built into the molecules from the beginning of creation. “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
The next time a snow crystal lands on your sleeve, take the time to enjoy its beauty, and share the glories of its Designer with the next person you meet at the party you’re headed to!
Dr. Larry Vardiman is currently serving as a professor of science and math for Shasta Bible College& Graduate School in Redding, CA. In the past he has served as professor of atmospheric science and chair of the Department of Astro-geophysics for the Institute for Creation Research until his retirement in 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and meteorology and an MS and PhD in atmospheric science
Of Caves, and Scrolls, and Such
George Gunn, PhD
The recent discovery of a twelfth Dead Sea Scrolls cave in the cliffs west of Qumran has sent a shock wave through the Biblical Studies and Antiquities worlds. The early days of Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries in the mid 1900s had revealed eleven caves containing some 972 manuscripts and 15,000 manuscript fragments. No new caves had been discovered for 60 years (since 1956). However, Dr. Randall Price from Liberty University, along with two archaeologists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia) recently discovered a long sought after twelfth cave. Unfortunately, this cave did not yield any new scrolls or fragments; although, it is obvious that some had been there at one time. 2,000-year-old storage jars and lids were found – all of them broken, and almost all of them empty. A couple of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s discovered in the cave’s tunnel told the story – the cave had been previously looted, and anything of value removed. The archaeologists did manage to find:
What does this mean for Biblical studies? Directly, we do not learn anything new about the Biblical text or the Essene sect that created the scrolls. Indirectly, we certainly have further confirmation that many such scrolls did in fact exist. In addition, by implication, we can suspect that there is good likelihood that continued archaeological effort might yet turn up additional scrolls.
The absence of actual scrolls from this cave sounds a caution to those who visit the Holy Land about picking up archaeological artifacts. Having led numerous tours to Israel on behalf of Shasta Bible College, I can attest that one is free to walk around many archaeological sites. Erosion from foot traffic and rain sometimes unearths some treasure formerly hidden beneath the ground. It could be tempting simply to stoop down, pick up something that looks valuable, and take it home in your luggage. After all, who wouldn’t love to have an authentic piece of Biblical archaeology to show off to friends and listen to them “ooh” and “ah” at the fine piece you have in your private collection. But consider this – wouldn’t it have been better for an archaeologist to have examined the specimen in its original context, so that the find could be properly recorded, evaluated, and published for the benefit of the entire scholarly community? The scrolls removed from Cave 12 were likely sold on the black market and are now in someone’s collection, or even possibly in a museum. But once removed from the original site of discovery such artifacts lose much of their archaeological value. The looters may have made off with some cash, but the world of scholarship has been robbed of precious historical information.
The problem of looters in the Judean Desert is a real problem. The terrain is rugged and somewhat isolated. This makes it difficult to police. Who knows how many other caves have been violated? The Israel Antiquities Authority has recently begun what they call “Operation Scroll.” In fact the discovery of this twelfth cave was actually part of Operation Scroll. It is hoped that this new effort will result not only in new discoveries, but in increased policing activity in the Judea Desert.
All of this brings up a political issue (What doesn’t involve political issues in the Middle East?). The need to protect the freedom of archaeologists to continue excavating must be guarded at all costs. But here’s where the political problem comes in. What would be the result for archaeology were a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians to be imposed on the area? Controversy has hovered for years around the excavation of Dead Sea Scroll sites, since Qumran is located in the West Bank, a territory Israel won back from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. Jordan has asserted on different occasions that it is the rightful owner of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Palestinians (and the United Nations), on the other hand, consider the West Bank to be their own territory. If the hundreds of caves remaining to be examined were to fall under the hegemony of either Jordan or the Palestinians, how likely is it that archaeologists from either the Hebrew University, or a Christian University would have the freedom to carry out unhindered excavations in the Judean Desert? Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority officially deny any Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Yet archaeological discoveries in Israel provide very strong proof of Israel’s ancient connection to the land. I do not foresee either Hamas or the Palestinian authority favoring Jews and Christians poking about in caves that may contain artifacts that undermine the Palestinian narrative. Whatever future political agreements come about in Israel, my prayer that the Israelis retain sovereignty over these precious archaeological sites.
Recently an evangelical Christian friend of mine organized a demonstration against U.S. immigration policies at one of the nation’s largest airports. This certainly caught my attention. None of us have escaped the onslaught of opinion, information and misinformation relative to the recent immigration restrictions placed on citizens from seven foreign countries. The question has been raised, “How dare we restrict immigration?” The accusation has been leveled that this is un-American. Others would seem to imply that it is un-Christian. It is my desire to consider this current debate from a biblical perspective.
The Bible speaks to the treatment of immigrants.
In the Old Testament the Israelites were instructed to treat the foreigners among them fairly and with respect. Exodus 22:21 says, “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt (NIV).” Israel is reminded that they were an immigrant people in Egypt. They were mistreated and enslaved therefore they should recall the injustices and not repeat them in their treatment of others.
This instruction makes it clear that there was the expectation and reality that people of other national origins would be among God’s people as both visitors and residents.
I believe that today a fair and just treatment of immigrants would include:
A reasonable yet rigorous path to citizenship.
Equality in pay for equal work.
Fair treatment under the law
The ability to work to earn one’s way in life.
The freedom of religious belief and practice.
I believe the fair and just treatment of immigrants would not include:
Automatic access to the health care system provided for citizens
Access to the retirement and insurance system set up for citizens
The unrestricted exercise of the constitutional rights available to citizens
Access to the welfare system that is provided for citizens
The Bible’s teaching on nations.
The Bible teaches that nations exist as a part of a blessing and a curse. This is first observed in Genesis 11 where God divided the earth’s inhabitants by language that eventually reflected itself in national groups. This judgment of languages and scattering was in response to man’s tower of Babel. Most commentators feel this was a reflection of man’s arrogant self centered religious ambitions.
Acts 17:26 states that God established borders between nations. The punishment was intended to establish boundaries that would impede unification that could express itself in evil. The ultimate evil would be related to what the tower represented in a one world religion. It represented human efforts and achievement apart from God and His grace.
“So what does this have to do with immigration rights in the real world today?”
It seems that the perceived human right to immigrate is often based on the idea that we are all part of one big world. We are all a part of the one human race. These are truths, but I have two concerns.
First, these truths can endorse globalist thinking that denies the existence of nations with physical and legal boundaries that define nations. Anti-national thinking or globalism is spoken of as part of the ideological underpinning of the antichrist of the last days. This globalist thinking will produce a repressive authoritarian dictatorial government. It will be headed by a man who will proclaim himself to be God (II Thess 2:3-4). He will be resisted but the effect of his quest for power will be enormous. Christians will be persecuted. Jews will be persecuted. Anyone who resists his demands for a one world government (Rev. 13:15 and 13:17) will suffer by not being allowed to buy or sell and will be killed (Rev. 13).
It is disconcerting when internationalism and globalism are utilized to argue that nations owe the right to immigrate to anyone who wants to enter any country.
My second concern is the denial of the purpose of government and nations. Government according to Romans 13 exists to reward good and punish evil. Romans 13:3 says, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.” This suggests not only a legal code but also a definite institution which in the real world has land and boundaries and a people. The authority and responsibility of the state to protect its citizens is further suggested by the phrase “they bear not the sword for nothing” in the next verse.
Government exists to protect and provide for the common good of the people under its care. The American founding fathers spoke of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore necessary that government reflect the values of a given society in a real place and protect its people from those who would harm its citizens. Citizens can be harmed by physical violence. Those who would do harm to others for whatever reason must be prevented from their evil intention by denying them entry. Citizens can be harmed by the destruction of the social structure that allows for people to provide for themselves through work that produces the goods and resources necessary to life. This can happen if too many people are allowed into a country that cannot contribute to the common good.
A country can be undermined by taking in people who do not share the basic values of the country. These people may be good in many senses, however if they are permitted in, it can lead to turmoil and chaos. Revolutions and the horrors of such are fostered by divergent ideologies. History is full of these kinds of conflicts. It has often been said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This is not a true statement. Words and the ideologies they communicate can lead to disaster. It is the responsibility of government to manage its immigration practices so as to mitigate against the destruction and heartache that can ensue.
In the light of the government’s responsibility it must be clearly seen that one does not have the right to go anywhere they want and the government that fails to stand against the demands from within or without ceases to perform its function.
The humanitarian need is an important issue.
A government should intervene to help those who are defenseless and do good to all. Galatians 6:10 says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people...” This is a biblical injunction given to individuals and therefore has some justifiable application in the arena of government. A caring practical response would incorporate seeking to meet basic life needs of food, shelter, and the protection from oppression. This is right in the light of human compassion. It is also right in that it may stay the growth of evil. It is important and in the best interest of a government and its citizens to prevent unrest and warfare lest we find ourselves drawn into chaos and conflict. However, there are limits to what a country can do without destroying itself.
It is my opinion, based on the biblical mandate derived from the purpose of government to protect its citizens, that there must be regulations, controls and even the restriction of immigration at times. For a government to fail in this is a major mistake and puts the citizens and nation at risk of destruction. Immigration is not a right. It is a privilege that can be granted or denied. This is biblical, balanced, and Christian. We must recognize that God has blessed the United States. It is important to recognize that we as a nation have given greatly to our fellow man, perhaps more than any other nation in the history of mankind. It is also important to recognize that we are a nation of immigrants that has welcomed people from around the world since our beginning. For us to continue to enjoy God’s blessing and be able to share that blessing, we must stand against those who do not share our values and foundational beliefs. We must not allow those who would harm and destroy to enter our country. We must also manage our immigration policy so that we can assimilate and bless new potential productive citizens.
May God in His grace bless the United States of America that we might be a blessing to all.
Dr. Dan Iles is the Chairman of the Department of Christian Ministries at Shasta Bible College and Graduate School in Redding, CA. He also serves as the Director of Educational Development for Indigenous Ministries International of Colorado Springs, CO. Dr. Iles has served as a local church pastor, a law enforcement chaplain, and a member of many boards for over 45 years. Dr. Iles has traveled and ministered widely both nationally and internationally. He earned his undergraduate degree from Southeastern Bible College, a ThM from Dallas Seminary and a DMin from Western Seminary, Portland.
Observations on the Inauguration of President Donald J. Trump by Dr. David Nicholas, President of Shasta Bible College & Graduate School
January 20, 2017 was a momentous day for those of us who believe that God still has a significant place in American politics and culture. After eight long years under President Barak Obama, who boldly and intentionally disavowed the idea that America was ever a Christian nation, disinvited Franklin Graham to the National Prayer Breakfast, determined to embed adherents to Islam in the White House, throughout government agencies and design immigration policies to ensure that Muslims were represented in almost every state in the nation; it was indeed refreshing to hear the reading of relevant Biblical passages by Franklin Graham and the inaugural prayers of Christian and Jewish leaders (two of whom actually prayed in Jesus name), not to mention references to God by President Trump himself.
Although many conservative Christians initially opposed or had serious misgivings about a Trump presidency, I found it interesting that in the end, it was evangelical Christians who put him over the top. I believe this happened primarily in response to nation-wide prayer in homes, churches, at state Capitol prayer rallies and because of endorsements by well-known Christian leaders who foresaw the threat to religious liberty, Biblical morality, national integrity, our Constitutional Republic, American security and culture in general should Hillary Clinton prevail. Even one liberal appointment to the Supreme Court who reflected Clinton’s progressive/socialist values would have doomed or severely diminished America’s time-honored conservative values for generations to come. In my opinion, we were spared that fate only by the mercy and grace of God.
Yes, I do believe God’s hand was involved in the outcome of this election. Let me tell you why. On January 20, 2017, prior to the Inauguration, a special message was prepared for President elect and Mrs. Trump, Vice President elect and Mrs. Pence, families and friends. The message was delivered at St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C. Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX delivered the message entitled, “When God Chooses A Leader.” In his introduction, Dr. Jeffress reminded them that it was the prophet, Daniel (2:21) who said it is God who removes and establishes leaders. And then Dr. Jeffress said this: “President elect Trump, I remember that it was exactly one year ago this weekend that I was with you on your Citation jet flying around Iowa before the first caucus or first primary vote was cast. After our Wendy’s cheeseburgers, I said that I believed that you would be the next President of the United States. And if that happened, it would be because God had placed you there.”
Then Pastor Jeffress went on to say that when he thought of President –elect Trump, he was reminded of another great leader God chose thousands of years ago. He explained that the nation of Israel had been in bondage for decades and that the infrastructure of the country (Israel) was in shambles. It was then, he said, that God raised up a powerful leader to restore the nation, and the man he choose was neither a politician nor a priest. Instead, He chose a builder whose name was Nehemiah.
The first step in the rebuilding of the nation was the building of a great wall to protect its citizens from enemy attack. He said, “You see, God is not against building walls.” He then pointed out that Nehemiah records that the massive project was completed in record time, just in 52 days. Then Dr. Jeffress explained why Nehemiah was so successful in building the wall and rebuilding the nation. I won’t go into detail, but his three points were:
(I) Nehemiah Refused To Allow His Critics To Distract Him,
(2) Nehemiah Refused To Allow Setbacks To Stop Him, and
(3) Nehemiah Sought God’s Help to Empower Him.
At the conclusion of the message, Pastor Jeffress reminded President-elect Trump of the Biblical starting point for Making America Great Again: Psalm 33:12: “Blessed –great- is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
And I would add this, not only does Daniel 2:21 remind us that it is God who removes and establishes leaders, but verse 22 goes on to say, “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.…” President Trump, seek the light that God can give you through His Word, prayer and the counsel of honest, righteous men who are intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ who Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6).
As a personal point of interest, in early November, 2016 I was privileged to attend First Baptist Church of Dallas while in Texas for the 25th Anniversary of the Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group. The Chair of our Bible Department, Dr. George Gunn, was with me. We were tremendously impressed by the ministry of Dr. Robert Jeffress that Sunday morning. In fact, just to underscore the godly, Biblically oriented pastor that he is, as visitors we were given a copy of his recent book, “NOT All Roads LEAD to HEAVEN: Sharing an Exclusive Jesus in an Inclusive World.”
I thought it tremendously significant that a faithful servant of Christ like Dr. Jeffress was asked by our newly elected President to bring the Inaugural Day message to him, his Vice President, their families and friends. “God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform,” is a truth expressed by English hymn writer, William Cowper, in a popular English hymn in 1773, no doubt taken from Isaiah 55:8,9:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
According to Daniel 2:21 and Proverbs 21:1, God not only removes and establishes rulers, but,
“The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.
So, let’s remember that on January 20, 2017, God did the unexpected and placed Donald John Trump in office. Our task now is to uphold President Trump in prayer and remember that only God through prayer and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit can bring about lasting moral and spiritual change in America.