Posted in creator, earth, encouragement, God

He hung the earth: Our Artistic Creator God

NASA Releases a Spectacular Earthrise Image Captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Reminds me of Job 26:7, “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.”

We live on a beautiful planet. We’re a generation that has been blessed to see actual photos of other planets from the space Voyager missions and the Hubble telescope. Though other planets such as Mars have a stark beauty, none have the lush, eye-pleasing beauty that Earth does.

Have you ever considered the creation verse in Genesis 2?

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. (Genesis 2:9)

Beauty was mentioned before utility. It was beautiful, and by the way, it was also food. God could have made this and all the planets black and white. But He didn’t. God as Creator is an engineer, creating animals and humans with deft precision. He is also an artist, creating things that are not only functional, but beautiful.

After the Flood, when there were only 8 people remaining who remembered what Earth looked like before. He could have remade things as utilitarian only. But once again, the earth sprung up with beautiful sights to behold. And fast, too. Consider this verse from Genesis 8:9-11,

But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

Waters had been on the earth for 278 days. For at least 128 days, the earth and all its life had been entirely submerged. According to the verse though, between the time the dove found no place to put her foot and when she returned with a fresh leaf, was only 7 days.

The LORD made a full grown tree with a full grown leaf in that time! He is amazing. I bet the leaf was pretty, too.

God’s artistry is evident in viewing photos of galaxies, flowers, shells, landforms such as the Grand Canyon. Though the earth’s ground has been cursed and it is polluted with sin, which is the root cause of all natural disasters, cataclysms, and destruction, it is still beautiful. So just imagine the beauty of the dazzling New Jerusalem! And His abode, heaven. Paul said it is inexpressible, and John groped for words. I can’t wait to see God’s full artistry on display through glorified eyes. And we shall behold Him, the most beautiful of all, Jesus Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

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Further Reading

Did the Flood last 40 days and 40 nights?

Posted in created, creator, physics, universe

Mystery radio signals that baffled astronomers for years came from the staff microwave

I saw that headline and I just had to laugh.

I love science and study physics when I have the chance and have a somewhat clear head to tackle the subject. What holds the universe together and what makes it tick is an endless fascination to me. Of course, coming from a Christian perspective, I know that Jesus holds the universe together by His word (Hebrews 1:3) and He sustains it (Colossians 1:17). Anything I might learn about the universe’s workings is going to be based on that fact and through Him.

APOD: May 12, 2015. Left, Marseilles France, Earth.
Right, Elysium Planitia, Mars

So while on the one hand I respect physicists and astronomers highly, on the other hand it seems that ultimately they are like ants chasing a phantom trail, always learning about the universe but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. At least, their truth, whatever man-made theory they adhere to as to the origin of the universe. Their seekings and learnings are all like the elusive dark matter they also speculate exists, the invisible space in between other visible objects that can only be detected by the effects the theorized dark matter has on other things. Seeking to know about how the universe works without knowing Jesus, brings to mind the famous quote attributed to Gertrude Stein regarding Oakland CA: “There’s no there there.” Christians know the there there is Jesus. Not knowing Jesus but seeking to know His mind as Creator (which is what physics is all about) will only bring endless theories, surprising discoveries, and an ant trail of eternally frustrating length.

There was this in 2009. Frustrating to them, amusing to me: The Case of the Mysterious Baguette:

Sometime on Nov. 3, the supercooled magnets in sector 81 of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), outside Geneva, began to dangerously overheat. Scientists rushed to diagnose the problem, since the particle accelerator has to maintain a temperature colder than deep space in order to work. The culprit? “A bit of baguette,” says Mike Lamont of the control center of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which built and maintains the LHC. Apparently, a passing bird may have dropped the chunk of bread on an electrical substation above the accelerator, causing a power cut. The baguette was removed, power to the cryogenic system was restored and within a few days the magnets returned to their supercool temperatures.

While most scientists would write off the event as a freak accident, two esteemed physicists have formulated a theory that suggests an alternative explanation: perhaps a time-traveling bird was sent from the future to sabotage the experiment. Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, have published several papers over the past year arguing that the CERN experiment may be the latest in a series of physics research projects whose purposes are so unacceptable to the universe that they are doomed to fail, subverted by the future.

However, that isn’t the whole story. The baguette was not found above ground in the snow damply getting mushy within a few moments of time. The baguette was found inside a cooling building. That was locked. That was surrounded by high-voltage wires. That was guarded. That is why the esteemed Japanese physicists speculated that it was a time traveling baguette. They were confounded as to how the bread got in there. I’ve been laughing about the Baguette Incident since I wrote about it in 2009.

And then there’s something like this from last week.

Mystery radio signals that baffled astronomers for years came from the staff microwave

Beginning in the late ’90s, once or twice a year, astronomers operating the telescope at the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia would pick up mysterious radio signals. These signals were known as perytons, described in a recent report as “millisecond-duration transients of terrestrial origin.” The researchers believed the perytons were linked to atmospheric activity such as lightning strikes, and they held this belief for around 17 years, until this year, when they installed a new receiver to monitor interference, The Guardian reports. The actual source of the perytons? A microwave.

Peryton? Another proposed, theorized particle to explain another proposed theory of how the universe works? I remember when they discovered strings and thought they’d nailed it. That was back in the early 1980s.

1984-6 – A series of important discoveries in string theory leads to the “first superstring revolution”, and it is first realized that string theory might be capable of describing all elementary particles as well as the interactions between them. (source)

Cut to 35 years later and not so much. Not only haven’t they described all the particles, they keep discovering new ones, much less be able to delineate all their interactions with each other. They are still seeking, learning, attempting to explain the whole, without the There there.

Rabbit trail factoid:

Artist’s rendition of imaginary peryton

Did you know that a peryton was a mythological creature?

The Peryton is a mythological hybrid animal combining the physical features of a stag and a bird. The Peryton was created and described by Jorge Luis Borges in his Book of Imaginary Beings, using a supposedly long-lost medieval manuscript as a source. The Peryton is said to have the head, neck, forelegs and antlers of a stag, combined with the plumage, wings and hindquarters of a large bird, although some interpretations portray the Peryton as a deer in all but coloration and bird’s wings. (source)

Peryton. Beautiful Bird, lovely plumage. Physicists certainly have a vivid imagination. They have to, in attempting to learn about the creation sans a Creator.

When I look to the heavens, I see God in His creation. I worship the Creator, not the created. (Romans 1:25).

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1)

Physicists will continue to study the universe and for that I’m glad. Astonomers will continue to bring us magnificent photos of dep space and explain what we’re seeing, and I’m glad. However, never forget Who created it all, and give Him glory for his incredible Mind, His wonderful handiwork, and His power to speak a word and the existence of the universe and everything in either entered reality or will be snuffed out (Gen 1:1, 2 Peter 3:10).

And chuckle at the childish antics of the men in the Physics Lab break room heating up a Lean Cuisine in the microwave while the others at the telescope believe some breakthrough is happening because the microwave is pulsing out some kind of signal. But it’s just lunch, and their minds will never match the Mind of the One who looks down at his wayward people and laughs, because they saw His majestic work and denied Him.

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:4)

 
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Further Reading

Watch earth live from the vantage of the International Space Station

Physics Timeline

Hubble Telescope Site 

NASA’s APOD: Astronomy Picture of the Day

The Hiesenberg Uncertainty Compensator Explained

How William Shatner Changed the World

William Shatner presents a light-hearted look at how the “Star Trek” TV series have influenced and inspired today’s technologies, including: cell phones, medical imaging, computers and software, SETI, MP3 players and iPods, virtual reality, and spaceship propulsion.
Posted in creator, hubble, spiritual warfare, wrath

Some good stuff: Importance of preaching Divine Wrath, Tithing is not a New Testament command, Reality of Spiritual Warfare, 25 Years of Hubble (allowing us to see God’s handiwork)

Some good stuff:

John Martin – The Great Day of Divine Wrath

I’m big on wrath. What are we “saved” from, if we never teach, witness about, or preach the wrath? How can we understand the majesty, depth, and generosity of His love if we do not first understand the wrath? This article appeared at Ligonier and is written by one of the preachers I enjoy most, Steven Lawson:

Is It Necessary to Preach Divine Wrath?

The Genevan Reformer John Calvin said, “Preaching is the public exposition of Scripture by the man sent from God, in which God Himself is present in judgment and in grace.” Faithful pulpit ministry requires the declaration of both judgment and grace. The Word of God is a sharp, two-edged sword that softens and hardens, comforts and afflicts, saves and damns.

1 Corinthians 9 is a tremendous chapter, embedded as it is between 8 and 10, where Paul lengthily expounds about eating meat sacrificed to idols. In reading the passage, I found some parts of chapter 9 difficult to understand. My puny mind and all. I turned to another of my favorite preachers, S. Lewis Johnson, after I’d read the particular passage. He expounded on it in a tremendous way. In one part of the sermon, he took a little side trip. Oh, our beloved preachers and their rabbit trails, lol. Here is the side trip down tithing lane in his sermon “Paul’s Right to Compensation“:

Now, we know that of course in the Old Testament, the Levitical priests carried out the ministry, and they were supported by the children of Israel, the other tribes. They were supported by the tithe. The tithe was not a gift. The tithe was income tax. They had to pay a tenth to the support of the priests, and so the priests carried on the work of the Lord, and they were supported by the children of Israel because they were taxed, ten percent. Clinton hasn’t brought that up yet. But nevertheless, in the Old Testament that’s the way it was done. The Old Testament speaks of tithes and offerings. Offerings were in addition to the tithe. Tithe was income tax. It’s so amazing to me, so amazing to me that we can hear ministry to the effect that we ought to give tithes. Tithes are the big thing in most of our churches, tithes. If you’ll just simply take your Concordance out and look at the New Testament and look up the term “tithe,” and you’ll see that it is never used of anything other than something that happened as history, as history, not now.

I remember my father, when the church in Charleston was putting up a new addition, First Presbyterian Church there, the Old Scots Church. And it was later on, I had been a minister of the gospel for a good time, and we had a number of talks. He was an elder in the church, and he handed me the literature. And he said, “Well, what do you think about this? Do you think — what do you think he was implying what I thought he should give? Well, I wasn’t going to give him any advice at all, but I read the material. And it was an appeal to the members of the First Presbyterian Church of Charleston to give for the new addition. Tithes was mentioned I don’t know how many times. I may still have that in my — in my notes somewhere. I thought it was a good illustration. I could use it in preaching.

But tithes, tithes were mentioned, and I had an opportunity to mention to my father that, as far as the tithe is concerned, the tithe is an Old Testament income tax. And I do know that he happened to give an offering. He told me later, he had given an offering. But we just, I feel, after all these years as old as I am, the biggest mistake made in a local church is failure to read the Bible, failure to read the Bible. The elders, deacons, and members, failure to read the Bible. Expect others to do it for us. Let Dr. Johnson tell us what the Bible has to say. No. If it depended on me, somewhere you’d go wrong because I’d go wrong somewhere. But read the Bible.

So, no, tithing was a national tax in the OT, rendered to support the temple upkeep and support the priests. It is not a NT mandate. Don’t let anyone pressure you otherwise.

Another little gem from SL Johnson’s sermon,

Lord Bacon, who was not a religious man to my knowledge, authored an aphorism regarding the interpretation of legal documents that bears directly on the interpretation of the Biblical records as well. He said, “Interpretation that departs from the letter of the text is not interpretation but divination.” That’s precisely what it is. It’s you adding things to the text as if you are an authority like the Lord God in heaven, the divine being.

EPrata photo

I really enjoyed this article from Answers in Genesis about the reality of spiritual warfare. If one peeve of mine is that the wrath is hardly preached, the reality of the spiritual war is even less so.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare in the Home
by Dr. Robert H. Carpenter on December 13, 2007

One of the sad realities within the local church today centers on the fact that numerous born-again Christians have little or no knowledge of the spiritual warfare that takes place all around us. The Bible is crystal clear in proclaiming that there is a battle raging in the heavenlies as the forces of evil continue to wage war against not only the Creator, but also against all who trust in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Look at what our Creator has done! Just look at it!

Visit Hubble’s 25th anniversary website to see the curated collection of Hubble’s anniversary images. In contrast, this Flickr set contains one image from each year that Hubble has been in orbit.

Explore beautiful Hubble Space Telescope images from each year the telescope has been in orbit

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all”. (1 Chronicles 29:11)

Posted in aurora, creator, creator of the universe, ISS

Sunrise meets Aurora, ISS video astounds

Quartz reported,

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station shot a video in the past week that shows the aurora borealis, or northern lights, glimmering green on the horizon as it meets the sunrise over earth. It lasts for just fifteen incredible seconds.

The footage is shot over the eastern seaboard of the US, from the Outer Banks, to Delmarva Peninsula to Cape Cod and then up over Maine to Nova Scotia. You can clearly see the bump of the Outer Banks at the beginning, Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the curling arm of the Cape all the way to Provincetown and then swoops up to the Canadian Maritimes.

The LORD God is an incredible God. Nothing that will happen today has not already been sifted through His hands and ordained. Seeing this beauty from a high-above perspective makes us once again laud and honor our God- the Creator of it all.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-51)

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-18)

Posted in awe, creation, creator, NASA

The Pillars of Creation

Phil Johnson’s sermon “Why I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (text: Romans 1:19-20) is a brilliant and majestic exploration of the Creation. Pastor Johnson said,

“…the most obvious truth we learn about God from nature: He is glorious. Every molecule of the universe unveils and declares God’s glory. You can see amazing, majestic displays of incomprehensible glory from any conceivable perspective. The glory of God is on display in vivid, intense, and graphic detail no matter where you turn your eyes. Look in the most powerful telescope at the outer edges of the current technology’s ability to see, and what you will observe is breathtaking glory.”

NASA re-oriented its Hubble telescope and took another photo of the Pillars of Creation, its most famous photo, taken in 1995. In the 20th anniversary of the iconic space picture, we see an even more startling clarity than we’ve ever seen before. This morning in looking at the newly released Hubble telescope’s “Pillars of Creation”, I was pondering the Creator and His glory. What a joy that Johnson’s latest sermon is on this topic. He unfolded a most beautiful and cohesive explanation of why the likeliest most important verse in the bible is:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Why did AW Tozer claim that verse as the most important? Even though ALL scripture is profitable? Because all else flows from there. In dogmatic, simple fashion, God made a statement that answers the basic questions all humans ask. Where did we come from? Is this all there is? Why is man different from the animals? and has a conscience? and can think? As Johnson said,

This text lays the necessary foundation for a truly biblical worldview. It tells us an essential truth, and it’s the very first of all the inspired biblical dogmas.

This photo takes my breath away. God is tremendous.

When you look at this photo remember that God made all those stars.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. (Ps 147:4).

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26).

Please listen to the sermon linked above. It will expand your thinking on Romans 1:19-20, and it will re-affirm your humility, as it did Job’s, under the sovereignty of such a Creator.

Pillars of Creation. NASA

Posted in beach, creation, creator, God, sea

The Beach, The Sea, The Ocean

This is a holiday week where many people take a vacation at the beach. I grew up in “The Ocean State”, the beach was never far. Nor the Bay, or the Cove, or the Inlet. I was always at some beach or other. I grew to detect and love the ocean’s moods, the weather in all its forms. The beach is such a relaxing vacation. The ocean is beautiful, mysterious, dangerous, life-sustaining, and at sunset, the beach displays the Creator’s artistry in the sky for its backdrop.

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. (Genesis 1:21-23)

When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed. (Acts 21:5)

There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. (Acts 27:6, 8)

For he takes up the drops from the sea; he sends them through his mist as rain (Job 36:27)

Our mighty God has created all that we see and all that we don’t see. He is our Creator, and as for the sea, what a wondrous gift it is.

Posted in creation, creator, creator of the universe, galaxy, God, stars

How many stars are there in the Milky Way?

Space.com has an interesting discussion about how many stars there may be in the Milky Way galaxy. They wrote that it is “surprisingly difficult” to determine an answer to the question. The short article describes the counting methods and the problems with each method. In the end, the article concludes,

So is there any way to figure out how many stars are for sure? In the end, it comes down to an estimate. In one calculation, the Milky Way has a mass of about 100 billion solar masses, so it is easiest to translate that to 100 billion stars. This accounts for the stars that would be bigger or smaller than our sun, and averages them out. Other mass estimates bring the number up to 400 billion. The caveat, Kornreich said, is that these numbers are approximations. More advanced models can make the approximation more accurate, but it would be very difficult to count the stars one by one and tell you for sure how many are in the galaxy.

Below, Night sky photographer Amit Ashok Kamble captured this amazing panorama of the Milky Way over Pakiri Beach, New Zealand by stitching 10 images together into a complete mosaic. credit: Amit Ashok Kamble:

Universe Today writes about how many stars there could be in the entire universe, “And so, if you multiply the number of stars in our galaxy by the number of galaxies in the Universe, you get approximately 1024 stars. That’s a 1 followed by twenty-four zeros. That’s a septillion stars. But there could be more than that.”

If we go with the septillion number, Adam Ford, AKA Adam 4D has this free-to-use graphic to ponder:

Let’s take a moment to give praise and honor to our Creator! He made the stars. He numbered the stars. He named the stars. What man cannot comprehend, God did in a day. He is high and lifted up!

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. (Psalm 147:4)

To him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; (Psalm 136:7)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

Indeed, in all His awesome majesty, He created Man, to have a relationship with. God loves us, Jesus is praying for us and the Spirit is helping us.

This great God who stretched out His hand and created a septillion stars by the power of His will, also loves each and every one of His called sheep. He loves you, nurtures you, protects you, disciplines you. Our great Yahweh, the One True God, Creator and Sustainer…

Father.

Posted in creation, creator, encouragement, fragrance, magnolia

The short, beautiful life of a magnolia blossom

Say “magnolia” and people automatically think of the South. I grew up in New England I know I certainly did. Never once did I think I’d live in the south, and with a magnolia tree across from my front door no less!

It is a stately tree, solid and aristocratic. Kenneth W. Outcalt wrote about the magnolia grandiflora tree, “Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), also called evergreen magnolia, bull-bay, big-laurel, or large-flower magnolia, has large fragrant white flowers and evergreen leaves that make it one of the most splendid of forest trees and a very popular ornamental that has been planted around the world.

The magnolia flower of the grandiflora is just as grand as its host. The petals are enormous but velvety and have a rich ivory color. I don’t have a sense of smell so I can’t tell you directly. Locals say it smells great. Apparently the scent varies, it can smell like lemons, or violets, or vanilla.

Like the magnolia blossom, we emit a scent also.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2).

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)

Magnolia blossoms are blooming now. The trees are so tall, and most of the blossoms are far above my head, making a close inspection difficult. However this year, there was one bloom that was at eye level. With the flowers being so large and beautiful and emblematic of an entire region of the south, and a blossom blooming literally before my eyes, I decided to photograph one blossom each day for its entire life cycle and put it on my other blog as a photo essay.

I began the experiment on May 23. The blossom here is tightly wound, straight as an arrow, and contains no hints of the surprise inside.

EPrata photo

May 24: It looks a little plumper today.

EPrata photo

May 25: It popped open! Revealing more layers! How pretty!

EPrata photo

May 26: Each petal is larger than my entire hand. The color ranges from white to ivory and the entire blossom looks so stately.

EPrata photo

May 27: The petals are turning brown, barely hanging on to the stem, speckled on the edge with more brown. The leaves immediately under the blossom are dead. Bugs were crawling over the petals, looking for a good place to stake a claim to start munching.

EPrata photo

Four days, that is all it took for the bloom to appear in its final form, open, live, and die. I was so surprised. There are many blooms on the tree, and I just assumed that they lasted a while. I’d never tracked just one. Its life is so short, a mere breath.

I was pondering that for a while today. What seemed so strong and beautiful was only a few days later fodder for death, decay, and insects. In addition, what was presented so starkly to me in the story of the magnolia is something that is repeated in our human body and our short lives. Most of us live more than 4 days, but to God, our life is a mere vapor, a mist.

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” (Psalm 39:5)

So what are we going to do with the time afforded us on our short time on earth?

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

The magnolia fruit will continue to dry out, and eventually open, revealing tiny red seeds. These drop to the ground

EPrata photo
Mature Magnolia fruit just starting to open, with a few seeds visible.
Wikimedia Commons

One botanist wrote that it hardly seems credible that such a large tree could come from such a small seed.

Paul wrote about how our body is a seed, a mere kernel.

The Resurrection Body

“35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.”

“42So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49)

When the magnolia seed drops to the ground it is a bare kernel, it looks nothing like what it will become. It is red, the flower is white. It is small, the flower is large. It has no smell, the magnolia scent is lovely. The mature blossom lives a short time, bearing witness to the Creator, who is pleased with its beauty and scent, and then it dies. It endures decay and becomes bug-eaten and eventually, dust. (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

The parallel to people is the same. Our lives are short and ends in decay. While we are living we have a job to do, glorify the Creator and testify to His works. Will we redeem the time? Is our Lord pleased with our aroma? When we awaken to receive our final bodies, will it be to shame and contempt or to everlasting life? (Daniel 12:2).

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.” (John 5:28)

I pray you are awakened to eternal life, saved by thegrace of our Lord, working to redeem the time on His behalf. Because, it bears repeating,

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

Posted in creator, gnosticism, music of the spheres, pythagoras

This is My Father’s World", Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, part 3

Part 1
Part 2
In part 1 of “This is My Father’s World”, Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras, I looked at how Pythagoras intuitively understood the harmony and order of the natural world, and the cosmos. Pythagoras in effect discovered music theory, and within it, musical spacing, octaves, and vibrations. He extrapolated from his discovery that a similar harmony and order in the planetary cycles and orbits must exist, and named his astronomical theory Music of the Spheres because of the order and harmony within it. Pythagoras even thought the planets made music in their courses. When you sing Pastor Maltbie Babcock’s hymn “This Is My Father’s World, Babcock references music of the spheres and it is specifically to Pythagoras’s concept Babcock refers.

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought

In Part 2 I looked at how Pythagoras is thought to the be the progenitor of string theory, the notion in physics that everything vibrates and strings are the elements that make up the universe. Pythagoras was very smart, and his experiments were carefully done. However, he was too smart for his own good, and wound up on the other side of God, promoting knowledge as the thing to be worshiped. More on that in a moment.

We looked at Kepler, the 16th century astronomer whose brilliance pushed forward Pythagoras’s theories much further, and we ended up in the twentieth century by looking at modern string theory.

Al this to say that Romans 1:18-23 are amazing verses.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

Pythagoras, and Plato who brought Pythagoras’s concept to the people, for that matter, had incredible intellects. Yet when the truth was shown to them, they went away from it. See what Pythagoras and his followers believed:

Pythagoras conceived the universe to be an immense monochord, with its single string connected at its upper end to absolute spirit and at its lower end to absolute matter–in other words, a cord stretched between heaven and earth. Counting inward from the circumference of the heavens, Pythagoras, according to some authorities, divided the universe into nine parts; according to others, into twelve parts. The Pythagoreans believed that everything which existed had a voice and that all creatures were eternally singing the praise of the Creator. Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence. When he liberates himself from the bondage of the lower world with its sense limitations, the music of the spheres will again be audible as it was in the Golden Age. Harmony recognizes harmony, and when the human soul regains its true estate it will not only hear the celestial choir but also join with it in an everlasting anthem of praise to that Eternal Good controlling the infinite number of parts and conditions of Being.

Pythagoras and Plato saw a creator, but not the God in creation. You see the almost in Pythagoras. he almost got it right. There is a cord which connects us to the Creator. Job 30:11 speaks of it, and Solomon speaks of our connection to eternity by God’s setting it in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

You see the almost in the belief that all creatures have a voice and respond to the Creator. Jesus said in Luke 19:40 that we cannot keep silent, if we did, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” And we know from Romans 8:22 that “For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” and that “all creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19).

However, it is not true that ‘Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence.’ We fail to connect to the ‘divine’ because of our sin, we are separated from God and in a discordant relationship with Him. We are His enemy and He is our judge. The material world isn’t the enemy, our flesh and sinful nature is.

Pythagoras was not only the first to call himself a philosopher but also a priest -initiate of a mystery religion influenced heavily by Orphism, which taught that the essence of the gods is defined by number. Numbers, indeed, expressed the essence of all created things.” (source)

Out of Pythagorean cults came Gnosticism, which teaches based on Gnosis, the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of interior, intuitive means. This is exactly as Pythagoras said, we escape the material world by self-empowered actions.

Pythagoras suppressed the truth about his helpless state, and instead believed he could raise himself to a satisfactory level of spiritual attainment on his own power. God had made it plain to them. Yet they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness and worshiped the creation. In Pythagoras’s case, he worshiped self, knowledge, and numbers. As far as numbers go, Pythagoras saw God’s harmony but worshiped the numbers. Out of his teachings came Sacred Numbers and Occult Mysteries:

Pythagoreans … believed that man can realise his divine nature by knowing the universal principle which governs the cosmos (a word coined by Pythagoras himself, meaning “world-order,” a world ordered in a state of mathematical harmony). This principle is Number, which is “the principle, the source and the root of all things”.

Wikipedia explains, The tetractys, or tetrad, is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row, which is the geometrical representation of the fourth triangular number. As a mystical symbol, it was very important to the secret worship of the Pythagoreans.

Plato was one of the three sources from which we understand Pythagorean theories, since no writings by Pythagoras survive. Plato said, “Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent. Numbers are the highest degree of knowledge. It is knowledge itself.”

Out of Pythagorean mysticism came Rosicrucianism, a secret society still around today and which heavily influenced the Freemasons.

is it so surprising that one man who responded to the harmony and order of the world could go so wayward with the truth? No, for the bible explains it. In Genesis 3 when the serpent spoke with Eve, a few simple sentences gave rise to the false doctrines. 1 John 2:16 says “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Johannes Kepler saw the same thing as Pythagoras yet he was a committed Christian. According to this essay from Answers in Genesis, “
During his youth, Kepler had become a committed Christian and dedicated himself to serving God. As he said shortly before he died, he believed ‘only and alone in the service of Jesus Christ. In Him is all refuge, all solace. Kepler intended to serve God as a Lutheran minister after completing his university education. However, God had other plans for this uniquely gifted young man. … Kepler strongly believed that ‘The world of nature, the world of man, the world of God—all three fit together.’ In particular, Kepler reasoned that because the universe was designed by an intelligent Creator, it should function according to some logical pattern. To him, the idea of a chaotic universe was inconsistent with God’s wisdom.”

Where Pythagoras, brilliant as he was, saw the logical pattern, he attributed it to Number, where Kepler attributed the logical pattern to God.

In the 20th century, plenty of scientists are born again but not one I mentioned who is an important contributor to understanding of string theory: Dr. Brian Greene. In answering an interview question whether he is religious, he said,

I think there’s a compatibility as long as your religious sensibility’s not literal. If you try to literally interpret teachings of the Bible you run smack into some pretty significant problems with what we’ve discovered in science. But if you’re willing to view religion more in a Spinozan or even Einsteinian way—that there is an overarching order and harmony that the laws of physics represent and reveal, and that order and harmony, if you want, ascribe it to some deeper theological origin—then I don’t think science has much to say about that.

As this writer at the University of Connecticut Physics Department stated, “Most of the founders of Quantum Mechanics started out with studying music. Strangely enough, the motion of the electron in a hydrogen atom actually does follow the Music of the Spheres, to a certain extent.”

Yet many of them went the way of Pythagoras or Greene, and not Kepler. And lest one think that Pythagorean theory is old news, it is still influencing people today with its Gnostic appeal. This article from Psychology Today attests, “Can Pythagorean Philosophy Help You to Live a Better Life?”

In keeping with these musical/mathematical aspects of the universe, a key construct of Pythagorean philosophy was maintaining personal harmony. In my book, How Plato and Pythagoras Can Save Your Life (Conari, 2011), I describe the Bios Pythagorikos (The Pythagorean Way of Life), whereby a person endeavored to “tune” themselves in order to be in harmonic alignment with the larger universal harmony via a healthy mind, body and spirit that are nurtured by rigorous physical exercise, a healthy diet, daily meditational walks, as well as deep contemplative meditations on math, music, cosmology and philosophy.”

“Once a person was well-tuned and in vibrational alignment, they could then self-actualize and become fully engaged human beings. The mystic Pythagoras even believed that such a well-tuned person could raise their level of consciousness and awareness and thus be able to “peek behind the veil” and experience what some have called “ultimate reality”.

When you hear that claptrap, of vibrations and harmony of the body and self-actualization and contemplative endeavors and alignment…now you know where it came from. Solomon, wise Solomon, said there is nothing new under the sun. All false doctrines, and all false reactions to true doctrines come from satan, who began his quest to divert us from the truth in heaven and then on earth in the garden.

Look at Maltbie Babcock’s reaction to the creation. He responded to the harmony and order of creation and the progression of the planets and included the phrase ‘music of the spheres’ rightly in his hymn. Maltbie Babcock saw the creation, the order and harmony of the advance of seasons, the planets, and the natural world itself, and worshiped the Creator. Same knowledge, different reactions.

When Maltbie Davenport Babcock lived in Lockport, he took frequent walks along the Niagara Escarpment to enjoy the overlook’s panoramic vista of upstate New York scenery and Lake Ontario, telling his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world“. (Wikipedia)

Babcock saw beauty and harmony in his Father’s world, and praised the Creator for it. What is your reaction? Do you praise Jesus Christ, the sustainer and Redeemer of our fallen world? Our Creator who paints sunsets int he sky and twinkled the named stars for his own pleasure? Praise and worship of God is the only reaction acceptable. Not worship of numbers or intellect or the spiritual world or the body. God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator, and He saw fit to create us and put us on our Father’s world.

Don’t be seduced by the Music of the Spheres, be entranced with the Maker of the heavenly harmony, which He has set in our heart.

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Part 1
Part 2

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"This is My Father’s World", Music of the Spheres, Maltbie Babcock, and Pythagoras

Part 2 here

This is My Father’s World is a hymn written sometime in the 1800s by Maltbie Babcock, a preacher in upstate New York. It was published after his death in 1901, and set to music by Frank L. Sheppard. It references Psalm 104; Psalm 24; Acts 4:24; Acts 4.

If you ever heard the hymn “This Is My Father’s World” there is a lyric in the first stanza that mentions the “music of the spheres”. Hymnary.org explains the hymn’s lyric in context-

The text is a confession of faith and trust, a testimony that all creation around us is the handiwork of our Father, who made the creation (st. 1), charged us to take good care of it (st. 2), and continues to exercise his kingship over it … The phrase “music of the spheres” in stanza 1 refers to the ancient belief that the planets made music or harmony as they revolved in the universe.

Pythagoras, Plato, Kepler, Bohr, and Pastor Babcock all brushed up against the same order and harmony in creation in math, astronomy, and music, and each of these people throughout the centuries reacted to the divine knowledge of this creation differently, just as Romans 1 said they would. Some saw harmony and order in creation and worshiped it, while others saw harmony and order in creation and worshiped the Creator.

Musica Universalis is the Latin term for the Pythagorean philosophy called Music of the Spheres. Pythagoras initially developed the thought that the planets made music. This notion is not as far off as it sounds- Pythagoras was really on to string theory. Stay with me during this three part essay series as we look at the harmony of the order of the universe, math, and music.

Pythagoras and the Harmonious Blacksmith

“Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast” William Congreve, ‘The Mourning Bride’, 1697. Pythagoras was a mathematician and philosopher who lived in the 6th century BC. He is widely accepted to have founded music theory. Here is how he did it:

 He was walking past a blacksmith’s shop one day and heard the different tones of differently weighted hammers striking the anvils- in harmony. He heard the difference between discordant notes and harmonic notes, and realized after further exploration that there was an explanation- ratios.

By some divine stroke of luck he happened to walk past the forge of a blacksmith and listened to the hammers pounding iron and producing a variegated harmony of reverberations between them, except for one combination of sounds.” According to Iamblichus, [4th century scholar who wrote about the Pythagorean sect] Pythagoras immediately ran into the forge to investigate the harmony of the hammers. He noticed that most of the hammers could be struck simultaneously to generate a harmonious sound, whereas any combination containing one particular hammer always generated an unpleasant noise.

He analyzed the hammers and realized that those that were harmonious with each other had a simple mathematical relationship–their masses were simple ratios or fractions of each other. That is to say that hammers half, two- thirds, or three-quarters the weight of a particular hammer would all generate harmonious sounds. On the other hand, the hammer that was generating disharmony when struck along with any of the other hammers had a weight that bore no simple relationship to the other weights.” (source)

Listen to Handel’s “Harmonious Blacksmith” from his fifth suite for harpsichord here.Whether the blacksmith story is legend or truth is hard to say- there is so little written about Pythagoras himself, though lots about the sect he founded.

Already steeped in music for pleasure, Pythagoras was an excellent lyre player and after the blacksmith incident he began to notice ratios in stringed instruments also. Pythagoras knew what much of previous antiquity had long understood but had not known why: audible tones based on low-number relationships produce harmonious sounds that are easy on the ear and soothe the soul. Apparently at some point, blacksmith incident or not, the penny dropped for Pythagoras and he discovered octaves.

Frontispiece to Theorica Musice, Franchino Gafurio, 1492

The upper left illustration depicts Jubal, the biblical father of music, and six blacksmiths with differing size hammers striking an anvil. This relates to the story that the young Pythagoras was first moved to investigate musical intervals on hearing the notes produced by different size hammers at a blacksmith’s shop. The upper right illustration depicts Pythagoras testing the interval of an octave between bells of size 16 and 8 and between glasses filled in the proportion 16 and 8. The lower left illustration shows Pythagoras testing intervals on a stringed instrument and the lower right illustration shows Pythagoras and his pupil Philolaus testing intervals by means of flutes. (source)

Early musicians had little to no understanding of why particular notes were harmonious and had no objective system for tuning their instruments. Instead they tuned their lyres purely by ear until a harmony emerged– i.e., until it sounded good. Pythagoras used to say they were torturing the pegs. Yet Pythagoras thought intuitively that music held deeper properties. The hidden ratios were one such deeper property, and its soothing effect was another. He said the vibrations of the music went “to the brain and the blood and transmitted to the soul.” (quote from Nichomachus, a Pythagorean who wrote the “Manual of Harmonics.”).

Pythagoras and Music Therapy

Pythagoras believed that music’s harmony on earth, in the universe, and through the body was so unified and so pervasive that the soul could be calmed by certain compositions. If Pythagoras had just read the bible, he would know this to be true.

In 2 Kings 3:15 it is written, “But now bring me a minstrel.” Pulpit Commentary says, “A player on the harp seems to be intended. Music was cultivated in the schools of the prophets (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1-3), and was employed to soothe and quiet the soul, to help it to forget things earthly and external, and bring it into that ecstatic condition in which it was most open to the reception of Divine influences.”

So, music was the precursor to prayer and petition and thanks and praise! Music was used as a vehicle to alter a physical, emotional, and biological state; and to prepare the heart and mind for close communion with God. Pythagoras however missed the point of music, which was to praise God and not to self-actualize by engaging in works that raise our vibrations so as to meld with the Good.

Mike Mora of Morart Stewdios explains the music theory Pythagoras discovered, including musical spacing and its effects:

In ancient Greece, singers would use a simple stringed instrument called the lyre. This had many “versions” with the most common being 4-string, 7 -string and 10-string.  Pythagoras, using the 7 string lyre discovered that when tuning a lyre to “standard” tuning that the invoked mood was light.  Yet when tuning another lyre a note higher … that the mood was somewhat darker. The main key here is that the same notes were played but the mood was different.” (source)

There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres. ~Pythagoras.While musical spacing is a terrific advance in music theory, using music to calm a soul devoid of Holy Spirit is a pointless endeavor. Pythagoras came so close in understanding the divine nature of music but veered so far away from it when suppressing the truth about God in pursuit of mystical musical meanings.

He applied music to healing and health rather than praise and petition. To that end, Pythagoras claimed to have cured various ailments of the the spirit, soul, and body by having specifically composed musical selections played for the one who needed curing.

The therapeutic music of Pythagoras is described by Iamblichus (ca. 245-330) Preeminent Neoplatonist of his age) thus: “And there are certain melodies devised as remedies against the passions of the soul, and also against despondency and lamentation, which Pythagoras invented as things that afford the greatest assistance in these maladies. And again, he employed other melodies against rage and anger, and against every aberration of the soul. There is also another kind of modulation invented as a remedy against desires.” (source)

In this way, Pythagoras replicated without understanding the fact of music’s effect upon the soul, as 1 Samuel below shows. He had invented a sacred music, but not the sacred music based on the God of the bible, as the Psalms are.

The only remedy against ‘desires’ is repentance, salvation, and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence to help the person resist ‘desires’ AKA sins. (Galatians 5:16, Colossians 1:29). We see the effect music has upon the soul not from Pythagoras but in 1 Samuel 16:23,

So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

Gill said, “so Saul was refreshed, and was well; became cheerful, his grief was removed, his black and gloomy apprehensions of things were dispersed, and he was cured of his melancholy disorder for the present…”

As for Pythagoras and the music of the spheres, the music of the heavenly bodies,

Pythagoras and his followers conceived of the universe as a vast lyre, in which each planet, vibrating at a specific pitch, in relationships similar to the stopping of the monochord’s string, harmonized with other heavenly bodies to create a “music of the spheres,” a concept which remained viable for centuries. Even though his theory was primitive, it serves to give us a picture which was later developed by philosophers such as Boethius, Johannes Kepler, … Robert Fludd, and, in contemporary times, by scientists working with quantum relationships.” (By Melanie Richards, M.Mus.,)

[**note: Robert Fludd was a 1600s occult philosopher]

The astronomy of the Pythagoreans marked an important advance in ancient scientific thought, for they were the first to consider the earth as a globe revolving with the other planets around a central fire. They explained the harmonious arrangement of things as that of bodies in a single, all-inclusive sphere of reality, moving according to a numerical scheme. Because the Pythagoreans thought that the heavenly bodies are separated from one another by intervals corresponding to the harmonic lengths of strings, they held that the movement of the spheres gives rise to a musical sound-the “harmony of the spheres.” (Encarta encyclopedia 2000)

In the Pythagorean concept of the music of the spheres, the interval between the earth and the sphere of the fixed stars was considered to be a diapason–the most perfect harmonic interval. ~From Stanley’s The History of Philosophy.

Pythagoras thought that the celestial bodies vibrated too, that the heavens themselves made a harmonious music in their orderly progressions around orbits. In effect, Pythagoras thought that “everything vibrates,” which isn’t far off the mark given what we now know about electromagnetic vibrations and waves.

Unfortunately, in none of these philosophies connected to Pythagoras did the Pythagoreans in the main connect to the One True God, who created that order and harmony. They went Hermetic, they went Gnostic, they went Rosicrucian. They went every which way except Christian. More on that in part 3.

In the second part let’s look at Pythagoras’s notion of string theory, from his time in 500BC to Kepler in the 1600s, to Niels Bohr and the modern quantum physics of the early 20th century. In part 3 I’ll take a look at how close but how far Pythagoras came to the truth, and how easy it is for satan to divert us when our soul intuitively responds to God in creation. I’ll finish part 3 with Preacher Babcock and My Father’s World.

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Part 2 here
Part 3 here