The R-UFO Hypothesis vs. Ancient Astronaut Theory

The R-UFO hypothesis means “residual unidentified flying object” hypothesis and basically recognizes that of all the UFO reports there is a residual 10% or so that cannot be explained away. Ancient Astronaut theorists would have us believe that these are space aliens from other planets. Yet that idea was dealt a hard blow this week as Dr. Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has stated unequivocably that alien life is highly improbable. In an article at the Telegraph he stated “We have found that most other planets and solar systems are wildly different from our own. They are very hostile to life as we know it.” This is not good news for proponents of ancient astronaut theory whom I have criticized recently for their incoherent arguments. Dr. Hugh Ross agrees and has argued similarly in his book Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at Ufos and Extraterrestrials .

Yet there seems to be evidence of otherworldly visitations and even contact with strange beings. I believe this is best explained by the spiritual entity, inter-dimensional being hypothesis. I recently found a series of videos put on by the Reasons to Believe science/faith think tank on the R-UFO hypothesis. It is hosted by one of my favorite Christian apologists Greg Koukl and features Astrophysicist Dr Hugh Ross and theologian/philosopher Kenneth Samples. It is a series of four programs which consist of several YT segments each, the last program (parts 9-12) explains the inter-dimensional hypothesis and the high probability that what is being reported is the same phenomenon that was regarded as demonic in antiquity.

Here is a playlist of all 12 parts

Is The Shroud of Turin Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection?

I just listened to a lecture by Dr. Gary Habermas at the EPS apologetics conference, and according to Gary it turns out there is very strong evidence in favor the Shroud’s authenticity. There are paintings of Jesus from the third through the tenth centuries that look they copied the face from the shroud. If the shroud was their model it had to preexist the artwork.  It’s not a casual similarity, they have the same bruise marks and all. Forensic scientists have verified that the blood is real and that the body was in a state of rigamortis. Not to mention there is pollen from Jerusalem on it which is an unlikely find if it was a medieval European forgery as skeptics assert.  As usual, skeptics have written it off as a hoax, which is understandable.  In fact, I had discounted it as a forgery like so many other “relics” the medieval church attempted to pass off.  Mainly because there was a carbon 14 test in the 1980s that dated it to the Middle Ages. So you would think that would be the end of it…

However it has now been demonstrated that the cloth they tested was a patch woven into the shroud from when it was scorched by fire – the original fibers are much older. At a symposium in 2005 it was demonstrated that newer fabric was spliced and woven into the old in the sample taken for the test. The carbon 14 test from the 1980s is now regarded as unreliable. Here is the peer reviewed scientific journal article that discredits the 1988 carbon dating.

Abstract :

In 1988, radiocarbon laboratories at Arizona, Cambridge, and Zurich determined the age of a sample from the Shroud of Turin. They reported that the date of the cloth’s production lay between a.d. 1260 and 1390 with 95% confidence. This came as a surprise in view of the technology used to produce the cloth, its chemical composition, and the lack of vanillin in its lignin. The results prompted questions about the validity of the sample.

Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow–brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud.

Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of turin by Raymond N. Rogers

The image on the Shroud of Turin has not been explained by science and appears to be holographic in nature according to particle physicists who have examined the image. Far from being painted on the cloth , there is no other image like it in the world. It appears to be burned into the very top layer of the fibers similar to (but not identical to) radiation. The holographic nature strongly controverts ancient forgery methods, could it be that it evidences Jesus’ miraculous transformation from death to life?

Transhumanism: Sin and Hubris

Last night during my interview with Derek Gilbert, he asked me for a theological justification for opposing transhumanism. My first answer was to think of the humility of Christ. He came in the form of a humble servant and laid down his life. This seems antithetical to enhancement and life extension. We have eternal life in Christ, not science. Of course, this is only meaningful if one is a Christian.  Yet I would submit that if one is not yet a Christian they have a bigger problem than whether or not they should enhance themselves. That aside, this is what the Lord led me to in my research and I think provides a very clear explanation:

As far as the question, “Can a Christian be a transhumanist”, that one need ask reveals a wayward heart condition. Transhumanism is less a sin as it is hubris. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology makes the distinction that:

Whereas hubris signifies the attempt to transcend the limitations appointed by fate, sin refers to an unwillingness to break out of our narrow limitations in obedience to the vision of faith. While hubris connotes immoderation, sin consists in misplaced allegiance. Hubris is trying to be superhuman; sin is becoming inhuman. Hubris means rising to the level of the gods; sin means trying to displace God or living as if there were no God. (Bloesch 2001, 1104)

Based on this, transhumanism is hubris of the highest order while becoming post human is a sin. The “obedience to the vision of faith” spoken of above is not Tillich’s or Hefner’s but Paul’s. The Apostle exhorted the Colossians to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” (Col 3:12). Tillich, Hefner and Ledford all demonstrate a gross misunderstanding of the human condition. Humans are both finite and sinful. We lack the wisdom and moral purity necessary to decide matters of human “perfection.” Therefore, it is immoral and sinful to use such technologies to enhance or evolve humanity. Christians must take an informed stand on transhumanism understanding both the appropriate use of technology and the potential dangers it presents. Thus a theology of healing as opposed to enhancement must be developed in accordance with sound biblical guidelines.

Unpacking the Daniel Plan

continued from this post

If you read the passage in Daniel 1:8-16  you will quickly see that Daniel’s diet had nothing to do with his weight or health but everything to do with not defiling himself, not mixing himself with the Babylonian practices. The purpose the Old Testament law was for God’s people to stand out from the pagans. God wanted them to be weird, to be noticeably different. In fact,  with the Hebrew word Holy, the root qdš carries the idea of “separate, set apart.”[1] A lot of the laws that seem arbitrary to us like not mixing certain types of fabrics in a weave were metaphors for not mixing with the pagans.

The overall principle that Christians can derive from the OT law is that we should strive to stand out from our culture. We should be distinct. This principle carries forward into the New Testament for Christians in Paul’s exhortation, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Co 6:14) In his commentary on Daniel – James Montgomery Boice observes,

One thing the world seems always to try to do—it has happened in the past, and it is happening in our own time—is to take Christian words and rework them to convey the world’s ideas. I suppose it is one of the devil’s subtlest tricks. It happens in liberal theology.[2]

Warren has done the polar opposite of what Daniel did in chapter 1. He has associated with the pagans for the purpose of his diet and labeled it “the Daniel plan.”  He has put the flesh above the spirit and revealed his gross apathy toward the proper interpretation of scripture.

[1]William Sanford La Sor, David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 301.

[2]James Montgomery Boice, Daniel : An Expositional Commentary, Originally Published: Grand Rapids, MI : Ministry Resources Library, c1989. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2003), 21.

Appearing on View From the Bunker Friday

I will be talking with Derek Gilbert about my recent transhumanism research project and my essay on the unholy alliance of Ancient Astronaut theory and 2012 Friday night at 10 PM live on blogtalk radio. After Friday it will be posted here.