Apologetics

This reflection is by Larry Peterson of the Catholic Writers Guild. It is reprinted from the guild’s blog April 5, 1016.

Ten  years ago, NASA’s new, Horizon Spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion-plus miles, New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don’t know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I’m going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Now scientists have found an “exoplanet” which is more than  a thousand light years away and they have figured out that  it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

Let’s move past Pluto. It seems NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009,  found this exoplanet; they named it Kepler 452b.  This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. “Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.” The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this–it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is–how can  we know these things?

 

By NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What about Earth? Think of some of the things that Earth does without us thinking about them. Here is one example; we never think about TIME but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. What if there were a random number of hours in a day? Imagine the possibilities? So how did we get 24 hours in a day? One word can answer that question, “perfection.”

What about explosions? (Please bear with me–I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. Last Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul, the all-pro defensive star for the NFL’s N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are–well, ZERO.

So now–to the point. The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning. They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do. To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it “popped” spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Perfection surrounds us. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. We here at the CWG know who that Person is even though we cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All  we have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow…or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, Horton Hears a Who. Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton’s “Whoville.” Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands. I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss’s book, “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Maybe those very “smart” people who reject what must be so need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).

©LarryPeterson 2016

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One of our past pilgrims wrote with an apparent contradiction in the Bible and what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  ”[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

Church of Pater Noster

On pilgrimages I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300′s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

Muslim Chapel of Ascension

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension. 

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany. 

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walked into Bethany from the the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives. 

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because there’s a big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800′s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany. 

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem. 

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.

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Jesus Said His Mother Had Other Sons! Really?

by Steve Ray on April 29, 2016

MaryWithBaby.jpgI was confronted with an interesting argument against Mary’s perpetual virginity. The man argued that the Bible itself proves that Mary had other children. He claimed that Jesus expressly states in no uncertain terms that his mother had other sons. He said it must have been overlooked by the Catholic Church.

To read my whole response, click here.  Surprise, at the end of the article, you will discover that Mary DOES have other children!

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Eternal Security: Is Baptist Pastor Charles Stanley Right?

April 8, 2016

ETERNAL SECURITY (Once Saved-Always Saved): Analyzing a Sermon by Baptist Pastor, Charles Stanley By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: Even though I have watched his show off and on over the months, I had no intention of watching Charles Stanley on television last night. It was just that I was tired after getting home and [...]

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Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

April 7, 2016

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across. As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street [...]

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How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

March 31, 2016

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it [...]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

March 26, 2016

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb [...]

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Steve on Deep Adventure Radio Talking about the Early Church

March 18, 2016

Sorry about the 30 second Lowe’s commercial. Can’t get rid of it, embedded in the broadcast.  Stephen and Bear discuss the young roaring Lion of the early church and how they worshiped, what the key beliefs were in regards to the Eucharist and even Mary and how the Bishop of Rome (Pope) became significant. It’s [...]

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The Cross & the Crucifix: Letter to a Fundamentalist

March 14, 2016

The Cross & the Crucifix (From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix) Dear Evangelical Friend: You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the [...]

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“The Sinner’s Prayer” – All You Need to Get to Heaven?

March 13, 2016

When I was a kid, the “Sinner’s Prayer” was a big deal. It was at the heart of everything we knew about Jesus and getting saved. It was almost used as an incantation. My mom coached me to pray the Sinner’s Prayer when I was 4 years old. We knelt together in front of the [...]

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The Trail of Blood or Baptist Successionism

March 12, 2016

The Trail of Blood by Steve Ray What is the history of Baptists? Can they trace their roots back to the 1st century? Many ”fundamentalist” Baptists believe they can. Are they correct? There is a booklet that is very popular among this fundamentalist crowd. It is entitled “The Trail of Blood”. The booklet claims that Catholics persecuted the [...]

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“Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?” – Resources about Communion of the Saints

March 10, 2016

I compiled a list of Catechism, Scripture and quotes from the early Church Fathers and even archaeology to assist in understanding the Communion of Saints. You can download the source material here. Sample: Who should carry the most weight—Protestant pastors protesting Catholic theology today or pastors from the early Church who have the words of [...]

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 22, 2016

                                St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are [...]

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Are Evangelical Churches Growing?

January 23, 2016

Lenny Alt (lennyalt1@att.net) shared the following: MICHAEL CONTI SAYS in the FACEBOOK group “Roman Catholicism is Apostate”:  “I remember the first time after I got out of prison and went to a Calvary Chapel in North-East Philly, the Pastor was telling us that over 50% of the congregation were ex-Catholics…and this Calvary Chapel had over 12,000 [...]

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Prepare for the Skyline of the Future: Islam!

January 20, 2016

I wrote this about two years ago while in Adana Turkey and thought it worthy to post again, especially since I am seeing it again, everywhere I go in the world. I my country hometown in Michigan the Muslims have built the largest mosque in America. But I shouldn’t get ahead of my story. Europe [...]

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Sherlock Holmes an Idolater – Praying to People?

January 11, 2016

Last night my wife and I were watching an episode of Sherlock Holmes on TV. He has always been one of my favorite characters and I can remember reading all the stories to our kids as they grew up. On TV I think Jeremy Brett does the best portrayal and it is always a delightful [...]

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