Friday, February 29, 2008

Is God real and relevant?

Veritas forum explores empirical proof of the Bible

By: Lindsey Coyne

Posted: 2/29/08

Last week, the Christian Faculty and Staff Network, along with several student organizations, had Texas A&M's annual Veritas forum. The Veritas forum, a nationally headquartered team, presents forums at universities across the nation in order to instill the relevance of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The forum took place on two evenings and featured two keynote speakers addressing the question and ultimate validity of God in the universe.

The first of these speakers, Walter Bradley, a professor of mechanical behavior of materials at Baylor University and former A&M professor of mechanical engineering, gave scientific evidence of the complex characteristics of the universe in his presentation, "The Bio-Friendly Universe: By Design?"

Bradley said his research in this field is to highlight "what about the universe makes it a place for complex life forms." His findings run the gamut of formulas and figures across chemistry, physics and genetics. Ultimately, the whole of the evidence provided by Bradley demonstrated that if there were an absence of certain value-specific universal constants, this planet would be incapable of supporting human life. Specifically, the values associated to the amount of "dark energy" present at the Big Bang is precisely what is needed for the universe to form. Bradley equates his interest and research in this field to his own personal beliefs in Christian deism. Within the past 15 years, everything he has found has reinforced his beliefs.

"Nothing about our universe is random, chaotic or purposeless," Bradley said, even though the deductions of past scientists suggest otherwise. Bradley co-authored a book, The Mystery of Life's Origins, based on these findings, and has presented this information in forums on more than 100 college campuses to more than 40,000 students nationwide.

Sherri Verm, a senior political science major, found the information contained in Bradley's presentation quite remarkable.

"I decided to attend because I found it very interesting that science and math could potentially work together to prove some element of theology," Verm said. She said she identified with the simple analogy Bradley offered the crowd about the chances of rolling a die 100 times and getting a six to make the emphasis about how unique, diverse and deliberate the constants of the universe actually are.

"Dr. Bradley's explanations have solidified my beliefs even more with unquestionable proof that there is a higher being at work in the universe," Verm said.

The second of the two featured speakers at the Veritas forum was A&M's Stephen McDaniel, professor of marketing and assistant department head in the Mays Business School. His presentation, "How Do We Know the Bible is True? Evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Archaeological Findings," focused on the unearthing of the Dead Sea Scrolls and what they prove about the legitimacy of the Old Testament.

The scrolls, discovered in 1946 in a cave in Qumran near the northwestern part of the Dead Sea, have actually disproved numerous assumptions about the inaccuracy of Old Testament divinations. These scrolls include, among other biblical and archaeological findings, more than 230 copies of biblical texts and commentaries including the books of Habakkuk, Nahum, Psalms and Genesis. McDaniel highlighted two benefits in the findings of these scrolls.

"[Manuscripts] show how accurate scribes were in making copies of the Bible through the years," McDaniel said. "The scrolls validate Old Testament prophecies."

Critics of the provable existence of Jesus Christ have argued that prophecies about Jesus were added more than 900 years after his death, insinuating that New Testament scribes rewrote history to serve their beliefs in God. Once these scrolls were found and the Dead Sea Scroll Committee translated the manuscripts, they found prophecies about the birth and life of Christ that predate his existence by more than 100 years.

McDaniel, a self-professed researcher by nature, began his quest for the truth of these scrolls based on his need for empirical proof of his religious beliefs. He traveled to Qumran and took tours of Egypt and Israel to see firsthand the geographical setting of the biblical stories he had come to know so well. To this day, he has maintained his interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the discoveries about their content and subsequent evidence increase.

In attendance of McDaniel's presentation was Kristen West, marketing graduate student.

"His summary of the significance of the findings of the scrolls was what I appreciated the most," West said.

Another point that impacted West was the fact that the scrolls show prophetic evidence of the life of Christ years before he was born.

"The presentation enhanced my beliefs and gave me an accurate point of reference when describing my faith to someone else," she said.

© Copyright 2008 The Battalion

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