Is There Life Out There? (Interview with Jeff Zweerink)

Between novels, movies and television series, some of the most popular story lines involve extra-terrestrial beings living on exotic planets somewhere in the universe. The notion of alien life in the cosmos has captured our creative imagination and our scientific focus. If you’re like me, you’ve probably given the possibility of extra-terrestrial beings some serious thought. You may also have wondered if the existence of such beings would significantly impact the claims of Christianity. If aliens do live somewhere in the universe, would their existence disprove the Christian worldview? Well, Jeff Zweerink, an astrophysicist and Senior Research Scholar at Reasons to Believe, has written a new book that will inform and help Christians think clearly about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Is There Life Out There is a fascinating and informative book, so I asked Jeff to answer a few questions:

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Four Ways to Come Alongside Your Kids to Strengthen Their Faith

If you’re paying attention to what’s happening in America today, you’re probably aware of the challenges facing young Christians in their teens and twenties. It’s a simple fact: most young Christians will walk away from the Church during (or before) their college years. Like other Christian parents, I’m animated to work as hard as I can to address this dilemma, for my own kids and for the next generation of believers. I’ve authored books, written blogs, recorded podcasts and videos in an attempt to help young people evaluate the evidence for Christianity. I also speak to local congregations. Following a recent church presentation, I was approached by a mother who was concerned for her high school children. We began discussing several ways parents can prepare their kids before sending them off to college. Here are four simple guiding strategies:

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Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself.

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospel Attributed to Mark?

The Gospel of Mark is a reliable account of the life and ministry of Jesus, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to this companion of Paul, Peter and Barnabas. Another slightly less ancient text called the Secret Gospel of Mark claims to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as reliable. But is this non-canonical text reliable? Was it really written by Mark? Remember that there are four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first attribute requires that any alleged eyewitness be present to see what he or she reports. The Secret Gospel of Mark was written too late in history to have been written by John Mark, and like other late non-canonical fabrications, this fraudulent text was rejected by the Christian community. In spite of this, the Secret Gospel of Mark contains nuggets of truth related to Jesus. It is a legendary and elaborate fabrication written by an author who was motivated to alter the history of Jesus to suit his own purposes. It is an alternative narrative fabricated from the foundational truths of the original Gospels. Much can be learned about the historic Jesus from this late lie:

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Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospel Attributed to John?

The Gospel of John is a reliable addition to the New Testament Canon, but this ancient document isn’t the only text attributed to this disciple of Jesus. Another slightly less ancient text called the The Apocryphon of John claims to have been written by the same man who wrote the gospel we accept as reliable. But is this non-canonical text reliable? Was it really written by John? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first characteristic requires that any alleged eyewitness be present to see what he or she reports. The Apocryphon of John was written too late in history to have been written by the Apostle John, and like other late non-canonical texts, this fraudulent document was rejected by early Christians who knew that it was unreliable. In spite of this, The Apocryphon of John contains nuggets of truth related to Jesus. It is a legendary and elaborate fabrication written by an author who was motivated to change the history of Jesus to suit his own purposes. It is an alternative narrative twisted from the truths offered in the original Gospels. Much can be learned about the historic Jesus from this late fabrication:
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When Teens Wish They Could “Unpost” (Interview with Jonathan McKee)

Have you ever regretted something you posted on social media? Don’t feel bad, 57% of Americans who use social media have posted something they regret afterwards. And that’s just adults. Now jump into the brain of a 10-year-old. Yes, a 10-year-old. Nielsen research labels age 10 the “mobile adoption sweet spot” because the average age a child receives a smartphone today is 10.3 years-old. How is a 10-year-old supposed to make wise decisions with social media like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook? (especially when COPPA—Child Online Privacy Protection Act—regulates that you have to be at least 13 to be on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook). Young people don’t think for more than 3 seconds before they hit SEND. Sadly, the pics they post, the rants they engage in… even the offhand comments they make… often have dire consequences. In law enforcement we deal with the fallout of these posts daily. If you’re familiar with our work here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, you know how important we think it is to equip and prepare the next generation of Christian Case Makers. Part of this mission is to help young Christians understand how to navigate social media and post wisely in an insecure world. To help do this, I thought I’d ask the guy who literally just wrote the book on it.

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Progress and Decline at the Same Time

A name calling President who regularly insults others in public doesn’t seem like progress. Yet, we continue to advance medical technology to the point of AIDS being more treatable than before. We can detect certain cancers earlier and life expectancy is higher. This is promising.

The leading cause of death for adults 25-45 years old last year was drug overdose. In fact, the leading causes of death in all adults under the age of 50 is, for the most part, self-inflicted. Drug overdose, suicide, and heart failure all compete for number one. This doesn’t seem like progress. Earlier I took a train from London to Paris which travels underneath the water. I ate breakfast at a preserve in Australia with Koala bears and Kangaroos and had a soft drink and wrote in my journal while sitting in Tiananmen Square, in the heart of Beijing. Some of this seems like progress.

Learning from Academics Who Left Mormonism

Most of my readers know my personal connection to Mormonism; I have six half-brothers and sisters who were raised in the Mormon faith. When I first become interested in Christianity, I investigated the claims of the gospels simultaneous to my investigation of the Book of Mormon. While the gospels passed the test I typically apply to eyewitnesses, the Book of Mormon did not. My journey led me to trust the Jesus of Christianity but reject the Jesus of Mormonism. As a result, I’m interested in the stories of others who have become similarly convinced Mormonism is evidentially false. That’s why a recent book, Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed Their Minds, caught my attention. I had the chance to interview one of it’s authors, Corey Miller, to see what motivated him to write the book.

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Yes, We Can Make the Case for Christianity with Music

At the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, we often talk about the importance of worldview. Each of us, as Christians, ought to allow our Christian beliefs to shape the way we think about every aspect of life, including the way we consider notions of beauty and artistic expression. That’s why I was delighted to hear about a new concept album from Aryn Michelle, a Christian pop and alternative rock artist. Aryn just released a series of songs (in a collection called The Realist Thing) inspired by William Lane Craig’s book, Reasonable Faith. That’s right, an apologetics album of sorts, walking through “several philosophical arguments for the existence of God and the primary evidences for Jesus Christ as his son.” Sounds interesting, right? Aryn agreed to let me interview her about this groundbreaking effort:

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Where Is God When Evil Happens?

The horrific event in Las Vegas has left us stunned. It should. Whether or not we come from a perspective of faith, where we acknowledge that evil and suffering happen in a fallen world, the stark expression of that reality should shake us to our core. Even if we are numbed by their occurrences, we need to come to some kind of understanding, if for no other purpose than to deal with the confusion and resentment such acts of evil inevitably produce.

Not long after another mass shooting occurred, I was on an airplane sitting next to a young woman. We had just exchanged answers to the “What do you do for a living?” question. “I’m a medical technician,” she said. I told her was involved in Christian publishing. Without hesitation and with no emotion, she replied, “I used to be a Christian.” “

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