Wow! Phosphine!

A just-published scientific paper is getting a lot of media attention. This is mainly because one hypothesis from its various conclusions is that some form of microbial life might exist in the clouds of the atmosphere of Venus (because Phosphine -PH3 may have been detected there). We may ask ourselves two questions: first, is the hypothesis the only possible explanation of the scientific findings, and second, if the hypothesis were to be proven to be valid, would it then question a biblical understanding of the universe?

As to the first question, we should quote from the paper itself: “Even if confirmed, we emphasize that the detection of PH3 is not robust evidence for life, only for anomalous and unexplained chemistry. There are substantial conceptual problems for the idea of life in Venus’s clouds—the environment is extremely dehydrating as well as hyperacidic.”

It is easy to understand why the latest report is “not robust evidence of life.” If a form of life were amazingly responsible for the presence of phosphine – only in those clouds that are higher than 50km above the surface of Venus – it would then lead to even more speculative questions, like where did it come from and how could such life that produces PH3 exist, either in the highly acidic clouds, or down on the surface of the planet (where the temperature is said to be above 400 degrees), or anywhere in between?

The old adage, give a man a hammer and suddenly everything else becomes a nail, might have some apparent application here. The hammer is the desire of some scientists to prove the existence of life anywhere else but on earth; there is then no shortage of potential nails! Scientists themselves know about this risk, and the careful approaches used by those publishing the latest paper should be appreciated. The media will likely have a heyday suggesting life has been detected on Venus. That is certainly no more than a less than robust hypothesis, and those more competent to make assessments are already noting obvious qualifiers to such an unlikely conclusion.

But what if (in the real rather than imagined world) some form of life exists on Venus? Does that mean the Bible is wrong, or the Gospel is outdated? Not at all! The simple answer to the second question we asked is that to find life somewhere else in the universe would not require Christians to change their minds about the Bible. This is not a reason to enter the debates on origins, i.e. how long creation took; what is the role of evolution, etc. The Bible simply says God created the universe, not how He did it. Nor does it say God did not allow any form of life anywhere else but Earth. We should avoid red herrings!

Instead, what remains absolutely essential is to grasp what the Bible does say specifically about mankind on Earth, not what it doesn’t say about microbial life, here or anywhere else. For those interested in a summary of biblical statements about mankind’s need and God’s answer to it, a starting point could be to click HERE and read the booklet “Key Doctrines of the Christian Gospel”, or just contact us for answers to specific questions.

Testing Times

For those following our Bible reading Plan you will have reached the halfway point through the book of Daniel. So you will have read:

“…in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” (Dan.6:26-27)

Riviere’s 1890 depiction of Daniel correctly shows him as an old man. Trials are not confined to a specific age group!

See also Dan.4:2,3,34-35

This week may have been a time of trial and difficulty, but we follow “the God of Daniel”!

Is it Inevitable?

Earlier this morning, while it was still dark, I was alerted to the opportunity to see Mars and Venus clearly in the dark sky. On checking, I found the International Space Station outshone them both! No one doubts the space station is there by the result of careful planning. But are the planets in their positions purely by chance? These days, much seems to be seen as merely the product of chance, though we tend to think we govern our own lives independently. But do we all have limitless free will?  Or does God predetermine every detail of our lives, including how we will respond to the Gospel?

If we were God, would we design a robot with artificial intelligence, or would homo sapiens be better?

This is a potentially complex subject, but a contribution to understanding the ramifications will be found in our Podcasts and Resources section.

Check it out here 

On the TV

If you want to know more about what this church teaches, but aren’t yet comfortable to meet face-to-face, you now have an additional option! We record some of our teaching sessions and they air on the TV. By the kindness of the Wightman Community channel (#6) they are made available free to subscribers.

So why not tune in? Currently our slot is 8:00pm on Saturday nights. If you want to sample what is broadcast, but don’t yet have access to the channel, click HERE to watch an episode on your computer screen (or other device). This originally aired on August 1st.

We hope you enjoy, and benefit from, this new community service. By all means let us know if you have questions or comments to make about what you watch in our broadcasts.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

For some clear explanations of Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector who went to the temple to pray, please listen to this recording; just click on the following link:


If you thought you knew this parable inside out, you’ll most likely find these insights and challenges different and very helpful

The Church of God in action