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February 10, 2020 - The Skeptical Chemist

As Seventh-day Adventists, our great hope is found in the promised resurrection at the end of time: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Th. 4:16. Without that, we have nothing.

Of course, some find that hard to believe such as atheist chemist Peter Atkins, who wrote about “the impossibility of being able to restore a cadaver to working condition, even one quite freshly dead. There is little point in emphasizing the almost infinitely greater impossibility, if impossibilities can be magnified, of assembling the bits and pieces of all past, present, and future Mankind, some scattered to the winds, some digested by maggots, some dispersed, some blasted into fragments, some gone up in smoke, some dissolved in acid, and some gone, literally, to the dogs.”

How he, a chemist, knows that the resurrection of the dead is impossible, Dr. Atkins doesn’t specify. It certainly seems impossible, at least from the standpoint of Dr. Atkins’ expertise, chemistry, and even from the perspective of what humans can do or could conceivably do. But to constrain all potential reality to human potentiality seems painfully narrow-minded. That is, to limit all that could be done to only what humans can or could do is rather shallow. Drifting amid a big cosmos, we occupy and traverse quick scribbles of space, nothing more. We probably don’t begin to know what’s out there (scientists speculate that a vast majority of the universe is dark matter and dark energy, “dark” as in we can’t see it), so to constrain what’s possible by God to only what’s understandable by man is to intellectually incarcerate ourselves within a reality no broader and deeper than what chemistry and physics theories allow. Which is silly because those theories often change, or are superseded, or refuted even.

Scripture, instead, points us to a reality beyond the limits of what humans know of chemistry or physics, which, however fine in their place, are only one part of a greater reality, the greatest part, in fact the part that they really can’t reach. Which is why the Word tells us: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

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