Thank God for Trees !

Genesis1.11-mountain-forest-lake-photo

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”  (Genesis 1:11-12)

God made trees as a good part of His creation.  Even after the Fall, trees are a proof of God’s goodness (Acts 14:17).  So the idea of appreciating the value of trees is a good idea, especially if our appreciation of trees reminds us of how wonderful God is.  One way to appreciate trees is to plant one, or two, or three, or many more!

In fact, we even have a holiday, in America, that focuses on planting trees:  ARBOR DAY.

Trre-planting.ArborDay-in-Hawaii

So what is “Arbor Day”? Arbor Day is a holiday for planting trees, as a practical way to celebrate the enormous value of trees.  This American holiday was invented in AD1872 by Julius Sterling Morton of Nebraska City (Nebraska), a civic-minded pioneer who lamented that Nebraska (“the Cornhusker State”) was largely devoid of trees – a stark contrast to his earlier life in heavily wooded places like New York and Michigan.  [See, accord, Rebecca Rissman, ARBOR DAY (Chicago: Heineman Library, 2011), pages 6-14.]

Morton was not a stranger to leadership. For examples, Morton served in the Nebraska territorial legislature (AD1855-AD1856), as the Secretary of Nebraska Territory (AD1858-AD1861), as acting governor of Nebraska (AD1858-AD1859),and as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (AD1893-AD1897).  At a meeting of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture, in January AD1872, Morton proposed a tree-plating holiday to be called “Arbor Day” (meaning Tree Day).  The date selected was April 10th of AD1872, to be accented by prizes for groups and individuals who planted the most trees that day.  About a million trees were planted in Nebraska that day – probably more than a million!  Each year thereafter the tradition grew – soon school children were planting trees as a classroom project, and trees so planted were nurtured by students who planted them.

Morton was an expert on forestry and agriculture (especially farming), so he promoted awareness and appreciation for trees – emphasizing their value for wood products, for shade from the hot sun, for windbreaks against erosion, and as soil conservators (because tree root systems hold soil in place). In order to have trees in the grassland-dominated plains of Nebraska, however, humans would need to plant trees – and lots of them.  So Morton organized and promoted tree-planting events as a holiday: Arbor Day.  During the first Arbor Day of Nebraska (on April 10th of AD1872) about one million trees were plants.  Morton advocated tree-planting (and tree care) in his published writings – such as his articles in  — and he encouraged civic groups to sponsor tree-planting as a a group activity, to benefit present and future generations of Nebraskans.

Of course, Morton’s goal for forested lands was not limited to Nebraska – publicity about Arbor Day led, in time, to Arbor Day being officially celebrated (by ceremonial tree-planting) in the other states of America.

The overwhelming success of Morton’s tree-planting holiday soon became formalized, in Nebraska, as an official state holiday, although the exact date of its observance sometimes changed (e.g., for a while it was observed on Morton’s birthday, April 22nd), until it was finally settled as the last Friday in April.

Tree-planting.ArborDay-postage

Other states, copying Nebraska’s example, celebrate the last Friday of April as Arbor Day – including Texas, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana, South Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, etc. However, some states, with colder climates, observe Arbor Day as late as May (e.g., North Dakota: 1st Friday in May; Alaska: 3rd Monday in May; Maine: 3rd full week of May).  Other states, mostly southern states, use an earlier day (e.g., Florida & Louisiana: 3rd Friday in January; Mississippi: 2nd Friday in February; New Mexico: 2nd Friday in March), based upon when tree-planting best fits that state’s climate. [See Mir Tamin Ansary, ARBOR DAY (Chicago: Heineman Library, 2002), pages 28-29.]

Moreover, several other nations now have an equivalent to America’s Arbor Day. For example, Australia celebrates “National Schools Tree Day” on the last Friday in

July, as well as National Tree Day on the last Sunday in July. The last full week of September is “National Forest Week” in Canada; the Wednesday of that week is called “National Tree Day” or “Maple Leaf Day”.  Since AD1952 Germany has celebrated “Tag des Baumes” – “Day of Trees”. Netherlands has a similar-named holiday, “Nationale Boomplantdag” – “National Tree-planting Day” (a/k/a “National Boomfeestday” – “National Tree Fest Day”).  Since AD2002 Poland has celebrated Arbor Day on October the 10th, with special presentations on trees and ecological awareness being featured in schools and by Polish forest inspectors.  Many other nations also have an equivalent to America’s Arbor Day.

One nation, Israel, has linked tree-related celebrations to the Bible. Israel celebrates “Tu Bishvat” (15th in Shevat), a holiday also called “Rosh HaShanah La’llanoth” (meaning “new year of/for trees”), during the middle of the Jewish month Shevat (which occurs in late January or early February), at the time when the Holy Land’s almond tree usually blossoms. This observance is linked to the Mosaic laws governing tree-care, including Leviticus 19:23-24 (and, indirectly, to the tithing laws of Deuteronomy 14:22-29). 

And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised; three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you; it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal. (Leviticus 19:23-24)

Notice that this levitical law required the Hebrews to plant trees!

tree-planting.by-hand

For more information on Arbor Day in America, see the website of the National Arbor Day Foundation: https://www.arborday.org/generalinfo/about.cfm .

Each person who plants a few trees is adding to the overall benefit that trees provide. Leading this useful practice, the National Arbor Day Foundation has more than 250,000,000 trees since its formal establishment in AD1972.

However, when it comes to celebrating trees – appreciating their unique value – the bottom line is that God made the trees and their fruit (Acts 14:17; Genesis 1:11-12 & 1:29; Leviticus 26:4 & 27:30), and the food we enjoy from trees should prompt us to worship the God Who created trees, because “all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD” (Leviticus 19:24).

><> JJSJ

Oops! How a Gunshot Injury Illustrates the Limits of the So-Called ‘Scientific Method’

Oops!  How a Gunshot Injury Illustrates the Limits of the So-Called ‘Scientific Method’:

Contrasting Empirical Science and Forensic Science

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, CIHE, CPEE

PoliceCar.ArgyleTexas

[Fair Use photo credit:  http://images42.fotki.com/v860/photos/7/42477/8361594/TXArgylePolice01-vi.jpg ]

 A recent gunshot accident, in a rural part of Texas, illustrates the difference between empirical science (observing the present) and forensic science (discovering the no-longer-observable past).

“An Argyle [police] officer was flagged down by a man on Stonecrest Road who stated he’d just shot himself with a .45-handgun. The officer observed a gunshot wound to the 22-year-old’s right thumb and forearm. He applied a gauze pad to control the bleeding until medics arrived. The victim’s fiancée stated they were sitting … on the front porch. The victim told her that if you put your hand in front of the gun, it could not fire. The brother [of the victim] told the victim that if you put your finger in the barrel it won’t fire. Both witnesses stated the victim then put his thumb on the [end of the] barrel and pulled the trigger. Both the victim and the brother were proven to be incorrect. … The medics transported the victim to the Denton Regional Medical Center.”(1)

The gunshot victim, in effect, used an empirical science approach to learn about the effect of firing a handgun when a thumb is put onto the end of its barrel. The immediate results were quickly observable. (This experiment can be repeated, of course, but it should not be!) Empirical science is all about observing how things presently operate in the real-world, especially how physical things operate according to real-world laws, such as the observable laws of physics: thermodynamics, optics, gravity, etc.

But learning the truth about unique events of the past is completely different from observing things in the present.

How can we know who shot the gunshot victim, and how, and where, and when, and why? How did the investigating officer determine the cause of the gunshot wound? The gunshot wound itself is a physical effect of a past causation event. But the gunshot injury itself cannot tell us, with certainty, how that past event happened.

In general, how can we ever know reliable truth about unique events of the past?

To learn reliable truth about non-recurring events – such as a gunshot injury – we need the report of at least one trustworthy eye-witness. Eye-witness reports can be corroborated – or can be refuted – by physical evidence (and logic), because physical evidence must be consistent with a witness report, in order to corroborate (i.e., support vs. refute) what a witness says occurred.

For another example, consider something less bizarre, yet just as unique: when and where were you born? Observing you in the present can never answer that question. Likewise, how can we know Earth’s origins? Or what about the origins of human life? Or death? By just looking at the world (or doing lab experiments), today, we cannot know the answers to these questions, because these past events are not being repeated today.

In other words, the “uniformitarian” assumption (i.e., that the present is supposedly the “key” to the past) is unreliable when it is applied to unique events of the past, such as specific etiology (cause-and-effect) events.(2),(3) Therefore, what we really know about unique cause-and-effect events (like Creation Week events, the Flood, or even our own births) depends upon reliable witness reports.(2),(3)

But can the so-called “uniformitarian” assumption — i.e., the assumption that the observable present is the “key” to the no-longer-observable past — adequately substitute for a reliable witness?

No  —  not unless the past events are constantly recurring, today, in ways (and at rates) that are truly representative of past events. And our origins are unique events, not recurring today — just as you are not (and I am not) being birthed from your mother’s womb today.

But evolutionists hang their highest hopes on the uniformitarian assumption. Evolutionists (whether atheists or closed-Bible deists or animism-affirming “selectionists”(4)) habitually assume that unusual events, such as cosmic origins or human origins, can be determined apart from reliable witness reports, by using “only the scientific method” (i.e., observation-based empirical science). But the “scientific method” (a/k/a empirical science) applies only to observing natural facts in the present, such as the boiling point for water at sea level. Empirical science methods can even be trusted, sometimes, to infer events of the no-longer-observable past, but only if those events are similar to events that routinely recur today,–such as sunrise, sunset, the moon’s cycle, the annual seasons, etc.(2),(3),(4),(5),(6)

But, if a past event is unusual (e.g., creation of Adam and Eve, the global Flood, etc.), we cannot know the truth of what happened without a reliable witness. So, is it hopeless? How can we learn of our origins, and of the origins of our world?

The only eye-witness of the cosmos being created was God Himself — a fact that God emphasized unto the prophet Job:  “WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH?  DECLARE, IF YOU HAVE UNDERSTANDING!”  (Job 38:4)

As finite creatures we need God to give us such information (which He has graciously done – see John 17:17; Psalm 119; 2nd Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 4:4; 2nd Peter 1:16-21; Jude 1:3-4). Genesis is such a record; God Himself is the ultimately authoritative and reliable witness.

Physical effects existing today, like sedimentary rock layers or dinosaur soft tissue, can corroborate authoritative history reported in Genesis. But, any cosmogony(6) without Genesis is just wild speculation (oops!), illegitimately assuming the uniformitarianism of deists James Hutton and Charles Lyell – in contrast to the cosmogony endorsed by our Lord Jesus Christ.(2),(3),(6),(7)

REFERENCES

1. “Argyle Police Blotter”, in THE CROSS TIMBERS GAZETTE, June 2016, page B10. The local police report summary concludes with this sentence: “No Looney Tune characters were involved in the incident.”

2. See James J. S. Johnson & Jeffrey Tomkins, “Blood Crying from the Ground: A Forensic Science Perspective, Illustrated by the Gruesome Killing of America’s Most Hated Woman, Comparing Empirical and Forensic Science Methodologies”, presented at the Creation Research Society Conference, Dallas, Texas, July 31st, AD2015; 25 pages. The point was made, at this CRS presentation, that reliable truth about our origins cannot be learned apart from the perspicuous report (i.e., the Holy Bible) provided by the only reliable eye-witness, God.

3. In effect, proponents of Darwin’s natural selection theory propose uniformitarian assumptions (and related non-empirical speculations) as a substitute for reliable eye-witnesses of Earth’s (and our own) origins. See James J. S. Johnson, “Is the Present the ‘Key’ to the Past?”, Acts & Facts, 43(6):19 (June 2014), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/8165 . See also, regarding the epistemological difference between empirical and forensic science methodologies, James J. S. Johnson, “Mystick Mystery: Scientists Investigate Connecticut’s Pequot War Battlefield,” posted July 8th, AD2015, at https://answersingenesis.org/what-is-science/mystick-mystery-scientists-investigate-connecticuts-pequot-war-battlefield/ .

4. See Randy J. Guliuzza, “Darwin’s Imposter: The Illusion that Natural Selection Operates on Organisms”, Acts & Facts, 40(9):12-15 (September 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/darwins-sacred-imposter-illusion-that/ (explaining how “natural selection” concepts are polytheistic/pantheistic animism by another name).  See also James J. S. Johnson, “Norse and Germanic Mythology”, Chapter 14 in World Religions and Cults, Volume 2 (Green Leaf: Master Books, 2016, edited by Bodie Hodge & Roger Patterson), especially at pages 271-272 & 287-288.

5. See, e.g., Genesis 1:1-18 & 8:22; Psalm 104:19-22. See also, regarding the popular trend of using uniformitarian thinking to evade the many evidences of the catastrophic worldwide Flood, 2nd Peter 3:3-6. Regarding the regularity of sun and moon cycles, see James J. S. Johnson, “The Moon Rules”, Acts & Facts, 44(9):21 (September 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/moon-rules .

6. Cosmogony and cosmology are not the same, although both involve studying the cosmos. Consequently, because astronomers routinely never learn basic forensic science principles (since they only study cosmology, an empirical science — which they routinely extrapolate backwards into the no-longer-observable past, via uniformitarian thinking), most astronomers are routinely unqualified to serve as cosmogony “experts”. A “cosmogony” is an account of the origins of the cosmos; a “cosmology” is a systematic study of the cosmos as it exists in the present. Accordingly, cosmogony is a forensic science of cosmic origins, whereas cosmology is an empirical science of the currently observable cosmos. See James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Critics Flunk Forensic Science 101”, Acts & Facts, 41(3):8-9 (March 2012), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-critics-flunk-forensic-science/ .

7. Christ affirmed the Genesis account of origins provided by God through Moses (see John 5:44-47).  See also 1st Timothy 6:20.

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Balancing High Risks: Mountain Climbing and the First Amendment

Balancing High Risks:  Mountain Climbing and the First Amendment

By James J. S. Johnson

When an American astronaut reverently quotes from Psalm 24, and is promptly faulted by a critic—for “violating” the so-called “separation of church and state”(1)—it is time to learn a lesson about balance, from the agility of mountain goats, adroitly ambulating alpine ascents of the Rocky Mountains.

Mountain Goat in Rocky Mountain

Indeed, mountain goats provide creation science “gems”, plus a picture of how we need balance in the political arena, where Christians are routinely shoved—and told to shut up, to avoid “offending” non-Christians.  (Of course, it is offensive to Christians when they are told to “shut up”, but since when did unbelieving critics care about “offending” Christians?)

Why are mountain goats a picture of this problem? Because safely balancing a mountain goat’s body, on steep alpine slopes—and safely balancing individuals’ civil liberties (such as an astronaut’s religious freedom and free speech rights)—are both examples of high-stakes balancing acts. To appreciate this comparison (in this introductory review of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment), mountain goats must be matched to their intended natural habitat, just as the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment must be matched to its intended political context.

A female mountain goat with two babies on a rock mountain in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Consider, first, the agility of a mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus), the sure-hoofed bovid that habituates the heights of North America’s Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range.(2)

“For those of us who admit to some fear of heights, the Mountain Goat is an animal to be admired … This shaggy animal, its back hunched in a manner somewhat suggestive of a Bison, is a master at negotiating the steepest of precipices. Mountain Goats are truly alpine creatures. They commonly rest on high-elevation snowfields and find most of their food among the plants of alpine meadows. Their hooves are structured to [optimize] balance and grip; the outer hoof is strongly reinforced and the bottom is lined with rubbery material, making the whole structure rather like a good hiking boot. These animals nonchalantly cross dizzying ledges, sometimes even at a trot.”(3)

In fact, the high-altitude dexterity of the mountain goat is so phenomenal that it routinely spends most of its time on precipitous terrain steeper than a 40o angle, and sometimes at pitches steeper than 60o!, especially during winter.(4)

Furthermore, the leg bones of the mountain goat are engineered to maximize a functional mix of precision balancing (such as perching all four hooves on a small spot), front-forward pulling power, propulsion leverage and maneuverability (for running and jumping), and stability (due to a low center of gravity) against tipping over.(4)

“A mountain goat climbs with three-point suspension. … Lifting one limb at a time [it] frequently pauses to assess the situation, tests the footing, and if needed turns back and selects a different route. Slow, sure consistency allows life on rock steeper than the angle of repose. Because they are most likely the ones to find themselves in a tight spot, kids do most of the go-for-broke climbing. Although a kid might take four or five missteps per year, it salvages the situation almost every time.”(4)

Mountain Goat Kids Juming ©TMLee

Mountain Goat Kids Juming ©TMLee

Thus, the mountain goats are aptly designed for moving on rocky slopes. Mountain goats are instinctively careful, and they apply their characteristic agility, as they test their environment. (Indeed, when predatory cougars try to attack them, the God-given instinct of mountain goats to flee, successfully, is often implemented by their agility and speed in and up these jagged rocky slopes and precipices!)

Mountain Goats in Danger in Mountain

But without the right physical traits for maintaining balance on rugged rocks—traits which God installed on Day 6 of Creation Week—mountain goats could not thrive, as they do, upon the harsh talus slopes and felsenmeer of their high-elevation habitat.

“The [mountain goat hoofprint] track’s squarish imprint is created by the hoof’s spreading tips. The sides of the toes consist of hard keratin, like that of a horse hoof. Each foot’s two wraparound toenails are used to catch and hold on to cracks and tiny knobs. … The front edge of the hoof tapers to a point, which digs into dirt or packed snow when [it] is going uphill. In contrast to a horse’s concave hoof, which causes the animal to walk on the rim of its toenail, a [mountain] goat’s hoof has a flexible central pad that protrudes beyond the nail. The pad’s rough texture provides [skid-resistant] friction on smooth rock or ice yet is pliant enough to impress itself into irregularities on a stone. Four hooves X 2 toes per hoof = 8 gripping soles per animal. As [mountain] goats descend a slope the toes spread widely, adjusting tension to fine-tune the grip. … This feature makes them more likely to catch onto something. It also divides the downward force of the weight on the hoof so that some of the animal’s total weight is directed sideways. Because there is less net force on each downward [pressure] line, the foot is less likely to slide. Think of it as the fanning out of downward forces over numerous points of friction.”(4)

In a word, BALANCE.  God purposefully designed high-elevation mountain goats for balance, because living life among high alpine rocks is a high-risk lifestyle.

Agile Mountain Goat Jumping across River

Yet the same is equally true to balancing religious liberty rights (and responsibilities) in American society.  Legitimate needs of both “church” and “state” are deliberately balanced with the God-given personal liberty rights of individuals. Like a mountain goat perched atop a precarious precipice, safeguarding those God-given religious freedoms is no lackadaisical endeavor.  The securing of those fundamental freedoms was not (and is not) easily obtained, nor is it easy to maintain those freedoms amidst the ubiquitously power-greedy politics of both “church” and “state”.(5)

In a word, the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment is purposefully designed for BALANCE.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”. (5)

It is to this legal text that the “separation of church and state” concept is frequently attached. However, not all opinions are equal, regarding what that phrase of 16 words (in the First Amendment) mean. Why? Because, as a matter of honesty and valid interpretation, the real meaning of any message must be matched to the message-composer’s intent.(6)

Thus, the only legitimate understanding of the First Amendment’s meaning is the understanding that matches the meaning assigned to it by the (human) source of its words.(5),(6),(7)

Signing Document

Yet, as a text drafted by statesmen of the late 1700s (principally by James Madison, who condensed an earlier version by George Mason), the authorial intent balanced a rejection of government-“established” church organizations, with affirmation of peaceful expression of individual religious beliefs and moral values.(6)

In other words, the First Amendment anticipated that Christians may freely express their religious viewpoints, at the personal level—yet Congress shall not officially endorse (“establish”) any specific ecclesiastical organizations, such as Baptists or Presbyterians or Anglicans or Methodists. This balancing of freedom and order—free exercise of religion, without any federal sponsorship of a particular religious denomination or hierarchy—fits the overall checks-and-balances equilibrium designed in 1791.(6)

“The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national establishment which should give to a [religious] hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”(8)

To put it mildly, this political balancing act is neither easily obtained nor easily maintained.  But this balance was carefully planned for–intended—by America’s founding fathers. Yet now the phrase “separation of church and state” is used to force-fit an off-balanced understanding of the First Amendment.  How did that happen?

In short, the constitutional jurisprudence of America became “evolutionized”, during the late 1800s, upsetting the proper balance between religious liberty and governmental interference.(5),(6),(7),(8),(9)

“Twentieth-century jurisprudence is based on a Darwinian world view.  Life [supposedly] evolves, men [supposedly] evolve, society [supposedly] evolves, and therefore laws and constitutions [supposedly] evolve.  According to the Darwinian principle, the Constitution’s meaning evolves and changes with time. … [Thus modern judges, implementing evolutionary humanism as jurists, my disagree about what a law “now means”] — But neither the majority nor the minority [of such evolutionary law judges] deny the basic evolutionary interpretation.  They merely question at which stage of the evolutionary scale we are!  This is not the way the founding fathers viewed constitutional interpretation.  They saw the Constitution as the supreme law, and also as a covenant or contract.  The Constitution like all legal documents was viewed as a fixed document, to be interpreted according to its plain meaning.  And if its meaning was ambiguous as applied to a specific situation, it was to be interpreted according to the intent of those who wrote it, signed it, and ratified it.  James Madison expressed this view when he wrote, ‘(If) the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the Nation … be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a faithful exercise of its powers’.”(9)

How evolutionary thinking infected American law will be reviewed, God willing, in a sequel to this introductory article.(10) Meanwhile, don’t believe it when someone tells you that the First Amendment “prohibits” an individual astronaut from reverently reading his Bible in space—or from sharing that personal fact via Facebook.(1)

And, as you appreciate the originally intended balance, designed in the First Amendment, don’t forget to thank God—for how He equipped agile mountain goats, to inhabit some of the most precarious places in the Rocky Mountains, as He exhibits (and we enjoy learning about) His creative glory and bioengineering genius.(2)

profjjsj@aol.com      ><>  JJSJ

References

(1) On April 3rd of AD2016, via Facebook, U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams said: “We finally have a quiet Sunday and I’m reading, ‘The Earth is the LORD’s and all that fills it’ in Psalm 24 and viewing this sight [referring to photographs of Earth, seen from the International Space Station].  No matter how long you’re here [in space], the grandeur strikes and the wonder never fades.”  To this posting a God-hating protest retorted, on Col. Jeff Williams’ Facebook page:  “Jeff Williams could you please leave your personal religious views out of your public posts.  You are a government employee.  In America we have a separation of church and state.  Don’t use your publicly funded position to promote personal views.  Teachers shouldn’t and neither should astronauts.  I enjoy the photos from space.  I have followed astronauts photos for over two years without religious bias in the captions.  Your post elevates (no pun intended) man’s divisiveness on Earth to Space.  Please keep it private and keep posting these wonderful scientific pictures without the religious OPINIONS.”   [ See also http://www.icr.org/article/9295.]

(2) The rope-like “backbone” ridge chain of North America’s West is called the Western Cordillera. Included in its geographic system are the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range, the primary high-elevation range of most North American mountain goats. George Constanz, Ice, Fire, and Nutcrackers: A Rocky Mountain Ecology (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014), page 215.

(3) John Kricher, A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain and Southwest Forests (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pages 235-236. As illustrated in Job 39:1, Israel’s mountain goat is named for how this bearded climber masters its rocky alpine habitat:  ya‘alê-sâla‘   literally means “ascenders of cliff-rock”. See also Psalm 104:18a.

(4) Constanz, Rocky Mountain Ecology, pages 224-226, with quotes frompages 225-226.

 (5) U.S. Constitution, First Amendment (Free Exercise and Establishment clauses), ratified 1791. The vast majority of the world’s nations prohibit the “free exercise” for religious liberty, either by establishing a specific religion to the prejudice of others, or by persecuting theistic religions in general.  The most thorough historical analysis of the First Amendment is provided in Rector, etc., of Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 12 S.Ct. 511 (1892), by Justice David Josiah Brewer.  To bypass the jurisprudential relevance, of the Holy Trinity Church ruling, is to demonstrate careless misunderstanding of what the First Amendment was originally designed (and originally used) to accomplish. The balancing of civil government powers, ordained by God’s delegation, with jurisdictional limits to facilitate religious freedom, accords with relevant Scriptures, e.g., Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-4; Daniel 2:21 & 4:25—and with Israel’s separation of religious offices (tribe of Levi) from the monarchy (tribe of Judah).

(6) George Mason’s religious liberty tenet, which he had drafted (12 years earlier) for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, became the precursor for Virginia’s proposal (to Congress) to approve a religious freedom amendment for the “new” Constitution: “That Religion or the Duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable Right to the free Exercise of Religion according to the Dictates of Conscience, and that no particular religious Sect or Society of Christians ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others.” Notably, the entire Bill of Rights (i.e., Amendments 1 through 10) limited federal government powers. Ironically, most of the Constitution’s later amendments have expanded those powers. John Eidsmoe, Institute on the Constitution: A Study on Christianity and the Law of the Land  (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1995), pages 71-73. See also John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987), pages 77-178, especially pages 93-112. Ironically, Thomas Jefferson (author of the phrase “separation of church and state”) was undeniably absent—in France!—during the Constitution’s drafting and early ratification (which processes prompted the Bill of Rights amendments), so his opinion of the First Amendment’s “intent” is interpretatively irrelevant.

(7) Importantly, the First Amendment’s meaning is contextually blended to the axiological fabric of the Declaration of Independence (referring to our “Creator”, “Nature’s God”, “the Supreme Judge of the world”, and “Divine Providence”), and to the Christian worldview evidenced by the U.S. Constitution’s Article VII (which refers to Jesus  Christ as “our Lord”).

(8) Eidsmoe, Institute on the Constitution, page 76, quoting Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1833), vol. II, page 593.

(9) John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987), pages 391-392, quoting James Madison.

(10) The evolutionary mantra-phrase, “natural selection”, promotes animistic powers to inanimate elements of “nature”, not dissimilar from the polytheistic nature-worship of the ancient pagans.  See, e.g., James J. S. Johnson, “Norse and Germanic Mythology”, Chapter 14 in World Religions and Cults, Volume 2 (Green Leaf: Master Books, 2016, edited by Bodie Hodge & Roger Patterson), especially at pages 271-272 & 287-288.  See also, accord, James J. S. Johnson, “How Can a Mechanical ‘Cardinal’ Make ‘Selections’?”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2015/03/12/how-can-a-mechanical-cardinal-make-selections/For a thorough analysis of this “bait-and-switch” tricky-terminology problem (of “science” falsely so-called), see generally Randy J. Guliuzza’s “Darwin’s Sacred Imposter:  Natural Selection’s Idolatrous Trap”, Acts & Facts, 40(11):12-15 (November 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/darwins-sacred-imposter-natural-selections/ .

Mountain Goats on Rocky Hill