SCIENCE

 

EVOLUTION & OLD EARTH THEORY

What does the Bible say about microevolution?

                The Bible doesn't talk about evolution. That should come as no surprise, since it was written thousands of years before Darwin was born.   I can't tell which part of microevolution you're addressing, so I'll itemize my response (briefly!) to some different ideas:

1) MUTATION.  Yeah, mutation happens. Some mutation is dominant and heritable. No real problem here. Mutation doesn't create a new species--it deforms an existing one. Sorry, X-men fans.

2) SELECTION (Natural or Artificial).  Here, too, we see that some traits that make survival easier become more prevalent in a population. That makes sense: creatures with traits that help them survive tend to survive, while those without that trait tend not to. It's self-fulfilling, because it's cyclically defined. So yes, natural and artificial selection occur in that survivable species survive. Passing on survivable traits does not alter a species, it only propagates it as the same species it was to begin with.

3) GENETIC DRIFT.  Again, this isn't a point to deny. Your generation might have a large frequency of people with hitchhiker's thumbs, while our children's generation might not. This would be because we happened to pass down the non-hitchhiker's allele by happenstance. Genetic drift happens, but that's just the outcome of probability--not the generation of a new species.

4) GENE FLOW.  This is just the exchange of traits between two populations of the same species. It also doesn't create a new species.  Microevolution, in the terms that I've laid out above (because that's what I understand of the term) is not the process of creating a new species at all. It's just the localizing of species traits.  If you took all humans--tall and short--and killed off the tall ones, you did not create a new species of shorter creatures. You've only localized the trait to a certain range of short people, having eliminated the tall ones. That's not really evolution. That's loss of information, not gain.

 

Do Christians believe in natural selection--meaning, the idea that competition rules in nature?

                Yes and no. Honestly, you'll find Christians all over the map on that issue, since not everyone who goes by that title is necessarily educated or convinced of the stuff that Christians are expected to know or believe.  In the sense that natural selection describes how only the fittest survive, I don't think anyone has any particular problems with that idea. Being "fit" after all is really a description of being "the most able to survive." So you're really just saying that the "most able to survive" are the ones that survive. Not really a debated issue.

                A problem is introduced if you think that natural selection includes in it the acquisition of genetic information (by way of mutation) that over time increases the fitness or survivability of not just a single creature, but also its progeny and ultimately the species which evolves from it.  This kind of natural selection is not restricted to the survival of the fittest, but has its definition contaminated by importing ideas of genetic mutation. On that ground, the creationist would stand apart from the evolutionist for a variety of scientific reasons, regardless of religious and theological background.

 

Is Lucy real?  Were Adam and Eve neanderthals?

                For those readers that aren't familiar with "Lucy," that is the name given to a fossil finding that many have claimed is the missing link between ape and human structure.  Lucy is actually an extinct ape. 

                Every missing link that's been found has been verified to NOT be a missing link. What's strange, of course, is that with so many millions of species on the earth, we don't find a SINGLE transitional fossil of any species. Not one.   For the record, there is substantial concern over high school textbooks that continue to use outdated material concerning transitional fossils and their falsified findings*. Examples include Lucy, Peking Man, and Java Man.

                Now I have to take a break to state the obvious: I'm not an expert in biology and certainly not in science concerning evolution. I'm a theologian. I study the Bible to understand it and communicate it to others.  When I encounter questions of a more scientific nature, I have to resort to other minds for those answers because I'm not an expert in the particular field. I think two very good resources to go look into are "The New Answers Book" by Ken Ham and "The Battle for the Beginning" by John MacArthur. Both of those books present collected scientific findings that examine evolution and explain its impossibility from a scientific standpoint. The theology of the Bible is not offered as a substitute of scientific explanation against evolution--rather it is given only to corroborate what is scientifically verified against evolution. I think it's most appropriate to examine evolution with the same methods a non-Christian scientist would. If evolution is not true, the science will point us in that direction. 

                *The following have been verified to be an extinct form of ape: Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus boisei, Australopithecus robustus, Ramapithecus. 

                The following have been verified to have been mistaken, and are actually living forms of apes: Pan troglodytes, Pan paniscus, Gorilla gorilla, Gorilla beringei, Pongo pygmaeus, Pongo abelii.

                The following have been verified to actually be human: Homo floresiensis (dwarf, pygmy), Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo sapiens.  Homo habilis has been found to be a mixture of human and ape parts.

 

How do we explain the problem of carbon dating (which says the earth is billions of years old) and the Bible (which says the earth is thousands of years old)?

                As a general disclaimer, I want you to know that I'm not a scientist. I'm a theologian. Questions regarding the sciences are best asked to experts in those fields. Just because your question about carbon dating has implications on our theology doesn't actually make it a theological question--that is, your question isn't about the Bible or our understanding of it. Your question is about a scientific practice. I'll do my best to answer it, but you should be warned that 1) this answer is incredibly boring, and 2) there are much more qualified people to ask rather than me regarding this subject.
                With that said, let me try to answer your question adequately without embarrassing myself: I will be drawing heavily from books such as "Answers in Genesis" and "Battle for the Beginning" which supply more than enough information for you, and I'll even throw in a little bit of basic knowledge that I gleaned from almost paying attention to chemistry in high school.
                Radiocarbon dating is one type of radiometric dating, and it's the only one that applies to organic material. Radiometric dating is a used to determine the age of various specimens, usually inorganic matter.  Basically, scientists observe a natural process by which unstable radioactive “parent” isotopes decay into stable “daughter” isotopes spontaneously over time. They measure how long it takes for a parent isotope to decay into a daughter isotope. Uranium-238 (U238), for example, is an unstable radioactive isotope which decays into Lead-206 (Pb206) naturally over time (it goes through 13 unstable intermediate stages before it finally stabilizes into Pb206). In this case, U238 is the “parent” and Pb206 is the “daughter.” It takes 4,460,000,000 years for half of a sample of U238 to decay into Pb206. It takes another 4,460,000,000 years for half of the remaining sample to decay into Pb206 and then another 4,460,000,000 years for half of what’s then left to decay, and so on. The time it takes for half of a sample to decay is called a “half-life.”  By measuring half-lives of a sample--that is, by measuring how much parent and daughter are present in any given specimen--and by making certain key assumptions, scientists believe they are able to accurately determine the age of a specimen. 
        The three key underlying assumptions are: 
1) the rate of decay of parent into daughter has remained constant throughout the unobservable past;
2) the specimen which we are examining hasn’t been contaminated in any way (that is, no parent or daughter has been added or taken away at any point during the unobservable past);
3) we can determine how much parent and daughter were present at the beginning of the decay process – not all of the Pb206 present today necessarily came from decaying U238; Pb206 may have been part of the original constitution of the specimen. If any of these assumptions are wrong, the method cannot accurately determine the age of a specimen.
                The second and third assumptions have always endured heavy scrutiny, especially the third assumption, which considers the original constitution of a particular specimen. The first assumption, though, was thought to be pretty reliable since scientists were not able to vary the decay rates much in a lab. Recently, however, new research has revealed that the decay rates may have been drastically different in the unobservable past. This calls the whole method into question. 
                AiG’s Dr. Carl Wieland explains, “When uranium decays to lead, a by-product of this process is the formation of helium, a very light, inert gas which readily escapes from rock. Certain crystals called zircons, obtained from drilling into very deep granites, contain uranium which has partly decayed into lead. By measuring the amount of uranium and ‘radiogenic lead’ in these crystals, one can calculate that, if the decay rate has been constant, about 1.5 billion years must have passed. (This is consistent with the geologic ‘age’ assigned to the granites in which these zircons are found.) There is a significant amount of helium from that ‘1.5 billion years of decay’ still inside the zircons. This is at first glance surprising for long-agers, because of the ease with which one would expect helium (with its tiny, light, unreactive atoms) to escape from the spaces within the crystal structure. There should surely be hardly any left, because with such a slow buildup, it should be seeping out continually and not accumulating. …Results show that because of all the helium still in the zircons, these crystals (and since this is Precambrian basement granite, by implication the whole earth) could not be older than between 4,000 and 14,000 years. In other words, in only a few thousand years, 1.5 billion years’ worth (at today’s rates) of radioactive decay has taken place” 
(Carl Wieland, http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2003/0821rate.asp#_ftn1).
For more on this, see AiG’s radiometric dating FAQ page at http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/faq/dating.asp.
                The point is that radiometric dating is not the sure thing that it has been made out to be over the last century. There still remains a lot of research to do, but, as it currently stands, the accuracy of radiometric dating remains ambiguously suspect at best.
                Let's now throw in a few curve balls. Assume that the Bible is true in its claims about the events that happen in Genesis. If Genesis is true, then we're forced to deal with the physical reality of a curse in Genesis 3 that alters the nature of our natural world, resulting in the introduction of death (Genesis 2:17), a change in at least one creature's body structure (Genesis 3:14), a physiological change in reproduction as well as human relationship (Genesis 3:16), and a major alteration in the properties of the agricultural environment (Genesis 3:17-18). This means that nothing can be assumed constant from the beginning until now because there was an undeniably world-changing event that took place at Genesis 3.
Moreover, if there really was a world flood as described in Genesis 6, then you have the entire planet's supply of carbon being contaminated by the floodwater which would have completely destroyed the reliability of radiometric dating as a whole (see the second and third assumptions above).
                But you don't have to assume the Bible is true in order to contest the reliability of radiometric dating. The science contests itself and is only reliable under observable, verifiable conditions. Tracing a specimen back billions of years and guessing that no amount of tampering or contamination or manipulation has taken place is an assumption that places the burden of proof upon the proposer. 
Can carbon dating be accurate if the creation of the Earth was a "natural" (I'm assuming you mean "evolutionary") process? Only if you assume in agreement with the three stated assumptions of radiometric dating, and simultaneously DISAGREE with the biblical assertions made about events such as those described in Genesis 3 and Genesis 6.
                As for me and my personal opinion: I believe what God said. That is, I don't feel the need to fix the Bible to harmonize it with our scientific theories that admit that there is less than 1-in-a-billion percent of a chance that they are correct.

 

How should believers deal with scientific evidence that conflicts with Scripture?  For instance, the Bible says the earth is 2000 years old, but scientific evidence proves it to be billions of years old.

                Scientific evidence is evidence, not conclusion nor proof, just as evidence against a suspect in a murder trial is only evidence, not conclusion nor proof. To have evidence is not to have an answer, but a possible clue (or possibly a false clue). Your understanding of scientific evidence is flawed in the presentation of your question. 

                Science is a methodology, not a body of information. "Science" (rather, scientists) have been wrong many times over in history and have refined and corrected their wrong assumptions. A great example is the geocentric and heliocentric understandings of our solar system. "Science" had it wrong for a very long time, and then got it right (despite the opposition of the Catholic Church). Simply because "science" asserts a particular theory doesn't make it true until it is proven on the grounds that science is studied: namely, it must be reproducible in a controlled experimental environment by the manipulation of singular variables. That's the scientific method. Unfortunately, this method cannot actually recreate something like the Big Bang or the exact circumstantial features of primordial soup or a proper demonstration of the consistency of the speed of light from the first moment in time till now. Because of the limitations of the scientific method, scientists across the globe among all tiers of academicia and scholarship are varied even in their own understandings of, for instance, the age of the Earth, since you pointed at that topic. In fact, a greater movement is taking place among the upper echelons of scientific research in which Intelligent Design (though not necessarily biblical creation) is becoming a much more popular position.

                The Scripture NOWHERE asserts that the Earth is 2000 years old. I don't really mean any offense here, but this conclusion is kind of idiotic. It is the year 2010, and these years have been calendared beyond any shadow of a doubt. Does the Bible really state that Adam and Eve were created at the time where our calendars say that Jesus was 10 years old? I mean, seriously, how in the world did you come to that? 

                Scientific evidence does not prove the earth to be billions of years old. Stating again: you have confused evidence with proof. That logical faux pas will cripple your position in debate and make it nearly impossible for your corroboration to recover from the loss of your intellectual credibility. Remember that scientists are not in agreement about the age of the Earth at all. Even those who claim billions of years are in staunch disagreement over how many billions of years (whether it be a few billion years or hundreds of billions or, yes, even billions of billions). Moreover, there is scientific evidence to the contrary: that the Earth is only thousands of years old. Note here that there is scientific evidence for many different hypotheses, BUT THIS IS NOT PROOF. Just because there is evidence that the Earth is only thousands of years old isn't proof of it. Just because there is evidence that the Earth is billions of years old is not proof of it. Evidence is evidence. Proof is when you can reproduce the phenomena and demonstrate that it cannot be any other way. The evidence (on any of the sides!) does not accomplish this.

 

Who are some of the scientists that hold to intelligent design?

                For starters, we'll go with Michael J. Behe (argument for irreducible complexity), William A. Demski (argument for specified complexity), Jay Richards (Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture), and Casey Luskin (Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center). 

                A lot more information on this kind of stuff can be found in some well-known books, like "A Battle for the Beginning" by John MacArthur (which spends a great deal of time addressing textbook "Darwinism" via counterargument not by biblical theologians, but by Intelligent Design advocates), and also "Answers in Genesis" by Ken Ham which deals with each portion of evolution part-by-part, bringing scientific and biblical insight at each step with helpful diagrams and illustrations that make it easy for novice students to understand.

 

Why do some declared Christians believe in earth being billions of years old, while others believe in thousands of years old?

                I don't think many Christians are taught a solid position on this issue. In fact, many pastors that I've met seem to consider it a secondary issue of little importance. Personally, I find it to be the very test of whether or not we really believe what the Bible says, starting from the first verse of the first chapter or the first book.
                But the issue of the age of the earth also requires a lot of scientific discussion since that's where the notion is challenged. Not many pastors are equipped with the knowledge or resources to address it adequately (since we aren't scientists), which helps explain why the topic is so rarely covered from the pulpit. 
                When it comes down to Scripture, the Bible makes a pretty undeniable testimony that the earth is thousands of years old--not millions. And so the burden of proof seems to direct the conversation more toward scientific corroboration of that assertion. Interestingly, there is a wealth of evidence to support the claim (some of which is discussed on my website: http://www.randcho.com/Q&A/science.htm).

 

Science says that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago.  How does this work with the Bible?

                It actually all hinges on whether it's true or not.  If it's not true, then dinosaurs did NOT exist millions/billions of years ago, and you'll have the biblical record of a 6-day creation to deal with, including how that makes sense of our current methods for dating things.  If it is true, then dinosaurs did exist millions/billions of years ago, and you'll have to deal with whether or not the Bible is wrong, or just misunderstood in its creation account, and how that affects our understanding of even the origin of man, death, and evolution if in fact the earth is billions of years old.
                My particular opinions on the matter are sourced from other experts, since I am not one. Resources like "The New Answers Book" (Ken Ham) and "The Battle for the Beginning" (John MacArthur) are what exposed me to the rest of the scientific community (which is turning into a majority, btw) that hold disagreement to the popular methodology of scientific dating today.
Dinosaurs would have had to have existed in a tropical environment, such as that of the earth before Noah's flood. During that event, many of the dinosaurs would have been submerged under water, buried under volcanic rock, petrified and preserved in skeletal form.  This explains the existence of our entire fossil record, which undoubtedly all comes from a very short, cataclysmic window of history, no matter how you date the age of the earth. After the flood, dinosaurs would not have been able to survive the harsher, colder weather. Those that did are creatures we don't really call dinosaurs. For instance, whales and crocodiles and elephants, the rhinoceros--even the hippopotamus--are all creatures that, if they went extinct long ago, would probably be understood by us to be no different than the stegosaurus or the woolly mammoth. It's not that all the dinosaurs died out after the flood. It's that many creatures died out, and we took all of them and call them "dinosaurs" or other names for prehistoric creatures.
                If dinosaurs existed at the same time as man, before the flood, then there would probably be some evidence of it. In fact, they probably didn't all die out at once, since 2 of each kind must have been brought onto the ark. If that's true, there should be some testimony of such creatures in ancient times, like in the Bible, especially if they live in water since the flood didn't destroy all water creatures. And guess what? There is evidence of such creatures.
                Job 3:8 and 41:1 are two very interesting passages about "Leviathan:" a sea monster (as it is often referred to in ancient texts). All of chapter 41 seems to describe a creature unlike what exists today, but fits that of a dinosaur. Some people even think that the creature literally could breathe fire, which would explain the universal notion of dragons in the mythology of cultures around the globe.
                You can also find leviathan in Psalm 74:14; 104:6; and Isaiah 27:1. These descriptions seem to differ from one another, which tells us that leviathan was probably a general term for any kind of sea monster, not a specific species.
                For the record, this information is stuff I took from other sources. I've learned it before, but I don't just know it all off the top of my head. Check those books I mentioned and it'll answer your questions a lot better than I will.

 

Regarding the young earth question you previously answered: couldn't God have made each of the seven days of creation as long as He wanted so that the millions-of-years theory could be true?

                In terms of capability, yes He could have. He could have made the whole planet out of marshmallows too if He wanted. He could have made a day last 8 minutes if He wanted. There's really no question on whether or not He could have, in regards to its possibility.
                In terms of plausibility, for us to interpret the word "day" to means millions of years would certainly mess up some very important doctrines. For instance, how long was Jesus in the grave? 3 million years? How often are Jews supposed to rest from their work? Every 7th million years? Or, most bothersome: if "day" means "millions of years" in Genesis 1, then what does "night" mean? Or "evening" or "morning" or "seasons" or "years?" If "day" means millions of years, then does "seasons" mean billions? We're starting to move into some really arbitrary interpretation now.
                What does it mean when God said He created the world in six days? Is that no longer a reliable truth? Since God's work in 6 days is normative for Israel's work week, does that mean the Jews had a completely wrong understanding of what God meant when He said to rest on the seventh day? After all, if they ended up resting once a week when God rested after billions of years, they've missed the point of modeling after His example.
                Moreover, if each "day" in Genesis 1 means something other than a 24-hour measure of time, then are they all uniform or do they vary? Is each day a 1-million year period? Or could the first day be many millions of years, while the second day is perhaps only a few millions of years?
                Basically, if you take the simple meaning of the word day, which comes with evening and morning, sun and moon, and is part of seasons and years, and falls in a 7-part progression where there is a "first day" and "second day" and so on...if you decide that "day" does not mean "day," then you've arbitrarily decided God was wrong and that whatever theory or idea you have instead of the plain reading of Genesis 1 is an idea that's replaced honest, intelligent biblical theology.

 

What should Christian students do during a lecture on topics like evolution?

                Learn it.  Do everything you can to learn it.   But I'd also say to learn the scientific opinions that are AGAINST evolution as well. Even though our schools don't teach those, you'll find that many scientists are moving away from evolutionary theories and flocking heavily toward intelligent design. That doesn't mean they are arguing for Christianity, but it does mean that more and more of the scientists that research evolution are finding that evolution is not very scientific at all.

                In terms of speaking up during those lectures, that's really up to you. But your job isn't to lecture back against evolution. It's to study the stuff and earn your grade. If you're equipped and able to present substantial counterarguments, then go ahead and do so--in a LOVING manner with the intention of reaching people with truth, not just winning an argument. If you're not equipped to present substantial counterarguments, then just be ready when someone asks what you think to say, "I don't know." Don't ever hold to believing something without a reason. Maybe you'll believe it because of the facts that you've researched. Maybe you'll believe it simply because the Bible says it. But don't hold to the side of an argument that you don't understand--even if it seems like you're supposed to just because you're Christian. Ask your pastor about it, find about more about it, and then discover the truth and that's what you should know and defend and proclaim with a heart of love.

 

You said that "Homo habilis has been found to be a mixture of human and ape parts." Doesn't that make it a transitional fossil?

                If I find apple seeds next to orange peels, I haven't found a transitional fruit. I found two different fruits in the same place. Homo habilis was found to be a mixture in terms of structure and genetic makeup. It was really a few human bones next to a few ape bones--two separate individual creatures whose remains were next to each other.

 

Did Pangaea ever exist?

                Yeah, I think so. I'm not so convinced as to bet my life on it, but I think it makes a lot of sense. Some of that comes from studying Noah's flood, though, since Genesis 7:11 tells us that it not only rained on the earth, but there was something going on from the "springs of the great deep." Something under the ground was bursting forth which speaks to me of volcanic activity. Whatever happened during that flood, it was cataclysmic enough to destroy all animal life on the planet, save for what was in the ark or in the oceans. During that time, I think it's possible that Pangaea split up to form the continents we have today. It explains why there are common fossils on the edges of differing continents that used to be together. Conditions were ideal during the flood to create such a rich fossil record as we have today.

 

OUTER SPACE

Are aliens real?

                No. No aliens are ever mentioned in the Bible, which is just a starting point of thought.   The Bible asserts a geocentric universe, not in its physical center, but in its purpose and intent. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). That's a general statement of the universe, and the one planet where there is life.  All the other stars and heavenly bodies are there to indicate seasons and days and years (Genesis 1:14-15).  All the universe comes to a close in the book of Revelation when the history of man is complete (see also Isaiah 34:4). Every man is brought to the great white throne of judgment to receive his eternal reward or consequence. There are no aliens there. 

                By aliens, I'm assuming you mean intelligent life forms from a distant star. In my opinion, microbes and one-celled organisms aren't valid arguments for aliens for several reasons. First, the Bible never speaks of microbes as living things. When God spoke of living things, he meant animals and people and insects and stuff. Even though everyone knew plants were alive, God didn't refer to them in the same category as animals when He talks about living things. Second, alien life forms aren't likely to evolve from microbes because evolution is not possible. Given the 1-in-a-trillion chance that it could happen, don't forget to note the 999,999,999,999-in-a-trillion chance that it does NOT happen. Third, the existence of microbes on distant planets doesn't prove the existence of aliens--it only proves the existence of microbes on other planets.

                To date, no microbes have been found on other planets, though the search continues. Again, though, success in finding microbes does nothing to alter any chances of aliens being out there. A microbe is not an alien.

 

Why did God make other planets?

                Every planet and star is put in the sky by God to display His splendor and glory and power.   In terms of their purpose for us, Genesis 1:14 says that they are to serve as signs to separate day and night and mark seasons, days, and years. This is exactly what we use the stars to do.  Remember that "planet" is a term that we made up a few centuries ago. They're all stars to the biblical writers. There's no distinction between stars and planets. If you were Moses, when you looked up, they're all just small little dots in the sky. Only in the recent history of man is it possible for us to explore the celestial bodies, and our scientific precision calls for differentiating one type of star from another, and so we have terms like planets, novas, nebulae, dwarf star, etc. Be sure not to confuse scientific terminology with biblical descriptions.

 

 

BIOLOGY

Does God choose the different genetic traits of humans, or does He choose from the alleles given by our parents?

                Whichever He chooses, it makes no difference.  If He chooses the traits, He'd have to select the proper alleles to make that trait available.  If He chooses the alleles, He's orchestrated the possible combinations, and the chemical physics wouldn't be a mystery to Him in terms of what ends up where. He'd know precisely what trait would result.

                God is sovereign. The way you're born is the way He chose to manifest His glory in you. No credit goes to traits or alleles because you're made in the image of God--not a Punnett square. Let's be careful to keep our eyes on heaven, and worship the Creator as our designer, not the creation (Romans 1:22). Even chemicals and amino acids can become false gods in our minds if they're given causative credit for our being.

 

Thoughts on the theorized release of DMT in the brain during death?

                I'm going guess that you're talking about a hallucinogen called dimethyltryptamine (I hope I spelled that right!).
                I studied this chemical briefly when I earned my degree in psychology because the substance had psychotropic properties. My understanding of it, at best, will be topical--not technical. Since it's a hallucinogen that you propose is released during death, I'm connecting this to an angle of skepticism or doubt on the part of life-after-death. I hope I'm not making a hasty jump to conclusion here. If I'm wrong, then your question is really just asking me about my opinion on chemistry, which is simply: I hate it.
                Speaking from a scientific standpoint, the presence of the chemical in mammals is trace, not indicative of any significant effect--especially during a traumatic event such as death, where most processes begin to shut down (instead of carry out) chemical reactions. In fact, endogenous DMT is speculative, especially regarding its effect on the neurological state of human beings. No certain position can be taken on its legitimate effects on life-after-death, since the effects themselves are not yet acknowledged as significant in and of themselves.
                From a biblical standpoint, to depart from the body is to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23), so it really doesn't matter what happens to the body when you die. Who cares what chemicals are released? That's just a physical event that occurs in an empty shell. Even if the human brain released a pound of heroin into the bloodstream, that wouldn't confirm or debunk the reality of God, the Bible, morality, eternity, or salvation.
                From a polemical standpoint, DMT is entirely unrelated to faith, since faith has been based on the testimony of living persons who experience living transformations, rooted solidly on the living and active Christ. Christians had never borne their faith from the testimony of people who died and then told others about it. Even if one were to point to Jesus and say he died and lived again and now spread tales about his hallucinogenic experience--they too would now be affirming his resurrection, which causes more problems for their position than it does accrue any credibility.
                My personal opinion: whatever happens in the brain when someone dies is irrelevant. Faith is proven on the grounds of what happens to a person when he truly lives. What a sad testimony to our scientific arguments if we begin to speculate that religion is in any way rooted in the 5-second span of the human brain's postmortem shutdown, instead of the richness of the lifelong pursuit of holiness. Somehow, I would think that the doubter has completely missed the point.

 

I have a friend who was born female, but during puberty discovered she has XY chromosomes and internal testes.  She's very confused and her family is really emotional right now.  Why would God do this?

                In cases like these, I think your friend and your friend's family need to seriously pray for the solution that brings peace and healing. Being born with something wrong is only physically indicative of a more spiritual reality. Genetic mutation is a result of the fall of man, not the will of God. It's testament to our need for healing, for salvation, for renewal and restoration. Simply because something happens doesn't mean that that's God's will and desire. Sin happens, tragedy happens, disaster happens. These are all things God is working to fix, to remove, to stop. Eternal life will not have any of these because God is not the arbitrary cause of them on us--they are a consequence of sin and fallenness that has cursed every aspect of even the physics and chemistry of our world. 
                Your friend's circumstance is the particular determinant of seeing God as the healer of her problem or of the afflicter of it. Your question presumes He is the ladder. 

MISCELLANEOUS

What are some scientific evidences that show us that God is present?

                There are 3 common responses for this question that are easy to understand and very valid.
                First is the Law of Cause and Effect. Every cause has an effect and every effect has a cause. Science has proven that universe has a beginning--it was not eternally existent (after all, if it existed infinitely before, that means it took an infinite amount of time to get to the present, which means we are at the end of infinity, which self-destructs the argument!). If the universe had a beginning, then something must have started it. It is not scientifically possible to create something out of nothing (particularly matter or energy), so that obligates us to consider an external source of origin. Something outside our universe must have put our universe into existence and motion. And even if that source was from some other universe, that other universe would also need a source, etc. Ultimately, it breaks down to the necessity of a source of origin that exists and operates outside the constraints of time and space--namely, God.
                Second is the Law of Teleology. Teleology is the study of purpose or design in natural phenomena. Things don't design themselves, and so when we find something with purpose, we immediately conclude there was a designer. For instance, if you find a watch in the middle of the desert, you don't end up wondering how a random combination of molecules could have come together to make a working device in the middle of nowhere. Instead, you conclude the watch is man-made, so someone must have been in this desert and lost it. The universe is filled with design. For example, here is what I learned in my studies (I will quote): [the earth in orbiting the sun departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every 18 miles—a very straight line in human terms. If the orbit changed by one-tenth of an inch every 18 miles, it would be vastly larger and we would all freeze to death. If it changed by one-eighth of an inch, we would be incinerated. The sun is burning at approximately 20 million degrees Celsius at its interior. If the earth was moved 10% further away, we would soon freeze to death. If it was moved 10% closer, we would be reduced to ashes. Are we to believe that such precision “just happened”? Think about it: the sun is poised at 93 million miles from earth, which happens to be just right. Did this happen by chance or by design? It’s no small wonder that the Psalmist alludes to God as the grand designer when he declared: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other” (Psalm 19:1, 6).]
                Third is the Law of Fulfilled Prophecy. The mathematical chances of the prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled were smaller than 1 divided 10-to-the-seventeenth power. That means you have a better chance of covering Texas two-feet-deep in coins and having a blind man choose--on his first try--the only coin that you've marked with an "X" on it. There are over 1000 prophecies about Jesus, and about 48 of them have to do with his crucifixion. All those prophecies were fulfilled in him. You can try to argue some of them out, claiming invalidity, but you have over a 1000 to deal with, almost all of which were prophesied almost centuries before Jesus was born. 
                These are compelling arguments to consider, but I always recommend AGAINST using them to try to convince people into Christianity. Science does not move a man to repentance. The knowledge of God is already wired inside every person (Romans 1:20). Arguments like these are for the mind and can supplement, but that should never replace the work that needs to happen in the heart. No amount of debating will cause a person to hate their sin and cry out for a Savior.

 

What is the purpose of science in a Christian context, and how much of it is true?

                Science is knowledge gathered by systematic methods. Its purpose in the Christian context is the same as in any other context: to gather, understand, and organize information clearly. Science is always true in the sense that the information is true. However, our methods of observing and assessing and drawing conclusions are not always accurate. In such cases, it is not science that has failed, but the scientist.

 

Do you ever feel like matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, and that we are all one consciousness experience itself subjectively, and that there is no such thing as death, and life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves?

                No, I don't think that would even be classified as a "feeling" more than it would a "thought." But the timeless argument by Descartes is sufficient to supplant that kind of existential error, since the presence of individual conscious thought defines a unique and distinct identity in perception and understanding, thereby creating a defining boundary of discrete existence. To clarify, Descartes addressed the issue of life as a dream, mentioning that if we are dreaming our lives, then we must exist because we are the ones dreaming. Whether our lives now are purely the substance of such dreams does not bind or release us from any volitional or moral obligations from the circumstances and priorities of the so-called dream life.   His anthemic "I think, therefore I am" statement is enough to subdue the most direct attacks on true existence, which is why that entire county of thought is taught in history classes, not philosophy.

 

Does Christianity affirm global warming?

                No. The Bible was completed about 2000 years ago. It wasn't concerned with scientific theories on climate and environmental decline. God gave us His Word to declare His will and call us to salvation.