Friday, February 25, 2011

An Appearence of Age

by John Morgan

When you read the words of atheist evolutionist Richard Dawkins "Biology is the study of complicated things which give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose[1]," how do you react? Do you say "Of course they appear designed; they are designed." When you hear the argument that Christ did not really die on the cross, He only appeared to have died, how do you react? If someone came into your church teaching the Gnostic doctrine that Christ did not really have a physical body but only appeared to have one, how would you react? When presented with the popular Christian doctrine that the earth and universe are not really billions of years old but only appear to be old, how do you react?

Perhaps both old earth creationists and young earth creationists can agree on this: there is some irony associated with the appearance of age doctrine. There is irony in the fact that the appearance of age arguments parallel those of doctrines almost all Christians oppose. There is irony because those who embrace the appearance of age still embrace the truth that the heavens declare the glory of the God of truth. But, if the universe only appears old, then those heavens must be giving a false report and objects more than, say, 10,000 light years never really existed as we see them.

Still, many Christians have embraced some version of "Appearance of Age" related to the age of the earth and universe. This position states that God created the earth and universe with an appearance of age. Some hold Adam and Eve up as an analogy because he created them as adults. There was some necessity that God create Adam and Eve as adults so they would survive. Analogously, there was a need to create the earth with coal deposits, limestone deposits and the many other features that suggest long periods of time. Others take the tack that God is an artist or craftsman. A craftsman could make a table and give it a distressed finish so that it looked weathered. The craftsman is not lying. He is simply doing with his art as he wishes.

This whole issue raises many questions. And, at each point Christians should ask, "what does the Bible say?"

  • What is the Bible's expectation about the trustworthiness of experience - sight, touch, etc.
  • What does the Bible say about how we can know?
  • What weight does the Bible give to evidence in general and historical events in particular?
  • Does the Bible give any suggestion that the world, including the heavenly bodies are not real?
  • If evidence contradicts verbal testimony or prophesy, which should we believe?
  • Can I distinguish between an inspired message and my understanding of it?
  • In the Bible, how did men of faith know things?
  • What do the words of God or Jesus say about what should persuade us of the truth of a claim?

    To read the entire article click here
    This is a great site I just discovered called sword and spirit ,check it out.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Deconstructing Bart Ehrman

    by Charles Lehardy

    Back before cable and the internet, we used to depend on Uncle Walter for news. A consummate professional, CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite could always be relied on to get his facts straight and the questions of the day answered with precision.

    Today, the inescapable 24/7 news cycle and the tsunami of information have biased us to think of everything as an experience in journalism, where carefully arranged factoids lead us like Hansel's pebbles back to the truth.

    In truth, this materialistic, hard-evidence bias of ours leads to a peculiarly modern way of framing history and the events of the day.

    It is impossible to understand the Bible, much less discover the God who is revealed there, by pretending to be journalists asking gotcha questions.

    This does not mean we must check our brains at the door of the church. Jesus said the greatest commandment of God is to love him with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

    That implies a God who expects us to pursue the truth with intelligence. It also points up one of the ways ancient writers of the scriptures saw the world differently than we do: they believed that every human being has a moral center, the soul, which is capable of responding to God's truth, directing our decisions, and accepting responsibility — eternally — for our moral choices.

    The Bible was written by men who were no less intelligent than we are, but who nevertheless saw life very differently than we do. They saw God at the center of everything.
    If we claim to want to understand the Bible but are dismissive of the cultural-historical perspectives of its writers, or worse, if we read it through the blue-blocker lenses of our modern biases about truth and human nature, we just won't get it.

    To read the entire article click here

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    It appears

    In Richard Dawkins' book, The Blind Watchmaker, he makes this startling comment in the preface, "The problem is that of complex design."  Dawkins realizes that design is present and further states, "The complexity of living organisms is matched by the elegant efficiency of their apparent design.  If anyone does not agree that this amount of complex design cries out for an explanation, I give up."  Of course, Dawkins would never admit that the complexity of living organisms was designed by God, but what if the argument were developed further for not just the complexity of life, but for all the complex questions of the universe?
    • It appears that there are numerous gaps within the fossil record linking a multitude of organisms.
    • It appears that at times life did not evolve slowly over time as predicted by Darwin, but, in fact, life appears suddenly (i.e. Cambrian explosion).
    • It appears the simple animal cell is incredibly complex, especially the component parts that allow the cell to operate properly.
    • It appears that the parts of the cell exhibit irreducible complexity.  In other words, the parts had to all be in place at the same time for the cell to properly function.  It appears the cell parts were not added slowly over time.
    • It appears that Darwinian evolution does not have enough time to evolve into the complexity we see today, if life exploded (Cambrian Period) some 600 million years ago.
    • It appears mutations will not facilitate Darwin's evolutionary model, given that most mutations are degenerate and do not add new parts.
    • It appears that DNA exhibits specified complexity and chance evolution does not suffice as an adequate answer.  The DNA information seems to cry out for an informer or God.
    • It appears that the beginning of the universe by way of the Big Bang needs to have a banger or God.
    • It appears that nothing pops into existence by chance, because for anything to begin there needs to be a causer or God (i.e. Kalam Cosmological Argument).
    • It appears that the universe is fine-tuned for life and would need to have a tuner or God.  
    • It appears that objective morals exist meaning an objective moral law giver or God exists.
    • It appears that the conscious mind cries out for an ultimate mind or God.
    • It appears that science is not able to answer all questions such as why we have 1st person awareness and the laws of logic.  In other words, science cannot  test why certain quantities exist in the universe.
    • It appears the best explanation of the empty tomb and the eyewitness accounts of Jesus after his death is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
      It appears that much within the universe cries out for explanation as Dawkins so eloquently stated, the question is, what best explains apparent design and the multitude of questions presented?  In Dawkins world, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it cannot be a duck.

        Saturday, February 12, 2011

        The trial of truth

        This past week I was summoned for jury duty.  I was pretty sure I would not be picked being that the entire Sheriff's department meets with the church I pastor.  Sure enough, I was not one of the 24 that was originally called before it had to be narrowed down to 12.  The process was interesting and I hope to serve one day as a juror.  One of the interesting statements made by the district judge was, "Drawing from a large diverse group of individuals will help in finding truth."  The statement implies that truth can be known.  A second statement made by the judge was, "The evidence should lead the decision process."

        Concerning truth, it was not only clear from the judge's statement that it is knowable, but was implied that truth is objective.  What is truth anyway?  Truth is that which corresponds with reality or representing things as they really are.  This is referred to as the correspondence theory of truth.  All individuals use the correspondence theory of truth in their everyday life.  Giving directions in how to go from point A to point B is using the correspondence theory.  Think of what the world would be like if we didn't believe in the correspondence theory of truth?  We could never know if someone was telling the truth or crying wolf.

        For anyone to deny the knowability or objective nature of truth is an impossible feat.  Relativism does just that.  Relativism, in essence, denies that truth can be known or that it is objective, hence the term relativism.  The problem that makes relativism untenable is that it can not show why anyone should accept relativism.  It is logically impossible to support relativism, for when one states that relativism is the correct view they contradict themselves by making objectively true statements.

        The judge was completely justified in asking the potential jurors to consider the evidence, because evidence will tip the scales toward the truth.  The evidence is important in deciding the truth.  It must be pointed out that even if evidence points towards truth, jurors or individuals can still disregard the evidence.  If one is to be honest though, he/she should consider all the available evidence in order to arrive at an informed decision of truth.  Truth in the courtroom was not viewed in a Humeian way.  Philosopher, David Hume had set the bar of truth to an unrealistic level by requiring 100% certainty.  The judge in the case was only looking for the preponderance of the evidence. 

        When arguing for any position (i.e. theism vs. atheism, resurrection vs. non-resurrection) it is incumbent upon the individual to lay out the evidence in a convincing manner.  Looking at questions such as the beginning of the universe, moral values, the conscious mind, the structured universe, and the resurrection of Jesus, the evidence tips the scales toward the Christian worldview.  If the Christian worldview is discarded in the future it will not be because the majority of people feel it is an outdated concept.  Christianity or any view will fall because it does not conform to truth.

        Tuesday, February 8, 2011

        The mysterious mind

        There are many arguments for the existence of God, but perhaps the strongest argument for God's existence is the argument from mind or consciousness.  Listening to a debate between J.P. Moreland and Clancy Martin, Martin who was arguing against the existence of God made the point that the mind is puzzling to explain on a purely naturalist level.

        Looking at the mind, there are two opposing worldviews as to how the mind developed.  One view explains the emergence of mind without the need for God.  Many who take this view see the mind as a by product of Darwinian evolution.  In other words, everything can be explained by materialist means.  A big problem arises when trying to explain the mind on a purely naturalist level.  Think about your first person awareness, how is this to be explained by way of science?  So, the mind causes problems for naturalism, if this is how we are to view the world.

        Some say the rescuer of the materialistic development of the mind is physicalism. Physicalism is defined as, "everything that exists is nothing but a single spatio-temporal system which can be completely described in terms of some ideal form of physics." [1]  A simpler way to express this idea is that the physical is all that exists, there is no such thing as God or the soul; no non-physical entities exist.  Is physicalism true?  Can physicalism/naturalism explain the existence of the mind?

        The primary way by which physicalism tries to explain the mind is that the mind supervenes the brain.  On this view, the mind is the result of the brain, like smoke is the result of fire.  All things of the mind are triggered by the brain.  If this is the case, then God is not necessary.

        In his book, Scaling the Secular City, philosopher J.P. Moreland points out the problems with physicalism.  First, physicalism is self-refuting.  If physicalism is true then so is determinism.  In other words, we are just programed machines of Darwinian evolution.  Philosopher Michael Ruse has said, " Free will as traditionally conceived...simply does not exist.  There is no way the evolutionary process as currently conceived can produce a being that is truly free to make choices." [2]  If all is determined on a naturalistic/physicalist view then we have no free will, but this does not seem to be the case with our mind.  If physicalism is true, then so is determinism.  J.R. Lucas says, "Determinism, therefore, cannot be true, because if it was, we should not take the determinists' arguments as being really arguments, but as being only conditioned reflexes." [3]

        A second problem exists in that humans are rational beings.  Where does this sense of rationality come from?  J.P. Moreland makes several points to show that we are rational, and therefore, physicalism is the incorrect view.  First, we have intentionality or thoughts about the world.  Second, reason, propositions, morality, laws of logic and truth seem to stand against physicalism. Third, we have an agent view of the world.  An agent view means we can, deliberate, have free will, and be an agent to act on our free will.

        A third problem with physicalim/naturalism is that scientific knowledge cannot explain the mind.  How will science ever be able to test a person's first person awareness?  How is love, hate, laws of logic, morality and the like measured by way of the scientific method? The mind is a tremendous problem for the physicalist/naturalist as stated by physicalist D.M. Armstrong, "It is quiet a different matter to hold that the nervous system should have the power to create something else, of a quiet different nature from itself, and create it out of no materials." [4]

        The mysterious mind is a difficult explanation on a naturalistic or physicalistic view.  Perhaps the best explanation for mind is that there exists a Master Mind from which the mind originated.  There does seem to exist in all humans both mind and body.  We seem to be more than just blobs of matter that accidently arose. This is exactly the view of Scripture when it says, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them (Genesis 1:27)."  John Calvin the famous reformer once said, "the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves.  They point to the Ultimate Mind and ground of rationality himself." [5]

        [1]  Moreland, J.P., Scaling the Secular City, p. 80
        [2]  Michael Ruse as quoted in J.P. Moreland's, Kingdom Triangle, p. 49
        [3]  Lucas, J.R., Freedom of the Will, p. 114-15
        [4]  Armstrong, D.M., A Materialist Theory of the Mind, p. 30
        [5]  John Calvin as quoted in J.P. Moreland's, Scaling the Secular City, p. 103

        Friday, February 4, 2011

        When your house of cards falls

        As a young boy I would often construct card buildings.  I would start with three cards as my base and the wall of a particular room as the forth side of the base.  I then would lay two cards on top of the three vertical card pieces.  I would try to see how high my card building would go before it crumbled.  I sometimes could get three to four floors before the structure became too week to stand.  Each floor was more precarious because the new foundations became increasingly weak as the cards went up.  Without the initial foundation of carpet to solidify the base cards, it would have been impossible to even construct the first floor.

        The foundation was crucial for my card structure to even be erected.  A foundation is necessary for any structure to go up.  Similar to structure in architecture is the necessity for foundationalism in truth.  Foundationalism is, "The theory of knowledge that affirms the need for certain foundational principles as the basis of thought." [1]  Simply put, foundationalism argues that knowledge of truth is not possible without these principles (called first principles, such as the law of non-contradiction). Foundationalism ties directly into truth, for without a foundation, truth has nothing to stand on.

        Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias was once taken to what was referred to as the first post-modern building.  This building was held in high esteem because of its randomness in design according to the architect.  One of the main tenants of post-modernism is that truth is relative or truth has no foundation to stand on.  If truth is relative, then truth cannot be known, but when one says truth is relative she is using foundational talk.  In essence, relative truth turns out to be contradictory, because the statement that truth is relative is based on a foundational principle while at the same time being denied by the statement.  Without a foundation it is impossible to know truth.  Ravi Zacharias rightly inquired about the foundation, because without the foundation, you have no building.  To make matters worse the architect further contradicts himself by saying he had "no design in mind." [2]

        Truth must rest upon a foundation or there is no way to know the truth.  Truth by its very nature is exclusive and must correspond with reality.  When building my card structures of the past, it would have been impossible to construct a single wall without a foundation.  Similarly, relative truth is a like a foundational - less structure.  A truth without a foundation doesn't just cause your house of cards to fall, but it becomes impossible to build in the first place.

        [1]  Geisler, Norm, Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 259
        [2]   Postmodern Architecture

        Tuesday, February 1, 2011


           Darwinian evolution rests on the principle that life has unfolded by way of a slow gradual process.  The driving force for Darwinian evolution is natural selection and beneficial mutations.  Charles Darwin once said, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. [1]  Contemporary biochemist, Michael Behe has used this quote of Darwin to promote "irreducible complexity."  Behe's basic argument is that in order for evolution to take place on a macroevolutionary scale all the beneficial , component parts must exist in order for the advanced organism to evolve functionally alive.  However, there is something else implied in Darwin's bold quote, and that is life evolves very slowly.  Is it the case that evolution is always to be viewed as a slow unfolding process?

        Unbeknown to Darwin is the biological and fossil evidence today that shows with certainty that evolution is not always to be viewed in a slow gradual process.  In fact, recent evidence has caused some scientists to revise their definition of evolution.  One of the more prominent Paleontologist to revise the slow evolutionary steps of evolution is the late Stephen Jay Gould.  Gould's revised theory was called "punctuated equilibrium."  Punctuated equilibrium basically says that evolutionary jumps can be made suddenly, geologically speaking.  In other words, Life can evolve suddenly by beneficial mutation.  For this reason we see no gradual unfolding evolution.  Gould's view was promoted because we know that life has appeared suddenly in the past, contrary to Darwin's original view.  What examples can be given to show the sudden existence of life?

        According to science, modern humans appeared some 200,000 years ago.  Again, according to Darwinian evolution, humans should have branched off of some other form of hominid species some 200,000 years ago.  If this is the case, then modern science should be able to find biochemical evidence to link modern man with his ancestors of the past.  Many scientist have claimed that the genetic similarities between man and chimpanzees is 98% similar.  The conclusion is that genetically speaking, humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, but is this the case? 

        Anthropologist, Jonathan Marks has noted that daffodils (the flower) and humans share 35% genetic similarity. [2]  Does this mean we are 35% flowers?  Absolutely not!  Just as the similarities between the chimp and man are similar does not absolutely mean they are related in a Darwinian way.  The differences between chimps/hominids and humans are more profound than many realize.  According to Chemist, Fazale Rana and Astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, "What does it mean to be 98% chimpanzee?  In terms of evolution, essentially nothing." [3]  The point is, man appears suddenly and can't be linked with past hominids or great apes.  It is also interesting to note that artistic expression and the like exploded on the scene of modern humans some 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.

        Probably the biggest challenge to the slow process of Darwinian evolution comes by way of the Cambrian explosion.  The Cambrian explosion is a term given to the explosion of life at the beginning of the the Cambrian period.  The Cambrian period goes back some 530 million years ago according to science.  The life forms that appeared suddenly had no previous species from which they evolved from.  This sudden explosion was a challenge to Darwin and continues to challenge Darwin's theory of evolution.

        In conclusion, Darwinian evolution is not the same as the hard sciences (Chemistry, Physics) because the theory cannot be tested in the same way.  For this reason there remains serious challenges to Darwin's view that need to be answered if it is to be accepted as settled fact.  From the recent fossil evidence and biochemical evidence it appears that one document (the Bible) has show itself to match with the evidence.  The evidence points to the fact that life has appeared suddenly and has not unfolded by way of a slow gradual process.

        [1]  Darwin, Charles, The Origin of Species
        [2]  Marks, Jonathan as found in Who was Adam?, p. 220
        [3]  Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Who was Adam, p. 222