The largest newspaper in the state of West Virginia is the Charleston Gazette-Mail, published in the capitol city of Charleston, WV. I have read this newspaper (formerly The Charleston Gazette), along with its former sister publication, The Charleston Daily Mail, for many years. The two newspapers merged in 2015. The reporting in both papers has been sufficient, although some of the reports in the Gazette have a tradition of mingling opinion with what is suppose to be objective reporting. Speaking of opinion, when the two papers merged, the opinion pages were kept separate. This was for good reason I suppose. The Daily Mail has been traditionally center to slight right, politically speaking. The Gazette editorial page has always been a far-left liberal extremist page. I am not at all exaggerating here. You can search the Gazette editorial archives for yourself here.
As of this writing, Dawn Miller is the editorial page editor. For years, the chief editor at the paper has been James Haught. From what I understand, Haught still contributes to this day. It seems that I read somewhere that he works in an emeritus status.
Now I have read Mr. Haught’s writings and heard him speak from time to time over the years. For being a self-declared enlightened and rational individual, his thinking on some things are seriously flawed. I want to point out two such instances.
One instance came about when I attended a panel discussion at the University of Charleston. The discussion was centered around the thoughts of the panelists as it related to the motto of the United States, “In God We Trust.” There were six panelists. All of the panelists were monotheists except one, Mr. Haught. The discussion can be viewed here. The panelists discussed aspects of the national motto and its relevance. They discussed the so-called separation of church and state.
If you skip ahead to almost fifteen minutes into the panel discussion, you can hear one of Mr. Haught’s primary defenses against using the motto. He says, “Religion is extremely powerful and if you mix it with the power of government you’re going to have massacres and bloodshed….The Germans always had ‘Gott Mit Uns’ on their uniforms, on their money, and on their military equipment…World War One, World War Two. What’s the difference between ‘God With Us’ for the Germans and ‘In God We Trust’ for the Americans. It’s all just the same thing of using government to claim religion.”
It’s easy to see what Mr. Haught is doing here. Just as his editorials have reflected, Mr. Haught is saying that belief in God contributes to and causes massacres and bloodshed. His writings elsewhere suggest that the only remedy for this is to be an enlightened humanist such as himself.
Oxford University professor Alister McGrath, among a large host of others, has debunked the kind of thinking employed by Mr. Haught. In a book entitled, “Beyond Opinion” by Ravi Zacharias, McGrath argues persuasively that “all ideals–divine, transcendent, human or invented–are capable of being abused. Abuse of an ideal does not negate its validity.”
While Mr. Haught likes to point out the atrocities committed in the name of religion (as he does in the panel discussion), Mr. McGrath points out that abandonment of religion is clearly not the solution. In the book, Mr. McGrath says, “Atheism argued that it abolished violence and tyranny by getting rid of what ultimately caused it: faith in God. It was a credible claim in the nineteenth century precisely because atheism had not yet enjoyed the power and influence once exercised by religion. But all that has changed. Atheism’s innocence has now evaporated. In the twentieth century, atheism managed to grasp the power that had hitherto eluded it. But then atheism proved just as fallible, just as corrupt, and just as oppressive as any belief system that had gone before it. Stalin’s death squads were just as murderous as their religious antecedents. Those who dreamed of freedom in the new atheist paradise often found themselves counting trees in Siberia or confined to the Gulag–and they were the lucky ones.”
McGrath continues, “Some of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century were committed by regimes that espoused atheism.” We know that atheist regimes are responsible for upwards of 100 million deaths in the twentieth century. But people who are truly rational will conclude that religion nor atheism itself are responsible for such bloodshed. The real cause for these things is extremism. It may be religious extremism, atheistic extremism, or political extremism. One cannot simply take the abuse of something and call it the rule.
McGrath points out that when a society rejects God, it will invent transcendent alternatives to ground human values. During the French Revolution, this exact thing happened. The French purged God from their society and substituted Liberty as the moral authority. In fact, the pursuit of Liberty served as the justification for violence and extremism in France. For an example, French revolutionist Marie-Jeanne Roland dropped out of favor with the elitists and was brought to the guillotine to face execution on exaggerated charges. As she was about to die she declared, “Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name.” Again, the implication is clear. Extremism exists in all manner of thought and beliefs. All systems are capable of being abused. Asserting belief in God is the cause of massacres and bloodshed is misguided at best and deliberately misleading at worst.
Another instance where Mr. Haught’s thinking is flawed is his disbelief in anything supernatural. On his website he states, “Personally, I’ve waged a long crusade for rational, scientific thinking as an antidote for harmful supernaturalism.” He says that religion is a magical belief. He says there is no actual evidence for a deity! Say what? Apparently, while Mr. Haught is certainly well-read and intelligent, his breadth of knowledge is lacking on this last point. Alas, I do not have time to address that point right now. I want to focus on his disbelief in the supernatural.
We know through the empirical, scientific method that anything that begins to exist has a cause. We have absolutely zero evidence that anything can arise without a cause. The great skeptic, David Hume (one of Mr. Haught’s authorities, I’m sure) said that he “never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.” Furthermore, we also know that nothing can cause itself. For something to cause itself it must exist before it exists in order to cause itself to exist, which is absurdity at the highest order. Moreover, modern science has proven once and for all that the universe actually did have a cause.
Now, the universe is made up of all natural things and the universe began to exist. So then, it only stands to reason that since everything that begins to exist must have a cause, and since the universe did begin to exist, and since the universe cannot create itself, the cause of the universe cannot be natural, for nature cannot create itself. The only other option we have to describe the cause of the universe is to say that something outside of nature, something that transcends nature, something super-natural MUST have created the universe. Do you see that? When one follows the logic to its meaningful conclusion, there is no longer any room to doubt the supernatural. It’s illogical to do so.
It is pure poppycock to claim that the supernatural does not exist. The very best scientific evidence we have makes belief in the supernatural a requirement, lest one should live a life of perpetual denial of the facts. I suppose that since the supernatural is undeniable one must choose how they choose to describe it. I cannot think of an adequate word to describe something outside of nature other than……God.
I’ve been doing some reading about Daniel (from the Bible) in a book by the great Oxford University mathematician, philosopher of science, and Christian apologist, John Lennox entitled, “Against the Flow, The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism.” While studying the history, it is pointed out that in order to draw parallels with the Babylonian society of Daniel with today’s Western society, we must first understand the worldview of the ancient Babylonians.
Ancient Babylon was an ultra-modern, polytheistic, yet secular society. The people found meaning and salvation through science and technology, much like many people do today. After all, the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc 1:9). At this time of great prosperity and ultra-modern secularism, Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. He ordered many of the young men of Jerusalem back to Babylon to be stripped of their old way of life and be socially engineered into being a Babylonian and serving the king in various capacities. Daniel and three of his friends were just a few of the young men who were ripped from their families and taken to a foreign land to learn a new language, new literature, and all new customs.
Daniel found out real quick that these people did not believe in Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Daniel believed that Yahweh was the one true God, creator of heaven and earth. But after studying in Babylon (think about being away at college) he obviously had to study their gods. While they had many gods, the very beginning of the long line of gods began with a goddess named Nammu. She was the goddess who gave birth to all other goddesses.
I have three points I have learned about the time period, Nammu, and the view the ancient Babylonians had about her. I’ll share them and parallel it all with today’s world.
Nammu was dubbed the “Primordial Sea Goddess.” This name for her gives us some great clues related to how the ancient people viewed their gods. In all of ancient Sumerian and Greek mythology, the gods all seem to be dependent on a pre-existing form of matter. These gods seem to originate inside an already existing cosmos (in this case, the sea). This is hugely important in drawing the distinction between these phony gods and the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible clearly exists outside of the cosmos. He created the cosmos and therefore He transcends it altogether, just as the Bible teaches. This leads me into my next point.
The most vocal and militant evangelist of the New Atheism movement, Richard Dawkins, has been quoted many times saying this line: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” The problem with this is that Judeo-Christian monotheism is not some streamlined version of pagan polytheism. Christians believe in a God that cannot be compared to the gods Dawkins speaks about. They are two totally different categories and I’ll show why this is the case.
John Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the UK puts it nicely when he says, “We make a great mistake if we think of monotheism as a linear development from polytheism, as if people first worshiped many gods and then reduced them to one. Monotheism is something else entirely. The meaning of a system lies outside the system. Therefore the meaning of the universe lies outside the universe. Monotheism, by discovering the transcendental God, the God who stands outside the universe and creates it, made it possible for the first time to believe that life has a meaning, not just a mythic or scientific explanation.”
So this argument that atheists simply believe in one god less than a Christian sounds very clever but fails miserably to make its point. While all the other gods that humanity has ever believed in which Dawkins speaks about are products of heaven and earth, our Christian God actually created heaven and earth and exists wholly apart from them.
The third point I want to make draws a connection between the mythical goddess Nammu and the idea of macro-evolution. Remember from above that Nammu was called the “Primordial Sea Goddess.” Anyone with a basic familiarity with macro-evolution probably has ears that perk up when they hear the word “primordial.” Today’s evolutionists will use this word to form the term “primordial soup.” According to Webster, primordial soup is a mixture of organic molecules in evolutionary theory from which life on earth originated. Today’s evolutionary theorists, despite all the advances in science, et al, are still thinking the same way the ancients of Babylon thought thousands of years ago! Like today’s evolutionary theorists, the Babylonians thought life itself emerged from a primordial sea as evidenced by the primordial sea god, Nammu. Their old philosophy was much like that of today’s evolutionists in that they deified the basic forces of nature without ever knowing how to explain how the basic forces of nature could possibly originate on their own. While they derived all life from somehow pre-existing matter, the Christian God created the matter, it did not create Him!
Lennox notes in his book that “this idea that mass-energy is primitive, and all else derives from it, is the essence of the materialistic reductionism that tries to dominate Western society. On this view, mass-energy is subject to the laws of nature…and must have latent capacity to produce all we see around us…”
Isn’t it amazing that there truly is nothing new under the sun?
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” –Ecclesiastes 1:9.
The subject of this writing is something that comes up fairly often. The assertion made by the atheist to the Christian is that minds cannot exist without brains. We must be very concise in how we respond to this assertion. Christians do not necessarily claim that the mind does not use the brain and the brain does not use the mind. The claim a Christian should make is that the mind and the brain are two separate things. Claiming anything more or less than that is unnecessary. Let me define something before moving forward. For the purposes of this article, I am going to use the terms mind and soul interchangeably. The main thing we are looking at here is the differences in the material (the brain) and the immaterial (whether that’s the soul or the mind).
The first thing that must be pointed out when discussing this matter is that science cannot really do much of anything to help us answer the question. All science can do is show that X causes Y, or that Y depends on X. To illustrate this think about the self-driving cars being tested by Google. Let’s say you tell the car GPS where you want to go and sit back in your seat to relax until you arrive. So this car is required for your transportation. You are dependent on it. Likewise, the car is dependent on you to tell it what to do. You are not the car and the car is not you but you both need each other to reach your ends. Now let’s say the car breaks down and you are trapped inside. If you couldn’t escape the car, you would be dead for all intents and purposes. But, if you can remove yourself from the car, you can get around again. So, in this case your body is not the same thing as the mechanism that was transporting you. I want to show that souls (and minds) and physical bodies are like this. The soul (and mind) uses the body but when the body breaks down, you leave the body and still exist. Your self-consciousness lives in a body but is not the body. This is a basic description for how a Christian describes a soul.
Ok, back to showing how this matter cannot be answered by science. A well-known atheist by the name of Peter Atkins claims, “There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence.” This type of thinking is called “scientism,” which I consider a sort of religious viewpoint. If Atkins claim is actually true then there are many disciplines that we should toss out the window such as literature, poetry, art, music, ethics, and philosophy. How can science tell us that the Mona Lisa is a work of genius? Science can tell you that adding poison to someone’s drink can kill them but it cannot answer whether the act was right or wrong.
The great Oxford mathematician, philosopher of science, and bioethicist, John Lennox gives us an example of how science cannot deal with every aspect of existence. He tells the story of his Aunt Matilda baking a beautiful cake and the cake is submitted to top scientists for analysis. The nutritionists will calculate the calories and tell us its effect on the body. The biochemists will tells us about the structure of the fats and proteins in the cake. The chemists will describe the elements involved in their bonding. The physicists will analyze the cake in terms of fundamental particles. The mathematicians will offer equations to describe the behavior of those particles. After all of this can we say the cake is completely explained? We know the how of everything but suppose someone wanted to know why the cake was made. Aunt Matilda knows she made the cake for a purpose, but not a single scientist in the world can tell why she made it. Unless Aunt Matilda tells us, they are powerless. Science cannot answer questions of ultimate purpose. Moreover, it’s absurd to say that because Aunt Matilda made the cake for her nephew who just earned his degree, that we must dismiss purpose as an illusion because science cannot deal with it.
There are many things that are far outside of scientific explanation. Two big ones are laws of logic and laws of nature. Science could not even happen without the scientist presupposing laws of logic and laws of nature. C.S. Lewis once said, “Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.” Science simply cannot explain these things. The main point is that science deals with the materialistic world but there are clearly immaterial things in the world. To name a few: laws of logic, laws of nature, love, guilt, emotions, reason, etc. If everything can be reduced to materials as atheists insist, then the atheist has a huge problem on his hands.
Darwin knew this. He even admitted that his ideas on evolution are bunk if a human soul exists, that is to say an immaterial being that exists apart from the physical body. Macro evolution rests on a foundational presupposition that immaterial minds do not exist. That is why atheists must cling fervently to the idea that there is no mind, but just a moist brain. Perhaps Obama would refer to them as “bitter clingers.” If there is an immaterial mind, their dogma on evolution is false! It is presuppositional belief. Remember this!
Now that we know this topic is outside the realm of science we can discuss whether the mind and the brain are the same thing. One way we can know this is not the case is by showing the mind is not materialistic like the brain. If it was, then you would be an entirely different being today than you were 15 years ago. We know the brain changes molecules completely about every 7 to 15 years. So if your mind was completely material, it would not be the same as it was 15 years ago, but yet, you are the same being with the same personality.
Think about this: Let’s say scientists are experimenting on your brain and they prod it in different areas. They may prod one area and it conjures up a memory. They may prod another area and it may conjure up an image of your sister wearing a pink dress. Now, if your mind was just as physical as your brain, the scientist should not have to ask you what is in your mind during the experiment. It seems somehow, somewhere he could dig around in your brain and find the image of your sister in a pink dress. But he cannot. That’s silly. Furthermore, no one is aware of their physical brain. The subject would never say, “Oh, I just felt a molecule line up when you prodded and it corresponded to my sister in a pink dress.” So, you are unaware of your physical brain, but you are certainly aware of what’s going on inside you.
Humans can experience two types of sensations. One type is an awareness detected by the five senses. The other is awareness not detected by the senses such as fear, love, anger, and thoughts. These types of sensations can be described using words and can be true or false. Physical states cannot be true or false but thoughts can. Mental states in the mind do not have size or shape and are not spatially located. Everything about the brain runs counter to all of this. The brain is completely physical. A scientist may have more knowledge about my brain than I do but he can never have more knowledge about my thoughts, emotions, and mental state than I do. I know what my thoughts and feelings are but a scientist can never inspect these things.
There is no amount of information in my moist, physical brain that can tell a person who I am, my dispositions, and my personality. If I am just a brain then others ought to be able to know everything about me by prodding around in my brain.
If I am only a brain and do not have a mind, then all my behaviors, intentions, and decisions, are fixed by my brain, genes, and environmental input. Physical objects always, always, always obey natural laws and inputs, therefore if I am only a material brain then I am simply reacting to molecular reactions based on natural laws. If this were the case I would have absolutely ZERO grounds to claim free will. I would no longer be personally responsible for my actions, whether good or bad. And on top of that, I wouldn’t be able to freely type this article!! But, as the empirical evidence shows, free will does exist and it requires that we are more than just a physical brain reacting to the laws of nature. Therefore, I am a mind and soul that has a physical body.
When we are asked a specific question such as, “What is your middle name?” we can answer that question specifically. How can blind, repetitive laws of nature explain our ability to answer such a question? Should we think that molecules magically line up in the proper way by blind, repetitive laws to respond accurately? That’s the height of absurdity! We have the intelligence and intentionality to answer correctly. Mere physical objects cannot do things like this. A rock is just a rock. It does nothing but exist as a rock. If humans are simply materialistic beings, then why should we believe we have any more of an ability to reason than a rock?
Concerning the placebo effect, it’s always funny to see the atheists squirm with this one. To put it in basic terms, it’s mind over matter. A person in severe pain can be told he will be administered pain medicine. He believes this to be that case when the doctor actually gives him a sugar pill to swallow. Studies show that in up to 45% of patients, the mere thoughts in their mind of getting what they think is actual medicine will cause their pain to subside. Likewise, the mind can cause the body to deteriorate quickly when consumed by depressive thinking and mental stress. This makes no sense if the mind is physical. The publication New Scientist magazine listed the placebo effect as number ONE on its list of “13 Things That Don’t Make Sense.” Well of course it doesn’t make sense if you approach the matter from presuppositional Darwinian evolution dogma!
When Christians claim to have a soul separate from the body the atheists get very, very militant. And earlier I showed why. They think this is superstition when in fact they are the superstitious ones! They are the ones who believe their creator magically popped into existence out of nothing by nothing by chance. And by the way, chance is not a cause. It’s a way to describe mathematical possibilities or to gloss over ignorance on a particular matter that can’t be answered on atheism, a sort of “God of the gaps” for the atheists. Speaking of nothing, atheistic evangelist Daniel Dennett claims consciousness is an illusion. Now think about that for a minute. In order to detect an illusion you would have to see and know what is actually real! LOLOLOLOL. So apparently he exempts himself from his own theory. I wonder when he wrote that nonsense if he sat there and thought, “You know, every truth claim I believe and am writing is an illusion.” Let’s hear him talk about that on his book tour!
It’s important to point out that the notion of the mind being the same as the brain is not a mainstream scientific idea. This notion is popular in atheistic circles but there are plenty of scientists who don’t buy it, rightly so. Nobel Prize winning neuroscience professor John Eccles supported the theory that the mind is a separate entity from the brain and cannot be “reduced down to the brain cell processes.” That’s just one Nobel Prize winner. There are hundreds if not thousands of search engine results with some great peer-reviewed resources showing how science is baffled by this subject. And it will stay baffled for reasons we discussed. It’s really not a scientific issue, but I digress.
So this notion of mind and brain is very easy to discern. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of thought (pun intended). Remember, to be a consistent atheist, materialism must be true. To be a consistent atheist, the mind cannot be immaterial. Former world-famous atheist Antony Flew had something to say on the matter. He said, “Science cannot discover the self; the self discovers science.” Perhaps, that is partly why he became a former atheist.
Pastors Steve Holder and Daniel Weeks recently hosted a debate at their church, Bethel Church, in Goldsboro, NC. I attended the debate after receiving notice from a friend that his uncle was one of the debaters. His uncle, Mike Manuel, is a noted Evangelist and Apologist traveling the United States preaching Jesus Christ. The topic of the debate, “Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in the 21st Century?” peaked my interest. My friend and I desired to attend and lend support to his uncle. Mr. Manuel was to argue in the affirmative. His opponent, Dr. Richard White, a science instructor at Wayne Early Middle College High School in Goldsboro, was to argue in the negative.
The following account of the debate is not meant to be a point-by-point account of every word that was uttered. I’m attempting to provide the highlights while also striving to give the reader a comprehensive view of the positions staked out by both debaters. My reporting will be offered in a “note-taking” format so as to make this account pointed and concise. Because of this, do not be alarmed to see points not placed into proper sentence format. Think of it as reading off my personal note sheets because that is essentially what it is.
This account will concentrate solely on the testimony given during the debate. In light of this, I intend to remain objective and unbiased. I will simply record things as they occurred to the best of my ability. I desire to editorialize the event in order to offer my personal thoughts and critiques. Because this is a long post, I will offer an editorialized review of the debate in a follow up post.
The debate lasted approximately 2 hours and the text below summarizes its content. The text can be read much faster than it would take to listen to the two hour debate, but after reading the text, I encourage you to listen to the debate which can be found here.
Background information of the debaters:
Mike Manuel: Mr. Manuel is a noted Christian Evangelist and Apologist based in West Virginia who travels extensively throughout the United States preaching that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Before Mike became a Christian he turned to a life of drugs & alcohol and became agnostic while attending Marshall University. His road to salvation began when he reexamined the things he had been taught, which he found to be fallacious. In 1975 he had an encounter with Jesus Christ and the Lord began to prepare him for a life of ministry. Mike pastored for 2 ½ years before transitioning to full time evangelism. He is an ordained minister through New Life Church, Huntington, WV of which Dr. Darrell Huffman serves as the pastor. He is the Vice President of Victory Ministries Incorporated, a ministry fellowship founded and chaired by Dr. Darrell Huffman. He is the National Director for Evangelism for the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International, based in Dallas, TX. Mike also serves as an international Board Member of the Full Gospel Fellowship. Additionally, Mike is the founder of Revelation Power Ministries, a ministry centered on spreading the Word of God. Mike has seen many people saved, filled, healed, and delivered through the anointed preaching of the Word of God.
Richard White: Mr. White does not have a website but he provided some of his background information during the debate. As noted above, Dr. Richard White is a science instructor in Goldsboro, NC. Mr. White was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin’s disease while he was attending Purdue University. He was treated with chemotherapy which utilized a drug found naturally in a flower grown locally in the area. One side effect of his treatment is that it damaged his heart. Mr. White is waiting on a new technology that he hopes will repair and heal his heart. Because of his medical experiences related to the use of the drug found in the flower, he became interested in medicinal botany which serves as his primary area of research. He is interested in science for other’s benefit and to educate curious young people.
“Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in the 21st Century?”
The format of the debate was that a question was posed to a debater so that he could offer a 5 minute response. His opponent would offer a 5 minute rebuttal and then the original person to which the question was posed could offer an additional 5 minute response. The questions to be asked were submitted in advance my Mr. White and Mr. Manuel. The final questions were chosen by the moderator, Pastor Weeks.
The first question (directed to Mr. White) read, “How do you interpret the phrase, ‘viable means of origin?” Mr. White thinks a particular model of origins is relative to a person’s worldview (Christian or scientific). He bases science on empirical data, lab testing, and hypothesizing, and relies on fossil evidence for things we cannot experience. Claims science has no business dealing with “why” questions but should only deal with “how” questions. We can only use what we observe. Abruptly proceeds into age-of-the-earth issues and describes how the Green River shale formation in the western US provides evidence for an old earth. Nevertheless, Mr. White contends that there should be two non-competing ways to view life. Example: if your car breaks down you may call a mechanic or you may pray. The two solutions should not compete, they’re simply two different approaches.
Mr. Manuel responds to the question by saying he believes science and the Bible are simpatico. We need the scientific approach and need to approach things in light of reality. Contends a designed universe had a beginning and a builder much like buildings have a beginning and a builder. Claims some scientists protest the term “Big Bang” because it resembles terminology used in Genesis. Says scientists claim that the universe is expanding, if you track the expansion backward, we arrive at single speck. Scientists get agitated when asked the origin of the speck. Cites the 2nd law of thermodynamics and that the universe is losing energy and cannot be infinite. Design evidence is everywhere. Uses example that a criminal leaves traces of himself at a crime scene. No one ever says the crime scene just appeared out of nowhere. Someone was behind it. Describes how the first two verses of the Bible describe the five terms of science: time, energy, space, matter, and motion. Leans toward an old earth and pre-adamite society. Says creation is plausible, rational, reasonable, compelling, and persuasive.
Mr. White discusses that scientists cannot investigate whether God created in a certain number of days, the notion is not in the scientific realm, we are left with what we can observe. Admits “something” started blowing things apart. Uses example that scientists have no interest in why the Ebola virus is here, but only interested in how it works so they can stop it. Science cannot use origins to make scientific models.
The second question (directed to Mr. Manuel) read, “Since whatever begins to exist has a cause, and no effect occurs without a cause, wouldn’t there have to be an uncaused first cause?” Mr. Manuel says logic and reasoning leads to that conclusion. Says Christians need to be able to articulate this (1 Peter 3:15). Example: if you have an empty steel chamber and leave it for 100 years and check it again, it remains empty. There are laws of causation. Mr. Manuel then discusses the anthropic principle and how the universe is fine tuned. If any of the constants in the universe were changed slightly, we would not exist. Asserts that scientists use objective laws to make claims about anything. Tells how the human genome was decoded in 2000 and that our DNA provides the info that will determine our features in advance. Shows how the Bible already talked about this long before in Psalm 139:15, 16. Says explosions (Big Bang) do not create order, they always create chaos. There must be a master designer.
Mr. White says he is not equipped to answer the question, can only infer. Theologians can say God began things but scientists cannot test that in a laboratory. Agrees with Mr. Manuel on the complexity of life. Offers a naturalistic explanation by saying some viruses are considered intelligent because sometimes they will not kill their host because that would prohibit further propagation. Claims complexity was built over time. Admits complexity cannot be duplicated in a lab. Is quoted as saying it is possible God could have started all of this but it’s not a scientific answer, it’s theological. One approach is not better than the other, they are just different.
Mr. Manuel responds by saying the reason science can make predictions is because of present order and design. Moves on to say Cambrian period complex life forms appeared with no predecessors and no links to other life forms. Says Richard Dawkins sees order and complexity in the fossil record but there’s no history of its evolution. Speaks about Darwin’s doubt and fear of no transitional species in the fossil record. We see variety and adaptation but not special crossover. Debunks punctuated equilibrium and panspermia. Talks about in Greek mythology, they thought men held the Earth on their backs. Says Bible told us years before science that the Earth hangs on nothing (Job 26:7). Science didn’t figure it out until 1650.
The third question (directed to Mr. White) read, “Even the most basic biological mechanisms that we know are irreducibly complex. Nothing can be removed without disabling the mechanism. The individual parts are useless without the whole. The bacteria flagellum is an example. It has a whip-like part that allows it to move-much like an outboard motor-except this motor is water cooled. It features a universal joint, has gears for forward and reverse. It can reach speeds of 100,000 rpm’s, and can do self-assembly and repair. It has precision and economy of construction. Do you feel examples like the bacteria flagellum suggest intelligence? If not, how did it happen?” Mr. White claims there are many transitional forms and that we see them from fishes to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to mammals. He claims they are all through the fossil record. Says humans share genes with bacteria. Says gradualism is simply a model. Says punctuated equilibrium is a warranted claim. Admits he doesn’t know how things became more complex. Cites the now famous Penn U. RNA experiment.
Mr. Manuel responds by saying the bacteria flagellum suggests intelligence. Why do we not have animals that are ¾ man and ¼ ape? Says punctuated equilibrium came about because transitional fossils were never found. Says mutations never create new features or appendages but only modified what was there. Cites example of a scientist cutting the tales off mice for repeated generations but the descendants continued to grow tales. Discusses fish growing wings and flopping on the seashore…they won’t last long. Refers to the Penn U. RNA experiment and how the experiment was bunk because of the oxidation process and Dr. Miller admitted it. Says men and apes are 98% related but men and earthworms are over 90% related, this shows commonality in the material but not the arrangement. You can have 1000000 or .1000000. The material is the same but the arrangement has huge implications. Darwin’s finches simply adapted.
Mr. White claims evolution is not linear. Cites examples of transitional features in facial features of apes and humans. Says he’s not challenging that intelligent beings started the process. He is only interested in how it works.
The fourth question (directed to Mr. Manuel) read, “Are scientific and religious views really that different and do you fell we must choose one view or the other?” Says they’re not incompatible. Says claims against Bible are often faulty and cites archaeological facts. Provides facts about how scientists have repeatedly and falsely attempted to construct “men” from the fossils of animals. Warns to take scientific reconstruction with a grain of salt because of their faulty track record. Talks about whimsical climate predictions…in the 1970’s there was an imminent ice age approaching, now in 2014 we are told we are going to burn up. Says science once thought the stars could be numbered but cites how the Bible has always said they’re innumerable. Says overall, despite energy bursts from the sun, the earth is losing energy. Shows how the Bible teaches this in Psalm 102:25, 26. Says there is no incompatibility with the Bible and genuine science. The evidence points to an intelligent designer.
Mr. White partially agrees and says there’s no need for conflict. Says science underpins technology. Says some scientists can get nasty. He looks at life through a window of science. God’s window should be in Sunday school. People should decide for themselves which window to look through. Mutually exclusive. Desires to teach children how to look through the science window. His education statement is, “I don’t care what you believe, I care what you understand.”
Mr. Manuel says naturalists and evolutionists have monopolized the educational system. Only one view is taught even though many advanced scientists believe in creation. Don’t compromise beliefs. Admits that his side has some ogres. Says scientists feel like they know more than others. There is monolithic group think in the halls of academia. Many teachers want students to believe what they believe. Says creationists are afraid to speak out. Moves on to talk about all laws have a law giver. Order doesn’t come from chaos, life always comes from preexisting life. Yet are told an amoeba came about on its own and divided itself. He asks how male and female developed.
The fifth question (directed to Mr. White) read, “How can we build bridges between people of differing views in terms of how the world was created? More specifically, the Bible teaches us that God created the world. If this is not true then what the Bible says about Jesus is also possibly not true, therefore the topic of creation is of profound importance. Is it possible for us all to adhere to what we believe and yet come to some type of manageable disagreement on the topic of creation?” Mr. White says the topic is important. Says he doesn’t want to punish students for their beliefs, but doesn’t teach about beliefs, teaches understanding. Says religion extends itself beyond things we can touch and measure. Pursue curiosity.
Mr. Manuel says we are to love people we disagree with. He says scientific hypothesizing extends beyond what we can see…that is beyond empiricism. Cites Arthur Keith’s forward to the 100th edition of Origin of the Species and how he said evolution is unproved and unprovable, we believe because the only other alternative is unbelievable, and that’s creation. Christians should reach out and pray for unbelievers. Build bridges but still retain our faith. Says we need God and creation in the public domain. Cites 3 different textbooks saying earth is 5 billion, 7 billion, and 12 billion years old. Scientists often just say things. Carbon 14 dating dated oysters to be 27,000 years old but they were still alive. They assume carbon breaks down at the same rate as now. Hopes this debate is building bridges and says Mr. White is a nice man.
Mr. White says scientists live with uncertainty and second-guessing. Claims creationists are not in mainstream science. He says publish or perish.
I’m not going to post each audience question but rather give a summary of the answers that each debater offered.
Mr. White’s answers to the audience: Believes the earth is old, cites Pangea. Read the Bible when he was young. Raised Presbyterian/Methodist. Wife is Catholic. Likes to explore in the woods. Says Bible has good standards for living. Beliefs do not disqualify or qualify his friends. Lived a “free” college life. His mother arranged an exorcism to be performed on him when he was younger. Admits not knowing how to reach God at a Campus Crusade retreat, and can’t explain why he can’t reach God. Will not teach ID because he says it’s not based on reputable research.
Mr. Manuel’s answers to the audience: Leans toward an old earth view. Says evolution needs lots of time and the chance of evolution happening are so high and the evidence for evolution does not add up. Believes in absolute moral values. Kept pet insects as a child and was very inquisitive. Says most of the world’s greatest scientists believed in God. Says many don’t want to believe in God because of rocky relationships with fathers, especially children of preachers. Naturalists often speculate, “could have” or “should have.” Says Christians should hold on to true science.
Stay tuned for my personal critique of the debate…
Richard Dawkins can be referred to as the “pope” of atheism because he is essentially the leader of the pack of all the young up-and-comers in the faddish “new atheism” movement. In many of the encounters I have with atheists, they will often bring up his name or say something that he has said or written. I know this because I have read a portion of Dawkins’ work and I recognize it when I hear it.
This man is a dangerous fellow to follow. All one needs to do is follow his Twitter account to see that this man holds a nasty position on such things as the value of human life (basically none), the dangers of sexual child abuse (it’s not all that bad, he was abused himself), and religion itself (it is abusive to children). At least he is consistent, haha! Richard Dawkins is a dangerous man and more theists need to call him out for the garbage he spews into people.
Dawkins and his disciples consistently commit ad hominem arguments, that is to regard the theist as stupid, uncivilized, backward, old-fashioned, indoctrinated, uneducated, and the like. It’s fine to hold these kind of opinions but the new atheists will often rely on these assertions to attempt to prove their belief system, hence the ad hominem. The new atheists consider themselves intelligent, rational, enlightened, brilliant, and open-minded (ha!). I think Dawkins himself is guilty of some of the very things he accuses about the theists.
Dawkins often commits the logical fallacy of “begging the question.” That is to say, he will claim as fact the very thing that needs proving. He claims that religion is primitive and stupid and that Darwinism is intelligent and enlightened without providing clear evidence of such. Dawkins never supposes one can be indoctrinated with atheism. He often claims that a person born in a non-western culture is often not Christian, therefore Christianity is a product of culture. He seems to not understand that the same claim can be leveled against his own atheism, for he was born and raised in an extreme atheistic culture, the United Kingdom.
Dawkins truly thinks atheists are smarter and more intelligent than theists. I beg to differ. I’ve asked the opinions of atheists as it relates to the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Every single one of them side with the Palestinians and consider Israel to be baby killers. Now any free thinking, objective, informed individual knows it’s true that Palestinians place children in harms way. It is a proven fact. Yet, the atheists choose to be gullible to the lies of these evil people, those who seek to destroy Israel. Another example is the atheists gullibility to Communism of the 20th century and Marxism before it. A great measure of atheists remain solid believers in such nonsense, even after watching it fail time and time again (USSR, Germany, etc.). The point is, atheists can often be idiots just like a theist can be an idiot.
In short, Dawkins bases his faith solely on materialistic evidence. He pushes the lie that micro-evolution is clear evidence for macro-evolution, which is most certainly a lie. He thinks objective morality came about without a need for God but he never can seem to provide testable evidence. He claims as fact the universe came from nothing without the tiniest shred of evidence. He uses reason, has consciousness, and uses laws of logic, all of which have no measure of materialistic evidence to prove their existence.
I submit to you that the theist who believes in a creator God may use philosophical arguments for God to parallel their faith with sound reasoning, but they ultimately believe based on real evidence for the historicity of the Bible, Jesus Christ, his claims, and his miracles. It’s easy for the theist to use science and reason to prove the creation account. It’s easy for the theist to prove the origin of the laws of logic, consciousness, the existence of objective morality, etc. Theism is not a mechanisim to fill in gaps of the unknown. Theism is based on very real, solid evidence found in the natural world and through history.
If you’re unsure about God’s existence, I promise you that if you have a true and pure desire to seek Him to see if He is real, he will reveal himself to you. Sincerely pray and seek the Lord and he will not fail you. His existence is evidenced all around us through His awesome creation. Sincerely seek Him!
In the final part of a three part series describing how we cannot trust the words of some leading scientists, I want to focus in on Lawrence Krauss and specifically his book, “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.” All book references refer to the latest known paperback edition of Mr. Krauss’s book. This post could get somewhat deep and for that I apologize. I want to keep it as clear and simple as possible.
On page XXIII Mr. Krauss admits that we do not know whether the universe is infinite but he suggests that it could be. The mere suggestion is ridiculous as a true infinite can not be crossed. In other words, if the past is infinitely long, then we would never arrive at today. To illustrate it, let’s say you line up some dominoes on a table. Now choose a domino somewhere in the middle and allow that domino to represent the present moment. Now assume that your line of dominoes goes on to infinity in both directions. Let’s allow the right side of the line of dominoes to represent the future and the left side will represent the past. If we tip the “present moment” domino to the right (the future) and assume there are infinitely many dominoes actually to it’s right, then we can safely assume they will fall for infinity (proof of a possible eternity). Now imagine if the dominoes to the left (the past) continued into the past for infinity. If that were the case, we would never arrive at the “present moment.” As J.P. Moreland puts it, it would be like trying to jump out of an infinitely deep bottomless pit. So this shows that the universe cannot be eternal, it had to have a beginning. To even entertain the notion of an infinite universe is just strange.
Also on page XXIII, Krauss discusses why there is something rather than nothing. He says this question is usually discussed in the religious or philosophical areas. But he claims this question can be resolved scientifically. But in order for him to attempt this he MUST presuppose things that are impossible to explain using the scientific method such as laws of math, laws of logic, metaphysical truths, ethical judgments, aesthetic judgments, and indeed science itself. All of these things are a slave to philosophy. You cannot run an experiment to determine these things. They are explained by philosophical presuppositions. So the point is, science cannot be the only method to discover objective truth. Why? Because the claim itself is not a scientific claim, but a philosophical one! The funny thing about this is at least he admits on page 149 that he assumes the laws of physics. This admission is so huge, that it undermines his entire book!!
Krauss then proclaims that the scientific answers we have obtained “ALL suggest getting something from nothing is not a problem. Indeed something from nothing may have been required for the universe to come into being.” Wow, what a quote. My first observation is to note his admission that the universe came into being. Earlier, he posited that the universe could be infinite. Hmmmm. Secondly, getting something from nothing is just bizarre. On page XXIV, he attempts to define nothing and accuses theologians of constantly changing it definition. Theologians and apologists usually define it as “no thing” or “non-being” or “the absence of anything.” He then says theologians are intellectually bankrupt and outrageously states that “surely ‘nothing’ is every bit as physical as something.” Are you kidding me? This is akin to what atheists accuse theists of doing, and that is using the “God of the Gaps” silliness.
Another important observation is that Krauss always places the word nothing inside quote marks such as, “nothing.” What this means is that he really doesn’t mean “no thing” at all. He claims nothing is defined as “empty space.” But any third grade student knows that space is indeed something! Time is also something which seems to be assumed by Krauss. The following gets a little difficult to process but it’s important: Whatever caused the first event could not have been inside of time. It had to be timeless or transcend time. Suppose an event happens such as a tree blowing and it falls. If this occurs then we know time already exists. Both the cause and effect are in time. Whatever caused the first event had to first create time. Krauss wants to presuppose that time is already there.
On page XXV he calls theists intellectually lazy. That’s just a ridiculous rant such that a twelve year old would do.
On page 143 he admits that science is only interested in the “how” questions and not the “why” questions. THAT my friends is intellectually lazy! Moreover, to dismiss the “why” questions right off the top is to say, “you know what, I’m going to dismiss the possibility of an intelligent designer before anything else.” Absurd and lazy!
On page 161, after determining that nothing=empty space, he just suggests that we should “allow for the merging of quantum mechanics and general relativity….” So all of the sudden out of nowhere these two things just come into existence? He admits later down the page that allowing the rules of quantum mechanics is a “tricky” possibility. Tricky indeed. It seems to this reader that Krauss is trying to trick his audience.
All of these things Mr. Krauss brings up are very interesting to explore and we should never stop exploring them. But it is my belief that based on the best possible evidence and the use of sound logic, the study of these matters will ultimately lead us to God, the uncaused cause. He is uncaused because he has never operated by the limits of time and space. It’s possible he may have entered time, but he is not bound by it. In other words, if a man creates a lake he may enter it to swim but he is not bound to stay in it. The relationship of God and time are similar.
There are strong cases to be made for God being the first cause as opposed to “nothing” being the first cause. Very briefly, design is evidence for a personal cause to the universe. When my wife prepares the supper table, I can see that she has the ability to set it in a precise way. It doesn’t just become that way out of nothing. It took intelligence. It took ability and intention to set the table. Also, there is order and fine-tuning all over the universe. Science has a major problem in this area because science ALWAYS presupposes order before it can explain anything at all. The only way science can explain order is to cite other examples of order. It’s circular. This is very important to understand. Furthermore, information in DNA is great evidence for a creator. DNA isn’t just randomness which would exude no structure. DNA provides information. Information is orderly and provides instruction such as the words in this blog. DNA contains VAST amounts of information similar to the way humans express information as instruction. This is great evidence for a creator.
There are many more ways to think about this subject, but it’s important to see why we simply cannot always take the words of scientists at face value. As we have seen in the three articles, there is usually some hidden “gotcha” presupposition or oftentimes just outright lies. We need to learn to detect these things so that we can become better thinkers.
I hope you enjoyed the three part series. As time moves forward, I want to shift our stance from a defensive one to an offensive one and describe the vast amount of evidence for why someone should believe in God. I will still give defenses anytime the need arises. If there is anything you’d like for me to write about as it relates to Christian apologetics, please let me know! I’m enrolled in Biola University’s Apologetics Program and I have learned a great deal that has been added to my near decade of personal study on these matters.