A Child Primed to be a Defender

A few nights ago I was driving home with my eight year old son. As I drove along all of the sudden the entire city went dark. It was a power outage. Fortunately, the power was restored a few seconds later and the city became bright again. My son loves to ask lots of questions, so naturally he wanted to know why the outage occurred. I told him the possibilities and then the following exchange happened.

My son: “Daddy, when the power went off, why didn’t the lights in our car go off too?”

Me: “That’s a great question. Our lights stayed on because our car is not attached to the power grid. Our car produces its own power. It sort of has its own power plant under the hood.”

My son: “Tell me how it works, Daddy.”

I explained to my son that the flammable gas in the gas tank interacts with a spark plug which causes the engine to fire up. I told him how the parts in the engine begin to spin which in turn causes a belt and pulley system to circulate. I taught him that the belt turns the alternator and the energy created by the alternator keeps the battery charged and the power in the battery causes the lights in our car to function.

My son’s next statement is what caused my to smile. He said, “Yeah Daddy, and if one of those parts are missing, our car will not work.”

I was stunned to realize that my eight year old son understood what scientists refer to as Irreducible Complexity. This is something that was introduced by the Lehigh University biochemist, Michael Behe. In his book Darwin’s Black Box, Behe argues that certain systems are irreducibly complex. The example he uses is the bacteria flagellum.

behe_and_book
Michael Behe

To put it simply, he contends that there are necessary parts that interact with other necessary parts and if just one of the parts are missing, the organism could not live or survive. Just as my son pointed out, the functionality of a car is an easy to understand example. There are certain necessary parts (spark plugs, ignitor, coolant, etc.) in which all of them must be present in order for the car to function. If one part is missing, the car will not operate.

What are the implications as it relates to a balanced, logical worldview? Irreducible Complexity creates a world of problems for Darwinian Evolutionary Theory. All living things are irreducibly complex, even at the cellular level. This means that living organisms likely cannot evolve from less complex organisms through slight, successive changes over a long period of time. Take the human body for example. The human body must, in all cases, have a heart, a liver, kidneys, and other essential organs in order to function. Under Darwinian macro-evolution, human bodies apparently evolved these parts at different times over eons of time. This is just nonsense in my opinion. We have absolutely no evidence to show this and we certainly cannot repeat it.

All of this apparent design and dependent functionality points toward some kind of intelligent design. Just as John Lennox points out, a car does not exist based solely on the existence of natural laws. Clearly there is design at play when one looks at a car. There are parts that must function together for the machine to work. Based on our experience and repeatable trials, we know these parts and their corresponding functionality did not arise from natural forces. So the car’s existence and functionality not only depends on natural laws (internal combustion, etc.) but clearly there is some kind of intelligent design involved. Frank Turek summarizes it nicely. He says, “No matter how much you learn about [natural laws], the need for a designing engineer will never change. In other words, learning more about how [a car] works should never cause you to conclude there was no designing engineer.”

We can learn all we want about natural laws and we should never cease to do that. But we also should not toss out the other obvious elephant in the room. Irreducible Complexity is a strong argument for the existence of some kind of intelligent designer.

As we drove along, I told my son that he had a clear understanding of Irreducible Complexity. His eyes got big and he said, “Daddy, that’s a big word. I don’t even know what that means.” I told him that he just explained to me what it means and to not be intimidated by big words. Then we reviewed it and now he is very clear about what it means. Because of his age, I did not relate it apologetically, but you can be sure that I will be building on this foundation as he grows.

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The New Testament: The Most Reliable Ancient Writings Known To Man.

When judged by modern, secular standards and when held against all other writings of the ancient world, the New Testament can be described as being extremely reliable.
If the New Testament documents are not reliable, then neither are any ancient manuscripts because the NT historicity is far more plausible and provable than any other ancient text.
I would predict that if the NT was not the Christian Word of God and considered to be a mere fairy tale such as Homer’s writings, then it would hailed as the most reliable text of the premodern world. 

Denominations, Speaking in Tongues, and Atheism

I just read an article posted on Facebook reporting that the Southern Baptist Convention will now permit its missionary members to exercise the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. This practice was actually banned by the SBC ten years ago. Click here for the article.

This propelled me to consider the different Christian denominations and the diversity of friends I have who seem to come from all kinds of Christian backgrounds. I’m friends with Baptists, Pentecostalists, Bapticostals, Methodists, Catholics, and others. I even met an Amish guy recently and we had a lengthy conversation about our views of Christianity. That was really fun. He (Clay) was a great guy to talk to. As for me, I consider myself strongly non-denominational for many reasons, but that’s not my point here.

Sometimes an atheist or skeptic will use denominational groups within Christianity as an argument against the truth of Christianity. They will claim that their differences and disagreements are proof that Christianity is some kind of man-made fiction. I think I have a good way to answer this charge by using a sports analogy similar to one used by John Lennox.

I have a four-year-old who is playing his first year in T-ball. I’m an assistant coach on his team. Among the coaches on the team, we all have our own personality and our own ways of teaching the kids. While not changing who we are, we sort of conform to the way the head coach does things and we have been able to really coach these kids to be some really good, young players.

As the season has proceeded we have played several different opponents and each team’s coaches have a different style of coaching and you can see it on the field. Some coaches are very passive and overly nice. Some coaches scream a lot (that wouldn’t be me…or would it?). One team has been coached to pester the other team, distract the batters, be loud, and talk smack. And other teams are absolutely out of control with no order or discipline. I can even detect the early stages of rivalries forming. Some teams just don’t like other teams for some reason or another. It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way humanity and sports works. Differences arise.

But aside from all the glaring differences in the makeup of the various teams, we are all doing one thing and it’s the same thing: playing baseball. The Christian church is a lot like this.

As Tim Keller writes about in his book, “The Reason for God,” Christianity has always been able to cross cultures and cross any kind of human personality and still be a message of truth and good news to humanity. So yeah, there are many denominations. But that in no way disproves the truth of Christianity. At worst it may show that Christians make up a broad spectrum of people with different cultural backgrounds and different worship preferences. But at best, it shows how malleable Christianity can be without compromising its message. Christianity is confronted with a wide diversity of people all over the globe. It reaches the ultra-spiritual African tribal people, to the pantheistic Asian people, to the people influenced by the “Enlightenment” of the western European world and in America, and many other cultures.

So remember this when someone tries to say denominational groups prove Christianity false. That’s simply wishful thinking and the charge proves absolutely nothing.

Thoughts on Morality and Slavery

I believe in objective morality which is the reality that behaviors are moral or immoral regardless of a person’s subjective opinion about the behavior. 

An evolutionist would say (among other things) that morality has evolved and is constantly changing. They love to use slavery as an example. They will cite the abolition of slavery and say, “see, there is proof that morality evolves.”
I do not accept that notion. Just because a group of people have an opinion that slavery is permitted does not make it right. The Nazi’s thought it was permissible to murder Jews, but at the Nuremberg Trials, the world decided otherwise. Everyone accepted the fact that morality is grounded in something objective. 
The bottom line is that accepted morality is quite different from objective morality. The belief that people once thought slavery was permissible never actually made slavery permissible or moral. It was always wrong. 
Moral law is never created. It is only discovered. 

Quick thought

Oh sure, we can feed our minds only one side of a story and if that’s all we ever hear then that’s all we’ll ever believe. I’ve spent five years investigating and studying two worldviews i.e. Christianity and a disbelief in God. 

After spending time with all the evidence, (not just the evidence I wanted to hear), the only logical conclusion I can come to is that disbelief in a Creator God is almost always a very deep-seated, willful, volitional decision, based on experiences that make belief a tough thing to hold. Disbelief is rarely seated exclusively in scientific evidences, though that’s the excuse that’s the easiest to pass off. 

And you know what? Satan wants nothing more than that. Nothing more. 

Daniel, Babylon, and the Ancient Primordial Soup

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Michael Shermer is Confused

I’m watching a live debate between Frank Turek (a Christian) and Michael Shermer (an atheist). Before the debate, Shermer was peddling (he retweeted it) the photo in this blog post.  

 

The problem is that Shermer thinks this is a good argument against God. Thinking Christians will actually agree with the statement in the photo! Indeed, no one needs religion to be moral or to determine right from wrong. I don’t know of a single person who would argue such a silly position. 

A person can be far away from God and be a good, moral person. 

The difference is that they have no way to ground a standard of morality without stealing it from God. 

An atheist has no way to justify the fact that lying or stealing is actually wrong. On an atheistic worldview, these things are based on social constructs and mere opinions. What if opinions change? 

I’m surprised someone like Shermer would be so shallow in his thinking to not realize this kind of silliness. I have written in more depth on this subject on this website if you want to read more on it.