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.
I’ve noticed how many liberal, skeptical-minded nonbelievers tend to have strong convictions as it relates to protecting the environment, liberating the poor, eradicating diseases, and justice for the oppressed. All these things are worthy causes, though we all hold different methods by which we think they should be addressed.
I also notice some glaring contradictions with this kind of thinking among skeptical non-believers. These non-believers create an inconsistent worldview for themselves. They like to say things like, “all senses and convictions can be explained through biological evolution.” They readily admit that since we have evolved via natural selection, we can’t completely trust our own senses. They say our belief in God is simply a belief that has helped us survive, not that there is an actual God. They think beliefs, even our false beliefs, are beneficial to our survival and that is how our false belief in God originated. Maybe so. But here’s the rub with this kind of thinking: If we cannot trust our faculties as it relates to the falsity or truth about God, then why should we trust our faculties as it relates to anything at all, including macro-evolutionary science? To put it another way, if our cognitive faculties tell us only what we need to survive, not about what is actually true, why trust those faculties about anything at all? What a glaring contradiction!! Couldn’t it be then that this idea of macroevolution is simply an imaginary one that has merely assisted our human development? Why trust it?
We know God exists not because we have tangible proof, but because of cumulative clues that point very strongly toward His existence. We have the Cosmological Argument about causation of the universe. We have the teleological argument regarding the undeniable design features of the universe. We have the Anthropic Principle, which describes the delicate fine-tuning of the universe to allow life to survive. We have the regularity of nature. We have the existence of undeniable, objective moral values and duties. All of these things (plus many more) cumulatively form a solid basis for God’s existence.
But there are a few more things to add to the list. Remember what I wrote in the first paragraph. Many people have a very deep conviction to protect the environment, stand up for the oppressed, help the poor, and eradicate disease. As I pointed out, under a macro evolutionary view of the world, we have absolutely no reason to trust our convictions in these areas. After all, under this view, how can we trust anything we think to be true? Why should we carry a strong conviction about environmental issues? A Darwinist, if he is to be consistent, should admit it’s all just an illusion. The point is this, if there is no God, we should not trust any of our cognitive faculties at all.
But the problem for the Darwinist is that he does trust his cognitive faculties in areas he is most passionate about! He goes on about his every day life using his cognitive faculties and trusting them probably more than he trusts anything else. He has no real basis to say nature will go on regularly but he goes right on benefiting from nature’s regularity. He has no ultimate purpose for his social causes but he goes right on crusading for them.
However, if we believe God exists, we have every right to trust our cognitive faculties. We have every right to know the list of evidences for God is actually real. We can ground all the questions about the regularity of nature, moral obligations, helping the poor, or caring about God’s creation. Believers can crusade for justice and environmental stewardship because we have ultimate purpose in doing so.
Just like the bible states in Romans 1:19-20, everyone knows God is there. But isn’t it funny that those who deny him cannot actually live that way consistently?
It’s probably safe to say that everyone has experienced thoughts of doubt concerning God and if he is really there. I have had my own doubts from time to time. Unfortunately, my doubting was sometimes labeled “sin.”
“How could a committed Christian ever doubt God?” they would ask. I guess they thought that if I had some shred of doubt that I had backslidden or I wasn’t really a Christian. That kind of response to a doubter can have devastating effects.
One of my favorite biographies is Walter Isaacson’s account of the life of Steve Jobs. Early in the book, Isaacson recounts that Jobs’ parents wanted him to be raised with a religious upbringing, so they took him to church. When Jobs was thirteen years old he came across a copy of Life magazine that had on its cover a picture of two starving children is Biafra. Jobs had been taught in church that God is all-knowing. He took the magazine to his pastor and asked if God knew about these starving children and what would happen to them. The pastor responded by saying that God knew about those children and that it was beyond Jobs’ understanding. This was not a sufficient answer for young Jobs. His pastor didn’t acknowledge Jobs’ doubts about God head-on. As a result, Jobs walked away from Christianity as a thirteen year old boy and the rest is history.
We can learn at least two things from this story. One, how not to deal with the doubts of young people and two, always being prepared to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15). Jobs’ pastor had a golden opportunity to tell young Steve how we may not have all the answers to why bad things happen to innocent people, but Christianity does offer the best explanation to the origin and nature of the universe, the human condition, sin and evil in the world, and the redemptive power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Timothy Keller makes this remark about doubt: “People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” We have good reasons to probe our doubts. After doing this we may learn to respond to tough questions. Perhaps Jobs’ pastor didn’t know how to respond to Jobs’ doubts because he never investigated the matter for himself. It’s hard to say. But one things remains, Steve Jobs was not in error to question why bad things happen under the watchful eye of our Creator God.
I want to focus on a couple of questions. Should we trust our doubts and can doubts actually help our faith to grow instead of hindering it? To address the first question we must understand that all doubts are a set of alternate beliefs. For example, a person may doubt Christianity is true because he has an alternate belief that there can’t be just one true religion. But notice that the person’s doubt rests on an assumption that there cannot be only one true religion. How does the person know for sure there cannot be only one true religion? In other words, the person’s doubt is really a leap of faith. So, the point is this: if you have doubts about Christianity, put your doubts through the same rigorous tests as you do Christianity and you may find that your doubts aren’t very solid after all.
The question about our doubts helping us to grow our faith is found in the Bible. John the Baptist was a friend of Jesus and a mighty man of God. He was a prophet, a preacher, and the one who boldly announced Jesus’ arrival as the messiah. He saw the Spirit of God rest on Jesus, marking him as the Savior. John the Baptist had tremendous evidence for belief in Jesus as God incarnate. In fact, he was thrown into prison for his convictions.
Matthew chapter 11 reveals the doubting side of John the Baptist. He is sitting in prison with lots of time to think about things. After all the experiences he had since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he had the audacity to send his friends to ask Jesus if he was really the Messiah. Jesus’ response to John’s doubting is very important. Jesus didn’t condemn him or make fun of John. He told John’s friends to report to him the things they had just heard and seen–the blind seeing, the lame walking, the lepers cured, the deaf hearing, and the Gospel being preached. Jesus gave John good evidence to keep his faith. He didn’t call him a sinner or tell him he didn’t understand. John kept his faith for the rest of his life and was later beheaded.
Another famous Biblical doubter is Thomas. I think Thomas gets an undeserved negative reputation in the Bible. I happen to like Thomas. Him and I think a lot alike. In John chapter 20, after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, Jesus begins to appear alive again among his disciples. The disciples told Thomas about this encounter of seeing the resurrected Jesus and Thomas didn’t believe them. Thomas said, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers in them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Wow! Those are some heavy demands. Not only does he want to see Jesus and his wounds, but he wants to actually put his fingers into Jesus’ nail holes! Eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and his friends. Jesus did not condemn Thomas or tell him he was in sin. Rather, Jesus’ first words to Thomas were, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” Incredible! Jesus provided Thomas with evidence to help him with his doubt. Thomas then proclaimed Jesus his “Lord and his God” and his faith was strengthened through his doubt.
We all come across doubts from time to time just like these giants in the Bible did. It’s important to stress that doubt and unbelief are not the same thing. Doubt can be described as questioning and looking for answers. You can doubt and still be a believer. Christians need to know how to deal with doubt and maybe more importantly, learn to help others navigate their doubts. Here’s some points on how we should and should not respond to doubt.
Ways to not respond to doubt:
We should never tell a doubter, “don’t think about it.” Our beliefs demand that we have confidence in them. We should cultivate our beliefs and know that they are rational.
We should never tell someone to, “just believe.” Beliefs must be developed with rationality behind them. A lifeguard doesn’t tell a drowning child to “just swim.”
We should never tell someone to, “have blind faith.” Why not have blind faith in Buddha then? Blind faith is not Biblical faith. Biblical faith has behind it great evidence that gives us excellent reasons to live by it.
Good ways to respond to doubt:
Develop a prayer life with God. Conversing with God himself can do wonders to help with your doubts. Just like Jesus helped John the Baptist and Thomas, he wants to help you and he will. Francis Schaeffer said, “God is there, and he is not silent.” Ask him to help you.
Learn to reflect. Go over the great stories in the Bible about how God has always remained true to his Word and promises. Read the Bible and reflect on it.
Whatever area of doubt you’re going through, study the subject. Maybe you’re dealing with the death of a loved one. There are many great resources on pain and suffering. Maybe the friction secular scientists try to lay upon Christianity has you doubting. Read up on it. There are many Christian scientists who address these things head-on.
Develop friendships with people you can trust. Sometimes having a friend to bounce your doubts off of can open up discussion and you may find answers to your doubts.
Douglas Groothuis gave a talk some time ago on his own doubts. He had this to say:
“I have found in the toughest times of life I sometimes do not experience the presence of God. God seems to be distant. But what I come back to is that Christianity is true. There are reasons to believe it.
“And in my ministry, my career, I have tried to study every major worldview, reading primary sources, writing, debating, and having conversations. That was a process. It didn’t happen all at once. I didn’t attain a high level of certainty the minute I became a Christian. That had to develop through questioning, through investigating, through conversations.
“But I am a living example of someone who knows too much to walk away. Especially in the last year I have experienced some rather acute crises and suffering…But as bad as it gets and as angry as I can get at the Lord, I can’t deny that the Gospel is true. The Gospel has a firm and unyielding hold on me and I’m a Christian by the grace of God.“
In an article published in The Humanist, Richard Dawkins (the world’s top evangelist for atheism) said, “Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principle vice of any religion.” The only vice I see in this statement is the vice of ignorance of orthodox Christianity on the part of Mr. Dawkins.
I just finished reading a great book by Frank Turek entitled Stealing From God. The book details how atheist’s beliefs are usually presupposed on things that cannot be determined by materialism. Materialism is the belief of atheists that says everything has a physical, material cause. But in order to come to that conclusion, one must use their immaterial mind, reason, and logic so the entire notion is self-defeating. I will not go into detail here about the main points of the book but I will be posting a review to Amazon.com soon if you are interested.
Toward the end of the book Turek has a short explanation of Biblical faith that counters Dawkins’ claims. I can’t really say it any better myself so I’m going to type a portion of it verbatim. The following excerpts can be found on pages 216-218.
“One reason people are not persuaded by Christianity is because they think it’s based on blind faith. Richard Dawkins says, ‘Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principle vice of any religion.’ Unfortunatley for Dawkins, this kind of faith is the principle vice of atheism–the worldview that believes, despite massive counterevidence, that only material things exist. Atheists don’t offer any evidence that doesn’t defeat itself……
“Another problem for Dawkins and company is “belief without evidence” is not what “faith” means in the Bible.” (Turek gives a great explantion of Hebrews 11:1 in the endnotes and how that verse does not require blind faith. He says, “the context of this passage reveals that “faith” is not belief without evidence; faith is trusting God for an unseen future based on the evidence of what is already known about God.” There is so much more about this verse in the book and we can discuss it further in the comments below if you wish).
Turek continues, “When you see the word faith in the Bible, you should think of the word trust. That’s what the word in Greek actually means in most contexts. And this is not blind trust. The Bible actually commands us to use reason and evidence. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to ‘love the Lord your God…with all your mind.’ God speaks through the prophet Isaiah saying, ‘Come now, let us reason together.’ Peter urges us to ‘always be prepared to give an answer.’ Paul commands us to ‘destroy arguments’ that are opposed to the truth of Christianity, and he declares that Christianity is false unless the resurrection of Christ is an historical fact. So Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid or relying on blind faith. They are suppose to know what the believe and why they believe it….
“But merely knowing that Jesus is the savior isn’t enough to save you from judgement. You have to go from belief that Jesus is the Savior to belief in Jesus as your Savior. Those are the two kinds of biblical faith: Belief that is based on reason and evidence. Belief in is how you respond to reason and evidence. Belief that is more a matter of the head or mind, and belief in is more a matter of the heart or will….
“Believing that Jesus is the Savior is only the first step. It doesn’t go far enough. God is not interested in mere intellectual assent any more than a girlfriend is interested in merely being told she’d make a great wife. God seeks a love relationship from us and won’t force Himself on us. If we intellectually know that He exists but never trust in Him, we’ll never receive the benefits of being His….
“Belief that (head knowledge) doesn’t save, but it can help people get to the point where they choose to believe in. That’s the purpose of evidence…..
“In other words biblical faith is trusting in what you have good reason to believe is true.”
Man, I just love these excerpts from the book. Having faith in God is not the same as being a bucket head. Again, the book mostly deals with how to respond to atheistic assertions but I really liked this part about biblical faith because of my personal background in having a great faith relationship in God.
This is a quick blog, so let’s jump right into it!
No kind of human “rights” can be created. True rights are always discovered. Think about it: if rights are simply created by majorities in the populace or majorities in legislative bodies or high and mighty judges, then we are admitting that human rights are subjective.
On this view, what happens to those “rights” when someday they are legislated out of existence by a new majority? What one generation considers a “right,” another generation may consider illegal, and vice versa.
It’s ridiculous to believe this way. Why? Because humans abide by objective, moral human rights in our daily lives. We know it’s wrong to torture babies for fun. Babies have a right to live free from torture and everyone knows it. No one has to legislate the immorality of that kind of behavior. But if rights and morality are simply created, then it may be ok for some other cultures to torture babies. Even if some strange people group adopts a culture of torturing babies, is it still objectively wrong? Of course it is.
What if in Nazi Germany, the majority of Nazis desired the right to eliminate the Jews? (Which they did!) Did the will of the majority make their actions commendable? Of course not. That’s not a true human “right.” It’s a desire to do what you please. Likewise, no matter what a specific individual may think about killing Jews or torturing babies, it’s still objectively wrong. Every. Single. Time.
Rights and morality are not something that came about by natural forces. For instance, take members of the animal kingdom. Is it wrong for them to kill to survive? No, it’s not wrong. Animals are amoral beings that do not have the ability to submit to obligations of “rights” and “morals.” But why do humans not follow the same “natural” behaviors like animals do? Why do humans have a sense of morality, altruism, and justice? It’s because we are a higher being made by God, in his image. These obligations to morality and rights can only be explained fully through the teachings in the Christian Bible. They make no rational sense whatsoever based on a naturalistic worldview.
Rights and morality are based on something far greater than the cultural trends of our time. True rights are not arbitrarily created based on current, trendy volitions. True rights and morality do not conform to human desire because human desire is flimsy. Instead, humans should conform to the objective morals and rights we know to be solid and true.
It’s important to think about the origination of true rights and morality before we can understand how to respond to laws imposed on us against our will. Christians need to know how to formulate rational positions for their worldview. Going around telling people they’re going to Hell isn’t always the best way to reach people with the truth. But having a rational, coherent reason (given in love) for the hope that is in you can be very effective.
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!