Train Them Up Right…

Several years ago I was challenged by a skeptic to defend my belief system. I didn’t do a very good job at understanding why I believed the way that I did other than my subjective feelings about it. This encounter inspired a passion in me to put 1 Peter 3:15 into action in my life.

Over a period of time I discovered that to be most effective at defending the faith you must first be willing to question your most sacred beliefs. You must be willing to see your beliefs from the skeptic’s perspective so that you can meet him where he is and then try to persuade him using the evidence available and under the power of the Holy Spirit.

With this in mind, and experience as a guide, I have detected what I believe is a flaw in how we train people, especially our young people, to defend the faith. In this article I am first going to disclose the flaw. I am then going to cite three ways the flaw manifests itself. The three examples I offer happen to be in the field of science which should be no surprise since this area is popular among skeptics. As I discuss each of these I will offer a solution to correct the flaw so that ultimately we will become improved trainers, and most importantly, improved ambassadors for the Gospel of Jesus.

The Flaw

The most prominent flaw I see when we try to defend our Christian position is often a failure to understand terms. For example, it may be the case that a pro-life Christian assumes that a pro-abortion individual is in favor of killing babies. But if we stop for a moment and listen to the view of the pro-abortionist, we will likely discover that a person in favor of abortion is just as opposed to killing babies as a pro-life person is. The difference in positions is not whether we should or shouldn’t kill babies. The difference in our positions is determined by when we believe life begins. How then do we begin effective dialogue with a pro-abortionist? When a person says they are pro-choice or pro-abortion ask them, “What do you mean by abortion?” Then ask them how they came to that conclusion. If you do this, not only is the burden of proof on them, you will also come to an understanding of their position instead of talking past them.

When we place more effort into understanding terms we will become more effective in communicating our views and being taken seriously by those who oppose us. There are three scientific areas where skeptics will pound a wedge between themselves and believers. In each of these wedge topics, believers can be left vulnerable if their position is not communicated properly.

Wedge Topic #1: Evolution

I’m an evangelical Christian and I believe in evolution. Say what? That’s right! But, wait a minute. Hear me out. Remember what we just discussed? We have to define our terms. But before we do that, we need to understand why we should focus on evolution when training people to defend the faith.

Evolution is one of the most popular avenues skeptics use to discredit Christianity. After all, if life simply evolved then we have no need for a Creator. Darwinian evolutionists believe all life is descended from one common ancestor and it happened only by natural causes, precluding belief in a Common Designer.
Many Christians will flat out deny any truth to the evolutionary theory. This is why skeptical people who believe in evolution don’t take Christians seriously. They see Christians as anti-science, bronze-age numbskulls. Of course we aren’t those things, but there is truth in some parts of the evolutionary theory.

There are two facets of evolution. There is macro-evolution and there is micro-evolution. Macro-evolution is the portion of the theory that says all life forms have descended from one common ancestor and it happened only by natural causes. It describes one species magically changing into brand new species. This form of evolution, due to the near-absence of evidence, is largely faith-based. It’s almost certainly not true and contains many, many problems including the inability to be reproduced in a lab.

Micro-evolution on the other hand, describes the ability of life forms to change or adapt to its conditions. This form of evolution is not only true, but it is verifiable and repeatable. Micro-evolution is what Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands when he was studying finches. He noted that in years with an abundant food supply, the finches beaks were shorter because they presumably did not have to forage as deep for food. In years with short food supplies, the finches beaks could adapt to be longer so they would be more successful finding food to survive. Micro-evolution does not contradict Biblical creation in any way.

As Christians, we should not be denying this type of verifiable “evolution.” This is why the skeptics do not take us seriously. But when we can come to understand our terms, we find that we actually have more common ground than we thought. We are doing a disservice to our children and others when we train them to be completely against evolution. We know a certain form of evolution is true and we should be teaching our kids the difference between good science and bad science. When we do this, we give them a huge advantage when they are trying to find common ground with unbelievers.

(As a side note, I could write pages on the failure of macro-evolution but it is beyond the scope at this time. Comment below or message me if you want to discuss evolution further).

Wedge Topic #2: The Big Bang

I’m an evangelical Christian and I believe in The Big Bang. That’s right, I do! But, like evolution, you should be asking, “what do you mean by that?” This topic is a little easier to explain. Science has proven beyond all doubt that the universe has a beginning. This is agreed upon by virtually everyone.

When talking with a skeptic, there is absolutely no reason to disagree with him on the main idea regarding Big Bang Cosmology. After all, the science does not indicate what caused the Big Bang, it can only demonstrate what happened after the bang was banged. If you’re arguing the merits of the Big Bang verses the merits of Creation with a skeptic then you may find that you’re more interested in scoring points than you are in leading them to Christ. Now, I’m not saying Christians should believe in those portions of the the Big Bang Theory that have very little evidence. All I’m saying is that both skeptics and believers agree the universe has a beginning. In simple terms, that’s what the Big Bang Theory describes. It’s also what Genesis 1:1 describes. We all believe the universe was “banged” into existence. Christians believe they know who banged it.

We are doing our children and others a disservice if we teach them to be against the Big Bang. When we define it in terms of good science and scripture, we can meet the skeptic where he is and begin fruitful dialogue.

Wedge Topic #3: Age of the Universe

I’m an evangelical Christian and I have no clue how old the universe is. That’s right, no clue. In fact, it is impossible to know the answer to this on this side of Heaven. We were not there at Genesis 1:1. The Bible and science leave room for many assumptions. There are very good assumptions made by young universe people and there are very good assumptions made by old universe people. I don’t have space to dissect them all here. If you want to discuss it more, comment below or message me.

In the end, I believe that remaining dogmatic on this point can be counter productive. If you’re dealing with a skeptic who is scientifically inclined, forcing him to swallow something that seems counter-factual in his mind may permanently turn him away from hearing other evidence about the truth of Christianity. I guarantee you that salvation is not predicated on your belief on the age of the universe. The fact that God actually created the universe, not when he created the universe, is what is important when reaching the lost. I believe Satan uses this point of contention to sow division among all of us and when we entertain it as dogma we are playing into his hands. This is an in-house debate which should rarely, if ever, be discussed among unbelievers. It is not productive and I’ve never known anyone to come to Christ by their belief on the age of the universe.

As for me, I wake up believing in a young universe and I go to bed believing in an old universe. Neither position contradicts the fact that the universe is created.

We are doing our children and others a disservice if we teach them to be dogmatic on this issue. We should expose them to both scenarios and if we want to be intellectually honest, we will admit that we have no idea how old the universe is.

Conclusion

People have doubts. Christians should be prepared to engage the doubters in order to be effective witnesses for the truth about God, Jesus, creation, sin, and redemption. Intellectual honesty about science and Christianity always works in the Christian’s favor. Good science will never contradict God’s word and should be viewed as way to study in awe of God’s creation work. We should release ourselves from old-fashioned dogma and embrace sound scientific discoveries as confirmations of God’s awesome creation. When our children are released into the real world, we should want them to be taken seriously as ambassadors. To enable that we need to teach them how to communicate what they believe effectively and convincingly without coming across as backward, religious fruit cakes. We can teach them the things of the scientific world that line up with God’s word. We should be able to show people that Christianity will never be compromised by science or any other field of study. Let’s give the next generation of Christians the tools necessary to engage an increasingly skeptical world.

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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.

Bill Nye and His Cute Little Emoji Video

The last four days has produced some moderate internet traffic to a YouTube video created by Bill Nye.  In the video, Mr. Nye uses emoji’s found on iPhones to supposedly illustrate how macro-evolutionary processes work.  Some people are finding this approach so fashionable that they’re describing it as “probably the best explanation of evolution ever.” Really?

I’ve watched the video a few times and could not resist posting about it.  Let’s break it down, but first, watch the two minute video:

WOW!  There are so many things that are wrong within just the first twenty five seconds but before I get to that let me say something about this little production.  When one watches the video the first time they are probably listening to some of what he has to say.  But the thing that really grabs one’s attention is the emoji figures.  I suggest watching the video several times and then play it with your eyes shut.  That’s funny, but it seems the emoji figures are there to disguise some serious misleading statements.  Let’s look at them.

The first statement that should raise high the eyebrows of any person with a brain is when he says, “molecules just happen.”  Is that so?  Amazing!  Let’s not be silly Mr. Nye.  That premise right there does not provide sufficient evidence for me to base any kind theory or idea. Based on these first words by Mr. Nye, thinking people should immediately be skeptical. This notion of things “just happening” is simply an insufficient foundation for any kind of true science.

He goes on to say that, “somehow, probably with energy from the sun, these molecules hooked together and accidentally found ways to reproduce themselves.”  Whoa!!  There are three key words here that raise red flags when attempting to pass off facts:  somehow, probably, and accidentally.  To assert that something “somehow” did something implies an insufficient explanation to anything that follows.  “Probably” implies uncertainty.  “Accidentally” implies chance.  To be sure, these words need not negatively apply to any and all ideas.  The problem with using these words in this context is that Mr. Nye is attempting to pass off macro-evolution as a proven fact and using these kinds of words hardly helps his case.

Toward the conclusion of the video, Mr. Nye presents the most holy tenant of his religion:  time.  Theists are often accused of the “God of the Gaps” theory which says that we simply plug in God for things we cannot answer.  That is not true.  Theists, at least those of the Christian bend, base their belief in God on some very good evidence.  On the other hand, Darwinism must use time in place of God as it’s own “God of the Gaps.”  You see it often; if it can’t be explained away rationally let’s just throw in a few billion more years.  All this does is beg the question.  Time has never been shown to create anything.  Sure Mr. Nye, lots of things can happen in 4.5 billion years.  Maybe over the next 4.5 billion years it will be shown how ridiculous macro-evolution really is.

The underlying problem here for the Darwinist is the problem of abiogenesis, that is to say the idea of life arising from non-life. There is absolutely no evidence for naturalistic abiogenesis and saying that it “just happens” is absurd.  This is the first tenant of faith for the worldview of Darwinism, which is unfortunate since Darwinism itself shouldn’t necessarily deal with abiogenesis, but the Naturalists insist.  Empirical science tells us that nothing “accidentally” reproduces.  We have always known reproduction to be a means to a specified end.

Moreover, while abiogenesis precedes supposed macro-evolution, the Anthropic Principle necessarily precedes abiogenesis.  The Anthropic Principle is the term used to define the fine tuning of the universe in order for the possibility of life to occur.  There are dozens and dozens of these cosmic characteristics that are required for life and more and more are being discovered all the time.  For example, the tilt of Earth, the distance of Earth from our sun, the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, etc.  These constants are so finely tuned that if they were altered by minuscule amounts, life as we know it would not exist.

Let’s be clear here.  Bill Nye is talking about macro-evolution and NOT micro-evolution.  The macro form says that fish can eventually develop wings and fly.  The micro form says that changes can indeed occur within species such as the wide variety of dogs we see.

Theism and good science are not at odds.  Let me repeat, theism and good science are not at odds.  The problem is bad science.  And when words and phrases like those used by Bill Nye are used to pass off supposed fact, we see bad science rearing its ugly head.  By the way, the sexy argument I’m hearing these days against those who oppose macro-evolution are that those opposed “just don’t understand it.”  This is an ad hominem attack.  An ad hominem attack is when a person attacks his opposition rather than his opposition’s arguments.  This type of argumentation should not be dignified with a response.

I know I’ve rambled a bit but these things need to be pointed out.  In conclusion, I think theism offers a far more plausible foundation for abiogenesis and the propagation of life.  There are many evidences such as the Cosmological and Teleological arguments, just to name two.  Look into these things and maybe I’ll write about them soon.  Thanks for reading.

An Account of a Debate I Recently Attended

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.

Mike Manuel (seated) and Richard White

 

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.

Audience questions  

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…  

A Quick Word About the Principle of Uniformity

Lately, I have devoted an enormous amount of time to study and a small portion to football, which has kept me from writing out my thoughts. So, here is what I’ve been studying and thinking about for the last month or so.

Simply put, The Principle of Uniformity says that causes in the past were like causes we observe today. With this in mind, consider the specified complexity (it has a specific message) of DNA. It is chalk full of information. All life forms contain DNA, including the one celled amoeba. According to the supreme prophet of the New Atheism, the evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, the one celled amoeba contains more information than 1000 complete sets of Encyclopedia Brittanica. (This can be found in his book, “The Blind Watchmaker”).

As we know from the Principle of Uniformity, information always comes from an intelligent source and life always comes from existing life. Always. To claim that life can come from non-life and that information can develop itself is an extreme faith claim. The information contained in the DNA and life of the amoeba points us toward an intelligent cause. If information can come only from a mind and life can come only from existing life, good science would tell us that an intelligent cause is behind such specified complexity.

Why then do non-theistic scientists not accept such a claim? The answer can be found in a very candid comment made by atheist Harvard professor, Richard Lewontin. He admitted that Darwinists accept science that goes against common sense not based on empirical evidence, but rather a prior commitment to materialism so as to “not allow a divine foot in the door.”

Theism (and indeed Christianity) is not at odds with science itself. Theism and science blended together create a beautiful atmosphere to discover the amazing operation of God’s awesome creation. Rather, theism is at odds with bad science. Atheist scientists cannot consider supernatural creation when they legislate in advance the impossibility of such a claim and that’s quite unfortunate.

Back to the “Pope” of Atheism, Richard Dawkins

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!

Miracles

In order for a person to believe in Christianity, he must believe in miracles.  The notion of a miracle occurring is a common objection to Christianity by atheists, agnostic people, and skeptics.  I want to offer some ways for a Christian to think about how he would answer a skeptics objection to miracles.

A miracle from God is defined as an act of divinity in which a supernatural effect is produced for the purpose of manifesting God’s kingdom on earth.  Their purpose is to reveal God’s supernatural character.  Now in order to begin to think about miracles, one must already be in a position to at least consider the notion of a created world.  A person who believes in creation believes that God created the universe out of nothing.  He created time and when it would be set into motion and he created the natural things we see all around us.  The simple syllogism goes like this:  Everything that has a beginning has a cause, the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe has a cause and the cause (God) must transcend time and space in order to create it.  When we consider these things from the cosmological argument, it is perfectly rational to conclude that the act of creation is the greatest miracle ever performed.  The skeptic should be willing to concede this point if he can for a moment allow that God is the uncaused first cause.

It’s at this time that we can demonstrate that if the greatest miracle ever performed occurred at creation, then any miracle following is certainly believable.  David Hume famously discounted miracles.  He claimed that natural law is a regular occurrence and miracles are irregular occurrences.  He further claimed that the evidence for the regular is always greater than the evidence for the irregular or rare.  The problem with this is that there are numerous things in our natural world that are not only rare but only happened once.  For example, the beginning of the universe and the origin of life happened only once.  This is a big problem for Hume’s argument.

Why do miracles occur and why are they so sporadic?  In the bible, miracles usually occur as a way for God to reveal himself to man.  Jesus performed miracles in order to prove he was the son of God.  God revealed himself to mankind in the old testament with many miraculous acts.  Miracles are a supernatural way for God to communicate his word to us and are often used to grab our attention.  We cannot answer why miracles are sporadic.  There are periods of hundreds of years in the Bible where no miracles are recorded.  One aspect of miracles is that they are usually rare.  This makes sense, because if miracles happened every day they could possibly be less effective in communicating God’s word.  Again, miracles are attention grabbers.

Of course, nearly everyone open to the evidence for miracles and God have heard of or maybe even experienced their own miracles.  We know they sometimes happen and we know sometimes they don’t (at least in this world!).  God created a good world that rebelled against him and chose evil by free will.  God can use miracles to reconnect to a lost and dying world and reveal his presence.  Although, miracles are not used by God to “fix” a defective creation.  I read an analogy recently that I had never heard before.  It said that the world isn’t a defective machine that needs fixed, but that the relationship between God and creation can be thought of like the relationship between a musician and his instrument.  The musician enjoys time with his guitar and together beautiful things can occur, but every now and then the guitar needs a little tuning.

 

Footnote:  I don’t know how to incorporate citations into the blog.  But I want to acknowledge that most of the information in this blog are from thoughts put forth by Douglas Groothuis, Frank Turek, and Norman Geisler.  I have not added much originality at all but merely unpacked some of the things these men have written.  Check Amazon or your local bookstore for their resources.  They are invaluable to me.