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Posts Tagged ‘science’

It seems to me a good idea for our laws to be based on truth.  If the meaning of “miles per hour” is ambiguous, I would want to find the true definition of miles and hour rather than arbitrarily setting up some other explanation.  No argument about how an accurate definition of miles would infringe my freedom to drive as fast as I wanted should be considered.  We might change the law to increase the speed limit if that is our argument, but we cannot keep the existing law and just lie about what all the words mean.

Personhood is such an issue.  We have a law that guarantees life and due process to all persons.  If we don’t like that law, we can try to change it so that not all persons are so guaranteed.  (That law, incidentally, is based on a moral judgment that murder is wrong.  Many of our laws are enforcement of morality.)  What we cannot do is alter the definition of a person to mean something that it truly does not.  Defining the word “person” to include my rocking chair would be absurd.  Including my pet would be a stretch not intended by those who wrote the law.  Excluding my neighbor with freckles is dishonest.  Saying that my neighbor in the womb is less of a person than me is too arbitrary to be good science or good law.

Some would argue that the truth reflected in our laws should be based on precedent.  This breaks down for a number of reasons.  First, we have the problem of where the very first precedents got their truth.  History does not record an eternal list of precedents.  Secondly, we can point to many court rulings that have been made by liars, self-serving judges who refused to acknowledge the truth.  For example, see the slavery decision Dred Scott.  Finally, precedents can (and sometimes should) be overturned.  The “landmark” ruling that made abortion legal throughout the USA, Roe v. Wade, overturned many state laws that had been in existence for years.  It wasn’t that the question of reproductive rights had never been in court before; this was simply the first time the Supreme Court said abortion was a mother’s “right.”  (I must specify that it was seen as a woman’s right, not a man’s right or a baby’s right – which is important.  Roe v. Wade rests in the supposition that the baby is actually a part of the mother, thus giving her special privileges to end his life.  US law does not give a man the right to decide a mother must abort.  In fact, it will punish those criminals who assault a preborn child.  Nor does the legal system ask the baby, who is demonstrably a separate entity from his mother, whether he wants to be aborted, or acknowledge his right to life.  This is what Personhood seeks to amend.)

Another supposed basis for the truth of our laws is democracy.  What does the majority believe or want?  While our government is set up as a participatory representative system, where the voice of the people influences the leaders making the laws and even at times the laws themselves, this is arguably not the best means for ensuring justice.  The majority has sometimes voted for terrorist governments.  Or for slavery.  Hitler got his first foothold of power through democracy.  A majority of people once believed the world was flat.  We human beings are special, but not powerful enough to mold truth as we wish it was.  Republics like ours, the founding fathers warned us, are only sustainable, only free, if they are comprised of a moral citizenry.  The people must acknowledge a standard outside of themselves, and align with that, for freedom and justice to exist.

Can science be used to decide such a moral and philosophical question as what constitutes life or personhood?  We already have these philosophical terms in our law.  These words have been applied to at least some groups of humanity since the law was written.  No one disputes that the word “person” applies to a large part of humanity (always including the one making the judgment).  And here comes science, demonstrating that there is no significant, meaningful difference between one group of human beings and another.  Science can demonstrate that skin color is not a factor in personhood.  Size does not make person more of a person.  In fact, science can tell us that a human being has the same unique DNA from the moment of conception, at their birth, as they grow from infants to adolescents to fully-formed adults, even as they age and their health declines.

Any lines that have been proposed distinguishing one class of human beings as non-persons have been arbitrary.  Every person needs two things to continue living: nourishment and defense from violence.  The fertilized egg, the single-celled human embryo, needs only these things to develop into an adult.  An infant 1 year of age is still very dependent on his parents for the necessary nourishment and protection.  But given these things, he will grow into a man.  A young woman has to go through puberty to give her the hourglass shape associated with womanhood (and the ability to reproduce).  Where do you draw the line?  Which of these stages begins personhood?

In the history of this debate, the line of personhood has been suggested to begin:

–         at some point after birth when the baby is still dependent on his parents.  (If we draw the line at 3 months, was he less of a human the 24 hours before he was 3 months?  Honestly?)

–         at the first breath of air.  (Are humans receiving CPR or on ventilators not people?  What about the pre-mi’s born and kept alive for months by artificial breathing machines, to be weaned off when their lungs developed fully?)

–         when the baby completely leaves the womb – birth.  (Ten inches decides the identity of a human being?  There have been surgeries performed on preborn babies that involve removing the infants from the womb and then returning them there.  Are they people while out of the womb, then non-people again?  What has changed in the baby?)

–         at viability.  (Come What May, a film produced by the students at Patrick Henry College, makes the point that when we talk about viability, we are talking about viability sustained by human inventions.  Most babies are viable in the womb.  When we talk about viability, though, we disqualify that means of life support and substitute our own.  Man is not better than God at providing a hospitable environment for the youngest among us.  Even aside from that argument, our technology is improving.  A child who was not viable outside the womb 20 years ago might be now.  Nothing changed in the abilities or nature of the children.  We changed.)

–         when the mother can first detect movement – sometimes called “quickening.”  (Some mothers are more sensitive to the movement of their child than others.  Body shape and other factors might contribute to missing the first sensations of motion.  Also, some preborn babies move less or less emphatically than others.  We know from scientific experience that the baby is moving: swimming – from day one when he moves to the uterus!, kicking, waving, turning, changing facial expressions.  Again, this line is not dependent on the nature of the being inside the mother.)

–         at the beginning of biological development – called fertilization or conception.  (At this point a new life is begun.  Already his DNA has determined his features, his gender, his blood type – all of which can be different from his mother’s.  Before this moment, more was needed than nourishment and protection.  After this he will grow at his own body’s initiative and direction.)

All but the last “line” are arbitrary – as arbitrary as me deciding you were not a person because you live in the country, or because your skin is a different color from mine, or because I can whistle and you can’t (actually, I can’t), or worse: if I can’t hear you whistle even when you are.  Science and a bit of logic can recognize that there is no objective difference between adults like us and the kids who are so needy and the preborn.  Draw the line at conception.  Anything else is discrimination.

One more point I’d like to address is the legal objection many put forward.  In most abortion laws, pro-abortion activists push for “exceptions,” when a baby may still be killed.  They say that oh yes, abortion is a tragedy and we want it to be rare.  But surely there are bigger tragedies that abortion could solve: rape, incest, the life of the mother.

Regarding the “life of the mother” exception: our definition of person begins at conception.  It doesn’t end at birth.  This definition includes mothers.  The life of the baby is not, by this truth-reliant definition, more or less important than the mother’s.  Doctors and parents would be legally required to treat that baby as a person, without treating the mother as a non-person.  That’s the answer to the most common “life of the mother” clause.  No exception is necessary in the wording used by Personhood groups, because they affirm the right of the mother to life as well as the right of the baby.

But there are other “exceptions” argued for.  These tragedies are chosen for the exception list emotionally.  Why not include in the list: financial incompetence, household over-population, genetic deformity?  And if you go that far, why not make exceptions for gender, for the mom’s busy career, for her relationship with the father?  I’m not saying that everyone pushing for a few exceptions wants all of these exceptions.  My goal is to make it obvious that to be consistent in their reasoning, they should include all of these exceptions.  In every case the baby is a person.

That’s why I want to finish by asking you a few questions:

–         Is a human being not a person if her father is a rapist?  Is a 3 year old not a person if her father is a rapist?  Do you have less rights if your father was a rapist?

–         Is a human being not a person if his mother gets cancer?  Is a 3 year old not a person if his mom gets cancer?  Do you have less rights if your mother gets cancer?

–         Is a human being not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Is a 3 year old not a person if he and his mother are in danger and only one of them can be rescued?  Do you have less rights if you and your mother are in danger and only one of you can be rescued?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Once upon a time I read a book, kept hoping it would make sense at the end, and when the end was not the resolution for which I had hoped, declared the book to be a bad one, and not worthy of recommendation.  That book was much shorter than The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

I have never before read a Russian novel.  My literary experience has generally skirted the classics.  Against Tolstoy I am prejudiced, for his enormous works sat on the same shelf as Tolkien’s at the library, except Tolstoy’s were always waiting to be checked out while Tolkien’s occasionally visited their home nearby the famed Russian.  The literature of Russia has a reputation, but I am not entirely sure what that reputation is.  I think it has a reputation for being unpleasant.

For The Brothers Karamazov does not end like a romance or a tragedy.  The entire novel is like applied philosophy, the kind that is so like real life that it weaves a story.  There are many ideas brought forward by Dostoyevsky’s portrait of the Karamazov family, ideas which are loosely connected and often contradictory.  At the center of the tale is the trial of Dmitri Karamazov, the oldest son of the murdered Fyodor Karamazov.  Willing to betray a woman, willing to lie, unwilling to steal but stealing anyway, willing to beat a man – but not willing to murder?  Does integrity come by degrees?  What if the same man is willing to take pity, willing to show gratitude, willing to be generous, willing to love?  Can such extremes exist sincerely in one person?

Perhaps rather than claiming the book to be a study of evil’s causes and cures, it could be described as a description of the approach Russians have taken to evil.

Is evil innate?  Is it taught?  Is it a response to neglect and abuse?  Does evil behavior spring from insanity?  Is it the inevitable cause of rejecting God’s world – even if you still embrace God?

What about cure?  Will science cure evil?  Liberation?  If a culture embraces the creed that “all is lawful,” will evil cease to exist?  Can piety cure evil?  Goodness?  Vengeance?  Mercy?  Gratitude?  What prevents evil?  Honesty?  Faith?  Does the threat of law discourage evil?  Does the church’s social influence deter evil?

Has the church been corrupted?  Can conflict exist in the midst of the church or society, without at least one side representing evil?  Has God been corrupted?  Has God been lied about?  Has the Devil?  What is the Devil’s goal?  For that matter, what is God’s?

What would a man take in exchange for his soul?  If he could save someone he loved from damnation, what would he sacrifice?  If he could save someone he hated?  Would a proud enemy accept help?

What is the difference between remorse and despair?  Forgiveness and disdain?  Why do people seek after a sign?  Must we walk by reason and experience, or is it possible to walk by honor and faith?  Can a person love another and hate them at the same time?  Can God?

I once read a book and kept hoping that the end would bring resolution, but I will not declare this book to be a bad book.  I will humbly admit that I do not understand The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  It has a lot to say about the psyche of Russia, their history and culture.  If I re-read the book, now knowing the story, I might be able to follow its message.  But at 700 pages long, I’m not particularly eager to.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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The post-modern world is rather fond of saying that there are no absolutes. A logical counter to this is to ask the relativist whether his statement about absolutes is absolute. He is in the difficult position of refuting his own claim whenever he states it. In rational debates this breaks the law of non-contradiction.

For several years, since reading Christian apologists like CS Lewis and Ravi Zacharias, I have been convinced that there is only one internally consistent worldview, and that is the biblical worldview. All other explanations of reason and existence cut the ground out from under themselves. Either the beliefs themselves are self-refuting, like the man who tried to disprove the existence of air; he was using air as he tried to deny it; or they reduce to absurdities; or they never really deal with the fundamental questions, but rely on borrowed but unadmitted presuppositions from other worldviews. In the final case, we consider their beliefs to be arbitrary, rather than rational.

My explanation could not have been termed with such clarity without first reading Dr. Jason Lisle’s new book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation. Creationists have plenty of evidence for the biblical history of the world. They have evidence contradicting the evolutionary and uniformitarian theories of origins. Bible-believing scientists are even doing real science all the time (science of observation and technological advancement to improve our lives), just as they have done for thousands of years. None of these things convinces a man committed to a naturalist worldview. But no naturalist can debate against the Bible, for evolution, or conduct science of his own without assuming things that can only be true if the things the Bible teaches are true. This is the ultimate proof, to engage skeptics on their worldview.

This method has several advantages. First, it keeps in mind that the motive for Christian apologetics is to glorify God and to invite non-Christians to be saved. Thoughtful meekness is what the Bible directs us to have when responding to critics. The Bible also teaches that if we do not live consistently with our beliefs, our critics have reason to ridicule us and those beliefs. Consistency is a biblical tactic.

Second, the Bible does give instructions for debate. Dr. Jason Lisle has applied two verses in Proverbs to his debating style. Do not let a skeptic convince you to fight on neutral ground when the question you are debating is inherently about the reliability of your ground as opposed to all others. For a Christian to abandon, for the sake of argument, his belief in God and dependence on the account of the Bible, is to surrender before he has even lifted his sword. But we can do an internal critique of the skeptic’s position, making apparent where he contradicts himself or leaves questions unanswered.

Third, and I really appreciate this one, a Christian apologist using these techniques does not need to be a PhD or have memorized an encyclopedia of scientific evidence for Creation. Creation science is valid and interesting, but not every believer is called to that kind of knowledge of the world as he is called to give a reason for the hope that is in him and to preach the gospel to every creature. In my experience, it is great for a philosophical person like me to team up with someone who knows a lot of facts, and to tag-team a discussion. Or I could practice a bit more so that I can have some representative cases of creationism scientifically supported.

The Ultimate Proof of Creation is an interesting book on logic and worldviews, exciting as I think of applying it. Think of watching the Discovery Channel and being able to identify the worldview being used, the presuppositions made, and the logical fallacies committed. This book enables you to do that. Or it can help when you’re trying to stay focused when witnessing to a friend who doubts the Bible. Learn to find ways to tie all questions into a question of faith: do you accept the ultimate standard of God, who created you – or do you reject Him and therefore all that depends on Him (including your will and rationality)?

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

The Ultimate Proof of Creation

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Like many children, my fascination with mammoths began long before I could understand the science.  Maybe I caught the tone of mystery when anyone wrote or talked about these huge wooly beasts of the past.  As I have grown up, I have gradually gained more knowledge of the mysteries surrounding mammoths and their ice age.  Like the dinosaur question, how did they all die?  Why were they living in Siberia and Alaska in the first place?  These ivory-tusked creatures of legend have on occasion been found mummified, almost whole, standing upright in the permafrost.  How did that happen, and what does it tell us about the climate of the past? 

For a creationist, curiosities related to extinction and weather always bring to mind the Flood.  How much did the world change when God judged mankind by sending a global catastrophe?  Are we still affected today by the aftershocks of the Flood?  So for a person like me, a book giving a scientific creationist perspective on the Ice Age and the Mammoth mystery is gold.  Michael Oard, a meteorologist, has written such a book. 

Frozen in Time is well-constituted, moving through a thorough introduction of the subject and mysteries to a presentation of the Creationist Flood model and its Ice Age mechanism followed by a summary of secular theories and their difficulties, finishing with an exploration of the evidence for and against the proposed explanations for the Ice Age and the demise of the seemingly out of place mammoths.  Michael Oard is willing to criticize both secular and creationist scientist for jumping to conclusions about the extinction of mammoths, pointing out that a deep snap freeze is not necessary to preserve a few mammoths in standing position with relatively unspoiled food in their stomachs.  His book provides an alternative and points out that most mammoths appear to have died and been buried in more normal ways. 

Aside from including very interesting tidbits about mammoth finds, other large mammals associated with the Ice Age, elephant taxonomy, and weather patterns, Frozen in Time is an important book because it is yet another evidence that the sciences built on uniformitarianism (demanding an old earth and repeating processes in nature) cut the floor from under themselves.  By excluding short timelines and catastrophic possibilities because of their bias, secular scientists have no chance of following the evidence where it leads.  Like trying to figure out which paints to mix to create green when the existence of blue is denied, the scientists are figuratively mixing any color except for blue, and are frustrated that they have not been able to explain green.  This is bad science. 

Creation science, on the other hand, not only solves puzzling natural phenomenon (and no, we do not solve everything by saying “God did it.”), but provides us with useful sciences and models.  In this book are included speculations about cavemen, about classification, the adaptability of animals to different climates, geology, geography, global warming or cooling, and migration of man and beasts. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Frozen in Time

PS: 

Here’s what I don’t understand.  Why, when the evidence works for biblical creation and worldwide flood – but not for uniformitarian, old-earth evolution – would you compromise your Christian belief in the literal history of the Bible to subscribe to the secular theory? 

When a Creationist does something predictive, like entering conditions they believe were existent immediately following the Deluge into weather pattern models, their presuppositions yield predictions that are founded by scientific evidence.  Here I want to be completely honest about my claim.  I’m not saying that a creationist who knew nothing of the Ice Age put flood data into models for meteorology and geology and bam! there was an Ice Age in the model.  What I am saying is that creationists, who had already developed the theory of flood ramifications (plate tectonics, volcanic and geothermal activity, massive amounts of water in the air and on the continents draining into the oceans, dispersion from Ararat), put the puzzle pieces together and connected these models to the Ice Age.  When applied, their results matched the evidence. 

The secular scientists who reject the Bible’s claims about history, especially on origins, age of the earth, and the Flood, have observed and know that there was an Ice Age, but had no preexisting mechanisms they could apply to the historical advent of the Ice Age.  So all of their efforts have been to study the data about Ice Ages and devise possible mechanisms, according to the traditional scientific method.  Except every time they test their hypotheses with computer models, the predictions fail to account for the data.  In fact, many times the uniformitarian (long-age) theories have resulted in predictions directly contradicting the data.  What’s more, the more puzzling questions of the Ice Age (Mammoths in Siberia, Hippos in England, ‘disharmonious associations’) are left unanswered, and never answered as part of a comprehensive model of the Ice Age. 

So why would a person, who claims to believe in God and the Bible, trade belief in the most reliable historical document ever written, whose predictions are universally proven by the evidence, for a theory whose science, hypotheses, and predictions are so unsatisfactory and questionable?  Christian, you don’t have to compromise, or try to fit secular philosophies into your Scripture.  They have no evidence.  To switch sides on such unconvincing assertions is foolish! 

Skeptics who like to comment on this blog, if you’re going to object to the claims made here or in any of these books I’m reviewing, you’re going to have to be more substantial than the ad hominem attacks that the creationists are ‘lying’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘bogus scientists’.  A battle of name-calling is misplaced on this blog.  If you want to discuss evidence, models, or the logic and reality of presuppositions, please comment.  We all benefit from critical thinking. 

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Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In, by Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey

In about 200 pages (including footnotes and appendices), the authors present a case to Bible-affirming Christians for young earth creationism.  They follow the rules of logic and point out some commonly applied logical fallacies which they are avoiding.  Topics range from biblical interpretation of Genesis’ creation and flood accounts, descriptions and simple refutations of alternate interpretations (day-age theory, gaps in genealogies, local flood), to a short discussion of the scientific evidence “for” and against an old earth. 

The authors, Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey, emphasize the importance of using the Bible as our foundation for science.  Because of this commitment they are able to present a consistent cosmogony and worldview, but they are not in this book writing to skeptics or people of other religions.  Though Old-Earth Creationism on Trial argues that a biblical foundation is the only scientific starting point that is not self-defeating, and therefore the best approach to combating erroneous theories, their objective in this book is to encourage and challenge Christians.   

Through a short examination of history, the authors prove that young-earth creationism is not a reaction to biological evolution, but that it has been the majority interpretation of the church (and plainest reading of Genesis) for thousands of years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species.  In fact, a portion of the church had begun to compromise on the age of the earth earlier in the 19th century.  Thus the debate inside the church has been going on for about 200 years. 

One of my favorite parts of this easy-to-read reference book was the use of Proverbs 26:4-5, which says: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”  Therefore, to be consistent in our own position, we do not have to grant the false assumptions of our opponents in order to debate them.  However, it is a valid debate technique to point out the fallacy of their assumptions by showing their logical conclusions (which can be proven to be false).  This is the format, in fact, of the whole book. 

 

Compared to Coming to Grips with Genesis, Old-Earth Creationism on Trial covers most of the same information in a more concise and layman-friendly format.  The authors also do a good job of focusing on the age of the earth (and universe) question, without going too far into the associated questions of biological evolution.  Christians are discouraged from accepting naturalism and uniformitarianism, even in conjunction with other biblical beliefs.  The book is a strong polemic against these two philosophies, which both underlie the theories of evolution. 

 

Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Coming to Grips with Genesis, edited by Terry Mortenson, Ph. D. and Thane H. Ury, Ph. D. 

Is the question of the age of the earth too divisive for Christians?  Is your interpretation of Genesis, particularly the first eleven chapters, important?  Are young-earth creationists good Bible scholars or good scientists?  Does Genesis allow for millions or billions of years?  Does the rest of the Bible? 

Comprised of nearly 450 pages written by 16 men dedicated to the literalism, inerrancy, and theological relevance of Genesis 1-11, this book is a resource for scholars and theologians.  Amateur as I am, reading the entire book cover to cover was a challenge.  I learned several new words, my favorite of which is phenomenological – just because it is fun to say!  Most Creationist books are about science.  Some are about the cultural impact of accepting Darwinism.  This book is almost unique in that it addresses the theological reasons for believing in a recent 6-day creation of the Heavens and Earth and life in them, as well as, significantly, a global flood. 

Christians today cannot even be said to be tempted to doubt the authority of Scripture compared to science; it is almost a cultural given that reasonable Christians will submit their interpretations of the Word of God to the supreme truth of scientific evidence as interpreted by a majority of secular and religious scientists.  Coming to Grips with Genesis seeks to show that no compromise on the literal narrative of Genesis 1-11 is based in hermeneutics.  Theologians who promote the day-age, framework, poetic, or gap theories for interpreting Genesis are inspired only by their conviction that “science” has proven an age of the earth billions of years beyond that recorded by the only witness, the God of the Bible. 

Topics include:
– historic interpretations of Genesis and beliefs about the age of the earth from Jesus, the apostles, early church fathers, reformation theologians, and modern commentators
– possibility of gaps in the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies
– theological implications of death and pain and decay before Adam’s sin
– and discussions of the words, phrases, and style of language in the Creation account of Genesis 1-3, and the Flood narrative in Genesis 6-8. 

Dedicated to Dr. John C. Whitcomb, Jr., a short biography and bibliography is included at the end of the book along with a personal tribute describing his impact on each contributor opening almost every chapter.  John MacArthur and Henry Morris both endorsed this book with their forewords.  Every essay is covered in footnotes, and there is an extensive resource list in the back of the book for more information.  There is also an index.  Several contributors referred the reader to the Institute for Creation Research’s RATE Project conclusions.  As usual, Master Books has maintained a close relationship with Answers in Genesis, and that ministry is frequently cited in the resource list. 

Chapter 8, “A Critique of the Framework Interpretation of the Creation Week” by Robert V. McCabe is 38 pages of introduction, discussion, summary, discussion, summary (etc.), conclusion – all about, in my words, the Hebrew word for “and then.”  If you take my advice, you will read the first two pages and skip the rest.  Trust me that this man looked at every possible detail of this “waw consecutive.”  Much more interesting was the work of Stephen W. Boyd in chapter 6, “The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3: What Means This Text?”  He included the results of his own statistical analysis of waw consecutives as a sign of historical narrative, with other considerations for determining genre. 

The chapters that included direct quotes (translated) of church fathers were a helpful and interesting survey of early church theology with the different schools of thought (for example, the way in which most theologians related the age of the earth to their eschatology).  One chapter introduced me to Ancient Near Eastern literature.  Another emphasized the importance of context in (especially Hebrew) interpreting a passage.  A phrase often has a meaning more than the sum of its parts.  Page 120 and 121 are a biblical refutation of human empiricism superceding a faith acceptance of the “special revelation” word of God.  Chapter 9’s play by play description of the Flood with a timeline and occasional phrase exposition is one of the highlights (and I learned about inclusios and chiasms!).  My favorite part (more a reflection on my taste for philosophy than the writing or substance of the rest of the book) was the Epilogue, in which the editors contrast young earth biblical creationism with the Intelligent Design Movement (which tends to compromise the statements of the Bible). 

Ultimately, this book is a plea for faithful exegesis of the Bible and a defense of the methods employed and conclusions reached through traditional hermeneutic approach to Genesis consistent with that used on the rest of the Bible.  Coming to Grips with Genesis is an intense work, scholarly and detailed.  Theologians, seminarians, pastors, and Bible teachers – especially those whose view of Genesis is not firmly opposed to all forms of compromise – are the appropriate audience for this book. 

Coming to Grips with Genesis

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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Over the past decade or so, several scientists, authors, and speakers have joined forces to promote their observations that indicate life originated with a designer. Cells are just too complicated, they say, to have arisen by chance. Spontaneous generation, disproven centuries ago, remains the naturalist’s only option for the origin of biological life. Yet the odds against even a simple single-celled organism arising by chance are astronomical. The molecules have to line up all at once to form proteins, which have to line up quickly into the cells. DNA is a complex code for building life: made up of simple proteins, the series communicates a baffling level of information. Intelligent Design usually rests their case for an original designer at this point, picking back up after life has begun to debate Darwinism’s explanation for the variety of life we witness on earth.

But they could take the matter farther. Even if the remotest of far-fetched chances (this is before mutation or natural selection or heredity can have any impact on the process) came true and all the chemicals and molecules lined up, the language DNA writes still had to come from somewhere. It has no meaning without an Author. That age-old question, “Why?” asked by every two year old since humanity began, remains: both inside science and in the realm of philosophy.

According to the theory of evolution, mutations and natural selection account for increasing complexity and increasing variety among living creatures. (Evolutionists have precious little to explain the acquisition of new information in the DNA; all observable speciation, mutation, and variation consists of loss of information, reduced parameters for variety in future generations.) Evolutionists usually posit that all life arose from a single simple organism (which found sufficient nourishment, reproduced, and gave us the definition of life as we know it). Intelligent Design scientists point out that among the known species, there are many examples of features too complex, too perfectly adapted to be attributed to chance. The advent of each of these mechanisms would have been almost as miraculous as the first life, according to the mathematics. Take vision, wings, migration instinct, sex. Some creatures demonstrate irreducible complexity: all the new parts have to be present and perfect immediately to be functional. In some cases, the slightest difference means death for the creature in whom the feature was derived, and we know that dead creatures don’t pass their genes to future generations.

Complexity, information, and observed natural processes and their limitations are the data. Statistical probabilities are the analyses. Impossible is a logical conclusion. But life exists whether we can explain it or not. So some, purely on scientific grounds, conclude that there may be a designer. If we include this intelligence in the list of natural phenomenon; in other words, accept it as an observable* part of our world, humans can keep studying this marvelous, orderly world, drawing conclusions allowing for design and occasional if not constant intervention by a creative and powerful force.

*Scientists observe evidence for design in other fields (outside of ‘natural science’) all the time. Forensic science, for example, searches for clues that will tell an investigator whether a crime was committed. We not only judge whether there was intelligence, but degrees of intelligence using science. Consider archaeology. We may find a rustic clay pot, or a ziggurat aligned with constellations. Both represent intelligence, but of varying degrees.

Nor does it take a scientist to observe evidence for design. You are walking on the beach. Lying in the sand is a watch. With its gears and correspondence to what you call and measure as time, you conclude that the watch was designed, intelligently. Here most people explain our conclusions using a contrast with something “obviously” not designed, like the sand on the beach. The casual observer can see nothing about the form of the sand that stands out, that indicates someone intentionally smoothed it out and drew in ripples. In fact, we can even explain the tiny size of the particles, their smoothness, and the ripples by natural, consistent, observable events.

Here’s where I differ. Just as we have no explanation (using forces exclusive of a designer) for life, so science cannot explain the origin or structure of these tiny rocks. Under a microscope these crystals and substances reveal a mastery of molecular architecture. Each different rock is functional and unique from other kinds of rock. We’re taught that everything is composed of atoms, those busy bits whirling and attracting and repulsing with a reliability that we need every moment. What keeps the atoms together? What gives them weight? Why are there so many different substances? Even if “naturalists” are right, and the universe began with a big bang, what exploded, why and how? Where did the “what” come from, or the energy for the explosion? Why are there laws, and why are they repeatable? Taking our illustration of the sand, how did it get in the sea to be beaten into fragments, smoothed along a beach, and shaped by the waves breaking on the shore? Why do waves break, and how?

I argue that there is no such thing as naturalism without a designer, because every bit of nature is inexplicable without a designer. The laws of the universe represent order and harmony and intelligence. A cell may be more complex than a grain of sand, but only as the ziggurat is to a clay pot. Both are designed. And everything “natural” is so elegantly structured that its aesthetic far outweighs the clumsy pot made by man.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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