Recap of 2016 National Conference on Christian Apologetics

Last Friday and Saturday, Southern Evangelical Seminary held its annual apologetics conference at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. On Thursday, a special women’s edition of the conference was held. I had the distinct honor to attend this conference which was titled “The Defense Never Rests.” This was my fourth conference and quite honestly it was one of the best yet.

Due to an illness, Lee Strobel was not able to attend the conference as previously scheduled. Dr. Norman Geisler stepped up to fill in for the ailing Strobel. Geisler addressed the freedoms that America was built upon, particularly addressing the role that the Judeo-Christian ethic played in the development of the country. One fascinating fact that quite interested me was that for nearly 300 years, Americans read the Bible, prayed, and learned the Ten Commandments while in public school. From 1960-1963, prayer, devotional readings of the Bible, and the adherence to the Ten Commandments were eliminated from the public school system. Since that time, divorces and abortions have increased over 200%. Is there a connection? I agree with Geisler in saying that there is.

Dr. Frank Turek led the next lecture I attended. His lecture was titled “When Reason Isn’t the Reason for Unbelief.” Turek revealed that reason is not the stumbling block that keeps most atheists from coming to the Christian faith: the consequences of the Christian faith do. Assembling some of the material from his book Stealing from God, Turek concludes that atheists often must steal principles from God in order to make their case. I loved Augustine’s quote given which says, “We love the truth when it enlightens us. We hate the truth when it convicts us.” How true! Morality is only known because of the standard given to us by God. While many feel they are somewhat less righteous than Mother Teresa and far more righteous than Hitler, Turek noted from Scripture that everyone is unrighteous before God. Turek brought a great lesson!

The third lecture I attended was led by Dr. Barry Leventhal and titled “The Problem of Evil and The Holocaust.” Leventhal told something that I had never before heard. He told of individuals surviving the horrors of the Nazi concentration camp who had visions of the Messiah. One particular individual despised Christianity so much that it became a means of survival. Joseph Herschowitz was his name. Herschowitz kept telling himself, “If I ever get out of here, I will make those Christians pay.” Why did he blame the Christians? It was because they stood idly by and did not say anything to the Jews defense. Herschowitz, to his surprise, had an encounter with what Leventhal called “The Mysterious Messiah.” Leventhal addressed the hiddenness of God and noted that what we know of God pales in comparison to the great depths of God that we do not know. As Leventhal noted, we do not know just how many people in the shadows of the concentration camps met this Mystery Messiah that we know to be Christ Jesus. The term “powerful” does not do justice to the might of Leventhal’s lecture.

The fourth lecture I attended was led by Norman Geisler. I caught just a bit of his lecture. Geisler’s second address was on the title of the conference, “The Defense Never Rests.” He spoke of the challenges that the church has met since its illustrious inception. His main focus was on the importance of defending the truth of God’s Word against any and all errors. I hope to hear this lecture in its entirety soon.

The fifth lecture was given by Dr. Doug Potter. Potter’s lecture was titled “The Book of Enoch, Angels, and Giants, O My…” This lecture was all about the pseudopigraphal book known as 1 Enoch. Some question whether 1 Enoch should be included in the canon since Jude quoted from 1 Enoch. Potter argued that it was possible that Jude and the mysterious writer of 1 Enoch could have pulled from another unknown source. But even if Jude did quote 1 Enoch, this does not grant that 1 Enoch should be included. For instance, Paul was known to quote from non-Christian literary texts of his day. Potter concludes that 1 Enoch does not find a home in the New Testament canon. While 1 Enoch is interesting, I most certainly concur with Dr. Potter.

The sixth lecture I attended was led by Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe. Ross’ lecture was on the “Faint Sun Paradox: New Proofs of Creation.” My specialty is in the realm of theology, so I dare not try to explain all of what Dr. Ross said. Nevertheless, Dr. Ross noted that as the sun grows older, it becomes larger, hotter, and more luminous. Without enough light, the earth would be a snowball. With too much light, the earth would be a fireball. We find ourselves in a perfect position where life is allowable. In addition, Dr. Ross presented other fascinating signs of design which must be in place to allow for life to exist. Dr. Ross clearly illuminated the fact that a Creator not only put everything into place, that same Creator works within creation keeping things balanced so that life can exist. However, this information came with a warning. Unless God intervenes, life cannot continue to exist much past 1,400 years. While not going into much more detail, he did say that other factors may bring that time-frame into centuries. So the notion that Jesus is coming soon is far more relevant that the skeptic may want to think.

The seventh lecture I attended was led by Dr. Sean McDowell. His lecture was of great interest to me being the lover of history that I am. McDowell gave the lecture titled “The Fate of the Apostles.” McDowell addressed the history and legendary material surrounding the fate of the apostles. He noted that we can know with high probability that Peter, Paul, James the brother of Jesus, and James the son of Zebedee died as martyrs. He also noted that we can know with good probability that Thomas and Andrew also died as martyrs. However as it pertains to the remaining apostles, the historian cannot be certain although there are reasons to think that the apostles all, or nearly all, died as martyrs. I had a chance to speak with McDowell after the lecture. Let me just say, Sean McDowell is a kind man and extremely intelligent. He noted that John was the most interesting of the apostles he studied. There are some indications suggesting that he could have died as a martyr, but nothing conclusive. Other sources indicate that he died a natural death while ministering in Ephesus. In my humble opinion, I feel that John 21:20-24 indicates the latter as I also feel that there are good reasons to hold that the apostle John dictated his Gospel to an amanuensis. Fantastic lecture!!!

On Saturday, I attended three lectures. The eighth lecture of the conference was led again by Hugh Ross. Ross’ second lecture was titled “Habitability for Redemption.” Ross argued that the habitability index of creation is just right to allow countless billions of individuals to come to faith. God designed creation so that the maximum number of individuals could hear the gospel and enter into a relationship with God. Excellent lecture!

The ninth lecture I attended was led by Jay Sekulow of the American Center of Law and Justice. Sekulow is a defense attorney who has defended religious freedoms in the United States of America as well as defending the persecuted church at the United Nations. Concurring with Dr. Richard Land, hearing Sekulow is what it must have been like to hear the apostle Paul. Sekulow shared with us the importance in staying true to our Christian convictions, but doing so in an intelligent fashion. Sekulow noted that while politics is an important endeavor, politics never raised someone from the dead. Excellent point! It was also fascinating to hear of Sekulow’s testimony in how he came to know Yeshua (Jesus) as his Savior.

The tenth and final lecture I was able to attend was led by J. Warner Wallace. Mr. Wallace is an extremely likable fellow. Wallace is a former cold-case homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), star of the movie God’s Not Dead 2, and author of the books Cold-case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. In his second lecture, Wallace presented material found in his book Cold-case Christianity. Wallace used the evidence of a cold-case homicide detective to demonstrate that the four Gospels are documents penned by eyewitnesses. Wallace’s presentation was top-notch and left one on the edge of their seats. He performed well under pressure because Dr. Gary Habermas and two Ph.D. students were in the front row. Apparently they gave him two thumbs up after the presentation had concluded. I was certainly cheering him on. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Wallace’s early dating of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as I feel the logic and evidence using the lack of information concerning the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. in Acts and the synoptics weigh in favor of an early dating. Mr. Wallace added the capstone to what was, in my opinion, one of the best apologetics conferences yet.

The only trouble was, I wanted to hear much more! My good buddies J. Andrew Payne and Devin Pellew presented what I heard were excellent lectures on apologetic methodologies and answering objections to the Christian faith. If you have not attended, you need to make sure to check http://conference.ses.edu for details on the 2017 edition of the National Conference on Christian Apologetics. God-willing, I hope to be there again.

 

(c) October 17, 2016. Brian Chilton.

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The Kalaam Cosmological Argument: Short, Sweet, and Stout

big-bang  Many philosophical and apologetic arguments are difficult to commit to memory. Some arguments consist of five thorough points. Sometimes these arguments are difficult to bring out especially when you are speaking to someone about the faith. However, there is one such argument that is short enough that it is easy to remember, sweet enough to get people thinking, and stout enough to hold up even to the most ardent objector. This argument is called the Kalaam Cosmological Argument. It was originally developed by a Muslim in the late 11th century by the name of Abu Hamid Muhammed ibn Muhammed al-Ghazali. He is known by his shortened name Al-Ghazali. In recent days, the Kalaam Cosmological Argument has been revived and brought to the public sphere by Christian apologist William Lane Craig. Craig has written extensively on this argument and one of his resources will be used in this article. The argument consists of three premises:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

2) The universe began to exist.

3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

For this article, we will examine the three premises in greater detail. For exhaustive treatment of this argument, see the resources used at the end of this article. Let us now examine the first premise.

universe 2

1.     Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

The first premise of the argument is logically sound. Everything that begins to exist has a purpose for its existence. For instance, your existence is the result of your biological parents consummation. Now, because you exist, it could logically be demanded that a host male and female parent had to exist. Your existence demands their existence. Your existence did not come by way of happenstance. There was a reason for you to be here. (The naysayer may claim that instances of rape and incestual relationships counter this claim. However, your existence is still a good thing. Therefore, even though a person’s consummation may have come from less than favorable circumstances, good came through even the most horrible of circumstances…ie. the child’s existence. Let us pick up that argument in a later article and continue on with the subject at hand.)

The cause-effect relationship is the fundamental building block of science itself. When I worked as a teaching assistant, I helped instruct the children on the fundamentals of science. The first step is understanding the causal relationship. So, this causal relationship is fundamental in all things. When a crime scene investigator examines a corpse, he/she wants to know the cause of this person’s death. Was it a homicide? Was it a suicide? Or, was it by natural causes? Craig writes, “Premise (1) seems obviously true-at the least, more so than its negation. First and foremost, it’s rooted in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing. To suggest that things could pop into being uncaused out of nothing is to quit doing serious metaphysics and to resort to magic. Second, if things really could come into being uncaused out of nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything do not come into existence uncaused from nothing. Finally, the first premise is constantly confirmed in our experience. Atheists who are scientific naturalists thus have the strongest of motivations to accept it” (Craig 2008, 111-112). 

When we think of cosmological arguments for the existence of God, particularly the Kalaam Cosmological Argument, it is the same with the universe. Because we are here, because there is design in the universe, and because there is something rather than nothing (we are not speaking of Krauss’ logically absurd “nothing something” here), we are forced with a first causing agent: God. This is the first premise. Let us now look at the second premise.

big-bang

2.     The universe began to exist.

The second premise of the argument is one that has been confirmed by scientific data. The belief that God created the universe ex nihilo (from nothing) is a biblical concept, as well. Let us consider four reasons why the Christian can and should accept the fact that the universe began to exist.

Big Bang Theory

Oh no! Doesn’t the “Big Bang Theory” conflict with Genesis 1? Actually…no, it doesn’t. We will examine the biblical references showing that God created the universe “ex nihilo” later. For now, it must be accepted as a fact that the universe is not eternal, but finite. The Big Bang Theory shows just that. Craig explains, “The standard Big Bang model, as the Friedman-Lemaitre model came to be called, thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin out of nothing. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity” (Craig 2008, 127). How do the scientists know that a Big Bang occurred? Well, it has to do with the expansion of the universe. The universe as we know it is running out of energy. It is expanding at a faster rate and will eventually cool and lose the energy contained within. This corresponds with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which we will cover in a moment. Because the universe is expanding, this forces one to concede the fact that if you were to travel back in time, you would find the universe becoming more and more dense and smaller. Turek and Geisler give five reasons why one can know that the universe had a beginning. They give a handy acronymn “SURGE” to remember the five points. “S=Second Law of Thermodynamics…U=Universal Expansion…R=Radiation Afterglow…G=Galaxy Seeds…E=Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity” (Geisler and Turek 2004, 76-83). If you want to learn more about these five points, pick up Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. We will examine one of the five points.

2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Geisler and Turek explain this law, “Thermodynamics is the study of matter and energy, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics states, among other things, that the universe is running out of usable energy. With each passing moment, the amount of usable energy in the universe grows smaller, leading scientists to the obvious conclusion that one day all of the energy will be gone and the universe will die. Like a running car, the universe will ultimately run out of gas” (Geisler and Turek 2004, 76). If you do not believe in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, just look at a picture of yourself taken 10 years ago and then look at yourself in a mirror now. You have aged. As time progresses, your body will begin to break and wear down eventually leading to death (or the beginning of an exciting new life for the Christian). This is an example of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in action. Because the universe is running out of energy, there must have been a starting point where the universe was given all the energy contained within itself. This starting point is even more remarkable when one understands that there was no universe, no time, and no energy in the universe before the universe began. This demands that the universe, the energy contained within, and the laws of nature governing it came from an outside source…a source that contains more power than the sum total of power contained within the universe…is timeless…and able to provide the design and governing laws contained within the universe. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like God to me!!!

Villenkin/Guth/Borg Mathematical Theorem

Some naturalists have tried to wriggle around the obvious conclusions which a finite universe brings by claiming that this universe came from a larger unmanned universe. They call this mother universe to all universes a “multiverse.” This theory is also called the “M-Theory.” There are inherent problems with this theory. For one, there is not conclusive evidence that there is a multiverse. A multiverse would, if it exists, not be able to be observed now, if ever. Therefore, the adherents of such a view would have to accept a multiverse’s existence on faith. However, what many do not realize is that a multiverse solves nothing. A multiverse only pushes the problem back a step. Robert J. Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, wrote about three mathematicans who discovered a fascinating mathematical theorem (a theorem in mathematics is like a law in physics). Spitzer writes, “This stronger proof, put forward in 2003 by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin (henceforth BGV), considers space-times satisfying the condition that the average Hubble expansion in the past is greater than zero, i.e., H(av) > 0…In other words, the BGV result demonstrates that all inflationary space-times have a beginning in the finite past, presumably in some sort of quantum nucleation event that mitigates the breakdown of physics accompanying a classical singularity…By the impeccable logic of the kalam argument, the BGV theorem implies that space-times expanding on average throughout their histories are caused – they are caused because they began to exist, and everything that begins to exist requires a cause. Furthermore, this cause must be transcendent in nature because space-time cannot be self-caused: prior to the existence of all space, time, matter, and energy there was no universe to describe and there were no physical laws or initial conditions that could have played a role in its genesis; rather, all these things came into existence out of nothing, so a transcendent immaterial cause must necessarily have acted” (Spitzer 2010, 76-77). In other words: even if a multiverse existed, the multiverse would have come into being at a finite point in time. Therefore, the naturalist has not escaped the “God dilemma.” The naturalist has only pushed the problem back a step.

Biblical References to Creation “Ex Nihilo”

Numerous references could be given at this point. We will however limit the references to five passages which indicate that God created the universe from nothing.

Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” 

Psalm 33:6

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.”

John 1:3

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

Romans 4:17

“(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.”

Hebrews 11:3

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

So you see, the Bible strongly indicates that the Eternally Conscious, Living, God brought the universe into existence from no material, but established everything by God’s command. Now, let us examine the final premise to the Kalaam Cosmological Argument.

universe 1

3.     Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Since the first two premises hold, the final premise is a given. The universe had a cause. There are two primary reasons to hold that the universe has a cause.

First Cause

What we have learned is that before the singularity (the point where everything in the universe could fit inside a sewer’s pin), nothing physical in the universe (energy, laws of physics, or matter) existed. Something had to cause the universe’s existence because we are here now experiencing the universe. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or one only. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be not first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God” (Aquinas, I.2.3., 1990, 66-67). In other words, if one had three dominoes, the person (first cause) would push down the first domino which would push down the second domino (intermediate causes) which would finally push down the last domino (ultimate cause). Or another way to look at it would be like the classic game Mouse Trap. The player initiates a series of events which eventually leads to the ultimate cause (catching the mouse with a plastic net). The player and initial domino pusher were the first causes. Likewise, God is the necessary first cause to the universe.

Design

There is no doubt that the universe has greatly been designed. Spitner gives seven lines of evidence concerning the design of the universe. “(1) The first instance is given by Roger Penrose, who shows the exceedingly high improbability of a low-entropy condition (which is compatible with the Second Law of Thermodynamics and essential for our anthropic universe) arising out of the big bang…The odds of our anthropic universe arising amidst the total phase-space volume of possible universes for a creation event is so exceedingly, exceedingly, exceedingly remote that it’s notation in regular exponential form is one part in: 10(1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000) (my note: there are 123 zeroes in case you lost count)…

(2) The second instance concerns the interrelationship among the gravitational constant (G), weak force constang (gw), and the cosmological constant (Λ) with respect to the rate of acceleration (and possible collapse) of the universe as a whole…

(3) A third instance of improbable anthropic conditions concerns the strong force constant (especially in its relationship to the electromagnetic constant). This constant cannot vary more or less than 2 percent from its current value (gs=15) without rendering impossible the formation of either hydrogen or any other element heavier than hydrogen…

(4) A fourth instance of the improbability of anthropic conditions in our universe concerns the relationship between the gravitational and weak force constants on the one hand, and the neutron-proton mass and electron mass on the other…

(5) A fifth instance of the improbability of anthropic conditions concerns the gravitational constant in its relation to the electromagnetic constant and the ratio of electron to proton mass…

(6) A sixth instance of the improbability of anthropic conditions concerns the weak force constant and its relationship to the carbon atom…

(7) A seventh instance can be adduced from the resonances of atomic nuclei” (Spitzner 2010, 57-64). These are only seven among over 180 constants of design that have been found in the universe. There seems to be a going trend. That trend indicates that we are here for a cause. The Causer is God.

big bang

Conclusion

The cosmological argument is among one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God. The other contender would be the teleological argument (evidence from design). These arguments were strong enough to persuade longtime atheist Antony Flew of God’s existence. Flew accepted the existence of God a few years before his death. It is not known if he ever came to be a Christian, however. Among the cosmological arguments, the Kalaam Cosmological Argument stands strong. The Kalaam Cosmological Argument is logically sound, biblically sound, and scientifically sound. Also, the Kalaam Cosmological Argument is short enough to remember, sweet enough to get people thinking, and stout enough to hold through the toughest critic’s objections. The Kalaam Cosmological Argument is one argument that the Christian defender should learn well.

 

Bibliography

All scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologicae. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, trans. Summa of the Summa, Peter Kreeft, ed. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1990.

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008.

Geisler, Norman and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004.

Spitzner, Robert J. New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Does Science Conflict with a Belief in God?

Click here to hear the “Redeeming Truth” broadcast of “Does Science Conflict with a Belief in God.”

Does Science Conflict with a Belief in God?

by: Pastor Brian Chilton

Does science conflict with a belief in God?  Some atheists would like for you to think that it does.  Yet, a close examination reveals that science can tell us nothing without interpretation.  Dr. Frank Turek writes,

‘Science’ doesn’t say anything—scientists do…Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think.  A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33 percent of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20 percent of mid-career scientists who admitted to ‘changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.’  Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it! (The researchers said as much in their findings)…Why is it so hard for Dawkins and other Darwinists to see this?  Maybe they refuse to see it…Or maybe they’ve never realized that you cannot do science without philosophy.  As Einstein said, ‘The man of science is a poor philosopher.’  And poor philosophers of science may often arrive at false scientific conclusions.  That’s because science doesn’t say anything—scientists do.”[1]

Don’t the laws of physics negate belief in God?  Well that is preposterous at the outset because then one is to wonder where the laws of physics arose.  But, Dr. John Lennox explains in his book “Gunning for God” that it is audacious to believe such a thing in the first place.  Dr. Lennox speaks about Dr. Stephen Hawking’s book “The Grand Delusion.”  Many hold Hawking to the level of a scientific god, but understand that Dr. Lennox holds three doctoral degrees himself.  Lennox writes,

“According to him (Hawking…mine) the laws of physics (not the will of God) provide the real explanation as to how life on earth came into being.  He argues that the Big Bang was the inevitable consequence of these laws: ‘Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing’…Hawking is guilty of a number of serious misunderstandings and logical fallacies.  Firstly, his view of God is defective…Hawking’s inadequate view of God could well be linked with his attitude to philosophy in general.  He writes, ‘Philosophy is dead.’  But this itself is a philosophical statement.  It is manifestly not a statement of science…It is a classic example of logical incoherence…Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a (mathematical) description of what normally happens under certain conditions.  Newton’s law of gravitation does not create gravity; it does not even explain gravity, as Newton himself realized.”[2]

Lennox stated at a lecture at the 19th Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina, that one must be careful in taking too much stock on a scientific theory or a biblical interpretation.  Note, he did not say that you could not take stock in the Bible, but just that of a certain interpretation.  As he mentioned, everyone in the medieval ages thought that the Bible and science taught that the sun rotated around the earth.  A closer examination of both proved the interpretation false.  With this in mind, I would like to challenge you to see that science does not negate belief in God by three different supposed conflicts.  You may hold a different interpretation and that is fine.  But what I seek to show in this article is that the Bible does not conflict with science nor does science conflict with the Bible…interpretations of both cause the conflict.

Does Science Conflict with Scripture in Beginnings?

Does the Big Bang Theory conflict with the biblical understanding of creation?  No, it does not.  Actually, what the Big Bang Theory does is to identify what the Bible has been stating all along; that God created the universe and everything in it ex nihilo (from nothing).  The author of Hebrews writes, “And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.”[3]  The apostle John also writes, “In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,* and his life brought light to everyone.”[4]

So the Big Bang Theory does not demote a belief in God.  It actually supports it.  Some would claim that the universe could, as Hawking supposed (before quoted in Lennox’s work), spawn from nothing.  But, that comes from a misunderstanding of “nothing.”  Nothing means “not any thing” or the “lack of any substance.”  In other words, it means to be “non-existent.”  Hawking gets around the conundrum of “nothing” by presupposing that “nothing” means “particles and vacuums.”  But simple logic tells us that vacuums and particles are not really “nothings” but rather “somethings.”

To illustrate: suppose your spouse asks you to go to the market to buy some coffee.  You go to the market and arrive back thirty minutes later than you expected.  Your spouse asks, “What took you so long?”  You respond, “Oh, I met somebody I knew and we talked for a while.”  Your spouse responds, “Oh, who was it?”  “Nobody,” you reply.  Now, you know and your spouse knows that the “nobody” to which you refer was actually a “somebody” unless you lied and did not talk to anybody.  But if you talked to nobody, then you really didn’t talk to anybody.  So you could not have both spoken to nobody and somebody.  This breaks not only the law of contradiction (p ≠ ~p)…or an apple tree cannot both exist and not exist…but it also breaks the law of excluded middle (p v ~p)…or it must be true that an apple must either exist or not exist.  So in reality, the universe has either always existed or it must have come from a higher intelligence.  Since the evidence suggests that the universe has not always existed, it must have come from a higher intelligence.

Does Science Contradict with Scripture in Time?

If you are more prone to fundamentalist interpretations without any wiggle room, then you may wish to skip to the third and final question.  I do not seek to thwart your interpretations in any direction.  But, I do wish to show that the Bible and science do not contradict necessarily in the age of the universe.  Some hold that the universe is only 6,000 years old.  Those who hold this interpretation are called “Young Earth Creationists.”  This interpretation comes from an understanding that the Genesis account of creation states that the 6 days of creation took 24 hour periods of time and that the genealogies given are exhaustive.  With those who hold this view, their interpretation does indeed conflict with data that suggests that the universe is 13 billion years old.  So, one is wrong.  Either the scientific data is incorrect or the biblical interpretation is wrong.  But, this does not necessitate that the Bible is wrong.

Two things must be considered: the word “yom” (my) and the genealogies of Scripture.  It is absolutely necessary to hold that the word “yom” means a 24 hour period?  Actually, no.  The word “yom” is used especially in the Prophets to describe a period of time called the “yom YHWH” or the Day of the LORD.  Sometimes this day may be used to indicate one day, such as the crucifixion of the Messiah, and at other times it may be used to indicate the “last days.”  The fact is; the ancient Hebrew language only had a few thousand words.  Compare that to the millions of words used in the current English language.  Some words held multiple meanings.  The word “day” best represents “yom” because “day” itself can represent different meanings; such as, “it is a nice day” (moment in time)…”the project is due sometime Sunday” (meaning a 24 hour period)…or “did you read about the day of the dinosaurs” (a long period of time).  So the Bible itself does not necessitate a 24 hour period of time for each day, but that is the interpretation of many.[5]

Therefore, the scientific data does not conflict with the Bible or belief in God, it only conflicts with a certain interpretation.  In the end, as I told the folks at church during our study of Genesis, it really does not matter whether it took God 13 billion years to create everything or just a few days.  God is still God and God still made everything.  That really was the intent of Moses when he documented the creation narrative.  The Bible tells us that God is not on the same timeframe as are we because God is not limited by time.  “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.”[6] 

Does Science Conflict with Scripture in the Beginnings of Life?

Actually, no it does not conflict.  Even if one held to Darwinian evolution, the person would still need to believe in God.  Why?  It is because that the process understood as “evolution” is a process that acts according to laws and regulations.  That designates intelligence.  Processes and procedures do not come by random chance and by non-intelligence.  A rock does not plan a space launch.  A piece of grass does not build skyscrapers.  Inanimate things do not do intelligent things.  Even the term “natural selection” is an oxymoron.  The process of “selecting” is something that only intelligence can do.  Only something with a will can choose to select certain things over others.  How can nature, an inanimate set of things, choose anything?  It can’t!!!

Now, I must admit that I do not hold to Darwinian evolution.  When the evolutionist claims that evolution has been proven, they are stating that micro-evolution has been proven.  Even the most ardent fundamentalist person would admit this because micro-evolution speaks about adaptive changes within a species.  This is really not evolution at all, but adaptation.  Adaptation is necessary for all species to survive.

What has not been proven is macro-evolution.  Macro-evolution is the change from one species of animal to another.  Now, yes there can be changes within a species.  You can breed different types of dogs.  But you cannot breed a Doberman with a beagle and have a cat.  If you could manage that, I would say that you would definitely be on a lot of television shows.  When Charles Darwin observed the changes to the beaks of the Galapagos finches, he did not notice that the birds changed into lizards.  The birds were still birds.  Tests with fruit flies do not produce anything but other fruit flies…with adaptations yes…but they are still fruit flies.

What of the fossil record?  Doesn’t it show that animals became more complex over time?  Yes, but so does Genesis.  God first made the animals of the sea, then the birds of the air, then the wild animals, then domesticated animals (or animals that could be domesticated), and finally human beings.  So, where’s the conflict?  There is none.

Conclusion:

In this paper, I have sought to show that science really does not affect a personal belief in God at all.  From the laws of nature, the mathematical formulations ascribed to the universe, the cosmological constants of the universe, the intricate beauty of life, the moral standards given, and et cetera all show that belief in God is rational and logical.  I would close by adding another illustration given by John Lennox which I shall paraphrase.

Lennox said at the 19th Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics that he has heard people claim that they do not see God in the universe.  He went on to say that this would be similar in saying that one could not find Henry Ford in a Ford engine.  Of course you couldn’t, the creator is far greater than the creation.  God may be more involved in everything than you might think, but unless you seek for Him and/or allow Him to find you, you will not find Him.  “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.”[7]

Bibliography:

Lennox, John C., “Are Faith and God Enemies of Reason and Science,” Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2011).

The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).

Turek, Frank, “Science Doesn’t Say Anything, Scientists Do,” Southern Evangelical Seminary publication.

Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).

Excerpts from various lectures at the 19th Annual National Conference of Christian Apologetics, sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary and held at the Central Church of God, (Charlotte, NC: October 19th and 20th, 2012).  Contact http://www.ses.edu for more information concerning future conferences.

 


[1] Dr. Frank Turek, “Science Doesn’t Say Anything, Scientists Do,” Southern Evangelical Seminary.

[2] John C. Lennox, “Are Faith and God Enemies of Reason and Science,” Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists are Missing the Target (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2011), 31-33.

[3] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Heb 1:2.

[4] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), Jn 1:1–4.

[5] Some hold that there are theological problems that arise from “Old Earth Creationism.”  But this is simply not the case.  Adam and Eve would still have been the first two humans.  They still would have fallen from grace.  This means that we would still need a Savior to save us from our sinful nature.

[6] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 2 Pe 3:8.

[7] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Is 55:6.