Tag Archives: evidence

Why Is Creation Such an Emotionally Charged Issue?

Few issues are as intellectually complex and emotionally charged as the subject of creation. There are a number of reasons this issue arouses such strong emotions.

Both sides in the debate claim that the weight of evidence is on their side. For Christians and other believers in a personal God, the recently enunciated anthropic principle 1 affirms their conviction that creation requires a Creator (Psalm 8:3, 4; Romans 1:20). Believers in naturalism (atheistic evolution) counter with the assertion that there is no mathematical, scientific “proof” that God intervenes supernaturally in the “closed system” of natural cause and effect.

Another source of conflicting evidence relates to the problem of evil. Believers in a personal Creator maintain that the limitless beauty of the universe and the existence of consciousness, self-sacrifice and love imply a loving, personal Creator. Naturalists focus on the randomness of nature and the universality of disease, predation, and suffering. They insist that the destructiveness in nature can be explained more easily by an impersonal universe than a loving, personal Creator.

Unfortunately, some believers in creation have had obviously flawed philosophical and theological perspectives. For example, because the book of Joshua speaks of the “sun standing still” (Joshua 10:12-14 ), a significant number of prominent Christians in the past assumed that the sun revolved around the earth. Because of this misreading of Scripture, they opposed the Copernican revolution. 2. More recently, other prominent Christians have endorsed Ussher’s chronology 3, insisting that the world is exactly as old as a superficial reading of the Old Testament genealogies would imply 4. Such believers allowed their own interpretations of Scripture to become idols, outweighing overwhelming evidence and undermining the authority of Scripture itself.

Many atheistic evolutionists, on the other hand, make an idol of the scientific method. They are reductionists who “reduce” life to nothing more than what can be demonstrated by scientific fact. By restricting the realm of “fact” and “reality” only to things that can be demonstrated scientifically, they exclude God and the most important aspects of human life.

Believers in creation make the reasonable observation that further acceptance of atheistic evolutionism’s worldview will make the spiritual vacuum that already oppresses modern society even stronger. Godless evolutionism laid the groundwork for the violent atheistic ideologies of communism, race-based nationalism, and fascism that made the 20th century the most catastrophically murderous century in human history 5. Atheistic evolutionists (naturalists) fear—with much less evidence—that the antiscientific bias of those who affirm creation may cause a recurrence of blind superstition on a mass scale, like that produced the Medieval witch-craze in Europe. (See the ATQ articles Why Did Ancient Pagans Practice Blood Sacrifices? and Did Church Authorities Seek to Eradicate Paganism in Europe by Killing Millions of “Witches”?)

Each side has fundamental doubts about the other’s integrity. Naturalistic evolutionists tend to view religious creationists as intellectually lazy people who are unwilling to grapple honestly with the evidence. Generalizing, they conclude that unwillingness of some creationists to seriously grapple with vast areas of evidence uncovered by science implies that the faith of all creationists is propped up by mere ignorance and group consensus. On the other hand, believers in a Creator tend to see all naturalists stridently promoting a worldview that fails to answer the most basic questions of human existence and ignores the despair it creates. They view all evolutionists as arrogant zealots unhumbled before the mystery of life, motivated largely by a desire to deny their accountability to a higher Judge.

The subject of creation tends to draw out the obscurantism on both sides: an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of physical evidence, and an obscurantism that tends to minimize the significance of the spiritual side of reality. Each inflames its opposite. Before they can come to a fuller understanding, both creationists and evolutionists need to be willing to dispense with their “pat answers” that ignore either physical facts or spiritual reality (Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 5:1-3; Job 38, 39)

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4. See the rest of the chapter).

A hundred years ago, the weight of the spirit of the age seemed to favor the naturalist who denied the need for God. Today, the spirit of the age is swinging in favor of those acknowledging the reasonability of a Creator Yet, it would be a mistake for Christians to depend on current scientific opinion as a basis for their faith. Healthy Christian faith thrives on both spiritual and rational integrity. Its vision of reality can be expanded by new scientific discovery without mistaking the world of mathematics and scientific observation for the sum of reality. Of all people, Christians should be most open to exploring both physical and spiritual truth.

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you” (Psalms 139:1-18).

  1. One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact, and collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (J. P. Provenzano, The Philosophy of Conscious Energy) Back To Article
  2. Although not all early and Medieval Christians who took this view, Martin Luther was a prominent example of those who held that Joshua 10:12-14 proved that the sun revolves around the earth, rather than the earth revolving around the sun. Of course all the Bible verifies is that the sun and moon appeared to stand still. This apparently involved some kind of miracle, but God probably made the sun appear to stand still without stopping the rotation of the earth with all of the consequences of such an action.
    Were the rotation of the earth stopped, the oceans would probably have flooded over the highest mountains and unprecedented earthquakes and volcanoes have been triggered as the result of tremendous pressures in the earth’s crust. All but the simplest life would be annihilated. Of course, God would have the power to suspend the laws of physics so that none of this would happen, but a miracle of this scale would seem to be a bit “excessive” just to help the Israelites win a battle. After all, there would be much simpler ways that God could make the sun “stand still.” Back To Article
  3. In the mid 17th century Archbishop James Ussher of the Anglican Church published a chronology that concluded the “first day of creation began at nightfall preceding Sunday October 23, 4004 BC in the proleptic Julian calendar, near the autumnal equinox.” Back To Article
  4. There is no certain biblical means of determining the amount of time that has elapsed between the creation of man and the coming of Christ. The genealogies of Genesis are clearly not reliable for this purpose. For instance, the Genesis genealogies would allow for only 300 years between Noah and Abraham, yet at the time of Abraham there were already great civilizations in such widespread places as Egypt, China, India, and Mesopotamia, and Greece. In addition, detailed archaeological evidences demonstrate that in some of these places many dynasties had already come and gone, and civilization was already ancient.
    The solution to the apparent conflict between archaeological evidences and the biblical record lies in the fact that the genealogies don’t include unimportant individuals. The Hebrew word for son, ben, didn’t only mean son, but also was used to refer to grandsons and descendants. Similarly, the Hebrew word yalad (bear) also can have the meaning of “become the ancestor of” (Isaiah 29:23 is an example of yalad being used in this way).

    There are a number of good examples of how genealogies tend to omit all but the most important individuals in a line. for instance, Matthew 1:1 names only Abraham, David, and Christ. Even though there are only four generations listed between Levi and Moses (Exodus 6:16-20), Numbers 3:39 states that Levi’s descendants already were numbered at 2200 males! (The genealogy shown for Ephraim seems to show 18 generations between Ephraim and Joshua. This genealogy is found in 1 Chronicles 7:20-27). The list of kings in Matthew 1:2-17 omits a number of names that are listed in the list of kings in the Old Testament.

    These and other examples demonstrate that the genealogies of the Old Testament patriarchs are given in order to demonstrate the common descent of all mankind from Adam and Eve, not to provide an accurate chronology of the time that has elapsed from Adam to Christ. Back To Article

  5. In his book, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the Twenty-first Century (1993), Zbigniew Brzezinski lists 167,000,000 to 175,000,000 “lives deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage.” Back To Article
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How Can I Be Sure of the Bible’s Moral and Spiritual Reliability?

There are many factors that give the Bible unparalleled moral and spiritual authority. The Old and New Testaments are deeply rooted in a historical and geographical record that is linked to laws, poetry, and predictions that express timeless life-changing wisdom. Even the parts of the Old Testament with parallels in Mesopotamian literature (the creation story, the story of the flood, etc.) are incomparably superior to the pagan versions.

1 Although it is an ancient document, its realism is stunning and contemporary. The records of the Bible portray people in all of their complexity and inconsistency, with not only their achievements but also their sins—and the consequences of their sins—clearly displayed.2 J. B. Phillips expressed in a few words what countless others have noticed about the New Testament: It has the “ring of truth.” There are few people of any religious tradition who are familiar with it that don’t hold it in high esteem. Further, the historical accuracy of Scripture has been demonstrated time and again—often to the surprise of skeptical scholars.

The authority of the Bible is by far the most well-attested document to come out of ancient times. The reliability of the Old Testament was confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a remarkable collection of ancient documents found preserved in caves in the Judean desert in the mid-20th century. The age of these documents, which included large portions of the Old Testament, was determined by several independent evidences, including:

  • Carbon 14 tests made on the linen wrappings of the scrolls.
  • Coins associated with the scrolls, which date from 325 BC to AD 68.
  • The type of pottery found with the scrolls.
  • Comparative paleography (science of handwriting), a science which has already been well-established for many generations.
  • Linguistic analysis of Aramaic documents found in the caves.

What made the Dead Sea Scrolls such a remarkable find in confirmation of the reliability of the Old Testament was the fact that prior to their discovery the earliest text in Hebrew, the Masoretic text, dated only to the 10th century AD. Biblical scholar Gleason Archer noted that in spite of 1,000 years separating the Scrolls and the Masoretic Text, “The texts from Qumran proved to be word-for-word identical to our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted primarily of obvious slips of the pen and spelling alterations” (Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction [Chicago, IL: Moody, 1974], p. 25).

Similarly, no serious scholar, Christian or non-Christian, has historical grounds to doubt that the modern New Testament—regardless of translation—corresponds closely to the original form in which it was written. In his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell quotes a number of authorities on the reliability of our Bible. Here he quotes scholar A. T. Robertson:

“There are some 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate and at least 1,000 for the other early versions. Add over 4,000 Greek manuscripts and we have 13,000 manuscript copies of portions of the New Testament. Besides all this, much of the New Testament can be reproduced from the quotations of the early Christian writers.”

Historical evidence for the reliability of the text is overwhelming. But its spiritual authority can only be seen by someone who is seeking truth. It would require thousands of pages just to list the names of the outstanding people in every area of human endeavor who have looked to Scripture for their ultimate values. A random list of just a few might include:

  • Philosophy: Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Soren Kierkegaard
  • Science: Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal
  • Music: J. S. Bach
  • Literature: Dante Alighieri, John Donne, John Milton, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, T. S. Eliot, J. R. R Tolkien, C. S. Lewis
  • Politics: William Wilberforce, William Gladstone, Abraham Kuyper

The fact that the Bible provided the foundation for the personal values of some of the greatest figures of Western history doesn’t constitute a “proof” of its authority. But, along with the Bible’s age, textual reliability, and character as great literature, its appeal to such people certainly calls for an open-minded, respectful approach to its contents.

  1. Anglican physicist/theologian/priest John Polkinghorne remarks on the value of scholarly comparison between ancient biblical and Mesopotamian texts:
    Those who disdain a scholarly engagement with the same text will also miss the fact that, though the accounts are clearly influenced to a degree by neighbouring Near Eastern cosmogonies, they differ in a most marked and important way from those other creation stories. It is deeply impressive that tales of conflict among the gods, with Marduk fighting Tiamath and slicing her dead body in half from which to form the earth and sky, are replaced by a sober account in which the one true God alone is the Creator, bringing creation into being by the power of the divine word. Equally significant is the insight that human beings are not destined to be the slaves of the gods (as in the Babylonian epic, Enuma Elish), but are created in the image of God and given a blessing so that they may fulfill the command, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28 ). (Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality, pp. 44-45). Back To Article
  2. To have a clear understanding of biblical authority, it is important to understand the nature of biblical inspiration. Inspiration has two aspects. One is its authority in providing truth without error in the words of Scripture. Scripture is truly the written Word of God. The other aspect of inspiration is that it was written by human beings who wrote with their own vocabulary, cultural background, and personal style. This fact does not controvert inspiration. Just as Christ was both truly man and truly God, the divine element in inspiration doesn’t exclude the human limitations of the Bible’s writers. For a clear discussion of the topic of inerrancy from a theological perspective, we recommend that you buy or borrow a copy of Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology. This theology originally came out in a 3-volume set, but currently is being offered in one volume. His discussion of inerrancy can be found in chapter 10, “The Dependability of God’s Word: Inerrancy.”  Back To Article
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Is It Inconsistent for Believers in God to Look for Scientific Explanations of Natural Things?

Is it inconsistent, as Richard Dawkins claims, for believers in God to look for scientific explanations of natural things, if they don’t think it is necessary to seek scientific proof of God’s existence?

This is a classic example of comparing apples to oranges. Infinite Spirit can’t be examined the same way the physical world can.

According to the Bible, the characteristics of the physical universe have been shaped by God. As the apostle Paul writes, “God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20). Because the natural world has been created and designed by God, it reflects His power and divine nature. However, God is of an entirely different order of being. He is not physical, but Spirit, of a higher dimension of being that encompasses our universe but which cannot be directly observed and measured by the physical sciences.

But if God can’t be directly investigated by physical science, are there no compelling reasons to believe that He exists? Someone with a naïve faith in evolution might say there are no compelling reasons, but more objective scientists acknowledge that the rational basis for God’s existence is being continually strengthened as science progresses.

Even if it could be demonstrated at some future time that evolution is a seamless natural process with no “gaps” where God can be demonstrated to supernaturally intervene, atheists have to account for the components and circumstances that make the process possible. Physicists who believe in the probability of God’s existence don’t do so because of gaps in evolutionary theory, but because of the mind-boggling, overwhelming complexity of the circumstances within which natural macroevolution would have to occur.1

The fact that circumstances of such infinite, or nearly infinite, complexity exist as the necessary background to life implies design. The idea that the universe has no origin is a counterintuitive faith assumption, as everything in our experience that is complex is derived from something more complex. It’s hard to see how Dawkins and other atheists consider it more reasonable to believe that the infinite complexity of the natural world is rooted in chance.

The existence of randomness as part of the process of evolution within the space/time universe is not—as some atheists claim—evidence against design. Randomness itself appears to be an aspect of the design, making possible the development of self-aware, free beings (such as we are). Thus the existence of randomness and freedom within the context of natural law imply a much higher order of complexity than a mere “clockwork universe.”

So it isn’t unreasonable to believe in God, even if we can’t “explain” or “define” Him in scientific terms. The choices are to either take the mind-boggling complexity of a universe containing self-aware beings as mere accident, or to assume that the complexity we see within and around us is evidence of a supernatural God.

  1. One of the most startling developments to come from modern physics is that the universe, in some very fundamental way, seems to have been “designed” or “tuned” to produce life and consciousness. Actually, what physicists have discovered is that there are a large number of “coincidences” inherent in the fundamental laws and constants of nature. Every one of these coincidences or specific relationships between fundamental physical parameters is needed, or the evolution of life and consciousness as we know it could not have happened. The collection of these coincidences is an undisputed fact and, collectively, have come to be known as the “Anthropic Principle.” (From the essay, “The Holistic Anthropic Principle,” by Joseph P. Provenzano and Dan R. Provenzano.) Back To Article
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